Route Map


Day 37: Snow, Sand and Strikes

Start: Las Cruces, NM
End: Carlsbad, NM
Miles Driven: 238.8 (6861.1 total)

After inadvertently sleeping in until 10:30, we woke up to find an inch of snow outside our door. Something we would expect in New Hampshire, but not New Mexico.

Because of our late start, traveling was done with a sense of urgency in order to reach both White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns by the day's end. White Sands,
the world's largest gypsum sand dune field, was extra white today with a light coating of snow and looked like a moonscape. You'll have to take our word for it as Patrick accidentally deleted all the pictures from the visit.

The road to Carlsbad includes a trip up and over the Sacramento Mountains, which was not a swift one due to the inclement weather. Unfortunately, doing 90 on the back roads of New Mexico did not make up our lost time and we arrived in Carlsbad a half hour too late to enter the caverns. We decided to make the best of it and enjoy two of Carlsbad's landmarks: The Dragon Chinese Buffet and Cal's Cactus Lanes. Pictures of magnificent sand dunes we may not have, but pictures of bowling we have plenty.


Day 36: Feliz Viaje

Start: Camp Verde, AZ
End: Las Cruces, NM
Miles Driven: 589.4 (6622.3 total)

Before leaving Camp Verde we visited Montezuma's Castle, a 12th century cliff dwelling built by Sinagua farmers. The castle is comprised of 20 rooms and because of its grandeur was originally thought to have been built by the Aztecs...hence the name.

The rest of the day was spent driving through the Arizona and New Mexico desert. We passed many a cacti and many a warning about treacherous dust storms that would cause zero visibility on the road way. Luckily it was nothing but smooth sailing today as we reached Las Cruces, a homecoming of sorts for Patrick 23 years in the making. Much to his dismay, no one here remembers him.

For dinner we went south of the border. No not Taco Bell, but truly south of the border to Juarez, Mexico. We meandered the downtown strip until we found a restaurant to our liking. Not quite sure of the exchange rate...Patrick spent the evening throwing around pesos like monopoly money. As we left Mexico a sign wished us "Feliz Viaje" and we then navigated the gauntlet that is US Customs. Thankfully they did not search our car, which is packed to the brim.


Day 35: This is Red Rock Country

Start: Grand Canyon, AZ
End: Camp Verde, AZ
Miles Driven: 213.6 (6033.7 total)

Having turned in at 6:00 pm the night before, we woke up in plenty of time to watch the sun rise over the Canyon
. Next we took the scenic route to Sedona, which included Route 66 and Oak Creek Canyon. Everything in Sedona was red: the rocks, the houses, the sidewalks...even the stop signs. Sights in town included a church built into the red rock designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, red rocks, a guy driving a stagecoach down main street, and more red rocks.

Our hike/rock climb for the afternoon took place at Boynton Canyon. Amazing views of the Canyon surrounded us as we walked along the Vista Trail that led to Boynton Canyon Spire. Last we stopped at Airport Mesa, but not before we saw our stagecoach driver again half a mile further an hour later. Airport Mesa is a popular place to watch the sunset and is also known for being one of many "vortexes" in town said to have natural healing powers. So apparently Sedona is just like the island on Lost--but instead of a hatch, Sedona has Sizzler.


Day 34: Grand Ole Day

Start: Los Angeles, CA
End: Grand Canyon, AZ
Miles Driven: 519.3 (5820.1 total)

Rather than get up at 5:00 am on Wednesday morning to beat LA traffic, we left at 1:00 am in lieu of sleep. Not only did we avoid traffic, but we caught an amazing Arizona sunrise.

We arrived mid-morning at the Grand Canyon and spent the day hiking along the rim trail, taking many pictures along the way. Conditions on the trail were treacherous due to a recent snowfall, not helped by the fact that we hadn't slept in more than 24 hours.

Once the sun had gone down, we made the half-mile trip to our campsite. It was absolutely deserted--possibly because the weather forecast for the evening was a low of 19 degrees. Thankfully we had a secret weapon against the elements: lack of sleep. We passed out by 6:00 pm.


Days 24-33: Mele Kalikimaka and Hau'oli Makahiki Hou

Start: Los Angeles, CA
End: Los Angeles, CA
Miles Driven: 37.3 (5300.8 total)

Last Sunday, we traded our car for a Boeing 737 and hopped the Pacific to Hawaii to join Katrina's dad, stepmom and brother for a week on the Big Island. Though winter is Hawaii's "rainy season", each day was 80 degrees and sunny. We spent much of the week soaking up the sun at beaches up and down the Kohala Coast.

The Big Island is most widely known for its volcanoes. Black molten rock covers the landscape, including some of the beaches, which made for excellent sunbathing. One of these beaches was right next to Pu'uhonau o Honaunau, a historic Hawaiian Place of Refuge where taboo-breakers used to come to cleanse themselves of their transgressions. The sacred grounds were filled with tiki totems, ancient huts, and towering palm trees, not to mention the resident sea turtles patrolling the shore.

We spent one very ambitious day sightseeing along the northern coast.
With five of us packed in the car, we were on the road again. We took in breathtaking views of the Waipi'o Valley, the crashing waves at Laupahoehoe Point, and the impressive Akaka Falls. Before dark we made it to the Tropical Botanical Gardens to see exotic plants from around the world. After dinner and sunset in Hilo, we made the trek to Volcanoes National Park, home of Kilauea, the most active volcano in the world. Unfortunately, we caught Kilauea on a calm night and didn't get to see any fresh lava before we took the long and windy road back to Waikaloa.

As the ball dropped in New York for New Year's, we were seeing the sights of downtown Honolulu before we caught a flight back to LA. Back on the mainland we regrouped before setting out on our journey east.