Just past the 2 year mark of this nomadic lifestyle we’ve fallen into, we find ourselves discussing a ‘normal’ life and referring to this travel period like it isn’t reality and will be ending soon. Of course truthfully, this IS our life and at least for us it’s all in an average day, though we are still weirdly getting our heads around it as granted, it’s far from typical.
Reflection over, let me tell you more about our USA road trip. Yosemite! Firstly I’ll clarify the pronunciation of the place…don’t think Vegemite, more Yoh-sem-it-ee. Ok, Yosemite (so much better when you know how to say it;)) is a world Heritage listed national park located in California’s Sierra Nevada and characterised by its dramatic granite cliffs and domes. For centuries it was occupied by the Ahwahneechee tribe of Native Americans and it must be said that the place definitely has a certain power to it.
We were in Yosemite for a week and timed our visit perfectly with the stunning display of autumn colours – perfect conditions for passing the days with lots of hiking up and down granite that in some areas was so polished it looked like it might belong in ones kitchen. Of course lots of photography too.
In addition to its breathtaking scenery, Yosemite also has a diverse wildlife living in the park. Mule deer are regularly spotted in the meadows of the valley and casually standing in the middle of the road. Everywhere there are warning signs about the black bears and mountain lions with bear proof metal bins to store food scattered all over the park.
One evening as we stayed out high on Sentinel Dome capturing a breathtaking sunset, we found ourselves having to walk alone through the very deserted and awfully dark forest, back to the car which was a good 30mins away. Thankfully we had our torches with us but the trail was far from obvious (not helped by the fact we took another route to the dome) and we started to construct all sorts of scenarios in our heads that involved lions and bears. Once back in the safety of our car we had a little chuckle at ourselves but our drive back taught us we weren’t so silly after all. We did indeed see a mountain lion crossing the road in front of us! It stopped in the bushes off the side of the road but was still clearly visible so I wound down my window wanting to get a closer look (what can I say, I’m a curious type) for future reference I was told it’s not the thing to do.
More animal fun was to come as we did a long hike in the meadows of the valley and came across a huge black bear. Gosh it was fascinating to observe it up as close as we dared – about 100metres – in the wild, living it’s life. This was after the crazy Asian tourists had jumped out of their cars and chased after the poor thing to photograph it… I mean what were they thinking, it’s a wild animal! I noticed Michael was a lot calmer than me about allowing it to get closer to us – smart guy had ME carrying our snacks!
After being enveloped in nature for a week it was a shock to the system arriving in Las Vegas where we had to walk through the huge, smoke filled and labyrinth like casino of our hotel packed with people and noise, to come and go from our room everyday.
Vegas is like nothing else in this world! Every casino/hotel is the size of a village that we regularly got lost in or spent 15mins just trying to get out of the place. With all that it must be said that it’s undoubtedly incredible, just the sheer scale of the place!
A building that looks a 10min walk away in any other city ends up taking 40mins. In terms of scale it bizarrely reminded us of walking around the Redwood Forest though we’d moved from the enchanted forest to a Disneyland for adults.
Every evening we’d go out and walk the strip for 4hrs as the city definitely comes into its own at night with all the lights. Our highlight, as cliche as it might sound, were the mesmerising fountains and lights of the Bellagio. Perfectly timed to an array of tracks ranging from opera to classical, broadway to pop. The chorus of choreographically complex dancing water was a delight to anyone especially if you have an appreciation for a good Corps de Ballet.
After 5 days it was time to say goodbye to Vegas and start on our tour of the National Parks of Utah. Little did we know it wouldn’t be long at all until we returned, though I’ll save that small drama for next time.