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1990 - The South West

USA 1990 Road MapUSA 1990 Road Map

May 9th to May 26th 1990

My very first trip in the USA !

I started with a very typical trip in the West : from San Francisco then south, along the coast on the Scenic 1, stopping by at famous places like Monterey, and then a big O ring inland, through the deserts and parks, for then finishing the trip at Los Angeles.

It was the first of other trips to come, but for sure very special in its own way.

USA 1990 - The South West

USA 1990 - The South West - USA 1990 - The South West -

My very first trip in the USA !

I started with a very typical trip in the West : from San Francisco then south, along the coast on the Scenic 1, stopping by at famous places like Monterey, and then a big O ring inland, through the deserts and parks, for then finishing the trip at Los Angeles.

It was the first of other trips to come, but for sure very special in its own way.

Use the navigation tree to the left to browse through this vacation diary. From there you can see the report of each day of the vacation, and you also have other options to navigate to other vacations.

SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT THE PHOTOS

I'm very sorry but with a stone age traditional photo prints camera, and a very very low quality one, loaded with honest cheap Kodak Gold 100 ASA film rolls (a standard film for the masses), the quality of the photos is really shameful...
Add the fact that at the time photography was not yet my main hobby, and you get the result you can see in this article : 5 film rolls for a total of a few more than 160 photos, with a quality that can be easily surpassed by the cheapest cell phone camera...

Summary of the vacation

Day
WhatNotes
09 May 1990 (Wed)Milan - San Francisco
  • New York City JFK Airport
  • San Francisco (arrival)
  • drive tour (Chinatown)
10 May 1990 (Thu)San Francisco
  • Macy's
  • Cable Car
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Palladium
11 May 1990 (Fri)San Francisco - Monterey
  • Pier 39
  • Scenic 1
  • Santa Cruz
  • Monterey
119 miles
12 May 1990 (Sat)Monterey - Santa Barbara
  • 17 Miles Drive
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Pismo Beach
  • Guadalupe
  • Los Alamos
  • Santa Barbara
233 miles
13 May 1990 (Sun)Santa Barbara - Monterey(!) - Santa Monica
  • Monterey
  • Santa Monica
552 miles
14 May 1990 (Mon)Santa Monica - Sedona - Flagstaff
  • Needles
  • Sedona
  • Oak Creek Canyon
513 miles
15 May 1990 (Tue)Flagstaff - Grand Canyon - Chinle
  • Meteor Crater
  • Grand Canyon
  • Painted Desert
  • Shungopovi
407 miles
16 May 1990 (Wed)Chinle - Monument Valley
  • Canyon de Chelly
  • Canyon Del Muerto
  • Many Farms
  • Kayenta
  • Monument Valley
126 miles
17 May 1990 (Thu)Monument Valley - Page - Panguitch
  • Page
  • Lake Powell
  • Hatch
  • Panguitch
263 miles
18 May 1990 (Fri)Panguitch - Bryce Canyon - Zion - Las Vegas
  • Panguitch
  • Bryce Canyon
  • Zion
  • Las Vegas
275 miles
19 May 1990 (Sat)Las Vegas - Death Valley - Barstow
  • Las Vegas
  • Death Valley
  • Barstow
348 miles
20 May 1990 (Sun)Barstow - San Diego
  • La Jolla
  • Old Town
  • Downtown
185 miles
21 May 1990 (Mon)San Diego - Los Angeles
  • La Jolla
  • Hollywood
121 miles
22 May 1990 (Tue)Los Angeles (Disneyland)
  • Disneyland
  • Long Beach
  • Queen Mary
121 miles
23 May 1990 (Wed)Los Angeles (Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach)
  • Manhattan Beach
  • Venice Beach
  • "Spice" Club
121 miles
24 May 1990 (Thu)Los Angeles (Malibu, Venice Beach)
  • Malibu Beach
  • Venice Beach
  • "Spice" Club
121 miles
25 May 1990 (Fri)Los Angeles (shpping, Santa Monica) 121 miles
26 May 1990 (Sat)Los Angeles - Milan 121 miles

09 May 1990 (Wed) : Milan - San Francisco

Daily report
Flight(s)Flight #Departure/ArrivalNotes
Milan Malpensa MPX -> New York City JFKTWA TW841 (?)11.37CET - 14.00EDTDep from gate 9
New York City JFK -> San Francisco SFOTWA TW84318.00EDT(?) - 22.00PDTDep. from gate 14
 
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Holiday Inn Civic Center
(50 Eighth Street, San Franciscogoogle_maps_icon)
prepayed
 
Car RentalLicense #Mileage in/outCost
Alamo SFO Airport
Chevrolet Corsica
CA 2SCW7014550 (in)prepaid

After a quite smooth flight, the final part was terrible for me due to a sudden and sharp ear ache that gave me a massive headache and gave me fever from how intense it was. The pressure inside the airplane body must have been wrong or something. Anyway, I took some drops for the fever and I was back ok.

We got to New York City in time for spending a nice hot afternoon in the airport.
The JFK itself is not so interesting, apart of the fact that like many other things in the US, it's HUGE, it's a town on itself, basically.

The first impact with the jet lag too was tough; after some walking aound outside, admiring the size of the cars, I remember Franco saying "it's 4pm here but it's 10pm at home, and I'm really feeling that in my legs".

