American Cliché: My Second Road Trip (October 16th – 23rd 2021)
Into my collection of my life fails I would include my unsuccessful trip to American national parks for sure. It was supposed to happen in March 2020 but two weeks before that everything got shut down because of pandemic. And so, after 1,5 years of living in the US I came back to Slovakia without seeing Grand Canyon. Ever since, many things have changed and I actually made it there! It was during the road trip when we crossed Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California. Who? Me and my three new friends: Macie from New Zealand, Paula form Columbia and Dania from Germany.
Desert, tree, red rock…
I´ll be honest with you: most of the time we spent in the car. We woke up around 6:30, ate breakfast, got dressed and within an hour we left to the national park (or city). It usually took about two hours to make it there and by time we parked and found the shuttle another hour passed. The only two parks that are not about coming to the viewpoint, taking pictures and taking a shuttle to another viewpoint are Bryce Canyon and Zion. So, most of the day we just spent in our small tiny car. But our beautiful car deserves a separate chapter in this blog. Before I do so, let me describe what we´d seen on our travels across Nevada, Arizona and Utah. Let´s begin with the most depressing: Nevada. I assume that all of you have heard about Las Vegas. Well, that is probably the only thing that doesn´t evoke depression in NevADA. Also, in this desert you will find my favorite Valley of Fire which is probably the only place here where are not only the sand rocks but also the beautiful red rock boulders.
Next, we moved to Arizona. Contrary to Nevada it was more vivid: there was this red rock desert everywhere, cactuses, and sometimes we´d seen caravans in the middle of nowhere where people live. Those of you who´ve seen Nomadland movie probably know what I´m talking about. Those of you who haven´t seen it yet, I recommend you to watch it. My coworker from Seattle was from Arizona. While I was there, I texted him: “I have no idea how you could live there.” He replied he didn´t know how people live there either. And now, many of you will be like: but there is Phoenix! Correct, Phoenix is a treasure of Arizona just like Las Vegas is a jewel of Nevada. But talking about valuables there is one more thing I fell in love with: Horseshoe Bend. I am completely honest with you when I say it looks just so stunning as on the pictures. This is the place I want to write blogs at, read books or meditate if I meditated of course. It is also the place where it´s not that difficult to fall off into the ditch. By the way, we googled it. In Grand Canyon 13 people died last year. Into Horseshoe Bend has fallen only 6 people since 2010. That´s not that bad, right?
Then we drove to the state where High School Musical was filmed. Right, we arrived to Utah. It reminded me Croatia: after several days we finally saw some trees, bushes, white sand and hills. The only thing I was missing here was the sea. I tried to make it up by booking a motel with the pool and jacuzzi but I didn´t meet with the girls´ understanding: they didn´t have the bathing suite. Anyways, in Utah I fell in love with Bryce Canyon. It is the most amazing national park I have ever been at and despite I don´t like hiking, I´d definitely love to come back and walk through the park completely. Also, at this park Paula saw the snow for the first time in her life. It started snowing and she said: “What is it?” And then we realized she´d never the snow before. I´m telling you this park is just perfect.
The end of the road trip we spent in California. There are amazing beaches, morning fog, stunning sunsets, San Diego, LA … Well and I finally made it to Death Valley during the day. The last time I was there the sunset was faster. Then we got a little bit lost in the park because we couldn´t find the lowest point on the Earth, Badwater Basin, and then we got pulled over by a local ranger. I asked him how does it look like around us and he said: “Well… there is a hill, there is a hill…” So, finally after two years I saw these hills too.
Our Dearest Car
Our first plan was following: I´d meet Paula one day before the road trip in Las Vegas. On the following day in the morning, we´d pick up our amazing SUV and drive to the airport to pick up Dania and Macie. But then, a few minutes before leaving to pick up our car, I opened my emails and found a message saying that our car had been crashed and we were not supposed to come. That was a lovely beginning or a road trip, wasn´t it? Therefore, we opened our apps and started to look for a new car to rent. If we were rich, we´d just rent a car from the car rental. Luckily there is also another cheaper option, an app called Turo where you can rent a car for the half prices. The only issue with this is that 95% of those cars have a car insurance applied only for the state you pick it up from – Nevada in our case and you are not allowed to drive out of state. Thank God for those 5% who don´t have this kind of insurance and so for the super ultra-last minute we got our redemption Hyundai Accent. Hint for all the girls: it is really a small car not suitable for road trips. We actually made it but with small complications of course. The car started falling apart. Just an hour after the pick up when we arrived to Welcome to Las Vegas sign. I saw there was a low curb and since I didn´t know where does our front bumper end, I was super slowly pulling to the curb until I felt it. Unfortunately, our front bumper felt the curb as well and in the very same second it partly dropped off. We got off of the car, there was a strong wind (because straight next to us was a small airport), I bent over to the bumper and my dress flew all the way up to my breast. Let me skip describing how awkward I felt in that moment although my exposed butt brought a nice man who helped us to solve our problem. Turned out that this front bumper had been holding on a small grub-screw. The man somehow fixed it and we realized how careful with this car we had to be during our travels. As we drove more and more, we found out this car didn´t like speed bumps as well. As we drove over it with a speed when you feel like even a snail moves faster, it made such a noise that we though we´d lost a part of it. Since we never saw anything left behind, and despite it was cracking under our seats as we were losing our support frame, we told to ourselves nothing was actually happening. This car was just funny. What was not funny was our starting in a curve on the hill in LA. Paula was about to drive, she started the car and this car instead of going forward started to backing up. We landed with the right wheel on the sidewalk. It was on Saturday at 8am and it was drizzling. We got off of the car, looked at it and tried to figure out what to do next. When suddenly there was a couple walking on the street and the man automatically changed his direction towards to us asking if we needed a help. Well, we did indeed. We put Paula behind the steering wheel again (since she was the lightest) and started pushing the car to make it moving. We made it but from objective reasons there was no volunteer to drive it anymore. So, I drove and took us to the Joshua Tree National Park. And that was the place where we found out that as we hit the curb and landed on the sidewalk a part of the back bumper fell off and it got scratched as well. Our plan to visit the national park got postponed and we started to search for a car repair in Yucca Valley. And we found it. There were two nice men who we were smiling at while showing them our lovely car. And they fixed it. And also told us why this car was falling apart: before we got it, it was crashed. Well, at least we felt safe during the trip, right….?
What Have We Seen?
Las Vegas, Seven Magic Mountains, Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Bryce Canyon, National Park Zion, Joshua Tree, Valley of Fire, Death Valley, San Diego, and Los Angeles. We slept every night somewhere else, drove for almost 3100 miles and went through all the seasons. During the road trip we also met some amazing people. For example, our receptionist Russ who joined us at the playground to slide. Leif who I met in the bar during my last night in Seattle and unexpectedly we met a week later at his place in LA. Of course, I can´t forget to mention Chris who played a song for me or a dancer Jd from Magic Mike Live show (by the way the best entertainment ever) who gave me a private lap dance. However, I was one-year later for this road trip but let me tell you one thing: I was worth it!