Carnet de Voyage USA #1

Carnet de Voyage USA #1

If you follow me on Instagram, you may know that I returned to Paris! I’m using the start of the week to blog about my recent travels. One whole month, and yet, one month is too short to see or discover all that I wanted to see.

Las Vegas is truly faithful to its reputation: sulfurous, luxurious, and unrestrained. In a few words, my visit to Las Vegas wouldn’t be one of my more memorable experiences; I think that it is too full of all the things that let its charm evaporate. Too big, too many hotels, too many lights, too many people, too fake, too glittery, too much luxury, too much cheap. And yet, paradoxically, I loved the kitsch of this stunning city, its mythical side, and I still remain impressed by the fact that this enormous machine could be planted just there, right in the middle of nowhere.

To see near Vegas: the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, where we got to take a dip.

We then took the route to the Grand Canyon. Before we left, I thought that this part of the trip would bore me. I’m more of a City Girl than a Country Girl at heart, but it’s actually this part that I appreciated the most. For a long time, I have been proud of being able to say during my trips that I am French. Ultimately, it’s true that everyone loves France… Paris is SO chic! ☺ But after the American West, I’m forced to admit that Paris, even if I love it with all my heart…. well, it’s just Paris and nothing more.

The Grand Canyon! What an experience! And moreover, where to start?

So that you can understand our adventure better, the best thing is to give it context.

First of all, let’s be clear: I’m not very athletic… No, let me start again, I’m not athletic at all. Period. And two years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to do more sports. My strategy: take on one sporty challenge per year. Big, medium, or small- that’s not important. In my logic, it was supposed to push me to do more sports, to train me. My first challenge was The Parisian. At the start of the races: level of training= 0, best recorded time= 0, and everything that follows= 0. By a miracle, I walked my 7 km (I know that it’s not a ton, but for me, it’s incredible!), with such simplicity that I impressed all my closest friends. I, Gaby, collector of gym class exemption notes, had achieved my goal for 2013! My husband was totally impressed and he concluded that the only plausible reason for this success was genetics. Stereotypes are an easy excuse… but stupidly, I believed him. So for my challenge for 2014, I followed along with his idea of hiking in the Grand Canyon…. Big mistake.

Lesson of the day: black people can also get SUNSTROKE, and no genetics in the world can protect you from the Big Mean Canyon, even with intensive training (I know that would seem totally logical, but I thought it was possible). I’ll spare you all the details. To cut to the chase: my stupidity would end up costing me more than the 15 miles at 115 to 120*F (due to the reflection of the sun on the rocks), 1 heatstroke, 5 or 6 hallucinations, 6 liters of water, and surely 6 liters of sweat. But at least the advantage in the Canyon is that you dry faster than you can sweat, so I stayed fresh longer (God save the Queen!). Going back up the Canyon was the worst moment of my life. An indescribable sensation of fatigue, but more so, of total discouragement. In reality, once at the base of the Canyon, the only thing that’s left for you to do is look up at the pile of rocks and start climbing. And when the exhaustion and the heat start to make you do crazy things (like hang down and put your head in a muddy stream, surely full of squirrel shit), sanity eventually comes round to tell you, “If you stay here, an American helicopter will come and take you home to France and you will have to take out bank loans for the rest of your life to pay off the bill.” After 10 long hours, and fainting two or three times (no, I’m not exaggerating), the Grand Canyon spat out what was left of me. And just like J. and me, we’re a very smart couple, we had the intelligence before the hike to reserve a camping site for the night (AAAaaaaahhhh). The next day, we continued our adventure towards Death Valley, the immensity, the desert, the improbable… All that I had seen in the old Clint Eastwood movies was coming to mind, mile after mile. A perfect consolation prize.

After a quick trip through the national parks, we arrived in a little fishing village: Bridgeport, a haven of peace, where we met a charming retired couple, the owners of the motel where we were staying for the night. What’s funny about globalization is that even without stepping foot in a country, Hollywood had already given us a great idea of what it’s like. At each stop on our trip, we had the impression of having already seen the locations, the streets, and the places in a movie or TV show. Bridgeport is my Huckleberry Finn to me, but with DSL modems and 4G. The landscapes, the little white church, and the fish and chips restaurant called Chez Mabel. It was all there!

See you Wednesday for the rest of our trip. Kisses!

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