Road Trip Update 6: Tennessee, Virginia, and Home

Road Trip Day 12 - Tennessee state sign

Last week at this time, I was heading to Memphis, listening to the latest music Suzi provided for me (Johnny Cash and Elvis made top of the list, of course).

Road Trip Day 12 - Beale Street Memphis Tennessee

By 6pm, I was humming Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” and strolling down Beale Street.

Road Trip Day 12 - Elvis Presley note Beale Street Memphis Tennessee

… I didn’t have blue suede shoes though, so I wore my gray Minnetonka Kilty Suede Moccasins instead.

Road Trip Day 12 - King's Palace Cafe live music Beale Street Memphis Tennessee

After doing a little bit of shopping, I was drawn to the live music playing outside of King’s Palace Cafe.

Road Trip Day 12 - King's Palace Cafe dinner Beale Street Memphis Tennessee

So I enjoyed their BBQ Platter — ribs, pulled pork, and “Voodoo potatoes” — while I watched the live performance. By the time I worked my way through all that delicious food, it was getting dark and Beale Street was a little seedy for a solo roadtripper like me, so I headed back to my hotel and watched The Birdcage on TV before falling asleep.

Road Trip Day 13 - Graceland Elvis house Memphis Tennessee

In the morning, I swung by Graceland to pay my respects to Elvis Presley. I got there too early to do a tour, but I couldn’t have done one anyway as it takes 2.5-3 hours. So, I walked around the grounds for a bit, then got back in the car and drove toward Nashville.

Road Trip Day 13 - Loveless Cafe Nashville Tennessee

In Nashville, I got gas and ate at the Loveless Cafe. Well, okay, there was a 2 hour wait, so I got my grits, biscuits, and ham egg and cheese to go and ate in my car (even the seats outside were all taken!) I am not normally a grits fan, but damn. Those grits were good.

Road Trip Day 13 - Hotel Roanoke Virginia

I hit pockets of rain on my way to Virginia, but got to the Hotel Roanoke around 7pm.

Road Trip Day 13 - Hotel Roanoke lobby

It was built in 1882 so it has gorgeous old-world charm. Look at this lobby!

Road Trip Day 13 - Hotel Roanoke secret sitting room

There was even a secret sitting room off my room. I may have enjoyed my room service in here… ;)

Road Trip Day 14 - Connecticut state sign

Friday, I woke up super early, threw on my best red, white, and blue and booked it back to Connecticut. At 4:30pm, Stan was giving me the best hug ever.

Road Trip Day 14 - Independence Day Jell-O Cake

We ended the night watching fireworks under an umbrella at my Dad’s house and enjoying Suzi’s 4th of Jell-O cake! (See what I did there? ;)

Though I would have loved to share my trip with Stan or a few family members or friends, it was really liberating and empowering to do it on my own. It’s still incredible to me that I drove across the country and back on my own. I experienced pure natural beauty (Rocky Mountains, Arches National Park, Grand Canyon) and geeked out over Thelma & LouiseBuffy and Breaking Bad filming locations. I had amazing food and some not-so-great food, too. I listened to some great music and audiobooks (The Fault in Our Stars and okay, some Harry Potters) and an overrated one (sorry, Kerouac). I visited friends and family and it was amazing!!!

See all of my road trip updates here:


Road Trip Update 5: Arizona & New Mexico: Feeling Grand and Breaking Bad

It feels really good to be home. I wanted to blog on Friday, but I was so tired the rest of the week. My body is still recovering! So here’s the fifth update from my road trip, covering Arizona and New Mexico (and a little Texas and Oklahoma).

Road Trip Day 9 - Cracker Barrel Arizona

After leaving my uncle’s house in Los Angeles, I drove about halfway to the Grand Canyon and stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at a Cracker Barrel. ‘Cause you have to stop at a Cracker Barrel at some point on a road trip!

Road Trip Day 9 - Grand Canyon Arizona

I made it to the Grand Canyon just before the sun set.

Road Trip Day 9 - Grand Canyon 2 Arizona

As with the Rocky Mountains, it’s hard to take a photo of the Grand Canyon that really captures the magnitude of it. I hung around it for a little while to watch the sun set, then drove to my hotel in Flagstaff.

Road Trip Day 10 - Albuquerque To'Hajiilee road sign New Mexico

Day 10 / Monday, June 30th was thankfully a shorter driving day, but still 6.5 hours to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Just before heading into the city proper, I wanted to scope out To’Hajiilee, an Indian reservation about 30 miles outside of Albuquerque. Breaking Bad fans will know this as the place where it began and end. Walt and Jesse’s first cook spot and — without spoiling anything specific — where a few characters lost their lives.

