One of my goals for 2018 was to go on a Southwest road trip and this past April I was finally able to cross it off my bucket list! For a little over 20 hours I drove solo across Texas, through New Mexico and Arizona to get to my final destination, California.
I broke the trip down into 2 days to allow myself time to stop in the places that I really wanted to see such as White Sands in New Mexico. If you’re planning your own road trip and want to see how I planned mine then check out my post on how to plan a road trip.
Selected photo prints from this post can be purchased on my Society6!
My trip started at 3 a.m. leaving from Houston to get a head start and I arrived in Fredericksburg, Texas just as the sun was rising at about 7 a.m. The drive wasn’t that exciting since it was dark and the land was well still.. flat.
There was a such a calmness in the town as I rolled in before people started to get up for their day. I drove and stopped around main street and a few of the neighborhoods off the main road to take pictures at a few of the spots that really caught my eye. I had planned on leaving within then next hour so I didn’t have long, but I got a few photos that I liked.
The homes all had so much character with the rustic exteriors and hill country aesthetics. While I was driving around I stumbled upon a stunning cemetery that initially scared the shit out of me at first because it was so unexpected at the end of a residential street. It gave me an eerie but beautiful feeling with the way that there was a bit of light peeking through the clouds.
After taking a bathroom break and getting some warm and crispy hash browns from McDonald’s, I was onto the next 4 hour leg of my journey to Marfa, Texas.
The scenery became much more eye-catching as I made my way deeper into West Texas. I arrived in Marfa at around 1 p.m. giving me the whole day to chill and explore the cute and small town.
First thing I did was refuel the car and since it was a Sunday most of the shops were closed or closed between 2 and 4 p.m., but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t still look around. I tried parking my car and walking around but it was honestly way too hot, so I opted to drive around and stop to take photos of spots that I liked.
Marfa was definitely different from any city I’ve ever visited. It was so quiet, but lively at the same time and everyone that I came across was incredibly nice. I would definitely recommend making the drive just to stay at Marfa for the weekend if you live in surrounding areas.
Stupidly enough, I lost track of time and missed the opportunity to try one of the infamous burritos from Marfa Burritos since they closed at 2 p.m.
My check in for El Cosmico wasn’t until 3 p.m. and my only opportunity to see Prada Marfa was that day since I would be leaving at 3 a.m. the next day when it was dark. Making the executive decision, I drove 30 minutes out of my way to go see this classic West Texas roadside attraction.
It’s definitely a lot smaller than you would think in person and it really is so random and in the middle of nowhere. There were a few other people stopping to check it out so I tried my best to get a good shot. There was a fence around the back with a bunch of locks on it which I thought looked pretty cool as well.
After I got my pictures, I headed back to check into El Cosmico and lay down for a bit. I stayed in the safari tent and they were small but nice and didn’t make you feel like you were sleeping outdoors. They have everything you would want while glamping such as lights, plugs, and a comfy bed in addition to all the other amenities available on the campgrounds.
Honestly, the main reason why I booked this room was because of the colorful bedding and I probably spent almost an hour trying to take a self portrait with the baja blanket being the main attraction and since I paid $100 for one nights stay, I wanted to make sure I really got my money’s worth.
After my little photo shoot, I walked around the camp ground to see all the different accommodation options they had. The trailers were too cute with all the different colors and styles and a lot of them were occupied. The teepee tents looked really nice too and were all situated in the picture perfect formation.
Once the sun started to go down I got settled into my bed and went to bed soon after since I had to be up at 3 a.m. to get back on the road.
El Paso, Texas
I got to El Paso at around 6 a.m and ended up at another McDonald’s. Honestly, this road trip should have been sponsored by McDonald’s because I went there way too many times.
Surprisingly enough this location was packed with soo many people and I couldn’t decide if it was unusual or not since it was 6 a.m, so either the people of El Paso are really hard workers or know how to party hard.
This time around, I got a mango pineapple smoothie and took a cute hour long nap in my car as the sun came up. Once I was re-energized, I got more gas and then was on my way to finally being out of Texas!!
Since I didn’t really get out of the car, I don’t have any photos of El Paso unfortunately. I will say that the most surprising thing to me was the fact that you can see Mexico so casually as you’re driving on the highway.
White Sands, New Mexico
I ended up leaving El Paso at 8 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. so I didn’t get to White Sands until close to 11 a.m. which put me off track since I ended up spending more than 2 hours there.
White Sands National Monument was truly amazing and the photos just don’t do it justice! What I loved the most was the fact that all you have to do is pay a fee of $5 to enter and then you get to drive at your own pace around the dunes. There were lots of areas where you can pull over to park your car and go explore, so I would highly recommend visiting.
Since I had to drive 3 hours total out of my way to go to White Sands, I had to made sure that I got another killer self portrait to commemorate me finally getting to see this stunning place in person.
