The Great American Road Trip – Our 2021 Tour

Our Great American Road Trip along Route 66 is the first with Atlantic, Pacific and Alaskan coming.

Our Great American Road Trips

Our 22 Annual Trips: For 22 years I have emailed friends and family my 52Best weekly stories. This Readership has grown to 18,500 people in 78 countries. Once a year we create a friend-filled and well-priced tour for our Readers and Friends. To date, we have completed 22 trips from Russia, to China, to Argentina, to Vietnam, to Peru, to Norway and many countries in between. We go because we want to see the places and people and we end up making many lifelong friends along the way.

Our Original 2020 Trip to Portugal:  Our Portugal October 2020 trip was fully booked and then deep-sixed by COVID 19. Our travel company encouraged me to duplicate the 2020 Portugal trip in October of 2021. They were hopeful by then international travel and Portugal would be back to “normal” and an October 2021 trip would be doable.

Our Portugal 2021 Trip Decision: I take being our tour organizer quite seriously. It is now a good way through 2021 and Portugal is not allowing any touring American into the country. One recent article describes COVID in Portugal as a “calamity.” I will not risk taking 30 people to any foreign country even if a window for travel seemingly opens up. There would a chance that if one of us gets COVID on the trip that we ALL would be quarantined there for two weeks. No, we aren’t doing this.

The Great American Road Trip – Route 66: So my response for 2021? No foreign countries, no risk of a two-week quarantine in some faraway place. We are venturing forth on The Great American Road Trip in the country we love on USA’s “Mother Road”- our historic Route 66 – by luxury bus from and to Dallas. Great traveling friends, yummy classy restaurants, funky charming hotels plus an explosive amount of daily Americana.

Our Great American Road Trips – Route 66, Atlantic, Pacific, Alaskan: We plan four Great American Road Trips. This year Route 66 along our U.S. “Mother Road,” then three more – the Atlantic from Florida, through the Carolinas, to Washington DC and the fall colors of the Northeast to Maine – the Pacific from San Diego up coast Highway 1 to the Hurst Castle, the Giant Redwoods, and to Seattle – and the Alaskan from Vancouver through Alaska’s majestic forests to Anchorage and calving Glaciers. What is your vote for next year? Email me your vote and let me know.   Great thanks.

Our Route 66 All-American Itinerary

Day 1 – Saturday, Oct 2nd – Our Welcome Party at Lazy Dog in Dallas (D)
We will be gathering at the trendy Lazy Dog Restaurant in Village in Parkway at 6 pm for a relaxed fun evening sharing experiences and getting to know each other. We will be in a private patio with high tops and a buffet of special dinner hors d’oeuvres.

Overnight Home and Hotel: The majority of us live in DFW and will be at home tonight. Out of town? We have a special rate at the North Dallas at Preston Holiday inn Express where the bus picks us up in the morning. Both those of us from Dallas and from out of town may leave our cars in a private parking area at the Holiday Inn at no charge and pick them up when we return on the 12th.

Day 2 – Sunday, Oct 3rd – Dallas Traveling to Carlsbad New Mexico

We officially begin the trip this morning and all load onto the bus at the Holiday Inn at 8 am and head to the Maple Leaf Restaurant for a hearty Canadian breakfast. The Maple Leaf is ranked as one of the top 100 restaurants in the United States by Yelp. We continue on for a late lunch at Big John’s Feed Lot by Brenda in Big Springs, Texas, arriving at our Hyatt House Hotel in Carlsbad, New Mexico, around 7 pm. Both during our bus trip as well as an evening walk we can discover the natural beauty of the City of Carlsbad and the view of its gorgeous canyons and mountains.

Overnight Hotel:  We will be staying at the Hyatt House Carlsbad which guests have ranked 9.4 on a 10 point scale with comments such as: “Hotel was super clean and had so many amenities. Staff was kind, helpful, friendly, and welcoming.”

