Travel to the West coast of the United States of America

Posted by Howard on October 11, 2017

I have been longing for America since I was an university student, I took GRE and Tofel to get a chance to study in America. Ten years passed I haven’t be able to study in America, but I have chance to visit as a tourist. Autumn is a wonderful season to travel since the weather is just right, neither hot nor cold. We set off from Melbourne in Australia to the L.A. and commenced our 14 days’ journey in the west coast of America. Although it is a tough job as a full-time driver and guider (I began to miss home in Australia as soon as we got off the airplane) , however, the whole experience was so vivid and interesting on retrospect. We started from Los Angels, then drove all the way to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Yosemite, San Francisco,Santa Maria, nearly 4000 km altogether, amazing!!

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After about 13 hours in the A380, we arrived L.A. airport, which is almost similar to Melbourne airport. We took a shuttle bus from airport to Alamo rentals to pick up our Jeep, then I drove straight to our accommodation in Monterey Park where I have booked a unit via airbnb. Driving in America is totally different direction from Australia. It combines the right-lane driving of China and the traffic policy of Australia. So I got some time to get used to it.

The first day in L.A. was quite peaceful and we did nothing but had a rest to prepare for the next day in Disney. BTW, 99 RanchMarket was really a good place to shop and dine. Something I must mention is the USA has different electricity standard from Australia and China, it’s voltage is 110V and frequency 60HZ. So after almost half a day break, we set off to Disney in fresh the next day.

There are two Disneys, one is called classic Disney, another is California Adventure, do not go to the wrong place. Anyway, we went to the Disney classic, car parking was a little bit far from the entrance to the Disney and shuttle train was provided all the way to the entrance. Admission is about 99 USD per person. Not far from the gate, it was the landmark statue of Disney:

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People here are much more than Australia, and heard a child ask his father, “Daddy, this is not a holiday, why there are so many people?” Yes, I also wanted to ask the same question.

We have been playing until 10 o’clock in the evening, probably about 4-5 items. You can make use of fast pass otherwise, most time would be wasted on queuing. To be honest, I think the classic Disneyland is not worthwhile compared with the Gold Coast water world. But for those who have never been here should take a look.

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Grand Canyon is my favorite and I drove about 8 hours from LA to Grand Canyon. To be honest American was not so sticking to road policy compared with Australian People. Over speeding was quite a normal practice in America. It was such an excellent experience to drive on highway with no speed limit, which is called “the road of death”. It was evening when we arrived. We had allocated two full days in Grand Canyon, so not a rush.

We actually went to the South rim of Grand Canyon, there were shuttle bus inside the park, so we just needed to park our car in the visitor centre and took the buses.

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There are four bus lines in the canyon to provide tourists with an interval of about 15 minutes. The first is the Village Route, the second is the Hermits Rest Route, the third is the Kaibab Trail Route, and the fourth is the Tusayan Route, The Hermits Rest Route red line is the longest of the three routes, from Hermits Rest to Village Route Transfer, the most popular route. All buses did not allow to drink and eat, and pets are not allowed. Here are a few of the routes we took:

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•Yaki point :the best spot for sunset viewing.

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•Hopi point:the best spot for sunrise viewing, however, it is almost very popular so you need to get there early to avoid crowd.

•Grandview Point :here you can have the broadest view of the Grand Canyon; you can not only take panoramic views of the entire canyon, but also be able to watch the different levels of sandstone in different colors changing in the sun.

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•Moran point: If you want to quietly feel the spectacular Grand Canyon, this attraction is the best choice. This is not a particularly famous point, so there are not many tourists. From here, you can visit the Indian tribe tusayan Museum.

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There are other attractions worth visiting, such as Desert View, Rim Trail, Watchtower, Lipan Point, Yavapai Point, GRAND Canyon Village.

After two days in Grand Canyon, we drove to Las Vegas via Hoover Dam. Actually I have no interest in Casino, Las Vegas is just a transfer station. It took 4 hours to drive from the Grand Canyon to the Las Vegas.

Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the U.S. states of Nevada and Arizona. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Originally known as Boulder Dam from 1933, it was officially renamed Hoover Dam by a joint resolution of Congress in 1947. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. The dam was named after PresidentHerbert Hoover.