We met an italian girl on the plane to NYC, Valentina, a Tom Cruise fan who had to take the plane to Syracuse, so once landed we said bye to her quite quickly.

My diary states that the plane to SF took off at 18 local and landed at 22 local time, which means the flight was 7 hours or something; I think that it's wrong, and since I remember taking off at dusk, I think we left a bit later than 18...

Once at SF, our main concern was to learn how to drive a car with automatic gear shift... Might sound weird but in 1990 in Italy there were no cars equipped with automatic gear shitft, or basically only the cars for hadicapped people.
The girl at Alamo Car Rental was kind and basically gave me a concentrated lesson of how the shift works in the USA... It was easy to learn and I had no problems at all.

We headed towards downtown, to find the hotel... but from the excitement of driving in places that up to then we had only seen in TV series like "The Streets of San Francisco", we passed the highway exit and proceeded driving on the Oakland Bay Bridge. When we got on the other side of it, we realised we were wrong.

We got to the hotel at about 23.45, checked in and left the hotel a bit later to have a tour with the car in the city. The dooman recommended us to be careful in the area near the hotel, because it was not the safest ever, s we kept our eyes open, but we dared a bit anyway becasue, after a short trip to Chinatown, we also walked a bit in areas that were not so recommended... At some point we had 2 big black guys asking us for money. Being just arrived, all we had in our pockets were some coins in Italian Lire, which sort of put them off... luckily.

And then back to the hotel, very tired, at the end of our first American night.
Really it's not possible to describe those first sensations... actually driving in a city in the USA, walking on the streets of SF, which is a very particular city.

Thinking back, I am happy that I had my very first american experience in Frisco.

  • New York City JFK Airport
  • San Francisco (arrival)
  • drive tour (Chinatown)

10 May 1990 (Thu) : San Francisco

Daily report
ExpensesNotesTotal
Cable Car ticket
(Fisherman's Wharf (?))

2.00$
Rayban glasses
(near Market St (?))

around 69.00$
Pack of Tobacco
(near Market St (?))

?
Tmberland shoes
(Sausalito)

106.25$
tshirt for Eugenio's daughter
(Macy's, 170 O'Farrell St, San Franciscogoogle_maps_icon)

3.50$
Entrance at the "Palladium"

Where can three young guys go in their first day at an amazing place like San Francisco ?
To Fisherman's Wharf ? No, later. To Chinatown ? No, later. To the Golden Gate ? No, later. I could go on and mention another 20 places but you would never guess that the very first place we went to was Macy's (!!) google_maps_icon.
I can't remember why we went there first, probably because Macy's is one of those legendary stores that you want to go to at least once in your life, like Harrods in London or Lafayette in Paris.
The most famous Macy's is in Manhattan, but we wanted to go and see the one in Frisco too. And we even bought some stuff...
At the time, shopping for tshirts and certain brands of shoes (the almighty Timberland) was still convenient in the US, so we thought we would start our vacation with some shopping. Of course that wasn't our best choice ever as a vacation plan, but that left such a lot of places left to discover in my later trips to Frisco.

After Macy's it was time to go visit some other secondary attractions like, the cable car, the Golden Gate, and so on.
And we started with the Cable Car. We went to Fisherman's Wharf and took our ride to Market St. It might sound silly, but one of the biggest satisfactions in travelling with the cable car is that you can jump on it while it's moving and you can hang out from the sides while on the ride; I don't know why, but it's really fun... Probably becasue it makes you feel like you're travelling in the wild west on a stagecoach.

After some shopping in the Market St area, where I bought a pair of Rayban glasses and a packet of tobacco for a colleague, we went back to the car and went to the Golden Gate Bridge.

We drove on the bridge to the Vista Point that is right outside the city. The view there is beautiful; it's a very popular place amongst tourists, always crowded.

The we went to Sausalito, because we were told it was worth a visit.
And in fact it's a nice place, with lots of restaurants, a very good subject for photographers; probably much better to go there in the evening, at dusk.
What did we do there ? Answer : shopping ! The currency exchange rate at the time was around 1200 lire/1 USD, which made my purchase of a pair of Timberland shoes, VERY convenient :
* price paid at Sausalito : $106,25
* equivalent in Italian Lire : 128000
* cost of the same shoes in Italy : 240-250000
* saving : almost 50% !!
I still have this pair of shoes somewhere. They are still in good shape.

At Sausalito we called our italian friend Roberto V., who is from Piacenza but lives in Frisco and studies at Stanford. We agreed to meet for lunch at a Chinese restaurant, so we went back to Frisco. I can't remember if the restaurant was in Chinatown or what, but I remember that the food was not memorable. We had a shock when, at the end of the meal, our friend Roberto asked the waiter to get his leftovers in a box, to take them home.
We really didn't know that it was a normal thing in the US. We also wondered how it was possible to eat the leftovers of a meal that was not good at all just cooked...

In the afternoon we went to the Hard Rock Cafe. I can't remember much of it, and the only thing I took note of is that the waiter who served us was "Bubbaloo". I saw his nickname on the receipt that we got at the counter, and I asked him if that was his name. I remember he was a funny guy and remember a sketch he made when a glass o beer slid from his tray to the floor and he pretended to blame us for distracting him.

In the evening, we went to a club called "Palladium". I think the club is still there after all these years : 1031 Kearny St. at Broadway North Beach. I remember the tourist guide mentioned that the area around the club was not that safe, but we had no problems at all and had good time there.

