I’ve traveled to the US three times – two times to Florida and once to California, Nevada and Arizona. I did those trips with my ex but I still have some awesome memories from places that gave me goosebumps and made me speechless for its beauty. There were also places/things that made me cry or think that this is the stupidest thing in the world. Like sweet potato fries with marshmallows and chocolate sauce. Seriously?! I’m going to share way too many photos and some thoughts about the road trip in the Western US. It took around three weeks in August – September 2017.
We flew from Helsinki via New York to Los Angeles. Huge city, crazy traffic, lots of tourists, too many Spidermans and tourists on Walk of Fame. But it was nice to visit and I would definitely like to go back and seek the city more one day. We also went to a whale safari and saw only a back of a minke whale, but enthusiastic dolphins hosted quite a show for us.
From Los Angeles the trip continued to Arizona. We spent the night in Flagstaff and perhaps ate the world’s best breakfast at Wildflower Bread Company. When we got our stomach full we drove to the Grand Canyon, which was an incredibly breathtaking experience. All the idiots who claim it is just a pit in the ground are fools.
From the canyons, the journey continued to Nevada. All the drives provided such an incredible scenery that the phone was full of pictures along the way. On the Arizona-Nevada border we stopped to wonder the Hoover Dam and headed for Las Vegas.
I thought Vegas would be just an epileptic seizure, and even though the center was quite a hassle, I could still claim I liked it more than expected. I wouldn’t wanna go to Las Vegas for the whole week, but the wildlife outside of the city offered a lot, and a day trip to Mount Charleston was quite a training camp when we decided to climb the mountain a bit faster. My heart didn’t come out of my throat even though it felt like it for a moment and the cool mountain air felt quite comfortable after almost 40 degrees Celsius in the city. I felt that the Vegas flair that you see on TV was a long way from reality and the hectic city was a bit too plastic for me after all the amazing nature we saw during the trip.
The heaviest heat was experienced in the Death Valley, which we drove through as we traveled towards Yosemite National Park. During the same day we went below sea level, saw snow-capped mountains and visited Bishop to admire the scenery at a height of 3.5 kilometers.
The next day we drove along the magnificent Tioga Pass road to Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one could easily spend a week or two hiking with an area of over 3000 square kilometers. Tioga Pass is an awesome experience and I would’ve wanted to stop the car every three minutes just to admire the scenery. But it’s not open all year round, so you should check it here before you go.
After Yosemite it was time for San Francisco, though on the way we spent the night in the lovely city of Stockton. The reason for the cheap hotel prices became clear on the spot when we started googling what kind of city we ended up for the night. Stockton holds the eighth spot on the list of the most dangerous cities in the United States, but we survived and were once again richer in experience. San Francisco, for its part, exudes a high standard of living, quilted jackets and open-mindedness. And lots of Toyota Priuses! The seafront was shockingly cold and windy, but inner parts of the city built on hills was comfortably warm.
In San Francisco, homelessness was seen as a very blatant phenomenon in the midst of all prosperity and tolerance. I read an article telling that a technology mastermind had written an open letter to the mayor of the city where he proclaimed that the rich people of San Francisco had earned their place in the city by educating themselves and working hard. For that reason they shouldn’t have to see homeless people behaving like hyenas on their way to work. WTF? San Francisco is should be a mecca for tolerance and well-being, in my mind it should also include caring for the people who aren’t doing well. But the city itself is definitely worth seeing and experiencing with all its hills, sea lions and quilted jackets. The Golden Gate and Muir Woods with it’s old, beautiful redwoods are impressive sights. For those who appreciate organic food, San Francisco has a lot to offer, but the prices are also quite different than in other cities (=extremely expensive, one pizza in a good restaurant was around 40 dollars).
The journey from San Francisco to San Diego was partially driven along Highway One, but unfortunately part of the road was closed due to a major landslide, so we couldn’t fully drive this epic scenic route. Along the way, we spent the night in Santa Maria and visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The entire coast was very foggy, especially in the mornings, but still we stopped to stare at the Pacific waves several times.
The last few days were spent on the Mexican border in San Diego, which I think was my favorite destination on this holiday. The atmosphere was relaxed, good restaurants were easy to find, the shore was long and beautiful and although temperatures were close to 40 degrees, the beach was nice thanks to the wind. After the chilling breeze of the San Francisco coast, this felt very pleasant.
A couple of awesome restaurant in San Diego if you’re looking for good quality, organic and gluten-free food:
And as a bonus San Diego Zoo is definitely worth a visit. It took around six hours for a quick walk around the park. I don’t usually favour zoos and I haven’t really digged deep concerning San Diego Zoo’s ethical side, but at least it’s classified as a nonprofit organization.
That was a long story short. Hiking in Yosemite and Yellowstone and chilling in San Diego are definitely on my bucket list. During this road trip we only spent 1-3 days at one place and a lot of time driving, but it was super cool and I’m gonna be back!