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In 2009, few months after we got married, my wife and I received an amazing wedding gift from the US government, in the form of a conspicuous and unexpected tax return. It didn't take us long to decide to use that unexpected opportunity to fulfill one of our secret dreams: a cross-country road trip from New York to San Francisco.

The careful planning took about three months, and the map below was the end result of all that planning. We used various resources to help us decide the final route, but the main inspiration ended up being what the site Road Trip USA calls the Loneliest RoadRunning coast-to-coast through the heart of America, US-50 passes through a dozen different states. From that starting point, we modified the route by adding detours to enable us to visit some of the most beautiful National Parks and scenic routes in the US.

The journey, planned to last 21 days, was focused mainly on the Southwest, and was divided in three main stretches. The first leg, from New York to Colorado, crossed seven states in a handful of days, and it was meant to bring us to Colorado as fast as possible, with little or no detours. The second leg, from Colorado to Las Vegas, was planned around the National Parks of the Southwest. The third leg was focused on getting us from Las Vegas to San Francisco, through some of the most beautiful roads of California.

Below, you will find the links to all the individual chapters (organized by day) of this once-in-a-lifetime experience, which saw us fall in love with the amazing beauty of the United States and, in particular, with the wonders of the Southwest.