I think that Dave and I have worked so well as travel partners because we both love and hate different aspects of our travel experience.
I am obsessed with planning and research, but I have no hope for direction, navigation and logistics. Dave found the planning stage tedious and time-consuming, but he could easily navigate a city.
This is perfect for us — I can immerse myself in my desire to roam and spend a few days studying the places to go and the routes to follow. Once I check Dave’s satisfaction with the plan, he will ensure that we really reach the place we should go.
However, one of my favorite ways of traveling is when neither of us can decide where to go next.
After spending an amazing six weeks in the Pacific Northwest, we still have six weeks left on our US visa, but we are not sure where to go next. Whenever we encounter this situation, we simply divide the time into two periods — Dave decides where we are going in the first three weeks, and I decide the next three weeks.
Dave and I like different things when traveling — I like quiet towns rather than cities, while Dave prefers places with lots of activities, I like small beaches, and Dave likes places to run. However, we are not very picky when traveling. We are always willing to try new things and go to places we have never considered before.
Dave liked New York very much and immediately chose to spend time on the East Coast. However, when I first went to New York six years ago, I hated it and didn’t want to come back. I chose to spend my three weeks in the southwest, from Arizona to Texas, an area I have been eager to visit for many years. Dave has never heard of any stop in my plan except the Grand Canyon and the Monument Valley.
I can’t wait to visit New York again to see if my view has changed, and I can’t wait to explore a part of America that Dave has never considered before.
This will be surprising.

Lauren at the Grand Canyon
Pretend to be a death squad in the Grand Canyon
When planning a road trip, I didn’t spend much time thinking of a trip. For several years, I have been dreaming of this part of the United States, so I immediately know where I want to go and what I want to do.
There is only one terrible aspect.
Car rental.
I can’t believe that the cost of one-way car rental in the United States is so high.
It costs 250 dollars to rent a car for 10 days from Phoenix to Austin.
Oh, no, wait!
Once you take into account the $750 one-way rental fee, it is actually $1000.
In fact, I calculated that it would be cheaper to rent a car in Arizona for seven days, return the car, rent a new car to drive to New Mexico, return the car on the same day, rent a new car to explore New Mexico, and then return the car, rent a new car to drive to Texas, return the car on the same day, and then rent a new car to explore Texas. This ridiculous journey of changing cars can save us $300.
We complained a lot and finally paid about $100 a day for a car I couldn’t park well.
At least I parked my car between the lines Am I right?
Yes, I haven’t driven a car in seven years. I have never driven an automatic car, nor have I ever driven on the right side of the road. We can only say that it was an interesting road trip. I think it was inexplicable, but Dave thought it was terrible.
Here is our route, and there are many suggestions. If you decide to follow my footsteps.
Grand Canyon
After flying to Phoenix, we jumped on our super expensive rented car and drove directly to Flagstaff, which is our base for exploring northern Arizona.
Of course, our first stop must be the Grand Canyon. Whenever I have to admit that I haven’t seen the Grand Canyon, I always feel a little embarrassed. Now I can finally say that I see it.
We wisely decided to spend the day on the South Kibab Trail. After walking for less than ten minutes, the crowd dispersed and we had our own way. In a few hours, we saw about 50 people, which was an unexpected joy. This path takes you into the canyon and gives you a favorable position completely different from the edge of the canyon. Although the hiking was difficult, it was unbelievable and completely exceeded my expectations.
One of my best memories comes after I just finished hiking. Dave continued to walk into the valley without me, while I walked back alone. After reaching the top of the mountain, I walked to the edge of the canyon, sat down, hung my legs on the edge of the canyon, and sat quietly for several hours.
Things to know
We decided to stay in Flagstaff instead of Sedona, because it was a little close to the Grand Canyon. We rented a private room of a house through Airbnb (51 pounds/83 dollars a night, booked here). Our hosts Rob and Audrey are super friendly and enthusiastic travelers, so there are many stories to share. They are very familiar with the situation in the whole southwest region and are very willing to provide suggestions for our trip. The house is located on the outskirts of Flagstaff, which gives us a very quiet and peaceful experience. We like it very much.
The ticket for the Grand Canyon is $25 per car and a 7-day pass.
As expected, the food in the Grand Canyon is mediocre and overpriced. Before you leave, choose a delicious salad or baguette at the New Horizon Natural Supermarket in Flagstaff, which is much cheaper and more enjoyable.
Diablo Burger in Flagstaff has some of the best hamburgers I have ever eaten. It is expected to queue for at least half an hour, but it is definitely worth it. When you make a request, they will get extra points because they really cook the hamburger into half cooked.

