Have you ever dreamed of taking a cross-country road trip across the U.S.? Well friends, the road is calling. Let's go!
Day 1: Kennesaw, Georgia to Nashville, Tennessee
We pass granite cliffs and red barns, rivers snaking through green valleys, corn fields, old stone cemeteries, and billboards for churches and antique shops. We taste BBQ ribs on Broadway and give big smiles to all the people passing by.
Day 2: Nashville, Tennessee to St. Louis, Missouri
We pass through western Kentucky and southwest Illinois staring out the window at big skies and hillside farms. We stop for lunch in a small town and eat our burgers in the parking lot of a boarded-up movie theater. The Gateway Arch rising from the banks of the Mississippi takes our breath away.
Day 3: St. Louis, Missouri to Kansas City, Missouri
We leave the Arch in the fog and drive through torrential rain and flooded plains. We sigh with relief when we reach Kansas City, and relax with a stroll through the Spanish Plaza. The pork ribs and burnt-end beef we have for dinner are well worth the harrowing drive.
Day 4: Kansas City, Missouri to WaKeeney, Kansas
We take an early morning walk down by the creek at Country Club Plaza and come back to the hotel to get ready and pack our bags. The road is rough again today...really rough. We drive into the bruised clouds, trying to forget that Kansas gets hit by about 100 tornadoes a year, until a message from the National Weather Service reminds us! We thank the good Lord for getting through another severe storm and spend the night in a highway hotel munching on take-out pizza and wings.
Day 5: WaKeeney, Kansas to Boulder, Colorado
In WaKeeney, a flyer above the cash register at the Pizza Hut invited us to the community dance in back of the courthouse, with good ol' country, classic rock, and hot dogs. In Boulder, we pass eclectic shops selling loose leaf tea and used books. The air smells like coffee, wet rock, and pine. We sit on the lawn and watch the passerby (it's not for everyone).
Day 6: Boulder, Colorado to Moab, Utah
We take an early morning walk past Victorian homes and community gardens, cross a creek by jumping stones, and arrive at the head of a hiking trail leading up into the foothills. Over the Rockies and into Utah we pass shimmering lakes and cascading falls, rivers that crash and tumble into rocks, and cliffs the color of sand and red clay.
Day 7: Moab, Utah to St. George, Utah
We pass desolate, beautiful landscapes, steep, sheer red rock, and dramatic drop-offs. Making our way deeper into the canyon, strange and wonderful shapes start to appear. "Do you see the lion?" I ask. "Yes!" you answer, and stare up at the arches blinking back tiny drops of rain.
Day 8: St. George, Utah to Southern California
Passing through the San Bernadino Mountains, we feel our great journey coming to an end. The purple flowers off the highway smell sharp and weedy, and we can almost taste the salty ocean, which we'll visit tomorrow. In the meantime, friends, let's celebrate the adventure with a festive drink.
We made it back home to California, friends! Over the months I was planning this trip, I had so many people tell me about their cross-country travel dreams. If this is something you've ever considered, with all my heart, I encourage you to do it. I know there never seems to be enough money or time off work, that there can be no assurances of good health, that the weather is unpredictable and the road has the potential to be rough, but if you take that leap you will not regret it.