Cross Country Road Trip to Las Vegas to Oregon to New York

My wife needed to go to Las Vegas for CES this year, and I was not about to be left behind. Not because of CES but because of the climbing at Red Rocks outside of Vegas. I pitched that I go with her, climb with a friend that lives in Las Vegas, drive instead of fly, and add a detour to Oregon to see family and friends. Because she is down for nearly anything the plan was accepted. Before we knew it, climbing gear, snacks, and the dog were packed in the car and we were off to Las Vegas.

Day 1: New York to St. Louis

We embarked early and headed to St. Louis. This was a straight forward drive with the only thing to note is that when we showed up in St. Louis all the good looking BBQ places were CLOSED. I think we finally showed up between 8-9 pm, and ultimately ended up getting food from the Burger King next to the parking lot of our hotel. So be warned, show up early to St. Louis, or eat Burger King.

Day 2: St. Louis to Denver (New Year’s Eve)

The weather was cold but clear and we were making good time. We hit Denver early enough that we could celebrate New Year’s Eve on the town. Even though we had an event picked out and everything, we ended up being super lazy and stayed in. We hit the liquor store across the parking lot of our hotel, got crappy champagne, good beer, and then ordered Dominos. Burger King, Dominos and booze, we are committed to a healthy lifestyle.

Day 3: Denver to Las Vegas

The next morning, we moved a little slower because we wanted to hit a restaurant we love in Denver called Snooze. They are a Denver staple, but also have a location in San Diego, which is where we first discovered them. We crushed a lavender pancake and a benedict, and then headed to Vegas.

Day 4 – 8: Las Vegas

Jill and I had very different experiences in Las Vegas. She basically had to work from morning to night the whole week at CES, while I worked remotely, and got a lot of climbing and video games in. The highlight was definitely climbing at Red Rocks and warranted a separate post, read my Red Rocks Climbing Trip Guide here.

I was pretty sad to leave Las Vegas. Red Rocks completely changed my perception on the city. The strip is often what gets talked about, but the amazing mountains surrounding it are the real feature. It’s desert nature at its best.

Day 9: Las Vegas to Reno

Vegas to Reno is a quick seven hours and the drive is pretty beautiful. This time we made plans and semi-stuck to them. We had dinner at this great French restaurant named Beaujolais Bistro. We planned on heading in and seeing a little bit of Reno’s version of the strip, but again wimped out and went to bed instead.

On the way to Reno is when the weather started to get whacky. There was a huge storm blowing across northern California coming from the coast, and Reno was slated to get some serious flooding from the Truckee river. Luckily for us, the Sierra Nevada mountain range was going to hold the storm off long enough for us to bail to Eugene.

Day 10: Reno to Eugene

This is also supposed to be an easy seven hour drive, but we got hammered with rain, and the Cascades were icey. In addition, while we were headed across the country, the forecast in the Willamette Valley, where Eugene is, turned bad. Eugene and the surrounding areas essentially froze. This slowed us down to a crawl during the approach to Eugene, but we made it safely.

Day 11 – 15: Eugene

Eugene is home. I grew up here and whenever I go back I try and chill as much as possible in my parent’s backyard and make sure to do a tour of the restaurant hits. A few of the Eugene classics I try to fit in are:

And some of the new places (or Portland imports) that have popped up since I moved

After some quality family time (and local food, beer, and wine, duh) it was time to make the trek back to New York. The roads were not looking good, and eastern Oregon was a frozen tundra with temps reaching as low as -4.

Day 16-19: Eugene to Boise to North Platte to Toledo to New York

The rest of the trip was a grind and was pretty high stress. I white knuckled the steering wheel across the country as we avoided ice, and the drive took much longer on the way back because of it, but we ultimately made it back home without issue.

I fully believe that every person that can, especially people living in the US, should do a cross-country drive at least once, but would recommend doing it in late spring / early summer or late summer / early fall. While it was amazing to see some incredible landscapes in snow, the driving was pretty awful and overshadowed the views.

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