With a suitcase full of light and comfy Bellerose summer wear and a couple of cameras (of course!), our favorite explorers Nuria Val & Coke Bartrina got on a plane to the States, where they embarked on a beautiful road trip. We hope you didn’t miss out on the incredible editorial that came out as a result. If so, you can find it here. To wrap things up and to give all of you some travel inspiration, we sat down with the couple who was kind enough to review the whole adventure with us.
Palm Springs - Joshua Tree - Arcosanti - Grand Canyon - Monument Valley - coast
The first thing we did when we arrived in Palm Springs was grabbing a hamburger at the Ace Hotel, I mean, we were in America after all (laughs). Afterwards we drove around looking for cool houses and nice spots to shoot. There’s a lot of great architecture in Palm Springs but since we were only staying one night, we didn’t have the time to see it all. We’ll have to visit the Kaufman House another time. Drinks at the Saguaro Hotel were next and then we were off to bed, tired from our travels.
The next day we went to a vintage flea market and made a quick stop in Cabazon to take some pictures with the dinosaurs. Then we headed to Joshua Tree. Palm Springs is beautiful and definitely more than just a resort where the wealthy go to retire, it’s just weird that it’s in the middle of the desert. Once you exit the city there’s nothing else!
On the way there, we quickly stopped in Morongo Valley to buy some fruits. We were very excited to go back to Joshua Tree because we had nothing but great memories from when we visited it during our first months as a couple. Plus, the cabin we’d booked via Airbnb looked amazing.
We arrived there just in time to see the sunset, which obviously was very beautiful. The following day we visited the National Park, special mention to the curious Cholla cactus that literally sticks to everything. We spent another night in the cabin and then moved to a different accommodation; an airstream from the 70s. The place was amazing, but we did spend a few crazy nights there because some mice got in and they were pretty active to say the least (laughs).
The town of Arcosanti in Arizona was our next stop. It was a place we definitely wanted to spend time at after having seen pictures and hearing the stories our friends told us. For those that don’t know, Arcosanto is what they call an “urban laboratory”, designed by Italian-American architect Paolo Soleri. His idea was to build a new type of city, that would improve urban conditions and minimize its destructive impact on the earth.
One of the things I love about the United States is the ambition and the will to achieve greatness. In this case, Soleri might have been too ambitious… Today the project is still only 5% finished, despite the inspiring ideas behind it, while construction started back in 1970. At the same time, a project of this size needs time and he unfortunately ran out of time. We’d recommend visiting Arcosanti because it truly is unique.
While we were in Arizona, we couldn't resist making a quick stop at the Grand Canyon on our way to Monument Valley in Utah. There’s probably not much I can say about this place because it is so well known, but it truly remains spectacular and has some of the most amazing views ever.
One of the highlights of the trip, if not the absolute highlight. After driving I can't even remember how many hours, we arrived in Monument Valley, a sacred Native American Tribal Park on the Arizona-Utah border within the territory of the Navajo Nation. We drove around taking pictures and enjoying the incredible desert landscapes. It was like being in an old western movie, which makes sense of course, as directors like Sergio Leone and John Ford shot some of their most well-known movies here.
In the evening we went to our accommodation at The View, a small but wonderful hotel. I don't even have the words to describe the views from our room. We took pictures and enjoyed the most amazing sunset.
The day after we drove around the nearby Valley of the Gods, which ended with the best views. It makes you appreciate the gems of Mother Earth.
On our way back to the coast we stopped at Peggie Sue's, a super famous roadside diner between Las Vegas and L.A. that was built in 1954. A fun little stop in the shadow of the Calico mountains.
In Laguna Beach we kept it simple. We stayed at the Laguna Beach House Hotel and spent our days walking around on the beach, eating fish and visiting places like San Diego and San Clemente. Really cool after so much time in the desert! We also visited Isamu Noguchi's California Scenario, an amazing plaza and sculpture garden by an artist we really admire.
We then drove on to Venice Beach in L.A. and continued driving the Pacific Highway up to Ventura where we went to the pier and saw dolphins and a beautiful moonrise. Somewhere in our schedule we also found the time to see the Eames House in the Pacific Palisades.
Finally, we headed back to L.A. where we spent the last days before going back to Barcelona after nearly a month. Even though the busy crowds of L.A. are pretty much the opposite of the calmness and solitude we experienced in Utah, it felt good to be back there and enjoy the awesome food (laughs).
We very much love the United States; we’ve been going there continuously over the last 8 years. We’re completely fascinated by the beauty of its landscapes and its National Parks. We’ve met many travelers that where in the quest of visiting them all, which is something we would really love to do. The difference between the different states are very fascinating and we honestly love driving on the infinite straight roads.
Our next stop in the States will probably be Hawaii. It’s been in the list for quite some time and we both really like volcanoes. We managed to see lava from far away when we climbed Stromboli in Italy, but we can’t wait to see it from up close in Hawaii.
Text and pictures by Nuria Val & Coke Bartrina