USA has some badasses landscape to offer and as I’m taking my flight to Hawai, I’d like to share with you some of the most scenic landscapes I’ve seen, and how fun it was doing this with Lucy.
Couple days before flying from Mexico to Los Angeles, I barely had anything planned for my stay around L.A. No place to crash, no time to go to the parks, but the desire to discover the home of American entertainment industry. I finally landed in Manou and Stephane’s small house in Venice Beach and I can’t say how nice they were to me during the days I’ve spend getting to know them.
I needed few days to get organize, move my flights and rent the van. I also got the first flavor of South Cali way of life, chilling and cruising on Venice Beach, lively lunchtime in Downtown and it’s hipsters restaurants, visiting the newly open Broad museum, walking the walk of fame and, of course, being 12 years old again in Universal studios amongst the brachiosauris, the autobot and the Simpson family.
Eventually I got my van and here I have to introduce Lucy and it’s fully equipped interior, including the kitchen sink as it says on the ad.
It was time to head east, struggling with the Friday’s afternoon traffic jam to finally reach Pioneertown and have my first night in the van, after a typical country music concert, and smoking Californian sativa with a bunch of funny guys from L.A., with proper november mustaches and a perfect hipster look.
I’ll be short on the parks, because even with the best pictures and the best writing, it is quite hard to share this feeling of grandeur and immensity, and the uniqueness of natural shapes and color of the livings and the minerals over there.
I’ve been in 8 national parks in 12 days and drove 2800 miles (i.e. 4500 km). I’m not proud of my carbon footprint during these two weeks, but it came as a compensation of the hundred miles I hitchhiked in Latin America.
I loved the freedom that people who own a van, a camper or even a RV have. This ability to stop anytime and anywhere, to make a cup of coffee when it’s freezing cold at 7 in the morning in death Valley on the top of Dante’s View, to have a nap when it’s too much driving, to Skype your parents from Starbucks parking while having your breakfast’s cereals in a proper china bowl, being waked up by the sun while it’s 25°F (i.e.-5°C) in Utah desert. I wanted to have my own van back in Europe, and now I want it even more.
USA is a strange country, a land that humans (former europeans) tried to control and master. Water is brought to L.A. through a hundred miles pipe from the Sierra Nevada, vegetables and oranges are grown on dead soil, crude oil is taken out from all over California land and ocean… How can this be sustainable? I wonder… And next to it, you have this world marvels, grand canyon, delicate arch, general Sherman tree, Zabriskie point…
Nevertheless, driving those miles long straight roads across deserts, steep curved highway 89 and 12 through mountains, forest and canyons is an unforgettable experience. Especially when the roads (and parks) are empty and mother Nature has put on her autumn reds and golds colors.
Everything is made easy for travellers and tourists. Drive through everything, visitor centers with bright smiling Rangers and hostesses, showers and laundry along the road, all inclusive gas stations with Wi-Fi and wide range of coffees. You got to love this.
I was finally back in L.A. for a couple days, giving me enough time to drive to Lynch’s fan famous Mulholland drive, visit the Getty museum and shop in thriftshops and outdoor gear specialists to renew my garde-robe that started to fall apart.
I will definitely come back here, with this time my girl or a bunch of friends, and more time to spend in those parks to do more hiking, camping and climbing.
More details about my trip:
Joshua trees : desert and rocks, inspiring for the 70’s Californian hippies and U2 who gave it’s name to their 5th album. Paradise for block climbers. Must be awesome in spring.
Gran Canyon : that’s big, and must be very hot in summer. It couldn’t be named better and gives you dizziness when looking at the Colorado River, 6000feet below.
Monument Valley : welcome to Lucky Luke and blueberry. A well now « skyline » that marks entry in Utah and the real far West world you imagine.
Arches : unique arches made of orange sand stone and crafted by mileniums of erosion. Breathtaking sunset and nice backcountry walks.
Bryce Canyon : pastel tons natural rock chimneys, this time covered by snow to ad to the dramatic scenery.
Zion : hudge colored cliffs and amazing hikes (try Angel’s landing if you have some in your pants) inside and above the canyons.
Death Valley : partly below sea level, mix of dead sales sea, dunes, desert and canyons. Breathtaking at night with the full moon.
Sequoia : biggest trees on earth, those Sequoia are massive, the biggest, general Sherman, in 35 feet diameter at the base. Walking around in the silence as everything was covered by snow was amazing.
Driving down PCH : that’s the road going on the coast from San Francisco to L.A. Waves, cliffs, bridges, sealions, zebras (yes there was). Very scenic.