  • Macy's
  • Cable Car
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Palladium

11 May 1990 (Fri) : San Francisco - Monterey

San Francisco - MontereySan Francisco - Monterey
Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Motel 6
(probably Fremont St, Montereygoogle_maps_icon)
2273x2 formula$45.00
 
ExpensesNotesTotal
California car license plate
(Pier 39, San Francisco)

?
 
Daily trip notesMiles
Chevrolet Corsica
CA 2SCW701
119

We had breakfast at 10.30 in the hotel. One of the heaviest breakfast ever... one of the first time in my life, if not the first one, where I had a sausage anytime before midday.
After checking out we went to the Pier 39. Parking the car was not easy and in fact we had to walk for a while from the car to the pier.
I bought a car license plate of the state of California, the very first one in my collection.

We left for Monterey at about 12.30 with the odometer at 4660 miles.

The scenic highway 1 is really beautiful. One of the reasons why I would decide to come back here other times in my vacation trips.
We stopped at Davenportgoogle_maps_icon for lunch and then stopped again at Santa Cruz, where there is an amusement park right on the beach, with a board walk that makes the place looks like Coney Island in New York. Well, not exactly the same but...

We arrived at Monterey at about 19.30. We got a room, experimenting the 3x2 Motel formula (to know what it is, read the descripion in the apposite TAB above), for 45 bucks, and shortly got out for dinner.
We had a steak at a restaurant and then went for a walk at the Fisherman's Wharf, where I bought a map of the area.

  • Pier 39
  • Scenic 1
  • Santa Cruz
  • Monterey
motel6logo.jpgMotel 6, our favourite choice in this vacation

3x2 Motel formula

The price of a motel room for 2 was quite cheap at the time. From 35-40$ at the Motel 6 up to 50-60 and also 70$ in other more expensive chains. Since we were 3, there was a surcharge for the third guest which was around 6 dollars. The rooms we used to get had always 2 queen size beds, which was enough for us.
To save the money of the surcharge, in hotels with the reception in a separate building than the rooms, we would follow this procedure :
  • before approaching the motel, but not far from it, one of us would get off the car
  • the remaining two would get the room at the reception, paying the room without the surcharge
  • once at the room, the two would unload the car and leave the motel
  • the two would meet one who was dropped out of the motel
  • after a tour for dinner or shopping, and anyway not too early in the evening, the three would get back to the motel, with the third one hiding down the rear seats while driving in the motel, and would sneak in the room

Of course leaving the motel in the morning was to be done with the needed attention. The good thing is that, being the only one in the group who could speak english, I was never in charge for being the "ghost" guest.

The sort of things you can do only when you're 25 or younger...


12 May 1990 (Sat) : Monterey - Santa Barbara

Monterey - Santa BarbaraMonterey - Santa Barbara
Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Motel San Roque
(3344 State St Santa Barbaragoogle_maps_icon)
18Not there anymore, now it's called Oasis Inn & Suites. Incredibly, we stayed at this motel also in 2008, without knowing it
 
ExpensesNotesTotal
17 Miles Drive entrance fee
$5.50
 
Daily trip notesMiles
Chevrolet Corsica
CA 2SCW701
233

We woke up with in a cloudy morning and left the motel at 8, to head to Carmel and the 17 miles drive, which cost $5.50.
A really beautiful piece of road, despite the cold air and the cloudy sky.

Then back on the 1, heading south. We stopped at Luciagoogle_maps_icon for lunch. We liked the serivce from the owners of the restaurant and had a bit of discussion about how much we should leave as tip.

On the road again, through San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Guadalupe and Los Alamos, where for the first time we saw a police car with a shotgun beside the dirver's seat, where in Italy they usually put umbrellas or where the ashtray is.

After an afternoon under the sun, we arrived at Santa Barbara at 19.30, and got the motel room at the Motel San Roque.
We skipped dinner becasue we went to a bar called Joe's Cafe google_maps_icon. The tourist guide said it was a place where it's vey easy to socialise with the other people, and in fact so it was : we met Path, Li and Liane from San Francisco and two guys called Bob and John.
At a certain point in the night we left and went to another bar, before going to bed.

The weather : cloudy till the afternoon, when it got sunny.

  • 17 Miles Drive
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Pismo Beach
  • Guadalupe
  • Los Alamos
  • Santa Barbara

13 May 1990 (Sun) : Santa Barbara - Monterey(!) - Santa Monica

Santa Barbara - Monterey(!) - Santa MonicaSanta Barbara - Monterey(!) - Santa Monica
Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
?
(Santa Monica)
56.00$
 
ExpensesNotesTotal
Tshirt
(Santa Barbara)

?
 
Daily trip notesMiles
Chevrolet Corsica
CA 2SCW701
552

After we woke up and were getting ready to leave the motel, I realised I had forgotten my safe wallet at Monterey !
To know what I mean with "safe wallet" and to read the whole story, check "The Forgotten Wallet" tab here above...

So, after the sad discovery, before leaving Santa Barbara we went to buy some tshirts.

We left at 12.35 from Santa Barbara, heading to Monterey, where we arrived at about 16.30, after driving for 256 miles.
The average driving speed was quite high, as you can see in the photos, where there is a shot I personally took of the dashboard during my driving shift, where you can see the hand of the speedmeter in a quite unusual position, marking most likely 100mph or more.

After getting the wallet with the money at the Motel 6, we immediatly left to go back south, arriving at Santa Monica at about 22.45.

