When I travel, I research, research, research. Whatever I'm doing - I have to be doing the best version of it. Joe and I are opposites in that the majority of my excitement happens before we even leave, where as Joe likes to know very little about what we're doing and where we're going until we get there. I must say, it's a good thing, because often if he knew ahead of time what the hell he was going to be put through, he'd have elected to sit on the back lawn with a beer and the morning's paper.
Our USA road trip took place in 2012/13. It seems a long time ago now when I think about it, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Probably because it was one of the greatest months of my life.
Day 1: LA
Day 2: LA-Las Vegas
Day 3: Las Vegas
Day 4: Las Vegas
Day 5: Las Vegas - Monument Valley, Utah
Day 6: Monument Valley, Utah - Grand Canyon - Las Vegas - New Orleans
Day 7: New Orleans
Day 8: New Orleans
Day 9: New Orleans - Memphis
Day 10: Memphis - Nashville
Day 11: Nashville - Linville (NC)
Day 12: Linville - Nags Head, Outer Banks (North Carolina)
Day 13: Outer Banks - Washington DC
Day 14: Washington DC
Day 15: Washington DC - Philadelphia - Newark
Day 16: Newark - New York City
Day 17-30: New York City
I KNOW. This itinerary is nutso. It's often how we roll on our roadtrips - and it's not for everyone. I am always of the mentality that it might be the last chance I ever get to be near some of these places, so I make the most of every route we take.
It all started with the red Mustang. When booking this trip, I asked for a quick quote on one of these for the first leg of our trip, knowing it was probably going to be out of our price range. NAY GOOD FRIEND! It is CHEAP!
Tip: Car hire in the USA is cheap as chips - always make sure you push the envelope with the kind of car you get! We got ours through Dollar Rentals for less than $75 a day. Naturally, we headed out of LAX into the bright early morning sunshine, hopped in our convertible, connected the iPhone and played California Love by 2Pac as we left the garage. Yep. That was us.
We cruised the streets of LA, headed out along the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu and back, headed up into the hills and found our very own dusty pinnacle to stand on, looking straight back over Hollywood. Bliss.
Of course, every tourist couple in a conspicuous red convertible, driving on the other side of the road, straight off a long-haul flight and smug with the holiday gloats needs to commit at least one traffic fail. We just so happened to commit our fail as we looked to turn left onto Sunset Boulevard.
It was fairly quiet as we approached the junction, and we were the first to pull up. It was sunny and warm and we were basking in the shadows of the tall palm trees when I noticed the car coming toward us. The driver was turning right into our street - and he kind of wanted to use his side of the road, which is fair enough, I suppose. We were nose to nose with this big red pick-up. "WRONG SIDE! WRONG SIDE!" were the only words that could come out as I flapped about like an idiot - and Joe quickly realised. He yanked the wheel and attempted to get across to the right-hand side of the road. In actual fact we ended up looking like complete morons, essentially perpendicular to direction we were attempting to travel, trapped by further traffic, feebly clinging to our lane and our dignity as cars drove passed without batting an eyelid.
"There they go again" They said.
"The tourists in their Mustang." They said.
"Morons. I'll bet they're Australian..."
I still don't regret the car choice, for the record.
Here comes the second thing I'll never regret: splurging on one night at The Sunset Tower Hotel. The HISTORY! Google it. The beds in this place are like clouds. The closest thing to heaven in a hotel. When you crash out at 4pm for a nap after your long haul flight and convertible extravaganza, you will want to stay forever. One day I would dearly love to return. We had breakfast on the terrace looking out over LA. Truly fabulous. Picked up our car from the valet and we were off to Vegas, baby!
Tip: Make this section of your trip in the afternoon/evening - you will get the late afternoon sun across the desert on your drive, which is especially stunning if you turn off and visit the original sections of Route 66. It should be dark by the time you approach Vegas. Having the lights creep up on you on the horizon really gets the excitement pumping!
It must be said that everyone in the States thought Joe was Mexican. Except for the Mexicans - they knew he was Filipino every time. So once we had torn ourselves away from the valet guy who wanted to discuss, blow by blow, the recent Pacquiao-Marquez boxing match, we checked in to New York, New York. Naff, right?! But we thought it was as good a place as any and it has a roller coaster going through it. So that's me sold. This was even before we discovered their Mexican restaurant with not only the giant margaritas that you come to expect (and clutch everywhere you go) but also unlimited corn chips with your kilo of guacamole. The guacamole was a solid 10/10. We found ourselves back their each evening for a midnight snack.
We hung out in Vegas for a couple of days - walked the strip, stopped by as many buffets as we could manage, watched the fountain display outside the Bellagio, shopped the outlets and saw Cirque du Soleil's Le Rêve at the Wynn Hotel. I have to say - if I were to return (take me back!) I would stay at the Wynn.
It smells less like an ashtray stored in a box alongside some doilies in your grandma's garage since 1987 than the others do. They put loads of effort into their floral displays (truly amazing avenues of poinsettia for Christmas) and they have some great restaurants - the Japanese was the stand out.
The show was equally as wonderful - the stage is filled with water for the majority of the show and it features synchronized swimming combined with acrobatics and some seriously mind boggling use of oxygen tanks below the waters surface. I know peeps often head straight to 'O' but I would recommend this alternative.
Tip: Unless they have redeveloped them since 2013, don't bother with the South Shopping Outlets - only the North outlets are worthwhile. And they are really, really worthwhile. We went with cash solely for this purpose and it was well worth it - we made huge savings and bought some truly great stuff that we still wear today. Staple pieces like Ray Bans, Hugo Boss suits and duck-down puffer jackets from Tommy Hilfiger are all heavily discounted and a fraction of their price in Australia. If you want to stock up - it's a must-visit.
At this stage we're only at the end of Day 4 folks. Hold onto your knickers, we're in for a ride!
Next blog: Monument Valley, Grand Canyon and New Orleans.