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Li Xiaohu's Journey

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U.S. West Coast

Western U.S. – San Francisco 9

San Francisco的Alamo Square就像明信片一样。

尽管天气阴沉,绿茵茵的草地上还是有几个人在跑着步,带着狗狗。陈兔和李小狐十分羡慕,很是yy了一阵这几栋可爱的楼房中有一栋是自己的。

这座小城市就像我的故乡一样美好(幻想中的),我们从Ellis Street步行过来,道路起起伏伏,海鸥在红色或蓝色的砖楼间飞行,阴雨间间歇的阳光时而照亮树梢和草地。

比较失望的反而是Golden Gate Bridge,一座红色的钢铁大桥,作为这座城市的象征,没有任何迷人之处。

桥头的部分正在修建,地上扔着一袋袋建筑材料。我们还在桥上走了走,因为地面是金属,车过的时候震动得厉害,而且很吵。也许在一个晴朗的天气,日落十分可以看到红色闪耀的“日照金门”。

(陈兔:又是虚构的吧,根据“日照金山”编了一个“日照金门”)

 

 

 

一天下来,差不多都在巨大的 Golden Gate Park闲逛。我们有经过鲜花盛开的Conservatory of Flowers, California Academy of Science 前面的空地有很多长相奇特的树木,爬到Dr. Young Museum顶层俯瞰整个城市 。

不过李小狐拍了最多照片的居然是Japanese Tea Garden。

 

 

 

 

这个Japanese Tea Garden并不算如何authentic,但是这个小小的花园里,杜鹃和樱花开在苍翠的松柏间,竹林下一盏石质的灯台,湖中养着锦鲤,流水上搭着木桥。

和整个宽广空旷的Golden Gate Park多么的不一样。

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

在这个地球上遥远的,北美洲上的国家,我开始想念我古老,迷人,散发阵阵檀木的幽香的亚洲了。

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Western U.S. – San Francisco 8

漫天海鸥的San Francisco,陈兔说:我为大螃蟹而来———————————————————————————————————–

比起又大又荒凉的L.A. , San Francisco是色彩缤纷的小城市。

在微雨中到达Union Square,沿着Ellis Street找订的hotel,迅速就被这里欢乐的氛围感染了。旅行真辛苦,走了这么久,终于找到一个可以在下午的时候下楼,坐在藤椅上拿着咖啡看一本书的城市。

旅程总是充满变数,结果我们没有在藤椅上看书,而是跑去Burger King解决午饭,甚至没有去著名的In-N-Out或著名的Macdonald。Burger对于李小狐当然是正常地难吃,不过这不重要,我们兴致勃勃去搭cable car —- S.F.的地形像我的老家一样陡,小型的cable car从山顶上驶来。真是古老得可以,到站后,司机和乘务员就下车来人工倒车 —– 车就在一个大型火锅转盘上,然后他们把车转过去>_<

游客们总是要搭这车的,虽然她摇摇晃晃,一路颠簸地开向Fisherman’s Wharf,头上的‘Ding-Ding’ 声好响,难快这里的cable car也叫做叮叮车。在最高处可以看见Fisherman’s Wharf的站下车,慢慢走到 Hyde St. Pier。

时间还是三点半而已,我们沿着pier的序号往前走,路的一侧是些漂亮的小商店,开在赭红色的古老楼房里。十字路口的灯柱上悬挂着花球,更像个欧洲小城。

一侧就是大西洋了,停泊一些巨大的船只,还有满天海鸥的叫声,在阴冷的天气里。

进去一间叫做Musée Mécanique的玩具博物馆,巨大的屋子,里面的玩具大概是一百多年前的,非常古旧。有十分可怖的fortune teller,狂笑的红发女人,还有很多复杂的music boxs,投进去50分,里面穿着礼服的人偶们就开始转动……不知为何突然想起以前在Czech小镇看到博物馆里的玩具,一百多年前的毛毛熊,毛都掉得差不多了。

这里一个重要的destination,就是要去pier 39 看海狮。这还是我第一次看到这么多的海狮挤在一起,虽然他们肥肥的,也臭臭的,但还是很可爱啊,还会一边争地方睡觉,一边引颈高歌。所以这是整个Fisherman’s Wharf最著名的地方了,游客们都挤在岸上看他们。

