With flights costing around 120USD (with Norwegian) from Oslo to Fort Lauderdale, and onwards (with Spirit) in the Carribean for next to nothing I decided to travel that route and add some days in Florida while I was at it.
Little did I know about the city other than it being famous for its warm climate, nice beaches, art deco architechture and the Wynwood area known for its colorful and artfull walls, but all that could be seen in just a few hours and I soon realised that this is not a city to run around and see lots of stuff (like Rome, Vienna, NYC etc), but a place to chill, go out and enjoy life.
I stayed at Miami International Beach hostel, which was a party hostel to the extreme (watch it in the vlog below) so there was not much sleep to be caught the five days I was there. I messaged my friend living a couple of hours up North in Delrey and was invited to a rooftop pool party. It was great to catch up with my old school mate who I had not seen for eight years and that totally made my stay in Florida before heading down to the Caribbean.
Watch this on my vlog, episode 2 here.
The highlight of our Los Angeles San Fransisco trip was for many of us to hike in the Yosemite Valley.
Our first glimse of the valley we got at tunnelview where we could see all the way to the waterfall. Some minutes later we were on the shuttlebus to the trail. It was a good hour, semi tough walk to get to the upper falls where we got absolutely soaked.
Having a beer on top and enjoying the view of both the valley and waterfall was priceless.
The Half Dome that was used as inpiration for the North Face logo
Driving a car is the best way to travel in Europe, or like in our case, let the G Adventures guide drive it for you.
Roads are wide, parking spots are spacious and plentyful and there are drive ins catering for every need (even including weddings!). We have spent a minimum of three hours on the road every day, where we have been driving both on highways and through small town America. One of these places was a town called Seligman, which was used as inspiration for the Pixar movie called Cars. Here we got to dine at the famous Snow Cap restaurant and drink a root 66 beer.
Another sweet spot that we stopped at along the way was the Death Valley where the temperature was as high as 47°c! I have never felt such heat, and apparently it is because the valley is the lowest point in North America and rarely get any percipitation. The salt flats there proved to be an excellent place for skateboarding although twenty minutes of being in crivity there was more than enough.
Our last couple of days in the US was well spent in San Franasisco. When we arrived we were left to explore the harbour and the Fishermans Warf on our own for a bit before boarding a catamaran sail boat that would take us out to Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Having a long flight back to Europe the next day we felt like it would be a good idea to go out big in order to sleep on the plane, so we stayed out until the bar closed around 4am.
The next morning we did a hostel inspection and just walked around to feel the good athmostphere. It was a good place to be and on the way to the airport we all agreed that we were a bit sad having to go back as this famil trip had exceeded all expectations.
Being on a famil trip with work, where you have all expenses covered and going to Las Vegas is a dangerous combination.
We were having drinks by the pool at the hotel we were staying at, The Golden Nugget, when our tour leader told us that she had yet another surprise planned for us. She had rented a party bus that would take us around to the sights and clubs of Las Vegas, and two hours later I had bought new shoes, showered and was dressed up together with the others at the hotel reception.
First stop on the way was a drive in chapel, then we stopped by the famous Las Vegas sign and finally after two hours we.arrived at a rooftop poolbar called Drai’s, where we stayed until late night when we went to the club at Bellagio hotel. Although it was a super fun night, I wished I didn’t stay out as long when I had to get up early the next morning to go to Death Valley and Yosemite.
Last time I went to Grand Canyon, seven years ago I was traveling with someone who was in a rush and I only got half a day to explore the Canyon Rim from above. This time we got two days which was a much better time to get the full grasp of how massive it really is.
The first day we went to the visitors center and the few of us who hadn’t already been to Grand Canyon got a paper bag over their heads before they were led to the crater rim where the bags were removed. The view was breathtaking and we were all eager to get down and into the canyon.
We took the orange bus route to … where we hiked down to the «ohh ahh» viewpoint, where we drank a beer and turned around. Cruising the way back to … on my pennyboard was the perfect way to efficiently explore the crater rim and then we all ate pizza while watching the sun set over the canyon in the west.
The next morning we set off early to what we though would be Las Vegas, but instead our car stopped at Grand Canyon helicopter airport where we were surprised with a free 50 minute helicopter ride over the canyon. We saw snow, moscuses, condors etc but the best part was when we first flew over the crater rim and which was a drop of almost a hundred meters. That really gave me the chills and is something I will remember for the rest of my life.
Even though we were not supposed to leave Palm Springs before 10 o’clock everyone was up around 6 as we were still jet lagged and decided to do a american diner breakfast before hanging out by the pool before departure.
First up the program was visiting the National Park of Joshua Tree, where we got to walk around and have lunch for a couple of hours. The national park was huge, consisting a lot of dry landscape with cacties and some unusual looking mountains and boulders. Climbing them also proved to be quite a fun activity and the views from the top were quite spectacular.
Afterwards we had a stop at Walmart to stock up on food and beer for the night that we would spend camping by the Colorado River, close to Lake Havasu.
We also had a stop at Lake Havasu the next morning to see the bridge that was built with the bricks from the London Bridge after it had fallen down.