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(this photo is from Internet)

After one night’s break in Las Vegas, we set out to the Death Valley. It is said the temperature there can reach 45 centigrades in Summer so it is not recommended to travel there in the season. It was Fall while we visited there and the weather was just right!

Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California, in the northern Mojave Desert bordering the Great Basin Desert. It is one of the hottest places in the world at the height of summertime along with deserts in Africa and in the Middle East.[3]

Death Valley’s Badwater Basin is the point of the lowest elevation in North America, at 282 feet (86 m) below sea level.[1] This point is 84.6 miles (136.2 km) east-southeast of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m).[4] Death Valley’s Furnace Creek holds the record for the highest reliably recorded air temperature in the world, 134 °F (56.7 °C) on July 10, 1913.[5] This has been contested by other weather experts.[6]

The road in Death Valley was quite smooth and fluctuate, and we had a feeling of surfing over the sea. Some interests are worth visiting in Death Valley:

Dante’s View

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Scotty’s Castle

Ubehebe Crater

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It was a pity we spent just one day in Death Valley. On the next day, which was the most unforgettable experience in my driving history. I drove more than 12 on the day and reached our cottage at about 1am in the middle night! According to my plan, I drove to Mono Lake which is close to Yosemite and only 40 min driving to my accommodation, then all the way to Tiogo road.

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However, Tiogo road to Yosemite was closed due to an overnight snow. I was told to take the road to the north of Yosemite then to the west and I should take the west gate to enter Yosemite national park. So I had to take pains to drive more than another 8 hours to get to my destination! There was nothing I can do, but accept the cruel fact.

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There is a famous saying “No pains, no gains”, I think the painful driving was worthwhile since Yosemite is really an attractive and elegant place to travel.

Yosemite National Park is in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s famed for its giant, ancient sequoia trees, and for Tunnel View, the iconic vista of towering Bridalveil Fall and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome. In Yosemite Village are shops, restaurants, lodging, the Yosemite Museum and the Ansel Adams Gallery, with prints of the photographer’s renowned black-and-white landscapes of the area.

There are quite a lot attractions in Yosemite Valley, such as Half Dome, Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Mirror Lake, Swinging Bridge, Mariposa Grove.

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We left Yosemite quite reluctantly and marched towards our next destination: San Francisco. If you want to have a whole scene of San Francisco city, you should go to Twin Peaks, there was free car parkings on the submit.

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When we passed the Golden Gate Bridge, it was a foggy day so the view was quite obscure, however, if you watch it from another perspective, it looked like a wonderland.

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Another interesting place was Lombard Street, which is a section between Hyde and Leavenworth, you were only allowed to drive from Hyde to Leavenworth. Many people liked to drive the slope lane there. It is not a challenge for me who has so many experience to drive those zig-zag and up-down mountain roads in Australia.

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Fort Point is a masonry seacoast fortification located at the southern side of the Golden Gate at the entrance to San Francisco Bay. This fort was completed just before the American Civil War by the United States Army, to defend San Francisco Bay against hostile warships. The fort is now protected as Fort Point National Historic Site, a United States National Historic Site administered by the National Park Service as a unit of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

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On the day twelve, we lived in Redwood City, which is very close to Silicon Valley, I took photos in front of google and keep it as a journey souvenir.

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I visited one of my friends who was working in Silicon Valley and he advised us to take an “America version” of Great Ocean to drive back to L.A. so we won’t feel bored. This was an amazing suggestion, the view along the coast was somehow different from The Great Ocean in Australia, which is wilder and bolder. On the way we could even see a large group of sea seals!

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After one night’s break in Santa Maria, we drove towards our last destination, which we missed out on the first day due to fatigue.

Hollywood walk of fame is a MUST GO place, so we visited there in the first place. There should be many other attractions in L.A. such as Madame Tussauds Hollywood, Chinese Theatre, Dolby Theatre, Hollywood & Highland, Sunset Strip, however we did not go through all of them due to time restriction.

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Due to my daughter Celia’s insistence, we visited the Beverly Hills where it is said many American wealthy people including those super stars are living here, and my child was always interested in those luxury mansions.

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The fourteen days in the west coast of America will be a fantastic experience in my memory and it may drive me to explore more about this super-power. On the way in the airplane, I began to recall the usual driving habit in Australia and tried to forget the habit I formed in America.

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