In the summer of 2013 I made a road trip in California, Arizona and Nevada with my family. Do you wanna know the whole story of this of this awesome trip? Read more
Sunday morning 14 July, Schiphol- READY FOR TAKE OFF Finally it's time to make the most beautiful trip ever!! After a 11 hours flight we arrived in Los Angeles. Next to the airport we picked up our Ford Taurus at Alamo and then we drove to our hotel which was close to the LA airport. When we arrived at the Hotel Crown Plaza (5985 W century blvd) we all had a big jetlag, but we decided to go to bed after we explore the neighbor. We walked around the hotel and to our surprise we saw the In-'n-out burger fastfood chain. Known as the best burgers of California, so of course we had to try them! OMG really, they were so good. Everything is fresh, and tastes the closest to "home-cooked" from any fast food chain I've ever had. You can also see them cutting real potatoes into fries, they use a special potato cutter, and then they fry the freshly cut "shoestring" potatoes. After that we were sooo tired and we went back to our hotel to go to bed even though it was just 8 pm. Zzzzzz... Monday 15 July, Los Angeles- MORNING HAS BROKEN Drive distance: 190 km/ 118 miles It was just 6 o'clock in the morning and the whole family was already awake. We all had so much hungry but the restaurant at the hotel only opened at 8 am. It was still dark outside but who caress we packed our stuff and drove to the nearest Restaurant/Café to take our breakfast. Unfortunately when we were on the road the first restaurant we saw was....McDonalds, of course a McDonalds breakfast was the only option at that time. (shame on us, we were in USA for at least 24 hours and we visited already 2 fast food chain haha) A fat burger for breakfast and some soft bread that should be pancakes, YUMMY ("ugh ugh").After that, we drove through highway 405 to Bell Air and through Melrose to North Beachwood Drive Hollywood heading the North for the best view of the Hollywood sign.
Then we drove past the La Capitol Records Tower to Vine Street to parking our car and from there we walked to the "Walk of Fame" at Hollywood Boulevard. It was very quite at 7 o'clock in the morning, only the road sweeper was already awake to make the walk of fame more shiny for the tourists. We visited the Dolby Theatre Hollywood where annually the Academy Awards be awarded and the TCL Chinese Theatre, a cinema on the Hollywood Boulevard. Among the theatre's most distinctive features are the concrete blocks set in the forecourt, which bear the signatures, footprints, and handprints of popular motion picture personalities from the 1920's to the present day. Funny to take pictures with your hands in your favorite famous artist! After we visited these tourist attractions we did a little shopping at Hollywood and Highland shopping complex, well okay you can leave the word "little" because it took 2 hours to be honest :), but in the Netherlands we don't have these shops often, like; Victoria Secret, American Apparel and Urban Outfitters. That was the first time that I bought something at Victoria Secret, even though it was just 1 panties, but I was so happy with that girly pink bag that I still have it on my shelf in my room. My dad and my brother were a bit cranky of all that shopping so we walked back to the car and we drove to our next hotel in Palm Springs through highway 10. Still Monday 15 July, Palm Springs When I think of Palm Springs I think: Hot, hot and hot. Got damn it's hot in there! When we arrived at our hotel and I just opened the door and it was like a hairdryer was blowing on his highest setting on my forehead. Our hotel called The Curve Palm Springs Hotel. It was a nice hotel, not so many luxury but we only stay for one night. We took our bags out of the car and we jumped straight into the pool. In the evening, we saw some smoke on top of a mountain, the receptionist said it was a forest fire. Ash remains of the fire were flying down, so everyone went out of the pool and wondered if we were safe that night. The receptionist told us that it happened often at this time of the year and that we should not worried because it's far away from us. After our swim we took a shower and dressed up for our dinner. But one step out of the door and I was already sweaty again.. (I'm Sorry too much information) Palm Springs is a very cute and cozy city, all restaurants had those little water sprinkler too cool people during their dinner and really, that's the best invention ever for Palm Springs. We ate a cute Mexican restaurant with live music. The food & cocktails were so good, the music was good and people started to dance after their dinner, in short it was a fantastic first day/night of our road trip!
