Western Road Trip with Ian

5 days, 4 stops, 3 states, and about 1,300 miles. The journey was the destination.Originally, our plan was to hang out Phoenix, but at the last minute Ian’s wife, Jaja, couldn’t join us so we decided to lay out a road trip.

Phoenix –> Joshua Tree –> San Diego –> Las Vegas –> Grand Canyon –> Phoenix.

What’s great about this route is that you’re never more than 4-hours drive from your next stop.

More than just visiting the places on our itinerary, I was most looking forward to some time on the road, catching up, and traveling with only a set of destinations and few plans for when we got there.

My kind of trip :)

Stop One: Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree was one of my favorite parts of the trip. The landscapes and changing wildlife made you feel like you were traveling much further distance than you actually were. The views were spectacular and the weather was perfect.

To cap it off, we caught an awesome sunset looking over the San Andreas Fault with a group of fellow sunset gazers. There was something refreshing about being with a bunch of people taking in the same view. Good vibes, good times.

Stop Two: San Diego

I really had no idea what to expect from San Diego. That seems to be the best orientation before going somewhere new. :)

We spent some time walking around Balboa Park before realizing we really needed some way to tour the city. Enter the $30 hop-on-and-off city trolley :)

We bopped around San Diego and stopped off at places for lunch and a pier-side restaurant where we could kick back and do some people watching over a beer.

I had one of the tastiest pizza slices of my life at the righteous NAPIZZA in Little Italy. Truffle Porcini and a slice of chicken pesto pizza.

Stop Three: Las Vegas

No photos were taken here. :) And, really, I don’t think it had anything to do with Vegas. Ian and I caught Cirque du Soleil’s Love (The Beatles). The show wasn’t as acrobatic as most Cirque shows, but if you never had the opportunity to see The Beatles live, this is as close as you’ll get.

After the show, we milled around Fremont, checked out The D, had a coney, and donated a few dollars to the casinos.

Stop Four: The Grand Canyon

This was Ian’s favorite stop. I think he loves the Western expanses more than I do.

We probably could have used more time here (got a late start from Vegas), but even the few hours that we spent were memorable. It doesn’t take more than a second of the Grand Canyon to slip into an awesome mood.

Every 100 yards or so, it seemed like the Canyon rearranged and repainted itself beneath you. The park is really maintained and whether they intended it or not, I loved that you could step out beyond the marked path and walk out and perch on some rocks overlooking everything. Even with tons of people there, it still felt like you could find a little spot, a little moment for yourself.

After the Grand Canyon, we overnighted in Flagstaff. More of just a lodging stop, it still got me thinking about winter due to the nearby slopes.

It was a great trip and a fun chance to catch up with Ian who moved away from Chicago earlier this year. Sorry Jaja! We’ll get you on the next one. :)