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In the summer of 2009, Nicolas Rapp decided to take a break from his Art Director job at The Associated Press to attempt a one-year overland travel around the world in a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser. He was back in New York in February 2011 after traveling 15 months and 37,000 miles.

Visited countries


May 2024



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  • Nevada and Arizona, states of great contrasts

    Posted on February 6th, 2011 Nicolas No comments
    Playing craps at the Venetian.

    Craps table at the Venetian.

    I arrive in Las Vegas on Friday afternoon and check-in what may be the cheapest hotel on the Strip, the Imperial Palace. Nauvlet – a follower of the blog – works for the group who owns the casino, and she was able to get me a great price. After a hunt to find free internet in the city – which is almost mission impossible – I find myself working at the public library and updating the website.

    Welcome to Las Vegas.

    Welcome to Las Vegas.

    Last time I was in Vegas was in 1998, and I feel that the place changed a lot. But this has always be the story of this city located in the middle of the desert and surrounded by mountains. Back in 1911, there was not much there to be found, until divorce laws got liberalized in the state of Nevada.

    The Luxor casino. 4,400 rooms in the pyramid.

    The Luxor casino. 4,400 rooms in the pyramid.

    A quickie divorce could now be attained after six weeks of residency which was much easier than in other states. Short-term residents needed places to stay, and hotels on the Strip were born. Nowadays, the city is in bad shape due to the collapse of the real estate market, and the unemployment rate is above 14%.

    The New York, New York casino. Am I home already?

    The New York, New York casino. Am I home already?

    Meeting with friends.

    Meeting with friends.

    There, I meet with some people following the blog, and we go out for dinner. I also see again Gwenaelle and Max, who flew from Texas to meet me. They are longtime French friends who live in Houston, Texas. You may remember that I stopped there for a quick visit in November 2009 on my way out of the U.S.
    Back then I had no ideas of all the adventures awaiting me.

    The Venetian casino and hotel, built at a cost of $1.5 billion.

    The Venetian casino and hotel, built at a cost of $1.5 billion.

    Trying my luck – with no success.

    Trying my luck – with no success.

    Since then, I drove 35,000 miles in my effort to go around the world. We spend two days in Las Vegas visiting the casinos and observing the interesting architecture and interior decoration of these astonishing places. The major attractions in Las Vegas are the casinos, hotels and more recently fine dining. The most famous hotel and casinos are located on Las Vegas Boulevard on the portion called the Strip. Many of these hotels are huge and have thousands of rooms as well as vast casino areas.

    View of the Strip.

    View of the Strip.

    The Hoover Dam, harvesting the power of the Colorado River.

    The Hoover Dam, harvesting the power of the Colorado River.

    One historical event which was part of the city growth was the construction of Hoover Dam in 1931. This did bring an influx of construction workers and started a population boom giving the city in the grips of the Great Depression a most needed boost. The dam was the next place we were going to visit. Back in 1998, I drove from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, and at the time I had to use the road on the dam to cross the Colorado River.
    Since October 2010, a new bridge has been open, which allows vehicles to by-pass the dam. Regardless, I took the alternative route so I could stop quickly once again at this monumental piece of engineering.

    The new bridge across the Colorado River.

    The new bridge across the Colorado River.

    Once the bridge behind, we were driving through Arizona. We pushed to Williams – 60 miles south of Grand Canyon Village – and stopped for the night. That was the first night of serious cold, and not the last.

    View from the Grand Canyon south rim.

    View from the Grand Canyon south rim.

    The Grand Canyon, 277 miles long and 6,000 feet deep was carved by the Colorado through the rock layers of the Colorado Plateau. It is truly is a special place, and one that you can never forget after visiting.

    Spectacular view once the fog is gone.

    Spectacular view once the fog is gone.

    Buttes, spires, mesas and temples in the canyon are in fact mountains looked down upon from the rims.

    Buttes, spires, mesas and temples in the canyon are in fact mountains looked down upon from the rims.

    During the winter, the north rim of the Canyon is closed to traffic due to heavy snow, but the south rim remains open. The trouble met by a traveler during this season is the visibility. The winter fog can be present and you may not be able to see anything when visiting. It is what I got in the first few hours of the day, and I was beginning to think I would not see the Canyon this year. But suddenly, shortly after noon, the white veil lifted, and the fantastic view appeared. Of course the haze dimmed the vivid colors, but regardless, the show was spectacular. In the winter, all the roads of the south rim are open to vehicles, which make the exploration easier as well.