Tuesday, 16 July: Palm Springs-Phoenix Drive distance: 430 km/ 267 miles My mother waked us up for breakfast at 06:30 (no joke), after breakfast we drove to Joshua TreeNational Park. Joshua Tree NP is named after the Joshua Tree which cover a lot of the flat land inside the park. The Mojave and Colorado Desert meet in Joshua Tree and the park is so huge.(somewhere close to 700,000 acres) It's truly amazing. I think that you don't really appreciate the beauty of this park until you drive further in where you finally see the rock formations and the wildlife. This is the place to go if you love rock climbing and bouldering. There is a lot of history here from the earlier days with the settlers and so there are quite a few mines and other places to explore.We visited only a few spots during our trip: Hidden Valley, Skull Rock, Jumbo Rocks, Hall of Horrors. But be sure you have enough water with you, because a men from Tilburg (Town where I live) was killed by dehydration in Joshua Tree National park when he and his girlfriend were heading to Arizona.
After we visited Joshua Tree National Park we drove to our Holiday Express & Suites Inn Hotel in Phoenix. As you can see on the picture below it was a huge and nice hotel with beautiful rooms. When we were in the pool the sky was getting darker and darker. They even warned on the news for a upcoming storm in Phoenix, so we decided to eat somewhere in the neighborhood of our hotel. It was a typical American restaurant with vintage details like an old school TV, jukebox and even a vintage bike above the tables. We order a family plate pizza, a salad and a pasta so that we were be able to share. But we didn't expect that size of pizza! When the waiter come along with the huge plate of pizza we were all like; "Whooooooooo" and the waiter said; "You never see a pizza before or what?" But in the Netherlands we are not used to THAT size of pizza, haha.
Wednesday, 17 July: Phoenix-Flagstaff Drive distance: 144 miles/232 km This day we visited the TPC Golf Course in Scottsdale, because my brother is a big fan of playing Golf. After that we drove further via highway 179 and 89a to Sedona Redrocks. Only drive down 89a you see already breath taking views of the Sedona rocks. The best way to experience the beauty of the Red Rock Country is to go right into the wilderness and soak it in and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing by taking a hike on any of over 80 trails interspersed throughout the area. Ranging form easy, medium and hard trailers. My mom is not that adventurer so we chose the easiest one. After the trail we visit Sedona village for lunch, the cozy village was all decorating with Mexican details. The route through Red Rock Sedona to Flagstaff was awesome, especially when the sun went down!
From Sedona Redrocks we drove through Route 66, the historic highway extending from Chicago to Los Angeles. My dad was waiting for this moment and he put his favorite and best matching song on:"Get your kicks on route 66" from Chuck Berry and we were all singing that song out loud, it's beginning to look a lot like a happy family trip :)! The most beautiful route bring is to the most ugliest hotel from our trip: Travellodge. Unfortunately not that luxury hotel than the previous hotels. It looked like some of those bad and creepy motels in movies. It was definitely a sleep-and-go motel so we were glad that we spend the whole day at Sedona Redrocks. We ate at a restaurant "Galaxy Diner" across the motel and that was to our surprise very good! Fun atmosphere with the typical American 50's style and fantastic food. They've got a lot of choices and good portions. They offer: Breakfast, burgers, sandwiches, salads, steaks, chicken, pasta and old fashioned shakes, malts and sundaes from the classic fountain. I was so happy with my vegetables and do you see that toasted bread on my plate? (picture below) That was so good! I don't know what they put in it but it tasted amazing. Furthermore we order a canella milkshake at the bar and as you can see some local guy with a huge moustache/beard (I don't know which one) put his prettiest smile for the picture ;-).
Thursday, 18 July- Flagstaff-Grand Canyon-LAS VEGAS Drive distance: 405 km/252 miles This day was the most impressive day! Via highway 180 we arrived at Tusayan, A resort town near the south entrance to Grand Canyon National Park, where we parked our car. After we picked up some information about the Grand Canyon National Park and paid for the pass we drove with a shuttle bus to the entrance of the park. You can view the Grand Canyon from various vantage points on both the South Rim and the North Rim. The Grand Canyon is easily Arizona’s most distinguishable landmark and a natural wonder that you simply have to see to believe. Stretching 277 miles from end to end, steep, rocky walls descend more than a mile to the canyon’s floor, where the wild Colorado River traces a swift course southwest. Okay best tip I can give you: Go watch the sunset at the Grand Canyon. Ooooh, I never have seen something as beautiful as that. It was not just the sunset, but the whole atmosphere. It is a magical place to watch the sunset. All those people gazing with amazement at the sun going down. I made so many pictures of the sunset, but please don't even try to do the same. It is impossible to make a sunset picture here. Just sit down, and enjoy the beauty in front of your eyes. It will be a sunset you probably will never forget. There are a lot of points to watch the beautiful landscape. The shuttle took us to different points where we could enjoy the view and made some pictures. When we were finished we took the next shuttle bus to the next view point. The shuttle buses are constantly driving around so you don't have to wait for a long time. But the next time I'll be here I would definitely do an helicopter flight or raft down the mighty Colorado River.
