Ever since our first little vacation to Drumheller for the weekend, Dad and I have felt the need to top our travels from the last time. So far our most epic travel was a 14 Day Road Trip taking us through the western portion of the United States and along the Pacific Coast. Our starting point was Pincher Creek AB. Our destinations were: Idaho Falls-Idaho, St.George-Utah, Grand Canyon-Arizona, Las Vegas-Nevada, Anaheim-California, San Jose-California, San Francisco-California, Medford-Oregon (destination by accident) , Portland-Oregon, Spokane Valley-Washington and ended in Calgary, AB. We covered a total of 5000 miles roughly.
So day one on the road started bright and early as we traveled to the border. I got to experience my first ever land border crossing, and it was terrifying! The person at the border had me convinced I had done something wrong, just the way the questions were given to me. But all was well and we were off! We had decided ahead of time that on our long driving days, we would pack a cooler with picnic food so we could stop and have a picnic lunch instead of going out all the time. This says money and is a fun little thing to do because you get to find random and cool stops to have a picnic. Like our first stop, which was this little place on Montanna, with a park by the picnic and a rooster that would not stop cock a doodle doing. This happened to be the first of a few fun picnic places we came across.
The first three days of the journey were long long driving days as we wanted to get to our first major destination by day three, which was the Grand Canyon. In those first three days we saw lots of interstate, Starbucks’s, beautiful desert landscape and our first time ever at I-Hop! Look at those delicious pancakes. Also, we experienced Motel 6 for the first time…and as stated in my A Hotel Love Affair post, those stays were in the worse stay end of things. There is a reason they are so cheap I guess, but we learned quickly and moved up to a more comfortable chain for our next day.
As right on target, we arrived in the Grand Canyon National Park. And it was breath taking! For this destination, we decided to spend one night camping. Which was so much fun, and isn’t great to say we got to camp in the Grand Canyon ;P. After setting up camp and purchasing more than enough groceries, we spent the day taking all the different tour buses around and seeing just a portion of the many sights at the canyon.
The next stop…Las Vegas! My first introduction into The Vegas, was overwhelming to say the least. But I will save that for a later post, be sure to look out for it ;P. After a stellar 24 hours in Las Vegas, we headed to one of our favorite places in the world and that was Disneyland. Along the way we got stuck in some sort of accident on the interstate that caused us to have four hours of bumper to bumper traffic. BUT as annoying as that was, I recall we made a fun time of it by rocking out to all the radio stations that were playing, from country, to rap to opera. Good times. Then came some crazy L.A. driving! Props to my dad for his superb road skills while on this trip, the driving experience in L.A. was mega intense but it was all fine by the time we were settled in our hotel across the street from Disney, and journeyed on to dinner in Downtown Disney. The next two days were filled with lots of Disney fun! Since we were there in the fall, the parks were all themed for Halloween, which was super cool to see.
Upon leaving Disneyland, we decided to travel part way on the Pacific Coast highway and take in all the ocean views. The first day on this leg of the journey, we stopped at Santa Monica Pier. I really really loved this afternoon. I do not know if it was the fun of the place, the proximity of the ocean or the delicious lunch we had but out of all the days of the road trip this one sure does stick in my mind.
After visiting Santa Monica, we spent a very long day driving through California, seeing some fun sites like a pickle festival and some really hot temperatures! We finally arrived in San Jose, which would be our base for exploring San Francisco the next day. (We had intended to stay in San Fran, however there were no rooms available due to a sail competition at that time of the year) However, it turns out that this little side journey was a blessing in disguise as we got to try the best pizza ever, at Pizza My Heart. It was so good, we went here both nights we stayed in San Jose.
Instead of driving into San Fran the next morning, we were told to take the train in. That was a fun journey! However, it was a bit chaotic when we first arrived in San Francisco. We had to struggle to figure out the bus system and it took a bit, but we eventually made our way to Pier 39 for some touristy fun. Lots of shopping, walking around, and AMAZING seafood lunch. Of course we had to end our day in San Francisco by taking a cable car back to the train station!
Now we get to the last little leg of our adventure. The next day was spent driving through the last bit of California coast, where we passed through the Red Wood Valley forest and got to experience the beauty that it is. Also got to see the biggest tree ever! I looked like a hobbit next to it 😛 I wish I could have bottled the scent we experienced in the forest though, it will never be found anywhere ever again. This was another long day of driving, and that brought us to Medford, Oregon which was the oddest town we had experienced yet, as well as the creepiest hotel – (again) as mentioned in my previous hotel post.
The next morning we were up bright and early and off to Portland, Oregon! I fell in love with Portland right away. However, due to our schedule we only had the one evening there. We also got to visit with an old school friend of my dads, and boy were they the nicest family ever. They also lived in the most beautiful house I have ever seen, inclusive of original Victorian structure, mural artwork and servant’s staircase! In addition to this amazing visit, I got to visit Powell’s bookstore…which is a book lover’s paradise. It is the largest independent bookstore in North America. When you walk in, you are greeted by a friendly smile and a map for the store…I could have spent hours and hours in here. If you ever have the chance to see Portland, please do not miss out on this! I do hope to go back to Portland and see more of what the city has to offer, but this visit was all about spending time with a wonderful family and eating a delicious dinner.
Finally, the next morning brought us to our last drive before the big drive home. We left Portland and headed to Spokane Valley. At this point in the trip, we were pretty burnt out and just wanted to spend our last night hanging out. So we checked into the hotel, and went shopping at the Wal-Mart across the street so I could stock up on delicious Pop Tart flavors and Cherry Coke, which is not available in Canada. I also found the first few seasons of Lost for super cheap here (at that time they were still SO expensive in Canada) so that and an order of pizza pretty much settled us for the night. Before long, it was time to make one last long drive to home!
We saw so many sites in those 14 days, and it was all just a taste of each placed we stayed at. I am looking forward to visiting a few of our favourites for a longer amount of time in the future. But overall, the road trip was nothing but good times with my dad, lots of tunes, good food and great talks. Those two weeks were so much fun and it was great getting to spend them with Dad. Road trips offer a certain kind of travel style, and experience. They are very special in their own way. I can’t wait until our next road trip adventure!
– xoxo Veronica