Road Trip Video!


Road Trip Across the U.S. – Itinerary

Everyone has been asking me where I went during my road trip and if they could get a list of all the places we visited, where we stayed, what we did, etc.  So here it is:

Day One: Virginia Beach, VA – Florence, SC

Directions: Take 58 West to Emporia then 95 South through North Carolina and into South Carolina to Florence. 

We left town after I got off work so we only drove about 6 hours then crashed for the night at a random hotel along the interstate, Florence Days Inn South at $40/night. We ate dinner before we left and took pictures with our feet in the sand! 

Day Two: Florence, SC – Mobile, AL

Directions: From Florence take 20 West  into Georgia to Atlanta then take 85 South from Atlanta to Montgomery AL, then 65 South to Mobile. 

We ate breakfast at the hotel this morning (always look for a continental breakfast when choosing hotels around the same price range) then enjoyed an artichoke pizza at Antico Pizza in Atlanta.  This was recommended to us by a friend who attended the University of Georgia and it was her favorite place to eat.  We sat up front, but if you walk into where the kitchen is, you can sit back there and watch the chefs cook right in front of you.  It’s also BYOB, which we obviously could not take part in since we had another few hours to drive.  Also, be prepared that they only serve whole pizzas so don’t go in asking for a slice.  They’ll look at your like you’re an idiot and laugh.

We arrived in Mobile around 7pm and checked into our hotel, the Admiral Semmes Hotel.  The hotel was beautiful inside, and for only $119/night it was a steal in comparison to other nearby hotels that were over $300-$400 per night. I chose this hotel because it’s only 2 blocks from Dauphin Street, which is Mobile’s restaurant and nightlife hub. We ate dinner at Spot of Tea, which seemed to be the best option that was not bar food or pizza. We were greeted with live piano music which I loved.  The menu was pricey  and the food was worth every penny but I will say that the decor was a little strange with metal chairs from 1984, plastic cups that looked like they belonged at Pizza Hut, and then with the live music it was just a weird mixture.  It seemed like whoever owned that restaurant was a great chef but didn’t know the first thing about making it look right up front.  Anyway, it was yummy.

After dinner, we drove to the grocery store for a bottle of wine – be warned, the closest convenience store or grocery store is a Winn Dixie a few miles away so buy whatever you need before you start enjoying the adult beverages on Dauphin Street. We walked around Dauphin Street for a while until settling in at Grand Central Station which had two different bar areas – one with a live rock cover band and the other with a more acoustic feel.  We were back and forth between both the whole night.  We probably missed some fun at some of the other hot spots on Dauphin Street including Club Retro, Martini’s, and Boo Radley’s (who proudly claims to be the only bar on Dauphin Street selling Boone’s Farm wine… not sure if that’s something to brag about but whatever), but Grand Central Station was a blast.  When you go in you have to pay $5 to become a “member”, which allows them to stay open as long as people are still drinking.  You get a membership card and everything – very official. We were there on a Friday night and it was about half-full, but apparently Saturdays get crazy, just FYI.

Day Three: Mobile, AL – Austin, TX

Directions: From Mobile take 10 West through Mississippi and Louisiana to Columbus, TX then take State Road 71 West to Austin. This route takes you just past New Orleans if you want to make a pit stop there for a night.

We left Mobile around 8am with a cup of coffee and the car headed west with a planned stop in Slidell, LA to eat breakfast/brunch at the La. Pines Cafe.  It’s a few minutes off the interstate (maybe a 7-8 minute drive) but when you arrive you are greeted by a very friendly staff and a very down-home restaurant.  Most of the diners seem to be regulars as the waiters greeted them by name, but as you look around you see a huge map of the U.S. where people can chart where they’re from.  There were marks all over that map!  The food was delicious and I definitely recommend it for breakfast.

The drive between Mobile and Austin was probably my favorite because it’s just so peaceful.  There’s not a lot to see other than a few cities that you drive through, but just as you reach the city limits it’s back to fields and mountains.  We spent hours at a time not even saying a word, just listening to our road trip mixes and enjoying the view.

We had planned to stop in Houston for lunch at the Red Lion Pub but with such a late breakfast, we drove right through and only stopped for snacks later before finally arriving in Austin, TX later that evening.  It was UFC Fight Night and if you know anything about me, you know that I love me some UFC.  We were staying with a friend of Ben’s that night, so we told her to make the plans so we when she mentioned Twin Peaks (a restaurant kind of like Hooters, but “better” so she says), Ben didn’t put up much of a fight. I was happy cause I got to watch the fight, Ben was happy cause he got to watch the waitresses.  Win, win.