We got the motel room (56$) and then we went out to call home and to have something to eat. We ended up at a restaurant that we did not like at all.

The weather : cloudy the whole day but with some sun in the late afternoon.

  • Monterey
  • Santa Monica
The_safe_wallet.jpgThe protagonist of this story

The story of the forgotten wallet

One of the main concerns about travelling so much in a foreign country, with a considerable (for the time) amount of cash, was about finding a safe and comfortable place where to keep it.
At the time I had no credit cards, so I had planned to take 500USD in cash with me and keeping that amount in a pocket of my jeans was not advisable, nor it was to keep them in my wallet. I thought it was best to have a second "safe" wallet appositely to keep the reserve of money, and to have this wallet made with soft cloth with a ribbon sewed to a side, so that I could tie the ribbon around my waist and keep it under my jeans. So, basically, not really a traditional wallet but it was more like a an additional pocket, made to contain the reserve of cash money that I had with me; an anti theft safe box.

400_dollars_1990.jpg400 bucks, in 100 USD bills of 1990

I passed the specifications of the object to my mum, and the result was what you can see here to the side.

The night of the 12th, in Monterey, in the motel room, we were getting ready to go out for dinner, and I decided to leave the soft-wallet in the room. I thought for a while about a safe place where to hide it and in the end I simply lifted the mattress and dropped it there under... Lots of fantasy I had.
We went out for dinner and got back to bed. In the morning we packed and left... and i forgot my wallet there under the matress, with more than 400 bucks in it.
Unfortunately, I didn't realise it immediatly : we went to Santa Barbara, arriving there in the afternoon, got the motel room, went out for dinner etc.... I realised about the missing wallet only the day after, the 13th.

After some debating (and swearing out loud, in italian) we decided that we would go back and try to see if they had found it, or if it was still there... After all Monterey was only 250 miles away... We decided not to call the motel though, because we thought that if we had called, they would have just said that they didn't find anything, and would have kept the wallet (and its content) for themselves.

400_dollars.jpg400 bucks, in bills of 1996

We left in the morning and went back there to Monterey, to the Motel 6 where we stayed. Once there I went in and spoke to the woman at the reception. I explained the problem, telling her I had forgotten my wallet in the room, but without telling her where exaclty I had hidden the wallet. She said "I would let you check but now the room is taken, and there's people inside. I'll call them and ask them if we can go". So she did, she called and told them "a guy has forgotten his wallet in the room, do you mind if we come and check?" they said no problem, so we went.

We entered the room : inside there was a couple, boy and girl, quite young, same age of me at the time, around 25. The bed was right inside the room, and we were all standing near it. The woman of the motel said "Ok, get your wallet... where is it ?"... I said "Here !", and without asking, I slipped a hand under the matress and lifted it.....
My wallet was there !....... Together with some heavy porno magazines !!!! And one of these magazines was open....

10_dollars_1990_tip.jpg

I remember I was looking down at my wallet and froze from the embarrassment.... Apparently, we disturbed the couple while they were having fun : obviously, when the woman called them to ask for permission to come and check, they were entertaining themselves with some interesting reading, so they quickly hid the magazines in the first place they had at hand..... under the matress !!

I didnt look at them... I politely said thank you, picked up the wallet and while leaving the room I glanced at the woman of the motel, who was struggling to hold a laughter...
While going back to the motel reception with her, we were so embarrassed that we didn't even mention the magazines. I was happy to have found the wallet, so I gave 10$ tip to the woman.
And I quickly left, because I couldn't wait to tell the story to my friends, who were outside waiting for me.


14 May 1990 (Mon) : Santa Monica - Sedona - Flagstaff

Santa Monica - Sedona - FlagstaffSanta Monica - Sedona - Flagstaff
Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Motel 6
(Flagstaff)
about 35.00$
 
Daily trip notesMiles
Chevrolet Corsica
CA 2SCW701
513

The day started with a very early wake up, at 6am. We got ready and on the road at 7am, heading to Bartsow, passing through L.A.

We didn't have breakfast until we reached Barstow, then on the road again, stopping at Needles for lunch at a fast food.

Then from Needles I drove until the late afternoon, reaching Flagstaff at about 17.00.
We got the motel room at Motel 6 for about 35 bucks, then we had a short trip to Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon.

Back to Flagstaff, we went to Alpin Pizza for dinner, and the pizza was not bad.
My diary reports Alpin Pizza as name of the restaurant, but from a Google check I can only find a place called Alpine Pizza, and it's in this google_maps_icongoogle_maps_icon location.

The weather : after we left the coasts of the Pacific Ocean and drove inside towards the deserts, the air got very hot and the sun shined the whole day.

  • Needles
  • Sedona
  • Oak Creek Canyon

15 May 1990 (Tue) : Flagstaff - Grand Canyon - Chinle

Flagstaff - Grand Canyon - ChinleFlagstaff - Grand Canyon - Chinle
Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Reverend John Bowersock's trailer
(Chinle)
free
 
Daily trip notesMiles
Chevrolet Corsica
CA 2SCW701
407

Before going to the Grand Canyon, I managed to convince my friends to go to the Meteor Crater first.
It's not that far away from Flagstaff, so we went there as we left the motel. Interesting, although not such a big thrill, because it's a very big crater, so big that it looks like a natural formation, and it doesn't fit in the view of a pocket camera.

