Tuesday, June 28, 2011

California or Bust!

In our case it was California rather than bust! The trip was awesome and if you followed me on Twitter, you got a little taste of our various stops.  First we said "Goodbye" to the ole homestead in Durham, NC.

We finished packing a truck to take to my brother's new house, and in 100 degree heat and 90% humidity, we captured the last moment in front of house in all of it's sweaty, grody glory.

My brother and his lovely fiance treated us to Red Robin and we gave them our best tips for house renovating.

We hung out with my family and I paid a lot of extra special attention to our adorable family dog who is celebrating her 15th birthday next week!

From my parent's, we left for my grandparents' house with a stop at the Flight 93 National Memorial.  Even though it was a temporary memorial, it was very moving.  We both got emotional reading the transcripts of the phone calls received from the victims on the plane.

We took my grandparents out to King's Family Restaurant and then they caught us up on the Casey Anthony trial.  They e njoy both the liver/onions meal and the litigation.

From there, we headed to Chicago for the very first time!  What a great city!  The weather was perfect and we walked all over the city as we recovered from massive slices at Giordano's.

In Chicago we got an awesome deal from Hotwire at the Palmer House Hotel.  We highly recommend both!  From Chicago, we made our way across Illinois with a stop at Ronald Reagan's boyhood home in   Dixon.

While Mr. Palindrome drove  90% of the way, I set up a mobile office using my phone as a mobile hot spot connection and a power converter for my laptop through the cigarette lighter.  Coffee was also at hand always!

It seemed like a Presidential sort of day as we later stopped at Herbert Hoover's birthplace and Presidential Library in Iowa.  The cottage was amazingly small and  inspirational.  There was certainly no silver spoon in his mouth.  While he may have been an unpopular President, his work for starving children as outlined in the adjacent museum was admirable.

As we ended our day, we knew that we had to partake of some famous Omaha steak!  I perused a few travel sites and found that locals went to Johnny's Cafe near the stockyards.  We lived it up with wine, appetizers, steak, and our own desserts!

The next day was my favorite part of the trip - driving top down through Rocky Mountain National Park!

There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground in places, even covering up some of the park signs.

I was hoping to see a bear, but we had to settle for a Marmot and a Mule deer.

In trying to get as many National Park Passport stamps as possible in my book, we stopped at Dinosaur National Monument on the Utah side.  Beyond stamps, we were also hoping to see some dinosaur bones, but we arrived too late in the day to take the shuttle to the dinosaur quarry.  If we every pass through again, I'd love to see it!

Later than night, we arrived in Salt Lake City ready to see the sights and eat dinner.  The temple square and visitor's center offered a fascinating view into the history and building of the temple.

We dined at the Copper Onion and highly recommend it, same as our hotel, the Hilton, which we again scored on Hotwire for an amazing deal.  The hotel desk attendant was incredibly nice and upgraded us on account of our first visit to Utah!  This is the view from our 18th floor room overlooking the mountains:

At this point in the trip, I quit taking as many pictures because the anticipation of being almost there just about killed me.  We landed in Reno that night and instead of taking pictures, we focused all our energy on gambling.  It was a great trade off as we won $100 and nearly paid for our delicious dinner at La Strada in the El Dorado.  The last leg of the journey from Reno to Mountain View (where we're staying temporarily until our apartment in the city is ready), included a 2 hour stopover at the outlets for Mr. P to buy himself a new work outfit for his first day.  

Our route was a little bit out of the way, but only by 400 miles total which allowed us to see family in 3 different states.  Also, the road through Rocky Mountain National Park is only open in the summer, so we wanted to take advantage of that and warm weather throughout the Rockies  and Chicago in general.  Here's the bird's eye view of our route which we thoroughly enjoyed:

Have you driven cross country?  What route did you take?  What was your favorite stop?


  1. What a wonderful and exciting experience! :)

  2. I'm a west coaster, went to college in Iowa, and my fam now lives on the east coast so I've done that drive a couple times - love it!! welcome to California! (I happen to think northern California is one of the best places ever)

  3. what a trip! I'm terrified to make the cross-country drive, even Chicago to San Diego. we drove for hours in the car a lot as a kid, but for some reason it seems too intimidating now.

    I loved all your travel outfits and the places you guys stopped!

    did you send your stuff with a moving company? Did you get it all already? Friends that did that a couple years ago had to wait three weeks for their boxes! Hope moving in is a smooth transition for you.

  4. It look like you guys had a really great time! And how exciting that you're finally there! :) Can't wait to see the new home!

  5. I love that you guys took full advantage of the opportunity and saw as much as possible during your trip! I took the cross-country drive twice when I went out to intern in LA (started in Cincinnati). We took a southern route out there, going through the Texas panhandle, New Mexico and Arizona. On the way back, we took a similar route as you guys, but went out of our way to go to Vegas. The Rockies were my favorite part of the trip! The desert through New Mexico was also interesting.

    Since I went with my dad both times, I definitely want to make the trip with my husband someday!

    Can't wait to see how you like California!

  6. Oh my gosh, what a fun trip!! You all got to see so much! I'm so jealous. And the climate changes are unbelievable too!

  7. What a great trip!! I think one of my travel disappointments so far has been the fact that I have not driven across country. Of course actually having a valid drivers' license would help! Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

  8. I'm so jealous that you took the time at each stop to enjoy it. We have a beautiful country and I'm so glad you were able to enjoy it!

  9. Looks like a great trip! So much more scenic than the southern route we took. And lucky you for not having to drive very much, I had to drive about 50% of the time.

    While you're in Mountain View, you should eat at La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant and Frankie, Johnny and Luigi Too (Italian). They were two of our favorite good-cooking-at-good-prices places to eat when we lived there. And if you're looking for some night life and don't want to go all the way to the city, Molly MaGees in downtown MV is alright, but it's way better to take the short drive to University Ave in Palo Alto. We used to pick a restaurant (Miyake for Japanese and Sushi is really good and not overpriced, like most sushi places are in the bay area) and then just walk around from bar to bar, since there are a ton all up and down University, and down the side streets too.

    Oh, and if you're looking for the best dive bar in the whole area, where you can throw peanut shells on the ground, play pool and darts, write on the walls with chalk, and talk to old timers at the bar, the Nut House on California Ave in Palo Alto is THE BEST!

    Man, I miss the bay area, can you tell?

  10. Thanks for the warm welcome @Amanda!

  11. @Lattelove - our stuff will be delivered next week when we're able to get into our apt. All in all, it will take about 3 weeks for our stuff to make it cross country!

  12. @Morgan Thank for the recommendations! We have so many new places to try - it's really exciting!

  13. Welcome to SF! Keep your National Parks passport handy, because there are a lot of parks within a very short drive - or walk, depending on where you're living.

  14. Welcome to the Bay Area. When you get settled- let's meet up!??