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Zion-Mukuntuweap

Watchman overlook is reached after a hike on Watchman Trail, Zion National Park, UT

For the pilgrims was Zion. For the native Americans was Mukuntuweap. Its northern part, Kolob Canyon takes its name from the Mormon scripture place of God’s residence. But no matter the name, Zion National Park is an amazing location that I visited so many times. You may assume that if you were once in a national park you have seen it all. But I can vet that this is not the case. I went so many times in Zion National Park and still enjoy it each time I go there, in spite of the fact that the park became crowded like I could not see it in the past. But if you get out from the main trails you’ll encounter so few people.

Lower emerald waterfall, Zion National Park, UT

While in Vegas you can get off your bed, hop in a car, be in three hours in the park, hike Angel’s Landing or Observation Point and be back in Vegas for dinner to the chagrin of your friends who spent their day being bored at the pool and drinking cocktails trying to live the Vegas life.

God sprays water on all sentient beings from “Kolob”..

Today lots of places in the park were closed after many rock slides so the only available hikes were shorter than normal. So we hiked the amazing Watchman Trail, part of the emerald pools trails as well as the Beach Sand Trail. They were all great except the last one that is used also for commercial horse trips and it’s built out of deep sand, very difficult to hike uphill, but doable in two hours and a half in an easy walk.

Beach Sand Trail, Zion National Park, UT

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Posted by on April 22, 2019 in Blog, USA

 

A spectacular hell

Old Borax operation, Death Valley National Park, NV

Dante did not have the chance to come to Death Valley but if he did, for sure he would have had a field day to be here, and would have been been inspired in his description of the nine circles of hell. More physical realms than Dante’s human weakness, the landscape of Death Valley is the closest approximation of what a sort of the hell may look like, magnificent as it is, seen through the the perception of the famous poet.

Badwater, Death Valley National Park, NV

Devil’s cornfield, Devil’s golf course, large craters, borax everywhere, not to mention the large salt pans of Badwater, the lowest point in the continental US at 282 feet/85.5 meter under the sea level. Badwater is sitting on an aquifer and if you stomp your foot in the salt you can make a hole that can reach to the water underneath.

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, NV

But not only Dante would have been inspired by this spectacular hellish landscape that can be admired in its entirety from a peak overlooking the valley named Dante’s View. Beside him it was the famous Italian film director Michelangelo Antonioni who shot his counter culture film “Zabriskie Point” in the location of the place carrying the same name, a set of solid dunes that are luring you to explore.

Dante’s View, Death Valley, NV

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2019 in Blog, USA

 

LA

The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, CA

In a time when Amazon took over the entire book commerce, The Last Bookstore in downtown LA is a rarity. Beside its large spaces it has special rooms of old books, with book tunnels decorating its two spacey floors and several art stores, part of the book labyrinth of its top floor. In a way, this bookstore is an anomaly in an LA where the most important event of the day is the mimosa brunch.

Grand Central Market, Los Angeles, CA

But in downtown LA, if you want a quick and very diverse bite, the Grand Central Market is a culinary show in itself where you can walk its alleys full of food from all over the world or relax with a beer watching the crowds.

Only for pets? This is discrimination…

And if your dog is way too much for your morning you can park him/her at a nearby dog spa that abound in the area…

Freehand Rooftop Bar, Los Angeles, CA

…and you can go and chill at one of the rooftop bars, opened on top of the newly renovated/built hotels from where you may be able to admire distantly the insane LA highway traffic without being part of it, at least for a moment. Because LA is so… like….how can I tell… you know… I mean… it’s so…. LIKE!

