West Coast Road Trip – Part 1
Growing up in Montreal, I always had a passion for travelling. I use to threaten my parents that I would take off and go to Europe or Asia with a backpack and no life savings.
While I was in Canada I took the USA for granted. Maybe it was the vicinity, but for some strange reason I was always more attracted to other continents. It took me moving aways to Italy to realise that the United States are a beautiful gem on wildlife, nature and breathtaking sceneries.
This summer, I hoped on a plane from Milan to San Francisco, rented a car and embarked on a coveted and terribly cliché gold old American road trip.
Driving around with loud music blaring, switching hotels and towns almost every night I had an incredible experience.
This is the ground I managed to cover in 20 days:
Yosemite National Park
Death Valley National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Carmel by the Sea
When arriving in SF I knew what to expect as this was my second time in the city. What I didn’t except was a delayed flight and lost luggages. To make a long story short, almost an entire day went to dealing with the airline company and buying the minimum of clothes and toiletry to get back.
Enough with the complaining and on to the good stuff. San Francisco is a beautiful wealthy forward thinking city. If you have only 24 hours in town, I suggest riding a cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf and hanging over there for lunch. The cable car will give you a quick and beautiful tour of the city and the crab cakes at Fisherman’s Wharf are a divine experience if you like sea food!
For dinner or a quick drink I recommend going to the Haight Ashbury neighbourhood. This area is home to the hippy movement from the 60’s and still to this days welcomes young people that rebel against the money making tech corporation hurricane taking San Francisco by storm.
Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood home of the hippy movement from the 1960’s
I promise this will totally be worth spending 20 bucks on each. The crab cakes or lobster rolls are to-die-for!
Useful tip: SF is gorgeous but due to the beautiful weather is also home to a lot of homeless people and poverty Search the area where you book your hotel really carefully. You can be downtown but also end up on some sketchy streets in neighbourhoods where you won’t feel at ease walking around early in the morning or dinner time.
After a crazy 30 hours in SF and a happy dance for getting back my suitcase, I went to the airport to pick up my rental Camaro. You can get a convertible car for circa 900euros if you book early. I recommend it for killer views and photographs on the road!
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite will blow you away even if you are not the outdoorsy type that owns a top notch camping gear.
I won’t bore you with detailed information on the trails which you will get upon arrival or simply be clicking here.
First useful tip: if you want to see the amazing view from Glacier Point, get there early! Cars are allowed up there only at the crack of dawn or after 17hpm. So if you are not physically fit to embark on the hike of your life take that into consideration.
Second useful tip: You don’t need to reserve but if you get to Yosemite after 12h you might have some serious problems finding parking in the main area.
After Yosemite Park, I needed a place to sleep before making it to the Death Valley. I ended up in a tiny charming town in the middle of nowhere called Lone Pine. I strongly recommend sleeping here as it circa one hour drive from Monument Valley and has some nice restaurants for a relaxing night.
Breakfast in Lone Pine.
Downtown Lone Pine.
Morning drive out of Lone Pine and going to the Death Valley.
Rumours are true the Death Valley is hot that if you go past 11ham temperatures will easily rise to 47°C. Crossing the entire Valley is circa 2 hours. I promise you don’t want to be stuck here without fluids if your car breaks down.
Cactus patterns while I was loading up on water before entering the Death Valley.
Met this fellow along the road in the Death Valley. For the entire drive I didn’t see a single source of water. I have no idea how he manages to stay alive!
San Dunes inside the DV. Brace yourselves as these green beat down bushes are a rare luxury. After the sand dunes they become very scarce.
Useful tip: Don’t worry you won’t actually die in the Death Valley but remember you are not a super hero. Don’t take things for granted. Water is precious if you are stranded and heat strokes are common. If you are not an expert, do NOT park you car and venture in the Valley for a stroll.
This is is for now! If you want to find out the rest of my journey go check out the second post and share the love!