Then we went to the Grand Canyon and spent the day in the park along the South Rim. I cannot describe the effect of the first time at such an amazing place... Neither can the photographs. I am not surprised that there are people who come here and never want to go back to their places of origin.

Meteor_Crater_AZ.jpgThe Meteor Crater, near Flagstaff AZ

After the Grand Canyon, back on the road, driving through the Painted Desert (along the 89), then Tuba City and then driving on the 264 through the Mesas.
We probably stopped more than once but I remember in the afternoon, at dusk, that we stopped at the village called Shungopovi : a town that looked like a ghost town, with cheap old buildings, old cars, an abandoned Malco gas station along the road, and I remember we went to the one and only souvenir shop, where my friends bought some Indian style items.
In 2002, many years after this first trip, I visited this place again, finding it even more worn out, but the abandoned gas station was still there, and it still is, checking the street view google_maps_icon from Google maps. Also, the name of this town for Google maps is "Shongopovi", but the name printed on the road sign that you can see in the street view is "Shungopovi" (check the photos of the day where I went there in 2002).

After we left Shungopovi we decided we look for a place where to have dinner; and we found it, but it was closing, and I asked why. The reply was that we didn't realise that we passed one time zone and that when we had to be careful,
We skipped dinner....

And then I can't remember much of what happened afterwards, becasue I fell asleep in the car, in the front passenger seat.

Once arrived at Chinle, our planned destination for the night, my friends tried to wake me up, without success. Practicing their rudimental English, they stopped at some motels asking for a room, but no one had vacancy. So they asked for information to a group of men at some place and one of them offered to guide us to other motels, to check if they had a room. So we did, we followed his hatchback truck to a couple of motels, but again no vacancy.
Only at this point, I woke up, welcomed by my friends' complains.

Since there was no room anywhere for us, the man who helped us checking the motels offered us to stay at his home for the night. He said "my wife is in Oklahoma, therefore I have room for you to stay in my house for the night".
We were stunned and speechless by his offer, which we accepted.
We followed him again to his house in Chinle, and we found out that it was a trailer, with Christmas lights flashing all around the borders.
He put clean sheets on his king size bed and an additional bed for us, and he stayed in another room of the trailer.
In the morning, we woke up quite early but he was not there. After some time he arrived with some things for us for breakfast. One of these things was a soft drink in can called Mountain Dew. It's only now that we got to know him a bit better : he was the reverend of a local Baptist Church, and lived there with his wife. We also got to know his dog, called Machinka (not sure of the spelling).
He was really friendly and told us that in the US there are many people like him, and we were very happy to have met him; we exchanged mail addresses (at the time the internet and email were still science fiction) and he sent us letters and reports from his church for a while.
Due to nothing else but lazyness, we never sent him some money for his church like we said we would, and it's something that still makes us feel bad nowadays too.

  • Meteor Crater
  • Grand Canyon
  • Painted Desert
  • Shungopovi

16 May 1990 (Wed) : Chinle - Monument Valley

Chinle - Monument ValleyChinle - Monument Valley
Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Goulding's Lodge
(1000 Main Street, Oljato-Monument Valley, UT 84536google_maps_icon)
84.00$
 
Daily trip notesMiles
Chevrolet Corsica
CA 2SCW701
126

After the breakfast offered by reverend John Bowersock (read the deatils in the report of the previous day) we left Chinle and went to the Canyon de Chelly.
The Canyon in general is always enjoyable, but for sure less spectacular than some other more popular ones. There is a place here though that leaves you speechless, especially if you are not prepared to see it, and I didn't know about it; this place alone is worth the visit spent in the park : Spider Rock.

Spider Rock is a double pinnacle of rocky sand that rises up to 800 feet (240 meters) and observing it from the rim of the canyon is really impressive.
Do not visit the park too late in the afternoon because the shadows of the surrounding cliffs will cover part of the rock.

In the mood for a brave (and bully) performance, I crawled to the edge of one of these vertical rocky walls and when I looked down from the edge I froze.... I tried to take a picture of what I could see but it came out not clear at all. I also asked one of my friends if he could take a picture of me on the edge of the cliff and he seemd to be more scared than me...

Spider_Rock.JPGSpider Rock, 800ft (240m) high

After Canyon de Chelly, we visited Canyon Del Muerto, and I cannot remember much of what we saw there.

We got on the road heading north, and we stopped at Many Farms where we had hot dogs as lunch.
We arrived at Kayenta at about 15, but we didn't stop, we went directly to the Monument Valley.

Once at the entrance of the park, we decided we didn't go back to look for a motel. The colors of the rocks under the sun of the late afternoon was fantastic, it was impossible to resist, so we entered the park to have the tour with the car.
One of the most beautiful days and places we visited in our vacation, I really fell in love with.
In the tour we stopped all along the path, to take pictures and admire the views. In one of these stops we met an indian girl with her young brother. I socialized with her a bit, her name was Lorraine.

At the end of the tour we went to look for a place to stay for the night, and the very first one we found was the Goulding's Lodge, a good level motel at the beginning of the village that is on the other side of the highway. Not very cheap (84$), but we were happy about the position, and quite tired to go look for another place... which doesn't exist anyway, becasue the Goulding's is the only motel there. Besides the Goulding's, you can only find rooms for rent or a campground.
While we were going to our room, we found out that the motel had a swimming pool, which we immediatly tried, after having sorted out our suitcases : the tour in the park is a long dirt road, and at the end of it we found out that the trunk and everything that was inside it was covered with red sand...

