- This is a short version of the trip. We traveled for five weeks and I took more than 240 pictures on the trip.
After eleven months of waiting we’re here again! This time I’m traveling with Anders and Hans.
When we arrived at Seattle-Tacoma Airport we got our rental car immediately. We had made a reservation in advance and it was a disappointment to all of us that the car they had for us was a 4-cylinder Ford Taurus! Without any hesitation we upgraded to a GMC Jimmy (Chevy Blazer) with a 4.3-liter V6 and 4WD!
That night I had my first Sourdough Jack in eleven months and it was as good as I remembered it to be.
The day after we went to check out the Space Needle and downtown Seattle, we also went to Redmond to look at Microsoft but we didn’t have any luck finding Bill Gates house. On our way out of Seattle we went to the Boeing Museum of Flight, the coolest thing there was a Lockheed SR-71 Black Bird. Then we headed for Mt. Rainier, an incredibly beautiful mountain, we drove all the way around it and took a lot of pictures.
Redwood, Highway One
The Redwood forest weren’t kind to us. We had rain, fog and a locked gate before the six mile trail to the tallest one. It sucked! Luckily we found the Avenue of the Giants with incredible trees, one of them a drive-through.
Highway One between Legget and San Francisco is even more beautiful than between SF and LA. Lots of pictures taken here.
When we got to San Francisco we just had to go to San Quentin again, Anders and I went there last year but Hans wanted to go there and we had nothing to complain about there.
In SF we drove down Lombard St. on to Fisherman’s Wharf. Of course the tickets to Alcatraz were sold out, this is getting to be really annoying! We stayed in Palo Alto in the middle of Silicon Valley. It’s nice there, close to SF but quieter and warmer.
We went to Nike Town and China Town. We had a 360-degree view of SF from the skydeck of Embarcadero Center.
We took the cable car to Nob Hill and Fairmont Hotel, after that we went by car to Presidio and Fort Point which is the southern point of Golden Gate.
We also drove through Golden Gate Park and Haight/Ashbury.
Lake Tahoe, Salt Lake City
We drove through San Jose, Sacramento on our way to Reno. We wanted to see Lake Tahoe and so did every American too, it was the day before Independence Day. However, Emerald Bay was worth the slow traffic.
We stopped at Bonneville Speedway, it was closed because of rain in the summer, the driving takes place at fall according to a sign we read after almost getting stuck in the soft salt with our car!
We stayed for the night in Nephi, Utah. It was the fourth of July and the little town with a population of 3500 blew up more fireworks than I have ever seen before!
Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Glen Canyon
Before we got to Bryce we went through Red Canyon, it was very beautiful indeed but Bryce is jawdropping! Especially The Cathedral from Inspiration Point, unbelievable. I would have liked to stay for another day or two and watch from Sunrise and Sunset Point, the colors from those points at the right times has to be something special, I will try to get back to this magic place.
After Bryce the weather turned to worse and it rained so much that we couldn’t see more than 50 feet. We stopped in Torrey so we didn’t spoil Capitol Reef.
The day after the rain had stopped and we went through Capitol Reef and Glen Canyon, they were both very beautiful but when we got to Valley of the Gods the view was awesome!
Monument Valley, Grand Canyon
We went back to Monument Valley, Hans likes Western movies too and Anders and I wanted to go back too. We drove like maniacs with our 4WD rental on the trails.
I managed to snap a picture at the exact point where Forrest Gump gets tired of running in one of the greatest movies of all time.
In Kayenta south of Monument Valley we pull in to fill up with greasy burgers at Burger King and gets hit by a German tourist in a trailer! Luckily there was several cops inside Burger King eating donuts so the paperwork was no problem. After that incident our front bumper needed delicate adjustments every morning in form of a good kick. We stayed in Flagstaff that night.
We headed for Grand Canyon. It was Anders third time there, my second and Hans first. I think we all agreed that we would be back again!
This time we flew over the canyon in a helicopter, it was really cool and smooth too. I had never been in a helicopter before and I looked at the instruments as much as down the canyon.
This time we came from Arizona and passed Hoover Dam before entering Las Vegas. We checked in at Luxor, we upgraded to a suite with jacuzzi, it was really great. The food at Pharaohs Pheast is the best!
At Luxor we met Mattias, an old friend of Anders and Hans who now is an airline pilot. He flew in (for free) to party with us in Las Vegas.
We went to the big casinos, New York-New York, Excalibur, MGM, Caesar’s and Flamingo Hilton. The shopping center at Caesar’s with the fake sky was great.
Sadly enough we had to check out from Luxor. We headed for LA and checked in at Banana Bungalow, a good hostel but nothing like Luxor obviously.
The next morning we went to see my cousin Jennifer at her place in Beverly Hills. We had never met before but she turned out to be the greatest! We had breakfast and then went to Santa Monica to rent bikes, we went to Venice and all the way up to the Santa Monica Pier again. Then we took a swim in the ocean. After dining at Rodeo Dr. we went to a party with Jennifer’s friends where I taught Jen a Swedish trick with Absolut Vodka. There were a lot of people there and a really cool thing was that the police showed up telling us to keep it down.
The next day we went with Jen and her friend Jonalyn to Manhattan Beach and later we saw Lethal Weapon 4 at Manns Chinese Theatre.
