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From Chicago to Tucson

Four years ago this week I left my beloved city of Chicago and headed west with Tucson, AZ as my final destination.

Rather than drive the 1,800 miles straight through over 3 days I decided to make an adventure out of it and planned a week long, solo road trip for myself. That time was precious to me as I transitioned from one chapter of my life to a new one and needed some time alone to process the 12 years I was leaving behind in Chicago and welcoming the unknown that was waiting for me in the desert. At that time I thought I would only be in Tucson for a few months but now 4 years later I can see my journey was taking me where I needed to be.

I'm sharing my itinerary below in case you might be looking for some travel recommendations. I crammed a lot into 7 days and definitely need to go back to some of these stops! It was a great introduction to the Southwest and I know there's still so much more for me to discover here. Enjoy a trip down memory lane!

And if you have specific questions about where I stayed or activities I did, feel free to contact me!


Day 1 - Chicago, IL to Tulsa, OK

Last view from my studio apartment, so long Chicago!


Last sunset in Illinois
"East Meets West" sculpture in Tulsa, OK


Day 2 - Tulsa, OK to Tucumcari, NM

Route 66 Day!

Acadia Round Barn in Acadia, OK & The Mother Road - original Route 66


The Famous Oklahoma Fried Onion Burger at Sid's Diner in El Reno, OK

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, OK

Cadillac Ranch west of Amarillo, TX


Midpoint of Route 66 in Adrian, TX (halfway btw Chicago & Los Angeles) 


Dinner at Del's Restaurant in Tucumcari, NM (made friends with Cubs fans and they paid for my dinner!)


Day 3 - Tucumcari, NM to San Fidel, NM

Breakfast at Kix on 66

Hiking & exploring in Bandelier National Monument west of Santa Fe, NM


Rented a room at an Artist Residence (coffee the next morning) 


Day 4 - San Fidel, NM to Concho, AZ

Acoma Pueblo


El Malpais National Monument - La Ventana Arch & El Calderon Loop Trail



El Morro National Monument


Day 5 - Concho, AZ to Chinle, AZ

Petrified Forest National Park


Painted Desert


Navajo Nation - wild ponies next to the dirt road, stayed in a traditional Navajo hogan, wandered the property with the owner's dogs, saw the Milky Way at night on my way to use the outhouse




Day 6 - Canyon de Chelly - Chinle, AZ

Sunrise on Navajo Nation


Canyon de Chelly - White House trail



Canyon tour w/ local tour guide who was born and raised in the Canyon and taught me so much about Dine culture and way of live - the highlight of my whole trip!


Spider Rock


Day 7 - Chinle, AZ to Tucson, AZ

Navajo Nation - fry bread breakfast burrito then on the road to Tucson!



Salt River Canyon




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