I got back from a 10-day roadtrip from Lodi, CA-Dallas, TX on Sunday and just wanted to give a review.
Day 1 - We left the day after Thanksgiving and made an uneventful drive from Lodi-Needles, CA. No disrespect to anyone on here from Needles, but [it is a little scenic-challenged] If you have the opportunity to stay somewhere else along this route...do it!
Day 2 - We drove from Needles to Albuquerque along Interstate 40. If anyone is traveling this, beware that the road gets cut to 1 lane between Kingman and Williams. They also radar this stretch heavily. The only stop we made along this stretch was at the Pertified Forest. This was a pretty cool little park. Very Badlands-esque in areas. The story behind the scenery is awesome.
Day 3 - We originally had planned pushing it to Oklahoma City this day, but the night before we decided to have a short drive day and just head into Amarillo. We used this day to explore Palo Duro Canyon, which to my surprise is the second largest canyon in the US. This was a neat little spot. Lots of Whitetail and mule deer, lots of wild turkey, and stunning views. When you drive out here it just all of a sudden appears out of some of the flattest land you'll ever see.
Day 4 - Just so happened to be my birthday. We followed 40 into Oklahoma (becoming my 29th state) and turned off on 180. The point of this was to see the hometown of my grandfather. He passed on three years ago and I thought this would be a nice way to pay tribute to him. He came from the small town of Fairview, OK which lies about 100 miles NW of Ok. City. Nice little town, just waht I expected it to be like and well worth the detour. From there we headed into Oklahoma City for the night. Had a great dinner at Mickey Mantle's Steakhouse in Bricktown. I wasn't too impressed with the city, especially at night. I wouldn't feel too comfortable walking around away from the restaurants at Bricktown.
Day 5 -Woke up and visited the Bombing Memorial. They did a really nice job of memoralizing that tragic day. If you get a chance, the museum is well worth it. It's truly emotional, I found myself choking back tears. After that, we deviated our route again and headed down I-44 to see the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. If your into wildlife and scenery, this is a nice stop in a small mountain range in Oklahoma. There is a drive that takes you to the top of the 2,400-foot peak in the park and gives you a 360-degree view of Oklahoma. In the refuge you will see Buffalo, Elk, Whitetail Deer, and Texas Longhorns. From here we made the short drive into Wichita Falls, TX for the night.
Day 6 - Headed into Dallas. Talk about poorly designed freeways and interchanges, not to mention crazy drivers! We stayed at the Hyatt downtown and from there were able to walk around the area. Visiting Dealey Plaza was awesome. It was hard to believe that a Presidential Assassination took place here. It was even harder to belive that a building that close to the route was not cleared out and secured! Absolutely mind boggling. This was a great history lesson.
Day 7 - Spent the day up in the little town of Grapevine then headed over to Texas Stadium for the Packer game. Too bad we lost, or else this trip would of been perfect.
Day 8 - Headed west for Albuquerque. Decided to go a different way, taking I-20 through Abilene, then 84 through Lubbock and into New Mexico. Along this route I was able to find two places that qualify as [even more scenic-challenged] than Needles...Farwell, TX and Muleshoe, TX. Yuck! We also stopped off in Fort Sumner, NM to visit Billy The Kid's grave. After that, we hit some thick fog along I-40 before heading into Albuquerque for the night.
Day 9 -We shot out of Albuquerque with the hopes of making it to Tehachapi, CA if not all the way home. We hit some heavy rain west of Winslow, AZ and some rain/snow mix at Flagstaff as well as ice, however, we were out of the bad weather by the time we hit Williams. About 20 miles east of Kingman, my sister called and conviced us to stay the night with her in Las Vegas, so we turned north up US-93 and went into Sin City for the night.
Day 10 - The long boring drive on I-15, CA-58, and CA-99.
The total trip logged 4,060 miles. Gas totaled a bit over $600 and was much cheaper the minute we escaped California. Keep in mind though, gas in New Mexico cheaper, but the low grade is only 86 octane and may cause trouble to your car. Our car's engine light comes on anytime we use less than 87 octane. Also, look for the gas station stops called Love's, along I-40 they are most often the cheapest gas.
Sorry for the long review and many thanks to those that read it. If you have any questions about taking a similar trip, feel free to hit me up.