I’m a big fan of a bucket list. And checking things off that bucket list brings such a sense of accomplishment. I have ongoing lists tucked in little corners of my apartment and living on my iPhone that continually get updated with new ideas and adventures. And sometimes, I even get to check things off those lists.

Last week, Charlie and I rented a sturdy silver Camry and drove from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. We’d been planning this road trip for the past few months, constantly debating over routes and pit stops. In the end, we made very few plans or arrangements in advance, opting instead to see where each day led us. And this spontaneity, I think, resulted in one of the best experiences I’ve had.

Charlie has taken some epic road trips in the past. (Oh, college years, where did you go?) Since this was my first cross-country drive, he assured me that these memories would stick with us. They’ll pop up when we least expect it, he said, and remind us of that one time we got a crazy idea stuck in our heads and decided to drive to Los Angeles. Here are some of the highlights of our trip.

One of our first stops was in Nashville. Although I really wanted to take a detour along the Appalachian Trail (another bucket list item; another trip altogether), we decided it was more feasible to make a stop in either Memphis or Nashville. To be honest, we were both craving some BBQ, so these seemed like the most obvious choices for a first-rate meal. What good vacation doesn’t revolve around food? Not one of ours, I’ve decided. Nashville was the closer of the two cities and a quick google search told me that Jack’s BBQ was THE place for ribs.¬†

Oh yeah, we were not disappointed. This pile of meat is not for the faint of heart.

And after a 12 hour drive, this sure hit the spot. Not pictured here are our beers. Those might have been the most well-deserved beers I’ve tasted on this side of the Mississippi.

We recommend Jack’s on Broadway if you ever find yourself in Nashville.

Then there was a lot more driving. And driving. And driving. And before we knew it, we hit Oklahoma!

And in Oklahoma, they aren’t kidding around with their highway tolls. I think we stopped every two miles to give that state more money. By the time we reached Texas, my purse was much lighter. Thanks, Oklahoma.

Once we reached New Mexico, that’s when the road started getting really interesting.

We found these dilapidated shacks along the highway in New Mexico. A woman and her two children were selling turquoise jewelry at the far end of this picture.

One of our highlights of the trip was our stop at the Grand Canyon. It’s amazing that after driving for 3 days on land so flat and unchanging, you could suddenly come across a canyon so deep and cavernous. It is such a stark contrast to see on a road trip like this!

This photo gives me a heart attack every time I look at it. When you let that boy out of Brooklyn, there’s no telling what he’ll do. I’m glad we don’t have any steep cliffs for him to scale back in the city.

Even shadows seem larger than life at the Grand Canyon.

After leaving the canyon, we set out on the last leg of our journey. Next, I’ll post about our time in Los Angeles!