A Travellerspoint blog

Just Another Song About California

But seriously, there are a lot of songs about California. But now I understand why.

sunny 61 °F

This is gonna be a huge post, because California is a huge state. By this logic, when we finally get to Alaska for our 10 year anniversary, the post on Alaska should be a book. If you continue to follow our adventures, be sure to pre-order. It's gonna be epic.
We cross into California innocuously, missing the "Welcome to" sign. What is the California state motto? It's gotta be on the sign. Will I care enough to google it? (Yes, I probably will. Update: I did. The sign is either the classic green and white highway sign, sometimes eschewing the "welcome to," or a blue sign with yellow lettering and yellow flowers. So no state motto on the sign. State motto, a la google: Eureka! I have found it! Funny, we're staying in Eureka tomorrow night.)
So, anyway, we get into California early afternoon on Friday. The last 60 miles into LA are bumper to bumper, but we have time until Shabbat. The plan is: Get to Gabe's (my super awesome cousin), unwind, take care of important real-life things, head over to the Rabin's for Shabbat. This plan is perfect until we arrive at Gabe's ad realize we don't have a key. And Gabe is in Northern CA (therefore, no cell reception), catering a wedding. So we chill on the front porch and internet. Soon, neighbors come home and hey! they know Gabe. Think he is (rightly) one of the coolest people and they have his roommate's number who should be home. Viola! Connections made, keys acquired, cat pet. The cat's name is Mowgli. She is very friendly. I stay outside and continue to internet, because the weather is wonderful and I am tired of being inside buildings and cars for the day.
Shabbat by the Rabin's is really pleasant. Yael, whom we know from school, isn't home, but her family makes us feel super welcome. (She's at a wedding for two of my very close friends, David and Devora. Mazel tov!) Her dog, Bialik, also makes us feel super welcome. Shari, a self proclaimed "cat person," now wants a dog. Bialik makes our walk through Beverly Hills much more palatable. People are friendlier, it seems, when you have a dog. Which is good, because Bialik tries to make friends with everyone.
After Shabbat we head back to Gabe's place and make plans with Sarah (my super awesome cousin) to go to the Getty Villa tomorrow. In a surprise twist, my (super awesome) uncle, Ken, joins us for the day. The Getty Villa is an amazing collection of Roman art and culture. It's also a testament to what insanely wealthy people sometimes do with their money.
Monday is a rest day. Sarah, Shari, and I make lots of plans, and then realize that a body in motion needs to not be in motion for, like, a day. Shari gets her hair done, I get my laundry done, we go to the Santa Monica Pier in the late afternoon. Good stuff. I try on a kelp crown. We try using the selfie stick. We stop trying to use the selfie stick. Thing just ain't practical. The one problem is once the sun goes down, the pier gets super sketchy, super fast. I'm pretty sure I saw a con being run, but I'll never really be sure. And I'm okay with this uncertainty.
Tuesday is for touring. Shari heads to the Walk of Fame, while Sarah and I check out LACMA. I play in the spaghetti installation, because I am a child. Sarah and I check out the museum and after closing, check out the La Brea tar pits. The tar pits ooze and bubble, and are amazing treasure troves of fossils, and they smell. (See? Child.) We meet back up with Shari, and then go for drinks and dinner with Gabe. (A huge thanks to everyone who made Tuesday evening excellent.)
Wednesday begins our journey north. We had originally planned to stay in LA for a week and a half, but developed itchy feet (metaphorically) after a few days. We head up Highway 1, despite the GPS which desperately tries to put us on the 5. No dice. We use maps to stay the course. And are so glad we do. Driving the 1 is one of the most terrifying and beautiful places to drive. The ocean expands silver past the horizon, the mountain cliffs tower over head, and the hairpin turns alternate the view from eternal blueness to dense forest. Infinitely worth it. Go on crazy road trips. I dare you. It's agreed that we need need need to return here once were fit enough and experienced enough to hike the trails veining up and down from the road.
We end the day in Pebble Beach, staying by my (some order of magnitude removed) cousins. I love the way this trip helps me become closer to people, whether friends or family or both. Why not both?
See you in the morning! We're off to San Francisco.

Posted by MiriG 23:47 Archived in USA Tagged ocean california friends lower los_angeles family la road trip cousins highway_1 48 the_1 the_getty_villa lacma pebble_beach Comments (0)

Vegas baby!

WTF Though

sunny 105 °F
View Road Trip!!!!!!!! on shari36's travel map.

This morning we went back to the South rim of the Grand Canyon for one last glance before leaving. It would seem we had a harder time leaving than anticipated and we ended up staying there until early afternoon. We just couldn't get enough of it, it's so incredibly beautifully amazingly gorgeous and sexy and OMG I don't know how to describe it, just look at our pictures, it's so pretty.

