Cross-Country Road Trip: The Long Journey to New Mexico

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Originally, when we realized we’d be driving roughly 2,500 miles across country to move, we planned a journey out of it. We’d stay a few days in Flagstaff, a few days in New Mexico, a night in Oklahoma City, a night in Topeka, detour up through Iowa so I can claim my 50th state, then arrive in Tennessee via St. Louis and a long overdue visit to the Arch.

Very little of that actually happened.

First of all, do you know how freakin’ forever it takes merely to get out of California? 557 miles to be exact. So in our terms—which means a bathroom break every hour and a half like clockwork—that’s an entire day. We barely made it over the border before dark and spent the first night in the casino town of Laughlin, Nevada.

(Luckily, the day before we left, we had a going-away shindig with the family at SVV’s sister Lisa’s house in Oakland. That included a lot of good food, good company and—most importantly—Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey whiskey. Because no send-off to the South is complete without a dose of JD. We were mellowed out is all I’m saying.)

The second day of the drive was a much shorter stretch, from Laughlin to Flagstaff, Arizona. We had planned to make our base there for two nights, but after a stay at the Hotel Monte Vista went awry—read the first review by me, “krysleigh,” for more details on where not to stay in Flag—we packed up, relocated to the Howard Johnson—$15 a night for pets; can’t beat that—and continued on the next morning.

Then … we arrived in Albuquerque. As I mentioned before, we landed a room for two nights on Jetsetter for a song—I think it was around $70 a night, but I had $100 credit from signing up for Eater’s email newsletter so we only wound up paying $20 a night out of our own pockets—at Hotel Andaluz, and it charmed the pants off of us both.

Even without a flash sale, the rooms aren’t typically that pricey—around $90 to $100 a night—which just blows my mind. And just a heads up: I saw Jetsetter is running another Andaluz sale starting tomorrow. If you’re heading to New Mexico soon, sign up for the site so you don’t miss it!

In a completely random occurrence, I was talking to my mom as we pulled into Albuquerque and mentioned where we were staying. “Your sister and I stayed there for the Balloon Fiesta a couple years ago!” she said. “It’s probably my favorite hotel of all time. It’s not like it’s overly fancy; it’s just got a cool vibe.”

And I needed only to step foot in the lobby to see its Moorish architecture and giant mosaic-tiled hanging wall to get exactly what she meant. Everything about this place was darling. It’s a historic hotel with updated amenities, so while the building oozes Southwestern charm, the rooms are very contemporary in a sense.

While still having that signature New Mexico flair.

We ordered in-room dining from Lucia downstairs, and it was delicious. Downstairs, there was a bar and a library and nooks and crannies galore for grabbing a seat and just chilling out, but we camped out in our room and watched a True Blood marathon. You also can’t beat paying $20 a night for a room plus free Wi-Fi plus HBO.

COMMENTS
  • August 14, 2011

    You know I love that JD send off.

    Sorry to hear about your first experience in Flagstaff. That place sounds just awful.

    • August 14, 2011
      Kristin

      I love Flagstaff the town. I did not like Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff the town!

      (I totally put up that JD photo with you guys in mind!)

  • August 14, 2011

    I love the Moorish architecture! I’ll note this one down if I get down there sometime!

  • August 14, 2011
    Sasha

    Why didn’t you just get a room at the embassy suites in flagstaff? If you had booked it you could have gotten there in time for happy hour:) I wish I had known you were going to be ABQ I could have given you a couple of pointers but it looks like you found a very nice place to stay! Bon Voyage!

    • August 14, 2011
      Kristin

      Haaaa! We actually went there AFTER the Monte Vista fell through, only to find it booked out for the week! Memories of late afternoon Midori and whiskey sours came quickly rushing back =)

  • August 14, 2011

    That first hotel sounds like a nightmare, but the Andaluz looks great! And having done the drive from Bay Area to Flagstaff before, I can confirm that it really does take a very long time to get to southern Nevada.

    • August 15, 2011
      Kristin

      It was the single grossest hotel I’ve ever stepped foot inside IN MY LIFE. I love how there’s like 10 one-star Trip Advisor reviews and then a five-star. Must have been a relative of the owner 😉

  • August 14, 2011

    1. Maker’s Mark is the drink of choice here in Lexington, Ky. My husband collects the bottles and I can’t tell you how many lines I have stood in to buy those silly things!

    2. LOVE that green sink in the hotel!

    3. That’s just my kind of hotel. I hate staying at chains, much prefer something boutique and interesting – and that one fits the description perfectly.

    4. So you didn’t make it to the Arch? I am seriously dating myself when I say that I lived in St. Louis when they were building it!! I was in elementary school, but still.

    • August 15, 2011
      Kristin

      Have you been to the Bulleit distillery? That is our drink of choice and one of the first Southern weekend trips we want to take after we’re back from Semester at Sea! Maybe in conjunction with the Derby in the spring =)

      We didn’t make it to the Arch! I’ve been before (in 1995), and I’m not too worried about planning a return visit as we’re now just a six-hour drive away and can do it “anytime!”

