Day One: 433 miles
Start: Camarillo, Ca
End: St. George, Ut
I woke up just before 7:00 am PST without an alarm. Actually — I take that back. I woke up at 4:00 am so anxious to get on the road, but fell back asleep knowing it was in my best interest to rest before the long drive ahead.
The day was overcast and calm. I started it with a coffee. My parents and I always travel in the car with coolers whenever we go on long drives, so one held our snacks: grapes, strawberries, apples, hard boiled eggs, and of course, Corona Extra and Barefoot Wine.
In the other cooler was Arlo (our dog’s) snacks and food. Since my mother home-cooks each of his meals (yes, she is that kind of dog mom). In addition to the coolers, we still had all of our carry-on luggage and miscellaneous things that still needed to be packed into the car, which ended up taking a lot longer to squish into the two cars than we had thought. As a result, we ended up leaving about 75 minutes later than we had wanted to, but nonetheless, we were off and on our way: Lansing, Michigan, would be our final destination on this trip, and this day was day one.
Since my parents and I had previously driven from Ridgefield, CT to Camarillo, CA, we were familiar with the first part of the route, which was actually the last part of our route on our way out west: Camarillo to Vegas.
Driving through the US 101 South toward Los Angeles and getting onto Glendale 134 freeway felt like a regular commute for me, but because I knew this time would be the last time I’d be making this drive on the US 101, I felt a little unsettled — this was it. My last time taking this route. My last time driving into the city. There was a feeling of both fondness and sadness whirling together in my heart as I read the signs for the exit I used to take into Los Angeles. I thought of the people and of the places I had ventured to while living in Southern California. I thought of hiking Griffith Park every weekend and stopping each time to take the same photo just because I couldn’t get over the way the mountains merged into sky and the way the city stood up so bold and structured against the not-so-romantic layer of smog above. I thought of the countless bowls of Tonkotsu ramen I had consumed in Little Tokyo, and how despite the temperature outside, I would always be content with a bowl of ramen. I thought of the times I went out with my friend, Marysol and how I would always DD because I am a one-shot-wonder type of gal.
All of these memories are saved as files in my mind and of course, on my iCloud account (thank goodness), but now I am ready to make new memories and explore what Lansing, Michigan has to offer.
The drive to St. George, Utah was relatively easy. Our first stop on the trip landed us just outside of Vegas in a town called Nipton, which apparently has a Shell Station known for having the “best date shake you’ll ever have.”
Well, call me a tourist because I believed what the sign had advertised, so I had no choice but to find out and see if this was indeed the “best date shake I’ve ever had.”
Well, it was the only date shake I’ve ever had. And also probably the last. Dates are very sweet naturally, so adding them to a vanilla milkshake almost made it sickeningly sweet to where it was undrinkable. Nonetheless, I guess one could argue it was the best date shake I’ve ever had.
After leaving Nipton for a gas stop, which by the way, costed more than $4.50 (RIP), we hit the Vegas strip, or shall I say, drove straight past it (we’re on a mission after all, plus I’ll save Vegas for a time when I’m not with mom and dad 😛 )
We then headed about 300 miles North and East driving in and out of the Utah-Arizona border where we drove through Littlefield, Arizona and into our final destination, St. George, Utah.
We arrived around 5:00 pm and it was 99 degrees Fahrenheit outside. WOW. The first thing I felt and noticed is that Utah is a hot state and Utah is a rocky state. Famous for its natural geography of the Colorado Plateau, Rocky Mountains, and salt beds, Utah has stunning rock formations that will definitely rock your world! (yes, I’m cringing too!)
After we checked into the hotel and settled in, I decided I needed to shake out my legs a bit and go on a run. I only lasted one mile of running through the heat, but it was one of the more scenic runs I’ve done. The trail I found ran adjacent to our hotel and I later discovered it’s called the “Virgin River Trail,” which spans a short, but mighty 1.8 miles. It wasn’t too long, but the view was amazing! From where I was running, I could see the peaks of valleys and the sun peaking out just as it was dipping down for the day. The sky also looked slightly ominous, which I thought was epic/cinematic, so I stopped running and ended up taking some dramatic photos because, why not?
After the run, dad and I grabbed dinner at a restaurant called “Burger Theory,” which was conveniently located next to our hotel. Dad ordered a burger and I ordered a crispy chicken salad. Both were decent!
After dinner, I headed to our hotel lobby to call my college roommate who has been feeling under the weather. We catch up frequently and the lobby was a good place to relax and chat.
I stayed on my phone scrolling through social media as per usual until I fell asleep around midnight and passed out until the next morning at 7:00 am when mom and dad woke me up with a “let’s go!”