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When we finally left and started heading to Vegas we got distracted again, while passing the Navajo Nation reservation, there were scattered booths along the highway selling all sorts of really cool handmade jewelry and other pretty stuff. I bought a dream catcher and a really pretty beaded bracelet with feathers on it, the girl who made it said the feathers are supposed to carry our thoughts and prayers with us which is pretty neat. Her mother told us that she made the bracelet herself and she insisted that her mother helped her with it. They are both incredibly talented and really sweet. Her little sisters were helping her out selling stuff by trying on all the jewelry and being adorable.

The rest of the ride to Vegas was uneventful, long, and exhausting but pretty. We finally got to Vegas at about 7:30 PM and checked into our hotel. We got all prettied up and ready to head out on the strip to see what all the hype is about. Miriam is actually still getting prettied up but when we get back I will report back on how it measured up. (I told her that she looks pretty, but she knows that that's just what husbands tell their wives when they want to get out of the house because they have reservations somewhere fancy and romantic and they hope to get lucky afterwards. We don't have reservations anywhere and I have no intentions of getting lucky with Miriam tonight (or any night), but if I tell her that we have reservations maybe she'll get a move on it and we can finally get out on the town). Oh hey Miriam is ready, be back soon.

And we're back. So Vegas, wow. Our initial reaction was, WTF. That was also our second and final reaction. It's like a giant frat party but old people and children (!) were invited too (Seriously though, why were there children there?!?). The place smells of sadness and despair and alcohol and cigarettes and other scents that are not legal in Nevada and remind us of college. The streets have flashing neon lights all over, much like Times Square but with softcore porn being displayed on the huge screens in the street. We decide to get some reprieve from the crowds and the heat and we enter a casino. Old ladies are sitting at the slot machines, young people are wandering around aimlessly hoping to get lucky in more ways than one, children are standing around the poker tables watching their parents play. (Seriously though, WTF???) We head back outside and are handed a bunch of brochures with pictures of pretty ladies with no clothing on and a price attached to each lady. As we continue down the strip we find the Vegas mascot. He is a tall white boy wearing baggy baseball shorts that are on too low and a jersey top, and is crossing the street while it's red for pedestrians. When the cars honk at him he flips them off, in a beautiful moment that encompasses everything that is wrong with our generation. We head back to our car and in the parking lot encounter a group of young people who are way too young to legally do anything, helping one of their friends dispose of her last meal by holding her hair back. We offer them a bottle of water and get a high-five and told that we're very clutch. Words like that make us feel old because we have no idea what they're talking about. The one highlight of the night was at midnight when we watched the waterfall show in front of the Bellagio casino. The waterfalls were dancing to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner, it was really nice. Amidst drunk people yelling and throwing up, we look around us at the land of the free and the home of the brave and wonder where did we go wrong and mostly, WTF.
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Posted by shari36 22:23 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip vegas wtf lower_48 seriously_though_wtf Comments (0)

The Grandest Canyon

it might just be a giant hole in the earth, but it is a very nice hole in the earth

sunny 90 °F

As you may have surmised from the title, we were at the Grand Canyon today. We'll be returning there for a little bit tomorrow, but we have a schedule to keep. It's been agreed that we are definitely coming back here for a longer time span. There is so, so much to see. There are all these cliff faces and I just want to climb them. (Not to misrepresent myself as someone who has much experience rock climbing. I don't. But I still want to climb all of it. )
The day began at a smoiling 89 degrees in Pheonix. 89 soon turned to 105. I don't know if I have ever drunk that much water and not immediately needed to pee in my life. You just step outside and all of the liquids are sucked right out. I swear, sweat evaporated as it exited my pores. We were kind of museumed/ touristed out so we did what any good denizen does: Heads to the mall and shops.
The drive up to Grand Canyon was intense. The rise in elevation, up to over 8000 feet, pushed the engine, and even though the temperature was slowly decreasing, we still pushed the air conditioning. We stopped near Sedona for gas. Wow. Those cliffs are so red. So red. It's vibrant, earth shattering.
About 60 miles from GC, we detoured through Williams, a town founded in 1881. As the GPS liked to remind us, the street we drove down was "Main Street, Historic Route 66." We stopped for a bit, getting our gifts on Route 66.
At the Grand Canyon, we took a shuttle to different look out points, and the hiked about 2 miles of the rim trail. The sun set and we sat barefoot, overlooking the canyon as the shadows deepened and the canyon filled with a pale atmospheric tinge. While walking around this giant hole in the Earth, a multitude of languages filled the air. Most people happily photographed the other tourists, even if they had no common language between them aside from a camera and a smile.
All in all, a very good day.

Posted by MiriG 00:23 Tagged nature canyon arizona grand lower road sedona trip 48 Comments (0)

I've been through the desert on a horse with no name

La, la, lalalala, la

sunny 110 °F
View Road Trip!!!!!!!! on shari36's travel map.

We woke up this morning and found ourselves in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I started out the day by going hunting for coffee while Miriam showered. You know it's a college town when all the coffee shops are open till 11:00pm and reopen at 12:00pm. Thankfully you can always rely on Starbucks to be open before 12:00pm and have mediocre coffee. We then headed out west towards Tucson, Arizona. About an hour out of Las Cruces we past a US Customs and Border Protection check point where we were politely asked if we are US citizens. 30 minutes later we past a sign saying do not pick up hitchhikers, prison facilities ahead. So we told Jose in the trunk that we'll have to drop him off. But hey, at least he got past border control. (Disclaimer: This comment was intended for humorous purposes only. Shari & Co. is not responsible for any psychological damage reading this post may cause. In case of emergency please contact your therapist or hang up and dial 911.)

