2016 USA Trip # 2 (78c=1USD)
Dual Transcontinental East/West & West/East Green Map 16000 Km.
Las Vegas # 2
This epic 35 State journey began in Las Vegas march 2016 where we hired a Jucy Camper van which apparently sleeps four people with two inside and two in the rooftop penthouse, but there would not be enough room in the van during the day driving with 4 passengers and their luggage and backpacks. These vans are either Chrysler or Dodge, with pretty good fuel economy. The mini kitchen in the back has everything you need to cook and wash up plus a small fridge. There are USB outlets all over the van to charge your gadgets too. They cost $125 a day including all the necessary expensive insurances. We slept most nights at truck stops like Pilot and Big A, or Walmart car parks for free. TIP!!!! Make sure you hire the van with the electric tilt up penthouse not the wind up one.
From Vegas we drove 55 km to the Hoover dam, built in 1931, and was for many years the largest dam in the world 225m in height. You cross the Arizona border on your way so we stopped and took the compulsory selfie with the state sign as we did for every state afterwards. This is a free activity but get there early because there’s limited free parking.
From here we drove North east through Arizona and onto Kanab Utah 320km, it was 30 degrees during our day drive but when we woke up our van was covered in snow.
From Kanab UT we drove 400 km to the Four Corners Monument where Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona meet. Its nothing exciting but we may as well have a look at the plaque on the ground because we probably wont be in this part of the world again. The rock formations we drove through, Monument Valley and Mexican Hat in Navajo county were absolutely stunning.
From here we briefly Drove through the bottom corner of Colorado and onto New Mexico on our way to home of the Breaking Bad TV show, Albuquerque. Here we ventured up to the Sandria Peak Cable car that carries you 4 km to the top 10378 Feet above sea level, where we nearly froze to death with the wind chill. Tickets here http://www.sandiapeak.com/ for $30 and $20 for kids.
While we were in Albuquerque we checked out the Candy lady, that’s where all the props were made for the TV show Breaking bad, and we also drove past the actual house where filming was done.
Next we drove 200 km East to Armarillo Texas, to see Cadillac ranch created in 1974 as a piece of art with ten half buried Cadillac’s, its located 13651 I-40 Frontage Rd, Amarillo, TX 79124, USA.
The idea is you spray-paint the cars with your own graffiti, there are spare cans all over the ground to use. Amarillo is also home of the 72 oz (2 KG) steak challenge, if you can eat it all along with a football sized potato within an hour its free if not you have to pay $100 for your meal. Check here https://www.bigtexan.com/72oz-steak-rules/
Fort Worth TX
Onwards 500km South east to Fort Worth TX, the Water Gardens here were amazing with many different types of waterfalls in the one area. The JFK Tribute is also interesting and grab a feed at Fred’s Texas Cafe its delicious, the address is 2730 Western Centre Fort Worth, Texas 76131 http://fredstexascafe.com/
50 Km West of Fort Worth is the city of Dallas here you can see the National War Cemetery free, Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Gardens $2, and Perot Museum of Nature and Science for $40 https://www.perotmuseum.org/ . Massive display of Dinosaurs and other tech stuff, my son loved it.
From Dallas we drove 370 km South to Houston, the Space hub. We only went to the NASA Space Centre 2101 NASA Parkway, Houston, TX 77058, USA $42 and $35 for kids, this is a must see tourist attraction with the actual control room used for the moon mission in 1969. Information here https://spacecenter.org/
New Orleans LA
75 Km south of Houston is Galveston, where we caught the vehicular ferry across Galveston bay onward to New Orleans Louisiana, total distance that day was 500 km. We arrived in the Big easy and checked into the French Quarter RV Resort, which was expensive. $100 per night for a Un-powered site for our van
Long Beach Mississippi
Stopped here briefly for a look on our way to Destin Florida.
The drive along the Gulf was very picturesque, with many houses raised 4 m on stilts because of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Aug 2005, that saw ocean swells go 70 km inland. We ended up driving 125 km through the very bottom of Alabama, to reach Florida Sang that horrible song as we saw the State sign ” sweet home Alabama” cringe worthy. Here you can board the USS Alabama decommissioned in 1947 which we found interesting, get tickets here $20 https://www.ussalabama.com/
Our first night in Florida, and we parked the van in a public car park in Destin for free and slept there the night.
