Our Cross Country Road Trip
Updated: Mar 17, 2020
It's official, I'm a West Coast girl now. Growing up in the South, I never imagined myself living in California let alone a big city like Los Angeles, but then again you can never say never. The move to Los Angeles has been simultaneously exciting and stressful. We arrived in LA, and Kevin and I hit the ground running. We gave ourselves a couple of weeks to get our lives together before I started working a part-time job while pursing a career in fashion and continue my photography business. Kevin quickly started producing music, writing with artists, and building his network upon arrival. All that to say, I'm sad I haven't left much time to give to Lashville, but I plan to do better in the future and document our new adventures in SoCal.
I'm excited to share our cross-country road trip from Nashville, TN, to Los Angeles, CA. The trip in total is 2,004 miles long and 29 hours of driving time. We took I-40 West from Nashville all the way to California. To say we went stir crazy is a SERIOUS understatement. My best advice for anyone wanting to take a road trip that long is to find fun stops along the way and make a plan for the cities you stay in at night. This helps the road trip become an adventure or mini-vacation.
We left Nashville on July 23. My tiny red Mazda was packed to the brim with just enough room for us to sit up front. This is where Kevin jokes that my car was stuffed with clothes and shoes more than my other belongings. Our plan was to drive hard on the first day in the hopes that our time went down every day. This is a great strategy because each day brings more fatigue and you grow increasingly antsy. The first destination was El Reno, Oklahoma, which is a small town right outside of Oklahoma City. We decided to drive past OKC because we didn't want to deal with rush hour in the morning.
The scenery on this leg of the trip isn't too exciting so we really cranked some tunes and chatted about our new life on the west coast the whole way. On our drive to OKC, I made plans for dinner that night. I managed to find the only arts district in town with tons of trendy, modern restaurants. We ate at Goro Ramen on North Blackwelder Avenue. Kevin and I are huge ramen fans, and this place is in the top running for our favorite ramen restaurant. I ordered the Spicy Miso ramen and Pai Mei cocktail while Kevin went for the Tori Paitan and a local brew. Everything was so delicious and the restaurant had a fun, young vibe. 10 out of 10 would recommend!!!
The second day our goal was to make it to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Again, we wanted to put lots of miles behind us so we could enjoy our third day. One of my good friends in Nashville is from Albuquerque, and she was able to give me great recommendations for our stop there. We left our hotel in El Reno in the morning and continued west to Texas.
Two-piece sweats from Vintage Havana
I loved looking out at the vast prairies along the way. You could see for miles without any trees or mountains getting in your way. Fly by The Dixie Chicks was the appropriate sound track during our drive through Texas. We drove for several hundred more miles until we reached the boarder of New Mexico. From there it was about four hours to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Our plan for Albuquerque was to drive around the city, visit a trading post, and eat at the famous Sadie's. We arrived that afternoon around 4:00 pm. We stopped at the Palms Trading Company where we found authentic New Mexican crafts, jewelry, and other native goods. It might be smart to note that there are many trading posts along the interstate, but most are tourist traps and very far from being authentic.
I'm so grateful for my wonderful fiancé who never complains when I ask to take an obligatory blog/Instagram photo where ever we are at any time. He truly is the best!
My friend strongly advised that we eat dinner at Sadie's of New Mexico, which is an authentic New Mexican cuisine restaurant. Now, Sadie's looks very unassuming and honestly not that amazing from the outside, but once we sat down and had a taste of their salsa we were won. It is by far the best salsa I've ever tasted! We both ordered the chicken enchiladas smothered with green chili, and it was undeniably delicious. Another 10/10 recommend if you ever find yourself there. Once we finished eating, we hopped back in the car and drove to the border to Gallup, New Mexico, where we stayed for the night.
Since we started our day on the border, Arizona was just a quick trip away. I woke up so excited for this day because we planned to take a long pit stop at the Grand Canyon. It was a little out of the way, but so worth the extra hour of driving to see it. Last summer, Kevin had back packed the Grand Canyon with his brother so he was an expert on where to go and what to see. We hiked along the Rim Trail to get a good view of the incredible masterpiece that is the Grand Canyon.
Off-the-shoulder top from Vintage Havana
We hiked off the path a little to get better shots, but be careful because it's a long way down to the bottom! I'm terrified of heights so I was not about to go anywhere close to the edge.
After taking photos, Kevin wanted to take me on a short hike down the South Kaibab trail. We didn't go all the way down, but we went enough to feel like we were in the actual canyon. It was truly an amazing hike, but definitely very difficult and STEEP on the way up! I would recommend trying to hike a short distance on your visit to the Grand Canyon because the experience is so different in the canyon from at the top of it.
On our way back up the trail, it started to rain (or monsoon) a very cold rain that was refreshing for about five minutes until the lightning started to strike. The lightning was so intense it was all I could do to climb up that trail as fast as I could to get to shelter. Another thing to note is that it only rains about one inch per month in the Grand Canyon so you could say our timing was perfect.
After the Grand Canyon, we continued west to Kingman, Arizona, where we stayed for the night at an eclectic hotel as cliché as its location along the historic Route 66.
Two-piece sweats from Vintage Havana
Our last day on the road was a short five hour drive to our new home in Los Angeles, CA. We started the day exploring a few parts of Route 66 in Kingman, took photos at a vintage gas station, and grabbed some props for my planned photoshoot in the Mojave Desert.
I was so excited to take photos in the Mojave Desert. This was a new climate and setting for me, which sparked all kinds of creative photography ideas, and the product might be some of my favorite photos ever taken for Lashville.
Dress from Vintage Havana
Just 2,004 miles, over 29 hours spent in a tiny red Mazda, and several podcasts later we made it to our new home in Los Angeles, CA. I can't wait to share with you more adventures on the West Coast, but for now welcome back to Lashville and sorry for the wait!