Monument Valley
Monument Valley was added at the last minute of our trip. At that time, I saw that it was only three hours away from Flagstaff. I have always wanted to go to Monument Valley, but I think this trip is too far. Fortunately, it is on the border between Arizona and Utah.
We have two options to explore the valley — either take photos on the lookout stand, and then drive back to Flagstaff, or drive into the valley in a rented car that we are not suitable for driving, and carry out an 11-mile exploration on the rugged, rocky and gully-covered terrain. Considering the price we pay, we obviously need to make full use of our rented car!
Monument Valley
When we gradually entered the valley, I noticed that we were the only people who had the courage to drive such a small car through the valley – everyone else drove four-wheel drive vehicles! This may be a good reason, because here, we can see many people driving four-wheel drive vehicles. This may be reasonable, because it took us more than two hours to complete the 11-mile loop. However, it is completely worth it, because we are flying in a small lake, and the water of the lake has been rushing to our windshield. This kind of turbulence and terror is completely worth it.
Just one day after visiting the Grand Canyon, I announced that the Monument Valley is actually far better than the Grand Canyon and is one of the most amazing scenic spots I have ever seen.
The ticket to Monument Valley is 5 dollars per person.
If you don’t have enough time, you can take the expensive and overcrowded jeep to visit the valley, although these seem unpleasant. I suggest you drive down to have a fun experience — just make sure it doesn’t rain in advance.
There is a restaurant and gift shop in the tourist center. We bought a sandwich in the gift shop, and then we were told that the restaurant only serves customers who order according to the menu and can only eat sandwiches in the car.
Roadside attractions in Arizona
Driving to Tucson, we decided to interrupt the journey with several roadside attractions.

Dave is excited about being in Winslow
Our first stop was to indulge Dave — stop at Winslow Town, which is famous for being mentioned in the song “Take It Easy” by the Eagle band. I don’t know what to make a fuss about, but yes, in a corner of Winslow, there are nostalgic bicyclists dancing slowly everywhere, because this song sounds from the nearby loudspeaker.
Because you can’t walk down the crater, there is an area in the tourist center where you can pose as if you have reached the bottom of the crater. This is very realistic!
Because Dave can indulge in his inner music freak, and I also indulge in my inner physical freak. Meteor crater is the largest impact crater in the United States (1.2 kilometers in diameter) and the most well preserved impact crater on the earth, and it is very powerful. I like it.
Things to know
The ticket of Meteor Pit is an amazing 16 dollars per person.
It may be difficult to find the Standin ‘on the Corner Park with statues and music in Winslow — it took us more than half an hour to drive around to find it. After several GPS positioning errors, we finally found it at the northwest corner of Kingsley Avenue and Second Avenue.
Saguaro National Park and Sabino Canyon
Crazy cactus in Saguaro National Park
During my time in Tucson, I was frightened by all kinds of terrible creatures, who were waiting to attack me — poisonous rattlesnakes, scorpions, tarantulas, black widow spiders, Geela monsters, and so on. Am I selling to you?
When I was not frightened by my impending bad luck, I screamed with excitement because I saw so many cacti. This is thanks to our visit to Saguaro National Park and Sabino Valley. I have never seen wild cacti in my life, so this is very exciting for me.
Sabino Canyon
There are more cacti in Sabino Valley
We walked for several hours in the dry desert heat wave, until the water in my bottle was higher than the temperature in my mouth. This is also one of the most unusual scenery I have encountered. There is nothing around except cacti, sand, mud and dangerous animals.


Cowboy in Tombstone, Arizona
A lonely cowboy poses in Tombstone Town
Tombstone is not on our way to New Mexico, but once I found this super tacky western wilderness town, I decided it was worth taking a detour.
It’s more stupid than I thought. I like it. We visited a cemetery with interesting tombstones, strolled in the main street where only horses and cowboys roamed, and smiled politely at everyone with guns. Unfortunately, we didn’t stick to their scheduled gunfight, but I’m sure that would be as surprising as it sounds.
I have a feeling that Dave thinks this is the worst thing in the world, but I absolutely like it. I like tacky tourist attractions. Tombstone is one of the best attractions.
Things to know
Tombstone Town is 75 minutes’ drive from Tucson. Like most destinations in this part of the world, it needs to drive many cars on the long and straight highway. The road sign of the tombstone is not particularly good, but when you see the huge sign of Boothill Cemetery, you will know that you are here.
This cemetery is definitely worth visiting. There is no charge for entering, and you can wander in front of the tomb of the famous cowboy in the area. Unfortunately, the original tombstone has been weathered, and the replacement tombstone looks like Very fake. However, it is interesting to wander here and read the description on the tombstone. “Six shooter Jim. 1885. Killed by Bert Alward” and so on.
We had lunch in Crystal Palace tavern and restaurant. For such a tourist city, the food was surprisingly good. This restaurant was built in 1879 as a brewery, but it still retains the original bar, although it feels like you are eating in a wild Western Disneyland. Everyone is dressed neatly, and gunmen actors often come to take pictures with people. I think it’s tacky, but it’s also magical.


