The Great American West

 photo Picture004_zpsbf908c8b.jpg Hey, that’s Maria, I’m Chuy. We’ve been good friends since high school, and we decided to take a pretty epic road-trip. Armed with a map and a sense of adventure, we got a cheap rental and hit the road. What proceeds is a recounting of our travels across The Great American West. I hope you all enjoy.

 photo Picture013_zpse2801c2d.jpg We left Oakland around 9:30 p.m. Arriving to the outskirts of Vegas at dawn, meeting the sunrise.

 photo Picture014_zps62507b3f.jpg After a, nice, fat breakfast at one of my favorite spots in Vegas (Blueberry Hill), we hit the welcome to Vegas sign, and were on our way.

 

 photo Picture055_zpsd73f0122.jpg  photo Picture025_zps2214017c.jpg We checked out Lake Mead; the largest reservoir in the country. It’s pretty nice. Except for, it was hot as HELL! 98° at 8:00 a.m. Gale force winds blowing, picking up and hurling sand along with it. My lips got chapped instantly. We said “fuck this shit, vamonos a la chingada de este pinche infierno!” And we split.

 photo Picture036_zps13af87ec.jpg
 photo Picture031_zpseb3bb790.jpg Took a stroll across the Hoover Dam.

 photo Picture043_zps9ba80a39.jpg Since it was dark when we entered Nevada via California, we snapped a picture of the welcome to Nevada sign as we entered… Arizona.

 photo Picture039_zps4e2da9ad.jpg Fuck Arizona, and all that immigration buuuullshit they’ve got going on down there. We didn’t cross the border; the border crossed us. Know what I’m saying?

 photo Picture063_zps64af80f8.jpg Driving down the road, I always encourage everyone to turn off when they see a sign that reads “Vista Point”, “Scenic Outlook”, and the like. Because, you never know what you might see. Like, The Black Valley.

 photo Picture067_zpsab7fb3ec.jpg
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 photo Picture071_zpsa1c79500.jpg We decided to call it a day, as we got our kicks on Route 66. Maria did a bunch of souvenir shopping. I too walked away with a keepsake… If you’re eastbound on 2nd Avenue and wanna turn on U.S. Route 66, in Williams AZ, beware, there’s no sign.

 photo Picture076_zps0de24eb4.jpg Caught the sunrise with the Fallen Sons Of Williams memorial, grabbed some breakfast, and rambled on down the road.

 photo Picture310_zps98d961a6.jpg Ladies and Gentlemen, The Grand Canyon and California Condors

 photo Picture078_zpsae2a43ff.jpg  photo Picture254_zps060efa65.jpg  photo Picture358_zpsa7e8b84e.jpg Carved by the Colorado river over millions and millions of years, this, giant, massive chasm is truly a sight to behold. A mile deep, up to 18 miles wide, and 277 miles long, it’s beyond compare with anything else I’ve seen before.

 photo Picture258_zps289a8c88.jpg  photo Picture273_zps344c6840.jpg  photo Picture087_zps847900c5.jpg For many years now, it had been my goal to see a California Condor. And I’m glad to say I can mark it off my list. Not to be confused with the very common Turkey Vulture, California Condors are critically endangered. From what I understand, there’s only something like 250 condors living in the wild. These massive birds (9 foot wingspan) are ravenous scavengers, who wait patiently as whatever—or whoever—they’re waiting for to eat, dies. They’re not too patient though, as they’ve been known to swoop in and peck to speed up the process of death. they’re the hyenas of the sky.

 photo Picture416_zps4537a506.jpg With Maria at the wheel, we set a course to the red lands of Utah.

 photo Picture428_zpsde2a14f0.jpg Jump out, slap that good ol’ Beast Oakland sticker up, and keep rollin’ to…

 photo Picture435_zps104ef188.jpg Monument Valley

 photo Picture437_zps3d2d18bf.jpg  photo Picture452_zps65b91594.jpg  photo Picture471_zps4119f61b.jpg Monument valley is a Navajo park, on land that belongs to the Navajo Nation. A lot of the westerns I grew up watching had scenes of its buttes. Bandits kicking up dust as they try to escape their pursuing lawmen. And this beautiful valley in the background… I had to see it with my own eyes; and it’s just as amazing as I expected.

