Road Trip #2

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February 7th 2008
Published: February 8th 2008EDIT THIS ENTRY

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La to la via Vegas and Flagstaff

Wooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We're home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We flew in from L.A yesterday morning. Well, we left L.A on Tuesday evening, were in the air for 14 hours, and landed at 9.15 on Thursday. So, as far as Nikola and I are concerned, Wednesday the 6th of February never existed. Does that make us one day older or one day younger than we actually are? Think about it.

So, last time we spoke, my cousins Carl and Becky had just dropped us off in Hollywood, land of the stars, before they boarded their flight for Samoa. We stayed in a hostel on Hollywood boulevard for a few days, and surprisingly, theirs actually not much to do in Hollywood, and its a real bitch to get around L.A without a car so we just sort of wandered around Sunset Strip and stuff. We went to the red carpet premiere of 'Fool's Gold' (Matthew Mcconaughey and Kate Hudson's new movie...sorry new shit movie), and got to catch a glimpse of some people that pass as celebrities, Donald Sutherland, Goldie Hawn, Kate and Matthew. It certainly wasn't worth braving the freezing cold winds that kept showing us the stars panties as their skimpy little dresses were blown around, but hey, you can't go to Hollywood and not do a premiere, pity there wasn't anyone I actually care about who showed up. We got fed up of Hollywood pretty quickly, the only other highlight was Frankie's pizza, a cool little joint on Sunset Boulevard (the strip) that has been graced by hundreds of celebrities who have signed their names on the wall endorsing Frankie's product, not sure if thats because they get it for free, or its actually the best pizza in L.A, but it was pretty good so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Anyway, having been driven around California by Carl for the past week, Niki and I were a little spoiled and decided that we no longer wanted to slum it with the rest of the backpackers on crappy little buses and junk, so we went all out, blew our budget and hired a car for yet another road trip. This time into the deserts of Nevada and the peaks of Arizona to see Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Definitely worth the expense.

So we picked up our VW Jetta (only had 21 miles on the clock, brand spanking new) on the day of the Californian Democratic primaries, that were being held across the road from our hostel, literally hundreds and hundreds of news vans blocked off the entire street to catch a shot of Hillary or Barack, and we snaked our way through the L.A traffic onto highway 15 to Vegas, through some amazing scenery of snow-capped mountains, and desert mountain passes, and on into the City of Sin, a towering neon Godzilla of a town that erupts like a volcano out of the desert like a mirage, really weird. You can tell Nevada has the laxest gaming laws in the states as there is a casino literally built on the border as you cross over from California, but it doesn't hit you until you roll onto the Vegas Strip, greeted by monster casinos as far as the eye can see. Quite a sight I must tell you. We checked into our hotel at the Circus Circus Casino, after making my first mistake on the road and driving on the left instead of the right, only momentarily however, drank a few bottles of champagne, then went and checked out the Strip at night. Incredible, absolutely incredible.

The Venetian, with it's scale replica of Venice built inside, Canals, Gondola's, the Bridge of Sighs, San Marco Plaza, is quite exquisite, and somewhat cleaner than the real thing. The mini-Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe in little Paris down the road is bizarre, the grandeur of Caeser's Palace is overwhelming, but the real highlight has to be the water fountains at the Bellagio. Hundreds of jets spray water high into the night sky synchronized perfectly to classical music, or Sinatra tunes. It really is amazing to watch. We did some gambling on the one cent slot machines, drank a lot of 99c frozen margaritas, and basically just soaked it all up. Quite a crazy place is Vegas. But alas, the clock was ticking so it was straight off to Flagstaff, Arizona where we would base ourselves for our trip to the Grand Canyon.

So off we went, another five hours drive through the desert, and surprisingly across the Hoover Dam. We stopped there for a while and peeked over the edge, freaky, human engineering at it's most awe-inspiring. we got into flagstaff just after dark, and as we drove in, Niki spotted huge 2-metre high piles of rocks at the side of the road, we couldn't figure it out, so i kept rolling along at 75mph (120kmph), then Niki clicked and realised that those rocks weren't rocks at all, they were snow. (It was dark remember, we're not complete morons, snow is less white at night). The whole town was covered in a thick blanket of soft, fluffy white snow. We were completely blown away, we thought that Arizona was all desert, not at all, Flagstaff is at 7000ft (2500m) altitude and is actually a ski resort town, as well as being situated on the historically famous Route 66. In a bit of a shocked daze we checked in went to some shit burger joint, that had mouldy tomatoes, sorry, tomay-toes.

The next day we did the Canyon. I'm not even going to attempt to sum it all up. You have to see it for yourself. Its huge, 18 miles across. And again, rather surprisingly, completely covered in snow. In all the photos of the Canyon, has anyone ever seen snow? No. They pretend thats it's in the desert, it's not, its basically a fucking mountain, and I loved it. Nothing can prepare you for the first view you get into the chasm, and no matter how long you look at it, nothing can surpass that first image either, it literally blows you away, takes your breath away, and no amount of photos can do it justice. Truly beautiful, and a reminder of the raw power of nature, that a single river can gnaw away at solid rock for thousands of years and create something so majestic. I recommend it to anyone who ever gets the opportunity, one of the top ten things to see for sure. Awesome.

That night we got hit by a snowstorm, and the next day, after basically digging our car out of the snow, we drove back to L.A. through the snow, I couldn't even see where the road was, the snow-ploughs were out, but they hadn't been by for a while and so the snow cover was building up again. One of the scariest, most nerve-wracking drives I've ever done (and remember I've been in two roll-overs), especially when the big-rigs, semi-trailers cruise past you at 80mph, and whip up the snow right in front of you, so you cannot see anything, just white, no cars, no lights, no road, and you CANNOT hit the brakes or you'll lock up on the ice and go into a spin, so you just have to ease off the accelerator, hold onto the wheel, and hope that the road keeps going straight, and that your not about to drive straight off of a cliff. Obviously we made it safely through that first test down into the plains of the desert, safe again, or so we thought. About an hour after escaping the snowstorms, we drove straight into a bloody dust-storm in the middle of the desert, zero visibility and 60mph winds basically blowing the whole damn car off the road, again, you can't go slow otherwise the cars behind you will drive right up your arse before they realise that you're there, so we just had to grin and bear it. Again we made it through safely, and as if God was angry with us, we were granted a thunderstorm as we drove into L.A. But after snow-storms and dust-storms, it was like a walk in the park. We got back and went back to Hollywood again, just chilled out for a few days, caught our plane on Tuesday, got back in yesterday, and caught up with all of our friends and family, after customs took my carom board off of me (bastards, i carried that fucking thing halfway across the world). It's such a wonderful relief to be home again, went for a beer at the townie, Ole on Enmore Road, and celebrated getting home safely. Its been one amazing year, it feels like only yesterday that we left, yet it feels like a lifetime ago that we were in India, and England, and Europe and America. Weird. We learned a lot, drank a lot more, we pushed ourselves way out of our comfort zones, and enjoyed the luxuries that the world has to offer. We have everyone to thank for helping us when we needed help, and for writing to us, and reading this bloody blog, letting us know that we were still being thought of. I hope it was as fun for you all to read as it was for me to write and that some of you maybe learned something or were inspired by something we said. Its been an honour. I don't really have much more to say except that now it's your turn.

Additional photos below
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8th February 2008

Well Done, Welcome Home!
You did well, had an excellent trip and wrote an entertaining blog. Welcome home Niki and Sion and well done!
9th February 2008

Loved it
Hey Siono, loved reading about your adventures, and great to have you back. Well done, bro.

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