海狮们:看到这么多人类挤在一起,他们肥肥的,也臭臭的,但还是很可爱啊>_<

Pier 39开船可到监狱岛Alcatraz,寒风瑟瑟中,看起来真是不怎么样。

于是我们就在pier 39流连了很久,这里的木头房子开了许多商店,卖各色各样的明信片和纪念品。有一家卖的是囚犯服,哈哈,囚犯服。

还有色彩鲜艳的旋转木马。供游人休息的地方,木桶里开满鲜花。

 

比旅途中任一站都要像旅游区。

之后就是刻舟求剑找Alioto’s吃大螃蟹—-其实吃螃蟹的地方很多,还有路边摊。不过我们看的旅游书上提到了Alioto’s—-大概这本书是他们是sponsor之一。

 

 

于是陈兔满足地吃着大螃蟹。餐厅另有搞笑之处,系在脖子上的餐巾,样子像小孩围嘴不说,还画一只大螃蟹在上面—-真是充分满足陈兔这种人的恶趣味。

其实味道还不错,美中不足之处—-李小狐不能说话很久了,感冒愈加严重T_T在餐厅要了三杯热水,连陈兔都觉得这个request无比怪异。

陈兔:waiter大概以为我在同一个哑女吃饭

李小狐:……

陈兔:是让他觉得你是哑女比较好,还是觉得你不懂英文所以假装哑女比较好?

李小狐:…….

Western U.S. – The Moon in Las Vegas 7

Nevada is truly a barren land! So when a glorious golden city suddenly appeared on the horizon, we were absolutely moved.

Rarely people travel one-way from Grand Canyon to Las Vegas. Not many options except a tour bus of local operator. When rushing to the bus as the last two passengers, we realized it was the bus of one-day tour from LV because most of passengers looked so tired >_< It was such a long-haul trip, 5/6 hours one-way.

The bus stopped twice and passengers got off  to buy coffee and use washroom. It also slowed down when passing the Hoover Dam. I still remember the hot coffee at the lonely rest stop, it warmed me up with aroma smell.

Even through Li Xiaohu is not really into Casino or shopping, I’d like to call Las Vegas ‘Man-Made Marvel’. When the bus climbed over a slope, a shining city appeared in the middle of a desert and its golden lights spread widely.

Only one night here. After settling down in the hotel, we went to see the replicas of the pyramids, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower…on the LV Strip. Many visitors rejoiced on the road, with colorful drinks. The whole city was like a huge party.

One of the most impressive place was the Bellagio fountains. But it was a little bit too short.

We had Burrito dinner in a Mexican restaurant. It was nice to have some rich, tasty food after a long trip.

 

 

 

The Statue of Liberty under the Moon. The lights of LV really changed the scenery.

 

 

Another Statue of Liberty was made out of candy:)

 

 

 

 

The Las Vegas in daytime was quiet and clean (??) . The picture was taken through our hotel window so its color looks weird. Btw, the MGM Grand hotel is big and old. The mountain could be seen clearly.

It was time to catch our Southwest Airline flight (I like Southwest Airline). We took taxi to the airport. Actually we should try to walk there next time, since it looked so close to the LV Strip….(surely we will be exhausted and regret).

 

It was hilarious at the airport. When Chen Tu played slot machines (>_<b ‘When in Rome’), I went to Starbucks. As usual the barista asked my name. But, when I got my mocha, I noticed she misspelled it…

Ahhhhhhhhhhh, she wrote ‘Kyoto’ on the coffee cup…Is my name that funny???

Chen Tu: ……

Western U.S. – Grand Canyon East 6

Li Xiaohu didn’t realise there’s a Grand Canyon East until we saw some pictures on the wall of Yavapai Lodge lobby. It is also called ‘Desert View’. The Colorado river in one picture attracted our attention. Then we decided to join the tour.

The old lady driver was very talkative and introduced the preservation of Grand Canyon all the time. She spoke with her old, raucous voice, which I like, hahaha. Along the East Rim Drive, we visited a few distant viewpoints such as Moran point and Yaki point. Fewer tourists had been here, I guessed. The emerald-green Colorado river was underneath the cliff.

On the roadside, there were some pale or dark, dead wood? The old lady explained sometimes lightning hit trees here and burned them down……Wow, why I’m so looking forward to seeing lightning??

A stylish watchtower stands in the East Rim, our destination. Definitely it was built by modern architecture designer. But at least, it pretended to be native>_<

Not really interested in the souvenir shops inside the watchtower, we began to hike down from the East Rim to explore a little bit more.

 

 

 

 

 

The hat-like mountain in the picture below was called ‘painted desert’. Frankly, their notion of desert is quite different. LoL. For me, ‘desert’ usually means a hot, barren place composed of sand only, as the Mongolia-China border, where a camel train carried us to a well for water. Here the rocky surface was also called ‘desert’, furthermore, ‘painted desert’ with green plants and layered rocks.