    Still looking good for a 2 billion years old canyon.

    Still looking good for a 2 billion years old canyon.

    Going down the road and exiting the park via the eastern route is amazing as well, and one can find surprising natural wonders on the route to Tuba City as well. It is where we stopped for the night. There was not much to do in this small town on the western side of the Navajo Nation. Chief Tuba – at the origin of the place’s name – converted to Mormonism in the late 1800s and invited the Mormons to settle in the area. Tuba City was founded in 1872 and is now home to 8,000 inhabitants, most of them Navajo.

    Leaving the Grand Canyon.

    Leaving the Grand Canyon.

    The next destination was Monument Valley. As we progressed east in the morning, the weather got worst and snow began to fall in a dense fashion. Visibility dropped quickly, and it was rapidly more difficult to drive on the icy roads.

    As we get closer to Utah, snowfalls get worst.

    As we get closer to Utah, snowfalls get worst.

    The road 163 is recommended for the fantastic scenery surrounding it, but there’s not much we could see while we drove it. After a while, we arrive at Monument Valley park headquarters, and given the weather, the staff there didn’t recommend a visit of the site. Maybe I’ll see it next time I go around the world…

    The scenic route 163. Exciting even in the snow.

    The scenic route 163. Exciting even in the snow.

    We enter Utah and the snow suddenly disappears. But it gets much colder as well. We arrive in Blanding, southeast of the state earlier than scheduled, and it is for the best as I have to get some things done before sunset. The temperature is supposed to drop to -10 Fahrenheit (-23 Celsius) later, and I am afraid for the radiator of the Landcruiser. Last time I changed the cooling liquid was in Bangladesh, and it was then hard to imagine such cold temperatures. In order to save money, I used a ratio antifreeze/water pretty low, and now I have to deal with the consequences.

    The snow disappears as we enter Utah.

    The snow disappears as we enter Utah.

    In the freezing cold, I am able to empty a third of the radiator and refill with unmixed antifreeze. That is probably what allows me to start and drive without trouble the following day. The weather is not going to get any better as I progress east, and I am now getting closer to the Atlantic winter storms. I plan to arrive in New York on February 12, and it is an thrilling prospect. This Sunday, folks in the city can read in the New York Times an account of my trip through Cambodia with my friend Vikas. It feels like an early welcome back from the city I am from.

    The colder temperature I have been in so far.

    The colder temperature I have been in so far.

34 Responses to “Nevada and Arizona, states of great contrasts”

  1. Nick,
    FIrst it’s great to see photos from the west. Second, The Venetian is my baby! I wish I’d known you were solicitng good rates in Vegas, I could’ve gotten you in at The Venetian instead of the IP. I was part of the pre-opening team that built and opened The Venetian (incidentally it was $1.6 billion – I know, because I am the one that tracked all the expense) and I left a part of my soul there when my career moved me elsewhere. Man that was fun!! Great to see the photos. Don’t know how you got a photo of the craps table because photography is not allowed in the casino, but you must have been a sneaky devil! And I am happy you made it through Utah. Too bad you didn’t have time to stop and do a little skiing in that great Utah powder! Glad to hear your trip across the US is progressing nicely. Can’t wait to see what adventures await you after you reach New York. Maybe the Today Show will come calling! Good luck and travel safe through the crazy weather that is hitting the east coast. This must be the most snow you’ve seen since you left. So happy you are back in our midst!


  2. Charlie A. (Santa Clara, Ca)

    Hey Nick,
    I am happy for you that you will home in less than a week, but I am bit sad that your Blog Post’s from the road will be coming to a end very soon. It has been a great adventure for me and all of you dedicated followers. Thank you for allowing us to look over your shoulder as you traveled the world. It does not feel like it has been almost 15 months since you left New York, November 14, 2009. When you get home remember to say hello to Jay, Smash, Mike and Singh from all of us here no the Blog. It’s been a great ride my friend.

    By the way, don’t forget, the San Francisco Bay Area awaits your next visit.

    Thank you and Cheers Mate

  3. Charlie A. (Santa Clara, Ca)

    I think I need a proof reader :0)

  4. Hi Nick – If I can ask – how are you adding captions to your pix?

  5. Hello Nick,
    How I have enjoyed each and every post during the 15 months you have traveled. What a great adventure! Now all you have to do is navigate windy, snowy highways all across the U.S. Hope your future holds much good fortune in NYC.

