Mr Fletche and I have been lucky to do two different US road trips over the last 6 years, and we’re starting to think about another one in 2017 to celebrate my zero-ending birthday! This got me thinking about some of my favourite memories from our previous trips…
Death Valley, California. Nothing prepares you for Death Valley. We’d driven from the bright lights and excess of Las Vegas into desolation and an eerie silence. We watched from within our lovely air-conditioned car as the temperature outside crept up from the relatively cool 100 degrees to a ridiculous peak of 126 degrees. Opening the car door was akin to opening a hot oven. Stepping out the car at Badwater is akin to having a hair dryer blown into your face on the hottest, strongest setting. But it’s beautiful. Stark and desolate, yes. But also beautiful. We drove from Ashford Junction in the South, to Badwater Basin, Artist’s Drive and up to Zabriskie Point, before a well-deserved drink in the air-conditioned comfort of the Furnace Creek Resort. We left well before dusk to get to our overnight Lone Pine base, but I can only imagine how clear the Death Valley night sky would be…
Overnight in: Dow Villa Motel, Lone Pine
The White Mountains, New Hampshire. I think that if you ask Mr Fletche for his happiest holiday moments, our two days spent in the White Mountains would top his list hands-down. From our stunning riverside guesthouse with its hammock by the water, friendly Labradors and pumpkin display outside; to the beauty of the 35 mile scenic Kancamagus Highway. From the waterfalls and covered bridges of Flume Gorge; to the 4,080 ft summit of Cannon Mountain, accessed by an aerial tramway. From gushing falls at Glen Ellis; to scrambling over rocks at Diana’s Bath. And from a wobbly cycle ride around the trails of Great Glen; to driving the winding, narrow Auto Road to the 6,288 ft peak of Mount Washington. In the winter, this is a skiing and snowboarding paradise, but in late summer/early fall, the White Mountains are just – paradise.
Overnight in: Riverside Inn, Intervale
Driving the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to LA: You can drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles on the 101 Freeway. Or you can take Route 1, hugging the coast with the Pacific Ocean on your right hand side and towering mountains on your left. National Geographic Traveller have even named the 123 mile “Big Sur” stretch from Monterey to Morro Bay as one of their “Drives of a Lifetime.” There are sleepy beach towns – like Cambria with its beautiful Moonstone Beach – and bustling towns like Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Barbara. There are lighthouses, bridges and waterfalls cascading down onto the beach. There are sea otters, sea lions – and best of all – elephant seals. In distance, the Big Sur Drive is one of the shortest of our trip, but takes the longest as we stop so many times to admire the view, take short hikes and just take in the natural beauty before us.
Overnight in: Sea Otter Inn, Cambria
Chilling in the Public Gardens in Boston: Finishing up a jam-packed trip in another busy city was a crazy idea. And as much as I loved following The Freedom Trail (until we lost it so ambled into a pub), the Duck Tour on the Charles River (quack quack) and our visit to Fenway (Go Red Sox!), we were just too exhausted to properly enjoy the city. Yet one of my favourite things was just relaxing in the Public Gardens, watching locals go about their day and watching squirrels scampering from tree to tree. And when we got bored of the Public Gardens, we would continue on to Copley Square in the shadow of the massive John Hancock Tower and the contrasting 19th Century Trinity Church. Another beautiful green area, perfect for people-watching. I never thought I’d go to Boston and find peace and quiet rather than hustle and bustle.
Overnight in: Hotel 140, Boston
Vermont: There are three memories which spring to mind when anyone mentions Vermont to me. The first is spending a morning in the gardens of the Sun & Ski Inn in Stowe, wrapped in a huge blanket reading Game of Thrones whilst Mr Fletche recovers from a dodgy tummy. Not as though I’d wish for a repeat of that. The second is the beautiful sunset over Lake Champlain in Burlington. Not just the sunset, but the almost celebratory atmosphere on the shores from tourists and locals alike. There were picnics and ball games going on; and then everyone just stopped to watch the sinking sun. And the final memory. The speeding ticket. The cop in his mirrored shades, fingering the gun at his waist. The excitement and fear all rolled up in one ball of emotions.
Overnight in: Sun & Ski Inn and Suites, Stowe
That’s just 5 memories from two amazing road trips. I haven’t even covered the craziness of New York, the strange sense of feeling of being right at home in San Francisco or winning $40 in Las Vegas and feeling like the luckiest person alive. Or whale-watching in Monterey, or eating lobster rolls and blueberries in Maine.
Have you road-tripped in America? What are your favourite memories?