In the summer of 2016, I did the craziest two week road trip across the Southwestern USA with Steffen, my favorite travel partner in crime — and although it already feels like a lifetime ago, I have so much to say and oh-so-many photos to show!
We flew into San Francisco where we spent two full days before picking up our rental car to chase after all the beautiful desert and canyon sceneries in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. We hiked longer than ever, haunted down amazing craft beer, and even managed to visit friends in Phoenix who we met on a crazy pub crawl in Prague back in 2012.
I had been to the States 11 years ago, but road tripping along West Coast and the Southwest couldn’t have been more different from my homestay experience the South back when I had just turned 18.
Before I write in depth about this trip (and get around to editing my gazillion dSLR photos) though, I just wanted to share a few stats along with the photos I posted in realtime on my social media channels to give you an idea how this trip went down — I love the raw in-the-moment-ness these photos imply and how looking at them reminds me of that beloved vacation-feel.
Miles driven: 2,200
Hours of plain driving: 51
States visited: 4 (5 if you count the layover in Charlotte, NC: we had local beer and Bojangles!)
National Parks visited: 4
Miles walked in total: 105, 9
Miles hiked: 55,6
Just-like-in-the-all-movies-motels slept in: 6
I starting staying “Julia with an additional K” after this incident
Remember the summer of 2016, back when Pokémon Go was still a thing?
Beerkachu jokes totally worked.
Lombard street and the law-abiding tourists
Hunting down a very famous beer in a very weird bar
Can you spot that famous bridge?
Dollars spent on gas: 180
Dollars spent on sightseeing including national park admission fees: 222
Dollars spent on parking in Hollywood: 12
Dollars spent on a bottomless boozy brunch buffet for two at the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas: 117
Tacky souvenirs bought: 7
Days we saw the Golden Gate Bridge without fog: 0
Weird roommates in our San Francisco hostel dorm: 3
Percentage of red lights on a Friday afternoon in LA: 100
Times I fell on my right knee while hiking in Yosemite National Park: 2
Total of mosquito bites: 11
Cockroach sightings: 2 (both outside luckily)
Other weird bug incidents: 1 (a huge bright blue bug attacked us during lunch in Riverside, CA)
All of the basic brown-box-breakfast-excitement!
Doesn’t the Griffith Observatory have the cutest Snapchat filter?
Bruises: 4 (Walked into the wrong door at CLT + took the bus in SF + fell twice in Yosemite)
Bleeding injuries: 3 (aside from falling in Yosemite, I also cut my thumb open while hastily packing up my razor)
Brief morning pool-time in Arizona
Culture nerd gone outdoorsy!
Pairs of gross muddy hiking socks found in the back of our rental car after 10 days of basically living in it: 5
Times we regretted not getting a 4×4 as a rental car: 3
Sunsets seen from the car: 5
Scary sun-darkening dust storm experiences: 1 (Haboob season in Phoenix!)
Numbers of bathing suits I packed hoping I’d spent a lot of time in the water: 4
Hours actually spent poolside: 3 (including a Las Vegas pool party)
Pages read in my book: 0
dSLR Photos taken: 2,280 (at least on my camera, Steffen took about 8,000 on his)
Photos I managed to take of those insane giant cacti in Scottsdale, AZ: 0 (and they would have made such great #emojisinthewild images, ugh!)
Cold leftover pizza for the win!
Local craft beers consumed: countless
Awesome specialty coffees had in San Francisco: 4
Breweries visited: 3
Times I was ID’ed when ordering a beer: 6 (I felt so gloriously young!)
Times I had Quaker oats for breakfast because they were the only semi-decent option at motel breakfast buffets: 5
Clifbars consumed while hiking: countless
Mexican food occasions: 4 (Chipotle counts right?)
Pizza occasions: 3 (4 if you count leftover pizza lunch in the car on the next day)
Nacho occasions: 3
French fries occasions: 7 (don’t judge, you know I love them and if the US knows one thing, it’s definitely fries!)
Bottomless brunch at the Caesars Palace
Just looking at these numbers and random phone snaps makes this USA road trip seem so unreal! It was super fast-paced and we encountered almost too much diversity to process in such a short time, but I’m so glad we made the most of our two weeks in the States!
Albeit the US being an easy destination (aka not being lost in translation, understanding (most) food and cultural traditions), this trip was certainly a challenge for us because it was the longest and farthest trip Steffen and I ever took together and our itinerary was designed on the verge of exhaustion. But I’m so, so happy we actually made this big travel dream come true together!
Have you road tripped the the United States?
PS: I visited a pre-2016-election America and I don’t feel qualified to say anything on politics, so I’m treating the United States like any other tourist destination that is worth visiting for stunning nature, friendly people, and great food. But if you are interested in a more political statement, please read my friend Jessica’s blog post on how we can save the US National Parks — after having seen a few of them with my own eyes now, I was throughly shocked to learn how endangered they are.