Road Trippin’ From CA to FL (Plus, What Real Foodies Bring While On the Road)

A week ago my husband Scott and I embarked on a five day long road trip across the country to start our new lives! We were living in California (my home state) but decided our lives would be much more meaningful if we moved back to Florida (Scott’s home state). Thankfully, my mother-in-law flew to California right before we left to take Andrew back with her. This way Scott and I could travel without the added stress of a two year old. (hallelujah!)

The beginning of our trip (the packing) was a real test for the strength of our marriage. The two days we had to pack all of our stuff in the u-haul were the hottest days of the week! Not to mention, we only had each other to move all of our belongings (imagine a 5’2 girl trying to help move a king size tempur-pedic mattress down an elevator). It was crazy and I will not confirm nor deny there were times we both wanted to kill each other.

We rented the 6×12 U-haul thinking it would fit everything but we were totally wrong. If we did not take the time to measure the boxes, use the space efficiently (I’m talkin’ putting smaller boxes in the book shelves, drawers, etc.) by not having any dead space and really think about how we were placing our things… there is no way we would have fit even half our house! The powers of the universe must have been with us because we were able to get everything we really needed in the trailer. There were many things we had to leave behind but all were replaceable.

You would have sworn we were Tetris champion players — that’s how good we packed all the boxes and Expedition.

We ended up leaving two and half days later than we anticipated but we managed to get on the road by 6pm on a Sunday evening and headed to what would be our destination for the night — Bakersfield, CA.

When we got on the freeway, we immediately knew it was going to be a long, slow ride. The trailer did not have built in brakes, the expedition did not have enough power to really tow it efficiently and it was very unsteady (it kept swaying from side to side if you drove past 70mph). Yay for adventures!

We were going to take a detour and hit the Grand Canyon but we decided it against it for two reasons: 1. In the Grand Canyon area, they were having record highs in the temperature (115-117 degrees!); 2. We didn’t want to travel on a road we have no idea about, in the blazing heat, with a borderline over-weight trailer, only to get there and not even be able to get out of the car!


Day 2

We wound up stopping at the Meteor Crater out of spontaneity so we could say we at least did something on our long journey besides drive. I had been there previously about 13 years ago so it was nice to revisit when I could have the appreciation for how humungous this crater is!

The tour guide said it was nearly 2 miles in circumference and 50 football fields long! Can you imagine that monstrosity soaring down from the sky?

the sky was so beautiful this day!
an actual piece of the meteorite

Real Foodie Problems on The Road

As you could imagine, one of the biggest worries of going on a five day long road trip for a real foodie is.. the food of course! I diligently packed and prepared a few necessary items to make sure we were well nourished for a good portion of our trip.

Things I brought:

  • 6 hard boiled, pastured eggs
  • organic cheese
  • trail mix (had sprouted pumpkin seeds in it!)
  • guacamole & non-GMO tortilla chips
  • shredded chicken
  • avocados
  • bread
  • salami & prosciutto
  • wild salmon
  • pistachios, almonds & peanuts
  • various kombuchas
  • coconut water
  • dried mangos & apricots
  • organic apples
  • honey bread
  • crackers
  • hummus
  • cut up carrots, bell peppers and cucumbers
  • fruit salad

As you can imagine, we packed a big cooler plus a small cooler full of all these things. It was pretty cramped but totally worth it! When I traveled across country earlier in the year with my in-laws and toddler (read about my experience here) I was not prepared, at all. This time I feel like I trumped myself. If I could go back I would buy more salmon because it was SO good!

I brought my FCLO along as well with intentions of taking it but…. I didn’t. *sigh*

still smiling!

Day 3

Hellooo Texas!
The road we took through Texas was full of grain mills, factory farms and slaughterhouses.. woohoo! (oh and dust cropping!)
We arrived in Austin and wanted to eat at this burger bar (per recommendation of a friend)
My beer is the one on the right.. WOW. I definitely did not finish it!
Is it weird that I was excited about going to a place that supported local farms, had grass-fed meats & composts!?
I got a buffalo burger with avocado, grilled mushroom and caramelized onions
My husband got a grass-fed burger with caramelized onions, hickory BBQ sauce, bacon, jalapenos and cheddar cheese
I wish every restaurant had chlorine and fluoride free water!

