U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Two (Arizona, New Mexico and Texas)

U.S. Road Trip Week Two: The American Southwest -- Arizona, New Mexico and Texas

Two more National Parks and three new National Monuments, including the most beautiful (and surreal) place I’ve ever seen! Week two of our summer road trip took us all the way from Arizona to Texas, with a scenic desert drive through New Mexico on the way.

Below is a photographic re-cap of our second week of road-tripping across the U.S. in our little red Yaris. Read on for beautiful white sand dunes, cacti that actually look like the ones you drew when you were a kid, and a couple of neat ruins speckled about the American Southwest! 

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You can get an overview of our trip each week here on the blog, but we’re posting almost daily updates of our cross-country U.S. road trip on Facebook and Instagram.

Backpacking at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Backpacking at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

camping under the Milky Way at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Camping under the stars at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

We’re camping our way around the U.S. Want to know what gear we use? Check out 5 of our summer camping essentials here.

States Visited This Week

  • Arizona
  • New Mexico
  • Texas

States Visited in Previous Weeks

Total States Visited So Far: 5

California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico at sunset

Sunset at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

A lost hub cap on our Yaris

We threw a hub cap at Canyon Lake, Arizona and found it the next day.

Stops/Landmarks

  • Montezuma Castle National Monument, AZ
  • Canyon Lake & Tortilla Flat, Greater Phoenix Area, AZ
  • Casa Grande National Monument, AZ
  • Saguaro National Park, AZ
  • White Sands National Monument, NM — both Diana’s and Ian’s favorite
  • Big Bend National Park, TX
  • Austin, TX
Casa Grande National Monument, Arizona

Casa Grande National Monument, Arizona

Saguaro cactus at Saguaro National Park, Texas

Saguaro National Park, Texas

Highlights

  • Cheat Day on our diet, featuring Indian Fry Bread, La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop, and a bunch of sugary goodness
  • Meeting Tyler Sichelski and camping near Canyon Lake
  • Getting frustrated at the lack of camping near Saguaro National Park (We ended up in a budget hotel in Tucson that night.)
  • Getting the last backcountry permit for White Sands and meeting Wally Pacholka of astropics.com
  • Hiking at White Sands
  • Getting sandblasted inside our tent at White Sands followed by a mild thunderstorm… but loving the heck out of it anyway — More about White Sands in our shot of the week from this week.
  • Shooting successful Milky Way photos with a smartphone
  • Realizing at Big Bend National Park (Texas) that the most amazing thing we packed was a battery-powered fan from Walmart (We seriously wouldn’t have slept that night without it.)
  • The Congress Bridge bats in Austin, Texas
backpacking at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Our shadows at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

The Milky Way at White Sands National Monument

The Milky Way at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona

Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona

Notes and Insights

  • We bought our annual National Park pass ($80) at the Grand Canyon at the end of week one, and it paid for itself in just 5 days of road tripping: $25 at Grand Canyon, $10 at Montezuma Castle, $10 at Casa Grande, $10 at Saguaro, $6 at White Sands, and $20 at Big Bend
  • On our road trip playlist this week: Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967 (John Mayer) and Polaroid Memories (full album, Urban Cone)
  • Our favorite 4HB road meals this week: Chipotle salad w/no rice, plus extra beans and sometimes guac and Wendy’s chili with onions and a side garden salad with Italian dressing

Backpacking in a red dress at White Sands National Monument

Time to set up camp! Post photo session at White Sands National Monument

Photo Gallery

Night photography at Canyon Lake, Arizona Night photography at Tortilla Flat/Canyon Lake, Arizona -- That's a saguaro cactus! Big Bend National Park landscape by Ian Norman White Sands National Monument Milky Way by Ian Norman Diana Southern at Big Bend National Park, Texas by Ian Norman Milky Way at White Sands National Monument by Ian Norman White Sands National Monument by Ian Norman White Sands National Monument by Ian Norman Saguaro National Park by Ian Norman A saguaro cactus at Tortilla Flat, Arizona Yaris at night Diana Southern at White Sands National Monument by Ian Norman

All photos were taken by Ian and Diana with the Sony a7 II (Ian’s camera), Sony RX100 III (Diana’s camera — review here) and our smartphones.

Week Three Preview

  • Eating our way through the New Orleans French Quarter
  • Cards vs. Diamondbacks, a walk-off home run, and visiting my cousins in St. Louis
  • Returning to my favorite Missouri State Park to show Ian an awesome piece of my childhood
  • Thunderstorms, fireflies, and other Midwest-y stuff
  • Getting lots of blogging done during our multi-day hotel stays
  • Seeing one of my best friends from school and getting pumped for her wedding at the historic Old Cathedral in St. Louis

I hope you enjoyed our week two U.S. road trip re-cap! In case you missed it, check out week one here. Have you road-tripped to any of these U.S. locations? Tell us about your trips in the comments.

Until next week, follow us on Facebook for the latest news and photos from our trip.

About the Author

Diana Southern
In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.

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