We walked along the sandy and rocky path slowly. There were some short bushes. It was quiet around here. Rarely tourists came down, and we met 2 or 3 of them only.

In the lowest place we could achieve, around 20 youngsters sat down and studied in a group. The tutor was reading their book out loud. Her ringing voice was sent by the blowing wind. A Geography class??

It was nice peaceful day. The sun was not as bright as in south rim. The river and valley far away looked like a red-style oil painting under the clouds, just like the oil painting we saw on the wall of Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. We couldn’t help but imagining a journey towards the river valley, on the back of a mule, and surrounded by red cliffs all the way.

We sat down beside these young and quiet students, and enjoyed the scene and the peace.

 

 

Nobody noticed the passing of time. Eagles flew in the sky, making quick-moving shadows on the red mountain ridge.

On the way back to the watch tower, we ended up with realizing how much we had hiked down. This side of mountain was steep. So that’s so-called ‘Trekking in the World’.

Western U.S. – Hiking along the Birght Angel Trail5

Li Xiaohu’d like to call it ‘hiking’ rather than ‘trekking’, although we really suffered from jet lag after a long journey from Asia to West Coast, to Arizona. After sleeping from 5PM to 6AM (local time, why we spent over 12 hours sleeping??>_<), we went for sunrise, and then, started hiking along the Bright Angel Trail.

Among all the places we have been for hiking, Mt. Annapurna was the most pleasant experience with a rapid change of scenery: farmland, Hindu temple, waterfall, jungle, snow mountain, vibrant sunset and bright clouds. On the other hand, Mt. Meili was a isolated, mysterious world where the basement had been abandoned for ages and all the tracks and paths were hidden under snow. When we climbed over the mountain ridge on the way back to the village, we heard a snow slide.

But hiking in the Grand Canyon was more like wandering in our own backyard – well, without the ambition to hike down to the campground at the bottom. First of all, tons of information were available on the internet. Before departing from Hong Kong, we were aware of the three premier trails in Grand Canyon. I was attracted by the South Kaibab trail, but for certain reason (??) Chen Tu liked the Bright Angel Trail better.

Now he was hiking on the icy trail, carrying the big camera bag covered by his down jacket. ‘Like a camel’.

It was the end of March, the season for flower blossom in Hong Kong. Here, one side of the trail was exposed to the sun and easy to walk. Another side in the shade, where ice was melting, was very slippery.

Some rocks have holes in them. People really enjoyed taking photos through these holes. There were many tourists walking along the trail. Luckily we met a pair of mom and daughter, who took photo for us.

‘Look ‘ Chen Tu said, ‘the mom is, more or less, the same age as your mom. She’s still doing some hiking (I appreciate it!!)’ I answered: ‘Well, my mom never did any sports which would make her sweat, even when she was 20/30 something.’

Rock squirrels were everywhere, however, unfortunately, not welcomed in Grand Canyon. Hahaha, these cute, furry animals bite.  Every year some people have been bitten.

We had to enjoy this little rock squirrel from a distance.

The temperature changed dramatically when we walked down. We set off in the Winter. At the three mile rest house, It was almost in the Spring. We overlooked the green forest at Indian garden. Some girls just wore tank tops and long shorts, comparing to our heavy, black, down jackets…..

Hiking in Grand Canyon was totally different from my imagination……actually, much better. Before I watched a few pictures and videos, just like—-walking forever in a dry desert……

It was still very dry, but was painted green, with growing bush. Some helicopters passed by and left white smoke lines in the sky.

Now it was time to walk back up. Again, had no ambition to finish the trail within one day. The Bright Angel Trail descends 4380 feet to the Colorado River. Maybe we will cross the river next time^_^

Western U.S. – Sunrise and Sunset at Yavapai point4

However the sunrise was staggering beautiful at Yavapai point, when morning sun was shining on the peaks and the valleys were still in the dark.

We stayed in Yavapai Lodge for two nights. It is quiet, surrounded by pine woodlands, far away from the rim where many tourists crowd. We met rock squirrels on the way to our room^_^ The downside – need take shuttle bus to the rim.

