Amarillo

We actually don’t have this song anymore, but I still am going to name this post after it.
Gallup looks exactly the way it does in the Lost room, but has more than
one mysteriously abandoned motel.
On entering Texas we enjoyed roadside warnings about speeding that demand that you ‘Don’t mess with Texas’ and advertisements of people selling oak trees and exotic pets.
At the Love’s gas station we met a man from Georgia (the country), who was very happy to see/hear people from a neighbour country.
On the way to Amarillo we were attacked by fog and our GPS lost it’s way, so we had to steal wifi on the parking lot of Days Inn (thank you, Days Inn, for not having a password).
Our motel was situated on an absolutely abandoned street and had a bullet hole in its window, but we had a good night’s sleep.
We had breakfast at the Waffle House, where there was a mixed crowd of families and farmers with hats on. Everyone seemed extremely friendly.
We saw the Cadillac Ranch and had the honor of painting graffiti on the actual Cadillacs.
On the way to Austin we visited Georgetown, that has amazing University Burger cafe, where they accept Southwest university pirate bucks (they have university currency that’s called Pirate bucks! I went to the wrong school). Galaxy bakery is a heaven for cupcake lovers, we saw them bake everything on the spot, so I would vouch for the freshness of their pastries.
There was also a jazz band playing in front of the city hall and the locals were enjoying themselves.
Also we noticed that there are plenty of great steakhouses everywhere in Texas.
As I promised Nora I would ride a mechanic bull in Austin, Mary and I did it after some hesitation. The Trophy Room was mainly filled with locals and everyone was very supportive and cheered in a very friendly manner (either of the rider or the bull), which surprised me as it wasn’t what I was expecting.
Now we’re heading to New Orleans and I am full if great expectations.
There is a man sitting in the middle of the road reading a newspaper. He’s wearing a red cowboy hat. Oh, baby, baby it’s a wild world.

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Infinite arms

The road to the Grand Canyon is terrible terrible terrible, so if you are driving an extremely cool sport car also known as Hyundai Accent or similar prepare to feel like you’re riding a donkey. It’s totally worth it, obviously.
We passed a town called Williams that has the best steak I’ve ever had at Rod’s Steak house (and I am picky). Their mashed potatoes is as good as grandma’s and they actually have adequate English breakfast tea.
We saw Mather Point and then found a rock to climb (5 min to the left from Mather point there are no rangers preventing you from killing yourself).
Make sure to watch the sunrise or the sunset from Yavapai Point. Bring a camera or even five – you’ll want to take tons of pictures.
If you, like us, happened to save money on accommodation in San Francisco, do spend it on a helicopter tour – the view is spectacular, the pilots are witty and their music choices are worthy of every praise (I believe that was the IPod sending greetings from above). While landing we were listening to Green Day’s ‘Time of your life (good riddance)’.
Now I think it’s ACDC weather and we’re going to Gallup, New Mexico because the Lost Room was filmed there.

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Hold me thrill me kiss me kill me

On our way to Vegas we passed many interesting places in Arizona, such as Bullhead, that’s surrounded by very beautiful rocks and then Searchlight (what a name), Lake Mead and Boulder City that might interest those who watched Make it or break it as a kid.
Also, Visit the Hoover Dam if you have the time.
Las Vegas has a lot of lights and good music. Seriously, they play rock’n’roll all day and all of the night right on the streets of the city.
We stayed at Hard Rock, where they play what I used to have on my departed iPod (and have pretty much everything Steve Tyler ever wore).
The place is so huge that I assume some people never leave the hotel territory. But we were in a hurry to meet Nathan by the Bellagio fountain, that dances to pleasant music every 15 minutes (the fountain, not Nathan).
Make a mental note: you get carded everywhere, some places you can’t even enter without a passport.
According to Nathan’s words, this place gets away with everything, which is true, but probably won’t shock anyone who has lived in any of the world’s capitals.
As for things to see, do walk by/in the famous casinos if only to take in the crazy atmosphere. Most of them are very beautiful on the inside and have impressive works of art.
Foodwise, inside Hard Rock itself, there’s a place called Mr. Lucky’s that is open to non-residents as we’ll (little tip:so are the hotel’s swimming pools). Mr. Lucky had great (and huge) breakfasts and great soups.
Food’n’drinkwise, there’s a Mexican place called Segundo, that serves huge bowls of guacamole and fantastic frozen margaritas that come in three sizes and five flavours (I recommend going classic).
Hard Rock bartenders are pretty lazy, so don’t go there for drinks.
I hear Herbs and Rye and the Downtown cocktail room are good.
Do make time to see a Cirque Du Soleil show, there are 8 of them playing non-stop in Vegas. We got to see Mystere and enjoyed it very much.
Beware of the heat, the temperature can be as high as 41•C

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Dani California

The only point I see in visiting LA is trying to find out what all the fuzz is about. We saw Rodeo drive, Sunset boulevard, Third street promenade, the walk of fame and the Hollywood sign. The old-movie glamour is replaced with litter and promoters desperately trying to sell you tickets for excursions to celebrities’ houses (I mean you’ll see them from the bus). Unimpressed. At least we crossed it off the bucket list. We saw LA, I am happy about my decision not to take a job here.
Beverley hills is quite pleasant to drive through, so is Pasadena. Now we officially visited these places so many songs had been written about.
We’re now on our way to the Salvation Mountain through the Salton sea park. All the signs are slowly switching to Spanish, the rails in the middle of the desert give a classic Western picture and our only companion is the border patrol.
Off the topic: saw ‘The fault in our stars’. A good way to get depressed. Wish Adam was there to appreciate how they kept all the best dialogs from the book.
PS. Carlos here seems to have lost one of the wheels of his pick up truck.

