Toronto & Westward bound
And so the fun begins :) First stop, Toronto. I was presenting at Ideacity, a three-day conference that includes a lot of different speakers and topics. From genetic engineering over to entertainers and adventurers. After the conference we didn’t stay in Toronto much, even though it seemed to be a nice city - especially the great lakes had a strong draft. But New York had given us enough city input for a while, so that our eyes were focused on the western horizon now. I knew that the states were big, but I don’t think I ever really got the whole picture. For two days we drove through cities, over wide, long and straight highways and eventually we disappeared into the smog of Chicago. Once we were out of the smog, green meadow’s with dairy farms dotted all over them pleased our eyes. For another two days that was all we saw. Then coming to the far west of South Dakota the landscape started changing. The badlands formed some magnificent landscapes with bear soft rock standing in the form of hills with sharp edges and cliffs, all rising out of the flats. We also ventured past the great faces of Mt.Rushmore. The spot for the best view was occupied by a lot of tourists and we decided not to go there. Instead we climbed to the top of a rocky hill, to look at this amazing piece of art, so extremely big and still so beautiful and precise. We mainly just thought about how much fun it must have been to climb those rocks and create that piece of art. But there is no way to climb these rocks anymore. About every tree has a sign pierced onto it prohibiting us to go on a cross-country adventure to come closer to those cliffs. And so we continued into the green hills and empty lands of Wyoming. Many deer jumped over the grassy hills as we continued our way west. Somewhere along the way we had heard that there are bears in this area but forgot all about it until it got dark and we ended up in a dark forest looking for a place to sleep. With the darkness and the silence I remembered the bears. Having never been in bear country before, the idea freaked me out a bit and I wished that we would’ve had some more info on what to do. So we did the only thing we knew we should, and hung our food up in a tree, about 100m away, and went to sleep. Neither we nor our food got eaten by a bear that night, so that morning was a great relief. But this was just the beginning of a very exiting area.
As we drove through Riverton, we experienced how quickly the weather can change. The skies turned dark and a strong wind came up. I told Daniel to pull over as soon as possible and just as we did extreme gusts of wind and rain came pounding onto the car. The rain changed into hail quickly and it wasn’t like the hail we knew from Europe. It was much more severe. Remembering pictures of hail stones as big as tennis balls, I got a bit nervous and told Daniel - who was sitting behind the wheel - to find a save place for the car. Hiding on the lee side of a big building we waited out the storm. As the hail was pounding to the ground, everything outside a circle of a meter disappeared in thick gusts of water pouring down. After less then half an hour everything got quiet and we hit the road again. There we were given one good reason why Americans drive big cars. The road was transformed into a river that reached a depth of half a meter at some points. As we were driving through two walls of water, created by our own wheels, we realized that the very hot and dry city that we had entered now had changed into one big swimming pool. We felt small in our Subaru Legacy, when big Utes drowned us when driving past. So - as much fun as it was to drive through a river in down town, we choose what was best for the car, went uphill, and kept doing so until we reached Teton National park.