Cross country road trip: the smiley face across America tour

If you don’t know by now, we are in the process of moving from Seattle to Maryland. So much so in that process that I am sitting in the dark in Arcata, CA—the second stop on our two-week trip across the country.

Why are we moving?

We get asked this question a lot. Who would want to leave Seattle?! Trust me. It was not an easy decision. My husband was offered a new job at a new company. It was too good to pass up. As the primary breadwinner in our house (aka the man who gets us health benefits), it was important for us that he be happy at his job. We also wanted to get closer to family, all of whom live on the east coast. This was a win, win for many reasons, but leaving Seattle was bitter sweet. But I digress. Back to our road trip!

Now, if you are not familiar with U.S. geography, California isn’t exactly on the way to Maryland from Seattle. Most people would take I-90 straight across Montana, the Badlands of South Dakota, Chicago and then dip down to Maryland.


Enter the Smiley Face Road Trip

As many of you know, I don’t like to waste a perfectly good excuse to travel. My husband and I both lamented on the fact that we hadn’t seen much of the west coast while living here. We toured around the Pacific Northwest, but never really dove into California and all of its beautiful state and national parks. This was our chance. He could leave his job a few weeks before he had to start his new job. We could take our time getting across the country with the boys. We could see the Redwoods and Yosemite. Heck, while we were at it we figured we might as well see Bryce, Zion, the Grand Canyon and cut across route 40 to see some friends in Nashville before we head north. It all sounded perfectly reasonable. We would do a smiley face route across America. I’ve come up with crazier plans before. This would be a piece of cake.

Ha! Well, if you have ever moved you know nothing comes easy. I never thought we would get out the door, but here we are, day 4 of our trip, about to head to Sacramento.

If you want to follow along, hop over to Facebook and Instagram for daily photo updates and notes from the road. I’ll be writing about it on the blog in the coming months, but if you want to see if we are having a blast or just plain sick of each other in real-time, well, here is your chance.


Where is our trip going to take us exactly? Here is a rundown of our itinerary. We may change things around, skip one or two things, and most certainly add in a few more, but it will give you the general idea of our route.

  • Seattle to Portland
  • Portland to Arcata, CA (home base to see Redwood National Forest)
  • Arcata, CA to Sacramento
  • Sacramento to Yosemite
  • Yosemite to Vegas
  • Vegas to Bryce/Zion
  • Zion to the Grand Canyon
  • Grand Canyon to Albuquerque
  • Albuquerque to Oklahoma City
  • Oklahoma City to Nashville
  • Nashville to Ashville, NC
  • Ashville to Maryland

Have any suggestions for spots to check our or place to eat on our route? Let me know and I’ll try to squeeze it in!

Crescent City

7 thoughts on “Cross country road trip: the smiley face across America tour”

  1. jill

    What a great itinerary! I am 2 hours south of Asheville, NC so I get there quite often. There are some great craft breweries but since you have little ones with you that might not be ideal. The Asheville brewery, located downtown, has a small outdoor patio with a little space for the kids to run around and dogs allowed also. You must hit The Chocolate Lounge – everything is great but be forewarned that the line can be very long, especially in the evening. Tupelo Honey and The Early Girl Eatery are great restaurants and most restaurants in Asheville are locally sourced and organic. Of course, one of the main draws to Asheville is The Biltmore Estate and it is well worth the visit – but is very expensive. They have an inn, a bistro, restaurant and winery all on the estate you can visit also. Have fun and good luck!

  2. Adina Marguerite

    Have such an amazing time on your trip! You’ll certainly be missed out here in the Pacific Northwest, but I hope you enjoy your new adventures on the other coast!

  3. Tamara @ We3Travel

    Sounds like an awesome itinerary! I’m not jealous of the move and all the logistics, but the road trip part sounds great. Plus you’ll avoid any early winter weather by taking Rt 40 vs Rt 90. Safe travels and I’m enjoying following along on Instagram. I love this sunset photo above!

  4. Jenna

    So exciting! There are many places on your itinerary that I would love to visit. I’ve done many cross-country moving trips…always fun but tiring at the same time. 🙂

  5. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

    Good luck on the road trip and settling in Maryland. At least you are moving to yet another beautiful city that’s well situated for travel. When we moved this summer from Asia to Texas, we used it as our chance to explore Italy. We were the opposite of backpackers who travel light. Let me tell you, all those charming bridges with stairs in Venice are much less charming when hauling 8 suitcases, 4 backpacks and 2 laptop bags. People must have thought we were crazy.

  6. tripsbylance

    This is an absolutely amazing journey. So much of this I want to do. I haven’t really explored the West. I’ve been about Oregon coast and Seattle area a bit, Northern California, Vegas and New Mexico. That’s it. I love Albuquerque. If I could make a recommendation I would say you should stop in Memphis. Yes, I’m biased since I live there. I understand time is very limited. Several great music museums, including Sun Studio where Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and the gang got their start. Of course the National Civil Rights Museum. Lots to do in downtown, even maybe stop for a barbecue lunch on way to Nashville? If you’re interested in a meal let me know and I’ll happily point you in the right direction.

  7. Jody

    So… no Iowa. (It’s ok, everyone skips us. No offense taken. Really. Ok, maybe a little. Whatevs.)

    All right… if you come through Amarillo you must make a stop at Palo Duro Canyon. I like it more than the big canyon to the west.

    Oklahoma City – stop at the bombing memorial. Even if you don’t go in the museum, the memorial is so incredibly moving. Also, OKC has a pretty great downtown area. Heading out of OKC, hop on Route 66 and stop at Pop’s. it’s a sci-fi looking place known for the over 600 types of soda (pop) it stocks. Also, yum.

    You’ll cross Arkansas. Where? If you swing north, I recommend Eureka Springs. Love that town.

    And, when in Nashville, you really should eat at Loveless Cafe. Biscuits. Yum.

    For Asheville, contact Kelby Carr of Type A Parent – it’s her hometown, she won’t steer you wrong.

    Safe travels!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top