A small part of Cuba, in the center of Miami. The truth is that I was a little bit disappointed, I expected more movement and activity. At the moment of truth, there are only Spanish shops, a restaurant .Maybe I overlooked the best part and didn´t realize it.
Going away from San Francisco you will not regret leaving when you see the stunning scenery of Big Sur along Highway 1. This is the coastal road stretching from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Obviously it is much slower than the highway but it is really worth it. There are many towns along the way to stop for a bite to eat, and the most beautiful beach is definitely the Piedras Blancas, famous for its hundreds of elephant seals.
This is a classic stop on Route 66. Amid all the old motels and classic cars, you'll one day go around a curve on the highway and see Hackberry General Store, a place that seems frozen in time. They serve huge hamburgers and the interior is decorated with picture of Elvis and Marilyn. Outside, you'll see Harley's and classic Corvettes. This is America!
In the middle of the state of Arizona, and using our need for gas as an excuse, we left the interstate 40 to delve fully into this town. We fully understood the "delicious decadence" of what was the legendary Route 66.
This is a photo taken on the famous Route 66, in one of the many quaint shops that lie between Flagstaff and Williams near the Grand Canyon. At the exit of Williams there are several cheap places to sleep, one of them is called "Americas Best Value Inn". It is cheap, has a pool and is a good place to rest before the "assault" that is the Grand Canyon!
Departing from Las Vegas, in the opposite direction as the song says, I came upon the historic Route 66, or rather what remains of it. This old route was officially discontinued in 1985 and replaced in many places by the interstate highway network. Fortunately there are many people working to keep it alive, even replacing some road signs people have taken as souvenirs. This stretch that starts from Kingman in Arizona and travels mostly accompanied by the railroad tracks, passing through Hackberry, Peach Springs and Seligman and others. The route is in perfect condition and only briefly interrupted after Seligman, there you have to take Interstate 40 to arrive in Williams, where the 66 re-emerges in all its splendour.
100 miles separate the Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon NP, a beautiful 161 km trip by road. We left for the east of the park, again finding ourselves with beautiful views whilst saying good bye to our last resort. The route takes you up 3 distinct climbs and through 3 tunnels. They are so close that you can go by bus or caravan but those with the latter must request permission from the Rangers. The rangers work very well and efficiently to make sure the roads remain relatively traffic free however we had to wait a little. Once up the hill you come across a similar landscape. Moving away from the boundaries of the park, we found a wide, flat plateau, with lots of grass. The rest of the trip goes on this plateau at 2,000 meters altitude.
The A5 is the most important highway in California. It crosses the state from northern Oregon all the way to Tijuana, Mexico, passing through Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego. The distance between the latter two cities is 120km and it only takes an hour and a half to drive, and you can enjoy different stops in beautiful coastal towns such as Delmar, Encinitas, Solana beach, La Jolla, and others. The landscape coming out of LA is very Mediterranean due to weather. Suddenly, the landscape changes and the road is fenced off on the sides for a few miles. This is the Camp Pendleton military base, a strategic military installation. Once you pass the base, you begin to see the coastal villages I listed above. We stopped to check out Delmar, where a friend of ours from Barcelona had gone to go surfing for 4 months.
This road is Highway 12 (Utah). It's a National Scenic Byway, that is to say, a road recognised by the Department of Transportation of the United States for its archaeological, cultural or historical significance. Look out for the signs that say All-American Roads if you want to take one of these roads.
Highway 12 is considered one of the top ten most beautiful roads in the United States, and has been designated as an all American Road since 2002. It was really a long trip (200km), but it was so beautiful. We passed through Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon, Escalante National Park, Dixie National Forest and Capitol Reef. Along the way, the landscape changes abruptly to make way for the Escalante National Monument, a series of plateaus, cliffs, gorges, canyons and arches that rise from the Grand Canyon to reach Bryce and Canyonland. It's a natural formation, formed by the waters of the Escalante River (named after a Spanish explorer).
Then comes the Head of the Rocks. What we see today as a rock desert was a sea or perhaps a lake millions of years ago. It's hard to believe now, but the proof has been shown by the number of fossils of fish, sharks and dinosaurs, found in this area. Fossil hunting is permitted in the area, but you cannot take any home with you. Once Anasazi and Fremont Indians roamed these lands, and it was one of the last places in the entire country to be explored. It can only be entered by a few scattered 4x4 dirt tracks, so it really seems wild and very far from civilization.
One amazing thing is when you look down over the Escalante River Valley from 2000 meters of altitude. Stunning views! And shortly afterwards, you'll rise up to 3000 meters for the mountains of Boulder, Dixie National Forest, before reaching Torrey. During our journey, this area was stunning, completely covered with snow. Be careful if you want to stay here, and be sure to ask the park rangers, as the area is often isolated in bad weather, and you could find yourself stranded in the snow. Finally, we reached Capitol Reef, marking the end of this truly amazing drive.
This road once ran for 29 miles through the Volcanoes National Park, from Kilauea Caldera to the coast, but has been divided by an eruption. The second part runs through a lava field. You can leave the car and walk on the solidified lava.
It's absolutely vital that you do Route 66 on a motorcycle or in a convertible car. What's more, in the states, it's legal to ride a motorbike without a helmet. It's dangerous but the feelingis fantastic!
The sign bearing the Little Italy inscription is located on India Street, the main street of the neighborhood that was born in the early twentieth century when the Italian immigrants from Genoa and Sicily made their homes there. San Diego has been a popular destination for immigrants for years now thank to its mild climate and schools of tuna in the sea. Today, most of the Italians have left the area but the Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Rosary still stands to bear witness to the presence of a number of our Italian countrymen.
Very strategically located, the neighborhood is only five minutes from the airport and from the center. Little Italy is the beating heart of the city of San Diego with its bars and small shops attracting visitors both day and night. It's the perfect place to find a hotel and spend a few days.
I have found that most of my inspiration comes while I am alone in my car. The open road offers so much time for reflection, and I enjoy taking advantage of that time. This picture is just a snapshot meant to convey how calm the road can be and how much inspiration it has to offer, if you only give it a chance.
This road winds up and down like a roller coaster as you drive through Death Valley National Park. A sign at the beginning tells you to turn off the air con to save energy, and as we went in September, the heat was just about bearable. The hills and dips are intense: the lowest point is 90 m below sea level, the highest 2,000 m, and the scenery changes drastically on the way. In the barrenness, some things stand out like the famous Joshua Tree and the Mammoth Lakes, where you go from heat to cold as you reach a mountain popular with both skiers and bears.