The South West 2.0

What a whirlwind of emotions this was to write. Traveling is emotional for me. I feel it deep in my bones, and I think that is why I love it so much. Being able to be in your head, on the road, cherishing moments with someone you love; it is priceless. This trip was so needed and came at such a perfect time. For me, being able to travel is like hitting a reset button; one right before you leave, and one when you come home.

My fiancé and I recently took a two week road trip, and we were lucky enough to explore even more of the south west region of the United States. Our end destination was Texas, but we took our time and explored the states the way they are meant to be explored; freely with no time restrictions and no real “destination.”

 

We started the trip off in Las Vegas as we finished up the work week. Right after that, we took off, full in the on-the-road mode. It was our goal to be up, packed, and out of the hotel by like 7:30/8 so we had time to explore, but let’s be real, that didn’t always happen.

 

We first set off towards the Arizona state line, which quickly became the Utah state line, and then back into Arizona we went. We headed through Arizona, passing some of our favorite spots from our last Arizona trip like Antelope Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend. We had fun driving down the two way roads, remembering and laughing about our past memories.

Finally, we made it to Monument Valley.

This was originally a place we wanted to stop at last time, but we just didn’t have the time to trek that far out of the way. This time, it was a priority, and well worth it. Unfortunately, it was super windy that day, I mean like sand-storms-giving-out-free-facials-and-body-scrubs windy. We definitely battled with car doors and sand storms but the sights were excellent. We drove around the area, getting some good shots, stopping to take some footage of our adventures, and finally stopping at the iconic roadway.

After we headed up towards Utah and Colorado again to hit the four corners. It was still super windy, and hair was flyin’ but it was such a cool thing to see. The Four Corners is where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado all touch. Standing, sitting, back-bending in the right spot, you can be in four states at one time.

After we hit those spots, we made our way to New Mexico where we stayed in Albuquerque for the night. The next morning, we headed out early to Santa Fe, which was only an hour away and decided to stay there for a night as well. Santa Fe was SO wonderful and cute.

We explored downtown Santa Fe’s plaza area. We stopped in little street markets, and ate at a cute French bakery for lunch. There were so many really cool landmarks around Santa Fe, and a little outside of the city. If you ever head that way, I highly recommend Santa Fe as your northern New Mexico stop.

After we spent some time in the plaza, we went to this art installation by Meow Wolf. It was such a trippy experience. You basically put yourself in the art installation and can get as involved in it as you want. There, apparently, is a mystery regarding the family that lives (lived?) in the house that the installation is inside of, and a lot of people spend time trying to flesh out the secrets. It was definitely a really cool experience.

After a good night’s rest, we headed down south. Generally, my fiancé and I took the longer routes, especially if it looked like it took us through cool areas where we could find little gems. And boy did we find one. We ended up running into a pistachio farm that had a HUGE pistachio in the front. We quickly pulled over to snap some pics, but then realized there were tours so we hopped on one of the little carts. Even though the sun was practically melting all of our souls, it was so cute to see.

About an hour down the road we made our way to the White Sands National Park. White Sands is one of those places I saw all over the travel blogs and Instagrams I followed, and it had been on my mind for a while; this trip just aligned the starts so perfectly and we were able to see one of the parks we have been wanting to visit. This place was amazing. White sand dunes were literally everywhere and you could see them for miles, and miles. The sand looked so picture perfect. It was super HOT, but it did not stop us from hiking around a bit and getting those picture perfect photos.

 

We continued down the road and ended up stopping in a little town for the night. The next morning we headed towards Carlsbad Caverns. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

I had never been in caverns or caves, but holy cow was this cool. You have the option to hike in, or elevator down into the main room. Once down in the caverns there is a self guided tour that takes you all around the cavern and into these massive rooms filled with amazing things. It was such a wonderful little walk through. It is about a two mile or so hike around down there, but definitely take your time because there is so much to see and explore.

After we finished up in the caverns, we headed towards San Antonio. We got there a day early, so we checked in, and got a good night’s sleep. The next day we did the hop on-hop off bus and toured around the city #tourists. We stopped at the Alamo and took some pictures, and then we headed towards the river walk. San Antonio’s River Walk was such a fun place to be. There were tons of places to eat right on the river, and you can grab yourself a table and just enjoy the sights. We grabbed some Mexican food and really amazing margaritas. My fiancé surprised me by serenading me with a mariachi band. It was so lovely. After, we ended up taking a boat ride down the river as well and that was such a fun little cruise, beers in hand.

Later that night we met up with my mom, my brother (he was able to come out to dinner with us!) and my brothers girlfriend. We enjoyed a dinner and it was so nice to see everyone together. After a long dinner with tons of good food and laughs, my fiancé and I ended up walking by the Alamo again, and took a ride in a carriage. It was the cutest thing I had ever done and the horses name was George. Like, how perfect and romantic.

The next day was my brothers graduation. He graduated on the DEANS LIST (!!!! PROUDEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE) from the Navy. I had never been more proud of him.

He looked so great in his uniform and I was thrilled I was able to share those memories with him. After that, he was free to leave base so we headed back to the hotel for early drinks and dinner. We ventured out with our taste buds and tried alligator (strangely it wasn’t very flavorful and tasted like calamari) and snails (which were drenched in garlic and YAS GURL).

My fiancé asked my brother to part of the wedding day, and asked him to be one of his groomsmen. It was such a sweet moment that I am going to cherish for the rest of my life. We ended the night with drinks in the jacuzzi. We were sad that we were all departing the next day, but knew Jack would be home within a week; it made saying goodbye much easier this time.

The next morning we made our long, long, long, loooooong trek back to California. We decided to head out early and make it all the way to Tucson, Arizona. Once we got to Tucson we indulged a little, staying at a nice resort-y hotel, and made sure late check out was a THING. We had the best calamari of our life, and a really amazing tuna melt, and then headed to bed.

We ordered room service the next morning, and enjoyed it on our patio in the warm sunshine. After that we took our time packing up and relaxing, getting ready for the last bit of our trip. We wanted to savor it. Once we were back on the road, we stopped at a… wait for it… an ostrich farm (middle of nowhere but SO GREAT) and fed some animals. There were parakeets and parrots, donkeys, goats and sheep, deer and ostriches, rabbits and ducks, and of course, stingrays. Casual. So random but Mauricio and I had such a blast.

This was such an amazing trip. I really needed to reset, and that is exactly what I did. With a really challenging first year of grad school, to planning a wedding, and just the pressures of life, this trip became such a necessity for my mental health. I cannot express how important it is to take time for yourself and to do the things you love. Whether it is as small as a face mask at night, and a huge cup of coffee in the morning, to something as big as traveling around the globe with the love of your life. Those are the moments you will cherish. These moments make me the happiest girl in the world. I felt so lucky and blessed to be able to take the time and really just break away from the normality of things and just adventure around mother earth’s beauty and little treasures.

 

To end, I want to share two of my favorite quotes, from one of my favorite authors. I feel these words so, so deeply and I think this is something I want to end my posts on.A little quote or two. Just little thinking points for you to reflect on.

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

and of course,

“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”

 

Thank you Jack Kerouac, for giving me these words that inspire me daily to do the things I do, to travel, to see the world through fresh eyes, to enjoy the moments, to be mad and even more so, to be in love with everything.

 

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