West Coast US Roadtrip

After more than three months without seeing each other, I was finally heading to Reno to visit David. I never had been in the U.S. before, so we decided to go on a road trip through California, Nevada, and Arizona. I got into Reno after three different flights from Germany and with some hours of delay, but none of that mattered because I got to be with David again. Ignoring my lack of sleep and bad jet lag, we started our trip really early the next morning, heading in the direction of San Francisco. Before leaving town we had an amazing breakfast at High Point Café in Reno! This lovely place would become my favorite cafe.

MUIR WOODS

Before driving to San Francisco, we headed to the Muir Woods a little north of it. We parked the car and started walking around the national park for an hour or so. I had never seen anything like it! Those trees really are amazing. They are so tall it´s almost impossible to get a good picture, but we tried:

Muir Woods
Entrance to the park
Muir Woods
Tiny us, big tree
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View up the trees

San Francisco

After this great first stop on our two week road trip we drove on to San Francisco, where we stayed at a charming building we found on AirBnB, located next to the corner of Haight-Ashbury streets. Although I was pretty tired, we headed out again and met up with some of David’s friends for dinner. Due to me being a huge fan of The Big Bang Theory, we decided to go to the Cheesecake Factory right on Union Square, with an amazing view over it. We managed to eat so much of the main dishes that I couldn’t even try one of the cheesecakes. On the next morning we headed out to see San Francisco and the many things the city has to offer. Of course we had to see the Golden Gate Bridge! It was so impressive, we decided to get a closer look and walk on it too.

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View at the bridge from Baker beach
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View from above

After that we needed some lunch, so we went to the famous Pier 39 to get some typical food, the Clam Chowder, and to see the hundreds of sea lions that are laying around there, just doing nothing and smelling funny!

Clam Cowder
Yummy Clam Chowder
Pier 39
Sea lions

After lunch we walked around some more in the city, saw more Victorian houses, and checked off another must-do from our list: a cable car ride!! Apparently we managed to find the most popular stop to take the cable car, and had to wait for 30 min or so. The wait was definitely worth it! It is a great and very funny experience.

Painted ladies San Francisco
The painted ladies
Cable car
A cable car

HIGHWAY ONE

Even if it was the slower way to head to L.A. we decided to take the Highway 1, which follows the coastline down. It turned out to be a great decision, with some very beautiful and exciting things to see and do. Our first stop was Point Lobos, where we walked around and experienced some amazing views at the sea, saw some more sea lions, and David got to see some tide pools, which he just loves.

Point Lobos
First stop: Point Lobos

We then moved on heading down south, entering the area of the Big Sur National Park. A friend of David’s recommended a restaurant there, which is pretty well hidden, but luckily with knowing the name and maybe a little help of Google maps, we found it! We had some amazing burgers at Nepenthe while enjoying a nice view over the ocean.

It was a good decision to get some food, because what happened next was physically very demanding (at least for me). While stopping at an information point I saw a board with a picture of a beautiful waterfall dropping down to a beach. I was so surprised to recognize the waterfall! I already saw a video of it in my dentist’s office back in Germany. It seemed like fate, so we had to try to find it. Luckily it wasn’t hard to find, because it was right next to the highway. There was a small concrete path that led to an overlook over the waterfall. It really looked amazing.

Waterfall Big Sur, California
Overlook over the waterfall

Then we saw that there where people down there! It was obvious we had to get down there too. We started to look around for a way down there, we thought there must be a path leading down – but after looking for 5 minutes we couldn’t find one. Being in an adventurous spirit (probably due to Davids influence) I thought, well that doesn´t look too steep, you can almost see a sort of path down the hill and if other people made it, we can too. This turned out to be a very bad decision, at least in my opinion, David had a blast climbing, sliding and jumping down the pretty steep hill. On various parts I was very convinced I wouldn’t survive this adventure or at least not without a hundred broken bones. But after more than half an hour we finally made it down and got rewarded with some very impressive scenery!

Big sur
The view from the bottom

I am not sure which was worse, going down or back up again. I was relieved when we were back at the car, with only maybe a hundred cuts and bruises on my hands and arms, but what a great experience!! We spent the night in Santa Barbara, and went to see an American football game in a Irish pub, as I never had seen one. David tried to explain all the rules to me, but I am not sure I really understood.

Our last stop before heading into L.A. was Vasquez Rocks. Those are some interesting scenery in the middle of nowhere, which you can climb up and have a great view over the area. Still being traumatized from the Big Sur experience, I was a little skeptical first, but it wasn’t difficult at all!

Vasquez Rocks
On top of the rock!

los Angeles

When we got to L.A. we directly headed to Hollywood, to go to the Universal Studios, as we reserved tickets for another very special experience for me – we would go and see a taping of another show I like to watch, 2 Broke Girls. After signing in we had to wait for a little bit and were then led inside one of the halls to the set. We were sitting on a small tribune with a good view over the set. While waiting a little more there was a really funny entertainer which made the time fly by, he also performed when we had to wait after each scene they were shooting. The whole taping took over 5 hours, although its’s only a twenty minute show. In the end we were pretty tired but we had a great time and it was very exciting for me.

The next day we headed out to see a little bit of the city! We did the obligatory stops at the Hollywood sign, well at the observatory, as it is not allowed to go right to the sign. It was still nice to see it from a far.

