California to Florida
After the adrenaline rush in Six Flags, we took the route to Aliso Viejo, a city south of Los Angeles. We had to take a detour to get to the famous city of angels since the city was going to close a very busy highway to rebuilt one of its bridges, so a great traffic jam was expected, fortunately this event was widely advised by the media and we could avoid it.
We arrived to the house of Roberto Miranda, an old friend of mine with whom I shared travels and competitions in Venezuela, and good times in Death Valley on 2005, during our first expedition to Alaska. He shared his house with us, but more important, also he made us feel at home. One of his special treats were breakfasts with arepas, toasts and pancakes and real coffee! The first night there we talk until late bringing us up to date with our lives between some drinks and lots of laughs.
The following days we rested and relax a bit getting to know wonderful beaches that Roberto showed us. We went to Laguna Beach, Corona del Mar and Newport Beach, we visited a place known as the Top of the World (the highest point at Laguna Beach), where you can observe a 360 degree view of the valley and the Pacific Ocean, and the numerous routes for mountain biking in the area. Then we went to Balboa Island, via a ferry that for only 2 dollars takes you to the other side of the peninsula in only five minutes; the ride in the car wouldn’t take much longer, but it was really fun being on the ferry on the ocean. Since it was summer, we couldn’t stay on the beach, it was midday and impossible to find a place to park. There was so many people that we had to wait some hours just waiting to get out.
On the way back, we stopped on a fast food restaurant with an impressive view, and after eating we continue our ride admiring the beautiful houses and mansions along the coast. The next day we decided to watch on TV a soccer match in which Venezuela was fighting for the gold at the Copa America championship. We went to Enrique’s house, a friend of Roberto, and watch the game with lots of Venezuelan’s and surrounded with all kind of food including tequenos, empanadas and a barbecue to celebrate the victory of defeating Chile, only being in the soccer stadium would have been better than this. Obviously, this historic result of the game was a great occasion to cook the Salmon we had bought on the pier at Seward, Alaska. Thank You to all those present that day for receiving us and giving us the warmth of our country, we needed that.
We had to continue our journey, so sadly we said bye to Roberto. Our next destination got to be a nightmare. We still had the AC broken and we had to drive through Death Valley with the windows down…I can tell you now how it feels when you have lots of hairdryers directly on the face!! The heat was unbearable! The temperature reached 51 centigrade degrees!!! An oven, sauna, everything falls short to describe the heat we experienced. After driving through the lowest place on USA (85 meters under sea level) we had to continue our way without seeing the famous walking stone at Death Valley because the road was closed. So we continue driving because it was impossible to even think about camping or sleeping in this heat, so we continue until we got to Las Vegas at 2am.
That day we did a very entertaining city tour, visiting hotels and casinos, eating a all-you-can-eat buffet and losing some dollars in the slot machines…We drove out of Nevada through the iconic Hoover Dam arriving to Arizona and visit the Gran Canyon. I have to admit it was not what I expected, mainly due to the great amount of people there. Everything is totally organized, we had to wait in line even to get into the park, completely different to the many other canyons we visited that were deserted, without roads or signs, something that makes visiting them more exciting and the view spectacular. So we took some pictures and videos and continue our way.
Since we had already visited all the planned places, we decided to return as soon as possible to Miami. We drove the rest of the night through Arizona, New Mexico and part of Texas. We stopped a few miles after Dallas, where we enjoy a comfortable sleep in the hotel and continue driving at late afternoon to avoid the summer heat wave. We then got to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. We arrived almost passed out to West Palm Beach at 5pm the next day.
Our families and friends were waiting for us at the Markham Park at Weston to celebrate our arrival with a toast and a delicious barbecue, among hugs, laughs and anecdotes. We had a wonderful afternoon celebrating having finish this expedition successfully, and everybody asking: Where will the next expedition be? Central America! I answered.