We had dinner at the motel. There is a restaurant inside, and the food is acceptable. After dinner we went to Kayenta for a trip, but the place has nothing much to offer, so we went back and in bed.

  • Canyon de Chelly
  • Canyon Del Muerto
  • Many Farms
  • Kayenta
  • Monument Valley

17 May 1990 (Thu) : Monument Valley - Page - Panguitch

Monument Valley - Page - PanguitchMonument Valley - Page - Panguitch
Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Marianna Inn
(699 N Main St, Panguitch, UT 84759google_maps_icon)
Jacuzzi spa outside. In 2013 we got the same motel but without knowing it!38.00$
 
ExpensesNotesTotal
Police ticket fro speeding
(Road to Kayenta)
88mph where the limit was 55mph
142.00$
Motor boat rental
(Page, Lake Powell)
100$+32$ gasoline
132.00$
 
Daily trip notesMiles
Chevrolet Corsica
CA 2SCW701
263

Wake up call at 6.30, and it's never a pleasant thing.

Couple it to the fact that we were stopped by a police car on our way to Kayenta, getting a ticket of 142.00$ for speeding because the radar said 88mph on a road with speed limit at 55mph, is a bad way to start a day.
We saw a police car driving in the opposite direction, and turning back to reach us with siren on and flashing lights. My friend Andrea, who was driving, pulled over and stopped the car; we all got out of the car and pretended to look around like tourists lost in the desert, but the trick didn't work : the policeman, officier Jones (native indian skin) reached us and told us we were in trouble.
He checked something in his car and told us we were driving very fast above the limit; my friend Andrea, in perfect Italian style, said "no, impossible", but when the officer showed us the printout of the radar device of his car, with the technical data about the speed, we could only shut up.

Andrea offered to pay the ticket with his own money but me and Franco declined the offer, because, besides of the spirit of the vacation (sharing expenses) we knew that we were all at risk of tickets : 88mph was pretty normal in Italy, a country where in 1990 speed cameras were not used by the police.
We went to a postal office at Kayenta to pay the ticket, and when the clerk saw the amount and the speed, she called her other colleagues to show them, and they were all thrilled by it. We made them laugh telling them that in Italy we walk at 55mph, but we had to pay the whole amount anyway.

We arrived at Page at about 11.30, in a wonderful sunny day. I can't remember if we had planned to rent a boat or if we simply decided so when we arrived there... anyway we rented a small (tiny) motor boat and had a trip in the lake.
It's not possible to describe how special it is... We rented the boat for 3 hours, from 12.30 to 15.30, and it was well worth the expense (100$ + 32$ gasoline).
Being careful not to get too close to the rocks, because we could end up hitting a rock with the bottom of the boat, under the water, we had a spectacular sail trip in the lake. The boat was small but quite fast and a fun to drive !

Once back on the ground, we got back on the road and reached Hatch around dinner time. We had dinner there, at some place where we socialised with a woman from Czechoslovakia.
Then we drove again on our path and reached Panguitch, where we stopped for the night at the Marianna's Inn (the room was 38$, quite cheap).

The motel had a jacuzzi spa outside, and we spent some time there with other guests; we socialised with a girl from Phoenix, Michelle, 20 years old.
The air of the evening/night (it was dark already) was quite cold but the water was warm and good for the sunburnt I got. It was a shock to get off the spa and run to the room wearing only a swimsuit.

  • Page
  • Lake Powell
  • Hatch
  • Panguitch

18 May 1990 (Fri) : Panguitch - Bryce Canyon - Zion - Las Vegas

Panguitch - Bryce Canyon - Zion - Las VegasPanguitch - Bryce Canyon - Zion - Las Vegas
Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Comfort Inn
(4375 E Craig Rd, Las Vegasgoogle_maps_icon)
7450(address/location is not confirmed by photos/documentation)60.00$
 
ExpensesNotesTotal
Photo film rolls
(Panguitch)

?
 
Daily trip notesMiles
Chevrolet Corsica
CA 2SCW701
275

We woke up at 6.30, and at this point I think that this was more like a mission than a real vacation...
We had breafast on the road to Panguitch but my diary is not clear whether it was before or after going to Bryce Canyon. What it says is that I bought film rolls for my camera too.

Bryce Canyon National Park was beautiful, and the air quite chilly ! There is a reason : the altitude of the rim of the cayon is 9000ft (2700m) ! We didn't stay much and didn't have a big tour around in the park, we only admired the most popular vista points and spent some time feeding (or maybe just playing with) the squirrels, that populate the area.

After lunch we went to Zion National Park. We didn't stop much on the way through the park, we just drove through it, heading to Las Vegas on the I-15, crossing the border with Nevada near Mesquite, more or less in this google_maps_icon point.

We arrvied at Las Vegas at 19.30, around dinner time, and we got the motel room (Comfort Inn, 60 bucks). While driving around looking for a place to stay, we drove along the strip and were quite stunned of the view. The Excalibur was still under construction, while other famous ones didn't exist yet, like the Luxor. We didn't know yet that it was not that expensive to get a room in the big hotel casinos of the strip, therefore we looked for a room at motels near the strip.