Later that evening, Eve took us out to 6th Street, which boasts a large collection of bars and restaurants highly populated by college students and twenty-somethings looking for a fun night. We went to two different bars, the Chuggin’ Monkey, and Maggie Mae’s although I did absolutely no research on Austin nightlife and honestly, the three of us together could’ve been in an empty room and still had a blast, so I’m not sure that these are necessarily recommendations as much as just a testament of what we did… and we had fun so I guess that counts for something.

Day Four: Austin, TX – Lordsburg, NM

Directions: From Austin take 290 West about 100 miles, then get on 10 West… and just keep driving.

As beautiful and amazing as the scenery was yesterday, two days of the same thing gets REALLY boring.  This was one of our longer driving days but worse than that, we were just stir crazy!  Note to self, unmedicated ADHD adult + active energetic recoverng musical theater major + total lack of stimulation x 12 hours in car = problem. In all seriousness, it wasn’t that bad.  We’re both good travelers and found ways to entertain ourselves with my “If…” books, music mixes, question games, and naps (for me, not him obviously).  I’m usually a serious napper during car rides but this was the only day that I took a nap, and even then it only lasted about an hour.  We stopped 2 hours short of our original destination of Tucson just because we were so over being in the car.

We ate dinner just outside of El Paso.  Since we could literally see the US/Mexico border from the interstate, we decided that Mexican food would be good.  I searched my UrbanSpoon app on my phone and it told me that there were 583 Mexican restaurants in the area.  We just picked one that was off the interstate.

Finally in Lordsburg, we stayed at the Hampton Inn: clean rooms, clean bathrooms, comfy beds, and free breakfast.

Day Five: Lordsburg, NM – Los Angeles, CA

Directions: From Lordsburg, take 10 West all the way to Los Angeles.

Although our final destination was San Diego, my older brother lives in Los Angeles so we spent a couple of days there before finally arriving in San Diego.  We stayed at the Best Western Hollywood Hills, ate dinner at Birds within walking distance from the hotel, and did some bar hopping down Hollywood Blvd.  And we just couldn’t kick the Mexican theme of the last 48 hours – all the bars we stopped in were Mexican.  I had my fair share of pina coladas and they were delicious.

My older brother got off work around 9:30pm and met us out, then walked us around the corner and into some random hole in the wall that looked like nothing from the outside and turned out to be this amazing little restaurant inside.  They were having some kind of wrap party for a movie or tv show or commercial (that’s LA for ya) but Knate was friends with the doorman so we walked right in and everything the rest of the night was on the house.  I wish I could tell you the name of the place but I honestly don’t even think it was written on the outside.  It’s one of those you-gotta-know-somebody type of places.  VERY cool, though!

Day Six: Los Angeles, CA

The next morning, Ben and I ate a delicious breakfast at 101 Cafe, which is connected to our hotel. AFter a leisurely breakfast, we drove out to Universal Studios, rode some rides, took some photos, did the Studio Tour which was pretty cool, and when they closed at 5:00 we spent the rest of the evening walking around CityWalk.  Knate met us later back at the Cafe for dinner but I was done for the night. Zzzzzzz…..

Day Seven: Los Angeles, CA – San Diego, CA

Directions: From Los Angeles, take 5 South all the way to San Diego.

The drive to San Diego was beautiful.  We arrived in the afternoon in time for lunch, so we went to Hodad’s – a total beach/surf burger joint – then walked down to Ocean Beach to put our feet in the sand. We made it!  I had a lot on my San Diego To Do list, so we hopped back in the car and were on our way to Cabrillo Tide Pools.  This drive is also amazing and when you finally get there you don’t ever want to leave. Teh photo on TripAdvisor doesn’t even come close to doing it justice.  It’s the most beautiful place, high rock cliffs overlooking the ocean, areas where you can walk down to the water and explore, it’s just amazing.

After the tide pools, we drove to Old Town San Diego and probably could’ve spent an entire day here exploring. I think if I were to move to San Diego I’d want to live in Old Town.  There is a definite Mexican influence but the place is just crawling with restaurants, shops, etc.  For dinner, we headed over to the Gaslamp Quarter which is more of a tourist destination if you’re talking to a local, but for us it was a great place to find dinner.  There are TONS of restaurants in the area and we finally settled on an Italian restaurant.  Again, I have no idea what the name is (so much for Meghan, the tour guide) but we were more interested in the menus than we were the name of the place… but the food was perfect.

I caught a 9:30pm flight so after dinner I was off to the airport!

Road Trip Across the U.S.

Bucket List: Road Trip Across the U.S. = Accomplished.

