We began our trip in the Southeast and made our way northwest to South Dakota. The ultimate target of this leg was Mt. Rushmore, but being in a car, we were able to do so much more along the way. Our plan was to spend the night in St. Louis and see the arch,
but we also stumbled upon Metropolis, IL (home of Superman),
Jilly’s Cupcake Bar & Cafe (the two-time winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars),
the world’s only Corn Palace,
the Badlands of South Dakota,
and the Crazy Horse Memorial.
Our next major stop was San Francisco, but to get there, we crossed the desolate, wind-swept plains of Wyoming,
visited the Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City,
walked on the unworldly Bonneville Salt Flats of western Utah,
and crossed the Donner Pass.
We hit the major sights in San Francisco, such as Fisherman’s Wharf,
the Golden Gate Bridge,
and Lombard Street,
but we also sought out the Victorian row houses featured in that 80’s classic, Full House,
as well as a Chinese restaurant my husband had frequented years ago while working in San Francisco.
On our way south to Hollywood, we drove along a narrow, hairpin, harrowing road to Big Basin Redwoods State Park to hike among the tall redwoods,
stopped in Santa Cruz to visit the sea lions
and eat to-die-for garlic fries on the boardwalk,
and took the 17-mile drive in Carmel to see the Lone Cypress Tree.
Hollywood included a sightseeing bus tour,
the Hollywood Walk of Fame,
breakfast with old friends, and a Larry King sighting.
Then it was time for Las Vegas
and miles of walking around the world, from New York to Paris to Rome,
in high heat,
and ending with a visit to History Channel’s Pawn Stars pawn shop before beginning our journey back toward home.
From Las Vegas, we stopped at the Hoover Dam, that feat of engineering magic,
and then reached the Grand Canyon in time to see the sun set.
The Petrified Forest
and the Painted Desert were our last “official” stops before reaching Memphis,
but we still found fun things to do along the way, such as Old Town Albuquerque,
the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX,
and Bricktown in Oklahoma City (which also involved a limo ride, much to the kids’ extreme delight).
When we reached Memphis, we knew our journey was nearing its end and that we would be home the next day. But in the meantime, we were determined to make the most of it, so we strolled down Beale Street, enjoying the live music and street performers.
In the morning, we stopped at the infamous Lorraine Motel where Dr. King had been assassinated,
and then had our last hurrah at Graceland before making the final drive home.
In all, we logged 6,316 miles, covered 18 unique states, and truly enjoyed our memorable journey!