They say "Once you stop moving, your body stops working", or something along the line. This is one of my most favorite quotes from my elder patients at the hospital. If I say I felt the same way about this blog, is that kind of...cliche? I meant to complete this blog post for almost a month now, I just find it difficult to gather my ideas and thoughts. I haven't written anything for a few months... out of practice, maybe? For sure my mind stopped working when I stopped writing.
Wow! I drifted far, didn't I? Let's go back to the beginning. Friends, I have been busy, WE have been busy. Late last October, we found out that Hubby got a new job in California! So since then, we have been busy working, packing, planning, and anything that you might need to do for a (to the exact) 2343 miles, 48 hours and 51 minutes driving time cross country move. So here is a little post about how the West family survived, with a packed car, a whiny dog, and a lot of audio books and podcasts (Serial, anyone?).
But first, let me introduce you to my little friend: http://www.roadtrippers.com.
Man, this is by far the best road trip guide site ever! You can also download the app onto your iphones or android phones. Simply create an account, and put in your destination. It allows you to search, add on, and review for detours and attractions along the way. It will even let you adjust the miles radius range per personal references. My favorite part with this app is that people can rate and comment on each attractions, so it really helped us to decide on which particular attraction is worth going, and what to expect.
After planning out your trip, you can change the date on each attraction (It helped us focus and stick to the plan, so we arrive at our destination on time!), then print out the itinerary. It also shows us approx driving time in between attractions, so I can plan out when and where to stop for hotels and such.
Now, simply pack your bags, put in the address of each location in your GPS, and off I-40 we go!
We left Gallatin, Tennessee (We spend Christmas week with Brandon's family) the day after Christmas. About 3-ish hours later, we hit Memphis around lunch time. And what's better then BBQ for lunch? I went on my Yelp app real quick, and found this highly rated BBQ place.
Central BBQ Memphis2249 Central Avenue, Memphis TN 38104
We shared their smoked ribs and brisket combo, with a side of coleslaw and mac'n cheese. While we were standing in line, some locals told us we have to try their pork rind. Gotta love a southern BBQ! With a full belly, we headed back on the road to our first stop of the trip: Little Rock, Arkansas.
Little Rock is a quint little town. It doesn't seems like there is much for us to do (we didn't feel like going to kids museums and such.), so we only have two planned attractions.
"Gone with the Wind" Filming Location3850 Lakeshore Drive, North Little Rock, AR 72219
This is the last, and only standing building that appeared in the movie. My friend found me this you tube video, it's the intro or beginning of the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pL2yPFxBQQ4. So technically, this building only appeared in the movie for a short minute, not even in an actual scene or anything. But it's still pretty cool, and a good spot to stretch our legs. It was in a small park, we even saw someone taking bridal gown shots there!
We held and sneaked Koali in the park with us. Guess we were feeling pretty rebellious that day (Totally joking!). After the park, we checked into the Comfort Inn downtown. It's pretty awesome that it is so convenient to travel with pets nowadays. With a small dog fee, we had no problem looking for a hotel that was okay with Koali! A little trick: We turned on the TV when we went out for dinners! That way when other visitors walk by our room, she won't get all defensive and bark a bunch.
River Market District400 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock AR 72201
Our hotel conveniently provided a shuttle that took us to the downtown district 5 minutes away. We walked around a few art galleries, unique stores, and had dinner at the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium (323 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock AR 72201). A fun restaurant with lots of draft on tap, food was pretty good, but nothing spectacular. We went back to the hotel, and had a relaxed night in with Koali.
First day (12/26/2014) Summary: Left Tennessee around 9 am. Approx 6 hrs drive time (400-ish miles) with a lunch break in Memphis. We checked into our hotel for the night around 5 pm. Visited 2 attractions in Little Rock.
The next day, we left sunny yet chilly Little Rock and headed towards Oklahoma city. After about 5 hours drive, it literally went from this one second:
Sunny, beautiful blue skies with windmills everywhere, to a snow storm that came out of NO WHERE! We went from going 75 miles per hour to crawling at 35 miles per hour. Crazy!
Thankfully this gal here ain't a horrible driver on icy roads, we drove past it real quick, and headed into Oklahoma City for lunch. I originally planned on going to Nic's Grill, where Diners, Drive in and Dive on food network visited. Unfortunately, they were close that day, so we went to this historic flower shop converted restaurant (Cheever's Cafe, 2409 North Hudson Avenue, Oklahoma City OK 7313) instead. They still have the original flower storing fridge, nowadays it's a wine and dessert display. Food was pretty good but pricey, definitely not your typical hop and out type road trip restaurant.
2880 Country Road, Groom TX 79039
Another 5-ish hour later, we hit one of the iconic I-40 road trip attraction, the Groom Cross. This attraction didn't get much great reviews on Road Trippers. It is literally a giant cross in a itsy, bitsy town with absolutely nothing in it. The good thing is that it is maybe 5 minutes off the interstate, I recommend y'all to just pull off on one of the country roads a little further from the cross itself to take pictures. Or else it's hard to include the whole thing.