Lauren at White Sands
Fall in love with Baisha!
After visiting the Sahara Desert in Morocco, I became obsessed with the desert, and the white sand has been on my list since the moment I first knew it existed. This is one of the strangest and most beautiful places I have visited.
We rented a sled with basically plastic garbage can lid and some wax, and spent several hours galloping on the sand dunes and sliding down at an amazing high speed. There are no more than 10 people with us in the park. It feels like our own world. We decided to come back at sunset. This night made us feel that we were the only person around for several miles. We can’t see anyone else or hear anything. This is one of the best sunsets I have ever experienced, and one of the few completely quiet times I have ever experienced.

Things to know
We decided to live in Tularosa, an hour’s drive from Baisha Town. Although you can build a base in a closer place — Las Cruces or Alamogodo — we can’t find any decent cheap accommodation in these two cities. Tularosa is a small village with a population of more than 2000, which gives us an in-depth understanding of small towns in New Mexico. Our apartment (44 pounds/72 dollars a night, booked here) is comfortable and spacious, close to a great Mexican restaurant, and very quiet at night. My favorite part is to be able to watch stars at night, which is due to the low level of light pollution.
The ticket to the Baisha National Monument is a seven-day ticket of $3 per person.
Every night in Tula Rosa, we ate at Casa de Suenos, a Mexican restaurant. For such a small town, the food is surprisingly good, including potato chips and salsa sauce.



Alien Zone in Roswell
Group photo with aliens in the alien zone
Roswell was another late addition to our trip. At that time, I realized that it would only add a few hours to our trip. I have read some articles in the past about how pleasant Roswell is, and I know it will become an amazing blog post.
There are aliens everywhere. There are inflatable aliens outside the store. You can buy alien T-shirts, alien lamp posts, alien parking spaces, alien burgers and alien themed drinks. My favorite part is that you can pose with dozens of aliens in the alien area.
Things to know
The ticket for the UFO Museum is $5 per person, while the ticket for the Alien Zone is $3 per person.
The Alien Zone is definitely worth visiting and is the highlight of my stay in Roswell. It is tacky and our favorite photo during the whole road trip. It’s funny.
The UFO Museum is a great disappointment — but it is worth visiting because of its comic value. Its layout is poor, and there is almost no information about the crash. On the contrary, it has dozens of posters with random physics terms, trying to make it look legal. There is even a dry ice/LED spaceship show in the middle of the room. The purpose of visiting the museum is to laugh at how terrible it is — but if you want to really understand the situation of the crash, that’s not enough.



Little Lauren at Big Bend
Can you see me standing on the rock in the distance?
Before this road trip, Big Bend National Park was not the place I heard of. The drive from Baisha to Austin takes a whole day. We need to stop somewhere to interrupt the journey. Great Bend National Park is one of the largest national parks in the United States and one of the least visited national parks.
Our hiking on this day had incredible scenery. We stared at the Mexican border, tried to cross a stream, and ended up kneeling in the mud, nervously stepping on the wild tarantula crossing our road. Yes, wild tarantula. This virtually cured my fear of spiders.
Wild tarantula at Big Bend National Park
Wild tarantula
Things to know
When visiting Big Bend, we had several choices as the base. We decided to go to the Alps, which is one of the nearest choices (although it is still more than an hour away from the entrance of the park). We stayed at the Maverick Hotel ($92 a night, booked here), which was very lovely. We have an incredible free breakfast, so many food choices, a swimming pool, daily cleaning, a huge shower and an extremely comfortable bed. I like it very much.
After hearing that the lost mine road is one of the best entry-level hiking trips in the park, we took this road on foot. The hike was five miles long and climbed 1000 feet — almost all uphill. However, the scenery here is absolutely incredible – although it is one of the most popular hiking tours in the park, we only saw two other people.
After having a crush on Portland, Dave and I both want to go to Austin — we are often told that this place is very similar. Fortunately, this day happened to be Dave’s birthday, so I planned a wonderful day, including eating delicious salmon brunch, watching movies in a super luxury cinema, basking in the sun in the park, and then eating a typical Austin barbecue, where I experienced my first meat coma. There is so much meat.
As in Portland, what we really do in Austin is to eat. I didn’t take a photo to prove it. I didn’t see the city as I planned, because when we arrived, we were exhausted by the frequent 8-hour drive and daily movement. However, the food here is unbelievable. I can’t wait to eat it again in all the dining cars.
This is the road trip. I want to say that this is the best road trip I have ever done, mainly because it is. But I have only taken two road trips in my life — in Australia and New Zealand — so I don’t think such a statement has much weight.
But I want to say that this is one of the most spectacular regions in the world that I have visited — and I can’t wait to return here. There are so many natural beauty, so many strange roadside scenic spots, and most of the scenic spots have surprisingly few people (except the Grand Canyon and the Monument Valley). You rarely have the chance to visit an incredible place and find that you are one of the few people there.
So if you are considering road travel in this part of the world, go!

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