U.S Road Trips

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Road-trips in the USA

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Bellingham to Los Angeles – 6 Weeks

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This trip was at the start of my travels just after I had spent 5 weeks exploring Alaska. The intention was to hire a car in Seattle and drive to Los Angeles but due to the ‘under 25’ insurance charges and the one-way fee it was going to be very expensive. Luckily for us the car hire company had an X-army car for sale for $1000 (plus $80 for some licence thing) and with only 60,000 miles on the clock this seemed like a bargain. We bought it then celebrated this significant saving with some beers, in fact we got so drunk we lost the car and only found it after several hours staggering round the streets of Bellingham. When we found the car and settled in to the car to sleep we discovered that the seats didn’t fully recline meaning we had to sleep almost sat up right for the entire road trip.

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We basically spent 6 weeks on a National Park tour of the West of the States, starting with the excellent Olympic N.P with its different mountainous, coastal and forest zones. We climbed Mt St Helens, the volcano that erupted in 1980 and now sits in another excellent National Park which shows the affect of the eruption,  which exploded from the side of the mountain. Now there is a line of devastation with dead, bent over trees and lava flows on one side and beautiful forest on the other. Next up was climbing a branch of the massive Mt. Rainier where we were above the clouds and could see a chain of volcanoes – Baker, Mt St Helens, Mt Hood.

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Olympic Nat.P – The woodland area

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Olympic Nat.P – The Mountain area

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Olympic Nat.P – The coastal area

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Crater Lake

Further south we visited Crater Lake N.P with a freezing cold lake that has formed in the crater of another volcano, we dived in for a swim but it was so cold it actually stopped me breathing. We drove down the beautiful California coast until San Francisco, from where we headed inland to Yosemite N.P for some more ace scenery, with El Capitan, half-dome and some serious drops from some over-hangs that made your stomach do funny things.

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Our car just after crossing the famous bridge

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Yosemite Nat.P

We continued heading East and drove across the Nevada desert into Utah and halfway across decided to sleep in a mcdonalds car park until 3 cop cars surrounded us and told us to move on. Congratulations U.S.A on having such a FREE country, we laughed at one of them as he was stereotypically eating a doughnut.

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From Salt Lake city we visited Antelope island with its huge Bison/buffalos and then we continued on to explore more National parks in Utah. In fact Utah is my favourite state with 5 parks full of amazing scenery and really diverse as well; Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches give such variety and are an absolute delight to drive and walk around. The car broke down close to the very impressive Monument valley and we were lucky that someone with some knowledge about engines came to the car park where we had slept and realized I must have been pressing the pedal while sleeping that night. To fix it he stuck a pen in the engine to empty one of the parts that had flooded and then we were off delighted to be moving again without incurring ridiculous towing and repairing costs.

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Zion Nat.P

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Bryce Nat.P

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Arches Nat.P

 

Grand canyon is a beautiful place and its well worth the hike down from the top to reach lower parts within the canyons, although we weren’t even close to reaching the colorado river which flows through the bottom. Las vegas was funny as we got kicked out of a casino by 5 or 6 security guards then slept pissed as farts in the Circus Circus car park. On the way to L.A we drove through Joshua tree N.P, stopping to copy the U2 album cover, then we arrived at my dad’s where we chilled for some weeks and sold the car for $800. This meant we paid $300 plus petrol to drive 7000 miles in 6 weeks, less than 10% of what it would have cost in a hire car. From L.A we flew to Chihuahua, Mexico to begin a couple of years travelling around Latin America.

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New York to Texas and Back – 16 Days

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Just after moving to New York at the end of 2005 me and Jo hired a car for a little road trip down to Texas and back.

We left New York and headed straight down to Philadelphia to visit the Mutter College Of Physicians Museum with its samples from rare medical conditions, the case of an inflamed intestine is incredible and hard to believe. The next day we passed quickly through the capital, taking a moment to appreciate all the Masonic symbology and salute the puppets in the white house, then we started heading west and slept in the car close to the George Washington National Forest.