Although the photos look like I was living my best life, it was actually so windy and once you got on top of the dunes it felt like you were in a war zone with all the sand turning into mini pellets. Despite all this, I still had a blast exploring and taking photos.
After spending waay too much time, I finally departed and was on my way to Arizona.
The drive was almost 5 hours so I didn’t get to Tuscan until close to 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. which didn’t leave me much time to see a bit of the city. I managed to get a few shots of little spots in the historic district and then got more gas as usual and then headed to Phoenix for the night.
From what I could tell Arizona seemed like such a chill state. There was a bunch of palm trees and cactuses letting me know that I definitely wasn’t in Southeast Texas anymore.
Once I left Texas, driving through New Mexico and Arizona was such a beautiful sight. I couldn’t help but try and snap a few photos of the road side. To be honest, I couldn’t tell you which state any of these road side photos were taken in but they were definitely between Arizona, New Mexico and California.
Luckily, Phoenix was only less than a two hour drive from Tuscan so I made it into town just as the sun was setting. The colors were so vibrant that I literally drove around aimlessly into downtown to try and find a high enough spot to capture it.
I was losing time so I ended up just pulling into an empty lot and going through the sunroof to stand on top of the car. The stunning sunset was a great welcome into the state of Arizona.
My night ended with a classic bowl of broccoli cheddar soup from Panera Bread and checking into my AirBnb to shower and sleep before the final stretch of my 20 hour long road trip.
Although my stay in Arizona was brief, I definitely want to come back and really see all this state has to offer.
Driving into California felt like the greatest accomplishment because I had made it to my final decision all by myself with no issues whatsoever and my mom was very pleased and relieved to hear that.
Driving myself was the most peaceful and fun experience since I just listened to music I liked the whole time and took pit stops to take photos on my own time whenever I wanted.
I have been to California before but not to the desert so the first thing I noticed was the plethora of palm trees and how beautiful the mountain view were.
I arrived on a Wednesday and if didn’t already know the whole reason for my road trip across the United States was to work at Coachella, so the rest of the day was spent attending training.
My job at Coachella was with Guest Services so I worked at one of the info kiosks inside the festival and answered any questions that guests had. For weekend one, I was scheduled for the evening and for weekend two, I was scheduled for the morning/afternoon so I was able to enjoy the festival at both times of day.
Palm Springs, California
Coachella didn’t start until Friday, so I still had Thursday to explore the area and decided to go on a little day trip to Palm Springs. It was an easy 40 minute into probably one the prettiest cities in the U.S. I’ve ever visited.
With no plan, I aimlessly drove around different neighborhoods and died at how insanely picturesque this place was. I couldn’t imagine how it must feel to get to see views like that every day. I obviously took photos that I felt accurately captured this insane place.
The vibe was day and night to what I grew up with the grand mountains and palm trees everywhere. Plus, I’m always envious of places were all the homes are different and Palm Springs definitely took the cake.
As I stopped and walked around to get photos, there were about four old men at different occasions driving by in their drop tops that stopped to give me tips on other locations where I could get nice shots and some of their favorite locations to shoot. It was the cutest thing ever!
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to visit all the recommendations from my fellow citizens since I only had a few hours in the city before having to head back.
Personally, having a city with a stunning backdrop to inspire me is a must so I’m convinced that I need to live somewhere with mountains in the future.
Coachella Weekend One
Attending Coachella has been on my list for years ever since I started attending music festivals and I’m soo happy that I finally got to cross it off AND see Beyonce perform live.
On the first day, I went into the festival before the doors opened with a friend I made who was working the festival too. We started off by checking out all the art installations that Coachella is known for.
Making a rookie move, I forgot my memory card in my laptop so photos from the first day wouldn’t have been possible if he didn’t let me borrow his camera.
The Spectra was a rainbow gradient 7 story tower with a spiral ramp you have to walk up to get to the top and it was such a cool experience, especially since it was pretty much empty at this time. l loved getting to get to see the world through many different colored lenses and I think my favorite color was the turquoise panel.
Next we ventured off to see the Supernova which was an 12 sided multicolored star which could be captured from many different angles. It was fun and challenging trying to see all the different kinds of angles you could get.
The Palm-3 World Station and Lodestar were kind of confusing to me because they both looked like some futuristic galactic space crafts, which I’m into but you couldn’t interact with them so it wasn’t as fun as the others.
Lastly, we made our way to the Etherea which was a huge wire structure that had three different sizes and created a really cool effect because of the way they were built and placed. The structures were meant to blend in with the environment so due to all the spaces they looked transparent and it looked really sick at night.
Overall, my favorite would have to be the Spectra or Etherea because you were able to interact with them and create an experience which I’m always down for.
Since my shift started at 5 p.m., I only got to see Elohim and Whethan perform which were all under the Sahara tent which was massive. The performances were good and I always love a show with good visuals.
Once the festival is over for the day is when Coachella really comes alive, because in the camping area they have silent disco that goes until 5 a.m, a cool trippy lounge with a DJ playing chill step kinda music, and various food vendors.
