Bridget Jones’s (Travel) Diaries: West Coast Living

From the Grand Canyon to Sequoia National Park we did it all on the west coast this summer.

by Bridget Jones, Social Media Manager

Dear Diary,

The time has come for my first trip report. “What is a trip report?” you say. Well, let me indulge you in the life of travel blogs. A trip report is exactly what it sounds like, a report of a trip that you have been on. You describe in detail the original itinerary, then what actually ended up happening and give quick reviews and tips to anyone planning a similar trip. For my first trip report I thought I would start out with only the best trip I’ve ever been on.

This summer my family took a road trip. A road trip unlike any other road trip, well actually it’s a pretty common road trip: driving the west coast. Now there are hundreds of variations of this road trip that can be taken on, but it just depends on you. For us, this was from Las Vegas, NV to Sequoia National Park. Let’s get started.


The Basics:

  • 14 days
  • 2 flights
  • 1 blue rental minivan
  • 2 parents
  • 3 sisters
  • 6 hotels
  • 1 tent
  • 1 cabin
  • 3 states
  • 3 national parks
  • 7 t-shirts
  • 4000 photos
  • 1 million memories

Day 1: Fly to Las Vegas

After waking up before the sun and driving to the airport for an early flight we landed in Las Vegas. This was my first time in Las Vegas and I don’t particularly plan on going back. It felt like we were standing behind a bus every time we walked outside. We arrived in Vegas around 7 p.m. and checked into our hotel. We then proceeded to walk across the street, trying not to melt or get hit by a limo, to the monorail.

No wonder they call Vegas the Disney for adults, there is literally a monorail.

We got off the monorail at the Flamingo Hotel and pushed through the rows upon rows of slot machines to find a pizza place for dinner. After dinner we walked outside of the hotel and went to the one and only thing in Vegas that I recommend, the Polaroid Museum.

The first floor is a store where you can purchase polaroid merchandise and prints of photos from your phone, I bought a t-shirt (you will see this as a repeating theme throughout the trip) and took approximately 63 photos. Then you go upstairs where the actual (FREE) museum is. It’s not very big, so honestly I wouldn’t plan an entire trip to Vegas just to visit this museum, but if you happen to be in the area you should definitely check it out. After the highlight of Vegas, it was all kind of downhill from there. We walked around the strip and explored The Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace, a giant indoor shopping center that features some nice bargains like Gucci and Chanel. After realizing just how hot and tired we were we made the long journey back to the monorail and our hotel.

Day 2: Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon

Waking up in Vegas we soon realized how badly we wanted to leave. We indulged in the continental hot breakfast at the hotel and packed up our minivan. We were on the road and headed to the Grand Canyon.

Of course my parents, being the librarians they are, just had to stop at the Hoover Dam. It was about an hour drive outside of Vegas when we stopped to look at the shrinking Lake Mead and celebrate the Fourth of July in the desert. We got out of the car and walked around a little enjoying the scenery and taking photos (another repeating theme of this journey, are you taking notes yet? There will be an essay due tomorrow.) We returned back to the car and proceeded to the Hoover Dam.

After spending approximately 11 years (probably more like 45 minutes) trying to find a parking spot, we finally walked across the dam and ended up eating lunch at the gift shop cafe. I will say my chicken fingers were quite delicious and if you ever find yourself at the Hoover Dam you should check them out. We ended up spending about two hours at Hoover Dam just walking around and enjoying the area and views, then we got back in the car for the long drive to the Grand Canyon.

After four hours we finally arrived at the perfect time. We parked and walked to the edge of the canyon right as the sun was setting. It was my first time ever seeing the Grand Canyon and it was breathtaking. I couldn’t stop staring at it and all its glory. People make it seem so cliche to visit the Grand Canyon, but that’s because it’s the Grand Canyon. I can’t even put into words howbeautiful it is. We walked out on a fenced in area of protruding rock with about 50 other people, all from different areas of the world here for one thing, to see this canyon.

Breathtaking sunset at the Grand Canyon.

As the sun began to set, casting a purple haze over the canyon I couldn’t look away. All I could do was stare and embrace everything that is the Grand Canyon.

I probably took 200 photos of just that sunset, it was gorgeous and life changing. There happened to be a choir there and they suddenly broke out into “God Bless America” and then everyone else joined in. How much more American can you get than singing “God Bless America” at the Grand Canyon during sunset on the Fourth of July?

Day 3: The Grand Canyon was grand

We woke up in our tiny bedroom at 4 am, walked out into a brisk July morning, jumped back into the minivan and headed back to the same rock we watched the sunset from. This time, as you can obviously tell by the time of day, we watched the sunrise. Honestly, the sunrise was not a beautiful as the sunset, but I mean it was pretty great.

After sunrise we had breakfast at the lodge we were staying at then went back to sleep till about 11 a.m. We woke up and went to lunch at the same restaurant and then headed off on a hike. We hiked the Angel Trail which was about a two minute walk from our bedroom door. We were literally staying on the edge of the Grand Canyon and if anyone was a sleepwalker, there could have been serious problems.

We hiked about half down the trail, then realizing that we would eventually have to walk back up and that it had started to rain. We turned around and headed back up the steep path enjoying panoramic views of America’s gem.