 photo Picture472_zps6ba1b88a.jpg With the sun setting, we decided to head back and be on our way. But fate had a different plan. There’s no roads in the valley, it’s all, beautiful, red sand. And our little rental car kept getting stuck in it. To the point where the transmission overheated.

 photo Picture480-11_zps06d43c7f.jpg Sitting there in the valley floor, waiting for the tranny to cool, night fell fast. And with a no-moon-night come the sounds of the dark. Maria started to get a little freaked out, but I told her it was alright. “There’s nothing out here that can do you harm. The biggest predator out here are coyotes, and they won’t mess with us.” That being said, we did a little stargazing, and I showed Maria how to find the North Star.

 photo Picture488_zpsec475ad3.jpg After getting stuck and digging it out 5 times and the transmission overheating twice, we got out of the valley and back on pavement at 3:00 a.m. Slept in the car for a couple hours, waking up with the sun. Got out, snapped a pic, and split.

 photo Picture497_zpsc83f282a.jpg Made it to New Mexico

 photo Picture509_zpsb815bede.jpg And the four corners. “Four States Here Meet In Freedom Under God.”

 photo Picture537_zpsac19baf7.jpg We left there and got on highway 160 through Colorado and it’s Rockies… This is when I fell in love with Colorado. Everything is so green! The air is crisp and fresh… Highway 160 is a beautiful highway. If you’re ever in the area, take it.

 photo Picture577_zps9d7f6bb2.jpg Got to Wyoming and tried to call it a night. Unfortunately, the biggest rodeo in the country was happening the night we arrived. So there were no hotel rooms available in a 200 mile radius. Another night of sleeping in the car doesn’t bother me, but I was starting to feel bad for Maria. She toughed it out like a champ though.

 photo Picture580_zps1450d743.jpg After stealing hot showers from a tiny community center in a tiny ass town in the middle of nowhere, we made it to South Dakota. Hella bullet holes in the sign made me feel like I was home.

 photo Picture618_zps4228b65f.jpg  photo Picture595_zpse5e78ad2.jpg And we reached Mount Rushmore, which was the farthest east we were heading.

 photo Picture622_zps412e6ea2.jpg Crossed back into Wyoming. This time during the day, so we saw a whole lot of beautiful countryside.

 photo Picture632-1_zps41894403.jpg Slappin’ nothin’ but country, we made it to Montana. Where we were greeted by a thunderstorm. With 60 mph winds, torrential downpour, lightning crashing all over, we were the only vehicle on the highway. But we made it to our next destination.

 photo Picture646-1_zps94160808.jpg Cracker Barrel, in Billings MT. Where we, for the first time, had an actual sit down dinner. Maria fell in love with their mac n cheese, and I’m still raving about the country ham. We found lodging, and had a good nights rest.

 photo Picture669-1_zpsaa712909.jpg The next morning, we continued our adventure. Taking highway 212, known as Bear Tooth Pass, back into Wyoming.

 photo Picture685-1_zps7219ca27.jpg At 11,000 feet, well above the tree-line, trees cannot grow because of harsh conditions. Leaving wildflowers to bloom. Here I stand, in the highest altitude I’ve ever been on land, breathing the freshest air I’ve ever had, looking at the deepest, truest, bluest sky I’ve ever seen… Words cannot express.

 photo Picture704-1_zps3d27572d.jpg No matter where I roam, I’ll always find a home, under those blue ridge mountain skies.

