Death Valley – by Keith
When we were planning our route, I suggested we stop a night in Death Valley. I had driven through there with some friends in March this year and thought that the kids would love it.
Death Valley claims to have the highest recorded temperature anywhere, ever, in the whole world. In 1913 the temperature was recorded at 134 degrees F or 56.7 degrees C. That is pretty cool! I think that this may have recently been overtaken by somewhere in the Middle East, but I’m not letting any inconvenient facts diminish my post.
Stovepipe Wells is the name of the town which is in the base of the valley, consisting of a motel on one side of the road and a gift shop on the other.
When we got there the temperature gauge on the car read 115 degrees, and it felt hot! The motel had a pool which was fun and we had dinner in the bar.
The reason that Death Valley is so hot is due to the topography. It is 282ft below sea level so the air is very dense, and combined with the fact that it has lots and lots of sunshine, very little shade, a relatively flat base and is surrounded by mountains, means that the heat has nowhere to escape and it is like a big fan oven.
I was expecting the stars to be fantastic here but there was some cloud so we were a bit disappointed. However, Betsy and I walked back to the room from the bar at one point and witnessed the amazing site of a red moon rising. It was completely dark and the huge red moon came up really quicky. It disappeared into some clouds before we had a chance to show the others.
Pop Quiz – Name the song containing the line ”There’s a red moon on the rise”
Answers on a postcard (or in the comments).
Lots of car manufacturers do hot weather testing of cars here before they are released and we saw lots of unfamiliar looking cars with the swirly camouflage stripes on them to stop people getting a sneaky peek at the upcoming models.
There were also two pretty exotic looking Aston Martins (one all black and one swirly camouflage) parked up in the blazing sun all day locked up with temperature gauges measuring their internal temperatures. I can’t imagine what it was like inside the black one. I suppose that they were making sure that the interiors didn’t melt.
After we left we saw some classic desert sand dunes and had to go and climb them despite the warning signs. The sand was so hot that it burnt our feet even though we were wearing flip flops.
I would say that Stovepipe Motel is definitely worth a nights stop if you are driving through this part of the world.
Las Vegas – by Willow
I think Las Vegas was the coolest city I’ve been to. This is because I saw a fake Eiffel Tower on top of a restaurant and that was amazing. We also saw a Coca Cola bottle that was about 100 feet tall that was an elevator. I liked the big buildings and even saw one that was a bit wonky.
When we out for dinner on our first night, we saw a lake in front of a big hotel (called the Bellagio). Everyone gathered around it because there was a fountain show to music. There was a bridge and underneath it there was a hole with blue lights all around it and it was really pretty.
When we were in Las Vegas, lightening struck every day. I only actually saw it once. It wasn’t sheep (sheet) lightning it was fork lightning. We did a mini science lesson on lightning. I remember that when you see lightning strike, you count the seconds until you hear the thunder and that is how many miles away it struck.
Our hotel had a lazy river. You get these blow up circle thingys and you put it in the river, you try and get with it and then you’re in it and you’re in! We went around about 20 times. There was a bridge and when you went underneath water came out on top of you. It was really cool. We played a type of hide and seek in the lazy river. Lola always found me first which was quite bad but kind of happy because then I would go underwater with my goggles and find Betsy.
NB: The above is all the author’s individual thoughts and her mother didn’t enjoy Vegas quite as much…in fact she really didn’t like it at all and couldn’t wait to leave!
Grand Canyon – by Betsy
The Grand Canyon is a place with a massive canyon in Arizona. Being there was a very beautiful experience. Whilst we were there, we watched a short film that told us lots about the Grand Canyon.
The Canyon was formed millions and millions ago. Over time a river formed – the Colarado river – and it has eroded or worn away the rock to form the canyon. People used to live in the Canyon. Some tribes have lived there for at least 800 years. In 1858 a white Army Engineer and explorer called Joseph Christmas Ives made his way along the Colarado river to explore the Canyon. He wrote:
“The region is, of course, altogether valueless. It can be approached only from the south, and after entering it there is nothing to do but leave. Ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality. It seems intended by nature that the Colorado river, along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.”
He was very wrong and very small eyed because he couldn’t see the beauty in what was right in front of him. He said it would be unvisited forever, but today it is visited by 5 million people every year.
