This week has been one of the best weeks of my life, period. It’s not very often we get a week off out here. We work pretty niche hours with plenty of free time, but we’re always bound to be somewhere. This week was different though, we managed to score a week off to work our way back to California. Houston to Los Angeles is the best part of 25 hours sat in a car. With 4 sweaty guys in a Chevvy Impala that’s less than ideal.
Here’s the challenge for the week off; Houston to California by Friday (we left Saturday) with a pretty simple route; Houston – New Orleans – Dallas – Albuquerque – Williams/Grand Canyon – Las Vegas – Los Angeles. Also known as the ‘Route of Pure Awesomeness’ by…literally nobody, except for me. Not even the other guys in the car. Each of these places has been picked because they have something stand out that we can do in a snapshot – we sometimes had less than 18 hours in one place – and take a brilliant experience from. Here goes nothing.
New Orleans, LA
This place is absolutely surreal. The 36 hours I was there were crazy. I haven’t been anywhere like it and I don’t think I ever will go anywhere like it again. The skyline tends to be a big indicator to me of how a city is going to be – the prettier, the better – and it didn’t disappoint. Towering high-rises, the super dome and the obvious French touch to some of the smaller buildings makes for some impressive viewing.
This is the only place I’ve been where to where I’ve been forced to do the trouser skank every 4-5 steps. The trouser skank is where you check every single one of your pockets to make sure everything is still there. One of my only drawbacks is that pickpockets are rife, more so than anywhere else I’ve been so far. Suburbs and ‘Ghettos’ (I use that term because, well, that’s how the locals described them) are still hit by Katrina some 8 years later, and people have to resort to things.
Putting that aside though, the culture there is unreal. There are quaint little French buildings, coffee shops, jazz music and seafood restaurants coming out of your ears. Bourbon street itself to me is reminiscent of Amsterdam – or anywhere on mainland Europe for a night out – lots of bar’s thrown in to a tight little area, perfect for crawling from side to the other. Sometimes literally if you have enough of the 3 dollar oversized beers.
NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) is by far a world away from anywhere else in America, but if you like friend shrimp sandwiches, coffee and crazy amounts of alcohol, it’s worth a visit.
My time in Dallas was just a short run through. We got to our hotel at 11pm, and we checked out at 8am. The plan was to see as much of the city as we could in the morning, then hit our 11-hour drive to New Mexico. In proper fashion though, we miscalculated our times and gave ourselves a little less time than expected. So, armed with about 2 hours worth of enjoyment-time, we headed to AT&T Stadium. For those of you not big on NFL, this is home to the Dallas Cowboys – America’s Team. The stadium is $1 billion worth of structure and is one of the most impressive things I’ve seen close up.
This unfolded to be one of my most worthwhile experiences ever. And I mean, we’re talking I could probably tick the ‘die happy’ box after that morning. We caught wind that you were able to do a self-guided tour for $17.50, which allowed you to go on to the field. A few million dollars worth of professional NFL turf. For $17.50. Yeah. That was happening. After a quick purchase of a small ball, we headed to the field for one of the most amazing things ever. I kicked a field goal, scored a touchdown, celebrated, did cartwheels, fell over and cut my knee. Best. Morning. Ever. I think my video below can do it more justice:
Yeah, I know. Sign me up. All in all I was pretty disappointed that I couldn’t have seen more of Dallas. But I fulfilled some dreams and went somewhere most NFL fans will never go, that’ll do me.
I’m sorry to report that the home of breaking bad was very much just a rest stop on our way to the Grand Canyon. After all the fun in Dallas, 12 hours cooped up in the car left us very little time to do anything. We slept, ate, brushed our teeth and hit the road again.
I will point out that this is the most cockroaches I have ever seen in one place. Not even in the houses. On the cars, pavements, tree’s and homeless people.
Also known as the ‘Gateway to the Grand Canyon’. The Canyon essentially is a massive hole in the ground. Eroded my the Colorado River and snowy winter conditions, it covers over 270 miles in length and 18 miles at it’s widest. It’s also one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
Have you ever had one of those moments where the world just stops? You hear nothing but silence, what’s happening in front of you becomes all encompassing and you’re lost so deeply in something it moves you? That’s what happened as soon as I stepped out on to the viewing platform. I could have stayed there for days, just taking it in. We stayed for a few hours, just finding different spots. Taking touristy photo’s and finding the most safe-yet-enough-to-make-your-spine-tingle overhangs to look down in to the gaping chasms from.
Don’t even think about it. Just come here and see it for yourself.
Las Vegas, NV
This isn’t my first time in Vegas. This was round 3. And this time, it was personal.
I’ve never written about Vegas before, but it’s a wonder in it’s own right. The bright lights, the people, the towering intricately designed casinos, and the energy around the place. It’s a whole world within itself and the suburbs surrounding it seem a million miles away from whatever happens on the strip.
Our final night was already pre-planned. A pool party with Otto Knows performing a DJ set. Straight up baller. Now, I’m not usually a dance music fan. But there is just something about being in a pool, surrounded by strangers; drinking $8 dollar bottles of water that make it just feel right.
As they say ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’. But I will say that although the night was definitely out of my comfort zone, and I was burnt out from all the travelling, it was one of the best nights I’ve had in America.
Los Angeles, CA
6 states, 42 hours of driving , $250 of gas and a million memories later, here we are. All the way back to California. It’s not changed since I left 2 months ago, but I’m definitely glad to be here.
Getting to LA officially marks the end of my summer. The next 3 months of my life are going to be spent here in Los Angeles, coaching soccer and seeing what experiences await me. To say I’m excited is an understatement.