News on Big Sur Fire : More campgrounds and hiking trails closed as Big Sur fire continues to burn
Image courtesy of National Park Service
I entered the South Rim of Grand Canyon from the East Entrance via route 64, stopping at 5 view points. The drive is easy and enjoyable. Do keep within the speed limit and watch for people. The first stop was Desert View which has a Watch Tower, a unique structure in Grand Canyon. You can climb the tower for a better view of the canyon and also purchase souvenirs at the shop located within.
Further down the road, we stopped at Lipan Point and Moran Point, before resting for lunch. Stopping at various points offered a different perspective of the canyon. Although somewhat similar, each scene still took my breathe away. If time and opportunity had permitted, I’d consider hiking and camping in the park to fully immerse myself in nature’s wonder. A simple pack lunch turned out to be a sumptuous spread, from sandwiches to fruits to assorted tidbits. The only disappointment was no view of the canyon was available at the picnic site.
The last two stops were Grandview Point and Mather Point Overlook, the latter is also the Visitor Center. The visitor center was packed with people and parking was tough to find. Since my family were tired and preferred to rest in the car, I double parked the vehicle and went on to capture a couple pictures by myself.
Total time spent in Grand Canyon was about four and a half hour and loved every minute. Before planning to drive there yourself, do visit the National Park Service website to get more information. Area map, directions, advises are all readily available.
Other scenics taken in Grand Canyon:
Lower Antelope Gorgeous Views
5-10 minutes drive from Page, the famous Horseshoe Bend is a must go place. Walking from the parking lot can take 10-15 minutes. Be there early if you want to get a good spot for the sunset as it will be crowded with tourists and photographers. Capturing the scene was pretty challenging for someone like me with acrophobia. I crawled on my belly to the edge and snapped blindly. In addition to the scary height, there was frequent strong gust of wind and free sand munchies to delight you. The sand is so irritating that even during dinner, I still had crunching sound on my steak!
On a side note, I was curious about the dangerous flash flood that goes through the canyon. I looked up Youtube and found an amazing video footage of the 2013 flood.
I signed up for both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon tours, the latter in the “Photography Tour”. Upper Antelope Canyon is more friendly for both young and elderly since the passage is flat with no climbing required. Enjoy the images from Upper Antelope Canyon below while I continue slugging through my images.
So if you want to have a taste of my 2405 miles journey, enjoy the videos below.
Pasadena to Palm Springs.
Palm Springs to Pheonix
Pheonix to Page, one of my favorite drive.
Page to Las Vegas, going through Grand Canyon, stopping at the various view points. Pardon the annoying bird poo.
Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Finally got rid of the bird poo.
Los Angeles to Fresno, stopping at Santa Barbara for lunch and Solvang for delightful pastries.
Fresno to Merced, driving through Yosemite. Yosemite scenes are really gorgeous. Honestly, this video doesn’t do enough justice.
The last leg was from Merced to San Francisco. We stopped at San Jose Flea Market midway, and I stopped recording after.
Thank you for watching!
Our first stop was to pay homage to Ground Zero at the World Trade Center Memorial. One World Trade Center and the 2 ponds served a great reminder of the tragedy in 2001 which caused so much grief and changes around the world.
Decided to pass on The Statue of Liberty and visited Wall Street and Times Square instead. Nothing spectacular really, just doing what a tourist supposed to do.
Just like Los Angeles, New York has plenty of good food. Sadly we could only try a few joints due to the limited time. They were all fantastic! Both Shake Shack and Burger Joint serve delicious and juicy burgers. Pizzarte is like an upscale restaurant with fully stocked bar that serves great pizzas. Lastly for morning bagel, one cannot miss Ess-a-Bagel. Be prepared to queue 30 minutes to taste their wonderful bagels.
The cigar bars in New York are lovely. Both Club Macanudo and Carnegie Club are great places to enjoy a cigar, but my favorite choice would be The Cigar Inn. The latter has a well stocked walk in humidor and a lively place to chill at.
Below is a 30 seconds time lapse video of the sunset of San Francisco taken from the window of my hotel. Enjoy!
Stopped by for food at Santa Barbara and had delightful pastries at Solvang.
Made a drive by of Yosemite National Park. The zigzag mountainous road was a nice change from the flat dessert plain in Nevada and Arizona. Enjoying packed lunch in the park’s scenic views was priceless. Due to time constraint and tired kids, we did not do hiking nor biking to the waterfalls, so we simply moved along.
Before reaching San Francisco, we visited The Flea Market in San Jose. There were plenty of things to look around from clothes to souvenirs to food. There were also rides and games for kids, albeit limited in choices. The flea market seem to offer mainly Hispanic related stuff including live bands.
San Francisco economy is booming and everything is more expensive, especially the hotels and parking. Nonetheless, from the hilly roads to the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco still offers the charm that no other cities has.
Next stop was Las Vegas and I planned a drive by of Grand Canyon. From Page to Vegas is a long drive from 8am to 7pm. The drive include many stops at the Grand Canyon viewing points and simple packed lunch at the designated picnic area. The Dessert Watch Tower was my favorite spot where one may climb up to get a 360 degree view of Grand Canyon.
In Vegas, we signed up for a tour to the Valley of Fire. There are plenty of colorful landscape that are distinctively reddish due to the high iron content. I was told many movies were shot in here including Start Trek. The tour is very educational as our guides shared many geological knowledge. The tour also include a stop over at Visitor Center and Lost City Museum which displayed information on the local animals and tribal Indian ways of life. The tour was done within 7 hours so we were back in the hotel before 3pm, giving us ample time to rest before dinner.
Las Vegas is a city for the adults. Bringing a toddler and kid below 5 years old will restrict on the kind of activities you can do. Fortunately, the Tournament of the Kings is a show cum dinner that is enjoyable for all ages. The food they serve aren’t exactly gourmet, but still edible.
The drive from Phoenix to Page was roughly 4 hrs 30 mins and thoroughly enjoyable. It offered a variety of scenic from barren dessert to colorful mountains. Every hour or so, we seem seem to have entered a different world with interesting sights as though from a painting or movie.
At Page, one cannot miss the famous Antelope Canyons. Seeing the awe inspiring images online does not give enough credit for the actual landscape. You may have seen thousands of images but still be humbled by the indisputable beauty of the canyons. What struck me was the difficulty in capturing the essense of the canyons because the whole place is like an abstract art that need to be evaluated and composed. Turn the angle a little and you get a whole different image.
Both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons should be visited if your schedule permits. The Upper Antelope is flat passageway for easy walking, suitable for young and old, while the Lower Antelope requires a little climbing of stairs which can be pretty steep at certain locations. Both offers wonderful views and are packed with people. The 2 guides I had from both Canyons were knowledgeable and provides wonderful tips on taking good pictures.
Made a mistake renting a 12 seaters Ford Transit. This monstrous vehicle was way too big to continue on my road trip, so I switched to a mini van. Avis exchanged a Kia Sedona without any fuss, and I was happy. I’m quite impressed with Kia’s interior design and the handling.
Had to show my wife and kids my beautiful university campus. Maybe my kids will be a second generation Trojans!
What is can be more magical to a 4 years old than Disneyland? Luckily, being a weekday the crowd was manageable. Most ride queues were within 10-30 minutes, so we got through majority of the attractions by 3pm.