  6. I’m glad you are looking at arriving in NY as a “thrilling prospect”! Do you have a place to “crash” for a week or so before you need to return to “life” or are you getting right down to business? The propect of not driving for a while probably looks pretty good. But you have to get through all these storms in the east. Again, thank you for taking us along on this drive around the world. It has been exciting, exhausting, worrisome, beautiful and eye opening. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. God bless you, Nicolas.

  7. Hi Nick….

    Glad to see your trip across these Great States is progressing nicely. Wonderful pictures as well.

    Awesome NYT article!

    Safe travels!


  8. Hi Nick,
    Give me a holler if you pass-by Salt Lake City.
    Place to crash, food and drink!
    Enjoy the rest of your day.

  9. You have a place in North Carolina if you would like before heading back to NYC. Thank you for trusting me with being a part of your trip. I look forward to meeting you someday. Take care, Nick. Scott

  10. Nick,
    Thank you for taking the time to visit Las Vegas. It was a pleasure meeting you and like all the others i am going to miss your blogs. It was nerve rocking at times but glad you are back in the US. I will have to find a new project 🙂 I wish you all the best in future endeavors. Have a safe trip home, and please keep in touch.

  11. I bet you would love to add to your trip a cold drive through canda to Alaska. Hey you where in Mexico why Not? Lol!. Great pictures and awesome news add you posted

  12. Wow! You are going to be home in less than a week! I bet it feels good. I wish I could be there when you return but I know I’ll see you again some day. I’m not sure what I’m going to do without the Trans World Expedition to check on every day. Hopefully you will keep updating it as you get settled. I doubt the adventure will stop so abruptly for you and who knows you may find yourself on the road (or in a plane) sooner than you think! Take care my friend!


  13. Ms. Marti~Nashville, TN

    Hey Nick! I’m so excited for you. You are getting so close to home! See you soon! Sorry you didn’t hit the big money in Vegas, that would have been the greatest to come back to the US.

    Forge on my friend!
    Ms. Marti

  14. I can’t believe you’ve already come so far so fast. How is your dad holding up traveling in the LC? I hope you get a chance to stop in KY somewhere. Just wish it was warmer weather for you to enjoy.

    Be careful in these crazy storms.


  15. Donna In hot sunny Ft Lauderdale

    The pictures have thrilled me since day one, and are still so beautiful to see. I know if will be good to get back to NYC, but too bad you don’t have a “home sweet home” to walk into. That will be fun though, getting back into starting “real life” once again. Looks as if the weather is going to continue to be bad as you drive northeastward, but you know how to survive in the wilderness so I won’t worry.. 🙂 . Look forward to your next update, hope it’s before you get to NY.

  16. I think that’s a first – having Yemen and Las Vegas mentioned in the same blog.

    Safe travels back to New York!

  17. Love, love, love Las Vegas! Great pictures! Happy traveling!

  18. Je vois que ton long périple s’achève… Quel dommage que tu ne sois pas passé en France !
    En tout cas beau parcours et c’est formidable que tu te sois lancé dans une telle aventure.
    Le rêve de beaucoup de personnes. Toi tu l’as fait… Bravo 😉 Bises de Malakoff !

  19. Charlie A. (Santa Clara, Ca)

    Nick, that’s a great pic in Utah.

  20. Hey Nick,
    Haven’t wrote in a while. Glad to see you’ve had a grand experience up till now. I hope to meet you in New York, Brooklyn. My wife and I have been with you since the beginning. Does anybody have plans for Nick’s return to New York? Please post any info. It’s coming up fast. Take care all especially you Nick and your father.

    Surfer Dude (Ken)

  21. Harvey (Naples, FL)

    A picture is worth a thousand words”

    You must have taken hundreds of thousands of them… only giving your watching, waiting adoring peanut gallery a mere glimpse at a handful of those 8X10 glossies. Hence… what a book! A written and amazing pictorial guide of a “Drive around the planet”! Can’t wait to read and watch the full story. They said it couldn’t be done. The old experts said you couldn’t do it. Now all we need is the final proof in photo and written deed to rest upon coffee tables all around this earth!!! Let the party begin! Ghost writers of the world… send your best ones forward to aid our worldly traveler… allowing his story to be told and retold to generations abound!

    Nick… write the book before you forget! A day delayed is a day forgotten.