Plans to visit the Grand Canyon? Take a look at this website where you can find really everything about the Grand Canyon! http://www.visitarizona.com/things-to-do/grand-canyon After this unforgettable moment we drove to another unforgettable moment. Via highway 140, route 66 and again highway 104 to LAS VEGAS!! Because we had stayed for a long time in the Grand Canyon, we arrived with our car at prime time (21:30) at the strip of Las Vegas. My dad did not know what happened to him there was so many traffic and of course it was friday, people went to Las Vegas for the weekend! I never forget that moment; From a quite dessert to a really light and party city. Me and my brother were sitting in the back seat and were like: "Whoooo mom and dad look at those lights! Seriously is that a hotel?! Dad look there, the State of Liberty and OH MY GOD a roller coaster through the city? My father was kind of annoyed and screamed "Okay you guys shut the hell up, I'm driving at the fucking strip of Las Vegas okay?!" Haha, we laughed about this later.. We stayed for 2 nights in the Quad Las Vegas hotel, but it took at least 1 hour to check-in because of the large crowd with visitors in the hotel for the weekend. Well, who caress Las Vegas comes to life at night so we're got the whoooole night to PARTAAAY! (Mweh mwehhh, hmm oh yeah you're right I'm with my parents, goodbye party nights..) VIVAAAAA LAS VEGAS BABY! Friday, 19 July: Still Las Vegas Drive distance: Zero This morning was so chill because we didn't have to pack our stuff again to drive to our next destination. When we were looking for some breakfast we walked through one of the casino's in our hotel and to our surprise many grandmothers were already awake to gamble! That was quite funny to see because I didn't expect to see grandfathers and grandmothers in Las Vegas, but that was cool! The temperature in Las Vegas was so high that we decided to get up early to do the stuff we wanted to do and to swim and relax by the pool in the afternoon. We visited the most crazy and loveliest hotels in Las vegas: Ceacars Palace, The cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, The Venetian, Bellagio, The palazzo, Wynn and encore Las vegas, the mirage, New York-New York hotel and Flamingo hotel. All these hotels have there own special themes. I'll made a top 4 of the most luxurious, romantic, colorful and craziest hotel. MOST LUXURIOUS HOTEL: Definitely Ceacars Palace MOST ROMANTIC HOTEL: The venetian
MOST CRAZY HOTEL: New York-New York hotel. I mean come on. a roller coaster right through the city and a hotel?! That's crazy! Other stunning hotels:
That night we ate at Harra's a really good buffet with LOBSTER, very popular food in American because everyone in the restaurant was craving about that pink and awkward fish species. Some families had 5 plates of Lobster on the table and they all eat it up. I was more excited about the pasta's and desserts :). Usually I do not recommend a buffet but this was actually good! I love my dress by the way that I bought in Miami and I wear for the dinner. Saturday, 20 July: Las Vegas-Death Valley Drive distance: 225 km/ 140 miles We only stay Las Vegas in the morning to take our breakfast, do a litttttttle gambling and to see the famous sign: Fabulous Las Vegas, because we only saw it when it was dark and we were in the car, so we made some cool pictures out there. After that it was time to drive to DEATH VALLEY and seriously that's a big contrast with Las Vegas. From party town to a dessert where is no traffic, no loud music or high buildings. My mom was a little bit scared because it was just only a road that takes you through the mountains. Not even trees or tourist shops NOTHING, so when you got car trouble you a really BIG problem because there is nobody. Only cars who also driving through the dessert just like you. We drove neat Badwater lowest point in the USA VIA Furnace creek to Death Valley Visitor Center. In the middle of nowhere there was one hotel: Stovepipe Wells, we didn't expect that much because you know it was in the dessert, but seriously the Authentic Western atmosphere made it so cozy! It was not a huge building of course but we've got our own bungalow sort of with breathtaking views of Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and surrounding mountain ranges while others open onto tranquil, historic inner courtyard. There was a swimming pool, lounge area and a restaurant. Choosing a restaurant was easy, because the restaurant at the hotel (Toll Road Restaurant) was the only restaurant in the neighbor. We all ate a huge hamburger, unfortunately the burger was burned twice, okay it's not easy to bake a hamburger when it's 121 F in the area :P, but they made a new one for free! The wall in the restaurant was decorating with posters of the movies that are made in Death Valley. Very cool to recognize everything in those movies when you are really there. It was so special to experience, look at those pictures!!
