I think the most repeated theme during Cody's and my trip has been to do and see all we can in the most fun and inexpensive way. We're going to make a followup post after our trip is through to share all the ways we saved money and kept this trip low budget. Lodging was a big money saver for us (which we will go into more detail about), but it's also been a big contribution to the "fun" part as well. Upon arrival to San Diego we found a Hostel located downtown in the Gaslamp Quarter. This area is known for it's night life, bars, live music, etc. For anyone who's not familiar with how hostels work, its basically a dormitory style hotel. There's girls, boys, and shared rooms with bunks and common shared restrooms, kitchen and hangout areas for a lot cheaper than a hotel. There, we met people from all different parts of the world....chatted...exchanged stories. What we found so interesting was that we were the first American road trippers a lot of our out of country roommates came across. They understand how big and vastly different our country is and appreciated that we were exploring our own land. That same appreciation came from two california native women we came across while at La Jolla beach just north of San Diego. They were so enthusiastic about our trip and excited for all we've accomplished thus far. The reason they started talking to us in the first place was because they were intrigued by how Cody and I were going to get into the hammocks, hanging several feet off the ground, we set up between palm trees lining the beach. By the time I made it into the hammock, the local police patrol came around and said we couldn't have anything hanging from the trees. Another hammocking fail.
We spent the day laying on the beach and playing in the water. Our bodies and brains deserved a much needed mindless, relaxing and carefree afternoon. Too much fun can be exhausting! We hit up Old Town San Diego afterwards for some margaritas and nachos happy hour and came across a restaurant called Rockin' Baja with a great atmosphere, outdoor seating, good drink specials, live spanish guitar...and overall a great spot. The night had in store for us a dueling piano bar within walking distance of our hotel followed by an irish bar with a live band. It was one of my favorite days of the trip. Floating in the Pacific Ocean with beautiful views of cliffs and coastline...meeting new people...live music...and getting to share it all with Cody. Pretty simple but pretty special.
Up next we headed to Las Vegas and I have to admit....we were pretty tired...and lame...and didn't even go out on the strip. I'm sorry. We did get to visit and catch up with my friend, Janet, from college and share lots of laughs. Sometimes seeing and spending time with old friends ranks higher than exploring a new place. This was one of those times and even though it was just for a night, I was glad to have it be part of our trip. The next morning we continued on to the Hoover Dam. Did you know that when it is at capacity, it holds back the largest water reservoir(Lake Mead) in the US? Right now it is a little low due to the drought we mentioned in our previous posts, but it was still a cool sight. Up next was the Grand Canyon. This was one of the spots Cody and I were both looking forward to most on this trip. When you're little/growing up....people ask where you want to travel to...Grand Canyon's always been on the list. I know it's just a big hole in the ground, but I was extremely excited, nervous, anxious. I try not to get my hopes up too high for things in life for fear of being let down and it not living up to my expectations. But it's the Grand Canyon! How can you not have high expectations for it? You hear stories about it and see photos and I painted a picture in my mind that I was nervous didn't exist in real life. Imagine having this high expectation...about anything in life.....and walking up to the real thing to find that it's even bigger, more beautiful, more magnificent, more majestic, more colorful, and more incredible than you ever imagined. Imagine the feeling of having your already high expectations exceeded by more than you can mentally grasp. That you are a speck....and life is full of hope and joy and color and surprises. That feeling was beautiful and that feeling made me cry. I hope I never forget it.
We made it to Albuquerque late that night where we stayed on an Air Force base with Cody's high school friends Tyler, Brianna, and their dog, Bailey. They were excited to hear about our trip and to catch up and we were grateful to them for opening their home to us. It was highly recommended...well more like demanded...that we go to a local mexican restaurant called Sadie's. If there's anything worth traveling to Albuquerque for...it's to see friends..and to eat Sopapillas. Warm pockets of doughy bready buttery flaky goodness that all humans should have the duty of eating before they die. Now I want one.
Our last stop on our trip was to Dallas to visit my friend, Lauren and stay with her and her boyfriend, Jeff. But on our way to Dallas we ran into a trucker friend of ours. He was a mutual friend of Cody and I from Florida, and happened to be on the same road as us!! We didn't have much free time so chatted a few minutes and left toward Dallas. We had a great time and Lauren and Jeff were kind enough to move their work schedules around to spend time with us and show us the area. Cody and I both liked Dallas way more than we expected. They took us to a cute little area with shops and restaurants and we chowed down on some of the finest BBQ I've ever had. Lockhart Smokehouse of Dallas.. Smoked brisket...ribs..side dishes..all family style and thrown out on the table to help yourself. Mmmmmm. We checked out the local farmers market before heading back to their place and hanging by their rooftop pool for the rest of the afternoon. After grabbing dinner at a great local burger joint and witnessing history while watching some of Jeter's last home game (another emotional time for me which I won't go into detail about), we were on the road to drive through the night and make it back to Tennessee.
We spent the majority of the drive talking about our trip..reflecting on our favorite places and funny stories and feeling accomplished for not only completing something we've always wanted to do, but genuinely enjoying it. We even enjoyed coming back to Tennessee. Familiar territory...a welcome home feeling. Back roads, hilly countryside, mountains in the distance. Still able to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of our backyard after having traveled the whole country. It was a perfect way to round out our trip. Reminding us that there's beauty everywhere if you look with the right set of eyes. Cody and I are both eager to take what we've learned from this trip with us the next time we travel abroad...which we're itching to do! But first....we sleep! Probably for several days! Cody and I hope you've enjoyed keeping up with us on this adventure. We've sure enjoyed sharing it! Stay tuned for a follow up post where we'll share some fun facts, opinions, suggestions, tips from our trip! Thanks for reading and cheers to future travels!