Toward the end of 2023, I flew to Colorado Springs and then drove 1,180 miles back to Los Angeles via the southern route; my first true “road trip” in many years. The Southwest road trip was actually a lot of fun, though I was quite exhausted by the time I reached home about 30 hours later.
Southwest Road Trip
Why a road trip, especially with so much going on in my life right now? I had a meeting in Colorado Springs and clients in Albuquerque, NM Flagstaff, AZ, and Palm Springs, CA who wanted to meet (Award Expert has become so boutique that I will make “house calls” for long-term clients). It made little sense to fly to each one, so I opted to drive instead. And what an adventure it was!
First, I flew from Los Angeles to Denver then to Colorado Springs on United. I took early morning flights so I could get a head start on my drive. The flights were unmemorable, but thankfully on time.
At Colorado Springs Airport, I picked up my rental car from Hertz. When I rent cars, I don’t want a fancy one and I certainly did not want an electric car or a gas guzzler for the journey home across Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
Despite all the preexisting scratches and dents, this was a trip I paid for the full insurance coverage just so I would not have to worry or deal with my credit card company in case of an accident or damage.
Like an idiot, I promptly locked myself out of the car (left the key in the trunk). It has been years now since I’ve had to carry a car key since my Tesla just uses my mobile phone. My wife drives a Toyota at home and her trunk will not close if it senses the key fob. But apparently not so on the Corolla…thankfully Hertz had a locksmith on staff who was quickly able to “break into” the car and get the key back.
I took care of business in Colorado Springs, then hit the road by 4:00 pm. My drive was not bad the first day: just to Albuquerque via I-25.
The drive was…boring…and I was thankful for that. I stopped in Raton, New Mexico for a stretch and bathroom break then made it to dinner in Albuquerque at Cocina Azul, as recommended by road trip expert Sriram from Travel Codex. I did not make it in time for the original Cocina Azul, but quite enjoyed the enchiladas, though both the Hatch green chile and red salsas were quite spicy!
I slept at the Hyatt Place adjacent to Albuquerque Airport. The following morning, I had an early meeting and then was on my way.
I reached Flagstaff, had a productive meeting there, and was soon on my way again for the long stretch to Palm Springs, California. On this leg of the trip, I just stopped in Mayer, AZ to use the bathroom.
After my meeting in Palm Springs, I was famished…and made a beeline for the Taco Bell in Cabazon, part of the Morongo reservation. I also got tax-free gas there.
I hit traffic and did not make it back to LAX Airport until nearly 3:00 am to drop off the car. I walked back through from the Hertz drop-off to my car and drove home, arriving home just before 4:00 am with my alarm set to go off for church at 6:45 am.
A 1,180-mile drive with three meetings was taxing, but it was a very productive two days. And while I far prefer to fly than drive, I will take my family on a cross-country road trip at some point in the future (and probably in one direction on this same Southwest route). My wife Heidi has seen so little of this country and we all know that Los Angeles is hardly indicative of the rest of the nation.
This week I’ll also add a full review of the Hyatt Place Albuquerque Airport and of a couple great coffee shops I found in Colorado Springs and in Flagstaff.