Road Trip Prep List

Road Trip Prep List

Road Trip 101

I went on countless road trips as a kid. They were lots of fun, but I definitely remember all of the stress that trying to figure out huge paper maps, bumper-to-bumper traffic while you have to pee, eating fast food that sounded like an awesome idea at the time but made you feel bloated like a toad and oily afterwards, being bored out of you mind and trying to keep awake night driving, and all the other fun scenarios caused…

Thankfully, we have GPS now (I love Waze particularly) which has greatly improved the overall demeanor of road trips, however there are bunches of thing you can do to improve your overall experience, all outlined below for your road trip enjoyment!

Snacks: The right mix of snacks will give you guilt free energy throughout your trip and a little planning ahead with keep it budget friendly too. Add a little from each section below and you will be good to go:

  • Bulk section foods at your neighboring Central Market or Whole Foods: The bulk section is my FAVORITE! From granola, nuts, chocolate covered snacks, gummies, dried fruit, baked veggies, and more, you can get salty, savory, and sweet snacks for a fraction of the price you would at a gas station or in a package.
  • Fruit: Apples, oranges, bananas and more, with a little sugar for energy and low calories, fruit definitely outdoes the candy bars any day.
  • Protein: Quest bars, beef / pork / turkey jerky, and protein powder will give you a healthy and filling boost.

Road Trip Snacks

  • Big-meal planning: Being on a road trip is like going to a grocery store hungry – you end up making terrible decisions based on your taste buds and eyeballs rather than your healthy banging bod! To avoid this, check out what quick and better choice restaurants are on your trip in advance (Chipotle, Potbelly’s, Which Wich, Zoe’s Kitchen, etcetera). This prevents quick last-minute decisions you will regret later.
  • Drinks: Don’t forget to hydrate. Bring lots of water bottles and buy flavored drinks in advance so you don’t spend a ton at connivence stores. To prevent drinking too much, I always bring gum (my favorite is 5 gum since it’s so yummy and lasts forever) so I don’t get dry mouth but also don’t have to pee every five minutes.

Things to do: Keeping occupied between stops is much better than being bored, in my opinion at least, so outside of taking in the view, I like to do the following:

  • Counting games: Have you ever noticed how many people drive a Prius? This game may not work in California, the Prius capital of the Universe, but we call-out “Prius” every time we see one and the person with the most Prius calls at the end of the day wins. If you call a different car a Prius on accident, you have to do a dare or something along those lines. Also, taxi-Prius count as two points. While you don’t have to use this particular car, or even a car at all, for this game, it is a fun way to pass the time and have a friendly competition along the way.
  • Podcasts: Serial and Criminal have spent hours and hours coming out over the sound waves of our car. While criminal cases might not be for everyone, podcasts in general can be thought-provoking, funny, serious, and can spark additional hours of conversation from everyone in the car discussing the various topics. Find some that sound interesting to you, download them in advance (to save data), and enjoy hours of entertainment in the car.
  • Books on tape: Have a book you have been wanting to read but haven’t had the time? Play it in your car!
  • Adventure stops: Why stop at a boring gas station when you can find a historic site along your route to stop, learn something new, and use a break for something more fun than the loo.
  • Journal-ing: I always like to document my trips by writing them in journal. What a better way to pass time than to document your adventures in the car?
  • Dance party: A good playlist can make or break a road trip! Don’t forget to plan ahead and download your favorite songs. This will definitely come in handy when your driving late at night and need to re-energize at the top of your lungs signing your favorite songs.

Road trip to Texas

Advertisements

Santa Fe, Day 2

Santa Fe, Day 2

The perks of going to bed at 9:30 PM definitely start with waking up early and refreshed the next morning. After a quick walk with the puppy, we hopped in the car, grabbed our Starbucks breakfast, and headed back to the slopes.

We were determined to attempt the blue runs at the very top of the mountain today, since those we did in the middle section of the mountain the day before were not too bad. After a few warm up green runs, we took the lift up to the top of the mountain! The view was out of this world. We started down the blue run and were a little intimidated by how it appeared as the slope totally dropped of into a super steep run! Upon getting closer to the edge though, the slop was wide, do-able, and absolutely exhilarating! Not to mention the view down the entire route was stellar!