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Guaranteed

We got to see Big Sur properly and met a lot of elephant seals.
There isn’t much food on the way from Big Sur to Yosemite, let alone healthy food. ‘The whale watcher’s’ seems to be one of the very few places to have breakfast, they are well informed about this fact, hence the cafe is pricey (but still good).
We passed through several national parks, including Pfeiffer and Los Padres, all very scenic. But once we entered the Fresno area it became very dull. Very few gas stations, almost no food, very dry and hot, beware.
Yosemite is wonderful from the very entrance though. Glacier point is one of the best landscapes I’ve seen so far. The parking lot looks a bit crowded, but it’s not, there are many more spots, they are just not visible at first.
We danced on the stones a bit, met a rather irritated wolf (avoid meeting him, he looked hungry/hangry) and now we’re driving down to Yosemite valley to ‘God, country, grave’.
LA next.

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Highway 1

Santa Cruz is very charming and has wonderful surf shops of you’re into that kind of stuff and apier that resembles the one in Brighton. We even met two people walking to San Francisco. But Monterrey is more beautiful. The sunset (my iPhone keeps typing ‘subset’, what am I, a mathematician?!) was of a magical lavender colour and then turned fire-red.
On the way to Big Sur Google maps led us into the wild (into the woods) with no light and no civilization. The road, that looked more like a labyrinth lured us to the cliffs and the signal was lost. Soon we saw huge wooden tree-houses with even huger windows and candles on the windowsills. Now I wish to love and write here.
After fourth minutes of complete darkness we arrived to a dead end and we’re approached by a stylish old man with a gun.
‘Tell Google maps it’s been a huge inconvenience having a hundred people here every day thinking they can teach Big Sur through here’.
We promised to show google maps some hell and were released. On our way back we met an unnecessary gigantic pick up truck with an unnecessary attractive young man driving it. He asked if we wanted him to show us the road to the camp (apparently the one with the stylish old man with a gun) and we disappointed him by saying no.
So if you are not looking for a husband, death by a bullet or amazing cabin/treehouse architecture (Aka death from envy), remember: highway 1 is the only way to get to Big Sur (and you’ll see a lovely lighthouse). I recommend listening to ‘Highway 1’ by Foxboro Hot Tubes (more famous under the name of Green Day) to stay awake.
We slept in the car by the information centre, where the road patrol ignored us completely (they were looking for somebody to race with). It was cold, but the sky was hypnotizing.
There’s only one other place with stars like these.

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The wine and me

Napa is so beautiful I want to cry.
We were advised to go either to Duckhorn vineyards, Domaine Carneros or Castello di Amorossa. We chose the last one and were really impressed by the Tuscan castle the owner built there. The wines aren’t sold to any stores or restaurants, which is interesting.
We got to taste 5 wines (they give you a list to choose from) and my favourite was the one called Fantasia, very light and pleasantly sweet.
The weather is finally really warm and we’re driving to Santa Cruz and then to Big Sur.

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Save tonight

Trying to fix the day/fix the mood, we called it an adventure and a unique life lesson and went to have some fish at Scoma’s (epic!) and walk around the Fisherman’s Wharf.
All the old San Fran charm can be seen at Alamo square, the Russian hill and Lombard street (the craziest downhill ride ever).
Take the tram, it’s an important experience.
Before visiting China Town (where they have the best dim sums ever) we drive through the Golden Gate Bridge and then to Twin Peaks for the view.
Got some wine from Sonoma (since we chose to go to Napa tomorrow) and had to get plastic glasses from a diner called Carl’s Jr since (surprise) our vast collection of plastic glasses was also stolen from the car.
Driving back to our hostile hostel was nice: driving on the hills feels like walking on the walls and singing Save Tonight was just very right for the moment. I hope Nora won’t mind my gentle rhyme here, it’s all accidental.

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No surrender

In the morning we discovered one more reason to never safe money on accommodation. Cheap accommodation doesn’t provide parking space. Our car was parked on the street in a public parking place. It got broken into. The window was smashed and there was glass everywhere.
The list of out losses:
iPod: 1
Music: over 2500 songs (including about 10 masterpieces by my ex-boyfriends)
Sunglasses: 1 pair
Chewing gum: 2 packs
Vitamin D: 1 pack
At first I was wishing the thieves a wonderful time and gaining some music education, but after seeing an Apple store I remembered the option of blocking it. A compassionate worker asked if I wanted to put a message on the screen and I settled on ‘Don’t steal, God is watching you’.
Obviously, it can’t return my oh so loved music library, but Bruce said ‘no retreat, baby, no surrender’. And what Bruce says we do.

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Big bad wolf

Best sign of today ‘Weed welcomes you’. Lovely Californian town.
Passing through Oregon. Everything is green and there are wooden cabins hiding in the woods. The signs say you can even rent a treehouse.
Great onion rings but absolutely no public washrooms.
If you are brace and are on the search for a very authentic experience, drive through places like Wolf creek and Bear Creek, where people lead lives very different from yours. (I hope).
Portland has amazing waterfront, impressive bridges and nice coffee. People do care about ecology there.
After entering California we took a proper look at Shasta, that lost the ghost town feeling and looks way to polished. Well, if that’s the way to preserve it.
The drive to San Francisco was quite picturesque with the mountains of foggy blue and gray.
All the excitement faded when we entered the hostel under the name of Budget Inn. Now, friends, I solemnly swear never to try to save money on accommodation again. It was far from clean and a couple of rooms to the left the paramedics were trying to resurrect somebody. The showers seemed to have survived a couple of bombings and for the first time in my life I not only slept fully clothed, but also kept my hands in my pockets while sleeping.

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