the great american roadtrip.

Where has Natalie been for the past two weeks? Well, the answer to that is most likely driving. Although finals did kick in and halt my writing for a little bit in there, the main reason for my disappearing act was a long road trip from California to Oklahoma. And before anyone assumes anything, I did not take Route 66 all way, or else that road trip would have been closer to a week, rather than two to three days. However, the I-44 route does parallel Route 66 in a lot of places, so many of the little pit stops made on the trek from west coast to borderline midwest were indeed Route 66 destinations. So from Southern California, through Arizona, New Mexico, and very briefly Texas, all the way to Oklahoma, here are some tips and tricks, and stops worth making.

don’t be afraid to go a little out of your way.

When the Grand Canyon is only an hour north of the route you’re taking, go. A national park is always worth a detour. And you don’t need all day! My Grand Canyon stop was just about two hours, and I felt completely content with my experience. I suggest stopping for sunset, but make sure to arrive a bit before because it will be packed. Unless *hint* you find your own little spot, instead of crowding at the outlook stations. A sunset walk through the Grand Canyon followed by some pizza in the Grand Canyon Village makes for a detour well spent.

opt for hot coffee over iced.

I have yet to figure out why, but hot coffee definitely does not make you have to pee as much as iced coffee does.

 

be spontaneous.

Not all stops have to be pre-planned. In other words, when you have a really strong urge to ride a rollercoaster, and you see a sign for “Cliff's Amusement Park” 50 miles ahead in Albuquerque, New Mexico, definitely go. It may seem a bit questionable at first, considering its location next to a few strip clubs, but these places almost always make a good story. And honestly, don’t discount Cliff’s! Between their wooden roller coaster and that ride that drops you down straight 150 feet, I was screaming.

go “all-american”.

Take a break from the freeway and hop onto Route 66 for a little while. It’s refreshingly quiet and quaint. And if you happen to be somewhere near the border of New Mexico and Texas, definitely stop at Del’s Restaurant. I walked through their doors and felt like I had stepped into a completely different world. Small town America is tremendously different than Los Angeles, but it was a welcome change of pace. If you’re looking for genuine smiles and American food (plus a whole lot of cowboy boots) make the stop.

collect things.

Postcards, photographs, road maps, bumper sticker, or dreamcatchers. You’ll want to remember this.