America The Beautiful it is called and oh how beautiful it is. I knew that the US had nice national parks and scenic landscapes but I was not prepared for this abundance and variety of unique and breathtaking places. But let me start where we started…
After a long and painful flight from Lima in Perú we touched ground in Fort Lauderdale in Florida in early August where we had a 15 hours lay over before our flight to Denver where we were supposed to meet Juliaan´s relatives. But instead of waiting at the airport we decided to hit the beach right away. Later that day we caught our flight to Denver where Juliaan´s cousin Leo picked us up from the airport and let us stay in his house. We spend only two days in the mile high city which made a really good impression and was great start to an even greater trip through the US. Juliaan´s uncle and aunt, who were on the way back from a trip through the US themselves, picked us up and took us to their beautiful ranch in Oklahoma which seems more like a serene oasis (check it out here) than an actual ranch. But like on every ranch in the world there was a lot of work to be done. And after spending so much time on the beach in Mancora and being lazy I was looking forward to do physical work. We cleared out brushes, built fences, and worked on a tool shed. It felt good to be productive again. On the other hand Claire and Chris helped us finding a car for our roadtrip. They did not only find a car for us but also took us to Dallas to buy it, fix it and get the paper work done. Especially the insurance seemed like an insurmountable problem but with a little trick they fixed even that. So after spending three weeks on the ranch it was finally time to start the roadtrip with our 2005 Dodge Caravan which we bought for pretty good price from a Mexican family in Dallas, Texas. Since Chris who is a semi professional trial bike rider had tournament in New Mexico we did the first leg of our journey together. We spent a couple of days in his absolutely stunning cabin in the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico. Juliaan and me then set off to start our trip which took us through Arizona, Utah, Colorado, back through Utah and Arizona, to Nevada to see the madness of Las Vegas and then through California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and back to Colorado and from there back to Oklahoma. It took us about six weeks and more than 15.000 km (almost 10.000 miles). On the way we have seen many national parks, mesmerizing highways, dirt roads, hip cities, back country towns, rivers, lakes, the ocean, monumental woods, and we met many many people. We basically traveled every day with our Dodge which not only became a friend but was actually our home since we also slept in it. Most of the times we stayed on campgrounds. If we could not find a campground or did not want to pay for one (some of them were ridiculously expensive, up to 65$ a night) we camped out in the wild and some of the places where just unbelievable. One particular comes into mind where we found a spot on a mountain with the best view on the surrounding mountains of the Olympic national park. One challenge we did not think of before hand was the lack of showers a long the way. Only few campgrounds had showers so we often washed ourselves in rivers, lakes or the ocean. They all had one thing in common: they were cold and getting even colder the further north we traveled. Sometimes we just lived up to the stereotype of smelly Europeans.
The six weeks were packed with so many impressions, experiences, places and people that it is impossible to give a detailed version of the roadtrip but I guess that the pictures will transport some of it. When it comes to talking about what I liked best I can´t really give an answer either. Some highlights were definitely the dry and otherworldly canyons and rock formations in Arizona and southern Utah, the majestic Sequoia trees and Redwoods in California, the pristine woods of the Olympic National Park in Washington and the remote and almost abandoned Glacier National Park in northern Montana. Well, I guess the visit from the two grizzly bears that strolled right through our campground in Yellowstone National Park was a thing I will never forget either. And I have to give credit to the American people we met on the way. Most of them were incredibly friendly and helpful (we even got invited for breakfast by an older couple who liked to hear our travel stories).
Right now I am sitting in a small café in Seoul in Korea and when I think back of the past months I can hardly believe that this all happened. This was definitely a highlight of all my travels I have done beforehand it will take me a while to process it. Juliaan flew back home to Amsterdam from New York where we spend couple of days and I am on my own again which feels strange after the long time we traveled together (it was a pleasure, man!). But this comes with travelling. You meet great people and you say goodbye to great people. I will never get used to it though.
Also I want to say thank you to a couple of people who supported us. Thank you Chris and Claire who helped us so much with making this trip possible, fed us, gave us shelter and treated me like family. I will never forget that and I look forward to seeing you again! Leo and Vivi who went out of their way to help us in Denver. Geoff who let us crash his couch and got us silly drunk in San Francisco. Ben who helped us big time by letting us stay in his house in NYC. Chris Kayode for a great time at Kenka Izakaya Reloaded. Mollie for great company and free Beer.
Well, I am back in Asia now and apart from the terrible jetlag I already love Korea. The people are friendly and the food is great. A pity though that I won´t spend a lot of time here. In a couple of days I will fly to Bangkok and organize my trip to Burma and India. Also I will finally get my diving license on Koh Tao Island and have some beach time again. See you around and thanks for reading.