Road Trip Day 10 - To'Hajiilee Indian Reservation New Mexico

This is the only place during my trip where I was a little nervous about being alone, because it meant driving through what has sadly become kind of a Native American ghetto, run by tribal — not American — law. You have to do a lot of off-roading to get to the key location from Breaking Bad, passing by a lot of run-down homes and private property. I braved the dirt paths (you couldn’t even call them roads) for a while, but they were not made for little sedans and as soon as I saw a decaying bull carcass, I decided that was enough and turned around to head back to the highway.

Road Trip Day 10 - To'Hajiilee Indian Reservation sign New Mexico

I caught a photo of this beautiful hand-painted sign before leaving (the front had graffiti on it).

Road Trip Day 10 - Breaking Bad candy The Candy Lady Albuquerque New Mexico

My first stop in Albuquerque was The Candy Lady, located in the heart of the city, the historic “Old Town.” Owner Debby Ball was approached by Breaking Bad‘s prop department prior to filming the first season because they were in need of an edible prop to stand in as meth on the TV show. Ball made them a rock candy — first in white, then in the signature Heisenberg “baby blue,” and continued to manufacture it for the show, then later for fans. Fans can buy it in dime bags and have a photo taken of them in front of a prop Los Pollos Hermanos poster, with black fedora, sunglasses, and fake money. Pretty badass.

Road Trip Day 10 - Breaking Bad Walter White's house Albuquerque New Mexico

After checking into my hotel and attempting to eat at The Grove Cafe (which is closed on Mondays – nice planning, Sami!) then finally eating at a P.F. Chang’s, I hurried out to photograph a few more Breaking Bad locations before it got dark. Number 1 on my priority list was Walter White’s house, which is really owned by Fran Padilla. She came outside just after I took this photo, so I introduced myself and said “hello from Connecticut!” She was very nice, but I didn’t want to ask her a billion questions, knowing she gets this all the time. Even while I was saying my brief hello and thank you, another car drove by to snap a photo!

Road Trip Day 10 - Breaking Bad A1A Octopus Car Wash Albuquerque New Mexico

Just a mile away is Octopus Car Wash, used in filming Breaking Bad‘s A1A car wash. It was also closed, but I went back the next day to get Lola B’s very first car wash. Noticing I was from Connecticut, the attendant told me to “have an A1 day!” – it was pretty great.

Road Trip Day 10 - Breaking Bad Jesse Pinkman's house Albuquerque New Mexico

It was getting dark quickly, so my last stop for the night was Jesse Pinkman’s house. It’s in a really beautiful neighborhood!

Road Trip Day 11 - Breaking Bad Grove Cafe Albuquerque New Mexico

The next morning, I got up bright and early for breakfast at The Grove Cafe & MarketBreaking Bad fans will know this as the place where Walt and Lydia met, Tuesdays at 10am. (As it happens, I was there at about 8:30 am on Tuesday. Didn’t see either of them.) Another key scene happens here, as well…

Road Trip Day 11 - Grove Cafe Breakfast Albuquerque New Mexico

… Let’s just say, I didn’t have any Stevia in my chai latte, but I did take a few packets to go. Apparently, this was Aaron Paul’s favorite place to eat during filming, too. I can’t blame him – the food was delicious!!

Road Trip Day 11 - Breaking Bad Hank Schrader's house Albuquerque New Mexico

My last stop before setting off toward Oklahoma was Hank and Marie Schrader’s home. Tread lightly.

Road Trip Day 11 - Texas road sign

I passed through the little box on top of Texas on my way to Oklahoma City…

Road Trip Day 11 - Oklahoma City suite

And I was pleasantly surprised to remember I had booked myself a whirlpool suite that night. I really needed a nice, long soak!


Road Trip Update 4: California

From Moab, I drove northwest through Salt Lake City and spent an uneventful night in Elko, Nevada.

Road Trip Day 7 - Front bumper damage

On Thursday, June 26th — just before making it into California — a strong gust of wind blew a huge chunk of shredded tire (I suspect from a tractor trailer) into my front bumper. It actually tore off my front plate mount and left a nice big scuff and a crack down the middle of the bumper, but no major damage. I was upset, but recovered quickly. If that was the worst that would happen to my car during my two-week stint on the road, I was lucky! I made it to California a few hours later.

Road Trip Day 8 - Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

Friday was a very busy day. I woke up early and took a slightly roundabout route into San Francisco so that I could cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Apparently, I found myself in the middle of “June Gloom,” which is what locals like my uncle call the early summer fog phenomenon in California. Fog will roll in for a day or two and settle over the costal cities of California and just hang out, making it near impossible to take good photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. :(

Road Trip Day 8 - Pier 39 Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco

I paid way too much for parking, then walked to Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf to eat and browse through the stores. It’s a nice area, but crowded. And the clam chowder is not nearly as good as Boston!