  • August 14, 2011

    Ooooooooh!! I just love the hotel. It looks soooo nice!! I can’t believe you stopped in Laughlin and I missed you. So would have bopped down for a night on the river!

    • August 18, 2011
      Kristin

      We didn’t get in until 9pm and left about 9am, so I’m afraid we wouldn’t have been that great of company! =)

  • August 14, 2011

    Bathroom breaks for you or the furbaby? Glad to know I’m not the only one who road trips like that 🙂

    And that hotel looks really pretty!!!

    • August 18, 2011
      Kristin

      For me and Scott! We are the worst. Ella can go all day without stopping, but one of us needs a break at least every hour!

  • August 15, 2011

    Just signed a job with Jetsetter, I love it! Cool hotel. Sooo excited about you heading off to sea soon!

    • August 15, 2011
      Kristin

      Fun! I’ve been writing for them since before they went live, but sadly that doesn’t entitle me to any travel freebies on the site! i’m watching intently for a cool Caribbean property to come up on their sales, though, so my cousins and I can take a girls’ trip when I’m back from sea–and because I miss diving so much!

  • August 15, 2011
    A

    Oh man, I am living last year through this blog again. I did CA all the way back to Massachusetts since I took the summer off before going back to school in Ann Arbor. Flagstaff was not bad. But I will shamefacedly admit to Courtyard Marrioting my way across the country (my dad was with me and he used to be a consultant with Starwoods points and and and…we’re lame and huge fans of CM).

    Anyway, this is an awesome trip. I did it in 3 days and we’d whiz by stuff and I’d be so upset about missing it. Although, I got to live out a bit of dream by taking the longer Route 66 rather than cutting up through Colorado.

    • August 15, 2011
      Kristin

      Holy moly, now that is a LONG drive. I wish that we’d gotten to do more of 66–all we really saw of it was the part that connected with I-40 (and we drove through a couple of the towns for lunch, such as Winslow, Arizona).

      Nothing wrong with Courtyard Marriotts! We were just trying to keep costs low–plus we had a pet, and some of the Marriotts charged $100 NON-REFUNDABLE for a single night–so we generally went with the lowest cost that was pet friendly and had decent Hotels.com reviews =)

  • August 15, 2011

    Very cool journey, best of luck!

  • August 16, 2011

    Dang that hotel looks nice! Awesome place to catch up on some True Blood. 😉

    Sooooooookie……

    • August 18, 2011
      Kristin

      Haaaaaa! I’m so bummed the season isn’t ending before we leave on Saturday. Even though I’ve read all 11 books, they’ve changed the TV series so drastically and I want to know how the witchy storylines end!

  • August 16, 2011

    Does the Tennessee Honey really taste like honey? I haven’t tried it yet but it looks so good!

    Sara

    • August 16, 2011
      Kristin

      I only tasted it in coffee so I have no idea! The coffee with Tennessee Honey tasted surprisingly like an Irish coffee, though.

  • August 17, 2011

    OMG, I had a problem THERE as well. I tried to make a reservation their website and never got confirmation, in the meantime we found a much better and alternate spot, but when I trip came and went, on my next Amex statement were charges from THAT hotel! I called and said, I never had a reservation, no correspondence or confirmation from them. And they said well you checked in and signed the bill, and I was like “the hell I did” I have a bill and receipts that prove I was somewhere else! I personally think the desk clerk enjoyed the room for the night…I finally had to get Amex to arbitrate it was crazy!

    • August 18, 2011
      Kristin

      I had the SAME experience–after I wrote that Trip Advisor review, too. After we stayed less than 10 minutes, Scott went down and said we’d be leaving and we wanted our money back (they were so rude they didn’t even apologize for the poo and mold in the toilet or the two-inch-thick dust coating on the fan) and they said that we wouldn’t be charged at all because your card isn’t charged until after 24 hours. So, I was a bit surprised to log onto my credit card and find that I had been charged $200–and that they didn’t charge my card until a WEEK later at that.

      I called a few times to sort it out, and they ignored me so I had to get the local tourism board (who are great, by the way) involved. The GM finally called me and said I was wrong, they hadn’t charged me, and I was all, “BS, you didn’t charge me, I have my statement right here!” Then he hung up, checked into it, called me back and said it was MY fault as I had made the reservation on one card and given another for incidentals when I checked in. I’m still unsure how me using two different cards authorized him to charge me period, but at least I *finally* got a refund issued this week.

      (Did you write all this up on Yelp and Trip Advisor? If not, PLEASE do so!)

  • October 3, 2011
    jen

    If you ever make it OKC again I’ll personally show you some stuff worth taking pictures of. =) Visiting here via Misadventures with Andi.

  • April 17, 2013

    I can’t believe that hotel only charged around 100 bucks per night! Great post and pics!

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