Hollywood sign
The famous Hollywood Sign

The next stop was Hollywood boulevard, which was interesting to see but I would have expected something more after all the things one hears and sees about it on TV.

Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood Boulevard

We spent the afternoon at the Santa Monica Pier, which was really great. It was nice to be in the sun and at the beach and I loved to see the life guard houses.

Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Pier

In the evening we met up with one of Davids cousins, who took us out to see some of L.A.’s nightlife. First he said we’d go to a 70’s themed bar. When he asked the taxi driver to stop we could only see a bouncer sitting in front of a small garage filled with all sorts of old stuff. We were wondering how to enter the bar, suddenly his cousin opened the door of a big fridge in the back of the garage and it turned out that we had to go through the fridge to get inside! It was such a funny idea! The bar itself looked just like out of a 70’s movie. Finding the restrooms was another challenge, as those where also well hidden behind some more secret doors in the walls.

After a while we decided to move on to the next bar, a 20’s themed speakeasy in Hollywood, which was the craziest bar we had ever been to. We had to wait outside a house for some more people to show up and then were let in. We headed up some stairs and were then supposed to pick the right door out of three. After finding the right one, we stumbled into a room that looked like an antique bedroom with a woman sitting on the bed, wearing not much more than a nightgown. We didn’t really know what to expect next, then she stood up pulled on a book in the bookshelf and it swung open, just like in a movie. That was so cool. Walking through the bookshelf we entered the bar, which was the size of a house. After having maybe one or two glasses too much to drink we needed to get some food before heading to bed, so David’s cousin took us to the famous hotdog place, Pink´s Hotdogs in Hollywood.

Before moving on the next city, we had one more obligatory stop in L.A.: going to Disneyland! I am not a huge Disney fan, but I still have seen most of the old movies, so being there was like going back to my childhood. Even though it is definitely overpriced (>130$/person), it was a really fun experience, which I will remember for a long time.

Disneyland
Us in Disneyland
Disneyland
Having a blast in Disneyland

San diego

From L.A. we moved on to our next stop on the road trip: San Diego. I was super excited to see it and to enjoy it’s warm climate.

Beaches San Diego
Amazing beaches
Sea lions, San Diego
Sea lions everywhere!

We booked a kayaking tour with Bike and Kayak La Jolla. We decided to go on the seven caves tour, as David really loves caves we thought we go to see some (or seven). We got a little introduction about kayaking at the beach where we were sarcastically (or maybe not) informed that quite a few relationships ended because the couple tried kayaking in sync with each other. We would take our chances! Our group and three guides headed out to the sea, and paddled in the direction where the caves would be. The sea wasn’t very calm this day, in fact it was pretty wild. Around half way some participants already had to turn around, after they got seasick. Luckily we were both feeling fine, and also the kayaking together seemed to work great. Unfortunately the high waves made it impossible to go inside of the caves by kayak, nevertheless the tour was super exciting and very informative. Now and then we could see the head of a sea lion coming up and looking curiously at us, and suddenly one of the guides spotted a whale a little ways away. After a short discussion with the group we rushed out there, hoping to get a look up close. Despite all our efforts, the whale didn’t seem to want to come back up again and we had to paddle the whole way back. Still, it was a very fun and recommendable experience. As a compensation for not getting into the caves we also received entrance tickets to one of the caves we saw from afar, which is also accessible by foot, going down a long stairway.

The next day we wanted to try our luck with the whales again, so we went whale watching with San Diego Whale Watch. The company had two relatively big boats going out that day, so it was’t too crowded on either one. After almost one hour we finally saw the first whales. We had never gone whale watching before, so it was very exciting. We saw about 6 different whales and one came up really close to our boat, so that was a great surprise. Of course, to make sure the whales don’t get disturbed or hurt, the boats always keep their distance!

Humpback Whale
Humpback whale

LAS vegas

One of our last stops on this road trip would be Las Vegas! Entering the city we of course had to take the one obligatory picture:

Las Vegas
The obligatory picture
Las Vegas
What a crazy city!

On our first evening we met up with David’s uncle, who invited us to a great sushi restaurant. We ate so much we could barely move after, but we still managed to walk around the city for bit and went to see the water show in front of the Bellagio Hotel. The next day we spent more time walking around and going into all the famous hotels. It seemed all so crazy and exaggerated, but I was very happy to see this amazing town. We went to ride the roller coaster at the New York New York Hotel, which was a lot scarier than I thought. After we went back to our hotel, which was the Luxor for that night, we got ready for the evening. We got tickets to the show Le Réve The Dream at the Wynn Hotel. It was an amazing show, and worth every penny! The stage was mostly made off a big swimming pool, surrounded by a tribune. The round design allowed great views for everyone, only the first rows seemed to get a little wet. The show itself was very artistic, with a lot of jumping and great stunts. We can really recommend it!

Le reve - the dream
Waiting for the show to start
Le réve show
Le réve show at the Wynn

After this crazy and crowded city we could use some quiet and nature so we headed on to the Grand Canyon!

Top things to do

– Drive down the entire Highway One

– See the waterfall at Big Sur

– If you like tv shows, go to a taping in Hollywood

– Eat clam chowder in San Francisco

– Go whale watching in San Diego

– Check out the secret nightlife of L.A.

– See a show in Las Vegas

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