California and the wild west
From the Redwood forest we kept on heading South, following the coastline. Compared to the temperatures further inland the west-coast was very cold and going for a swim didn't sound as attractive anymore. Along the way we admired the beautiful beaches and adorable old villages with a very typical beach and surfing culture. We drove as far south as Santa Cruz, where we left the amazingly beautiful west coast and started heading east. I found the Californian coast very beautiful and wished I could have spend some more time. The surfing culture, wildlife, villages and sharp cliffs along the coastline reminded me somewhat of New Zealand. But that beauty soon disappeared,and so did the cold. It became very hot very soon, with temperatures up to 45 degrees, there was nothing left of anything we had seen in California. Only dry plants and a lot of sand caught our eyes. We were on our way into Death Valley. The highways so far hadn't impressed us much, so we often chose to take smaller roads leading us to all sorts of magical places. This time we ended up on a small dirt road leading us into some mountains that where so dry they seemed to be big sand hills. When we finally came out of the hills we overlooked a flat area where there was, well.. basically nothing. It seemed like nothing, nothing but sand and dry rock. Just like I expected Death Valley to be. But once we actually drove in this endless place of nothing, I was a lot more impressed than I expected. There are amazing rock formations, sand-hills and clay pans that somehow had the same effect on me as the nothingness of the ocean. Seemingly nothing, but in fact something. Hard to explain, but very impressing. I was not much impressed by the heat though.. We did have an air conditioner in the car, but with this heat it wasn't doing much anymore. I found the heat the hardest to deal with at night. As much as I had experienced desserts, I knew that the temperature drops at night. But here I don't think it dropped at all. We slept in the car somewhere along the road as usual, but much sleep I couldn't get. With all doors open it was still to hot. I even felt like it was worse, as the hot wind burned my skin. The next day we drove into Las Vegas. One other crazy place on this world. I am not to sure what to write about Las Vegas, especially as I feel like there has been written enough about it. Both of us weren't to interested, and so we only spend half a day to see if it really was as people told us. And yes, it definitely is a crazy place where everything seems possible. The weirdest was to see a huge town like that in the middle of a big dessert. That night we stayed near a big lake not far east of Las Vegas. Big dark thunderstorms made the sky a vivid grey and the sand got whipped up so violently that we had to jump into the car, otherwise we would get sandblasted. From here the Grand Canyon wasn't so far anymore either. It took us a little longer as we went off the highways again and actually ended up going really off-road. We had hoped to see the Grand Canyon without paying the fee to see the crowded park area, but that has been made pretty impossible and so we ended up entering the park, and well at 5 in the morning.
The rainstorms that had been with us again all night hadn't been blown away yet and with the sun trying to peak through, it made for a beautiful scenery. By late morning rain and clouds were gone and a hot sun was shining on our head. Halfway through the park we found a steep path leading into the canyon, whose call we couldn't resist - and soon found us sweating on rough ground. It turned out to be an amazing walk, very steep but incredibly beautiful. The Grand Canyon is unimaginably big, and with more colors and shapes than I could imagine. We ended up very glad to have paid the entrance fee and gone into the park.
When we drove into New Mexico a bit of green finally started coming back. I loved the rock formations in the Grand Canyon and the rest of the dry places as well, but a fresh river to swim in and some trees and wood to make campfires again were very welcome. We drove through New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee. All of them had their own beauty. In New Mexico we saw a whole town that was build in utopian style, with clay, round forms, …just the cutest and most beautiful town I have ever seen. Oklahoma put us on many straight roads. And I mean really straight! We hoped to see a Tornado and chase it, but we drove through fairly quickly and did not see one. In Tennessee fireflies danced around us at night, looking like little stars giving us a private performance.