Day 3 – Monday, Oct 4th – Carlsbad Caverns National Park then Las Cruces NM (B)
From the Hyatt House, we travel 20 miles to the Carlsbad Caverns (video 2 min)  where we follow the most popular route to the Big Room, the largest single cave chamber by volume in North America. This 1.25 mile trail is relatively flat and will take on the average 1.5 hours to walk. Will Rogers called the cavern, “The Grand Canyon with a roof over it.” We will be rewarded with spectacular views, cave formations of all shapes and sizes, and a rope ladder used by explorers in 1924 (which we will NOT climb). There is time for lunch in the underground Cavern Café. Note: there is also an elevator down into the caverns.

Overnight Hotel:  We are staying at the charming and attractive Encanto de Las Cruces (video 3 min) with an ambiance reflective of Spanish and Mexican Colonial history and tradition. Hotel Encanto offers luxurious accommodations and amenities including an on-site restaurant, bar and an outdoor swimming pool. Guest Comments are: “This has been my wife’s and I longtime go-to hotel. It has been constantly upgraded and we have stayed here many times and have always been very pleased.”

Day 4 – Tuesday, Oct 5th – Las Cruces to historic Tucson Movie Studios then Scottsdale (B)

We depart this morning after breakfast to Tuscon where we’ll stop for lunch and a tasty burger at the Divine Bovine (video 40 sec) and then visit the Old Tucson Studios. Favorites films such as Rio Bravo, Gunfight at the OK Corral, The Three Amigos, and more recently, Tombstone with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, were filmed there. The studios are now closed. The gift shop is open and news articles say that it could reopen this Fall.
Overnight:  We are staying at another classy Hyatt, the Hyatt Plaza North, with a spacious pool, fitness center, and free internet. Guest comments say: “Very pleased with the way everyone treated us. The room was excellent and roomy with a great breakfast. Look forward to staying here again.”

Day 5 – Wednesday, Oct 6th – Scottsdale to Tlaquepague Village Sedona (B)
After breakfast is free time to explore Old Scottsdale before checking out of our hotel and heading to Sedona. This afternoon we visit the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village (video 2 min) just outside Sedona which is an incredibly special place. Some say Tlaquepaque is the very heart of Sedona. Entering the grounds feels like a dreamily magic Mexican Village from a time gone by.
Overnight: We stay two nights at the ever so enchanting Los Abrigados Resort and Spa (video 2 min). Within the resort is the Timo Wood Oven Wine Bar, the Spoke Wheel Tavern and Eartery, a slatwarter pool with hot tub, the Sedona Spa and a full range fitness center. In addition Los Abrigados is a block from the center of Sedona with its galleries, restaurants, and boutiques.

Continental Breakfast: Although Los Abrigados has an elegant restaurant, it is not now open for breakfast. In addition, our upcoming Red Feather Hotel does not have a restaurant. For breakfast these four mornings we will either join nearby restaurants or create a continental breakfast for us of fresh-baked local bakery delicacies, indigenous fresh fruits and fruit juices.

Day 6 – Thursday, Oct 7th – Sedona Canyon and Plaza Tours. Sandy’s Birthday Party (B) (D)

What makes Sedona so special? (home video 3 min)  First, it is in Arizona’s spectacular Oak Creek Canyon (video by drone 2 min) with its stunning red buttes and monoliths along with its surrounding lush forests. Secondly, Sedona has its own unique energy and is internationally known for the uplifting regenerative power of its Vortex meditation sites. We will visit Cathedral Rock and drive into Oak Creek Canyon. Tonight, we celebrate – it’s my Birthday – we will be dining at the Spoke and Wheel Tavern and Eatery which is “a chef-driven eatery serving contemporary American cuisine with a Southwestern flair.”

Overnight We are staying our second night at the Los Abrigados Resort and Spa.