The Big Texan Steak Restaurant and Motel7701 E. Interestate 40, Amarillo TX 79118
Phone: (806) 372-7000
Oh, the excitement I have for this place, I can't even start to explain. For weeks, visiting this restaurant is all I can talk about. This is the home of the big 72 oz steak challenge, this is one of the big episode in Man Vs. Food when Adam ate the gigantic steak in their 1 hour time range, this is the Holy Grail of American foodie road trips spot.
No, no, no, we didn't do the challenge. But this picture above is an actual picture of the famous meal. 72 oz rib eye with side salad, a bake potato, rolls, appetizer fried shrimp, and a drink. Food was awesome, if gigantic juicy steak is your thing. It was everything that I imagined. The hotel rooms was awesome, with wild west decor, and again, pet friendly. With a full belly of steaks and drinks, that sums up our second day!
Second day (12/27/2014) Summary: Left Little Rock around 9 am, lunch break in Oklahoma City. Approx driving time was 11 hours (580-ish miles) total. Visited 1 road side attraction, checked in our hotel and restaurant at 6 pm.
Cadillac RanchI-40 Frontage Road, Amarillo TX 79124
About 13 miles west of the hotel, we hit our second road side attraction. This one is a really iconic one, and a must stop and snap a pic one. Again, it was just some Cadillac cars standing straight up beside the road, nothing else to it. But it's common that people bring their own spray paint and leave their mark!
Petrified Forest National Park1 Park road, Petrified Forest National Park, AZ 86028
I-40 traveling from East to West: Exit 311
Our next stop is the petrified forest national park with the painted desert. It's about a 8 hours drive from Amarillo, with a $10 private vehicle fee, it took us about 40 minutes to drive through with stops. The painted desert was absolutely breath taking. A great attraction that you can walk around each viewing balcony, and the park provides maps with detailed descriptions and numbers that guide you along the way.
The petrified forest is less of a forest, but more of a desert with a few petrified logs on it. See all those little pecks in the picture below? Those are all petrified fallen trees!
Wall Map of Route 66609 W. Hopi Drive, Holbrook AZ 86025
Another photo op roadside attraction, a big wall mural of Route 66 road map. To exit the petrified forest, the national park ends on Highway 180. If you have the time, this mural on the way back to I-40. So stop and take a quick picture! We also wanted to stop at the big Meteor Crater, but we ran out of day light. If you ever make it to the crater, send me a picture!
Third day (12/28/2014) Summary: Left Amarillo Texas around 10 am, hit 4 road side attraction, we even exited I-40 and drove on the actual route 66 for a few miles just to say we did it! around 9-ish hours drive time (650-ish miles), but since we stopped quite a few times for attractions, we made it to the hotel in Flagstaff, AZ around 7 pm. Chinese take out for dinner, and Koali hated Arizona because grass patches was starting to get sparse!
Grand Canyon National Park South RimFrom Flagstaff, AZ: I-40 to Williams, AZ, then take Highway 64 up all the way till you hit the ticket booth (81 miles)!
Opens year round, $25 per vehicle
Obviously, Grand Canyon is a must go even if its around 60 miles off our route to California. After 3 whole days of driving, we were ready to just be at San Luis Obispo, CA, our destination already. We saw that we only have about 80 miles to go from Arizona, and decided that we will book it. We left the hotel in Flagstaff early at 6 am in the morning, after a quick hotel breakfast, we head onto the road.
We got to the Grand Canyon national park early, like around 7:30 am. It was only 4 degrees up there, so cold! Even Koali was shivering, so Brandon carried her most of the way out. We only stopped at the first visitor viewing station, and this was the view. So so beautiful!
After that, we drove non stop on I-40 into California, then took exit 46 to go on highway CA-58W. That's when things got complicated and confusing. We split up from I-40 at around 2 pm, knowing that we didn't want to get mixed up in LA traffic, we opt to not drive pass LA to get on the coastal highway 101.
CA-58 W takes us pass through Bakersfield. Since we weren't familiar with local state highways, it was kinda confusing for us to weave through cities, with fluctuating speed limits. Some how we got onto a mountain highway that takes us straight through the mountains, that was a interesting drive.
Fourth day (12/29/2014) Summary: End of our road trip! We left the hotel at 6 am, drove approx 80+ miles, hit one of our major bucket list: The Grand Canyon. Got to San Luis Obispo at around 7 pm. Home sweet home!!
I still found it weird to call San Luis Obispo, or SLO as the local calls it, home just yet. Don't get me wrong, it's absolutely perfect out here. We have yet to turn on the air or heat since we been here, it's never too cold or too hot. People are so friendly, and so proud of their own state. Lots of local winery and delicious food.
But it's going to take me sometime to get there, feeling at home I mean. It's never easy to move away from familiar places, faces, and habits. I have yet to find my go-to Chinese take out, or our favorite drinking hole, oh did I mention I missed my friends so badly? I even missed going to work? But all that will come in time, I know. As for now, we are just going to think we are on vacation every weekend until we explore the whole town!