In Tuscon, we went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum which was absolutely amazing. The museum is situated outdoors in the middle of a national park which is in the desert. You get to stroll around and experience desert life. There are all sorts of cool cactus plants and animals and birds and lizards and snakes and butterflies and bees the size of birds (they don't sting the sign says, they are too busy being single mothers caring for their children) and coyotes and all sorts of really cute animals that live in the desert. I'm usually wary of going to zoos because seeing animals in cages makes me sad but this was different, they get to roam around in their natural habitat, just chillin about. It was a really cool experience (not literally, it was 112°).

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We developed this routine, when we see a scenery that is just absolutely breathtaking, Miriam starts laughing like she's heard something funny or was watching a Monty Python episode, and I start cursing like fuck. When we saw some of the views today in the desert, I said "fuckety freaking fuck". And Miriam said, "I have to agree with you on that".

After the desert we continued on to Phoenix, Arizona, where we are spending the night. Phoenix is a really cool place with train trolleys and great eatery places. Miriam put the link to our blog on the receipt when we were paying for dinner, so if our waiter is reading this, we think you're cute and that your friend has a really cool mustache.

Posted by shari36 21:10 Archived in USA Tagged desert road_trip coffee phoenix border_patrol lower_48 tuscon starbucks_is_mediocre cool_mustache Comments (0)

'Cuz I'm on Top of the World, Yeah

New Mexico is Magical

sunny 88 °F

Today began a long, long time ago. I can still remember. We set out from Fort Stockton bright and early, fueling up with"high octane" coffee at the Garage. Good coffe is good. We head north along a two lane highway, speed limit 75, signs of human life limited toil pumps and rigs with the occasional ranch thrown in for variety. So much of west Texas feels infinite, power lines stretching into the ether beyond the horizon and flames from the oil fields.
Our first stop is in the almost ghosttown of Orla. According to Wikipedia, the population is 2. Which is an awfully large population for a ghosttown, in my opinion. They have a post office, a supply store, and a gas station where a woman with an AirJordan logo tattooed on her neck sells beverages and sandwiches. She is very nice. All four people that we interact with are. I stop into the post office to send a few letters back east. I wrote them two weeks ago, but then misplaced my stamps.* I asked to use the restroom and thus learned that post offices do not have public restrooms, and that letting non post office workers use the restroom could get the clerk terminated. And anyway, the water was out. Thus, we walked the gravel to the supply store, where no one would get terminated for letting non employees use the restroom. One of the workers there hailed from Portland, Oregon, and suggested places for us to visit when we get there. He also let me take water and iced tea from the fridge. (Thanks!) The woman at the gas station and rig worker worker aren't sure why I'm photographing everything, and Shari explains that it's a habit. Unbreakable. The worst sort.
About 20 miles out of Orla, we cross into New Mexico a and Rocky Mountain time, so it's now 11:15 again. Almost immediately, the land in greener and hillier. The Gaudalupe mountains fill the distance, and the road climbs and twists.
We decide that the town of Hope might be a good place to top off the gas and stretch our legs before we head into Carlsbad National Park. We should not have placed our hope in Hope. Thee was a small convenience store, sans public restrooms. This seems to be a theme. We get to Carlsbad NP, weaving through hills, valleys, and gulches. The views are sublime. We go into the caverns to see the Big Room, full of stalactites and stalagmites. The air is thin and smells mineral.
I drive the three hours to White Sands National Monument, on narrow roads passing through the Sacramento Mountains. From the top of CloudsCroft to Alamogordo , we descend nearly a mile.I touch the gas twice in the twenty minute descent.

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White Sands is freaking stunning. We walk and run on dunes bare foot, marveling at the distant mountains, the sky, the softness of the sand and how the winds coming over the tops of the dunes feels like a sand blaster. I recommend leg coverings and long sleeves. It's nearly sunset, and three storm cells are visible to the south, west, and north east. The clouds are like anvils and mushroom clouds and when the wind dies down, we hear distant thunder. We leave the park at dusk, the lightening now visible in the darkening sky.

White Sands National Monument at sunset

White Sands National Monument at sunset

It's been a very long day, and I look forward to sleeping and having an easier day tomorrow. Los Cruces to Pheonix, AZ!

Lanie, if you're still following, we want you to know the your cookies made it to New Mexico and are still delicious. We evidently have more self control than previously thought.

  • if you want a letter/postcard, I probably don't have your address. Please fix this by sending it to me in a message/text/email. Thanks. Please be aware that my having your address is no guarantee of you receiving a letter/postcard.

Posted by MiriG 22:45 Archived in USA Tagged animals park monument mexico new white national texas sands cross_country carlsbad-national Comments (0)

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