Journey to the West – Part 1

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“Nothing in this world is difficult, but thinking makes it seem so. Where there is true will, there is always a way.” – Wu Cheng’en, Monkey: The Journey to the West

One of my goals this year was to make a road trip to California and attend a track day, but with my last minute freelance booking schedule, it was difficult… or was it?  Normally, if I had downtime, I would take the opportunity to relax and just rest, or chill in town doing nothing.  I’m not a fan of relaxing and would rather do something worthwhile.  That’s when I decided to set a blackout week to travel somewhere.  I initially booked a plane trip to Los Angeles, but after seeing a friends facebook post of his road trip to the mountains around California and Toretto’s house, I wanted to do the same…  I canceled my plane ticket.


Before making any road trips, you should always make sure your car is up to date on maintenance. This means no check engine light (CEL), tire pressure light, or any lights on the dash.  You may be able to get away with a CEL if you know it doesn’t affect your car’s performance, but you shouldn’t risk it unless you know your car well.   I do have a constant CEL on, but doesn’t affect the performance on my car, I think.

Once the road trip preparations were done, I started planning places to stop and visit with the help of Jan Paul.  If the name sounds familiar, he’s a local photo/car guy I used to work with.  Check out his blog HERE and HERE.  Awesome scenery, automotive, and travel photography.

With Jan Paul’s help the original plan was HOU > Balmorhea State Park > McDonald’s Observatory Center > Fort Davis > White Sands > Petrified Forest > Phoenix, AZ > Fourtillfour Coffee > Grand Canyon >  Los Angeles all in a span of 3 days…

If you want to look at the itinerary, you can check it out HERE.

Once arriving to Los Angeles, there would be 3 days to explore and visit places like Toretto’s house on Fast and furious, downtown LA, chinatown, PCH, etc.

I could have done this trip alone, but I opted to have my friend, Henry, tag along and be a co-driver for the trip. **I wouldn’t recommend a 12+ hour road trip alone**






I got tired after the 8 hr drive so handed the car over to Henry.

Our week long bags are packed and tools just in case for the road are all tucked into my 2013 Scion FR-S.  We leave early at 8am and arrive to our first location in about 8 hrs at  Balmorhea State Park.  The plan was to stop by and break for a swim in the public pool. But we didn’t get a chance to jump into the pool because there was a thunderstorm rolling through.

Driving through rain was common for us while driving through Texas.
Yep, we drove through that. 
It was a good time for photos because lighting was soft thanks to the storm clouds.
With the weather like this, it was most likely that the star observatory wouldn’t be good because of the clouds. 
We made a detour and headed for Big Bend instead.
Even when the sun was setting, it was a whopping 110F.
We drove about 1.5 hrs or so from Fort Davis Hotel and thought there would be more to see around Big Bend National Park, but you really have to drive through close to the Mexico border.

We called it a day after driving back from “Big Bend National Park” entrance because it was soon getting dark.  My biggest concern was not from a tire blowout, but from hitting some big ass animal that would cause external and internal damage to the car and/or us.  We got back to the hotel around 9pm, slept, and would continue on our drive to the next destination, White Sands National Park.

Up early at 6am to beat the heat on the way to the White Sands.
We were on a road in the middle of nowhere. No cars passed by while we were there and it was totally deserted.
I actually did not plan to stop by Prada Marfa so it was pure coincidence that it was on our way.
This is not really a Prada store, but an art piece for show.  Henry had to get a photo with it.
Of course there would be love locks at a tourist attraction spot!
Views facing away from Prada Marfa.
After driving 3 hrs from Fort Davis, we finally reached the White Sands Dunes.
It’s literally tiny mountains of white sands.  Very fun photo op place to stop at if you get a chance to visit. 
The FRS did some skid racing on the white sands.  Wish I had an off road vehicle to go up and down the dunes.
I creeped while these people were filming some dance music video.  Check out that view.
A lost Henry on the planet of Tatooine.
$5 per adult to play and slide in mounds of white sand? Definitely recommend it!

There’s so much more of this trip that I’ve left out and wasn’t able to capture because I was either driving or I was too busy living in the moment (meaning snapchatting).  This concludes Part 1 of our Journey to the West.

Nikon D750
Nikon 24-120 F4



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