USA on the road – Las Vegas, desert, ghost towns and giant trees (3)

Actually, this post shows the incredible variety in US lands: from the 9th to the 12th of our road-trip we jumped from the artificial reality of Las Vegas to the hottest desert on Earth, then diving into the green and fresh wilderness in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. A lively 4th July in Las Vegas.

Postcard 9: Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas

Las Vegas desert giant trees
Las Vegas desert giant trees

PICS. The Eiffel Tower close to the Statue of Liberty, just in front of Empire and Chrysler Building, a short walk and you are in Venice, with water channels and gondolas, or in Cairo, if you prefer the giant Pyramis. Everything is possible in Las Vegas, the crazy resort city in Nevada where you can gamble, shop, enjoy nightlife in the completely artificial landscape of the “Strip”, its main street.
We spent here the day of 4th July, wandering on the Strip and visiting its luxury hotels and commercial centres, and the magic night of 4th July, enjoying the fireworks of a proud American city, with a collective – and not lucky – bet to the Casinò’s roulette. What to say? A must-see. But not my favourite, and I found quite disquieting some bettors’ empty eyes.

TIPS. Carry water and sunscreen: you are in Las Vegas but also in the desert! And don’t forget a jacket, you will notice the difference between the hot outside and the freezing conditioning air inside the places.
In Las Vegas you have also 6 permanent shows of Cirque du Soleil, like “O” at Bellagio Hotel.
4th July’s fireworks were great, but now I’m thinking that celebrating it in a small traditional US village could have been more typical…


Postcard 10: Death Valley

Las Vegas desert giant trees
Las Vegas desert giant trees
Las Vegas desert giant trees

PICS. Driving at sunset in the Death Valley has been one of my most exciting experiences ever. I don’t especially like driving, but that moment was perfect: the sun, the colours, the horizon, a big desert black road before and after. Surreal adventures, crossing a salty creek in the middle of the hottest place on Earth, walking towards the never-ending dried pool at Badwater, the lowest land in North America, exploring Zabriskie Point, so famous and inspiring for modern artists.

TIPS. There ‘s a reason for its name! Death Valley was given its forbidding name by a group of pioneers lost here in the winter of 1849-1850. Be careful as you are here, we visited it during a “cold” day of July and it was 48°! So: drink a lot of water (4 litres at least), don’t exaggerate in walkig/hiking, beware of rattlesnakes, scorpions and spiders hidden behind the stones.


Postcard 11: Bodie, the ghost town

Las Vegas desert giant trees

PICS. Bodie is everybody’s icon of Wild West. After the discovery of a line of gold, it soon boomed around 1876 becoming the third largest town in California, and had everything: a bank, saloons, a railroad, a jail, even a Chinatown. Then, the miners moved to other better places and the town slowly declined: a few people lived here till 50’s, but already in 1915 it was called “the ghost town”. Visiting Bodie today is like taking a step back in time, in a past freezed in its last moment: you still have the bucket in the well, the luggages in the hotel, whiskey bottles in the saloon…

TIPS. Look on the website for the disquieting night guided visits. In winter is still open, but you can reach it only by snowmobiles or skis.


Postcard 12: Yosemite National Park

PICS. Yosemite is one of the most popular parks in US. An UNESCO world Heritage site, it’s well-known for its biodiversity and for the wild beauty of its landscapes: waterfalls, rivers, woods, rocky peaks. Inside the park you have also “Mariposa Grove”, a wood with 200 redwoods, one of them, Grizzly Giant, is almost 2000 years old: a good alternative to see these Majestic trees if you have no time to visit Sequoia National Park.
The park is worldwide popular also for Yogi bear, the famous Hanna-Barbera cartoon set here: hundreds of American black bears, in fact, live here, and we spotted one little baby 🙂

TIPS. If you have time and space for a tent (we didn’t), camping inside Yosemite is a magic experience. Inside the park you have a lot of campgrounds, most of them are open from April/September and it’s better to book in advance. Beware the bears: they can damage cars if you drive in the dark, and you have to follow the rules about food storage in order to avoid an unexpected visit for dinner.


Postcard 13: Sequoia National Park

PICS. My personal icon for Sequoia National Park was an old Panini picture card from 90s’, showing the majestic general Sherman, the largest and oldest living tree on Earth (it’s more than 2.300 years old!). I badly wanted to go to see it in person, and in the end I did (see the 3rd pic!), decreasing by one day the final visit to San Francisco. Amazing: it’s like walking in a fairy land of wild giants.

TIPS. To reach Sequoia from Yosemite is a 5/6 hours drive trip. There are also one-day tours from San Francisco, but it’s 4 hours of travel each way, so you really have a few time for the visit. Better to visit it “on the road”, or to spend a night inside the park, where you can camp or stay in an amazing wood lodge; we spent 1 full day in the park and the drove straight to San Simeon, where we slept and got ready to visit the West Coast!

… to be continued …

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