My First Road Trip: Four States in Seven Days

My first road trip turns out to be the trip that changed my life.

Spring 2014 Trip

It started with just a single video call from my best friend in San Diego who asked me if we should do something different to kick off our 21st birthday (Fun fact: Our birthday is one week apart). With a lot of hesitation, I said “Let’s Do It!” mainly for the purpose of celebrating our birthday together. Around 2100 miles driving sounds like a nightmare for me especially this was my first road trip. Anyway, we could not stop the time and the day finally arrived. Everything was planned and we were ready to roll.


Here is how I spent my Spring Break driving across California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada.

The trip will take 2101 miles without stopping (which is around 34 hours of non stop driving) but it is impossible to do it without stopping at all, right? So we broke it down into different legs.

Day#1: San Jose, CA – Tahoe City, CA – Ely, NV 

At 8.00 AM sharp, we left the bay area hoping to avoid the traffic. Nothing really exciting in this leg, except the fact that we were still so busy catching up with each other and time really flies when you are having a good time. We passed the capital of California, Sacramento and simply continued our journey all the way to Inspiration Point Vista in Tahoe City. We arrived around noon time and the weather was just perfect there.

Inspirational Point

We spent couple of hours there adjusting our camera to get the picture right and clearly we did not have the best camera (actually our skill is just bad). Next, we drove to the famous Sand Harbor Beach just to find out that no one was there… at all! The beach was ours.

Sand Harbor Beach

Nothing much to do here except enjoying the view. We got back on the road to get to our next destination – Ely, which means crossing the state border of California – Nevada. Here we recharged ourself for another exciting journey tomorrow.


Day#2: Ely, NV – Cedar City, UT 

Zion National Park was our main destination today. Just like the first day, we left at 8.00 AM. After the first two hours of driving, we passed the border of Nevada – Utah. The clock is one hour faster now. There was not much view along the journey, except the fact that it was so similar to the scene where they filmed the Walking Dead. Another two hours of similar view and we arrived at Zion National Park, passing through Cedar City (where we slept later). I think we were too excited during this time that I had less than 5 pictures taken at this place. We went to hike this moderate trail to reach the Canyon Overlook. It was a 1-mile roundtrip, which is approximately 1 hour of hiking in total, but we spent way longer than that admiring the nature.

Canyon Overlook

After we had enough fun in Zion National Park, we went back to Cedar City to find ourselves a nice place to sleep. We decided to go back because seems like there is no path that connects Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park aside from passing through Cedar City. So yeah, Bryce Canyon National Park was the next destination.


Day#3: Cedar City, UT – Page, AZ 

it was our third day on the road and I was still as excited as I could be. The journey to Bryce Canyon National Park was less than 2 hours drive. Well, we were tricked. The two hours drive only brought us to the National Park entrance. We pulled over to one of the turnout close to the entrance because I was too excited seeing the red rock formation in every direction where I could turned my head to. When we got down from the car, the wind was like at least 40mph. Not looking good but we still managed to get some cool pictures.

Bryce Canyon National Park entrance

There was like another extra hour of driving to reach the main destination of the National Park. Believe me, the one hour felt like nothing because this place is really beautiful. Once we reached our destination, I was really blown away by the rock formation of the canyon (and literally blown away by the wind, too).

P.S. This is my favorite place visited throughout this trip

Bryce Canyon

Here, a random stranger asked me to take him a picture and afterwards we chatted a bit. He is a solo traveller traveling across United States. One thing led to another and he changed my point of view of traveling.

We spent hours here before the rain started to pour. As we continued our journey, we passed through the border of Utah – Arizona. The clock resets back an hour. We stopped at this Vermillion Cliffs National Monument which is exactly located at the border of two states. It is basically a wilderness where if you hike deeper, the sandstone rock formation can be found.

Vermont Cliff

Another hour of driving and we finally reached Page, AZ where we stayed for the night.


Day#4: Page, AZ

It was early morning and we were up chasing the tour to visit the Antelope Canyon. There are two options available, which is the Lower Antelope Canyon tour and Upper Antelope Canyon tour. We decided to hop on to the Lower Antelope Canyon tour right at the entrance as there is no other way to enter the canyon. It costed us 20$ each person but we got what we paid for. (Tips: Bring cash as the tour only accepts cash). In a group of 20 people, we started to walk down into somehow like underground path and it is getting colder…and colder…and colder.

Lower Antelope Entrance

The path was so small that crawling, squeezing, jumping, squat-walking, etc were necessary.

Lower Antelope

The experience guide told stories about the rock formations that take the shape of bird, dragon, king, etc. I did not really pay attention, instead we made friends with a couple from France and we were the four people left behind busy taking pictures for each other. The tour lasted for approximately one hour and fifteen minutes.

Antelope Canyon

Moving on, we went straight to Horseshoe Bend, which is actually very close to the Antelope Canyon. The Horseshoe Bend gets its name due to the shape of rock formation that is surrounded by a small stream of water surrounding making it so similar to a horseshoe. (Tips: Kayaking along the stream is possible)

Horseshoe Bend

Honestly, I do not really remember what we did, but it was dark already and we returned to Page, AZ to get some food (finally some legit food after 3 days). We stayed another night in Page, AZ.


Day#5: Page, AZ – Las Vegas, NV

The famous Grand Canyon National Park was our destination today before going to the sin city. It was about two hours of driving before reaching the Desert View Watchtower. Go up and you can see the canyon. It is gigantic.

Desert Watchtower

So this Grand Canyon is really grand that we were so lost on which place we should go. We decided to follow our intuition to visit the Grand Canyon Village while stopping halfway in one of the vista point to capture the canyon. Okay, I am not a pro photographer but if you look on the right side, the Colorado River is visible. Yeiy!!! I think there is a kayak/rafting tour available to travel through the river.

Grand Canyon

After all the fun, we drove to our next destination Las Vegas, NV. Reached there around evening time and the city really never sleep. We went to one of the buffet place to fill ourselves up. Nothing much we can do here except enjoying the view as we were still weeks away from 21st.


Day#6: Las Vegas, NV – Los Angeles, CA

We drove to Los Angeles, CA for around 5 hours. Here, we just chilled and enjoyed the rest of the day before the night fell. My friend dropped me in the Greyhound station as I am heading back to San Jose, CA with bus while he drove back to San Diego. The bus that I took leave precisely 30 minutes before midnight. The journey lasted for 6 hours 40 minutes.


Day#7: Los Angeles, CA – San Jose, CA

The bus was packed and I was lazy searching for an empty seat after I found one on the first row (right behind the driver). Ahoy, there are outlets available on the bus but still I quickly dozed off after taking this shot.

Greyhound

The next time I woke up, I was in this city called Avenal, CA. There was a 30 minutes layover for people to stretch and walk a bit as needed. I fell asleep again in the second leg of my bus ride until I found myself arrived in San Jose, CA already. It was 7 AM in the morning and my friend was there waiting to pick me up.


Well that concludes my first road trip ever. Honestly, no regret at all. It was a total of 2101 miles across four states (California – Nevada – Arizona – Utah) in just seven days. If I who have no experience on doing road trip can do it, pretty sure everyone can do it too. All you need is just the heart and bravery to go out of your comfort zone.

Blessings!

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