28-day trip to the USA (United States of America) with a itinerary that included a visit to the cities of Los Angeles , Venice , Santa Monica , Santa Barbara , San Simeon , Monterey , Carmel , San Francisco , Sausalito, Columbia, Parks California , Bodie , Mono Lake , Las Vegas, Valley of Fire, Bryce Canyon National Parks of Arizona , Santa Fe, Stanton , Florence , Tucson, Old Tombstone , Yuma , San Diego , Hollywood
We landed in Los Angeles, State of California, and took a rental car at the airport. We did not find any difficulties in getting to the Motel , booked in front of Disneyland’s entrance.
We spent all day visiting that historical amusement park and we were really satisfied because we could see interesting performances even for those who, like us, were over … forty.
We could not miss the tour of the park with the train of Big Thunder Mountain , as well as an exciting journey on the river … Mississippi with a paddle wheel boat, but also a Space Trip on the spaceship of Odyssey 2001. In the afternoon, we could assist to unexpected beautiful parade with the major Disney characters .
Then, we started to follow the road alongside the sea, the famous ” Number One”, built by convicts .
We enjoyed the numerous and very evocative panoramas of the high cliffs which fall sheer to the Pacific Ocean .
The most beautiful area is the one on the south of the Monterey Peninsula and is called “Big Sur”, a region made famous by cinema and television.
We visited the Carmel Mission and drove on the famous ” seventeen- mile drive ,” the road that covers the entire peninsula.
The centre of San Francisco is not huge . It can be easily visited on foot.
We had fun going around the city on foot or by its famous trams running up and down the city streets.
We walked along the famous Lombard Street several times. Then , from the top, we could admire the whole “Frisco Bay”, the Pier 39, the island with the infamous prison of Alcatraz and , on the background, the satellite city of Sausalito.
We visited the Fisherman’s Wharf with the seals , the Ghirardelli Shopping Mall and finally the famous Golden Gate.
It was an unforgettable day.
The next day was dedicated to visit the surroundings of the city .
We crossed vast expanses of vineyards, we saw high geysers, redwood forests , petrified forests; we drove along the beautiful coastal road and stopped to have dinner in Sausalito with the night view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate .
USA: Yosemite Park, Captain, Glacier Point, Mariposa, Tioga Pass, Mono Lake, ghost city of BodieMore photos
We left the plain and went towards the Yosemite park .
The first impression of the park was apocalyptic as we crossed several kilometers of a completely burned and still smoking forest.
We admired the superb view of the valley in whose centre stands “El Capitan” (the Captain), a huge granite monolith which is the emblem of the park. It was wonderful also the sight from the viewpoint of Glacier Point .
The weather worsened and a thick autumn rain became to pour down and accompanied us during the visit to the magnificent sequoias of Mariposa grove .
The next morning, with a clear sky, we crossed the Tioga Pass (3.200 metres) where we found ten centimetres of snow.
We did not expect to find the snow and we were excited because we were going to face a dizzy slope that would bring us to … the 2.000-meter height of Mono Lake where there was a really summer temperature .
We entered a lunar landscape with rocks that emerged from the water in pumice –coloured stone.
It was very interesting the visit to the ghost town of Bodie . It was founded in 1859 when it was discovered a rich vein of gold.
In a short time, the city developed up to 10.000 inhabitants and counted two churches and 65 saloons!
Then, when the vein run out of gold, the inhabitants abandoned the city even before 1900.
USA: Death Valley with Zabriskie Point (set of Michelangelo Antonioni's movies), Dante's ViewMore photos
We went on towards the Death Valley which welcomed us with huge sand dunes.
We tried to visit the deepest point of the valley ( 40 meters below sea level ), but we found the road closed with a sign indicating: ” flooded ” .
It was the result of the previous day’s rain.
In the hotel, we could barely take a shower because the water was too … hot .
Before sunset, we visited Zabriskie Point, where the Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni filmed the homonymous movie .
We left early in the morning to climb up to the 1.524 meters of Dante’ s View .
The name says it all: it is the vantage point which overlooks the Death Valley and is aptly named ” Dante’s view .”
The air was bracing. Below us there was a valley characterized by very strange colours that only the images can explain.
I do not describe the paths we travelled by car, the same routes where the pioneers , in large number, lost their lives .
Since it was a weekday, the hotels had the rooms at a bargain price.
And we spoilt ourselves with a luxury hotel.
We chose the hotel just in front of the famous Caesar’s Palace .
We were really excited for being in Las Vegas with its huge hotels , the desert which almost touches them, so many people on the streets , but …. nothing particularly interesting. Over all, it seemed a city without … shops.
But the night arrived and, with the night, Las Vegas changed: the numerous neon signs … lighted up the city.
