Friday, March 26, 2010

Road Trip Along the West Coast of America

In celebration of my recent birthday, I rounded up my road trip crew and headed south to celebrate.

Our latest road trip adventure started in Vancouver, BC, with our first stop being the Fremont Troll in Seattle. This is a pretty cool  statue, made by 4 local artists. The statue stands two stories tall, and is made of steel rebar, wire, and concrete. The local artists actually placed an old Volkswagen beetle in the hands of the troll, sporting a California license plate. A cool attraction to see if you're in the Seattle area.


Day 2: today we stopped in to Lava Beds National Monument for a short tour of the Ice Crystal Cave.

This historic site has 20 different caves to go spelunking in. We chose to do the ice crystal cave with a guide from the park. It was a free tour, we just had to pay the park entrance fee of $10 (a great deal!). It was a beautiful experience, and I would highly recommend spelunking, whether it be in California, Costa Rica, New Zealand, or another part of the world, well worth doing!

We actually arrived at the park several hours before our tour, and after driving 11 straight hours, we opted to nap on the couch in the visitor center. The people at the visitor center were really nice to us, even gave us the keys to their home condo so we could heat up our breakfast in their microwave.

 From there we moved on to San Francisco.

Day 3: We arrived in San Francisco really early in the morning. We slept outside a local wave pool so we could get up and shower when they opened, and freshen up for our exciting day ahead.

We pre-booked tickets to Alcatraz, and spent the day exploring the creepy/cool old prison, along with Fishermans Wharf and many other attractions that San Francisco had to offer. The city brought back great memories of watching Full House :)

From there we made our way to San Diego.

Day 4: Today was my birthday! We spent the day laying pool side under the beautiful San Diego sunshine. We eventually made our way to Old Town San Diego. A beautiful tourist attraction of old San Diego. Lots to discover and explore here. Many great restaurants along the way as well.

This was one of the only days we actually stayed in a hotel. We needed the rest.

Day 5: We left San Diego and made our way to Salvation Mountain in Niland, California. This was an interesting attraction to see.  Leonard Knight built Salvation Mountain as a tribute to God and his gift to the world, with a message that reads "God is Love." Leonard spent several years constructing this outdoor masterpiece out of clay, donated paint and various recycled debris he's collected over the years. The mountain itself sits 50 feet high, and is truly a unique experience to explore.

After Salvation Mountain we made our way up to Sedona.

Day 6: we spend the day in Sedona, relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Sedona has quickly become my favourite place in all of Canada and the USA. Today was St Patrick's day, so we of course spent the evening exploring local pubs and drinking in celebration of St Patrick's day. Sedona was an unexpected last minute detour on our trip, so we really had nothing planned before heading there. 

Day 7: Today was an exciting day exploring the Grand Canyon via a mule tour. We opted to ride mules around the south-west part of the Grand Canyon rim. It was a great way to explore such a large landscape in a short amount of time.

If you've read some of our other travel blogs, you will know that we like to cram a ton of attractions into very short trips due to time constraints. After our Grand Canyon experience, we had a short amount of time to take in this beautiful landscape before heading off to Las Vegas for an evening.

We got to drive over the Hoover Dam on our way to Las Vegas! This was a really cool experience, but lots of traffic. I see they have started construction on the new bridge that will allow traffic to bypass the dam itself.

"Thumbs up means I'm happy" Leonard Knight - Salvation Mountain

I think we spent a total of 12 hours in Las Vegas before we had to head home. I've been to Las Vegas many times before, but this was a bit different being that we road tripped to Las Vegas. It was very convenient having a car this time. Driving down the Las Vegas strip on your own schedule was a lot of fun. We made our way to Fremont Street before checking into our hotel. I have to say, it was quite strange parking our car behind the hotel, and having to hall our own luggage from our car and into the hotel with no bell boy help.

Day 8: We left Las Vegas early in the morning and made our way to Death Valley. I loved Death Valley, and the Badwater Basin was interested to see being that it's the lowest point in America below sea level. We spent some time exploring the sea salt along the Badwater Basin before moving on to Reno. We found nothing really exciting about Reno. It was actually quite disappointing, but we've heard of the place before and wanted to stop in on our way home. Not worth the trip. It just seemed like a really old rundown version of Las Vegas.

From Reno we drove through the Redwood Forest.This was a beautiful drive, and we even found an old tree that you can drive through. In was an interesting experience, but not that exciting. From there we opted to drive up the Oregon coast. A beautiful beach drive that`s well worth seeing.

Day 9: after driving 19 hours, we finally made it home. Another amazing road trip under our belt. Time for a few days of well needed rest.

You may also like:

Tips for hiking Mt St Helen
Our road trip across Canada: What an experience 
How to road trip across Canada on a budget
Our road trip across America 

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