Weblog van Laura

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Redwood & Northern California

We have now come into the Redwood forest, which lay in the north of California. The trees are amazing and Daniel, being a tree lover, is totally in his habitat. I am very much in my habitat too, not really because of the trees, but because we have finally reached the pacific ocean on the west coast, after 14 days of no salt water. It always makes me very happy and relieved to see that the ocean didn’t run away while I was gone. While staying close to the ocean we ventured into the forest, to look at these amazing big and ancient giants of the earth. Some of which had survived lightning, flood, the axe and wild fires. They’re tough for sure!



First sight of the Pacific ocean in Cresent city, after driving across the whole of the USA.




Driving through the redwoods, giant and ancient trees surround us. 



Fallen, hollow redwoods tree.  


Montana & Southwest bound

By now we had reached Montana and if anybody has done the math so far, this is very, very far away from the ocean… I had never been so far from the ocean and I started to miss it. But there are more things in life than the ocean and there was a reason why we wanted to come to Montana - namely this is the state in which Robin Lee Graham (the author of “Dove”) and his wife Patti live. Sadly we didn’t get to meet Robin as he was fishing in Alaska, but we did get to meet Patti. I read “Dove” a couple of times throughout my life and was thrilled to meet Patti and hear more about what had happened after their great voyage. I was positively surprised to hear Patti’s stories. It didn't include much sailing. But many great adventures through live, like raising their kids, building a house and finding positive and good things in life. From Montana the journey went on through Idaho and into Oregon, passing many beautiful and different faces of the states. From really cold areas to really hot ones, where we looked for rivers to jump in because – with no air-conditioning in the car - there was no other way to cool down. We camped next to a cold but clear river one night and while cooking our spaghetti on an improvised cooker (which is basically a campfire made inside a little, iron cage, so that we need less wood and a smaller fire to have enough heat to cook food) and not having a phone or computer distracting us, we observed nature around us. We watched how ants fought a worm-like insect that looked like a stick and acted like one, but in fact was a little creeping thing. Later on we saw the ants attack a caterpillar, felt sorry for it, and helped it shake them off. As soon as it was free, it ran faster than I have ever seen a caterpillar run! And then, on the way to a wake-up dip in the morning, we came past two baby snakes chilling out on the rocks, while taking in the heat of the sun. So far the American outback surprises us very positively.



Our improvised cooking stove.  


The living stick-worm, which we saved from the ants.



Dead trees in Oregon - the trees where black and white, but on some spots moss still grew on them which made it look so amazing. 


A very big crater lake in Southern Oregon.


Swimming in the crater lake - the water was very cold! Notice the snow on the mountains in the background? 



A very beautiful clear river in Southern Oregon that we just had to jump in.




Teton & Yellowstone National parks

Just before reaching Teton, we got to a little town called Dubois. Dubois fascinated us by its beautiful log houses and cozy wild west atmosphere and we stopped at a little souvenir shop. On the path to the door made-up bear paws led the way into the store. My hand could fit into these paws five times, that’s how big they were. I asked the lady if this was a real size paw and she answered that it was about the normal size of a grizzly, but that there were bigger ones for sure… She started telling us stories about Grizzlies who had ventured into town and how there had been attacks. As I listened to her stories I started realizing how bears were part of everyday life in this area. That night we slept as close as possible to town, with our windows up, the doors locked and me getting scared with every unfamiliar sound I heard. The next day got even better as we even saw a Grizzly bear from the road, walking into a camping area. At that moment I was really happy to be sitting in the car with wheels that could get me away fast. Even down on its four legs, a Grizzly is an enormous creature, so I don’t want to imagine him standing up in front of me. They’re not known to attack humans often, only if you surprise them or if they have cubs to defend. After I saw the bear I got over my fear somehow and hoped to see another one - so we still did some hikes, but always carried bear-spray and tried to make noise so that they were aware of our presence. Making noise was a bit against my feeling though, because I did actually want to see wildlife, I just didn’t want it to eat me! After Teton we spend three days in Yellowstone. There we found lots of hot springs, geysers and geothermal activity, which didn’t excite me as much after knowing New Zealand, but it was still fascinating to see. Much more fascinating to me was the wildlife. One early morning we went out to see wolves in a valley that’s known as their hunting ground, but they didn’t show up. Instead we saw a moose, a coyote, black bear and uncountable elk, deer and Buffalo along the way. Watching these animals in their natural habitat was a beautiful thing. They are quite different animals compared to those in a zoo. I'd really rather not see an animal, than watching it imprisoned behind bars and walls.



Signs in the little souvenir shop of Dubois.



Mountains in Teton National Park. 



Hiking in the mountains of Teton National Park.  



Be bear-aware! We had to put all our food in food-lockers at the camp-sites, so that we wouldn't attract bears.




Beautiful colors, created by heat loving microbes in the hot springs of Yellowstone.










Old Faithful Geyser.



Bison crossing the road without any rush, like the king of the scene.


And deer, not acting like kings, rather humbly getting out of our way.



A moose, casually cleaning himself.



The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  




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.




Driving through cities, smog and long boring highways for two days, after leaving Toronto.



Found a beautiful sunset when taking some backroads in Wisconsin.



A Damsel Fly that travelled with us on the dashboard for a little while.  



South Dakota, moving into the Badlands.


South Dakota - Some awesome tunnels in the black hills.  



Experiencing how fast the weather can change, and how much water can come down in very little time. Riverton, Wyoming.  





New York,

Leaving the beautiful little town and the friendly people that we had stayed with in Tahiti, Daniel and I went through a massive culture shock. We flew to the US of A, and from all the places that there are in that country, we went straight into New York. But the culture shock was a rather pleasant one. New York is somehow different from most big cities. As you may have figured out, Daniel and I are both no big city fans. New York however managed to keep and entertain us for almost two weeks. Walking along Brooklyn town often feels like walking through different countries while you’re still in the same city. So many different faces, cultures and stories. Nevertheless we would have been out of there earlier if it wasn’t for the car. We were hoping to buy a car and do a road trip through the states. But that wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Without a social security cart and a US address you can basically do nothing other than what normal tourists do, and apparently that’s not buying a car. The actual purchasing of the car wasn't too big of a problem - it was the registering. We tried many things, and failed many times. A friend in California tried to help out but the car needed a smog check and since the car was in New York, that didn’t work out. Finally we managed to register it through a friend in Maine, who needed a car anyway and so we made a deal that he would register the car and than get it for a nice price after our trip.



 New York, Times square.


View of Manhattan from the Brooklyn bridge. 


New York - subway station. Some have beautiful paintings and mosaic pictures.  

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