Southwest US recap

We spent a large part of the tail end of 2012 working towards December first – the day on which we would go on holiday. We had planned and booked the trip before realizing that having a running immigrant visa application might make entry into the US more difficult. We also planned and booked before we decided that I would quit my job on December 31st, 2012.

None of it mattered, in the end. We got the house fixed up and on the market, we managed to send out all Beloved’s grad school applications, work was happy to have me for one single last week between the US trip and Christmas and even the pending visa petition did not get us (well, me) sent back at the US border. Maybe it was the long lead-up during which we spent almost every night and weekend working, planning an arranging for all the Serious Future Things, maybe it was the fact that there were no family obligations, maybe it was the fact that we went to bright and sunny places, but I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a trip more than this one.

We prepared by booking a flight to Las Vegas, and two nights in a hotel on the strip. For the second half of the trip we booked two nights at the Grand Canyon and then we arranged a hotel for the night before we flew out. We bought a road map rented a car and… most importantly.. brought some things to listen to. In our collection we had Civil Disobedience, by Thoreau, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula le Guin, a dozen episodes of This American Life,  an anthology of stories by Heinlein, some episodes of The Wrath of the Khans in Dan Carlin’s series of Hardcore History.

In the end we drove out of Las Vegas, through Arizona, into New Mexico. We hop-skipped through parts of the Navaho Nation, hit up Four Corners (so technically we were in Utah and Colorado as well, but it doesn’t really count) and then back into Arizona for the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert, Flagstaff and its observatory and its Holiday Parade, the Grand Canyon and some tiny cowboy towns. We had some days to spare and set course for Needles and the region around Death Valley. Then, we sprinted back to Vegas and came home.

What we’ve learned:

– If you are ever in Barstow in California.. Go to Lola’s Kitchen. It’s a teensy little place with no vegetarian food, but they served a chicken burrito that almost made Beloved cry because it was so good.

– Whatever you do, don’t try to eat Thai food in Flagstaff. Find the diner in downtown and eat nowhere else while you’re there.

– We’re not Vegas people. It’s opulent and decadent and it has a wow-factor intended to dazzle. Other people love it. It was good to come and see it for myself. We will not go there again.

– Drive your car up a dark, deserted mountain road at night when temperatures drop to minus 15 (in Celsius) and go stargazing. Don’t forget to breathe.

Here, have some pictures and think about silence and solitude.

Driving Southeast from Las Vegas

The road to Jerome, AZ

Sunset from Sedona, AZ.

A tree we met while hiking.

View from a hiking trail.

The Painted Desert.

A desert vista.

A view of the Grand Canyon

Note:

For once, the pictures are mine. Feel free to use them, but please drop me a line about it and credit them to The Smitten Immigrant.

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6 Responses to “Southwest US recap”


  1. 1 Daria January 6, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    OMG, beautiful pics and descriptions…

    “Drive your car up a dark, deserted mountain road at night when temperatures drop to minus 15 (in Celsius) and go stargazing. Don’t forget to breathe.” Gave me goosebumps…

    • 2 thesmittenimmigrant January 11, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      If your man ever has a conference in that area, you should totally go there and make a holiday out of it. It is such a fantastic and gorgeous place.

  2. 3 Amanda January 7, 2013 at 9:36 am

    This really looks like a great journey, road trips are my favorite kind of trip.
    I might be asking you some logistic questions, we want to go to California + Vegas (visit friends in the area) and maybe make it to the East to San Antonio (best friend is there) in the near future. Do you know when it is cheaper to travel? Via which routes? Where to book? And did you stay in hotels / apartments? In cities vs outside of cities? Renting a car was expensive?
    Ha I think I just gave you a post prompt (no, just kidding), but I would appreciate the insight, since you guys have done it already .

    • 4 thesmittenimmigrant January 11, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      I just wrote you a novel in the mail. Figured it would not make for a very entertaining blog post to have me spew random travel tips 🙂 Hope it proves useful though.

      Just realized that I forgot to mention the rental car question. We paid 500-something dollars for two weeks, which includes all the necessary insurances, and such. I think you can do it cheaper than that if you look at more rental agencies and use a third party website, though.

      • 5 Amanda January 14, 2013 at 3:26 pm

        Thanks for all your tips ! It’s definitely useful: and, we’re all booked. Your chipmunks link confirmed KLM with its deals right now was indeed offering the best price.

  3. 6 Peter January 14, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Viva Las Vegas! 🙂


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