  22. Bonjour Nick,

    You’re my inspiration… I enjoy reading your blog last night. I wish I had heard of you sooner. Great article on NY Times…If you need a place to stay in Washington, DC…You’re welcome to stay at my place. Hope somebody is doing something for you in NY…


  23. Is there a get together planned that you know of when you arrive back at home. I would like to be there when you roll back into NY. The anxiety of getting home must make it hard to sleep at night like you want to drive straight thru huh?

  24. Exactly Harvey! I have a place on my coffee table just waiting for your book Nick! I can’t believe you will be home this Saturday! Wow, this last trip through America seems like it flew by. For some reason I thought it would take longer. Maybe it was just wishful thinking. Good luck with the weather Nick as you finish up your trip. I look forward to your updates on settling back into a regular work routine. I hope to see you on all the morning shows at some point though, some publicity would be great! Let the book offers roll in!!!! How is your dad enjoying the last part of your journey?

    Jaime V.

  25. I love southern Utah. It’s a shame you couldn’t get further into Monument Park. I’m guessing you’re heading east to the Rockies but I’d HIGHLY recommend Zion and Bryce to your east, and then start from the western point of I-70 all the way into Colorado. The San Rafael Swell along I-70 is a gorgeous place to drive through.

  26. Nick, just read Vikas’ article on NY Times featuring your trip to Cambodia. Here’s the link for those who are interested:

  27. Sorry. Perhaps if I read Nick’s entire blog post, I would have seen that Nick already posted the link. oops! LOL.

  28. Hi Nick,

    As a dedicated follower of your blog from the very beginning, I am becoming emotional just thinking about your journey through the eyes of your blog. In the past, and especially without the capabilities of the Internet, experiences like yours were personal and only shared via 3×5 prints of photographs taken with 35mm cameras. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your journey with the world. You have enlightened me and provided visual access to parts of the world I hope to see one day… and some parts I may never have a chance to see in person.

    Congratulations on almost returning to NYC. I look forward to reading about the rest of your journey as you enclose on its completion.

    Thank you,


  29. Harvey (Naples, FL)


    I too just read the posted VIKAS BAJAJ article in the NYT. There’s your ghost writer! You want a job…? You’ve got one. Get back to NYC… keep the blog going strong… solicit advances on the book from followers like me and keep us posted on updates of your success by sending out little snipits of the book as they are written (with pix). You don’t have to go to a publisher and get an advance… you have thousands of out here who’ll become your “advance folks” in exchange for an autographed copy and the knowledge that we helped in the whole process! We want to continue to be a part of this thing. We’re like family! Just think how many of us would love to house you in our towns and cities as you tour the USA on your “Barnes and Noble” type book signing tour! Bring the truck and park it on the sidewalk outside the store!!! Don’t lose us Nick. We’re part of the TWE and want it to continue! We’ve got a spot at the local Barnes & Noble here in Naples waiting for your signing table and our guest room has your name on it!

    Call Vikas right this minute on your cell phone and get started! Let the rest of us know where to send the checks!!!

    Tap us… please! The spot on my coffee table is crying bragging rights…

  30. Nick,

    We met up in Djibouti, man that seems like a long while ago (actually it was:) I have been following you for quite some time and I had planned to come see you make it to New York; unfortunately the timing does not work out this time. Keep it up and I look forward to watching the final stage of your journey.


  31. Jason in Arkansas

    Glad to see you are on the road and heading home. Be careful with all of the bad weather out across the entire nation. Good luck my friend.


  32. Your only five hours away… crap I’m gonna have to get a life. 🙂 Welcome back, and have some White Castles!

  33. Charlie A. (Santa Clara, Ca)

    Hey Nick,

    I have said in the past that I think you need to write the TWE book and I like how Harvey in Naples, FL thinks. I want bragging rights for my coffee table as well.

    BTW for those of you that are not on the Tweety Box thing. Nick is in Winchester, Virginia as of 2 hours ago.

  34. Nick,
    You made it! Keep us posted on the book reveal. You have captured our attention here and you will capure the attention of many more with a publishing. Hope your father enjoyed the travels across the U.S. We are wishing you the best, knowing it will be a difficult transition into the work world. Thank you for your inspiration, your knowledge, and you veiw of the world. Love to you Nick, Happy Valentines Day from the Old Folks at Glenwood, you will always be in our hearts!
    Catherine La Force