…and heading south again

Wake up, eat breakfast, pack the bags, clean up, load the car and then drive, drive and drive. Every day the same – after a while you would expect it to be boring. But it was everything else than that. For us it had become more of a lifestyle and we all loved it. We were all thrilled about being right in the middle of this adventure. Today we would drive to Las Vegas and maybe that was the reason we managed to get on the road early. My in-laws couldn’t really believe that they finally would get to see Las Vegas – a town they have heard so much and dreamt about to see. As the rest of us had been there one year earlier we knew what to expect and our boys and our 13-year old daughter were excited to go there again. My husband and I said, “You just have to see Las Vegas”. It is a city that you have to see in order to convince yourself that this is for real – and not comparable to any other city. It is like being in a big amusement park, a playground for wealthy people who do not know where to spend their money and therefore spend it on the most incredible shows, hotels, casinos and buildings. Who would expect that it is possible to go on a gondola like in Venice right in the middle of a hotel, have the Eiffel tower and New York skyscrapers right next to each other or to ride a roller coaster in a hotel. Watch volcanic eruptions, huge waterfalls and street shows everything lightened up by thousands of blinking lights and signs accompanied by music. The streets are packed and it is hot – by any means.

On our way to Las Vegas we drove through scenic Utah, marked by endless lonely highways and untouched beautiful nature.

utah
The sun was shining from a cloudless sky and it was so warm that you could see the air quivering of heat. This day, my in-laws got to know a new side of our digital world – the app “Just ahead”. It is an app that turns your smartphone into an audio tour guide for your car. So while we were driving on Interstate 15, we got to know more about American history and small nuggets about the places we passed by. Never would we have expected this lonely part of the country being filled with so much interesting history.

We arrived early in Las Vegas and decided to first drive and check out the impressive Hoover Dam and even though we did not take the time to participate in one of the tours we got a good impression of the size of this imposing construction.

el_cortez_hotelIn the afternoon we checked in at the famous hotel El Cortez Hotel and Casino. Opening in 1941, it is the longest continuously-running casino and hotel in Las Vegas located off the strip in the historic Downtown area. Standing in the foyer was like stepping back in time, as the interior was very authentic. Our rooms had a perfect view over the city which the grown-ups, enjoyed with self-made drinks. However, the kids couldn’t wait to go to town and soon we headed to the strip strolling around and soaking in the very special atmosphere of the city.

san-diegeoNext day we continued our trip towards San Diego. Our daughter had been longing for this very day since Chicago, where we had bought two tickets to the Shawn Mendes concert. Guess who was first in the car? A few miles outside Las Vegas our youngest son told us that we had run out of water and as we stopped at the next gas station we couldn’t really believe reading “Gas for free”, but it turned out to be true!!! Google had a campaign for their product Google Map and the best part was, along the road they also offered free food and drink stops. Well, I must say, google made our day; free gas, free ice coffee, free ice chocolate and free burgers with free ice cream as dessert.

The mood in the car was on top and that was good, because when we arrived at our hotel in San Diego (which I had booked a few days earlier) with just enough time to get ready for the concert, it turned out that I had picked the wrong month. Well what to do? We just had to cope with the situation: My daughter and I changed in the restroom, my mother-in-law somehow managed to persuade the hotel reception to let the boys use the pool, my husband got the challenging task (after driving us to the concert) to find two rooms in a completely fully booked San Diego as a big comic congress was going on. …and my father-in-law, well, he sat comfortably in the hotel reception convinced that everything would turn out well – which it thankfully did. The concert was open-air and the first concert ever for our daughter, what a PREMIERE and while we were enjoying, the rest of us had found a hotel close by, eaten and fallen asleep. How much can you actually pack in, in a day?

The next day we decided to take it easy and relax but it came differently. Here a quote from my mother-in-law:

“This exciting and adventurous journey across the USA will always be a memorable happening for the family and this day we had a special experience. Spontaneously, as the family is, we decided to take a 40 minute drive from San Diego to Mexico. We crossed the border without passport control and delay, entered Mexico and arrived in the city of Tijuana, which is just behind the border.

mexico
What a contrast to American cities! The language, the colors, the music, the smells, all the hustle and bustle was different, we felt like in Latin America. We enjoyed the ambience, delicious food in the restaurant, where the Caesar Salad was “invented” and then headed back to San Diego. Now we got the punishment for our spontaneous trip. It took us 3 hours to get back across the border. We got completely stuck in a huge traffic jam on a multi-lane highway with countless street vendors trying to sell us their stuff. After our passports were thoroughly checked, we were able to cross the border and were back in the USA.

If Donald Trump really becomes the next president and implements all his announcements, there will probably no longer be a waiting period…”

Due to the long waiting time at the border we did not make it on time to see the sunset at the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. However, our Mexican adventure made it all good. The coming day we would drive north towards San Francisco – our end destination.

End of trip coming soon, stay tuned.

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