Travel journal: USA road trip (part 2)

The problem with waiting too long to write about your trip is all the details you lose. So yeah, here’s part two of our epic road trip through the USA. Missed the first one? You can check the USA road trip (part 1) via the link. Which ended at the marvelous lower antelope canyon.

On the road again: cowboys, ghosts & aliens
Since we were well on our way to visit all the natural highlights in the west of the USA we might check off another one: Monument Valley. This area full of red rock formations became famous because of all the cameos in western movies. There’s a loop where you can drive around and see all the formations from the comfort of your car. Honestly, it’s impressive and I liked the idea to have seen it with my own eyes but I wasn’t wowed. Partly because of the annoying selfie culture that’s hanging around. The area of monument valley - Navajo country - is one of my favorites. I love the rugged nature, the cultural heritage and the warm nature of people. Our plan was to find a motel somewhere on the road between monument valley and Roswell. The further the better. Because of some navigational problems (No worries Kim, I won’t let them know you fucked this one up) we ended up in Aztec. Honestly, we couldn’t have stranded better. This little cowboy town is known for its historic main street and has some alien stories (we would found out about this only in Roswell). Of course we had our Mexican food and frozen margaritas at the local bar where we met a very sweet waitress. She asked us to send us a postcard from the Netherlands, and since Kim is the nicer one of us she did! We stayed at one of the better stays in Aztec: the Step Back Inn. This beautiful historic hotel is well preserved by a pioneers family in the Victorian style. Honestly, I didn’t sleep at all because there were about 13 ghosts looking at me while I was sleeping but that didn’t make our stay any less of a succes. Next morning we had a fantastic breakfast at the local diner before we had to drive the six hours to Roswell. This drive was boring. So so so boring. I cannot imagine being an alien and crashing here. You might die of boredom. Okay okay Moniek, we get your point. There was not a lot to see on this drive. The last 2 hours were just a straight line through flat farm land. Seriously, if you would have said we were back in the Netherlands I might have believed you. Finally, we were beginning to see cheesy road signs with aliens. Getting closer! So before we dive into the world of Roswell I feel the need to explain why I wanted to go to Roswell in the first place. If you’ve ever seen the tv show Roswell.. well there’s your answer (Oh lord, that trailer is giving me all the flashbacks!). I’m still fangirling over Max and Liz and all the others. If you haven’t seen the teenage angst tv series Roswell, here’s a summary. 3 pretty aliens, 2 naive teenage girls, 1 manhunt (or should I say alienhunt?). Anyway, there are a lot of possibilities to stay in the city, so we picked the cheapest one. We finally had the chance to take it slow after some very long days of driving and exploring. So we did the following days. We spend hours in Wallmart and enjoyed the bizarre crowds and all the fine things this shop has to offer. (it was packed with Halloween stuff, so yeah we enjoyed ourselves like little kids) We visited the Roswell UFO museum and the countless antique and thrift shops. Being there with Kim you can only imagine the stuff we bought and searched for: horseshoes, post-mortem photography, a brother for Hendrik-Jan, stones and rocks, vintage postcards and alien patches.

