Author Topic: USA roadtrip  (Read 51 times)

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Offline Stybar

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USA roadtrip
« on: August 02, 2017, 10:18 »
So, I went on a 3 week roadtrip in the States. Started in Las Vegas, drove to Montana, and then back to Las Vegas again. I visited 7 National Parks, a State Park, and drove through several National Forests.

I took several pics of Vegas itself, but it's hard to capture the sheer insanity of the city in an image. The best I can do is this:
yes, that is a scaled Statue of Liberty, and yes, that is a casino with built in rollercoaster. It actually works, too!


After a day nursing our jetlag in Sin City, we left for our first stop: Valley of Fire State Park.
This was hot. We left at 7am, and arrived around 9am. It was already 37°C by then. The whole area looked alien. I played Mass Effect Andromeda before I left, and I saw where the level designers got their inspiration from.

Also, if you have an Android, ditch the default camera. Install Google Camera. It's panorama function is staggeringly good.


After Valley Of Fire, we drove on, and went to Zion National Park.
Zion is bizarre. It's a canyon in the middle of the desert, but because of the river, there is lots of vegetation. Again, it was hot. we hit 42°C at one point. Stunningly beautiful though.


Zion was also riddled with small rodents, such as chipmunks and squirrels. The chipmunk (left) was generally quite scared, flitting in and out of sight only to grab crumbs.
The squirrels, however, were relentless. There was a pack of them, around 6 or 7, hanging out at the end of a pretty hard trail. They knew people meant food, and they knew it was usually in the backpacks.


One of the main "attractions" in Zion is the Narrows hike. This is a narrow canyon, through which the Virgin river still runs. You can rent special hiking boots, and walk for 8 miles up and down the canyon, where you are constantly in the river. it's quite shallow, the deepest part never got beyond my knees, but the current is surprisingly strong. It's also the coolest part of the Park, as it's always shaded and close to cool water.


Driving here was bliss. Amazing views, nice tight corners,... The only downside was that if your timing is off (too early or too late in the day), you're usually stuck behind a massive RV. And there are loads of the things in the National Parks.


'Murica


I also made a quick trip to the Grand Canyon. It is indeed, as the name implies, grand, but I think it's too grand. It's impressive, but my mind can't figure out the sheer size of it.


We made our way to Arches National Park, and took a slight detour to Horseshoe Bend, and Monument Valley.


Run Forrest!


Arches National Park is most known for the Delicate Arch, which is often prominently displayed on Utah license plates. We also couldn't figure out how the rocks got the texture on the right. It looks ribbed, but it's completely smooth. We couldn't find a Ranger to ask for info, however.


Park Avenue was dissapointing as a hike (shorter than expected), but the views are stunning.


Arches was swamped with tourist, surprisingly a lot of Dutch people. We left for the neighboring park, Canyonlands National Park. It was a lot less crowded, but it was possible that they fled the thunderstorm rolling in. We almost managed to escaped it. We were on our way back to the hotel, when the storm hit us. I couldn't see more than 2 meters in front of me, but I saw enough to see lightning striking the rocks next the road. Scariest driving I've ever done.


They also had arches.


Shortly after WWII, but before it became a National Park, there was a large uranium mine here. The road leading from the bottom to the rim is one of the only remains of the mine. It's only used by Rangers these days.


We passed Dinosaur National Park near Vernal. It is mostly known for having a large deposit of dinosaur fossils. There are hundreds of boned there.
The top right picture is a Stegosaurus' ribcage, seen in cross section.



We wanted to drive to Yellowstone trough Flaming Gorge National Forest. you can take the road on either the left or right side of the forest, but the left side is the prettiest (supposedly). While we were taking pictures at the beginning of the Forest though, a storm rolled in (again), and the left side was practically closed down. Still, the right side was pretty awesome as well.


Finally, we hit Yellowstone National Park. I'm actually really impressed by the rapids picture, as it was taken with the panorama mode of my phone. Considering it was rapidly moving water, i'm surprised this picture came out this good.



This is by far my favorite picture of a chipmunk we took:


We nearly missed the Old Faithful eruption, but my GF managed to take this picture as we approached, and I like it more than pictures up close.


The first large animal we spotted, a large elk. It caused a massive traffic jam, because everyone stopped their car to take a picture.


The setting of this picture is awesome, but the colors are off :/ it was taken from inside the car, through the front windshield.


If you're ever in Yellowstone, you should definitely check out the Upper Canyon Overlook. It's a platform on top of a waterfall. The sheer amount of water that rushes underneath your feet is humbling.


The most Northern point of our trip was in Bozeman, Montana. We took a couple of short hikes there, but didn't take a lot of pictures. My favorite pictures is this one though:


We stopped in Yellowstone once more on the way down, this time visiting the northern part of the park. We spotted a couple of Rangers looking excitedly through binoculars, so of course, we stopped. They had spotted a Peregrine Falcon with a fresh kill.


After several days driving, we entered Bryce Canyon National Park. There are multiple hiking trails that lead into the canyon, one of which is through a small, narrow canyon, which ended up in a large forest at the bottom of the canyon.


GF took over 350 pictures here in one day. It is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.


It looked like a weird cathedral. We could also see some Gaudì in it somehow.


And even here they have arches



We were supposed to go to Bryce Canyon two days, but after the first day, we had several hiccups. First, I lost my sunglasses, which were around €300. Secondly, a tiny pebble shot up and hit the windshield, causing a massive crack. We were fully insured, and could exchange our car without issue, however, the nearest rental car office was 3 hours away. we cautiously, nervously drove there, but on arrival we heard that someone cocked up, and we couldn't exchange our car since there weren't any cars available. We had to drive 2 more hours to Las Vegas (which was our destination anyway), before we finally managed to get a new car.


We spent one more night in Las Vegas, and took the plane the next day. If you're ever in Vegas, make sure to catch The Mirage's Vulcano fountain, which only goes after sunset.

Online Mave

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Re: USA roadtrip
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2017, 11:14 »
First of all these photos are amazing, you and your gf can be proud of them, also love the panos.
Secondly, now I have to convince my gf to do the USA asap, for some reason she's not a fan yet as she believes we can do the USA whenever we want in life (even with kids)

The photos of the valleys and canyons look so surreal, also gets me in the mood for RDR2 :D

Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Zion have been on my bucket list since forever, and these pictures only got me more excited.

The dinosaur remains look awesome, as a kid I was always obsessed with dinosaurs.

The chipmunk looks cute af.

Sucks about the windshield, but luckily you were insured.

Quote
First, I lost my sunglasses, which were around €300.
Those are some damn expensive sunglasses, holy shit.

Offline Stybar

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Re: USA roadtrip
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2017, 12:09 »
The sunglasses were so, so, soooo good though. It was a gift from my parents, a nice pair of Serengeti.

As for convincing your GF... I've seen lots of people with kids, most of them in an RV, but for the really good views in some parks, you need to do some pretty heavy hikes. The Watchman Trail in Zion is pretty hard, even before it was scorching hot. We had to take several breaks just to drink. I can't imagine doing it with kids under 12 years. Stuff like Vegas and Yellowstone are doable, of course.

Also, those roads are a lot nicer to drive in a car than in a RV ;)