Written on: 22/03/2003 by Christa.
With three weeks and a rental car at our disposal, we set off on a roadtrip of the Southwest that took us through some of the best sights, cities and scenery in the USA.
We picked up prebooked DOLLAR rental car at LAX. (They provide a free shuttle service to their depot)
We spent the first two nights in LA, stayed at the Travelodge, Pico Blvd, Santa Monica. This was a decent budget motel ($55) but the location was pretty dull.
Checked out Santa Monica beach & Pier, Venice beach area the first day (jet lag and all) and drove around touring the city the following day ~ hollywood, Griffith Park, Sunset Blvd.
Next day we headed north stopping at SIX FLAGS to ride roller coasters ~ go midweek if possible, the crowds on the day we went were extremely light, (mid May )The gate charge covers all rides.
Overnight at Pismo Beach ~ a lovely small coastal town. Cheap motel The Sea Garden ($36) not recommended, things kept falling off and it was very shoddy.
Next day drove HIGHWAY 1 to Santa Cruz via BIG SUR.
This was one of the MANY highlights of our trip ... fantastic coastal scenery, sea otters, red woods, deer, the road is a two lane highway which seems to scare some people off but we found this to be an easy drive. We were held up by roadworks from time to time.
Overnight Santa Cruz The Sandpiper Inn ($38) pretty good deal, great king size bed.
We were wowed by the sight of hundreds of pelicans and sea lions feeding just off the beach that evening.
Next day we rolled in to San Francisco around midday. Such a beautiful city, it's a must-see.
Drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and took in the sights before exploring the city.
2 nights at Royal Motel on Lombard St, ($100) quite expensive but an okay motel , clean quiet and parking was free.
Rode cablecars, explored city, waterfront markets, Pier 39, harbour cruise.
Left early afternoon destination YOSEMITE National Park. Ended up in a small town called Groveland needing a bed for the night. Found ourselves a trailer at the GROVELAND MOTEL for $46. This was fairly overpriced for what we got but we were desperate.
Got an early start and arrived in Yosemite around 8:30 am.
One of the most beautiful places in the world, well worth going out of your way for this one. Spent all day here, did a few short walks before heading off towards Fresno for the night. pulled off the freeway and spent the night at the noisiest motel in the area -The Welcome Inn ($30) one word - DONT. If you want to get any sleep at all go somewhere else. Spent all night listening to the traffic roaring on the freeway.
Next day breakfast at Denny's then hit the freeway to Las Vegas. Mojave is another must see, great drive. Got to Las Vegas about 4pm, found a room AZTEC INN CASINO -($32)- not recommended, seedy and the airconditioning didn't work and Las Vegas is very hot.
Spent two nights here, explored Las Vegas, check out the view from the observation tower at the STRATOSPHERE, DO visit Fremont Street at night for the buzz ( Las Vegas does have a soul and you will find it here),get married at the Little White Chapel Drive - in and check out as many casinos as possible for such sights as exploding volcanos and pirate fights. What a place ...
Left Las Vegas and headed into UTAH, found a small roadside motel in LA VERKIN which wasn't really a place but a crossroad. Gateway Motel ($38) good value and it was lovely and cool after the heat of Las Vegas.
Next day we explored ZION National Park. Wowed again, another fantastic N/P withone of the most scenic drives ever. Overnight at BRYCE JUNCTION MOTEL ($35) good value slap bang in the middle of a Prairie Dog colony. Have dinner at the restaurant next door, highly recommend the great homecooked meals.
On to BRYCE national Park (Yep, another one just as spectacular) before hitting the road for the long drive to Moab via Green River. This drive rated up there for scenery as well, from the most beautiful to the other extreme, I thought we were on the moon at one stage the scenery was so foriegn, more like the bottom of the ocean then the planet Earth.
Arrived in Moab late Saturday afternoon and hunted for a room. Comfort Suites ($99 with discount coupon) good room but slightly overpriced.
Next day we explored Arches N/P and Dead Horse Point. Both are must-sees but be warned, it is very hot here.
Moved motels for the night, stayed at the APACHE MOTEL ($59) claim to fame is that John Wayne stayed here once.
It must have been a while ago though going by the decor of the place. Reasonable room and quiet location but slightly overpriced.
Off to Colorado from here arriving at Mesa Verde N/P late morning. Spent the day here before heding to Durango for the night. Budget Inn ($35) cheap and shoddy but clean and quiet.
Next day we headed into the mountains and drove the Million Dollar Highway. It was spectacular with snow on the ground in places.
Overnight in Cortez - Sand Canyon Inn ($45) decent motel.
Went to an outdoor exhibition put on by the local Indian tribes for tourists that evening.
Next day we drove to the GRAND CANYON via MONUMENT VALLEY. Fantastic scenery that will blow you away...what a great drive through miles and miles of desert.Monument Valley is another place to see, make a detour if you have to !
Arrived at the GRAND CANYON late afternoon and booked into Pre-booked Maswik Lodge. Make sure to book in advance if you want to stay inside the park because last minute rooms are hard to come by.
($77) for a motel type room was good value and the cafe / restaurant served good food at reasonable rates.
Got up early to see the sun rise over the Grand Canyon. - followed the rim trail for a few kilometres, not overly many people were around here but I suppose it was still early in the season.
Left here around midday - drove to Phoenix via Sedona (Scenic Highway) We got a bit lost here so pulled off the freeway and found a room at a SUPER 8 ($46) possibly the best value for money yet at this motel. It was extremely hot here, even at 9pm but the air-conditioning kept us cool.
Next day we hit the freeway and headed tp San Diego. Arrived around 3pm after travelling through some VERY strange terrain. I have never seen hills made of rock boulders before ???
Found a room at the Dolphin Motel in Point Loma for 3 nights (Fri, $66, Sat $82, Sun, $55)this was another overpriced motel but considering it was Memorial weekend and everyone was showing No Vacany signs we considered ourselves lucky. The room was tiny, not much room to spare around the bed and the bathroom was tiny but it was a bed!
Loved San Diego, great beaches, the Zoo, Seaworld, Tiajuana,
We left San Diego and headed back to LAX, handed in our car and caught the shuttle back to the airport for the flight home and a rest from driving.
We did get a bit travel weary but we saw a fantastic array of sights in the 3 week road trip. This is a once in a lifetime sort of holiday so we wanted to make the most of it.