I haven’t been on a true “Road Trip” since my final year of college. In 2002 we drove to Corpus Christi, Texas in a pink van and with 8 people. It was a memorable experience. When I received an invitation to a childhood friends wedding in Las Vegas, I thought I was due for another trip.
Since I travel a lot by airplane, it was essential that I take a break from the airport. My buddy Mike had just completed the bar exam and he was even more interested in a break. So we began our road trip.
Leaving for a trip is always the most exciting. You have a bag full of fluffy, clean clothes. The gas tank is on “F.” And only a few thousand miles lay in front of you.
When we left there was excitement in the air. Since I have been busy with my career and Mike with law school there wasn’t much time to hang out like “The Boys” used to. We started the trip about noon and were quickly on our way to Goodland, Kansas and to my aunt Patty’s town.
There is something unique about Northwest Kansas and the rural-ness of where Patty lives. There isn’t a person for miles. I often joke that it would be easy to go to the mailbox without a stitch of clothing. Patty claims this doesn’t happen for her. It is flat, the wind howls, and the silence is occasionally eerie.
We were up early the next morning and off to Winter Park, Colorado to visit Sara. I have deep respect for how she lives her life, which is dictated only by her. Winter Park is a great and the most inexpensive of the skiing spots in Colorado. The altitude is killer and we drank enough to make our breathing shallow. Mike and I hung out a lot there. Sitting in a bar, drinking a few adult beverages, and playing a bit of pool.
The drive from Winter Park to Las Vegas was unique. There were mountains, valleys, unrelenting ear pain, and annoying mud caused by snow. There were slow spots, and beautiful canyons in Utah. But it was an incredibly long drive, and there wasn’t much service.
When we arrived in Las Vegas it was of course busy. NASCAR had desended on the city and booked every hotel room. Our first night we planned to stay in a youth hostel. After dropping our bags we played some pool with crazy Finnish and Australian girls. My buddy Brian called us to go out, and we obliged. We went out. We were ROCKSTARS. We went to bed at noon the next day.
We walked a lot in Vegas. So much my legs didn’t work. We walked down the strip, into casinos, bars, restaurants savoring this busy place. We ran into people that lived in both of our hometowns. We had a good time.
After a couple of days Mike thought it was necessary to go to the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and camp in freezing conditions while I remained another day in Las Vegas for the wedding. It was so good to catch up with old friends and see such a beautiful ceremony in THE BELLAGIO. I drank a lot, way too much during this time. The RED BULL caused me to have a very restless night of sleep before moving on the next day. OUCH.
My friend Brian is crazy. He knows how to party and convinced me to join him and a few others in Lake Havasu City, Arizona where he is currently living. During the drive down, I stopped at Hoover Dam and drove on an insane highway through a bit of California. When I arrived Brian showed me the city complete with those SPRING BREAKERS he loves so much. We also had a barbeque where I was able to hang out with some of the friends he brought up to Vegas. Thanks Clint, Freddy, Eric, and Twinkie – I had a GREAT TIME! The pool was AMAZING!
After Lake Havasu City, I went on to Phoenix for some hiking and more sun. My buddy Bill and his fiancé Katie graciously lent me one of the best beds I have ever slept on! It was fantastic to see them only about 6 weeks prior to their wedding (which I am VERY EXCITED for).
Phoenix and the heat came and went and then I went to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was during this drive I realized that Iowa, my home is not as rural as this. I was driving MANY MILES before I was able to see people, a radio station, or even a place to fill up. I made a few stops near a crater and on the Painted Forest. There are some great views of the area but I was feeling the affects of driving thousands of miles by myself.
I arrived in Albuquerque with little on the agenda but to rest. I thought I was due for a run, which the altitude quickly told me wasn’t very possible. I spent time in the hotel working on emails and eating a bit of food. The sunset was gorgeous.
The trip from Albuquerque was going to take me off the Interstate system to Wichita, Kansas to see my cousins. This was going to be a long day. 700 miles by myself through Texas, Oklahoma, and rural Kansas. There weren’t many radio stations, many semi-trucks and BIG SKY. The highlight was Hooker, Oklahoma – HOME OF THE HORNY TOADS and seeing my cousins Brett and Kiley.
I got a call early in the morning my final day of the trip. I was an uncle. My brother and his wife had a baby boy – Kinnick Andrew. I knew that it was time to race home and see the new life.
The birth capped an amazing trip where I saw more of the country. I reconnected with myself and one of my dearest friends. I was able to see old friends and make some new ones. I was in a desert, mountains, plains, couches, beds, and bars. It was a trip I love to take and would consider it in the future. THANK YOU to those who hosted us overnight, provided food, and had a great time.