After our short hike we got on the bus system. Basically it’s a hop-on-hop-off kind of deal where the bus has about 12 stops and you can get off and on anywhere and for any amount of time. We got off at about five stops, because it had started to rain really hard and it was extremely windy. After spending the afternoon on the bus looking at unbelievable views of the canyon we drove in our beloved minivan to another rock to watch the sunset. Again, not as impressive as the first sunset we saw but still amazing.

Day 4: Driving and driving and more driving

We woke up again in our tiny bedrooms, but this time at a reasonable hour, packed up the car, had breakfast and enjoyed a few more views of the Grand Canyon before heading out of the park.

We had the longest leg of the trip from the Grand Canyon to Disneyland, so we were in the car for about eight hours. I took those lovely hours as an opportunity to stare out the window at the hundreds of miles of desert and ponder about life and such.

We stopped at a McDonald’s for a quick lunch, because surprisingly there is not much to eat in the desert between the Grand Canyon and Anaheim. After many naps, jam sessions and pure boredom we finally arrived in Anaheim and started seeing signs for Disneyland. We are a big Disney family, so of course we just had to incorporate Disney into this trip.

We arrived at our hotel which was a 15 minute walk from the front gates of Disneyland, checked in, dropped our bags in our room, grabbed our Mickey ears and headed out. We walked the short distance to the front gate and entered the Happiest Place on Earth. Unfortunately we didn’t have tickets to get into the actually parks, since it was already about 8 p.m. and it wasn’t really worth it to spend $200 for four hours in the parks. Instead we took this opportunity to take lots of photos and explore Downtown Disney. We ate dinner at Earl of Sandwich then shopped around stocking up on all our Disney merch (more t-shirts were purchased.) We walked around Downtown Disney and explored the Grand Californian hotel until the Disneyland fireworks began. We sat with probably 200 other strangers on the ground in the middle of Disneyland and just watched and enjoyed as much free Disney as we could. After the fireworks we walked back to our hotel and hit the hay early so we could prepare for our big Disney day.


We jumped out of bed, adorned our Disney merch and speed walked to Disneyland. Our plan was to get as much out of our Disney days as possible, because we are used to spending a week at Disney on previous trips, not two days, so we were going to pack it all in. We got through security and scanned our tickets and walked under the bridge into the Happiest Place on Earth.

Disneyland day one!

Chills ran down my spine as the castle came into view. We stopped at Starbucks on Main Street USA for a quick breakfast, then waited for rope drop. The announcement came on asking guests not run, then a friendly cast member unclipped the rope and we scurried through Tomorrowland to our first stop: Space Mountain. I won’t go into too much detail about our day at Disney, because that could be a post in itself, but trust me we did it all. At about noon we headed over to California Adventure. I was at Disneyland for 16 hours that day and it was one of the best days of my life.

Day 6: #college and more DISNEYLAND

California Adventure in Disneyland.

Our second Disney day had a late start, because first my dad, middle sister, Kate and I visited a college in the local area. The visit was great and I won’t go into detail, but I will say that our tour guide plays Brad, Sue’s friend, on “The Middle” and he majored in math. That’s California for ya folks.

After our tour we headed back to Disneyland to meet up with my mom and youngest sister, Tess. We spent the afternoon at California Adventure, then headed over to Disneyland for the evening. More celebrity sightings ensued. We met Jerry Springer at Starbucks in California Adventure and the Kardashians were in the park the same day. We got stuck on It’s A Small World for about 15 minutes, and we like to think that it’s because Kim was getting on the ride and holding up the line. After another long day we collapsed into our beds and entered dreamland after leaving real life dreamland.

Day 7: Hey LA, you’re looking nice

From Anaheim we drove to LA and our hotel near Hollywood Boulevard. First we had a tour at Warner Bros. Studios. The highlight of the tour was the “Pretty Little Liars” set because they were setting up a graveyard scene to be filmed later that day and they gave everyone in our tram a rose from the scene.

After our tour we had lunch at In-N-Out (if you ever go please order animal fries, they will change your life.) Next we hit up the Griffith Observatory to see the Hollywood Sign like the tourists we were, then we headed to Hollywood Boulevard.

Hollywood Boulevard was definitely a lowpoint of the trip. There were multiple occasions that we were offered to buy various drugs and mixtapes and it just had a grimy atmosphere. We stopped at the Chinese Theater and spotted some of the pink stars on the Walk of Fame like Paul Rudd and The Muppets, but overall it was a disappointment. After I got aggressively invited to join the Church of Scientology, we decided it was time to go back to the hotel.

It was only 8 p.m. when we got back to our hotel and one of the things I really wanted to see while we were in LA was the Urban Light display at the LA County Art Museum (LACMA) so we decided to check it out. It really was the highlight of the day. It’s hard to explain why Urban Light is such a beautiful thing, but it is and I could stare at it all day. We drove through Beverly Hills, because why not, then we headed back to the hotel for some well deserved rest.

That’s it for this post. The second half of the trip will be my next post for length purposes, because I’m pretty sure no one wants to read a 7000 word story about my family vacation. I hope you enjoyed and now get excited for Monterey, San Francisco and Yosemite coming up next!