I went to the US hoping to take a break from training, re-evaluate a few things and get some quite time. I set out in a cab at 8AM on Saturday July 6th 2013.
Flying with Delta was a good experience. The flight went quite quick but I would probably go with Jet Blue and Aer Lingus in the future, the points just aren’t worth the effort.
I arrived in New York JFK around one o’clock and collected my bags after a long wait. Doing customers at Dublin saves a huge amount of time. This is the first time I have led in a few years and not had the nth degree of questions.
ing with two different airlines meant I had to switch terminals and experience quite a long delay at JFK. Terminal 5 was a long walk but check-in was really quick and pain free. I had a 5 hour wait in JFK terminal 5 and took the time to just chill out and think about things. The price of food as in most airports was excessive and I remember boing shocked that my sandwich somehow contained high fructose corn syrup.
The flight to Vegas was a little over four hours and there was hardly anyone on the plane.
The people you get talking to on plane journeys are always interesting. The lady sitting next to me looked a bit like an aging party girl as she was wearing a tiara. 3 hours into the flight I was experiencing a very dried out nose and got a nose bleed. This wasn’t a huge surprise after getting a bunch in the last while.
I arrived in Vegas around 10 and immediately went to look for some food at the airport. Not finding anything I hopped in a cab and had a chat with an interesting English lady who had moved to Vegas with her now deceased husband. Her first question was which gentlemen’s clubs I was going to visit. After I relied none she didn’t say anything for the rest of the ride.
Even though Las Vegas is small you always seem to have to quite far to get a small distance with all the one way streets. I got to the Tropicana and checked in around 11. The Tropicana is part of Vegas history and has recently been refurbished so it’s a quite nice 4 star hotel. It’s turned into a hotel as Vegas leaves behind the themed hotel trend of the 80’s and 90’s.
It wax Saturday night on the strip and Vegas was only getting going but I was wrecked to do too much so I headed down the street to the local CVS and picked up a nasal spray and some food. I wanted to get an early night so I could be up and at it for 6AM.
I woke up the following morning quite early and went out to see the welcome to Las Vegas sign, a bit of a walk but worth the trip. On the way back it started to rain. The rest of the morning was spent down in old Las Vegas exploring the old part of town around Freemont Street and the baking hot casino sign grave yard. In the afternoon I did some rafting in te canyon, then hit the gym and went for a swim. I followed that up in the evening with a trip to Peepshow at Planet Hollywood. The show was really enjoyable.
I left Las Vegas early on Monday morning and went to pick up my car. I had a great experience at the rental desk. I left Las Vegas after stocking up on some water and much need supplies. I headed towards Death Valley and in particular Furnace Creek, the hottest point in the United States. Along the way I stopped to take some pictures at Zebriski point and a few other hot spots including Pahrump. I arrived at the visitor centre and went to watch a great video narrated by Donald Sutherland. I then hit the road for Bishop and got up to 125 degree F. The road out of Death Valley was particularly spectacular climbing and falling. The experience of this heat was well worth the visit. It’s like opening the door of your oven.
In late afternoon I arrived at Lone Pine and had some lunch. Lone Pine is a nice little town that would have been a better stop for the night. It has some great views of Mount Witney, the highest peak in the 48 states. Back on the road I first passed and then arrived in Bishop to find that my Hotel was the same one I stayed in 13 years earlier in the year 2000.
I went to explore Bishop, had some Pizza, world famous Schat’s bread and famous break, explored K-mart and went for one of the most beautiful morning runs ever. Running at 7000 feet is a little tougher but manageable
On Tuesday I drove up into the Sierra Nevada and headed for Mammoth. This was one of the most beautiful drives of the trip. Climbing up into the Sierra Nevada. I arrived in Mammoth and after getting a little lost headed for the mountain. I went up in the Gondola and had experienced the amazing view from 11000 feet. Mammoth was a truly beautiful spot that I would love to visit again someday. In the early afternoon I headed towards Lee Vining and got a massive Spinach and Turkey wrap in a local store for lunch. I remember the girl serving behind the counter being particularly good looking, although her mother was giving me dirty looks.
On Tuesday afternoon I headed for Mono Lake and Bodie State Park. At first I was a little disappointed with Bodie but after spending some time exploring, reading the history and seeing some of the old archive photos I became fascinated. The 20 mile winding road is well worth the drive as is the last 3 mile stretch along a dirt road. It was however very hot. I can only imagine what it was like living here.
On Tuesday evening I arrived in a nice little hotel in Bridgeport, famous for its fishing. Looking back I should have stayed the night in Lee Vining. I had a great salmon dinner in an old hotel in Bridgeport that looked like it had been there since the original 49ers formed the town.
Up early on Wednesday I headed back to Lee Vining and after getting some breakfast and pass I went up the extremely anticipated Tioga Pass. The drive down to Yosemite Valley was amazing, incredible, enjoyable and a few more adjectives thrown in for good measure. Each turn brought another photo opportunity. It took allot longer to get there than expected. Along the way a short run that ended in an a feeling of an asthma attack and a stop at the grove to see some amazing trees.
The California Tunnel Tree in Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove was cut in 1895 to allow coaches to pass through it (and as a marketing scheme to attract visitors to the grove). It is the only living tree with a tunnel in it since the fall of the Wawona Tunnel Tree in 1969.
In Yosemite I hiked around and spent the entirety of the day enjoying the scenery. I could write for hours on this place, it’s a must see for everyone. In the evening I headed out the west side of the park, down the same route as 13 years ago and headed to Sonora.
In Sonora I hit a bar, decided a few things need to change and chatted to some of the locals and had some food. Not much to say about this place but it was worth the visit and the drive down new priest road to get there was amazing.
From Sonora I was due to go to San Fran and then fly to New York but I decided to get up early and hit root one from Monterey. The trip took a good bit longer than expected as I followed the GPS, had a feeling of Déjà vu in Gustine and arrived in Monterey around 10.15. The weather here in summer is shit.
I should have queued for the aquarium but instead had a quick walk and got going. The only problem is that the route back to San Fran is not that interesting. I hot Santa Cruz boardwalk, stopped in a Sainsbury’s and took the quick way to San Fran airport. I topped up on gas here which was a complete waste of money. I headed into the city and had a good walk around. It felt like I had saved my day. Although I lost my shades trying clothes on in Old Navy and couldn’t see the bridge because of the fog it was a great day and after heading back to the hotel had a feeling of contentment at all I had done over the few days.
Apart from getting lost on the way to the airport on Friday morning all was well. I didn’t want to leave California but I was headed to New York and then Toronto.