Road Trip Day 8 - Alcatraz San Francisco

I didn’t have the time required for a proper Alcatraz tour, so I admired it from the Pier. See all that fog? Gah!

Road Trip Day 8 - Brit + Co Makeshop San Francisco

As a Brit + Co freelance writer and avid maker, I had to stop at the Brit + Co MakeShop, right next to their headquarters on Sutter Street.

Continue reading…


Road Trip Update 3: Music & Movies

Before I talk about days 5 and 6 (and a movie reference), let’s talk about music, shall we? As I was going over my road trip route with family, Suzi kept suggesting songs to listen to while I was driving through certain parts of the country. I laughed at first, but she’s been sending me daily songs and it’s become something I look forward to each morning, and keeps me connected to home. Here are a few:

Road Trip Music - Iowa via @poorandpretty

So far, I’ve liked the Iowa songs best: The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines by Joni Mitchell, and Iowa by Dar Williams.

Road Trip Music - Colorado via @poorandpretty

You have to listen to John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High when driving through the Rockies! I also liked the funky indie tune Colorado by The Rentals.

Road Trip Music - Utah via @poorandpretty

The Beach Boys are always fun, and their Salt Lake City song is no exception. Similarly upbeat and retro is Utah by The Osmonds.

On to the movie reference: On Day 5, I left my hotel in Moab and set out for Dead Horse Point, not far from Arches National Park. A beautiful natural landmark in its own right, it’s especially famous for its role in the film Thelma & Louise.

Thelma and Louise end

In the movie, we’re lead to believe the feisty ladies drive off a cliff into the Grand Canyon. Not so, friends!

Road Trip Day 5 - Dead Horse Point Utah

Ridley Scott actually filmed this key scene at Dead Horse Point. Looks familiar, right?

Road Trip Day 5 - Dead Horse Point Utah 2

It does look pretty Grand Canyon-y, although I haven’t seen that yet. But I’ll post photos when I do next week!

Oh, and Day 6 was uneventful except that I made it to California!!! Off to see San Francisco today!

Want more frequent updates? Follow @poorandpretty on Instagram. I’ll be tagging my road trip photos with #samiontheroad and #gosamijo ♥


Road Trip Update 2: Nebraska to Utah

Road Trip Day 4 - The Rockies 4 Colorado

I have zero pictures from Day 3 (Monday) because there really is nothing in Nebraska. It was the most boring stretch of road I’ve ever encountered. I tried to keep my excitement up by listening to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, but it is awful. Who the hell decided it was an American classic??? He gives absolutely no detail about where he is or what he sees (except for the girls he’s slept with) until he’s in Mexico. I got about halfway through it and gave up. But I have a feeling that my compulsory urge to finish a book will win out over my negative feelings toward it and I’ll finish it later on. Maybe it gets better. I really hope so.

Road Trip Day 4 - Molly Brown's house Colorado

Monday night, I stayed just outside of Denver. Before heading off to see the Rocky Mountains Tuesday morning, I made a pit stop at Margaret Brown’s house/museum. (Anyone who has seen Titanic will remember her as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”) I didn’t go into the museum, but seeing her house was pretty neat!

Road Trip Day 4 - The Rockies 5 Colorado

Off to the Rockies. I was (naively) worried I wouldn’t find a spot to see them properly, but it turns out just driving through them is an incredible experience. I cried a lot. Our natural world holds such breathtaking beauty.

Road Trip Day 4 - The Rockies 4 Colorado

After some zigzagging and accidentally driving through private residential roads, I found the aptly named Lookout Mountain Park. I cried some more and snapped a few more photos. I’m purposefully only sharing a few photos because they really don’t do the mountains justice. If a road trip isn’t in your future, I highly recommend flying out to Denver and just driving through the Rockies.

Road Trip Day 4 - Arches National Park sign Moab Utah

Not sure I could emotionally handle two amazing natural landmarks in one day, I drove to Moab to see Arches National Park. It was hot! I left Colorado at about 75 and it was 98 in Moab. Dry hot though, not like Connecticut’s awful dense and muggy summer weather.

Road Trip Day 4 - Arches National Park Moab Utah

I didn’t cry at Arches — I think I had pulled my shit together by then — but it was no less breathtaking.

Road Trip Day 4 - Arches National Park 4 Moab Utah

Though the red and tan hues stood out brilliantly against the setting sun (none of these photos are color-corrected!), much of the great arches are seen looking west, which means staring into the sun.

Road Trip Day 4 - Arches National Park - Balanced Rock - Moab Utah

I didn’t get many photos of the arches, but I did snap a great pic of the Balanced Rock. Just look at that color!

Today, I head toward Nevada, but I will be stopping at a few more great natural landmarks along the way!

Want more frequent updates? Follow @poorandpretty on Instagram. I’ll be tagging my road trip photos with #samiontheroad and #gosamijo ♥