After sorting ourselves out for the evening, we went out for a long walk on the strip. We were told to go to Circus Circus, because it was less snob as a casino and had a all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant that was good. And so we did.
I had allocated a certain amount for Gambling, something like 100 USD, which was a considerable amount of money at the time, where the value of the smallest chip was 25c, and the minimum bet was 1 USD.
Needless to say I lost basically everything. Until a certain point I was resisting, with my boring but statistically solid play. Franco was quite lucky and won with betting on the number 5 a couple of times.
We changed casinos, went to the Ceasars Palace, and other ones, like the Sands.

At the Sands we socialised with a girl named Corinne, from Phoenix, who was gambling at the poker machines. I think she was 20 years old. She didn't know the rules of the game though, therefore I offered to explain to her... and to have a walk around with her...
I won't get into details about what we did, but there is an anecdote about a lift and an alarm bell that one day I might decide to tell....

After other gambling and fun, in the very early morning, I went back to the motel room, where my friends were already.

It was sunny the whole day.

  • Panguitch
  • Bryce Canyon
  • Zion
  • Las Vegas

19 May 1990 (Sat) : Las Vegas - Death Valley - Barstow

Las Vegas - Death Valley - BarstowLas Vegas - Death Valley - Barstow
Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Gateway Motel
(1630 E Main St, Barstowgoogle_maps_icon)
3x2 formula. It's now a Travelodge Hotel.38.00$
 
Daily trip notesMiles
Chevrolet Corsica
CA 2SCW701
348

We woke up at 10.15 and checked out from the motel. Then we went to the Stardust, to have breakfast/lunch. A brunch, basically, which we had at 12.45, paying 5.99$ each one of us.

Then we left for the Death Valley. The Death Valley is a legendary place, which in the imaginary fantasy of three young guys is a place that looks like the moon, and in fact so it did. We arrived there in the late afternoon, finding a very heavy air and hot temperatures, which made the atmosphere even more deadly.
We drove through the southern part of the Park, entering on the 374 from Beattygoogle_maps_icon, continuing along Beatty Rdgoogle_maps_icon to Beatty Junctiongoogle_maps_icon, visiting the Old Dinah steam tractor at Furnace Creek Ranchgoogle_maps_icon, Badwater Rdgoogle_maps_icongoogle_maps_icongoogle_maps_icon, Bad Watergoogle_maps_icon, the water tank near Ashford Junctiongoogle_maps_icon, Jubilee Pass Rdgoogle_maps_icon and leaving the park taking the 127 heading to Baker.

At Baker we stopped for dinner, then we got back on the road and went to Barstow, where we stayed for the night at the Gateway Motel, a place that does not exist anymore today (2011), paying 38 bucks with the 3x2 formula.

During the whole day the weather was sunny but very humid. The humidty in the Death Valley in particular was terrible...

  • Las Vegas
  • Death Valley
  • Barstow

20 May 1990 (Sun) : Barstow - San Diego

Barstow - San DiegoBarstow - San Diego
Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Motel 6
(San Diego)
3x2 formula38.00$
 
ExpensesNotesTotal
Swim suit/shorts
(Shopping center at San Diego)

?
Dinner
(Casa del Pico, Old Town)

?
 
Daily trip notesMiles
Chevrolet Corsica
CA 2SCW701
185

Wake up call at 8... and at 9. We probably were not ready at the first call.
We checked out and left for San Diego, stopping on the way, at Corona, where we had brunch on Magnolia Avenue.

We arrived at San Diego at about 13 and we got a room at the Motel 6 with the 3x2 formula for 38$.

It happened that we drove near the south end of Morena Boulevard, and we stopped right there to take a picture, in honor of Morena, a dear friend of us. It's the photo you can see here at the right, and the spot where it was taken is this google_maps_icon

USA_1990-05-20 00-00-01_R05F24.jpgThe south end of Morena Bld, San Diego

What do you do in the afternoon of a sunny sunday at the end of May in San Diego ? The answer is : go to the beach !.... No... we went to La Jolla, then to "Old Town", and then downtown at a shopping center... Incredible.
In a place where the beach is packed with beautiful people (=girls) we chose to spend our precious time alone at deserted place, wondering where all the other people were. In fact we were quite nervous and had an argument.
At the shopping center I bought a pair of shorts (most likely a swim suit, if I well remember).

We got back to the motel and got ready to go out for dinner. We picked a place called "Casa del Pico" google_maps_icon, apparently the best Mexican restaurand around.
And in fact it was worth the money spent, although I didn't note down how much was the receipt, nor I remember it, also because we got pretty tipsy... The wine was good, and we needed a lot of it to compete with the tortillas and sauce.

After the restaurant, we had a walk at La Jolla and then went to bed.

  • La Jolla
  • Old Town
  • Downtown

21 May 1990 (Mon) : San Diego - Los Angeles

San Diego - Los AngelesSan Diego - Los Angeles
Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Motel 6
(Los Angeles)
3 x 2 formula. we paid for two nights30.00$
 
ExpensesNotesTotal
Two Tshirts
(La Jolla, San Diego)
wi the text "FLOJOS" on them
?
 
Daily trip notesMiles
Chevrolet Corsica
CA 2SCW701
121

After breakfast, that we had at a place not far from the motel, we went again to La Jolla for a walk. There I bought two tshirt, with a colourful writing "Flojos" on them.

The we left for Los Angeles, driving under the sun until we arrived there at about 18. We got a room at a Motel 6, but I cannot remember which Motel 6... Anyway 3x2 formula and 2 nights paid at 30$ each.

