A Grand Adventure

I’m celebrating a new chapter in my life by packing up my life in Southern California and heading East to Virginia with my family.  We are embarking on a new adventure together, and what better way to celebrate a new chapter than to make the entire experience an adventure.  My mom and I decided that we absolutely could not go across the country without hitting some fun landmarks along the way.  To do that though, we had to pack dad and sister in an airplane and send them on their way.  Some people do not have the patience to stop off when the mood strikes them.  My mom and I loaded down her car with anything that would fit and our 3 dogs, then we set out on our cross country road trip

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My mom and I took off yesterday morning and hopped onto the I-40 which will take us almost all the way across the country.  Our first fun find was a lone gas station in the Mojave Desert where gas was $5/gal, but it had a historic Route 66 sign.  So I guess we really won in the end!  I-40 is a pretty boring drive to Arizona.  The landscape doesn’t change much, so it was difficult to stay very alert.  The traffic moves nicely along that route though, so that was a saving grace.  Living in California for 5 years, I have never been so excited to be on a highway and not be bumper to bumper with every person in LA.

Day 1 was a 6.5 hour drive to Williams, AZ.  It turns out that Williams is “The Gateway to the Grand Canyon.”  The town itself is absolutely adorable.  There was a small book shop called “Persnickety Books” that I could have spent hours in.  The streets were lined with themed saloons, beer and wine garages, and a small coffee café.  I wish that we had known how great the town was, we probably would have spent a bit more time there.

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An hour outside of Williams is The Grand Canyon, which was our whole reason for stopping in Arizona rather than travelling farther the first day.  It was absolutely worth it.  I have never been so awed by such creation.  It was definitely a sight to behold.  While dogs are allowed on all trails above the canyon, it was 100 degrees outside (way too hot for their paws) and it turns out it’s actually pretty difficult to maneuver 3 dogs who are already nervous because they have no idea why they have been in a car all day so I might suggest planning a visit with dogs a bit better than we did.  As a result, we managed to snap a couple good pictures, and then jumped right back in the car to head back to our Williams hotel.

The Quality Inn at Williams was great!  It is pet friendly, and there was no limit to how many dogs could stay in one room (a problem we constantly face) with only a $15 pet fee.  Usually, affordable hotels on the road leave much to be desired, but The Quality Inn was pleasantly surprising.  The room was comfortable, very clean, and with a relaxing shower that was welcomed after a day in the car.  We got a great nights sleep, and were ready to hit the road again this morning with some breakfast and coffee.

Day 2 was a bit more than we could handle.  Our trip from Williams to Oklahoma City ended up being about 15 hours, and we were in no mood to really stop and enjoy any sights.  We did pass a Native American Trading Post that boasted handmade moccasins, but we found them online and decided that was easier.  The necessary photo op was Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX.

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It is a graffiti park where Cadillac’s are buried nose down and people add their art to them.  It was a cool experience, and dog friendly.  We opted to photo shoot from the road since we still had a long drive ahead of us.  I have decided that Oklahoma City is not my favorite.  The Super 8 was super sketchy, and I’m pretty sure a hooker was checking in in front of us.  So we slept for about 4 hours, and then hit the road again as soon as we could.

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Luckily, our 3rd day went by much smoother.  We drove about 13 hours from Oklahoma City to Knoxville, TN.  There were no photo ops today, we hit a great pace and are really tired of being in a moving vehicle.  We did see downtown Nashville though, so that was really cool.  I’d love to come back and explore the city when I’m not on a time line.  In Knoxville, we stayed at the Red Roof Inn.  It is the perfect place for pets because there is no pet fee, and we could have all 3 dogs in one room rather than paying for 2.  The hotel is perfect for the quick stopover on the road.  It was clean, the guy at the front desk was very friendly and helpful, and it was right off I-40 which makes our morning a lot easier.

The final leg of our journey was only 300 miles.  Of course, this was the longest 300 miles we have ever endured.  After 3 full days in the car, my mom, all 3 puppies, and myself were feeling pretty cranky.  The thought of home looming straight ahead was enough to get us through the last 6.5 hours.  Along the way, about an hour outside of Richmond are beautiful lookout points over the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The perfect welcome home photo op.  Naturally, we took our last chance to snap a road trip memory.  It was then full speed ahead towards Richmond, VA.

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Closing on the house wasn’t until the next day, so we checked into the super sleek Aloft Hotel near the Short Pump Town Center.  I’ve never been so excited to flop onto a platform bed!  This hotel was a nice change from our roadside motel stays.  The staff was very friendly, and the heated pool was right across from our room.  At this point, Aloft felt like heaven.

As far as road trips go, I’m not very keen to sit in a car again for that period of time in any sort of near or somewhat distant future.  I am planning some shorter jaunts though since we didn’t get to discover much of Tennessee, and we skipped right over Kentucky.  My new hometown has a lot to offer in the way of historical sites, art galleries, and shopping.  The next few months I am going to explore the area and make it home.

It’s always really strange going to a new place and essentially having to start all over, but this trip is making the excitement build.  I am excited to see what is in store for the near future. Being with my family is important to me, and since I had the opportunity and no commitments, what better time than to follow them back East?  Over the years I’ve learned that the place doesn’t make home, the people you are surrounded by do.  Right now, I’m settled in my new home close to friends and family that I love, and with a heart full of adventure enjoying this static interim before the next one begins.

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