My own experience
I did this road trip in the summer of 2013, when I was 15 years old. My parents, my younger brother and I flew from Amsterdam to LAX in Los Angeles to start our road trip. I had never been outside Europe so this was a whole new experience for me.
After we landed we strolled around the neighborhood for a few hours and then crashed in our beds from fatigue. The next (officially first) day, our road trip began. We went to Santa Monica Pier, where you can see fisherman fishing and cleaning their fish on the pier. We rented a bike and cycled all along Venice Beach to Muscle Beach, where my eyes popped out of my head from all the interesting and different people. The beach was strewn with people practicing the craziest sports. My brother and I tried some (didn’t go really well) and my camera and I couldn’t stop making photos of all the things around us.
After Santa Monica we collected our RV (my brother and I were pretty exited about this: a driving home!) and made our way to Malibu. We got a really beautiful spot at Malibu Beach RV Park with a view over the blue ocean. I could see dolphins swimming and I spent a whole day trying to photograph a hummingbird.
We made our way to Joshua Tree Park, where I made my parents stop the RV because I wanted to take a photo with the unusual trees. It was very warm here because we were driving through the Mohave Desert. We arrived at the Joshua Tree Lake RV and Campground: there was only one other RV and a wooden hut that had to do as reception. There was nothing but rocks, bushes and sand for as far as we could watch. We were standing in the middle of a hot desert, alone. Weird experience! We watched the million stars and moon in the evening, trying to discover a shooting star. My mom and I left our shoes outside the RV before we went to bed, hoping that a scorpion would make its way in and we could observe it the next morning. It didn’t.
My brother and I were fighting all evening over the different bed bunks (stuck in a camper with your brother for three weeks gets on a girls nerves). When we finally stopped and went to sleep, it started storming. Thunder, lightning, rain and insane wind battered our RV. It made our sunshade flapping up and down like crazy (dad forgot to roll it inward before going to bed).
We headed towards the Grand Canyon, but first passed Prescott. Prescott is like walking into a cowboy movie. I bought books in an old, second-hand bookstore, there was a Western festival going on in the streets and we had dinner in Arizona’s oldest saloon The Palace. The park we stayed in this time was for 55+ people only, but we could stay for one night. It was very adorably decorated in Native American style, with an old post office and cute little houses in pastels and dark wood.
After saying goodbye to the cute RV Park, we could finally head to the Grand Canyon. I had seen a lot of pictures, but nothing is like the real deal. It looked like a painting, almost as if it was fake. From where we were standing, you could see all the way to the other side of the huge canyon. We walked along the rim, but it started to thunder. It is dangerous walking around the canyon when it’s storming. The storm didn’t last long so we just kept on walking. It was amazing walking around a natural wonder like this. It got even more beautiful in the evening, watching the sunset over the canyon.
I thought I had seen it all, but Bryce Canyon was even more beautiful than Grand Canyon. The colours of this canyon were bright orange with dark green trees contrasting with the orange. It was a very warm day, and we walked inside the canyon over a short hiking trail. The rock formations were amazing and had different names. My brother and I tried to find figures in the formations.
We went from peaceful nature to the most un-peaceful city in America: Las Vegas. My brother was really looking forward to this, as there was a rollercoaster in one of the hotels. After we dropped off our RV, we started walking along the Strip. We watched the Bellagio Fountains and we sneaked in and out of hotels and casinos (we couldn’t stand still here because we were under 18, but there was air conditioning). There were tons of street performers dressed up like pirates or doing magic tricks and we kept stopping to look at them or to take a photo. In the evening my brother and I took a ride on the rollercoaster so we could see all the city lights. We had to wait terribly long but it was worth it! I recommend to everyone going to Las Vegas: if you have time, go to Fremont Street. We watched the world’s largest video screen light up with Queen – We are the Champions and loud music. The street was packed with people looking up to the ceiling and it was awesome!
Back to nature again: Yosemite. We went to Yosemite Valley and hiked a short hike to a waterfall. The water was a bit too cold to swim but we paddled. There were many squirrels and we kept hoping to see a bear, but that didn’t happen of course. The trashcans were secured with big locks though, to keep them away. It was the same at the camping. The trees were super high and I remember it being really beautiful, like a magic forest.
After Yosemite we went to San Francisco, my favourite part of the trip. I thought this was the coolest city I had ever seen. We sailed to the city with a cruise, passing Alcatraz on our way. We took the famous F Market tramline to Pier 39 to see the sea lions and my brother had to eat some doughnuts (his one and only love). After this my dad got sick and had to go to the hospital so my brother and my spent the next day in the RV practicing magic tricks. That was actually very funny, but a pity of this beautiful city.
The road trip through the west coast of America almost came to an end. We stopped one more time at Pismo Beach, but we mainly stayed on the camping. We had really nice neighbours who were roasting marshmallows and making smores and invited us over. We sat at the campfire all evening eating marshmallows. It was the perfect end of a perfect summer!