In the evening we went out and had dinner at a place called... "Partry" ?.... I don't know if the name is correct becasue my hand wirting is not clear. My guide says it's a place that never closed down a single day in 58 years.
There are no comments about the quality of the food or the price.
UPDATE: I looked for info in Google and found that the place is called Pantry, and it's here google_maps_icon

While driving back to the motel, we were stopped by a police car and experienced the thrill of being interrogated by a nervous LA police officier, while his colleage was behind our car, keeping us at gunpoint.
A situation that, until then, we had only seen in the movies. Thrilling... but I wouldn't repeat the experience.

  • La Jolla
  • Hollywood

22 May 1990 (Tue) : Los Angeles (Disneyland)

Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Motel 6
(Los Angeles)
3 x 2 formula. night paid yesterday30.00$

Wake up call at 7, to get ready to go to Disneyland at Anaheim. We had been told to go there early and go to the most popular attractions while there were only few people in the queue. And so we did, visiting several of these attractions, among which were the following ones :

disneyland_anaheim_1990_map.JPGDisneyland - map of 1990

  1. The Pirates Grotto (Pirates of the Caribbean?)
  2. The House of the Ghosts (The Taunted House?)
  3. Star Tours

During the day we met and socialised with a girl from Vancouver name Shirleyne (not sure of the spelling), 21 years old.

Although it's never been my favourite type of attraction, the visit to the park was beautiful, also because of the special events and parade "35 Years of Magic" going on to celebrate 35 years of life of the park.

In the evening we went for dinner to Long Beach, at a restaurant inside the ship "Queen Mary" google_maps_icon. The ship was really huge, and inside it the atmosphere was quite elegant; I see it's a hotel today, but I can't remember if it was a hotel at the time too. I cannot remember anything about the food, I'm sure it was not memorable.

  • Disneyland
  • Long Beach
  • Queen Mary

23 May 1990 (Wed) : Los Angeles (Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach)

Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Airport Marina Hotel
(8639 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angelesgoogle_maps_icon)
Now called Custom Hotelprepaid
 
ExpensesNotesTotal
Spice Club, entrance
12.00$
Ticket for Parking Violation
about
28.00$

We left the motel in the morning and moved to the Hotel Airport Marina. I cannot remember much of this hotel, and the street view of Google google_maps_icon does not help at all.

During the day we went to Manhattan Beach and Venice Beach, and then to a shopping center called Fox Hills Mall.

For the night, we decided to go to a dance club. I really cannot remember how we got to pick this place, and I cannot remember much of how it was inside, but I do remember very well how it was outside, because we stood there for 1 hour and 40 minutes, from 23.30 to 1.15, before we could get in.
And there were a lot of people outside waiting with us.

By the time they picked us to get in, Franco got annoyed and decided to stay outside.... Understandable choice, but I got in with Andrea.
I don't know if the man who checked our passports at the entrance was only trying to be funny when, looking at our photos, he asked me "how do you say ugly in Italian?". When I said "James", since his name was clearly printed on a metallic label on the pocket of his shirt, he smiled but I'm not sure he liked my sense of humor...

We didn't stay in the club for long, just the time of a drink and to look around a little bit. After about 1 hour we got out to join Franco, who was waiting for us outside.
And we had a surprise : Franco was sleeping in the car, with a ticket for parking violation (28 bucks) on the windscreen.

  • Manhattan Beach
  • Venice Beach
  • "Spice" Club

24 May 1990 (Thu) : Los Angeles (Malibu, Venice Beach)

Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Airport Marina Hotel
(8639 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angelesgoogle_maps_icon)
Now called Custom Hotelprepaid
 
ExpensesNotesTotal
3.5" Disk Drive Unit
(?)

279.00$
Spice Club, entrance
10.00$

I woke up at 10.30 and went to have breakfast on my own, because my friends Andrea and Franco were still sleeping.

After breakfast we went to do some errands : we paid the ticket for parking violation and we went somewhere where I purchased the 3.5" disk drive unit, that I believe was for my Apple IIgs at home, with a cost of 279$.

We also went to see a mural painting which had a catastrophic scene as subject, but I cannot remember anything about it.
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Then we went to the beach again but this time we stopped at Malibu Beach and then again at Venice Beach.

For dinner, we went to a place near the hotel, where we socialized with a waitress called Vana, 26 years old from Greece.

Then out for the night : we went again to the "Spice" club (10$ entrance), where they were having a rock night. In my diary I noted "N.Y.C." which is probably the name of the band playing... or something.
We got in at 23.30, without having to wait a long time because outside there was basically no one; we got to know another waitress, Melissa, half Russian and half Hungarian...
We left the club at 1.45 and went back to the hotel. On the way there, we saw a burning car to the side of the road and we also stopped at 2am to buy a bottle of milk at a supermarket... Both things quite shocking for an Italian...

  • Malibu Beach
  • Venice Beach
  • "Spice" Club

25 May 1990 (Fri) : Los Angeles (shpping, Santa Monica)

Daily report
HotelRoom #NotesCost
Airport Marina Hotel
(8639 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angelesgoogle_maps_icon)
Now called Custom Hotelprepaid
 
Car RentalLicense #Mileage in/outCost
Alamo LAX Airport
Chevrolet Corsica
CA 2SCW7018972 (out)prepaid

26 May 1990 (Sat) : Los Angeles - Milan

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