(No particular reason to choose this one…When booking through Xanterra website one month ago, this was the only thing available. Especially…Phantom Ranch at the bottom, which I wanted to hike to, accepted reservation from 13 months ago…

Uh, why people plan what to do 13 months ahead? I’m not even 100% where I will be next year >_<b)

According to travel book, Yavapai point is always the best place for sunrise and sunset. We got up at 6AM and spent 30 mins in walking there. It was early morning in March and was frozen. Some cars passed on the road – most of people traveled to Grand Canyon with their car, except for us.

The camera couldn’t get as much details as there were. There are hundreds of thousands of rocky mountains in Grand Canyon. Every mountain looked vivid and colorful now, rather than the dim and grey rocks at noon.

The sun was still very bright. Chen Tu’s transforming glasses totally changed to black!

Warmed up by the Sun, we wandered back and crossed the woodlands nearby, with pine trees’ fresh smell. One guy was running with his dog and passed us in this pleasant morning.

We returned to the same place for sunset. The flying clouds looked like a oil painting. The golden light was fading from all the mountains quickly.

Get a closer look.

Western U.S. – Still on the Road3

Grand Canyon train has really cute car, with old leather chairs. Most of passengers were with their kids. As I read from Lonely Planet before: …it is not (young and strong) backpacker’s choice…

Probably we are only Asian faces in the car. Why? It did’t do enough to promote itself in Asian markets?

When leaving William town, the two cowboy actors waved their hands, saying goodbye to us. We watched their show ‘Wild West’, but it’s more for kids^_^. Anyway, this little town is petite, lovely and extremely cold – maybe only for me.

Rested in the Grand Canyon Railway hotel, it was so cold outside! Poor us! We had our best breaky buffet here. I had plenty of bakery while Chen Tu had enough protein to survive T_Tb. Their coffee was mild but picked me up.

Li Xiaohu: The American people are quite good at baking scone, loaf, pie…

Chen Tu: of coz, in Asia we always call scone, loaf, pie ‘western cake’ !

The train crossed the desert area in Arizona. Not sure if it is real ‘desert’, for someone coming from a town where it is rainy every day — the scene showing in picture window was astonishing enough.

Some place refreshed my memory on my few train trips ten or twenty years ago. Trains across my home province, if there is, always go through tunnels and over bridges. So inside the car it is light and dark, light and dark all the time.

Clouds floated in the sky.

There was an accordion player on the train. He played an old folk song (?no idea what it is), and others followed.

 

 

(As a revenge on the internet filtering in China, Li Xiaohu decided to change her channel to English.

Li Xiaohu: It’s a fighting back! From me, a Chinese literature geek ! Let’s call it even then.

Chen Tu: ……)

On the way to Grand Canyon!

美西,旅行在路上2

于是在雨后初霁的阳光中到了 Union Station,搭去往Arizona州的火车。

这座火车站也十分老旧。但是却让我感到一些不同于L.A.其他的地方的,杂乱和温暖。反正我就是不喜欢L.A. !!!这种不喜无关理性。这座城市像钻石一样明亮,像钻石一样洁净,像钻石一样冷洌,李小狐的感情直白而朴素—–反正我就是不喜欢钻石!!!

可能再过几年,会喜欢钻石。就像十年前的我也并不知道,会觉得香港more like home.

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据说 Amtrak的火车从未成功赚到钱,靠政府资助存活—- 不过火车票比飞机票到还要贵些—-可能因为是卧铺,也可能飞机太便宜,航空公司纷纷濒临倒闭>_<

空间非常狭小,和当年在天朝坐什么”动车”(好像是吧)完全无法相比,现在高级的“高铁”没坐过。

优点是有一块布帘子,隔开对面不认识的人:p

可怜的陈兔穿着羽绒服,挤在狭小的空间里,窗外掠过一望无际的,平坦的城市。

李小狐:这种古老的火车也有其可爱之处!—–笨拙的可爱

陈兔吐槽:这有啥可爱?—-可爱个毛线

还在这个可爱的餐厅吃了一顿饭,其实还挺像“一顿饭”的…..

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于是大清早的,我们来到这旅程中第一个好的地方—-美丽小镇William!

Easter在香港已是春天了,William的道旁还有积雪。接我们的女司机热情地说着周围树林子里的野生动物—-鹿,牛,还有熊。

于是,车灯扫过的地方我就看到了一只活蹦乱跳的动物,两只耳朵的,兔子!

李小狐:  Wayayayayaya!黄兔??灰兔??是不是陈兔你家亲戚?!

不理解李小狐的幽默的女司机:它不是黄兔或者灰兔,我们通常叫它bunny

囧————————————–

到达Grand Canyon Railway Hotel,虽然是凌晨,人家看我们来了就燃起了壁炉,于是—–李小狐的摄影之魂燃烧了!