On the evening of Thursday, December 8th, I hopped in a beautiful black BMW with an old friend from my middle and high school days to embark on a road trip journey that would take us all the way across the country from one ocean to the other.  We literally started with our feet in the sand in Virginia Beach at 5th Street and ended in San Diego, California with another photo in the sand at Ocean Beach.  I’m not exactly sure why this particular event was on my Bucket List because as I was preparing for the trip, most people thought that I was crazy… “How are you going to handle being on the road so long?” or “What are you going to do for 14 hours straight in a car?” or most often” Why on earth would you want to do something like that?”

Well, for starters, it’s something I’ve never done before and I thought it would be a cool experience.  It would give me the opportunity to see parts of the country I’ve never seen.  Maybe I could see the largest ball of yarn in the world or a petrified piece of ham or maybe a larger-than-life dinosaur replica? (Yes to the dinosaur replica, and unfortunately we missed the yarn and petrified ham.)  I guess I just thought it would be fun.  Now hang on a second though, 5 days in a car would not be fun with just anyone.  If you were sitting next to someone really boring, or someone who had really poor showering habits, or someone who won’t let you sing at the top of your lungs, then that would NOT be fun.  But if you go on this trip with someone like my friend Ben, then you’re in for a good time guaranteed.

Ben and I have a somewhat unique relationship, so to speak. We’ve been friends ever since I can remember. Our parents went to school together back in the 70’s and when Ben and I started having classes together in middle school we quickly realized that our friendship would stick.  True story: Ben’s mom reconnected with my parents during an open house at our middle school and upon realizing that their kids were in the same Spanish class his mom said, “Oh yeah, Ben thinks Meghan is hot!”  I am told that my mom then asked “What does that mean?” and my dad replied, “Val, you remember ‘hot’.” Perfect example of my mom’s innocence and innate cluelessness about dating.  Hey, she married her high school sweetheart… who can blame her?

Anyway, after our days of Spanish class were over, we remained friends throughout high school and spent most weekends on bus trips all over the east coast for marching band, colorguard, and drumline competitions.  And let me just make a quick disclaimer, I was not in the band. I was in the colorguard. Which sometimes sounds worse. Unless you were in MY colorguard. Which makes you awesome. Just sayin. Ben was a drummer. And of course, drummers are just hot.  Always. Period. (Mom, that means cute/good looking/handsome/gorgeous/etc.)

So we spent a lot of time together. We went through the realm of being best friends, dating each other’s friends, dating each other, back to friends, and we went to Golden Corral for junior prom.  For real. Cause that’s how we roll. 

Prior to his moving back home a few weeks ago, I had not seen him in 6 years… so goes the story of our friendship.  Ben is in the Marines and has been in 27 countries (I think that’s the number) during the last few years.  Crazy, I know.  Since he’s gone a lot and when he’s “home” he’s not really home because he’s stationed in California, or North Carolina, or JAPAN for heaven’s sake, we go through spurts in our friendship.  Sometimes we talk daily, weekly, monthly, or we may go months without talking and then one day out of the blue I’ll get a random text or facebook message and we’re back on it again like we never skipped a beat.  We have both been through quite a lot of life since the beginning of our friendship as you can imagine.  We started this relationship when our biggest concerns were acne and where to sit in the lunch room.  And now I’ve been through college, grad school, relationship drama, traveling, career, etc. and he has seen and experienced more of this world (in good ways and probably not so good ways) than any of us could ever imagine.  Yet even though our lives change and our personalities change with it, he is one of the only friends I have from that long ago who I can still get together with and talk like nothing has changed at all.  After all these years, he can still make me crack up at the drop of a hat and this made for a great trip.

More to come!

Happiness in a bottle

So Ben and I have been sitting in this car for nearly 4 days driving all the way across the country, suffering through the worst smelling places on God’s green earth including El Paso last night which smelled like a horrible mixture of sweat and dirt and refried beans (Ben swears by this). So we’ve had multiple conversations about how bad all of these little trucks stops smell and today he pulls out this brand new bottle of cologne from his glove box and I’m all “oh, let me smell it” and he sprays it on himself and I suddenly realize that I am now officially obsessed with this cologne. I want to buy it for myself and spray it all over my house, it smells that good. I’m also officially pissed that its been sitting in his glove box THE WHOLE TIME! But now I know where happiness lies, in a little bottle in the glove box.

Knocking off the Bucket List

I am slowly but surely knocking off items from my Bucket List.  This week I tried Hot Yoga!  The class only had 3 other people in it that night so it was really great to be able to get some one-on-one help from the instructor and she was super helpful in showing me ways to modify certain positions to alleviate strain on my knees.  And now I’m hooked!

Bring it on, baby!

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