March – April 2016
For our honeymoon, we packed up our van and embarked on a 6-week road trip across the U.S. Right off the bat, we faced numerous setbacks, starting with the van breaking down as soon as we drove away from our wedding reception, our hotel room flooding and having to be relocated to a DIFFERENT hotel in town, and getting pulled over for driving without the headlights on… Oops.
But that’s one thing that I love about our life — it doesn’t matter what’s going on around us, because we always manage to make light out of tense situations and have a good time. However, the first week of the honeymoon definitely was the roughest…
Portugal got SUPER sick while we drove through Missouri, so I bundled him up in blankets and made him lay down on the futon while I drove straight through Kansas to my aunt’s house in Colorado where we ended up staying for 5 days while he recovered. (Thanks for letting us crash at your house, Aunt Louise!)
The day we left Aunt Louise’s house, the serpentine belt snapped in the mountains and we were stranded in a tiny town called Gypsum. Definitely not ideal honeymoon conditions. Luckily, we stumbled into a Napa Auto Parts store where we were put in touch with a mechanic sent from Heaven. We were on the road by the very next day, and our bad luck streak was finally over!
Our first “official” stop on our Honeymoon tour of the country was Arches National Park in Utah. If there’s one thing I would tell anyone who is considering taking a trip out west, it would be 1.) JUST DO IT. and 2.) GO TO UTAH. Utah is MAGICAL. Deserts, mountains, other-worldly rock structures. We could have spent our whole 6-week getaway in Utah and been perfectly happy.
After Arches, we drove straight to Canyonlands National Park. Portugal knew of a scenic route, so we took our time winding through desert farmland and huge rock monoliths. And of course, we stopped for prime photo-ops along the way. (Pictured below, bottom-right, one of my favorite scenes from the whole trip: Newspaper Rock.)
Some more prime traveling advice for those seeking a desert road-trip… A lot of National Park campgrounds are first-come, first-serve, no reservations allowed (meaning you have to be an early bird to save yourself a campsite inside the parks.) We are not “early” people, so this was a near-impossible feat for us. Luckily, we met two girls camping in the park who let us share their campsite with them. We got to share our story with them and hear a bit of theirs, which is always fun!
The next day, we drove through Monument Valley (you know, where Forrest Gump stopped running?) Words can’t even describe the awesomeness of this drive… Truly breath-taking. And speaking of breath-taking, we also managed to find time to visit the Grand Canyon on our trek across Utah. ALSO breath-taking (and just like, so massive that you can’t even fathom it there in front of you.)
But my FAVORITE stop, hands-down, was Zion National Park. Oh. My. Gosh. Go to Zion. Go to Zion. Go to Zion. I forgot to even take photos there because I was so in awe of our surroundings. Luckily, Portugal snagged a few — including one of me in pursuit of petroglyphs hidden in the National Park. So hidden that park rangers aren’t even allowed to tell people where they’re hidden. Luckily, we were able to find them pretty easily with the help of an online treasure map. The art historian inside of me flipped out.
After nearly a week and a half of exploring the desert (not that it’s something you easily get sick of) it was so great to stumble into Las Vegas, a true desert oasis. Our friends Makhailla and Trevor hosted us and showed us around their city. We both agreed that it was very reminiscent of Miami. We walked around lavish casinos and shopping districts to people watch. Portugal was in street photographer heaven.
We said goodbye to Makhailla and Trevor on Easter Sunday and headed towards L.A. Traffic was horrid, but we were able to spend our first night in L.A. seeing Underoath perform on their reunion tour. Definitely an awesome welcome party. And of course we spent the next day at Disneyland!
The next few days were spent exploring Huntington Beach and chilling with old and new friends alike. Our last day in L.A., we dumpster-dove at Trader Joe’s and came out with an incredible haul of food that lasted us until the end of our trip. Thank you, Jesus!