Start: March 9, 5:30am in Holbrook, Az
End: March 10, 3:00am in Columbia, Mo
It was bittersweet as we left our cozy wigwam in Holbrook, Arizona this morning and began the 18+ hour trip to Columbia, Missouri. Arizona has been more than gracious to us, offering beautiful sites we didn’t even know existed, and surpassing our expectations of the Grand Canyon. As we crossed over the state line and into New Mexico, en route to Texas, Oklahoma, then finally Missouri, we reminisced on our favorite parts of the journey. As expected the Grand Canyon was a top contender, but the rest were hard to place. Everything we saw – from the luxurious city of Phoenix to the middle-of-nowhere places like hiking the WirePass Trailhead – was remarkable. I can already picture people asking me what my favorite place was that I visited, and besides the Grand Canyon which comes as an obvious answer, I honestly can’t choose just one. It was all so inexplicably incredible.
However, with over 18 hours of driving planned, we’ve got at least one great stop left before reaching Missouri, and that’s the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Created as an art piece in 1974, the 10 Cadillacs buried front first into the ground have become a popular stop along Route 66. We found out not too long before arriving that it’s a tradition to spray paint on the Cadillacs, leaving your mark as you pass through Amarillo, so with a can of lime green spray paint in hand, we had some fun with completely legal graffiti.
After leaving our marks on a Texas icon, we drove to another state hotspot known for the best burger: Blue Sky. Having highly advertised that they’ve been voted the best burger in Texas since 2003, there were high expectations entering the restaurant, and the bacon cheeseburger exceeded every expectation flawlessly. Hands down the best burgers we’ve ever had, we all agreed it would be worth another drive to Texas just for those savory pieces of heaven.
With our lunch break finished and milkshakes bought for the road, it was back in the car with about 12 more hours to go. Surprisingly, the majority of the car ride passed quickly, with conversation flowing fluidly which kept things lively in the car. Playing the question game, we’re pretty sure that by the end of the long drive, we had all mapped out our lives and heard every one else’s plans as well, but hey, at least it killed some time! It wasn’t until about 10:30pm that we slowly started to lose our energy, even though we still had about 4 hours left.
If you’ve been keeping up with us this far, you know it’s essentially mandatory at this point that we take pictures with each state sign for the state we’re entering. Well, this tradition backfired on us when we missed the Missouri state sign and turned around only to find that the toll road in Oklahoma didn’t have any exits for another 14 miles… So with 30 extra minutes added to our trip just for a picture with the Missouri sign, our mood started to die down, but we were in our final state of the day and on our way!
We finally arrived in Columbia around 3:00am, and it had never felt so good to be out of the car and onto a comfy couch for bed. Since I will be staying in Missouri and getting a one-way ticket back home to spend time with my boyfriend, tonight marked the last night I’ll be in the car with the 3 amazing women I’m lucky enough to call my friends and travel buddies. They’re well aware of my serious fomo (fear of missing out) issue, so watching them leave and head back to Georgia without me was hard, but they’re excited to be back home knowing that our spring break has been the best hands down.
Though the trip is nearly over, and we all wish we could pack our cars again and go back to Arizona one more time, it has been a vacation I’ll never forget, and I hope one day I’ll get to tell my kids about the time my friends and I took a cross country road trip to the Grand Canyon and saw everything in between.