The day after we went to Universal studios and then shopping at Melrose. Later we picked up Jen and Jonalyn, Jen had managed to get us on a list at Lucky Seven, one of the coolest clubs in LA where it’s impossible to get in if you don’t know the right people but I do! Inside we met Jeff Goldblum from Jurassic Park and Independence Day. He shook my hand and even said some Swedish phrases. It turned out that Geena Davis (a former spouse of Jeff) had been an exchange student in Sweden.
It wasn’t easy to say goodbye to Jen but we had to go on San Diego the next day.
Early in the morning we drove around Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Holmby Hills. We were of course looking for the Playboy Mansion.
We came in early and rested a while after all the parties with Jen.
The next day we went to Sea World and saw Shamu the Killer Whale and Dolly Dolphin. After that we headed for Coronado where the marines kick ass. We also tried to enter Miramar Air Force Base(from Top Gun) to watch some fast jets but we were stopped at the gate unfortunately. We had dinner at Hooters in the gaslamp district.
Tucson, Tombstone, El Paso
We drove from San Diego to Benson, Arizona. Near Tucson we checked out Saguaro National Park – the worlds largest cactuses. In Gila Bend we had 47° C (117° F).
The day after we drove to Tombstone and walked around at OK Corral and Big Nose Kates Saloon. Back to the interstate and on to El Paso, maybe the ugliest city in the world. All we saw of it was what I think was coal mining.
We crossed the Rio Grande which by the way should be called Dirty River here, to Juarez, Mexico. We have all heard about Rio Grande from Western movies so this was indeed a disappointment.
On our way to Fort Stockton in Texas we saw a train set with 5 trains and 130 wagons! Texas wasn’t much to see from the road so drove like crazy to Lafayette in Louisiana, passing San Antonio and Houston.
New Orleans, Mobile
Today we reached New Orleans and managed to get a room at Best Western on Bourbon Street! We walked around and I had a Terminator drink at Planet Hollywood. We found a bar where they had three for the price of one for anything in the afternoon. Later we had a very hot Jambalaya and then we went to almost every bar in the French Quarters.
We drove through Mississippi and Alabama all the way to De Funiak Springs in Florida. In Mobile we visited the mighty battleship USS Alabama.
Daytona Beach, Kennedy Space Center
We headed for Jacksonville and then down to Daytona Beach where we swimmed in very warm water. The beach has the finest sand imaginable. Then we ate at Hooters right across Daytona International Speedway.
Next day we visited Kennedy Space Center. We started by watching “The Dream is Alive”, an IMAX-movie. I saw all kinds of rockets and walked around inside an exact replica of the space shuttle. We also went on a bus around all parts of the area. We saw the launch ramps for the shuttle and a Saturn V rocket with a 160 million horsepower thrust. The Saturn rocket, more than 100 meters (300 feet) was inside an air-conditioned building.
I also had an opportunity to touch a rock from the moon and watch the progressing work on the new international space station that will replace the Mir.
The day before we visited the center the first American in space, Alan Shephard, had died. The flags were half way up.
Cocoa Beach, Epcot Center, Tampa, Everglades
We continued our trip to Cocoa Beach. The beach is not at all as good as Daytona but we rented Jet Skis instead. I had never tried Jet Skis before (they are forbidden in Sweden) but I like everything with an engine and I had a really good time.
We drove towards Orlando and Epcot Center and I would like to issue a warning to everyone reading this: never go there! It sucked more than anything has ever sucked before (quote from Butthead). It’s supposed to be a center of the future and maybe it was in the seventies but today only the admission is of the future, $45. Not even children could be fooled by those crappy special effects.
We continued to Tampa and stopped at Clearwater, a beautiful beach. When we left Tampa, heading south towards Everglades, we passed an odd bridge.
We didn’t see many crocodiles in Everglades unfortunately, we should have visited Gatorland in Orlando instead of Epcrap Center.
We passed through Miami and headed south towards Key West. The Homestead racetrack is located just south of Miami. We stopped at Key Largo, known to me from James Bond movies. At the motel I saw my first episode of “South Park”, I hope it will come to Sweden eventually since I have seen every episode of Beavis and Butthead.
The road to Key West is very beautiful with lots of bridges and water in all shades of green and blue. In Key West we drove by Hemingways house but we stopped at his bar instead, Sloppy Joe’s, where we had a couple of beers while watching an armwrestling competition.
Back in Miami we immediately went to Ocean Drive where the standard car seems to be a Ferrari.
We took a trip to Fort Lauderdale and took a swim in the ocean. Back in Miami again we found a cool store where we could check out all kinds of guns, knifes and other stuff. The store clerk tried to sell everything to us but couldn’t believe that all kinds of weapons are forbidden in Sweden.
We went to a mall to look for wrist watches and what did we find: a Hooters restaurant! Later on we went to Ocean Drive to party, we walked by Gianni Versace’s house. The whole street is a continuos party, kind of like French Quarters, and when a club plays good music people dance, not just in the club but out on the street and even on the beach.
The last day in Miami we went to the airport to find our hotel and to return our rental car after 13060 km (8163 miles). We looked for Hilton but there had been a mistake with our reservation so we weren’t expected there, that hurt because there was a beauty contest going on there and the lobby was full of gorgeous women! We were booked at the Miami International Airport Hotel and found our way there after three hours of looking for the right hotel. After that we returned our trusty Jimmy. Back to the hotel by bus and then off to the pool. We were all quite down because tomorrow we would fly home to a rainy Sweden. Then eleven more months before vacation…