4 creatives, 12 states, 15 days!
The four of us (me, Kelly, Chris, and Sean plus Kenzo) decided to move to Los Angeles from Brooklyn at the end of June. Most of us hadn't seen much of the US besides the coasts, so a one-way road trip was the perfect way to see a lot of America. To give us even more flexibility (and excitement) we decided to rent an RV for the 6500 mile trip. Here's a summary of the sights we saw along the way!
We started with cities - cycling around lots of abandoned parts of Detroit and exploring the French Quarter in New Orleans (beignets, beignets!) .
Part of the advantage of being in an RV is that we didn't have to make any reservations in advance. We would decide where and when we wanted to head to our next destination and check out the Good Sam Camping app for the RV campground closest to where we wanted to be. If it was early in the day I could call and make a reservation over the phone. Oftentimes we would start driving after sunset, so we could just arrive at a campsite and they'd have late night arrival boxes where you could grab a map and payment envelopes that would let you know which spots we're open before they closed the office for the day. Some of the campgrounds had pretty nice private showers but we never took advantage of the pools on site. No dilly dallying!
Since the gas mileage on the RV was so incredible (10MPG), stops at charming little gas stations like this were frequent.
Our next stop was Big Bend National Park, TX for the sunset.
Quick stops in Marfa, TX to see the Donald Judd concrete installations at the Chinati Foundation and a roll through Valentine, TX past the Prada installation.
Next stop was White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. The road going in was SUPER bumpy and although the speed limit signs were 25MPH, I was driving 5MPH because any faster felt like sitting in an insane earthquake and made it feel as though the RV was going to fall apart - our RV had pretty mediocre suspension. Nonetheless, it was worth all the shaking because the landscape was surreal. The sand is made of gypsum so despite the crazy heat from the sun, you can go barefoot since the sand doesn't absorb any heat. We also attempted sledding down the dunes but the heat was pretty relentless so we only went up and down a couple times.
After New Mexico we headed to another dune - Great Sand Dunes National Monument in Colorado. Going from the magnificent surrealism of White Sands, we weren't sure whether we would be dune-ed out but these were much larger - the scale alone definitely makes it worth a visit. We were lucky too because there was a short downpour when we arrived so the heat subsided before we trekked across the flat to get to the dunes.
Next up was Wyoming and the infamous Yellowstone National Park. We arrived at sunrise to see Old Faithful erupt before all the crowds arrived. The rest of the day was spring/geyser/geothermal galore. My favorite part was the Artist's Paintpots (mudpots) that was a thick white viscous pool that bubbled and popped with mud flying up pretty high, as a result of the gas escaping. There was something meditative about it. The most memorable part of our visit was seeing a baby bear cub crossing the Mammoth Hot Springs just after sunset. What a way to end the day!
A quick stop at Shoshone Falls, ID and a dip to cool down next door at Dierkes Lake Park.
We drove overnight to wake up to sunrise at the Bonneville Salt Flats. We were the only ones there and took our time taking in the spectacular colors of the sky.
The second to last stop and one of my favorite stops on the trip was Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. I had never seen anything like it before - crimson-colored hoodoos (the spire-shaped rock formations) covered the canyon. They could be viewed from the Rim Trail along the amphitheater with trails leading down into the (sometimes muddy) canyon.
The last sight before our last leg to Los Angeles was Antelope Canyon in Arizona. The light and textures were beautiful! Rather than going on the Upper or Lower Canyon, we decided to go with Canyon-X. The same canyon but farther south. The canyon is privately owned by Jackie and all the tour guides are members of her extended family. It felt like an intimate privately guided hike rather than a location crowded by tour buses (there were no selfie sticks, hallelujah!).
Okay, I lied. We did stop and stay a night in Vegas before arriving in LA, and Sean won $3000! We figured it would be a nice way to enjoy some creature comforts (crab leg buffet, anyone?!) before returning the RV and staying in our temporary homes.
I'll leave you with some tips I took away from the trip:
- Less is More - I ended up wearing the same 3-4 outfits and did laundry once (when we stopped at Chris' parents for a night). The only appliances we used were the waffle maker (which doubled as a quesadilla maker) and the microwave. We overpacked, but the RV had tons of storage space so it wasn't an issue.
- It's OK to Number Two - The whole perk of having a bathroom on the RV is that you can use it instead of having to make multiple stops. Just make sure to brace yourself, cuz it's a bumpy ride back there. Also, use the Ozium afterwards ;)
- Work, Schmerk - I thought I'd be so bored or have so much time and get tons of marketing work done. The views were so enchanting and I was so entertained by Kenzo that I wasn't really motivated to work/edit for fear that I'd miss what was going by outside the window. Also, it's a pretty shaky ride so it's not that comfortable to be staring at a screen #crazyeyes.
- They See Me Rollin' - All in all, a quarter of the cost of the whole trip (including RV Rental, most food, campground fees, park fees, parking) was spent on gas. There's no escaping this so it was nice to split the cost with 4 people (Kenzo is broke) but also split the driving duties so nobody would ever feel burnt out from driving.
- Thank you Interwebz - besides the Good Sam Camping app that I mentioned earlier, Roadtrippers and RV Trip Wizard was also really useful to figure out our route based on the places we wanted to stop, and find cool off-the-beaten-path sights along the way (like a giant chicken statue, giant rocking chairs, and the Old Idaho Penitentiary).
- Just Go! - I'm so thankful we did this. There were definitely challenging moments during the packing and moving parts of this transition but I had to remind myself - one step at a time. With that, we were packed into the RV...floating in a spring in Austin...seeing a double rainbow in Twin Falls...hiking through beautiful landscapes. I feel the cheesiness oozing out of this sentence but there is so much beauty that you don't have to leave the country to see! After this experience I'm super excited for our next road trip and revisiting some spots and new spots. We've all joked about buying an RV in the future. While searching for RV rentals online, I came across some deals where the rental is free and you just pay for gas to help the companies relocate the RV's. If you have a flexible schedule, I'd recommend this (google "RV relocation")!
I'll be sharing more photos from each location in separate posts in the weeks to come. If you're curious about any of the places we visited, or about RV life, feel free to leave a comment or slide into my DM's :) It was definitely a memorable trip that I would recommend to anyone. RV life was super fun and less stressful than I thought it would be (I also didn't have to dump the black/poo tank, the guys did that - thanks guys!). I appreciate everyone who followed along on instastories! I think Kenzo gained lots of new fans.
I'll be based in LA indefinitely, but still working as a local in NY and Hong Kong so feel free to reach out about upcoming projects anywhere in between.
Looking forward to collaborating with all the talented creatives in LA!