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La casa blanca

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The symbolic obelisk

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Memphis

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We spent 5 or 6 days reaching Texas visiting Nashville, Memphis and some national parks like the Great Smokey Mountains National Park near Knoxville, where we camped and had a big fire, and the Sabine National Forest in Texas.

Close to Houston we slept in the car in the Sea Rim State park and noticed large amounts of household debris washed up on the beach from the hurricane Katrina disaster. Furniture, clothes, you name it and the funny thing was that the most common thing to survive was light bulbs. From here we drove along the coast to New Orleans and drove around what felt like a decaying ghost town.

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The dilapidated New Orleans

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The pretty scenery down south

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The pretty scenery down south

From New Orleans we drove north and passed through Mississippi and Alabama before rejoining highway 81 after Knoxville. We then travelled with some urgency trying, but failing, to get home in time for Christmas.
We ended up travelling through 11 states – Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and of course New Jersey and New York

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The beginning of 2013

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At the end of 2012 me and Steph flew to California to spend 7 weeks staying with my dad, with the intention of spending some time in the sun, contributing to my dads alcoholism and letting steam come out of our ears after time stuck in the matrix.
During these 7 weeks we went on a couple of road trips, the first was for a week in which we drove out to Utah to take another look at my favourite state and some of the natural beauty along the way.

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To Utah and back – 1 week

Day 1 – We left L.A mid morning and spent the day driving across California and half of Arizona to a town called Williams about an hour West of Flagstaff just before the turn off to the Grand Canyon. We stayed in a decent place (by my standards, although it was only a cheap motel) with pool and a spa, a little treat after the days driving.

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Fox news and doughnuts

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Day 2 – We had a typical American breakfast of Fox TV, doughnuts and fluorescent cereal then visited the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World carved out by the Colorado river. We visited the South rim for a couple of hours before driving south to Sedona to meet with an abductee Kim Carlsberg to use her military grade night vision goggles and binoculars to search for UFOs. While waiting for Kim we sat drinking tea enjoying the beautiful rock formations in a glorious afternoon, only spoilt by the numerous chemtrails that were being sprayed. I was amazed by how many they were spraying and I had never seen chemtrails before so spent a few hours trying to photograph them and was amazed at how obvious the difference between normal flight trails and chemtrails was. As soon as the sun set we met with Kim and drove out to a spot out of town to search for UFOs. We lost count of how many we saw, but I’d guess that over the course of an hour and a half we spotted between 20 – 25 UFOs as well as some satellites, plenty of planes and the Andromeda galaxy. It was a brilliant tour in my opinion, I loved it and after freezing our botties off we went to an alien themed diner dedicated to Kim and her story.
For more info on the tour you can check out her website, or for her story she has written a couple of books.

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Waiting for our UFO tour

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And they started spraying chem-trails…

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…Lots of them

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Then 2 planes flew over at the same time….

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…one normal and one spraying…

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…and the difference was obvious

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and 4 hours later they left dirty remnants in the sky

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Searching the skies with high-tech bins

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the diner

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The Diner

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The dino prints we stopped to see

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Driving to monument valley

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Day 3 – We left pretty early and headed towards Moab in Utah driving through the Arizona Desert passed Monument Valley although we did stop close to Tuba City as we came across some fossilized dinosaur footprints. Monument Valley is an impressive area with massive rock formations jutting out of the earth like massive fins on the Earths back. We arrived in Moab late at night and checked in to a little motel.

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Monument valley

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Day 4 – We visited the Canyonlands National park, a beautiful park with a colourful landscape eroded into countless canyons by the Colorado and Green Rivers. The park is multi-layered and from the “Island in the Sky” district that we visited you can see many canyons stretching out for miles and miles, sadly the photos don’t really do it justice.