Panama City Beach FL
Next day we drove 80 km to Panama City Beach to break up the long drives each day, here we slept in the Mall car park for the night for free 🙂
Key Largo FL
Key Largo sounds exotic but there’s nothing there not like the Bertie Higgins song “We had it all, Just like Bogie and Bacall, Starring in our old late, late show, Sailing away to Key Largo”
Key West is where its at another 80 km south of key largo, we just stopped for the sign selfie.
Key West FL
Key West, a U.S. island city, is part of the Florida Keys archipelago. It’s also Florida’s southernmost point, lying roughly 90 miles north of Cuba. Famed for its pastel-hued, conch-style houses, it’s a cruise-ship stop also accessible from the mainland via the Overseas Highway. It’s known more for its coral reefs – destinations for diving and snorkelling – than for its beaches.
And of course the Caribbean Sunsets.
220 Km north of Key West is Miami, which is just like the Gold Coast Australia, commercialised to the max, its where all the ‘Beautiful People’ live lol. Miami is an international city at Florida’s southeastern tip. Its Cuban influence is reflected in the cafes and cigar shops that line Calle Ocho in Little Havana. On barrier islands across the turquoise waters of Biscayne Bay is Miami Beach, home to South Beach. This glamorous neighbourhood is famed for its colourful art deco buildings, white sand, surf-side hotels and trendsetting nightclubs. Check out the Venetian Pool its located at 2701 De Soto Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33134, USA. The Tv show Dexter was also filmed here at In real life, it’s the Bay Harbor Club condos, located at 1155 103rd Street, out on Bay Harbour Island, I managed to sneak around and take a picture 🙂 Miami Marlins baseball stadium is worth seeing too Marlins Park is located at 501 Marlins Way (NW 16th Avenue), Miami.
400 Km north of Miami is Orlando, home of the theme parks, we went to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure next door to it using the 2-Park Universal Express Unlimited Pass add on to the ticket price, ITS EXPENSIVE it cost $700 USD ($1000 AUD) for my son and i for the two day pass, but well worth it. We figured we are only here once plus the worlds largest Hard Rock Cafe is there.
We managed to ride on every ride in both parks at least twice, they are linked by the amazing Harry Potter train. Buy a refillable drink cup for $14 its enough for two to share for the day.
St Augistine FL
170 Km North of Orlando is St Augustine, It lays claim to being the oldest city in the U.S., and is known for its Spanish colonial architecture as well as Atlantic Ocean beaches like sandy St. Augustine Beach and tranquil Crescent Beach. Anastasia State Park is a protected wildlife sanctuary. The Castillo De San Marcos is a 17th-century Spanish stone fortress with views of the St. Augustine Inlet.
65 KM North of St Augustine is Jacksonville, home of beautiful Jacksonville Beach.
200 Km North of Jacksonville is Savannah Georgia, a coastal Georgia city, is separated from South Carolina by the Savannah River. It’s known for manicured parks, horse-drawn carriages and antebellum architecture. Its historic district is filled with cobblestone squares and parks such as Forsyth Park shaded by oak trees covered with Spanish moss. At the centre of this picturesque district is the landmark, Gothic-Revival Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist.
Next we drove through South Carolina and North Carolina onto Virginia, 3 states in one day. Check out the Marine Corps Museum at National Museum of the Marine Corps 18900 Jefferson Davis Highway Triangle, VA. Information and tickets here https://www.usmcmuseum.com/
Washington, DC, ( District of Columbia) is the U.S. capital, is a compact city on the Potomac River, bordering the states of Maryland and Virginia. It’s defined by imposing neoclassical monuments and buildings – including the iconic ones that house the federal government’s 3 branches: The Capitol, White House, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans, Martin Luther King Jr and Supreme Court. It’s also home to iconic museums and performing-arts venues such as the Kennedy Centre. Additional tourist spots are the Holocaust Museum and Smithsonian Institute home of the Hope Diamond 45.5 carats worth $350 Million. The best way to see the city is the big bus tours 2 day deluxe ticket $80 including night tour … info here https://www.bigbustours.com/en/washington-dc/washington-dc-bus-tours Arlington Cemetery is absolutely massive 624 acres with 400 000 graves for the fallen soldiers.
1000 Km west of DC is the Kentucky capital city. Louisville, Kentucky’s largest city, sits on the Ohio River along the Indiana border. Every May, its race course Churchill Downs hosts the Kentucky Derby, a renowned horse race whose long history is explored at the Kentucky Derby Museum. Baseball is celebrated at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, where Major League bats are produced and a giant baseball “slugger” marks the entrance. The Mohammed Ali Museum is worth a look as is Cardinal Park NFL stadium.
