Aug 1, 2010

Last Post! Grand Canyon National Park, Driving home.

the final post. this trip was an exciting, new experience for me. I would have loved to stay longer and explore more places but the lack of funds turned out to be a real issue. Our trip was fun but not at all times relaxing-finding a place to sleep that is fairly cheap and yet still nice enough to sleep in can be challenging. Nevertheless I will never forget the trip and I hope to come back and visit the places we saw again sometime in the future.
our journey this time brings us to...
the Grand Canyon!

we rented a quick night in a subpar hotel in Flagstaff, AZ. the room was OK but the complimentary breakfast was horrible, we at least got to eat SOME passable healthy food other than fast food.
 The drive to Grand Canyon National Park was long and arduous at some points but soon we were the only ones on rt 64 and were speeding along the Arizona desert landscape.

Grand Canyon National Park was a bit of a hassle to get into, finally we were able to park at a location close to the south rim of the canyon. After a short trek we made it to the lookout point and the views did not disappoint.

and that was all just from the south rim of the canyon! we were told that the north rim had equally beautiful views and less people since it was harder to get to. had we wanted to stay a bit longer I think it would've been nice to see the views from the north rim.
alas, we also wanted to head back home.

After exploring a bit more of the Grand Canyon we decided it was time to start on our way back toward the east coast.
Leaving the Grand Canyon we decided to take an alternate route to get back on to the main highway. our route took us through the Hopi Indian Reservation. the reservation was very wide open but also a bit sad. Passing by lots of worn down shacks on the side of the road was very depressing. We got further in to the reservation and the main road we were traveling on opened up stretching out flat for miles and miles, I sped like crazy on that road. If I had a nicer, faster car it could've easily done over 120mph, probably even faster than that!

After leaving the reservation and its uninhabited roads we made it to the interstate and thus our long journey home finally began.

we made fairly good time. our goal wasn't to get back to Maryland just yet, we planned to make it to the outer banks in North Carolina to surprise Chaz's family and spend a relaxing week there.
We left around 4pm and drove straight through the night. Despite our stops and one speeding ticket (oops!) we made it through Arizona, New Mexico,  and a sliver of Texas all the way to Oklahoma by sunrise.
Not stopping to sleep just yet (SToK espresso shots are amazing by the way, definitely buying some for school this fall) we zipped through Oklahoma and all its creepy Jesus billboards. Arkansas was equally barren and unexciting from Interstate 40 (sorry Arkansas!) we got sidetracked a little trying to find gas and supplies but we made it through the state by midday.

Tennessee was another matter, I could never have comprehended how long of a state it was to drive through before-but now I know from experience. It wasn't a bad experience at all though-Tennessee is beautiful! there's another vacation waiting to happen, exploring Tennesse. Along with the scenery we got to experience some very nice hospitality-friendly people!

On our trek through Tennessee we got lost in Memphis by accident. After having the urge to eat somewhere with decent food we decided maybe Memphis would have something for us. Chaz pulled off on one of the first exits he saw and unfortunately it didn't lead us to food.
it lead us straight to HELL! more on that...
 
We passed a ritzy area of the city and found ourselves suddenly in a very poor, slum-like area. On top of that, there was construction on the roads and the signs we saw leading us back to the Interstate were annoying and impossibly hard to follow. by luck we made it back to 40 after about a half hour of being utterly lost.

Driving for a bit more we decided to stop at the first decent restaurant we saw, a few signs later and we were at a Texas Roadhouse just outside of Memphis. The food was fine, we ate a bit too much I think, but at least we had a friendly waitress-the whole restaurant was really friendly and everyone said "y'all" with twangy southern accents. It was kind of refreshing!

Back on the road it was nearing nightfall. It took us the whole night to drive through Tennessee (We passed by Nashville and Knoxville but I only remember Nashville because it was so well lit and it looked so pretty).
we made it to North Carolina by about 5am East Coast time (yes, we drove through the whole night again). we lost a few hours going from west coast time to east coast time. Finally! after 2 weeks of being packed in a car, eating slightly less than decent food, showering infrequently, and blowing quite a bit of money...we were finally at the Outer Banks beach house eagerly awaiting Chaz's family.

we surprised his family as they were not expecting us, it was very nice to be in a relaxing atmosphere for a change. We spent the week there-that is a completely different tale...

So, in conclusion: this trip has definitely been the most memorable vacation I have taken so far in my young life. I got to experience new parts of the US and see some amazing things. I keep saying this, but it's true, had there been more time and more money it would have been awesome to stay for the planned three weeks and explore some more.
Maybe when I win the lottery...
just kidding! thanks to everyone who read the blog for actually reading it and looking at the pictures! until the next big road trip...this blog is done.



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