The state I’m in

I’m just back from America and another potential divorce trip to rival our infamous “Cotswolds to Istanbul and back” tour of 2015. This time, the Joly family piled into a car at LAX and drove around California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, apart from a seventy-mile road battle with a motorcycle gang, a disastrous night on a Vegas blackjack table with Hank from Breaking Bad, just missing a deadly rockslide in Zion and finally cracking and refusing to leave a 30 per cent tip for a woman handing me a cup of cup of skinny, organic, fair-trade, almond milk, blonde, vanilla, macchiato… not much.

Utah, however, is pretty much my new favourite place in the world. We kicked off in Zion where we headed up the Narrows, a vertiginous canyon that we explored by wading up the ice-cold river that runs through it. The further we went, the more people we left behind. This was not always the case for our trip around the Mormon state.

In Moab, a town that seems to be exclusively set up for hippies who exercise, we got a local to recommend his favourite ole’ swimming hole, and set off on a gorgeous three mile hike up a canyon. The swimming hole was stunning and a perfect find – except for the group of forty noisy high schoolers who had found it just before us. We didn’t stay long. Sometimes travel is just like Instagram, and sometimes it’s just like IRL.

Monument Valley was a destination that has been top of my bucket list for quite a while. The sheer scale of the place coupled with the uncanny stillness reminded me of childhood trips through the Syrian Desert.

We were nervous arriving in Bryce Canyon, a place I knew nothing about – but sometimes travel is better that way. Our initial disappointment at what looked like a hokey, Wild West town made by Disney turned into utter joy when we drove into the park and got our first view of the Canyon itself. It was undoubtedly the highlight of the trip. It’s almost indescribable; like looking down into a massive bowl in which termites have built stone skyscrapers. We just stood and stared for hours.

We left Utah on a high and headed towards LA, stopping to spend the night in an oasis in Death Valley. As we pulled up to reception at five in the afternoon the car thermometer registered fifty degrees centigrade, and then promptly collapsed of heat stroke.

Back in LA we spent several days in Venice Beach, where the electric scooter has taken over. Everywhere you looked scooters sat abandoned, pleading with you to ride them. About seven different companies are vying for market share at the moment and to say that there is a glut of the things would be an understatement. But they do seem to be the future – maybe not in Death Valley, but in major cities. Should my next family roadtrip be on scooters? Food for thought…

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