OKAY Y'ALL, HERE COMES THE FUN PART OF OUR TRIP. I'm not gonna lie, as you read in part one, the first three days were a bit of a drag compared to what I was expecting. The majority of it had to do with the weather hindering our plans, but regardless, the Southwest is 100,000x cooler than anywhere in the U.S.
Our first stop in the Southwest was Santa Fe. We drove about 10 hours from Texas that day, and though it was the longest drive of the trip, it was also one of the prettiest. New Mexico was gorgeous. Having never seen anything west of the Blue Ridge Mountains and East of LA, it was everything I wanted it to be. There were mountains and red rocks as far as the eye could see.
Santa Fe itself was saturated with adobe houses, cacti, and mountainous views that were jaw dropping. Our airbnb host was a creep, but the time we spent outside our room was amazing. We ventured downtown to a little Mexican restaurant called the Shed. If you go, call ahead because it's poppin' on the weekends. Don't leave Santa Fe without tasting their special, bright pink, Prickly Pear frozen margarita.
The table beside us was at the restaurant was a tad lit, and come to find out we were actually sitting beside royalty. One of the men informed us that he was the 'Fiesta King'. So obviously Tylar and I looked at each other like... what in the hell is Fiesta? Turns out we stumbled upon a festival in the middle of downtown Santa Fe. There was live music, carnival food, dancers, and people yelling, "Viva La Fiesta!" at each other in the streets. It was a pleasant surprise and a ton of fun to be around.
Not to be dramatic, but I think Sedona is quite literally the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The drive from the Coconino Forest to Sedona was the most breathtaking thing I'd ever seen. I almost got into a car wreck more than I would like to admit from staring at the scenery instead of the road. If you go, stay in Flagstaff after visiting. It's way cheaper and Flagstaff is beautiful. We stayed in an adorable Airbnb across from a gorgeous mountain that had a field of wildflowers at it's feet. The town was quaint and adorable, people were sharing their love of music on every street, and it just had a friendly, small town vibe.
The Grand Canyon
Countless people told me not to be disappointed by the Grand Canyon. They were out of their mind?!? The Grand Canyon was one of my favorite parts of our road trip. There is honestly nothing like it in this world. It was $35 per car, which was a little steep, but I promise it was worth it. We drove to the highest lookout on the trail and caught some of the most gorgeous views I'd ever seen. Pro tip: wear close-toed shoes. I wore a pair of sandals and accidentally fell onto a tiny cactus that got stuck in my foot. Learn from my mistakes, the 'gram is not worth it.
I don't think there's enough time in the world to fully explore Vegas. The strip is a much more intoxicated, crazier version of Times Square. It was loud, beautiful, hilarious, and unlike anything I'd ever seen before. People were casually walking down the street pouring Hennessy into their Taco Bell cups, beer in hand, and clearly hammered out of their mind. It was an entirely different world on the strip, but it was surely something to see. I wish we could have done it right, but we had to drive six hours the next morning and didn't really have money to blow.
Instead, we got margs at this place called Nacho Daddy. If you check in on yelp, you get a free house marg with the purchase of an entree. Chips and salsa are only $2.50 and the marg was DANK. Highly recommend going here if you're looking for a touristy place to eat. We stayed at an Airbnb about 10 minutes from the strip so we walked the strip after dinner and then went back home. We were pretty lame, but since it's only five hours away we absolutely want to come back and do it the right way.
Seven Magic Mountains
On our way out of Vegas, we stopped at the Seven Magic Mountains. This is an exhibit I've wanted to see for so long, and I'm lucky that they decided to keep it up through the end of 2018. It's definitely meant to be a rad photo op, but it's honestly just cool to experience driving in the middle of nowhere and suddenly seeing giant stacks of rainbow rocks in the distance.
Road trips may look glamorous from Instagram, but it's also a week of waking up at 7am, driving 6-10 hours, living off of tiny snacks because you don't want to spend money on food, and almost getting run over by aggressive tractor trailers. Even through all of that, it was worth it. This trip was one of the best, most exhausting, eye-opening weeks of my life.
I often think about how people are so quick to venture outside of our country without taking the time to appreciate the beauty it holds. Sure, Italy is amazing and I want to visit one day, but everyone should take the time to truly see the States in their lifetime. My next goal is to visit Utah to see Monument Valley. After experiencing the beauty of New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada, I already have a craving for more of the American Southwest in my life.
Thanks for reading!