Ski Santa Fe, New Mexico

One of the best things about Ski Santa Fe is the length of the runs. You can spend 20 minutes going down if you know the right routes which totally makes up for the long lift ride up! We spent the better part of the morning exploring the blue runs streaming down the top of the mountain and had an absolute blast. The mountain was basically empty to so no lines and having the runs to yourself cant be beat!

IMG_0793

We started our ski day right as the lifts opened and went down run after run until about 1 PM when we needed a food break. Instead of going to the little grill, we went back to the Prius, opened up the hatch back, and ate our Central Market snacks for lunch while taking in the view. Between the breeze, healthy food, the view, and the company – it was absolutely perfect. Reenergized and ready to go, we skied until about 3 PM before out legs started to give out and we needed to call it quits. We checked all of our gear and it started to snow! What a cool way to end the ski day!

The drive down the mountain is so serine and filled with hiking trails which we definitely need to explore in warmer weather on our next New Mexico visit. If I could, I would have had Ryan stop every 5 minutes for photos at the next amazing view, but we decided to just take it all in instead. While I would love to have more pictures of it, sometimes you have to put down your camera and soak it all in.

We got back to the room and Ryan needed a nap. I decided to do a little shopping and took off on foot around the Santa Fe square. It started to snow absolutely giant flakes and turned into a mini blizzard! I caught a few flakes on my tongue and couldn’t get enough of the snow fall and sat on our hotel’s porch watching it fall until Ryan was up and ready to go. We were going to walk down to the art galleries on Canyon road, but due to the snow, we went to the hotel’s highly acclaimed cocktail bar, the Secreto Lounge, for some amazing drinks before the 10 foot walk to our dinner destination – Tabla de Los Santos. After having so much Spanish food over the past few days, we wanted something more modern, and the menu at Tabla de Los Santos made our mouths water. Our celebratory dinner consisted of:

  • Crispy Quail – Buttermilk brined, green chile powder dusted & tempura fried, served over braised organic kale and bacon, local honey drizzle, green chile lemon aioli
  • Warm Goat Cheese Salad – Organic Farmer’s Market greens, toasted pinõn, grapefruit segments, grilled crostini’s, maple balsamic
    vinaigrette
  • Cassis Seared Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast – Butternut squash ravioli, fresh sage & pinõn cream sauce, oven dried tomatoes, sautéed
    baby spinach (This is what I had – I could eat it every day for years! Sooo yum!)
  • Lamb Chops – Orange & wild local honey, garlic mashed potatoes, strudel with spinach, mushroom, feta & oven dried tomato,lamb demi-glace,minted chimichurri.

After that dinner and a bottle of wine, we retired upstairs to relax and get ready for our last day in Santa Fe!

 

Santa Fe

Santa Fe

Ski Santa Fe, New Mexico

6:30 AM wake up due to a combination of a loud garbage truck, excitement, and a attention needing puppy dog. We started the day with a quick puppy walk to the little park up the street and with some free coffee in the hotel. We put Dakota back in the room with a big raw hide to keep her occupied, ran to the Starbucks up the street for a quick breakfast, and then took off to Ski Santa Fe! Reading online, time estimates to get from Santa Fe to the mountain for skiing are all over the place, so to set the record, it takes about 35 minutes. The path is winding up various mountain sides and all signal is lost almost immediately. The drive is very scenic and packed with look out points and trail heads for hiking.

Hotel St. Francis Santa Fe, New Mexico

We arrived at the ski center around 8 AM and got a primo parking spot right out front. The gear rental process was very streamlined and easy and the rentals ($32 per day) / lift tickets ($74 per day) are very reasonable. We got ready and headed to the slopes. There was no line for any of the lifts at all during our entire two days on the mountain. The runs are wide and really long so going from top to bottom took a nice amount of time. Being somewhat beginner skiers, we stuck to the green runs for the first hour but the blues were not intimidating looking at all so we adventured to them on the second half of the day. The skiing was just amazing and, even though the snow was a little icy and slushy, we had a blast.