City bound: Roswell - Austin - New Orleans
We slowly drove out of the rugged landscapes and entered modern civilization. Not only civilization, but also the authorities. We might have been stopped by the police because we were speeding. And we might have gotten a fine from our friendly police friend Carlos. Back to the road. Our GPS marked Austin. This hipster city in Texas is one of the cities many people told us to visit. I understand why. It’s packed with lovely coffee bars, small shops with local goods and rooftop bars. It was nice to finally be able to eat something tasty (I’m sorry, but the American cuisine isn’t all that if you know what I mean) and enjoy city life. Hello great filter coffee, avocado smash and interior design. We shopped, walked around and got tattoos. Whaaat!?! Yes, we did. Kim and I both got a horseshoe but of course in very different styles. This was time spend very well, since it was pouring rain outside. And staying in our room wasn’t so shabby either, because we were staying at the fabulous Driskill hotel. This icon is the oldest operating hotel in Austin and gives you instant Romanesque vibes. Run by Hyatt, so impeccable service of course. This relaxing stay gave us also the opportunity to really plan our next move: our trip to New Orleans. This city has been on my want-to-go-list for a long long time. So we wanted to make the most of it. We decided to wake up early AF to be able to visit Oak Alley Plantation before we drove to the city. In exchange for this awful morning we spoiled ourselves with breakfast in bed. Yes, thank god for roomservice! Oh my, waffles in the shape of Texas packed with berries and all things good in life. And coffee! So with a kickstart like that we were well on our way before other people were even thinking of coming out of their warm and comfy beds. To be able to have the time to visit the beautiful Oak Alley PIantation we had to be there around 3 in the afternoon. The drive from Austin would be a little over 7 hours so we had to be really quick and smart about it. It made our gasstops something out of a F1 race. We also played a lot of Beyoncé (or to be specific The Carters ‘Apeshit’) since we were driving through her hometown Houston. (Where Queen B was performing that night, omg omg #starstruck #beyhive) …. Sorry ‘bout that. This drive was insane! Once you drive into Louisiana state it just gets more beautiful by the minute. Insert green and swamps and rivers and bridges. Such a joy to slowly enter the world of bayous and the Mississippi river. Around 3 we arrived at the parking lot of the Oak Alley Plantation. Does it look familiar? Well, this place starred in several movies. We took a tour and wandered around with sweat on our foreheads. Dang, that New Orleans humidity! I don’t want to say too much about the tours in the house and grounds because it was such an overwhelming experience to be there. Really something you should see/hear and experience for yourself. But let me just say how wonderful they preserved the grounds and the building to be able to learn and feel how things must have been during the ugliest chapters of the American history. Just for scale remember that this is just one plantation that had an on average enslaved community of 120. In the direct area along the river there were 300 more plantations. (you do the math)

With our thoughts filled with stories we drove the last hour to the city of Mardi Gras, swamps, black magic, jazz, gumbo, chowder and po-boy. N’awlins baby! I remember I loved the city before we even stepped out of our car in front of our hotel: Ace Hotel New Orleans. Good vibes only, will always recommend, might even live here. We had 3.5 days to explore and we made the most of it. We wandered around the French Quarter, listened to typical New Orleans live music, watched and bought art, walked around the infamous cemeteries, had our palms read, got some tarot cards, ate the best foods and drank the best cocktails (still dreaming of those blush cowboy cocktails, gawd). And to finish this most perfect city visit we canoed our way through the bayou in the Fontainebleau State Park across lake Pontchartrain. I spotted an alligator! But this was not the scariest wildlife that night. Because we were canoeing during and just after sunset we attracted a lot of mosquitos. And with a lot I mean all of them. Literally all mosquitos in whole Louisiana. We were seriously covered in bites, I counted over 80 bites on just the left side of my body. The itch was just unbearable. It gets me scratching even now. So if you’re ready for an adventure bring a bucket of Deet into the bayou.

New York, New York
Early morning we dropped our beloved car (there might have been some crying) and we flew from New Orleans to New York. The last chapter of this out-of-this-world-trip. We wouldn’t be Kim and Mo if New York wasn’t all about hats, pizza, walking, jewelry, yellow cabs, MoMa, Michelin star lunches at the Modern, designer bags and some more shopping. New Yorks also housed our worst stay of the trip. The Hudson Hotel in New York looked all glitz & glam online but the real world showed a faded glory reality. Rating 0 out of 5. Thank the lord that the New York way of life is outdoors. We not only walked the streets of Manhattan but also the super cool streets of Brooklyn. It wasn’t my first time in the big apple (my 3rd time actually), but it was the first for many things: seeing the Biggie mural, hitting the superduper cool Nolita area, drinks at the house of wax bar and spending some big bucks on designer items.

Road trip facts
And then suddenly, it was time to go. Three weeks of crazy across America. Some facts:

- 2800 miles / 4506 kilometer
- 9 cities
- 1 ghost
- 1 speeding ticket (well worth it though)
- 9 orders of guac (and countless frozen margaritas)
- 2 tats (1 for me and 1 for Kim)
- 18 diners
- 137 mosquito bites

Honestly this was one of my favorite trips i’ve ever done. For sure coming back to explore many of the national parks. But for now I’m just looking back with the biggest of smiles. Well Kim, where are we going next?