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.
Waking up at 5.30 we were all packed and ready by 6. It was a good call starting early as we had quite a bit ahead of us.
We shot off South to Dana Point, where the Cali Camp crew was awaiting us. The surf guides seemed stoked to go surfing and drove us down to Oceanview Beach in the county of San Diego where the waves were bigger than they first had anticipated. It was rough and foggy (June gloom) and we had to make a good effort to cut through the waves on the way out, but we still kept going for two and a half hours and got a couple of good runs each.
The absolute beginners group was done much earlier and were already eating and drinking beers at a garden party that the boys had arranged at the surf camp.
The hours went by and the beers did as well, so in the evening we headed up to Palm Springs where we visited a Thai restaurant and checked into the Mariott hotel for the night. Having some last beers and a dip in the hotel pool I thought to myself that I was lucky having a job that lets me travel, and even some times pays for it as well. I just couldn’t imagine anyone having a better work day than the one I just had.
Right after touchdown at LAX we headed straight to HI Santa Monica to check in at our quiet hostel, then we grabbed some bikes from a rental around the corner and was off exploring.
Santa Monica was a great base with lots of shops, cafés etc around and the best was cycling down the beach road leading all the way down to Venice Beach. We were cycling through areas with hipsters, gangsters, tourists and classic american police cars standing along the way and people were rollerblading, cycling and skating along us with electrical skateboards. It sounds a bit cliché, but it was just like in the movies. I had the same feeling when I first visited here in 2010, seven years ago and the place hadn’t changed.
Being at a famil trip for my travel agent job, we also had to stop to do an inspection of Samesun Hostel which we sell. The hostel was right in the center of Venice Beach and the bar across the road was the perfect spot to have a couple of beers before cycling back home to Santa Monica where we had some fish tacos, which L.A is so famous for, before we hit the bed to recover from our jetlags.