 

There is also a little “Adventure Land” adventure park off one of the slopes in Ski Santa Fe. You ski into the forest a little way and there is a little “bear cave” made out of boulders, a tunnel to ski through, a teepee, and a few jumps which I was able to land! Really cool and good for both beginners and intermediates.

The bear cave in Adventure Land at Ski Santa Fe

About halfway down the mountain, there is a “spiked” coffee shop and grill where you can have a customized coffee or hot coco with some Bailey’s and lunch. I had a ham and cheese Quiche and Ryan had a burrito – both seemed to be made by Chef Mic (aka the microwave). I brought a Quest bar and opted for that instead.

We skied for a little bit longer before the exhaustion of the late night drive / early morning kicked in. We skied back down to the Prius and took a hydration and 15 minute nap break in the back of the car. I have to say, I love the Pruis. SO comfortable and gas efficient! We hung out in the car for about 30 minutes enjoying the breeze and the view before putting the skis in the back and driving down the mountain to our hotel for a shower and a nap.

Relaxing in the Prius at Ski Santa Fe, New Mexico

I woke up a little before Ryan so I harnessed up Dakota and we took off on a walk around town. She just happens to be a super cute dog and so we had to stop about every 5 paces for someone else to pet her! We walked up to the main square where lots of locals set out their goods for purchase. There was also a band playing by the fountain in the middle of the square and the 60 degree, sunny weather was just the icing on the perfect-walk cake! We made our way back to the hotel and I swapped out Dakota for Ryan as my exploring buddy. We went into some of the shops around the square, a few galleries, and grabbed a delicious latte at the Haagen-Dazs store before making the 7 block walk to our highly recommended local dinner spot.

Santa Fe is known for its green and red chilies which they mostly use on top of Mexican styled dishes. We opted to try them out at Tomasita’s restaurant which is supposed to be where all the locals go. It did not disappoint! The place was packed and so we busied ourselves drinking some absolutely delicious margaritas and making friends at the bar during our 45 minute wait. I do have to say, the people in Santa Fe are so friendly and fun!
We were sat at a table in the back and didn’t have to salivate long over the menu before ordering a tamale and enchilada plate that incorporated both styles of chilies. Our dinner also came with puffy sopapillas and honey butter which were delicious. Needless to say, we were stuffed by the end of our dining experience, and headed straight back to the hotel with our food babies to hit the sheets.

Road Trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Road Trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico

There are so many options around Texas for three-day weekend trips from wine in Fredericksburg, art in Marfa, music in Austin, to the River Walk in San Antonio – all within a few hours and full of great food, culture, and good times. The one thing Texas doesn’t have though is skiing and, ever since our trip to Snowbird, Utah, we have been hooked on the slopes. With all of that said, when we were trying to plan a quick get away for our 2 year anniversary and realized that Santa Fe’s highly recommended slopes were just a 9.5 hour drive away, we just couldn’t stay in Texas.

Road trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hotels in Santa Fe are so authentically “Santa Fe”. They are all decorated in the local adobe style and have so much personality. Additionally, most have special rates throughout the year so you can find buy 2 nights, get the third free deals, and much more if you do your research. We found a charming place in the middle of town called the Hotel St. Francis, and were totally sold when we found out the hotel was dog friendly. We were planning on road tripping so why not bring our best friend Dakota?! We bought the HosPETality package which waved the pet-fee and had a doggie bag full of treats ready for us upon arrival. With that taken care of, Dakota was all ready to go for her first big family vacation:

Road trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico

After packing for our trip (See my Ski Trip packing list here), we took off on our adventure after work on a Thursday night, right before rush hour. Unfortunately, the road to Santa Fe took every heavy rush hour route all the way through Dallas, but we were lucky that we were at least constantly moving. Our ETA to the hotel was roughly 1:30 AM on Friday morning so we packed lots of high energy drinks, snacks, and adrenaline. Pro-tip, we went to the bulk section at Central Market for snacks which was not only cheap but relatively healthy and definitely delicious. See my upcoming Road Trip Tips post for additional details!

