Driving across the United States has always been on my bucket list. I have been fortunate in my traveling life thus far, and one thing I have learned is that people oftentimes overlook what the U.S. has to offer: national parks, changing geography, culture, music, delicious food, and great people!
I used to day dream of driving across this beautiful country with a handsome man holding my hand. Sometimes I would whisk myself away across America taking an entire summer to get from one end to the other, stopping at various mountains and wineries, all while eating the freshest dishes ever created. I would envision exploring quaint towns, pristine beaches, all the while meeting new people.
Well, I didn’t travel with a handsome man holding my hand or take an entire summer, but the rest of the day dream is pretty accurate. Let me take you back to the day I left Chapel Hill – January 10, 2015. Instead of the handsome man, I had a handsome dog, as well as Sabrina, my new found little sister. These two accompanied me on my cross country journey and I am blessed that I could share this amazing experience with a great friend and my best furry buddy.
Our first stop: Asheville, NC. If you have never been, it’s a great place to explore. Asheville is filled with an artistic vibe, a burgeoning beer scene, serene views, and out-of-this-world cuisine. We stopped at Biscuit Head to “put some south in our mouth” prior to leaving my home state. It was melt-in-your-mouth goodness, and I realized it would probably be the last time I had a real southern biscuit for a while.
Nashville was our stomping ground for the first night on the road. Instead of staying in the heart of Nashville, we stayed right outside the city, thanks to my cousin Gordon who organized my stay. (Merry Christmas to me!) Sabrina and I ordered room service for our first night away from Chapel Hill. There’s just something about room service that is luxurious. Don’t get me wrong though, it wasn’t above-and-beyond room service like you might expect at a grand New York City hotel, but it was totally worth it.
The next morning: January 11, 2015. We ate at Sky Blue Cafe, the neatest cafe I have ever been to! It sat in the middle of the historic Edgefield neighborhood in East Nashville. Fun fact: the new hit TV show “Nashville” shot a scene at the cafe, and uses Edgefield neighborhood as shooting locations for Deacon’s and Scarlett’s house!
Do you see these pancakes?!? I ordered stuffed french toast pancakes with banana and nutella. I mean, have you even heard of such yummy goodness? I am not joking when I say that I have thought about this divine meal everyday since Jan. 11.
We didn’t have much time in Memphis, but we did see Beale Street and visited the historic Peabody Memphis Hotel. There is an old tradition where the whimsical Peabody ducks march through the hotel lobby and swim in the fountain. Needless to say, Shadow made quite a scene when he realized the ducks were actually real! Before we left, we made our way to the rooftop of the world-renowned hotel where the Duck Palace resides, as well as a view of the entire city.
Night #2 (January 11): Fort Smith, Arkansas. We barely had any time in Arkansas, however we ate a delicious home cooked meal at Calico Country, a landmark in the Fort Smith area. Service was amazing and we met the sweetest couple! Y’all know how loud I am and how much I like to talk. Well, so does Sabrina (in fact, she may be a tad louder than me). We ended up creating new friends over chicken & dumplings and homeade cinnamon rolls, which the restaurant is known for. Sweet Pam was lovely, and Sabrina and I now follow her on Facebook and keep in touch. It’s amazing the people I have met and great things I have done because of my extrovert personality.
We departed Arkansas on the morning of January 12 and drove through Oklahoma,Texas, and part of New Mexico…all in the same day! Fun fact: the speed limit was 75mph and it was glorious! Let me be the first to tell you that America truly reveals itself in places that you would never expect. Driving through the vast land and open country side was a type of beautiful that I had never seen.
“Sabrina, I feel like we are driving on the road into Heaven.” That’s what I said as we passed the incredibly unique wind farms in Oklahoma and a random cross that perched in the distance of a Texas field. The sunset at that exact moment was indescribable. I remember thinking that Grandma, my angel, was by my side. The wonders of that sunset made me smile…I had no doubt that she was speaking directly to my heart. It was one of those moments that give you a closer idea of Him, a closer feeling to Him, and the recognition that there are heavenly places on Earth.
We tried making it to Amarillo as the sun went down to get a taste of the Old West. Both Sabrina and I absolutely love photography and had a vision to take sunset pictures at Cadillac Ranch. Our timing was just a bit off, but we still managed to get a couple of great shots.
It couldn’t have been more than 15 or 20 minutes after passing the state line when it started SNOWING! “What?!?,” I thought to myself. Of all places, I didn’t expect a snow storm in New Mexico. As you can imagine, the frigid weather put somewhat of a halt to our drive, but we pressed onward and arrived to Santa Fe in one piece.
Hotel Chimayo could not have been more perfect! It was nestled in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. The decor and colors of the room created a perfect ambiance of New Mexican style. Stay tuned for more of Santa Fe, followed by beautiful Sedona. I will share even more heavenly places…