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Canyonlands Nat.P

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The views were amazing

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There were some natural bridges

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A Canyonlands Panoramic

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Balanced Rock

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Double arches at Arches Nat.P

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Day 5 – We spent a few hours in the absolutely beautiful Arches National Park, with its amazing colours, shapes and rock formations such as Balanced rock, the Fiery furnace or over 2000 natural sandstone arches. After the park we had some lunch in Moab and then drove West in the direction of the Fishlake forest intending to turn south from there to reach the Bryce Canyon. As the sun went down we got hit by heavy snow which felt much like a blizzard due to the speed and direction of the wind. We didn’t make it to the Bryce area due to weather conditions and ended up staying the night in Richfield.

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The driving became pretty difficult…

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…and it came down all night

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Day 6 – We woke up in a completely different scene, the ground was completely covered in snow and we felt like we were in a christmas card scene. It was very pretty and the snow covered scenery continued as we headed south to Bryce Canyon where we found only a portion of the park was open but luckily it was the area with the panoramic views over the area of the park with red monolithic spikes jutting out from the ground. The scenery was again beautiful with red rock spikes coming up out of the snow. We spent an hour at the park and then continued on towards Las Vegas, winding our way down through the mountains and then across the desert to the city of sin. On arrival we checked in to a cheap hotel and then did what you do in Vegas, ate, drank alcohol and did a little gambling.

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Bryce Nat.P

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The scenery in the morning

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Bryce Nat.P

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Approaching Vegas

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One of the cheaper hotels

Day 7 – We were feeling quite hung over this morning so went for a breakfast buffet, had a lye down in the car and then walked around a few of the elaborate casinos. Las Vegas for me is like a giant playground for adults which typifies Americas self-centered culture – it’s all about greed, money and materialism – not the place for me. We did end up leaving with extra money in our pockets, we gambled $4 and walked away with $11 so we can now travel for an extra couple of minutes. After another buffet to feed the hangover we left and drove back to Los Angeles.

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Up to San Francisco and Back – 9 Days

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For the 2nd trip we drove up to San Rafael (the other side of the San Fran Bay) to stay with a good friend of mine Jay and on the first night we went out drinking to celebrate his birthday.

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We borrowed my dads toy car

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The beautiful coastline

We used San Rafael as a base to explore the area and we spent our first non-hung over day visiting Muir woods to see some massive trees and part of the amazing California coastline. I loved walking through the woods, it was a very peaceful place but also gave you a humbling feeling and made me feel insignificant and respectful being surrounded by ancient trees that were thousands of years old.

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the ancient trees

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Evil woz ere – the former meeting place of the elite

One day we drove into the city and walked from the Fort Mason Green to Fisherman’s Wharf to see the sea lions and eat some clam chowder in a bowl made out of bread. Then we went to Lombard street, the famous curvy street which twists down the hill with great views of the city and the famous cable-cars going up and down the hills.

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Sea lions on Pier 39

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Clam chowder in a bread bowl

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The twisting Lombard street

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Hilly San Fran with Alcatraz in the background

We decided to use some vouchers Steph was given by her old work colleagues and checked in to a hotel near the China Town gate for a couple of nights to experience the city. The hotel was themed on wine and wineries and they had a happy hour with free wine tasting and the evening ended in the “Ox bar” where we very much enjoyed a live band. The second day we walked around China town, experienced a cheap buffet and then ate at a Garlic themed restaurant. For our last day we drove back to meet Jay and spent some time at the China camp state park, then went to a BBQ in the evening. Next day we headed back to L.A, arriving after the 7 – 8 hour drive.

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Steph enjoying her free glass

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One of the posters in our wine themed hotel

I really liked San Francisco. It’s a cool city set on the hills allowing for great views and with the big influence from the gay world the San Franciscans seem quite liberally minded. I also liked the local environment with its rocky coastline, pretty beaches and different micro climates, yielding a great diversity of vegetation and in particular trees.

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An advert in the Gay part of town

After 10 Days in L.A and a quick trip back to the U.K we began our cycle around Portugal

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For More Details

My Travel Blog Link

For a look at these trips with bigger photos

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My Book Link

diary extracts from these trips and all the other trips I went on in my 1st 10 years

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