One of the nights I stayed at silent disco until 3 a.m. and had so much fun just dancing to bops because the DJ knew what the f was up. The vibes were great and the silent disco structure was mesmerizing when it was changing colors to the music.
That night I tried to infamous Spicy Pie pizza and got a pepperoni and pineapple. It was one of those huge pizza slices, so it was really good, but I’ve had a lot pizza in my life and nothing can beat Grimadeli’s pesto pizza.
After Coachella weekend one, I left Indio on Monday and wanted to avoid traffic so left around 7 p.m. and didn’t get to LA until around 9 p.m. The night drive between Indio and Los Angeles is such a nice drive with all the winding roads.
My first week in LA was spent hanging out with my friend, Kyle who I was staying with and I got to try Lemonade for the first time. We got a few of the sides to share and wow, it’s so good. I also tried the mint cucumber lemonade and it was so yummy as well. Basically, you just can’t go wrong at Lemonade.
The Coachella cough is very real, because on Wednesday I started to get sick and quickly switched to preventative mode and starting pumping in all the Emergen-C packets and DayQuil I could have in one day.
Lucky for me, the view from my friend’s apartment is really nice and allows for a grand view of the sunset.
My week in LA was pretty short, so I didn’t do much and drove back to Indio on Thursday to get ready for Coachella weekend two.
Coachella Weekend Two
Everyone was right when they said that weekend two of Coachella was a lot more calm and since I had already experienced it the week before and was dying of Coachella cough, I didn’t spend a lot of time in the festival. The craziest part was that I actually lost my voice which had never happened to me before and it was not fun trying to communicate with a raspy voice that kept going out.
My shift for weekend two ended at 5 p.m. so I was able to see all the evening performances, which are honestly the best part about Coachella.
Obviously, my most favorite performance of the entire weekend was Beyonce, she was ah-mazinggg. Like no performance I’ve ever seen before! The choreography was on point, the vocals were on the point, the theatrics were on point, and the renditions of songs had me bumping the entire time.
In addition, I saw Jorja Smith who was also amazing and so stunning (wtf), Eminem who I had already seen at Austin City Limits a few years ago and didn’t impress me the second time around, Post Malone who was also had a good and packed show, and Barclay Crenhaw whose performance I stumbled upon and was completely blown away by.
I absolutely fell in love with the visuals and his entire self titled album is SO good and I would highly recommend you listen to it if you like a good beat.
The following week, I headed back to Los Angeles to chill before Stagecoach. By this time, my voice had come back and I was feeling 100% better so I spent more time going around the city.
On one of the days I went on a cute hike and it ended with a pretty nice water wall where I spent some time enjoying the refreshing cool air. No hike is complete without a meal, so after I went to Urth Caffé and had my favorite Melanzane Pizza. If you like eggplants, you need to go to LA and try this pizza!
The next day, I got lunch with my friend Kyle again and we feasted at Lemonade again, but this time we added the White Truffle Mac n Cheese and I got the Blood Orange Lemonade this time. Lemonade is seriously so good, I could probably eat it every day if I lived in LA since there’s so many options and different things to try.
Throughout the week, in addition to eating, I did some thrifting and laundry then headed back to Indio on Thursday for Stagecoach, which I didn’t take any photos of because I’m really not a fan of country music.
My booth was located in the VIP area, so I was right next to the main stage and no offense but honestly, a lot of the songs from the earlier acts sounded the same. I will say that it was pretty funny to see how intoxicated people would get and watching people have to keep their significant other from going buck wild.
I made a few friends by guiding lost drunk girls to the bathroom that definitely don’t remember me, but I’m glad they made it there safely.. lol.
After Stagecoach and before leaving to drive back to Texas, I wanted to see go to a new part of California since last time I ventured to Santa Monica. This time I ventured off to Malibu and it really is a different vibe from Downtown LA which I can really appreciate, because I’m always down for that slow pace chill lifestyle.
Since I got there close to sunset, I didn’t go too far in and spent most of our time at the Malibu Farms pier. It was a Monday, so there weren’t many people there which I loved because that means less people messing up your pictures.
I walked all the way to the end of the pier enjoying the scenery and taking photos. It was so peaceful looking out into the vast ocean to your left and then looking to your right and seeing mountain peaks.
Before heading out, I enjoyed a chocolate milkshake from Malibu Farms which was incredibly over priced at $9 but well worth it because it was so good.
Although my time in Malibu was short, it was nothing short of sweet and I’m excited to come back one day and explore it more.
Reflecting on my trip now, I had so much fun getting to explore new states, taking tons of photos, and going to Coachella. I give myself a huge pat on the back for being able to drive across the country and back by myself and would definitely recommend anyone to go on a long road trip at least once in your life.
Have you ever gone on a cross country road trip? Let me know in the comments and if you want any photo prints of images from this post then check out my Society6!
Thanks for reading and stay hungry to learn, create and grow!