You’ve seen the colorful Instagrams and road trippin snapchats, but now for the full story of the adventure! Read the intro or skip right along to a particular city…
When I met Graham four years ago, he had just graduated with a Finance degree from the University of Pittsburgh and had decided to pursue a career in medicine. The years that followed were full of science pre-requisites & MCAT studying for him, and marketing coursework at Virginia Tech for me. When I graduated two years ago (fall of ’13), I was able to help with the last leg of the application/interview process. Out of all of the schools in the U. S. of A. Western U. in Pomona, CA ended up being the winner. They gave him a golden ticket, and unlike other schools, it was with no strings attached – no further coursework needed. He made his decision in December of 2014, but the logistics of him moving cross-country really didn’t enter the conversation until this summer. The best option: a cross-country roadtrip, VW Jetta filled to the brim, with me by his side. A move and a vacay in one – that was the goal!
DAY ONE – PITTSBURGH – KANSAS CITY
Day one was a doozie. We started at 7am and arrived in Kansas City at 8pm. In hindsight, it was in fact a good idea to get a lot of driving out of the way up front, and the podcast Serial served as our primary source of entertainment. We stayed at the Four Points Sheraton across from the Kansas City Sports Complex, nothing fancy, and ate dinner at a diner out of pure exhaustion. Although – we did make time to go for a run (sitting all day makes you feel gross, guys)! We circled around the Royals and Chiefs stadiums, taking proud Steeler & Pirate fan selfies in the process. Unfortunately, this is ALL we had time for in Kansas City, since we woke up early to drive straight to Denver.
DAY TWO & THREE – DENVER
People weren’t joking when they said it was a boring drive through Kansas. Wow! After 9 hours in the car we finally made it to my cousin’s sweet home in Golden! So nice to be reunited with family in this awesome mountain town! We started with a hike on a mountain that was right in their neighborhood (!) because we just had to stretch out those legs! I also managed to slip and slide, feet first down a steep and sandy hillside. It was hilarious, and I was glad that I could keep things light and entertaining for all! Afterwards, we went to a local highlight, Buffalo Bill Days, in the town of Golden. A booth there had fried cupcakes and rice crispy treats the size of my face! You better bet I ate one of those!
Looking over Golden
The next day we explored and hiked at Red Rocks amphitheater, met up with more cousins in the amazing lake town of Evergreen, and even had time for a Rockies game! After dinner we headed to the Ale House with my cousin for a rooftop dinner and took in some sweeping views of the city. Graham and I agreed that Denver was by far our favorite destination of the trip. Spending two days there gave us enough time to see the city and hanging out with family made all of the difference.
Golden & Lookout Mountain
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Muddy Buck Coffee in Evergreen
Ale House @ Amato’s
Red Rocks Evergreen Lake
DAY THREE – SANTA FE
After a quick stop in Colorado Springs to see the Garden of the Gods, and 6 more hours in the car, we arrived in Santa Fe. We headed to Old Town for dinner and soon realized that most shops and restaurants were closed because it was a Sunday evening. Woop. But the Blue Corn Cafe was open and awesome, and our stay at the Hyatt Place hotel was super nice. Huge rooms and free breakfast FTW.
So much color!
DAY FOUR – PHOENIX
Six more hours in the car landed us in the hot, hot, heat of Phoenix! We stayed at the Hilton Squaw Peak because Graham stayed there once, years ago, and remembered that they had an awesome pool. Awesome indeed – especially the lazy river. We explored the grounds, floated around in that river and went to the fancy fitness center, of course. Later we drove through Phoenix to Tempe and ate dinner in a fun little taco joint right off of ASU’s campus. It was another quick, yet enjoyable stop on our trip west.
The next morning we headed to PALM SPRINGS! Read about this desert oasis in PART TWO.