 Day 4

Hi & Bye Houston!
Totally missed the Louisiana sign!
We drove through 18 miles of swamp in Louisiana!
The Mississippi River
Our last stop for the night!

Our Interesting Story in New Orleans

We did not have hotels pre-planned and reserved throughout our trip. Every day I researched hotels via and on the way to our next destination. The whole trip we got pretty lucky with nice hotels at very reasonable prices. The first night (we stayed in Bakersfield) we actually got upgraded for free to a suite. Super comfortable!

Well, when it came time to book a hotel for New Orleans, our experience was a tad bit different. I called a phone number that was given to me on TripAdvisor and it forwarded me to a lady in a central office for the hotel chain. I asked her about the specific hotel I was looking for and she said she couldn’t find it. I asked if she had any other hotels in the area and she said everything was booked. I believed her because it was fourth of July (bad mistake on my part!). She told me the only place available was a room in a Super 8 and the reservation needed to be paid for while we were on the phone. I felt a little weird paying for the reservation right then and there because all the other hotels we stayed at never required payment until we were standing in front of the clerk. I just went with it.

Anyway, we finally arrived in New Orleans but as we were following the directions to the hotel, it was taking us completely away from the city — completely. That was the first bad sign. We took our exit at Downman Road and as we were coming around and driving under the freeway, the area looked rough. Graffiti and trash every where. Bright yellow, green and blue homes. Scott said, “Man a lot of this looks like Ybor city but in the projects.” I tried to reassure him that it may get better but as we turned right on Chef Menteur Road, we saw two brothers making a drug deal. Hmmm… Then literally, 15 feet from the drug deal there was a prostitute. And another.. and another.. and another.. And then there was a pregnant prostitute. Right after the pregnant prostitute, a girl (another prostitute) got out of this white beaten down car which was right next to the motel we were supposed to stay in.

We drove real slow as we approached the motel. We noticed a group of about 15 people with their shirts off having a party on the balcony. Nope! We weren’t doing it! Scott hit the gas and we got back on the freeway and headed towards the city.

Imagine trying to find parking for an Expedition (full size SUV) plus a 12 foot long trailer. HA! Yeah, it’s hard to imagine right? Well we were in for a stressful treat trying to find a moderately priced hotel with parking for a trailer, in the middle of downtown New Orleans on fourth of July! I got on the phone with an extremely helpful booking agent and he was able to find a place for us with parking. Scott dropped me off so I could go inside and speak with the front desk clerk about the parking since that was the major issue. He directed me to speak with the guy who operated the parking lot to double check we could park the trailer in their parking lot. I told the guy of our crazy story and I think he felt bad for us… because he let us in (and at a discounted price!).

The best part of the whole night was the room we stayed in. We resided our night in a Hilton Garden hotel on the 12th floor (there was only 12 floors) in a suite for only $122! The room had a full kitchen, living room with flat screen TV, king size bed with detached bathroom and a jacuzzi bath tub. WAY more than what we needed but it was wonderful to feel pampered after a hectic night!!

Scott even filled the tub up in the morning for me while I was still sleeping. 🙂

our amazing room!

Day 5 (Home Sweet Home)

How Florida welcomed us

It felt so good to pull into my in-laws drive way… We were home! We arrived safely, ate moderately well on the trip and we could now start on the next chapter of our lives here in Florida!

Have you ever had a crazy experience like what we had in New Orleans? (At least it makes for a fun story afterwards)

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  1. Wow! I can’t believe it! We are also a couple of real foodies living in the sf bay area who are planning to move to Florida (Pensacola, where my husbands family lives) in a big uhaul van for a more meaningful life! Thank you so much for forging the path for us and for posting such a great road map!

    1. Wow! What a small world! I wish you both the best in your travels and in your new home.

  2. I know this is a really old post, but I’ve been searching all over the internet to find someone who did a long-distance self-move with a Tempur-pedic mattress. How did you pack it? Tempur-pedic says you’re supposed to keep it flat—did you place other items on top of it? Or put it on top of everything? I must know the secret!

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