Road Trip Snacks

Our trip was pretty uneventful.. until I took the wheel. It was around 12:30AM in the middle-of-no-where New Mexico where I accidentally hit a piece of tire that was laying in the road and then all hell broke loose noise wise from the passenger seat tire area. We had to pull over in the pitch black on the side of the freeway and use our iPhones as lights to fix the damage. The tire piece hit the wheel well and ripped off a lot of the plastic. We had to drive with some horrible sound effects for about 15 miles to the nearest gas station to buy duct tape and a pocket knife to rip the piece out. It’s never a dull moment, huh? Thankfully, my mister-fix-it boyfriend was able to jimmy the car back together and we didn’t have any issues before arriving at the hotel.

Tired and ready for bed, we walked into the hotel at 2 AM and were greeted by Kevin, the long gray-haired, incredibly nice and puppy obsessed front-desk guy. He was all about Dakota and she was trying to rip her doggie treat bag out of my hands as soon as he gave it to us. The hotel itself was clean, charming and candle lit. We went up to our second floor deluxe king suite and Dakota immediately tested out the bed with its 30 pillows. The whole place was just very comfortable and relaxing overall.

Cusco Day 2, Peru

Cusco Day 2, Peru

At 8:30 AM sharp, we were dressed and ready to meet our guide, Lizbeth, for our Cusco city tour! We walked down the street from our hotel to the chapel which used to be the main Inca residence in Cusco. You can see where the Spanish ruins stop and in Incan stones remain. The Incas figured out how to build huge structures out of massive lego-like boulders that are so earthquake-proof they still stand today, despite huge tremors. You can see the amazing architecture throughout Peru thanks to one great emperor who, with the help of his offspring, conquered most of the western coast of South America in just 100 years by using a trail system to create easier transit of resources and communication. A majority of these trails still stand and are used today and the technology was so confounding to the Spaniards that the Spanish conquistadors thought the ruins had to have been built by Gods!

We then walked to the Cathedral of Santo Domingo and I was quite surprised at how massive it was inside. It definitely does not look as large as it is from the outside. There were tons of murals inside but, unfortunately, many of them were deteriorating with time. We got to talking to our guide about the locals and apparently most natives in Cusco only may $3K per year!

20150518_133858

After the church tour, we hopped in the tour van and took off to the Inca ruins in the highlands at Sacsayhuaman (or Sexaay woman). We walked up to this beautifully green expanse of land with llamas and alpacas roaming through giant ruins of rocks that weigh up to 40 tons! I could have spent all day there, but we had to move onto the Maze ruins consisting of giant boulders that formed a cave where Incans used to perform burial rituals and mummification. Again, a super cool view and awesome history.

After our tour, we were dropped off in the main square where we found an Italian-ish restaurant for lunch. I had some lasagna to carbo-load for our shopping trip after. We went through the arts district and walked and shopped for two hours or so before some thunder told us to head to our next destination – an under-ground Museo de sitio del Qoricancha! The walk was long and the storm caught up with us about 200 yards from the entrance to the museum and we got soaked as we didn’t have umbrellas! It started to hail right as we closed the door. The museum was a little small but they had some beautiful jewelry and pottery and scary looking mummies which were cool.

By the time we finished at the museum, we were incredibly tired, so we ran through the rain back to our hotel for nap time. With some new energy, we took off to another museum in a small square up the street, but it was closed by the time we got there. We explored the cobbled streets, walked past the local kids playing soccer, back through the main square, up to a little restaurant called Cicciolina in the arts district. We had some amazing drinks, appetizers, a sweet potato gnocchi that would make anyones mouth water to try. The food in Peru can’t be beat and, if you are looking for a place in Cusco, you must try Cicciolina!

After dinner, we walked home to rest up for the next day’s journey to Machu Picchu!

Cusco tips:

  • Pack an umbrella as the weather shifts quickly.
  • While the days are nice and sunny, the temperature at night drops into the 30s, so pack warm.
  • Do all of your market shopping from Cusco and into Machu Picchu. The goods change as you make your way and there are great deals to be haggled!
  • Have dinner at Cicciolina!
  • Drink the tea in your hotels often as it really helps with the acclimatization.
  • Wear a hat, sun glasses, and lots of sunscreen since the higher altitude lets the sun effect your skin much more than usual.