Day 7 – Friday, Oct 8th – Sedona to the Grand Canyon Village (B)

After breakfast, we board our luxury bus and continue via Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon National Park (National Geographic video 4 min}. We check into our Red Feather Lodge and then have a free evening in the Grand Canyon Village. Besides the Grand Canyon IMAX Theatre (IMAX video 1 min) which is in walking distance there is a well rated Big E Steakhouse and the Coronado Room for dinner. Also to be considered is that the Village is the perfect place for an long evening walk with its unbelievably fresh air and breath-taking canyon scenery (video of Village walk 3 min).
Overnight: Red Feather Lodge (family owner video 4 min) in the Grand Canyon Village. Nestled in an idyllic Grand Canyon the friendly Red Feather Lodge provides personal service and easy access to the spectacular attractions of Grand Canyon National Park.

Day 8 – Saturday, Oct 9th – Grand Canyon full day Guided Tour (B)
After breakfast, we will have a full day guided tour of the extraordinary South Rim of the Grand Canyon (video by drone 2 min). We will break for lunch at a nearby local restaurant. Late afternoon we will have time for an optional spectacular helicopter tour (helicopter video 7 minutes). Grand Canyon helicopter service information is here.

Overnight:  We overnight a second night at the Red Feather Lodge

Day 9 – Sunday, Oct 10th – Grand Canyon to Petrified Forest to Santa Fe (B)

This morning after breakfast, we leave the Grand Canyon and stop for lunch at Esther’s Dinner which is rated 4.9 out of 5 with reviews simply stating “Esther’s is the best.” Holbrook is the gateway to the Petrified Forest (Petrified Forest (fun video by Geo Kids 4 min) which is famous for its expansive vistas, its stark moon-like landscapes and the colorful eroding badlands of the Painted Desert along with the rainbow hues of large, petrified trees, which have turned completely into stone during the last 225 million years. After the Forest, we leave for Santa Fe arriving at 7pm to our hotel. After checking in we will explore the city and its kitschy restaurants. My “kids” lived in Santa Fe for ten years and I will get some great recommendations from them. They now live in Albuquerque and may join us tonight or tomorrow night for dinner.

Overnight: Our treat for Santa Fe is the charming Silver Saddle Motel which lists as 9.2 and “superb.” Silver Saddle is a kitschy Western style roadside original which has old southwest history and charm. The rooms have a cowboy flair with art by Robert Shoofly, a famous Western and New Mexico artist. Some rooms are named after Icons of the West and returning guests request them by name. Guests enjoy a breakfast buffet which has made this a popular choice. Many positive Guest Comments such as: “This place is a great find. We will be staying here the next time we are in Santa Fe. The rooms are decorated with a theme, the beds are comfortable and the room was super clean.”

Day 10 – Monday, Oct 11th – Santa Fe Guided Tour and a Meow Wolf Evening (B)(D)

Guided walking tour of central Santa Fe includes a visit to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum (video by Museum Director 4 min).  Other highlights are the Palace of the Governors (video 1 min), Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (video 1 min), and the Loretto Chapel (video 1 mim). All are within walking distance of the historic Plaza which we will visit after the tour. Get ready for a fun early evening at Meow Wolf (video 2 min).  (subject to COVID restrictions) “Unique, immersive art installations with multimedia elements and a mysterious narrative throughout. Site of the House of Eternal Return (video 30 sec) inside Meow Wolf, a mind-bending, interactive, explorable art experience for people of all ages.” Our Farewell Dinner tonight is at the extremely popular and local favorite Cowgirl BBQ and Smokehouse (video 3 min) which occupies nearly an entire city block.

Overnight: Evening a second night at the Silver Saddle Motel

Day 11 – Tuesday, October 12th – Santa Fe to Amarillo’s Big Texan then Dallas (B)
After breakfast we travel to Amarillo where on the way we stop at the artistic Cadillac Ranch (video with the Creator 1 min) then arriving for lunch at the Lone Star unique Big Texas Steak Ranch (video 2 min). Can you eat a 72-ounce steak in an hour plus sides? Then it is free! To date 48,912 have tried and 8,130 have succeeded and gotten it free. We leave the Big Texan around 2pm and arrive back at the Dallas North Holiday Inn Express around 7pm. For those of us from Dallas, we will then get in our cars that have been waiting for us and head home. For those from out-of-town if you would like to stay the night with our special rates, please check the Hotel Reservation box on the Trip Registration Form.