Our friends got hitched in Las Vegas. It was not your typical Las Vegas wedding. While it was at a little chapel on The Strip, it was premeditated, planned and beautiful!
We flew from Florida into John Wayne International Airport. Now, you might be thinking “Why did you fly into California?” You see, Mr. Wife with Baggage has a strong affinity for anything California and we never pass up a chance to visit when we are close. You know, because Vegas and San Diego are in the same neighborhood. (I hope my sarcasm is not lost on you here!)
We rented a car near the airport, threw our carry-ons in the trunk (you have to pack lightly for road trips!) and began our road trip from San Diego to Las Vegas. Side Note: Aren’t road trips great reminders to pack lightly!? Although, there are still moments when I find myself wishing I’d left the third pair of sandals or the laptop that I only needed to access our itinerary at home.
OK, tangent complete. We began our drive heading west and then south, the exact opposite direction of Vegas, down the Pacific Coast Highway towards San Diego. Oh well! Might as well see as much of the area as possible while we’re “in the neighborhood!”
We cruised down the PCH not knowing that this drive would be the inspiration and catalyst for a trip just a few years later. We stopped in Huntington Beach to walk on the beach, watch part of a volleyball tournament and explore a roadside green market.
Our road trip continued with a mission to find ocean views along the coast in cute little beach side towns like La Jolla and Laguna Beach. My ulterior motive for stopping in over-priced, over-crowded Laguna Beach? Two words: Fish Tacos (at Taco Loco to be exact).
I feel like I should apologize at this point. I am not one to take pictures while we eat and this is no exception. While the tacos at Taco Loco are picture-worthy, my stomach over ruled my travel blogging brain when it saw the heaps of white, flaky fish wrapped in warm tortillas and smothered in cheese, guacamole and pico de gallo. I snapped a picture of the restaurant’s sign though. Is that good enough?
Stomachs full, we drove south down the Pacific Coast Highway. Yes, we continued to drive even farther in the opposite direction of Las Vegas. We stopped in Pacific Beach, California for the night and enjoyed a sunset over the Pacific Ocean and wine on our hotel room patio. The first day of our trip was certainly a success!
We woke up early the next day. It might have been due to the time change, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it was due to the fact that our itinerary for the day included wine tastings in Temecula Valley. California and wine are synonymous. You might think Napa Valley is the only wine region in the state, but you are wrong! We loaded the rental car up, again, and off we went! You know we don’t like to stay in the same place too long.
After a stop at Wiens Family Cellar and a long lunch at a deli in town, we got back on the road. Michael was not happy about driving out of California. However, the anticipation of what was to come spurred us on.
We headed north and east (finally!) and drove through mountains, desert and small towns of the wild, wild west. We stopped when we wanted or needed to. It was a very relaxed and easy day of driving – what a road trip should be. No agenda, just the sights you pass by and the company in the seat next to you.
We saw the sign signaling our entrance into Arizona a few hours into our drive.
Confession: I am a map nerd. I love maps. I love looking at the roads that twist through cities. I love looking at geography and topography of a region. I love day dreaming of day trips I would take if we lived in a different city. But, most of all, I love to obsess over the places I want to fly to and explore. I’m not perfect, but I do have a pretty good sense of the Continental US, so I knew that we did not have to enter Arizona to get to Vegas. I turned to Mike as I reached for our map (yes! a paper map!). It was then that I watched as a smile crept across Mike’s face.
We were not going to Las Vegas yet. We were taking a grand detour to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon! I love good surprises and the Grand Canyon, even if for a few hours, is certainly a good surprise.
Our detour took us down long, barren roads, six-lane highways and even down the famous Route 66.
We slept in no-man’s land, Arizona and did not need an alarm clock the next morning. Once again, being in a different time zone and our pending adventures were all the alarm clock we needed to wake up. Unlike the day before, we knew our time this day was precious because we actually did need get to Las Vegas before nightfall. The pictures that follow are from one of the fastest trips to the Grand Canyon I have ever heard of. We did a drive-by viewing of one of the most incredible places on earth; we might be the world’s worst travelers!
We left the canyon, returned to hot summer temperatures and made a bee line for Las Vegas. Oh! But wait, the Hoover Dam was on our way and I am married to an engineer. We did not have a choice, we were stopping!
We made it into Nevada right around sunset and now really did head straight to Vegas.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, our road trip before San Diego and Las Vegas happened because of a destination wedding for very good friends. While I loved our road trip, their wedding was the highlight of our trip! That being said, we only stayed in Las Vegas for 24 hours. Not big fans of the lights and mayhem Vegas is known for, we marveled at the lights on The Strip, toasted our life long friends and then, sadly, returned home.
Here are just a few photos from our day in Las Vegas.
Update: You will be happy to know that seven years and one healthy baby boy later, these two love birds are still very much in love and happily married. It was the perfect ending to our road trip from San Diego to Las Vegas for sure!