Sunday, 21 July: Death Valley-Mammoth Lakes Drive Distance: 290 km/ 180 miles Wakie, wakie early morning call! One of my mother favorite parts of the days I guess; Wake everybody up early as possible, but she was right the temperature in Death valley can reach between 100 and even 200 F, sick! Underway we still saw some amazing views of the dessert, then we arrived at Mammoth Lakes and really that was also so beautiful (Probably everything on this trip is sooo beautifull in my opinion) Thank god, the temperature in Mammoth Lakes was way much cooler than in Death Valley. Me and my mom were happy with that because of our skin. (redhead, freckles and sun: not a good combi :)) Via Lake Sabrina we arrived at Bishop, a small village where we bought some bread in a cute bakery and picnicked in the park. In the bakery we found some products from the Netherlands, like: Syrup waffles, sausage rolls and licorice, the first two was of the brand label "Daelmans" andthe licorice candy was from "Klene" and they were very popular at the bakery! In the meantime we ate our bread we watched a baseball game from a Highschool team. We stayed at a hotel in Mammoth Lakes: Alpenhof Lodge. A small village which is very popular in the winter for winter sports, but in the summer you can enjoy the mountains and the woodlands as well. We ate all the food so we went to a huge supermarkt to buy some snacks for on the road. In America everything is big, in the Netherlands we are not used to that size of supermarket. In the Netherlands we have many different supermarkets but all small supermarkets. The first time that we went to a supermarket in the USA we walked around for like one hour to find everything that we needed. It was time to relax so my brother and I went to the pool at the hotel and sauna, I needed that for real. We ate at a Pizzeria! What a surprise, but I chose the lasanga and that was a verrrry good choice, my family was jealous at me because it looked so good! Monday, 22 July: Mammoth Lakes-Yosemite National Park Drive distance: 225 km/ 140 Miles The Next National Park that's on the program was Yosemite National Park. Before that we got a tip from local guy who worked at the Tourist Information Center in Bishop to visit Mono lake. Mono Lake is one of the oldest lakes in North America, it evolved over a million years ago. It has an area of 150 km². One of the most striking features is the presence of odd-shaped limestone towers in the water and on the shore. These towers are called tufa's. When we walked to the lake we smelled the strong oder of salt. The reason for that is During the long existence of the lake, there are large amounts of salt and minerals from the surrounding mountains hit the water. The only natural way the water disappears, is evaporation. The minerals and salt lag behind, and therefore the water is now 2.5 times more alkaline and less than 8 times as salty as seawater. It seems like those tufa's are created but they don't, there are just the results of the nature. Yosemite National Park Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but you can also found deel valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more. If you are planning to visit Yosemite National Park, it is important to orient you in advance for your visit. Due to the enormous size of the park and the many different locations to visit, visit and walk, you can create the best advance your itinerary for this National Park. Then you can enjoy the interesting highlights of Yosemite. We didn't orient that much for Yosemite National Park so at that moment it's hard to decide which place seemed the most interested. However we picked the a couple good ones and I made some lovely pictures from those awesome views! Me and my brother climbed over rocks to swim in a secret waterfall place. We also walked a trail to the giant sequoia trees. Okay look at this picture below, I look like a gnome in his own woodland or something.. We stayed in a indian casino Chukchansi Gold on lucky lane Coarsegold. This hotel was founded by a indian tribe: The Chukchansi. The whole hotel was decorate with indian details and employees with an indian look. There were six restaurants, PoolFitness center or spaFitness Center, Jacuzzi, Casino Night and a Club Game room. So you probably not gonna be bored! Tuesday, 23 July: Yosemite National park-San Francisco (2 nights) Drive distance: 315 km/ 196 Miles We didn't booked breakfast at the hotel so we stopped at Madera Rancho San Miguell market, a supermarket with a Mexican twist. I was happy that I can have my traditionally yoghurt with granola for breakfast instead of unhealthy croissants and bagels :). After that we drove via the Baybridge to San Francisco, what a fantastic view! San Francisco has so many tourist attractions: Alcatraz, Fishersman's wharf, Golden Gate bridge, Coit Tower, cable cars and painted ladies. Unfortunately It was not possible visit Alcatraz because the next time for available tickets was about 4 months :O. I like San Francisco a lot, it's a breathtaking city with a huge diversity of cultures, architecture, sights and nature! A city where you can keep hesitate weeks vacation and you do not get bored! It is the city of immigrants ... this is clearly reflected in the distribution of the neighborhoods and the rest of the scene. There is the Italian district (North Beach), Chinatown (Chinatown), the Japanese quarter (Japantown) and the Mexican neighborhood (The Mission). The hippie culture started here and it is not unusual that you find some "lost hippies" (Haight-Ashburry is "the hippie street"). However in San Francisco you see a huge contrast between rich and poor. I saw so many homeless people, that made me sad.