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 photo Picture770-1_zpsab2a2615.jpg We finally make it to Yellowstone, and Maria says “what’s that over there?”

 photo Picture772-1_zps3f7a8ecc.jpg BUFFALO!!!

 photo Picture789-1_zpsaa93c0f6.jpg Do the jingle, do the jingle. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there!

 photo Picture817-1_zps31ee11bc.jpg These guys are massive. And hella delicious.

 photo Picture885-1_zps4fe5e93c.jpg Yellowstone is a super volcano. Water flows through limestone and fault lines and such, until it hits magma, causing it to boil. Turning into steam, pressure builds and creates a teakettle effect, shooting it back up. As it reaches the surface, it cools a bit, turning into water again. Full of minerals it picked up on its travels, it starts flowing. Leaving trace amounts of calcium, creating the travertine stone—that we see today—over many, many years.

 photo Picture925-1_zpscfaf7020.jpg Golden Gate Falls

 photo Picture931-1_zps02701add.jpg We didn’t get to see as much of Yellowstone as we would have liked, but with the sun setting, we thought it best to get going. However, we later decided that we’re going back and doing a whole week of camping in Yellowstone.

 photo Picture941-1_zps862ba186.jpg The next day, we hit a Cracker Barrel for lunch, and hit the road, jack.

 photo Picture959-1_zpsc2202074.jpg Crossed through the skinny part of Idaho, so we didn’t really see anything. I was expecting some big ass potatoes or something. But no, nothin’.

 photo Picture968-1_zpsef0df21f.jpg Short drive, made it to Spokane, Washington.

 photo Picture1015-1_zps4bde7edd.jpg Crossed the state and arrived in Seattle. We googled a coffee shop, ’cause that was our goal: coffee in Seattle. Come to find, the coffee shop we went to, turns into a bar at night. The bartender was all hopped up on smack, I could tell by his twitchyness. But, everybody was! The streets were crowded with hundreds of 20-something hipsters. Junkies and beggars up the wazoo. We went up and down one block of pike street, and had enough.

 photo Picture1022-1_zps9da4cc7c.jpg Stopped at a gas station for cheap coffee and booked it for the space-needle. Snapped a couple shots, and we we’re splitsville. If you love San Francisco, you’ll LOVE Seattle.

 photo Picture1056-1_zpse8343621.jpg Made it to Oregon, and headed to Portland.

 photo Picture1025-1_zpsbca0a864.jpg For Doughnuts!

 photo Picture1036-1_zps1713bda1.jpg We had to wait in line for like an hour, but it was so worth it. There’s a doughnut a called cock n balls, and it sounds hellllla good. So I get up to the register and I’m like “yo man, I need a cock n balls in my mouth.” And dude was like, “I’m sorry man, we’re out of cock n balls.” … I was a little devastated, but I carried on.

 photo Picture1051-1_zps63487189.jpg After we got our sugar rush, we took a short trip to Multnomah falls. At 620 feet, it’s the tallest waterfall in Oregon. We took it in for a while, then kept it movin’

 photo Picture1060-1_zps0fe1648a.jpg Jumping on 5 and reaching, beautiful California. Although, I must admit, we could really use a new sign, this ones all rusty. Throw up a Beast Oakland and a Mexican Roots Oakland Raised sticker, and call and tell momma to put the beans to boil; ’cause we’re comin’ home.

 photo Picture1073-1_zpsf6d6f191.jpg But first, stopped at one of my favorites. Burney Falls in Burney California. Teddy Roosevelt called the falls “the eighth wonder of the world” and he was right. At only 129 feet, what this waterfall lacks in hight, it makes up for in character.

 photo Picture1078_zpsce1c2778.jpg Ok. After 80 hours 58 minutes and 18 seconds of driving, we made it back home to Oakland, and dropped the car off. We traveled 4,279 miles in 7 days. It was definitely an incredible experience. And it’s something I encourage everybody to do. You don’t have to go for days and days; take a day trip, go see some shit you ain’t ever seen before. You might like it.

Big thank you to the man, Rush
Thank for letting me share.

Once again, I’m Chuy. If you liked my photos, you can find me on Instagram: @chudeezy you can also find Maria @maria_reynoso

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