California, Arizona, Nevada – 2017

After visiting Toms’ aunt in Los Angeles, we took a roadtrip through California, Arizona and Nevada.

Huntington Beach

Visiting Ruta (Toms’ aunt) in Huntington Beach.

More scenes of Ruta’s neighborhood in Huntington Beach and the Huntington Beach pier. Notice the surfers like dead flies bobbing in the water, waiting for the next big wave.

Joshua Tree National Park

After two days and three nights in Huntington Beach, we headed out into the American Southwest.

The Cholla Cactus Garden in Josha Tree National Park.

The Rice Shoe Tree, outside of Rice, California, on the lonely highway east of Joshua Tree National Park. Actually more of a fence or garden, it supposedly replaces an actual tree (which burned down some years ago) that people hung an old shoe on when passing by. Reason unknown.


Sunset somewhere between Twentynine Palms (California) and Parker (Arizona).

The Kofa Inn in Parker, Arizona, a town on the banks of the Colorado River.

Nothing, Arizona. A ghost town with one single abandoned building and, well, nothing else.

Around Sedona, Arizona.

Saguaro cacti in (and outside of) Wickenburg, Arizona. These cacti grow very slowly and only in the Sonoran Desert.

Grand Canyon

Las Vegas

Our impression of Las Vegas: extreme winds and a sudden drop in temperature.

The Strip in Las Vegas is basically just a huge, over-the-top American shopping mall with casinos and shows.

Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam as seen from the new bridge/bypass across the Colorado River, opened in 2010. The white “bathtub ring” shows how low the water level in Lake Mead has dropped.

Views from the top of Hoover Dam — down (221 meters), straight across (elevator atop the dam), and up (dedication statue).

Death Valley National Park


Ryolite, Nevada, at sunrise — a ghost town just outside Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley

Notice the white salt flats in the distance.

We began our four-mile hike at 10:30 a.m. Lucky for us, it was March and not July.

Badwater Basin. At −86 m (−282 ft), this is the lowest point in Death Valley and North America. Here it was 36 C (96 F). Up at the “rim” of the park it was more like 23 C (73 F) and windy.

One assumes that deserts are sandy, but this desert is mainly rocky. Only one small section of Death Valley National Park has actual sand dunes.

The elevation chart of our little hike. Note the negative values = below sea level.

A pit stop in the town of Mojave, California, on our way back to Los Angeles. These two buildings stood across the street from the fast-food joint where we ate supper.

Venice Beach

Venice and Venice Beach in Los Angeles.

Then a week in Minnesota with Amanda’s family and friends.


The first leg of the return trip to Latvia included a ten-hour layover in Boston. This was the most relaxing and scenic airport-to-city-center transportation we’ve ever experienced: free airport shuttle to the wharf, a call to the water taxi, and then a ten-minute ride on the water taxi (= covered motor boat) across Boston Harbor to downtown. And then five hours of walking around the city and coffee+cannoli before heading back to the airport.