Before the year even started, my SO and I loaded up his Jeep and started our journey across country. Our destination: Anaheim, California. Though I wish the trip was all about play, there was some work involved, though it was still fun too! For my SO’s business in the baseball/softball training industry, we’ve attended the ABCA Convention for the last 2 years and this year, it was in Anaheim. Instead of worrying about whether any of his display pieces, large tent, or merchandise would get lost along the way, we decided it’d be easiest (AND WAY MORE FUN) to pack it all into his car and drive ourselves to the show.

We started our drive on NYE, traveling from Milwaukee, WI to Warrensburg, Missouri to stay with my brother and his wife and ring in the new year. But not before making a pit stop in Springfield to take a photo by the Capitol building.

We were so thankful for being able to swing through their place on our trek, since it was our first opportunity since they moved into their house and finished some of their renovations! The appetizers, wine, champagne, and conversation was flowing! We were ready for 2017!

The next morning, we re-loaded our overnight bags and hopped on the road with the goal of getting to Denver, Colorado before we let our heads hit the pillow again. If you’ve ever driven through Kansas, you’ll understand what that day was like. The sun was shining, and there was a slight breeze rushing through the fields, but Kansas is pretty flat. We could see for miles and miles, but considering we drove from one side of the state to the other, we saw plenty of the miles Kansas had to offer. If you’ve ever experienced your GPS getting to the point in your drive where you might have 60 miles or so until your next direction, the looks on our faces when the GPS showed Jeff and I that we had 592 miles to our next direction were probably priceless. His was, that’s for sure. Oh yeah, we stopped in Topeka.

Either way, we made it to Denver just in time to watch the Packers play at my childhood best friends house. Considering I hadn’t seen her for over a decade, there was plenty to catch up on! A few things had changed. She was married and over 9 months pregnant with their first child. A few things hadn’t changed. She was still the kind, sarcastic, and animal-loving girl that I spent day upon day with when we were kids. Though we were already tired from 2 full days of driving, we agreed to meet them early the next morning to watch the sunrise at Red Rocks. I guarantee there is no better way to begin a day in Denver then in that famous amphitheater.

After sunrise, they took us out for breakfast near the Rockies stadium. I need to throw in a shoutout to Snooze though for their amazing food, unique atmosphere, and free coffee while waiting to be seated!  I absolutely love eggs Benedict and they featured a few unique takes on the classic plate that I wanted to try! Thankfully they offer the Benny Duo that allowed me to try 2 different options. Yum!

After breakfast we parted ways so Jeff and I could embark on the next leg of our journey, but not before stopping at the Capitol building to take a photo.

On the road again, and headed south, we drove through Colorado Springs and into New Mexico. Just before sunset, we got a Capitol pic in Santa Fe and grabbed dinner before continuing into Arizona.

We finally made it to Flagstaff a little later than planned, but it was our goal so we’d have a shorter drive to the Grand Canyon on our next day of driving. The one thing about finishing our drives to our destinations at night is that we really don’t know what the scenery looks like until the next morning. That was precisely what happened to us in Denver when we woke up to view the beautiful Rocky Mountains the morning after we arrived, and the same thing happened when we woke up in Flagstaff.

The next morning, our travels were taking us to the Grand Canyon. I could not even contain my excitement as I started to see neighboring canyons in the distance. I’ve seen the GC many times in pictures and movies, but never in person so I was ready to behold the great views. It didn’t disappoint in the slightest.

The only part that did disappoint was a conversation we overheard as we walked away from one scenic overlook. A woman, I’ll call her Debbie (as in Downer), exclaimed to the man with her…

“I can’t believe we paid $30 to see this big picture.” – Debbie Downer

Seriously, Debbie?!? All I could think at that moment was how happy I was that Jeff was my road trip buddy and not Debbie.

The Grand Canyon was an amazing experience. Views for miles of some of the most picturesque and unique terrain I have ever seen. It was more than I could have imagined and it just seemed to go on forever. The drive from one scenic point to the next reminded me of Wisconsin country roads, winding through forests covered in freshly fallen snow. The scenic points were breathtaking images of the complex and intricate forms that nature can take. I took so many pictures and panoramas but still didn’t feel like I could capture it all. Overall, it was one of my favorite memories of the whole trip. And we still had Vegas and California ahead of us. After the Grand Canyon, we continued our journey west into Nevada.

Passing over the state line by the Hoover Dam, we made a pit stop in Boulder City to visit Jeff’s moms cousin, aunt, and uncle! Yet another opportunity to reconnect with family and friends on our journey. They were so excited to have us, even if only for a short time.

Our final destination for the last night before hitting California was the city of sin, Las Vegas. We opted to stay at Mandalay Bay for the evening and spent the next few hours walking the strip, watching the fountains, enjoying the lights, people watching, and sipping a few cocktails in the Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan.

Not so surprisingly, it’s one of my favorite places in Vegas. It was a quick trip, but I tried to show Jeff as much of Vegas as I could in a few hours!

The next morning was a drive through the desert and we finally made it…


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