The last couple of weeks of 2018 and the first weeks of 2019 have been some of the most memorable of my entire lifetime. The reason for this was that most of the things I love and care about were together in one place. Family, travel, holidays, and nature itself. For the first time in many years, our family planned a road trip, but not just any other trip, we wanted something new, something different. You could probably imagine the stream of ideas from our brainstorming. After days of sharing road trip ideas, we came upon something completely different. Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo, Texas. That was not all, we were going to head down to Fredericksburg, TX and then a final stop in Austin, TX before heading back to Houston. We really wanted to make this happen, so we quickly began to plan.

This was going to be a longer trip than the usual so I was hesitating to request a press vehicle ( most press cars have a mileage limit) but also saw a great opportunity to experience and share about a vehicle. I sent in a request over to my friends that work with GM and they were able to allocate a week-long loan for a 2019 GMC Sierra Denali! We were excited to drive the truck, especially after the awesome experience with the new Silverado Trail Boss. I'll be honest, I was never much of a truck guy but these trucks have really started to grow on me.

As soon as the Denali was delivered, we loaded up and took off on our 9-hour trip ahead. This was going to be the longest I've driven in a while. I wondered how the Sierra's 6.2L V8 would be with gas and to my surprise, it was really great. We had two vehicles in our group and we managed to stay together the whole trip. 4 stops and 10 hours later, we arrived in Amarillo at 12:00AM. 2 hour behind schedule but that was alright. It began to snow as soon as we arrived! According to the weather forecast, it wasn't supposed to and now we were going to face 15-degree weather as opposed to the 30-33 degree weather we were expecting. But being from  Houston where we rarely get snow, we weren't really complaining. I was drained but somehow still found the energy to walk over next door to the Waffle House. By the time we went off to bed, there were about 3 inches of snow on the ground. Mila, surprisingly, was still awake, rolling in the snow and making snow angels. All of this was already making the trip a special one and one to remember.

The next morning surprised us with lots of more snow thanks to an incoming snowstorm. We were 20 miles away from the canyon and it was going to take us 1 whole hour to get there with the road conditions. I switched to 4 wheel drive and it helped keep us from sliding around on the ice. I had heard PDC was a great place and arguably one of the best state parks of Texas. We arrived and were in awe at the panoramic views of the second largest canyon in the country with snow sprinkled about. Nothing beats experiencing and seeing things in person. Our mission of the day was to hike to the "Lighthouse", the famous rock formation which the park is named after. The hike was 2.7 miles one way. Half of our group stayed behind in the cars but the rest of us were determined to make it out there. There wasn't much wind at the bottom of the canyon but it was still 20 degrees once we took off.

It took us nearly an hour to walk half a mile. We kept stopping for pictures, taking in the scenery, and walked slowly. We didn't realize how much we had left until we asked a couple walking back and they mentioned we still had 2.2 miles left. We picked up the pace and didn't stop until we arrived at the formation. There is a separate trail that takes you to the top, and even though that last 200 meters were harder than the whole trail combined, it was definitely worth it. This was my favorite part of the trip. We made it back to the vehicle just as the sun went down and there wasn't much left for us to do so we left the park to get some dinner and then prepare for the trip to Fredericksburg the next day.

It was a good thing that we left Amarillo when we did because the snow storm was only going to get worse. The following morning was surprisingly sunny and we had planned to make a quick stop at the Cadillac Ranch just outside of town before leaving. We packed up the Sierra once again, which is really easy to do with the new multi-function tailgate, and drove out to the snow-covered field where 10 Cadillacs were dug into the ground vertically. You can take spray paint with you, just be sure to discard of the cans in the trash bins once you leave.

30 minutes later along with many failed attempts to climb on top of the cars, we were en route to Fredericksburg,  a 6 hour drive from Amarillo. It was meant to be a quick stopover but we somehow ended up behind schedule and only had time to eat dinner and walk around the town square which was lit with Christmas decorations. It was cold here too but even though it was in the low 30's it felt colder than Amarillo. Must have been the wind chill. Austin was an hour and a half from this German town and our estimated time of arrival was mid night. Again.

We have family and friends in Austin so we were planning to catch up with them the next day and probably do some shopping. We decided to go get some BBQ at the Salt Lick which was 2 blocks away from where we were. We had been craving some throughout the whole trip and finally got our fix. This place is great! After all the holiday shopping we clearly decided to pass up on the shopping and somehow ended up racing 4 wheelers on the family property. Later that evening we got a surprise visit from family we had never met before in our lives. They were visiting the country and we arrived at a great time since they were leaving a few days later. I couldn't have asked for a better way to end our trip.

These are the trips that I would want to replicate and relive. I want to thank GMC for loaning us the awesome new Sierra Denali for this experience. There is so much to this truck that I will share on  a video coming up soon! For now, I wish that 2019 become a year full of new experiences and a prosperous one. This year has kicked off to a great start and we are now ready to create content again!