I thought the Grand Canyon was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my life because it is very unique and I don’t think anything else could replace its beauty. We saw two sunsets and one sunrise while we were there. It was a great experience to have at such a young age. The colour of the sun when it is rising and setting is gorgeous.
We hired bikes and cycled around the rim of the canyon. The views were incredible from high heights. The pictures we took are nice but they don’t really capture the beauty that you can see through human eyes.
When we were watching the sunrise there were some people with their legs hanging over the edge of a vertical cliff. The canyon is 6000 feet deep and so that is how far they would have dropped if they had fallen. I thought it was very stupid of them because they were probably just doing it for photos and photos are not worth risking your life.
When we were looking at a book in the gift shop all about the deaths at Grand Canyon, we read that there was a model in the 1950s who was posing for a silly photo on the edge of the cliff and she stepped back and fell off and died. I think that that was very stupid of her to do that and that she should have been a bit more careful.
Joshua Tree – by Sophie
When we were planning our trip my friend Alice Mew was a great help. Alice and her family were planning a tour of South and North America at the same time and left 7 months before us. I was therefore able to glean lots of information and tips from them. One of these was to stay at a place in Joshua Tree called ‘Hicksville – Trailer Palace and Artist Retreat’.
Hicksville is an incredibly cool and kind of secret place. I loved the fact that they won’t even tell you the address until a week before. It is owned by a guy who is a music producer, DJ and film director and they edit movies and do post-production work on site, so I guess they don’t want the address published all over the web. We all loved the idea of sleeping in a trailer, in the desert (for one night!) Check out the website if you like the idea too…http://www.hicksville.com
When we arrived it was slightly disappointing to be told we were the only guests for the night. I had been looking forward to some people watching but as it turned out it was huge fun to have the place to ourselves. I don’t think my description will do it justice, but hopefully the pictures will give you an idea. It is essentially a beautifully styled and designed hang out in the middle of the desert. We swam, played loads of old music on the juke box and got in the hot tub on the roof to star gaze when it got dark. When I woke the next morning and opened the door to our airstream, I was greeted with the view of Keith teaching the girls how to shoot a target with a bow and arrow! It was hot, weird, wonderful, fun. Keith and I were dreaming about how cool it would be to get some friends to fly out for a party – it was that kind of vibe. Made you feel a bit giddy and definitely in the party mood! Probably best there weren’t any other guests as some – who will remain nameless – were skinny dipping minutes after arriving 🙂
LA – by Lola
Our last week in America we went to LA and were staying with some friends ‘The Sullys’. Flynn was 11, Cass is 10 and Coco was 5 ( Coco and Flynn have had birthdays since).
We arrived in LA mid-afternoon on Wednesday, just in time to go to pick up Coco, Flynn and Cass from school. Leeanne – their mum- told us that they filmed ‘Big Little Lies’- a program mum liked – in Coco’s school. All afternoon we hung out in the pool with them.
During our stay, we didn’t do much sight seeing as we were with our friends and wanted to play with them but we did go to see Griffiths Observatory (which is in the film La La Land) and the Hollywood sign. One afternoon we cycled from Santa Monica pier to Venice and back (with mum nearly crashing into another cyclist!) so we treated ourselves with an amazing ice cream from a shop on Abbot Kinney.
As a treat, Dad took Betsy and I to Universal studios with Flynn and Cass. It was so much fun!!! The rides were amazing and very thrilling. We rode the last one round 5 times because it was so fun. My favourite ride was ‘The Mummy’ which went very fast from beginning to end. As it was a normal school day all the queues were only about 5 minutes wait! We also went on a studio tour where we saw where they made lots of movies such as: Jaws, Pitch perfect, Jurassic park, Indiana Jones and Fast and Furious.
Another thing that added to the excitement of LA was that our friends had a 12 week old puppy!!! His name was Scout and he was sooooooo cute – apart from all the wees I stepped in. Flynn, Cass, Betsy and I started watching a TV series on Netflix called ‘The Good Place’ which we were addicted to; in one night we watched 7 episodes!
When Jamie – their dad – came home from England, we decided to make him a cake with a big J on it. As I finished putting on the J I realised I had done it back-to-front! I don’t know how I managed to do that!?! Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to them all which was hard as we had had a wonderful time with them and hope to see them when we come home.