(不要嘲笑我们没见过世面,一狐一兔是第一次看到这种真的有火在燃烧的大壁炉,激动之情溢于言表。)

天亮了就去等着坐大峡谷的小火车。

清晨的小镇William异常美丽,也寒冷刺骨。走过一些人家的时候,狗狗冲我们直吠,而且我们走到了另一边,他们还绕过来继续冲我们吠。

李小狐:吠什么吠,都要冻死了!看我把你们煮来吃了!

 

这个小镇为什么这么美丽,日出前的亮光照在冰凌的池塘,和屋顶结的霜,整个小镇像星星一样闪亮。李小狐冻到吐血了也要在外面走。(早饭在餐厅吃buffet,一个人灌下一壶咖啡)

这里是山区,群山怀抱。山上的云气流动,像被疾风吹着一般。

太阳终于出来了。

美西,阳光加州的暴雨1

说起来连续两年的Easter,都在生病中度过。

今年还是从好几个周前就开始的,持续整个的美西之行,没有一张精神的照片。不过 L.A.真的是乏善可陈啊—-

为什么会首先到这里呢?—-一个很懒的人,算了又算算了又算,觉得这个地方是飞行时间最少的—-

陈兔:Los Angeles,“天使之城”!被你被说得来没事干似的。

李小狐:补充一下,叫“堕天使之城”还差不多,字面上的意思。

到的时候是白天,上午,日光强烈,人烟稀薄。几个路人在车站等车,路旁的鸽子自由自在地觅食。看我拿起相机一个大叔还冲我笑,难道以为我会拍他??

从机场shuttle bus下来去搭地铁—-本地人厌恶的公众交通之一。里面十分老旧,而且,陈兔和李小狐不约而同深有感触地想: L.A.,一座墨西哥的城市……

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然后我们就到了美好的 Hollywood,著名的白色标志在路面上就看得见(虽然小了点)。

住在Highland Station边上,整个渺无人烟的Hollywood住宅区—-大部分的路上真是一个人都没有,偶有车经过—-星光大道大概是唯一繁华亮丽的地方。

我们有去“著名的” Kodak Theatre, 还有雕龙刻风的,搞笑型Chinese Theatre。陈兔高兴地在红地毯上拍照,不过—-这也太小了吧,中国一个这种 theatre常常都是万人,万人的呀。

陈兔:我们真是在拥挤的地方生活久了,到了环境优良的地方,惴惴不安的。

李小狐:我还是要在人多的地方住,呜呜

陈兔:L.A.这些住宅区,不用清场都可以拍鬼片,恐怖片!

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当然星光大道怎样都不会太凄凉,由于看热闹,走在路上还发生了好笑的事—-一个墨西哥小伙当街卖艺,现场抓了一个white guy, white girl, Mexican girl 上去当群众演员,然后要抓一个 Asian guy。晕……这么街头多看热闹的人就我们两张黄色的面孔。

于是陈兔就被抓上去了,和前面三个人一起 做了几个奇傻的体操动作,弯腰排成一排,等着被该街头艺人从头上翻过去>_<b

陈兔个头最大。

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晚饭,因着对Disney的热爱,从李小狐童年时代起。放弃了陈兔想要吃的味道浓郁的墨西哥菜,去了大街上的Disney’s Soda Fountain & Studio Store。人家waiter热情地向我们两个不明究里的游客介绍这是Walt Disney开的。

进去才发现,里面都是小朋友啊,来吃雪糕,吃waffle的……

我们点的sandwish和spaghetti乏善可陈,napkin却很可爱。这里一半是餐厅,一半是卖玩具的地方,雪糕看起来肥死,小朋友们都很开心。

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后来的一天就去了李小狐唯一知道的Griffith Observatory。天气阴冷。

不过这个observatory东西真的很好,还有电影可看。同样的有很多小朋友来学习知识。

 

陈兔在月球的模型前面,旁边还有一块月球上的石头,是真的月球石啊。

 

 

李小狐则去了一面donation的墙壁。连donation都做成许多金色的大星星,真是太可爱了。

 

 

 

我们待了快大半天,然后要走的时候,悲剧发生了—–天降暴雨!

这对于没开车的我们是多么巨大的打击!在observatory门口想了又想想了又想,终于在它的shuttle bus来的时候冲过绿地,冲了上去,然后冲回hollywood!

这时候的我们还不知道,这雨会如影随形跟着我们,蔓延过整个阳光加州。。。。。。

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