A road trip throughout 

 the southwest

It has always been a dream to discover -I love realizing that most of my posts start like this- some of the most famous and beautiful national parks in the world. The southwest of North America is considered a spectacular road trip throughout some of them.

Are you ready to discover them with me?

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Our Trip starts flying from Boston to Vegas the night of February 7th -I have never been a super fan of Vegas but I was curious about this crazy city and her influence - normally a bad one- over people.

My first impression is pretty cool, we are landing at the airport and I am already seeing a sparkly city behind it , super close.

After check in at the Luxur hotel - hotels in vegas offer ridiculously cheap prices to get you in and make you spend a ton of money in their casinos-  we decide to go for a walk and get blind with this city. 

I do not like gambling - Tom gambled and lost $200, but it is fun to see people yelling , celebrating and/or crying.

I may say it is fun and beautiful in its own way. In my opinion, the shows, restaurants and the general spectacular environment deserve at least one visit in your life.

After our first taste of the city - We'll be back next week- it is time to sleep because tomorrow our road trip starts!

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We decide to rent a camper van for the trip -I love the freedom of a van and I hope one day I can have my own.

Travellers autobarn is the best deal we find since they do not charge for miles - most of them do- good price and a cool van!

After some grocery shopping and getting everything in the van, our first destination is Zion National Park, Utah.

This park is situated less than 3 hours away from Vegas and the ride shows you the changes of the landscape. Around Vegas is desert but the closer you get to Utah the more mountains and towns you see - still desert-ish though. 

There are many options around for camping, we want to be in the national park and plug in tonight because it is cold. The Watchman campground is in a beautiful spot and for $30/car offers water, bathrooms and hookups.

Morning! Waking up with the view of the mountains and the smell of the river is 1000 times better than the Luxor last night.

A quick coffee, bananas and nuts and we are ready for a hike!

It has been a while since last time we hiked and we are rusty! But the view is totally worth it.

  • Angels landing, 4 h.

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Next, Monument Valley.

Leaving the park from The Grotto Picnic area to the valley is an awesome ride, even if you aren't going that way, take the ride - more on video at the end of the post.

After leaving the National Park, 'nothingness'... 

A long ride is before us- 3/4h- but good music and a lot of snacks make us company.

MONUMENT VALLEY

We make it just in time to see the sunset over the Monument Valley - we could not take good pictures and I am still suffering when I think of my camera.

Once the sun is almost gone we start going to our next destination, The Grand Canyon, Arizona -3h.

But first, we are starving and do not feel like cooking so we stopped at McDonald's - I hate these kinds of places but it is such a funny decision.

Now that we have eaten and have a funny story to laugh about for at least an hour, we keep going to the National Park.

Since it is late we stay within the National park, it is so expensive, if you are able to stay around it you will be better off.

The grand canyon is impossible to see in just some hours - it is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,093 feet or 1,857 meters) - but you can have a good overall idea. 

If you have more time, stay at least two days and hike, must be impressive!

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We are going to California!

This has been on my bucket list since... always! Unfortunately we won't be able to visit the main cities, but we will be visiting the national parks!

It is so cool to cross the border from Arizona to California through the route 40 because at some point you can see Arizona, Nevada and California.

The first National park we wanna visit is the Sequoias but it is such a long drive that we decide to stop tonight at Barstow - 6h from Grand Canyon- a small town that you can reach from the old Route 66 and from where you can see the shiny city of Los Angeles.

You probably know the song 'Hotel California' which is an interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles. In addition of knowing this, at the beginning of the song they say:

'On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light'

This is a reference to the road we went through.

I love our campground tonight, Shady lane RV park.

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Sequoia National Park, here we come!

This time of the year is being amazing for travelling. Most of people do not want to travel during winter and that gives us solitude in places that are normally crowded.

We enter the park in a sunny day and some snow still on the ground.

The giant Sequoias are impressive. This specimen is the most massive individual tree in the world. They grow to an average height of 50–85 m (164–279 ft) with trunk diameters ranging from 6–8 m (20–26 ft). Record trees have been measured at 94.8 m (311 ft) tall and the oldest known giant sequoia is 3,200–3,266 years old!

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Tonight poor Tom is really sick because he spent the whole day eating shit and drinking coffee so we stay in a motel along the road -It would not be an authentic route 66 trip without a motel- on our way Yosemite National Park.

In the morning he is feeling better and in 3h we are entering the impressive Yosemite Valley.

This is a glacial valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of Central California. The valley is about 7.5 miles (12 km) long and approximately 3000–3500 feet deep, surrounded by high granite summits such as Half Dome and El Capitan, and densely forested with pines. The valley is drained by the Merced River, and a multitude of streams and waterfalls flow into it, including the Yosemite Fall, the highest in North America.

A natural phenomenon happens in the valley for less than two weeks in February: the winter “firefall.” The waning light of winter days hits a waterfall on El Capitan’s granite walls at just the right angle to create a streak of orange resembling a lava flow.

“Just before and after sunset, it’s glowing like it’s on fire”

We arrive right on time to see this incredible event, we are ready to go before the sunset and find a great spot when we realize, there is no water falling from the waterfall!!!!!

One of the guards makes a non-funny joke at that moment considering our frustration ' We just turned off the water'.

The lack of water and snow this year gave us the opportunity to enjoy the park better but that means no waterfall.

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We have 6 hours of driving before reaching Death valley and we enjoy the drive stopping at some points.

ON THE ROAD

Our first stop in the valley is the Mesquite Dunes, the perfect place to have fun and get hungry for a beautiful dinner under the starry night of the desert.

 

There are different campgrounds in the valley and since the nights aren't that cold we do not need to plug in and paid only $14/car for bathroom, water and a place at Sunset Campground.

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Last night something magical happened.. Tom and I are engaged!

I will share the story soon on my Instagram. Stay tuned!

We wake up at 5 am to see the sunrise from the salt flat of badwaters basin, 282 ft (86m) below sea level. BEAUTIFUL.

BADWATER

We are so lucky and meet an engineer of the place that tells us to go and visit the artist palette at that time in the morning to see the colors of the mountains with the sun. 

Again, it is just us.

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In the afternoon we are back in Vegas, this time we stay at Mandalay Bay, a big suite with amazing views of new Vegas.

Today is Valentine's day and we are gonna celebrate it tonight going to Jaleo restaurant by José Andrés - an internationally recognized culinary innovator, author, educator, television personality, humanitarian and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup. 

The restaurant is located at Cosmopolitan Hotel where every thing cannot be any cooler.

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Last day in Vegas, and to celebrate our first road trip together we get a matching tattoo at Relic body arts, by Darek Riley - cool person and awesome professional.

We spend the rest of the day drinking, gambling -only Tom- and visiting old vegas - That I  really loved since it is vintage and everything is cheaper.

See you soon Vegas.

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'The Roadtrip'

-A 5 minutes summary video.-