I just got back from my first real week of vacation in 5 years! I had almost forgotten how this vacation thing really felt like. Some may wonder about my trips to Brazil in the last couple of years: those aren’t real vacation, unfortunately.
This vacation involved a LOT of driving (almost 5000 miles total!). My wife, my daughter, and a couple of friends with their baby joined us for a drive to the West Coast. And we’ve had a blast! We’ve rented a car (a Saturn Outlook, slightly smaller than a Mini SUV), shared hotels, split gas and other expenses; I’m so glad we have friends who we can spend so much quality time together.
Long story short, we drove up to L.A., and then back to Houston, making stops on the way.
Now, to the long version of the story, just so I can document it for my own sake (and also for those who’d care to read about it):
Day 0 (Fri, July 10)
We pick up the rental car at 6pm. At 8pm we’re leaving my house…
Day 1 (Sat, July 11)
We drove all night and day, and 25 hours later we get to L.A. We took I-10 all the way, going through El Paso, New Mexico, Arizona, etc.
Day 2 (Sun, July 12)
We visit Santa Monica, Malibu, Yogananda, Hollywood, Walk of Fame. A note about the latter: I definitely enjoy seeing starts people such as Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks, etc., but I just can’t stand seeing stars for Ricky Martin, Celine Dion, Destiny’s Child…
Day 3 (Mon, July 13)
We went for the “house of the stars” tour; it starts at the Walk of Fame, and then it takes us to Beverly Hills, points us out at the houses of some celebrities (we drove by the house where Michael Jackson passed away a couple of weeks ago, but I must say the one house I was dying to get into was the “Playboy Mansion”!). The also takes us to a spot where we can see the Hollywood sign, Rodeo Dr, Bel-Air etc.
Day 4 (Tue, July 14)
The family and I had a blast at the Universal Studios. The place wasn’t crowded at all, so the longest we’ve had to wait in line was 25 minutes; the average was 15 minutes. We were able to go see pretty much every attraction. We loved the Studio Tour, Waterworld, the “Special Effects studio”, and the Simpsons Ride. We all want to do that again when we have a chance. The “Return of the Mummy” ride wasn’t what I expected; it’s good, but too short.
Day 5 (Wed, July 15)
We leave L.A. and head up to San Francisco. We wanted to go through the coast, stopping by Carmel, but we wouldn’t have time, so we just take the ride through the desert. San Francisco is definitely a cool place to visit. I’m hoping to go back there with more time to spare.
Day 6 (Thu, July 16)
We go to the Yosemite park. That was awesome! We’ve hiked 0.8 miles up to the “Durval Fall”, and that was probably one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seeing; it was breathtaking. We’ve only had time to see a small part of the park, but we’ve enjoyed every bit of it. I’m certainly going back there to spend more time exploring other areas.
Day 7 (Fri, July 17)
We go to the Sequoya park. Boy, those are some big-ass trees! We feel like tiny creatures around them.
Day 8 (Sat, July 18)
We visit the Grand Canyon. That thing is huge!! Astonishing view. This is another thing I want to visit again with more time to spare.
Day 9 (Sun, July 19)
We take the drive back to Houston (we left at 11pm the night before, and got back home 20 hours later).
The trip was awesome. I needed that really bad! As you may have noticed, we tried to squeeze in a LOT of places to go visit. The idea was to get a glimpse of what’s out there and then at some point plan on trips where we go spend more time at those places we enjoyed the most. For sure, the Yosemite/Sequoya/Canyon leg of the trip was the highlight. Universal Studios was also great. We wanted to squeeze in a few more things, but there wasn’t enough time (Las Vegas, Death Valley, Hoover Dam, trip from L.A. to San Francisco through the coast,…), but we’ll have to do that another time.
Now, back to work!