new wheels / old adventures
April 27, 2017
I just bought a new car. Okay, not new—a few years old with about 46,000 miles on it—but—to me, that’s new.
I’ve never bought a car with less than 100,000 miles on it, riddled with rust and “quirky” noises, so—I’m pretty excited, and feel like I’ve got miles burning a hole in my pocket, so to speak. It’s also an experience that turns out I’m deeply self-conscious about (A new car? Who do I think I am, a rich lady or something?)—but that’s a conversation to have with my future therapist.
Anyway, back to the miles I’m daydreaming of, and pretending I am comfortable with my new purchase. With summer right around the corner and some new wheels with seemingly infinite mileage potential in the bank, I keep thinking back to the first cross-country road trip Greg and I took back in 2011—the very first time I ever took a proper road trip, and, well—naturally in a $500 ‘98 Jeep Grand Cherokee that my very talented and ambitious husband built.
In August of 2011, we hopped in that Jeep and drove it to California to start a new life. All I can say is we started on an adventure together that day, and I guess we never really stopped. Little did we know we would drive that same Jeep back across the country four years later (have I mentioned he’s a pretty good mechanic?), then drive yet another Jeep across for a third trip. But since this is the sixth one we’ve bought, and we road trip like it’s going out of style, I guess that should be no big surprise to anyone.
So in honor of our newest Jeep (as of yet to be named—these things take time), I’d like to share some of my favorite shots and places we hit on our very first road trip. All photos were taken with an old DSLR without so much as a light meter (oh my!), an Android phone, or a point and shoot—am I dating myself yet?
We had to be in Chicago two days after we left for a wedding, but that was our only commitment for the entire month—so in a Target parking lot in Chicago the morning after the wedding, we slammed an atlas on the hood of the truck and decided which road to take—and that’s pretty much how the trip went from there—but not without some *minor* truck trouble to start us off.
After Chicago, we headed up toward the Twin Cities in Minnesota via Madison. My favorite part was Mickey’s Diner, but Minnesota far exceeded our expectations, especially once we hit the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
We headed from there over to South Dakota, where we’d heard the Badlands would blow us away—and were far from disappointed. We were graced with fields of buffalo and prairie dogs, but nothing beat that landscape—not even Mount Rushmore.
We headed south for Denver by way of Wyoming, and had to stop off in a small town called Lusk to give the truck a little TLC. Having nowhere to go, we pleaded with the town mechanic for a place to fix it, but to no avail. I’ve always thought it was the “Just Married” scrawled across the window of the truck, or maybe it was just good luck, but at that moment the proprietor of the drive-through liquor store/watering hole happened to notice us, and offered us his parking lot to work in just around the corner. So there Greg went to work on the Jeep, and I went to work on buying a six pack of Busch Lights and taking pictures of this abandoned grain elevator. This memory will always remain one of my favorites.
We finally made it to Colorado, and were just stunned at its beauty. We had no idea we’d be living there for a few months just some years down the road, but life is funny like that.
From Colorado, we headed for Utah. From the salt flats of Bonneville to the desert of Moab, the landscape could not have felt more different, and again we found ourselves in awe.
We headed for Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, and by the time we hit the Grand Canyon, we felt like we’d gone on the rock tour of the United States. The south rim was cool, but the less traversed north rim at sunset was as good as it gets. Still, I must admit Bryce Canyon was my favorite.
We decided to drive to LA and then head up the Pacific Coast Highway to our final destination, San Francisco. Once we got to LA, we drove straight to the ocean to stand in the Pacific. We made it across!
We finally settled in once we hit San Francisco Bay—at least for a while. It was such an amazing adventure, and I cannot wait to see what adventures our new little Jeep holds for us. In the meantime, it’s been fun remembering and reliving the trip that sparked our travel love to begin with. Here’s to many more!