Through Folsom Street to the Embarcadero along fishermans warf and Pier 39 to Marine Drive for the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then we drove to 1099 Lombard Street, where we saw the famous winding road in russian hill. We parked our car close to the Golden Gate bridge to walk over the famous Golden Gate. It was a miracle that the bridge wasn't hanging in the fog. Wednesday, 24 July: San Francisco Drive distance: Zero. WAKE ME UP IN SAN FRANCISCO! (#Katyperry) That was the song I woke up that morning and I sang the whole day. We stayed at a cute hotel near Union Square, but the neighbor behind Union Square wasn't that cute. Our room had a view on the Tenderloin, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in San Francisco. First I thought it was interesting to watch because it's just like in all those gangster movies, but in the night you only heard screaming people, it's a criminal neighborhood with many drugs dealing, homeless people, prostitution and violent. After our dinner at night at a really good italian restaurant we accidentally took a wrong turn and ended up in the tenderloin at 10 pm. Do not walk here at night, I was scared as hell. A homeless man creamed at us and we couldn't even walk on the sidewalk because of the many homeless people and drugsdealer who were standing there. My dad told us to walk in the middle of the street and we had to hold each other's hands. A woman and a men got a fight and when we came along the woman screamed; I'm gonna shoot you", and she grab something out of her jacket. I never forget that moment that my dad said to us: RUN! Can you imagine, a dutch family holding their hands were running in the middle of the street through the Tenderloin?! There should be a here picture of. THANK GOD! I was so glad when we arrived at our hotel. However during the day time we enjoyed ourself with sightseeing. First we went to Union Square for a little shopping, there you got a lot of famous brands, like: Forever21, Adidas, Abercombie&Fitch, Alexander McQueen, American Apparel, American Eagle Outfitters, etc. We walked all the way from Union Square to Fishersmans Warf, it's a ancient mariners neighborhood that turned into a landmark. Fisherman's Wharf overlooking Alcatraz, also known as the Rock. The Pier 39 is a popular shopping area that is also know as the place were large groups of sea lions can be seen. Me and my brother went on a small boat with a very handsome captain, we sailed past Alcatraz, the sea lions and the captain called it the island of mermaids. I was even allowed to sailed the ship along with the handsome captain! But that did not go so well, I was too distracted by his oh-so-handsome face.. After we eat at a Irish Pub where I order a delicious Mexican salad with soup and my family order some fish and chips, which also looked good by the way. Then we visited China Town. China Town is also a interesting neighborhood. It's the largest china town out of Asia. Very crowded and if I may be honest a little dirty. Our plan was to eat at China Town for dinner but we changed our plans because it didn't seemed that clean in those kitchens, so we decided to play safe so that we're not become ill. My brother's hair was too long and he said: "I am going to a Chinese hairdresser to get my hair done", but that was the worst decision ever haha. The barber didn't used any scissors but only a clipper, I will never forget my brothers face at that moment haha.
Furthermore we visited Lombard street, beach Alamo Square and of course we went for a ride with the cable cars. The last 4 days we drove the Pacific Coast Highway 1 back to LA. Because the length of this blog is getting very long I have posted a new one with all the details of the Pacific Coast way. Check it out! If you have any questions about this roadtrip, please do not hesitate to contact me!