reflecting on the 3500 miles and four states we travelled through, the
high points don't take much hard thought, so well do they stand out. Death
Valley and neighbouring Panamint were exquisite in their desolate beauty,
whilst the verdant forests of the Washington and Oregon coasts had an
equal, if not opposite treasure. The Redwoods of north California awed me
into silence and the realm of zen, whilst the excitement and energy of Las
Vegas left an altogether different, but equally lasting impression.
So after some deliberation, I've compiled a summary of what I think were the highest and lowest
points of our epic trip...
- Best City - Seattle. It was "just my thing", although I
think most would prefer San Francisco.
- Worst City - Sacramento. Building an interstate highway next to some
of the oldest buildings in California is not a good idea.
- Best State - California, beyond any doubt. The sheer diversity of
landscapes and experiences beats most countries.
- Worst town - Pahrump, no question. This place needs a healthy
injection of missing chromasomes.
- Best View - Panamint, near Death Valley. The clear air of the Big
Country knows no rival, although I'd say the view from the Seattle
Space Needle on a good day would be really something. And not
forgetting the view from a ski-lift over Tahoe! There's just too many.
- Worst Brown Trouser Experience - on the way up to Panamint, with
sheer drops and no crash-barriers.
- Best Drive - Route 101 along the south-Oregon / north-California
coast. Spectacular seascapes and towering bluffs come together in the
Pacific's own "Big Country".
- Worst Drive - Route 97 through central
Oregon. Endless dull forest
in the flat high-desert beats Travel Scrabble in the tedium awards.
- Best Day - Day 2, crossing the Big Country from Vegas to Tahoe,
whilst tiring, was an epic voyage.
- Worst Day - Day 10, penniless in SF. Don't do it.
- Most Zen-like moment - amongst the giant redwoods.
- Weirdest "Double-Take" - seeing that "white
cloud" on the horizon turn into Mount
- Greatest Disappointment - the miserable, closed-in weather of
Washington and Oregon, denying views of their great volcanoes.
Although snowed-in Crater Lake follows a close second.
- Most Pleasant Surprise - LA is not as bad as you think...
- Most Unpleasant Surprise - Oregon Bob had been to Blackpool.
All in all,
then, the west coast of the United States has an incredible range of
scenery and experience to offer. Five interesting and unique cities
separated by every kind of landscape, short of tropical rainforest, that you
Do it by car, it's the only way, but take a few days longer than we did
to tour it, as there's just too much to see inside of two weeks.
California is fine at any time of year, but if you want to see the
North-West, go in summer, when fine weather, I'm told is guaranteed. And
with the price of gas, motels and food, it's really cheaper than you would
The final verdict? One day I'll go and live there...