National Corvette Museum KY
The National Corvette Museum showcases the Chevrolet Corvette, an American sports car that has been in production since 1953. It is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, off Interstate 65’s Exit 28, $40 admission.
We decided to tour all 3 famous bourbon distilleries because they are pretty close together, Tennessee and Kentucky are neighbours.
- Jim Beam American Sillhouse, 526 Happy Hollow Rd, Clermont, KY . https://www.jimbeam.com/en-int/visit-us/book-a-tour
- Wild Turkey, 1417 Versailles Rd, Lawrenceburg, KY. https://wildturkeybourbon.com/visit-us/
- Jack Daniels, 182 Lynchburg Hwy, Lynchburg, TN https://www.jackdaniels.com/en-au/vault/charcoal-mellowing
270 km south of Louisville is Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and home to Vanderbilt University. Legendary country music venues include the Grand Ole Opry House, home of the famous “Grand Ole Opry” stage and radio show. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and historic Ryman Auditorium are Downtown, as is the District, featuring honky-tonks with live music and the Johnny Cash Museum, celebrating the singer’s life.
350 Km west of Nashville is Memphis the city on the Mississippi River in southwest Tennessee, famous for the influential strains of blues, soul and rock ‘n’ roll that originated there. Elvis Presley, B.B. King and Johnny Cash recorded albums at the legendary Sun Studio, and Presley’s Graceland mansion is a popular attraction. Other music landmarks include the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, Blues Hall of Fame and Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Graceland Elvis Presley tours are pretty expensive but worth is $90, https://www.graceland.com/visit/buytickets1.aspx
Saint Louis MO
350 Km north of Memphis is St Louis Missouri. St. Louis is a major city in Missouri along the Mississippi River. Its iconic, 630-ft. Gateway Arch, built in the 1960’s, honours the early 19th-century explorations of Lewis and Clark and America’s westward expansion in general. Replica paddlewheelers ply the river, offering views of the arch. The Soulard district is home to barbecue restaurants and clubs playing blues music. Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, the Parthenon and Busch stadium home of the Cardinals are all MUST See.
Kansas City MO
400 Km west of St Louis is Kansas City which sits on Missouri’s western edge, straddling the border with Kansas. It’s known for its barbecue, jazz heritage and fountains. Downtown, the American Jazz Museum shares a building with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, with giant shuttlecocks out front, houses nearly 40,000 works of art, from ancient to contemporary collections. We went to a KC (Kansas City) Royals Kaufman Stadium, baseball game, chanting “Lets Go Royals,,,,Lets Go”, the Kansas Chiefs NFL Arrowhead Stadium was next door. Union Station is also worth a look.
1000 km west of Kansas City is the city of Denver, the capital of Colorado, it is an American metropolis dating to the Old West era. Larimer Square, the city’s oldest block, features landmark 19th-century buildings. Museums include the Denver Art Museum, an ultramodern complex known for its collection of indigenous works, and the mansion of famed Titanic survivor Molly Brown. Denver is also a jumping-off point for ski resorts in the nearby Rocky Mountains. The Denver Broncos Stadium was massive, and we managed to also find a cannabis Dispensary for a look.
Salt Lake City UT
600 km west of Denver via Wyoming Cheyenne, is Salt Lake City, Utah’s high-elevation capital 1288 m , is bordered by the buoyant waters of the Great Salt Lake and the snow-capped peaks of the Wasatch Range. Downtown’s 10-acre Temple Square, headquarters of the Mormon Church, is home to the majestic, 19th-century Salt Lake Temple and the neo-Gothic Assembly Hall. The acclaimed Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs in the square’s domed Tabernacle. The Bonneville Salt Flats is a densely packed salt pan in Tooele County in northwestern Utah. The area is a remnant of the Pleistocene Lake Bonneville and is the largest of many salt flats located west of the Great Salt Lake area 103.6 km².
Lake Tahoe CA
San Diego CA
San Diego is a city on the Pacific coast of California known for its beaches, parks and warm climate. Immense Balboa Park is the site of the renowned San Diego Zoo, as well as numerous art galleries, artist studios, museums and gardens. A deep harbour is home to a large active naval fleet, with the USS Midway, an aircraft-carrier-turned-museum, open to the public.
This completed our 35 State 16000 km journey, we flew back to Australia after 7 weeks on the road 🙂