As some of you may know, I (E) studied in the States for 4 years. A lot of rowing and studying sum it up pretty well. I barely had time to travel and I didn’t get to see much during these 4 years, besides our rowing camp and racing sites – I’m sure I can be blind, deaf, half-dead, but I would still know how to get from our hotel in Sacramento to lake Natoma (the one we rowed on). I barely got to see R during these 4 years – so we decided to make a proper road trip before leaving the States for good.
Ronald arrived to the US in early June and at first we spent a couple of days in L.A. You can only imagine how happy I was to see him after 5 long months. Our long distance relationship was finally OVER! We really survived! After hugs and kisses we got our white convertible Mustang from the car-rental. If you ever plan a road trip in California, then invest in a convertible, because the other driver’s will let you squeeze in more often on the freeway if you have a more-expensive-looking car, and it’s also fun to drive.
I managed to make some friends in my 4 years during the US (yay, I’m socially capable…kind of..), so that’s how we were able to spend some extra dollars on renting the car, rather than spending it on hotels and guesthouses. Renting the car for 2 weeks cost us about $800 and we got a discount.
I’m not a fan of L.A, so I wanted to get away as fast as possible to discover the rest of the California, Nevada and Arizona. We saw many awesome places and never-ending roads in the desert, but here are some of the brightest memories we made (and places I definitely recommend you to visit when travelling on the West Coast):
Death Valley & Yosemite National Park – California
On our way through Death Valley to Yosemite, we thought our car was going to give up and die. It was so hot outside, that the car couldn’t cool itself down anymore. We were driving having the roof up, but due to a weird smell from the engine, we decided it’s better to take the roof down and turn off the AC as well. So we headed to the Death Valley (the hottest point on Earth), roof down. The sun was burning like I’ve never felt before and it was so hot that when I raised my hands up and the air blew through my fingers, it almost burnt.
The hottest it got during our time there (at from 3-4 pm) was 45 degrees Celsius. I would rather be in -25 Celsius than bear this heat once again. And I definitely would not want to go there at 12pm. However, the sights of mountains and endless roads are worth to experience this heat. Ronald hit the gas pedal on one of those straight rods and we tried out what’s this Mustang capable of. If I remember correctly, it was 250 km/h. Quite cool.
We arrived to Yosemite late at night and we had a pre-booked camp ground. You should have seen the other campers’ faces as they saw a white mustang pulling up to the camp ground. Almost everyone were there with their campers and RV’s and then it was us with our small Mustang and a tent. So everyone probably thought we’re hiking for the first time ever. Obviously we weren’t, so the next day we headed to a 20 km hike to see the waterfalls – we didn’t get to see all of them because we started our hike too late (I love sleep too much). So we had to head back before it started getting dark.
During our hike we saw a cute deer, many squirrels and really nice foresty views, that I’d always missed about California. Ronald then decided to go for a swim in a mountain lake. I’m almost positive that he’s actually a polar bear – the water wasn’t more than 10 C. During our last day, we went to see the Half Dome and some waterfalls near there. The sights were all breath-taking, so when you plan a road trip in Cali, Yosemite should definitely be in your must-see list.
The guy who’s mostly behind the camera…
Las Vegas and Grand Canyon
The gambling city of Las Vegas is something that never gets old. You can go to a pool party during the daytime and if that’s not enough, you can go clubbing during the night-time. The entrance fees are quite expensive (starting from $50, but if you’re a girl you’ll probably get a discount), but it’s worth it. They usually have world-famous DJs dropping the beats and when we were there, Deadmau5, Steve Aoki and Tiesto were giving shows in different clubs.
If you’re not into clubbing, you can always gamble all night or you can also visit Stratosphere and try how it feels to ride a roller coaster while being 350.2 metres from the ground. Ronald is the gutsier one of us when it comes to roller coasters and heights and he was having a blast there. I enjoyed the view and got my adrenaline just by watching Ronald on a ride that shot him over the edge of the Stratosphere. Scary!
Probably not my dream wedding place….
On our way to Grand Canyon, we also stopped by the Hoover Dam – a powerful dam that was built in the 1930s and stands 221 metres tall. You gotta see it yourself to see the magnitude of it.
The Grand Canyon can be described the best in pictures, so not much talking here. You can access the Canyon from all four cardinal points. The most popular is the Southern point, which has really good hiking trails and it’s well maintained, but at the same time very touristy.
If you plan to camp near there, make sure you book your camp ground a few months ahead, otherwise you won’t be able to get a spot. We were a bit too late with the booking, so we had to set our tent up 80km from the Canyon towards Flagstaff. If you feel more adventurous, you can also hike down to the bottom of the Canyon – they have organized trips with tour guides as well.
You never know which animals you can meet in Grand Canyon..This is a local dear-deer.
Check out part 2 of our road trip here.