All hotels presented rich performances based on lights and colours.
And we could also find the stores. They are inside the hotels, in huge and luxurious galleries. You can find something for all tastes and for all budgets.
Being almost “stunned” by the multiplicity of the shows, the multiplicity and variety of lighting signs, we walked around in the various hotels until the small hours.
The next morning, before leaving the city, we stopped in the street where are located the different churches in which betrothed couples from all over the world come to celebrate their marriage. Here, the ceremony which can be easily and quickly organized.
A hundred km from Las Vegas, we entered the Valley of Fire .
It is a national park so called for the colour of its rocks, a fiery red that we loved so much. We crossed the park by car and enjoyed some walks.
We arrived at the Bryce Canyon on a cloudy day without sunshine.
We visited all the vantage points and, before leaving the park, we reached its interior and went for the “Navayo walk”, a track of an hour and a half.
The walk was wonderful both for the magnificent views and for the characteristics of the path itself .
Moreover, we were so lucky to see birds and animals that live there without fearing the presence of men .
We left the Bryce Canyon Park… with a heavy heart because we were going to leave such a beautiful place and because we had had to visit it without the sun.
Early in the morning we entered the “heart” of the Grand Canyon and began to stop at all the scenic view-points.
The tour took a long time because we made many stops, all really beautiful and spectacular.
In the afternoon, with a considerable financial sacrifice, we made a tour by helicopter also overflying the Supai Indian Reservation , located in the gorges of the canyon, characterized by fantastic pools of water .
During the flight, to create the right atmosphere , we were provided with headphones to listen to “2001: A Space Odyssey”.
The next morning we drove on the road in a north-easterly direction to the Monument Valley.
To drive along the long straight road and to see at its end the unique shape of the rocky boulders “enjoyed” in the main part of the Western movies is a very strong emotion .
We could almost “hear ” the sound of the hooves of the horse of John Wayne , the protagonist of this valley. We toured the valley far and wide and everywhere we could “see” him in the various scenes of his films. We could imagine him, not only with our imagination, even reading the signs indicating the name and the interpreters of the films made in various places in the valley.
The next day we reached the beautiful Canyon de Chelly ; we visited all the vantage points of both its rims.
Then, with a guided tour, by jeep, we went to visit it inside and we could admire closely all the petroglyphs as well as the remains of the Indian buildings.
Later, we went to the Painted Desert , the place where the rocks take all the colours of a painter’s palette.
Finally, we crossed the Petrified Forest Park where we could see whole trees become stone: inside the trees, there are crystals that have the most various colours.
There were several equipped paths to go down to hollows characterized by rocks of different colours. Thus, we could admire landscapes that can only be defined as “lunar landscapes”.
Looking at the road map we were attracted by the famous city of Santa Fe, New Mexico .
We decided to go and visit it, even if it meant to make a journey there and back of nearly one thousand kilometers .
Originally it was a village of Pueblo Indians, then it became a Spanish city, nowadays it is a beautiful city.
USA: ghost town of Stanton, Tucson, Desert Museum and "Old Tucson", Tombstone, city of OK Corral gunfightMore photos
At first we visited the ghost town of Stanton, then we reached Tucson, a beautiful and modern city.
It was interesting the Desert Museum and ” Old Tucson ” which is a reconstruction of a “western town” where many western movies were set.
We could not miss a visit to the town of Tombstone, where the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place.
It is a city museum with plates positioned where the various participants in the gunfight challenge died.
The tour included also a visit to the cemetery .
The long journey ( over 700 km ) to San Diego, California, which is the closest town to the border with Mexico was really interesting. In fact the highway crosses the desert and the wind blows the sand on the asphalt.
Moreover, mindful of some western films, we wanted to see the famous Yuma penitentiary.
But the prison had been closed in 1910 !
San Diego hosts the largest aquatic theme park in the world, Sea World .
We spent a whole day running from one amphitheatre to the other in order to see the greatest number of performances possible.
The main actors were dolphins, whales , seals , bears, and many other animals.
The killer whale exhibition was the most exciting.
USA: Los Angeles with Universal Studios sets and hinese Theatre with handprints and footprints of the movie starsMore photos
We started the tour at Universal Studios with the park ride with an electric tram that run through all of the studies where we could see various sets. For example, the simulated flood in a Mexican style town, or shows that are based on television dramas , such as Miami Vice .
In the afternoon, we made a tour in Hollywood centre and visited the famous Chinese Theatre , where the most famous movie stars in the world left their handprints and footprints .
In spite of the regret for our return we were enthusiast for all we had seen during the 28-day stay in America.
And …. we promised to go back there again.
In fact , after eight years , we made another exciting journey that I invite you to see.