Downtown LA

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2019 in Blog, USA

 

Venice

Venice Beach, CA

The scooter fad of California is excellently represented in Venice Beach. Everywhere you can see tossed scooters, Birds, Lime, Jump, Lyft, Wheels, all with their apps, each one different in terms of pricing but all ready to be unlocked and taken for a ride on the promenade. A promenade otherwise filled with murals, and lots of stores of any imaginable kind joined recently by the weed stores that add to the prevalent smell of pot on the beach:

Scooters

Pot, jugglers, dancers, comedians, bands, singers, weed, skateboarder, ice cream parlors, foods, Mexican skulls, decorations, paintings, Egyptian artifacts, Tibetan bowls, surfers, Buddha heads, gems, sage, iPhone cases, cakes, chads and bros, smoothies, ganja, Chinese massage, bikers, drug addicts, emaciated figures, stoned people, candy bars, weed shops, henna tattoos, marijuana, ceramic sculptures, selfies, T-shirts, hats, birds, paddle ball, mimes, men inside a TV….

Venice Beach Promenade, CA

…and wise men offering any possible advice for one dollar.

In Venice is always a guy who knows everything

Meanwhile in the other zoo on the Hollywood Boulevard a Bernie supporter placing his gear over the restorated Trump’ star was sermonizing by-passers about the paradise of the Northern European countries: “Have you heard about Denmark or Sweden?”. While in Tocaya Organica the guiltless burrito and the kale and quinoa salads was filling the plates of models and Instagram influencers.

Bernie on Trump’s star on Hollywood Boulevard, CA

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2019 in Blog, USA

 

Malibu Creek

Mustard flowers in Malibu Creek State Park, CA

The Franciscan monks in their inroads into California two centuries ago planted mustard to mark the routes they had to follow between the monasteries they established. Meanwhile the mustard spread all over the areas so if they had to come back in time today the monks would have been confused and had to use GPS that meanwhile do a better job in following routes that the mustard plants.

Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu Creek State Park, CA

But the mustard flowers confer a spectacular view in the Malibu Creek State Park, a charming park filled with lakes and lagoons, just outside of Calabasas, CA. Edged into the Santa Monica Mountains, the park is also the location where the TV series MASH was shot and it is a hike towards the remains of the discarded jeeps left over from the shoot.

Jumping from the top of the rocks into the creek’s Rock Pool

However the last year devastating fires left a big dent in the park, with lots of trees still covered in soot, wilted leaves, fallen burn tree trunks and unfortunately a washed out trail going to the MASH site that cannot be visited at least for the moment. But the Rock Pool is a great reprieve in the heated Californian days and lots of kids come here to jump deftly between the rocks from the top of the ledge overlooking the lagoon.

Malibu Creek State Park, CA

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2019 in Blog, USA

 

LA magic

In California everybody has a script….

LA is all self-centered around film and TV. It looks that everybody here works somehow in some field related to these industries. If you live here for a while for sure you may encounter numerous people eating kale and quinoa salads who have a script almost ready to be accepted for a new production. But just a sliver of them are accepted, and a sliver of the ones accepted are making to testing and only few ending up on the silver screen or TV. And of course, from all these piles of scripts so few would make a name for themselves through their productions.

Batman’s Tumbler from the movie Dark Night

But the magic remains and where else you can see it better than in one of the studios spread around LA. The studios are actually large swath of lands filled with back-lots of fake New York streets, American villages, with extensive sound stages filled with the sets of the current TV shows, offices built with motel facades, large office buildings whose lobbies can be converted overnight in the lobby of a 5 start hotel with valets picking up your car, with lots of vegetation extended to a jungle to shoot the dinosaurs of the Jurassic era that encompass an empty plastic lined pool that can be used as a mirific blue lagoon. And all this because each inch of land of the studios properties, no matter what it is, was used at one point in time in a set. Nothing is off limits in renting the space to anybody ready to shoot a production on their lots. And if the the shoot is not good enough on all these sets spread around, it will be miraculously fixed in post to create the magic for which LA movie industry is known about.

Warner Bros Studio tallest sound stage #16, Burbank, CA

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2019 in Blog, USA

 

Spring

Herald Square, NY

The first warm days of spring in New York are cherished by both the locals and many tourists that fill up the city parks.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2019 in Blog, USA