Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"Mini" Cross Country Road Trip: Review/Travel Guide

Massachusetts - Colorado - South Carolina

*Warning* Prepare yourself for a long post!! 
As I said in my previous post, I am moving below the Mason Dixon line again this summer. However, I had a whole month of nothing that I needed to fill. A close friend of mine just moved out to Colorado, and I have always wanted to visit there myself. So what better way to fill up a month than with a road trip?! So on July 7th one of my giant brothers and I headed out to our first stop: Philadelphia, PA. 

Accommodations: If I wasn't staying on a friend's couch then I was staying in a Holiday Inn Express via IHG Rewards Club. We have always stayed at a hotel on the list of IHG hotels growing up, so it was almost natural to go to that for this road trip. It was the easiest way to find a hotel for the night when on the road. 

Good Eats: We mostly ate food on a typical road trip, which is chain fast food (insert cringe face). Because when you are driving in the western states that is pretty much all you can find until you reach your destination. Although, my favorite restaurant that we ate at was in Loveland, CO. It was a BBQ place called Nordy's. They had such a yummy menu that had so many options on it for great prices. So if you are in that area I would definitely recommend them for a good meal.

Road to Colorado: I had certain destinations that I have always wanted to see and I knew this was the trip to see them on. 

So our first stop was Philadelphia, PA. We wanted to see the typical tourist spot of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Which, pro-tip: If you don't want to wait in the long line to see the Liberty Bell walk around the building and you can see it through the glass. Pittsburgh, PA was the next destination. I'm not going to lie, the only reason why I wanted to stop in this city was because I have always wanted to visit No. 14 Boutique. I have followed her Instagram and Snapchat for the longest time and I have fallen in love with the way she merchandises her store. 

Next stop was Chicago, IL! Since I lived an hour away from Boston and four hours away from NYC I visited those two big U.S. cities. So I figured I needed to knock this big city off my list as well. We had family friends who lived in the city, so we were able to stay with them and also have a local's way around the city.

The next two days were pretty hefty with travel. We left Chicago to head to South Dakota. Our initial route was straight to Mount Rushmore, but we were told to stop by Badlands National Park since we were driving by it. Boy was that one of the best decisions we made on our trip. It was so beautiful there! My brother and I were kind of in awe driving through the land. 

Our final stop before we hit Colorado was Mount Rushmore. Y'all, one of the reasons why I didn't get as many pictures as I was hoping on this trip was because the scenery took my breath away. It was to the point that my phone and camera were forgotten on the floor of the car. My brother and I just kept saying how beautiful it was around the mountains. We were lucky enough to arrive at our hotel in time to grab some dinner then hit the monument at the golden hour. Which, that is the best time to go because everyone left to go eat dinner and then they head back in around 7:30/8 because of the show they do at night. The following day we headed back to the monument but decided to pass it and find a trail to hike. We found Custer State Park. It is practically by Mount Rushmore, and it was truly the best part of our trip. We went off road a little and climbed a big rock to a view of a few of the mountains with Mount Rushmore in the middle. Since it was off road we were all alone and it was pretty magical to see that view without anyone else around. All along the road in the park you could get a glimpse of the monument. So if you have a car and time I would highly, highly recommend heading to this state park. 

The same day we were touring the state park we headed to Colorado. Along that route we almost had the typical road trip horror. The scare of running low on fuel, no reception for miles, and many miles until the next town. It was a little nerve racking for us, okay it was a little nerve racking for me, my brother was cool with it because we had a little ways until we actually hit empty. That is one thing I learned along this trip though, which is that I need to take a chill pill sometimes haha! Like seriously, there was no need to worry about half the stuff that I did. Anyway, we arrived in Colorado and had a few fabulous days of visiting with a friend. 

Colorado was spent relaxing. We went from sea level to 11,000 feet above sea level, so I guess you could say that the mountains really did take our breath away! We spent about 4 days in CO, but I had a little bit of a rush to get home due to the school I was transferring to. So, we didn't get to travel anymore on our way to South Carolina like I had hoped. But overall it was the perfect summer road trip, and I think it's safe to say that my 6'5" brother is all set on getting into my little car again haha!

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