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Jake, Byron & Jamey's US Adventure

This is the blog for our US trip, arriving August 10 and departing September 1 (US times).

Our trip starts off in Sin City (Las Vegas), for five nights, then we drive to the rugged beauty of Sedona, a night in Phoenix before flying to Reno to drive down to Yosemite National Park, stopping at Lake Tahoe and Bodie State Historic Park (ghost town from gold rush days in the 1930's).

After a three nights in Yosemite NP, we drive to San Francisco for five nights of mayhem, then spend two nights driving Highway 1 in our hired Mustang Convertible (or similar, lol) towards Los Angeles.

We will then spend three nights in Hollywood, then our last two nights will be spent in Santa Monica before catching out flight back to Australia (Jamey accidentally booked his flight two days after ours and will spend two extra nights in LA... somehow I don't see this as a bad thing).

Currently waiting for the taxi to Brisbane International Airport. Very excited. There'll be plenty of photos, so quit asking me already!

-Jake

Diary Entries

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Location: San Francisco, USA

So after our travels through Yosemite we made our way to San Francisco. Thus place is really cool. Hung out drinking with some backpackers from all over the world (Germany, England, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Norway, Japan and USA) last night (the hostel put on free drinks for everyone!) and found out that all bars close at 2am. WTF?!

This morning Byron and I have had breakfast at a cool little bar calked OZ Lounge. They have a live jazz band playing, they're very cool indeed.

San Francisco is a really cool place from my first impressions. A bit of a cross between Brisbane's South Bank and West End with Melbourne's CBD (and weather :P) I can tell it's going to be a great few days here :-)

-Jake

Friday, 19 August 2011

Location: Yosemite, USA

After we left Vegas we drove to the beautiful Sedona. I don't know whether it was lack of sleep or being out of a debauched place like Vegas but watching the sunset over Sedona nearly brought me to tears with its beauty.

We didn't sleep well so we left for the Grand Canyon at 4am. The canyon is M-A-S-S-I-V-E!! We stayed around for an hour and a half, then left. If you're not doing some kind of tour or hike this is easily enough time there.

Returned to Sedona for a while and then drove to Jerome. This place is sort of on top of a mountain. The prime focus was to visit Caduceus Cellars, owned and operated by Maynard James Keenan, singer to Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer. We did the tasting and chatted to the guy who works there. He said Maynard bottles the wine himself and was actually doing that the morning we visited. I made some purchases and then we drove to Phoenix.

Erik & Terri, our new American friends, have an amazing home. We hung out in the pool and had some beers with Mats & Summer, Oskar and Frederik, then went to a nearby taco joint. You can actually do a skill tester for lobsters there... food was great and we said goodbye to Summer and the Swedes (that should be a band name) and returned to the Waibel's residence to drink some wine and try not to pass out from exhaustion.

We left the following morning for a flight to Reno. Once there we got our car and drove to Lake Tahoe. The place is impressive and we would've liked to have spent a day or two here. We drove to Bodie State Historic Park to see the ghost town there. Very interesting place indeed with a lot of history. We proceeded to Lee Vining, overlooking the stunning Mono Lake and stayed the night.

Next morning we arrived in Yosemite and completed the arduous 14 mile (22km) hike to Clouds Rest. Simply mind blowing. I can't begin to describe how awesome the view is when you have a full 360 degree view of Yosemite do I'm not going to bother. Whilst being utterly exhausted it was well worth the 8 hour trek.

We stayed the night in Curry Village and didn't get our stuff eaten by any bears. Currently just chilling and listening to music whilst posting this. We have another night here, then tomorrow we drive to San Francisco!

-Jake

Monday, 15 August 2011

Location: Las Vegas, USA

So it's 4:35am and I can't sleep... I'm still on Vegas time :P

It has been a pretty crazy time here. The first night we didn't leave the hotel. It is big and there is a lot to do. Ended up drinking till 8am. Tip: find a 1cent/1line slot machine, put it $5 and sit there chatting whilst pushing the spin button every now and then. Cocktail waitress will cone around every 10-20 minutes (depending how busy it is; if you tip $5 the first time she'll cone back to you quicker) and takes your order - it can be anything from beer to wine to spirits to long island ice teas (they're not the super string version but they are free). When she comes back with your drinks, tip her a dollar per drink. You can do this for hours in any casino. The big, ritzy ones (like the Bellagio) tend to take longer, so if you want to drink more either play the tables or find another casino - there are heaps of casinos.

Quick summary: first night we got quite drunk and I made some new friends: Mel, Erik & Terri and Frederik. We had a great dinner at a burger bar (buffalo tastes amazing) and proceeded to get quite drunk.

The next day I got my SIM card sorted out and that night was the bachelor/bachelorette celebrations. Us guys walked up the strip, having a few beers along the way and ended up at some "club" with another bachelor party... what happens in Vegas...

The next day I lounged with Frederik by the pool and got quite sunburned in the process (yes, I did put on sunscreen). The chick dj was great, and pretty cute too. That night we all went for dinner at an Irish pub in New York New York. The steak was awesome, as was the service. We went and saw the Bellagio fountains and then called it a night.

Next day was the wedding, and my birthday! Mats was really nervous all day, Summer was relaxed. I managed to play at the ceremony with minimal mistakes (something I had been a little anxious about) and Summer fought to hold back her tears. The ceremony was lovely and they both were visibly happy, and Mats was totally fine. We had dinner at Roy's Hawaiian Fusion. Easily one of the best restaurants I have been to, the food and service was exemplary. Afterwards we did karaoke and proceeded to get wasted on all the beer they kept giving us. Huge night, lots of fun and an epic hangover to prove it :P

Our final night in Vegas we went fir dinner again at NY.NY., this time at another burger place. Again, food and service was great, though it came a close second to the first one we had visited. Afterwards I played roulette with Summer, Oskar, Jamey and Mel. Mats & Summer went back to their hotel (THEhotel at Mandalay Bay), Erik & Terri went to theirs and Frederik, Oskar, Jamey Mel & I had a nightcap before seeking our beds. I slept half an hour and woke again...

It's now 5:05am and I have to be up at 8 to pick the car up at 9, brekky at 10, checkout 11 and drive the 4-5 hours to the Grand Canyon, do a helicopter tour, drive to Sedona and probably sleep for 15 hours...

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Location: Las Vegas, USA

So after bumping into Jason & Genna at Bri Int Airport (they were headed to Bali) we had a 13 hour flight to LA. After two hours of getting through customs and checking in with Southwest Airlines (including a massive queue for the security check which was a bit of a cluterf**k) we boarded the short flight to Vegas.

Weather here is fantastic, quite warm but dry so the sweat evaporates almost immediately.

Haven't done any exploring as it's simply a relief to jut sit and have some peace and quiet for a while. Showers are in order, then some food and drinks :-)

More to come once we actually check out the place properly...

-Jake


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