This is the second article on the United States and the 9th article in this series.
Fun at the border
We drove from Canada to the USA via the road from Abbotsford south. This was our 9th crossing of a border in the whole trip, the 4th into the United States. So we were rather used to how things are and what happens when crossing a border. Or so we thought.
The first three times when coming into the United States (St. Saint Marie, Top-of-the-World-Highway, Haines) we were asked for Vegetables, Weapons, how long we would stay, where we would go, what our professions are (only in St. Saint Marie) and such things. So we figured that it would be probably the same here.
But they Gentlemen in Abbotsford did not care about Weapons, Vegetables or anything like that. He was only: “WHAT? A Germany CAR?” ... and asked for proof that this car was in fact ours, that we do not want to sell it and all those things.
We were completely confused.
Why did someone care about the car all of a sudden? Where did this came from? Thankfully, he led us through (after we swore to him that we do not want to sell it in the US – we would never even dream of selling this car) and continue our journey.
On the next few days we drove straight to Seattle, because we wanted to visit some friends in the south of Seattle (Auburn). We stayed four days at there place and they gave us a warm welcome – thank you Steve and Cindy! We also met their daughter, her Husband and their kids and had a full day of conversations about how things are different in our country and what's typical for an American family and all those things – I talked a lot of english and I guess my english has improved a lot during these four days!
On Monday, we visited Northern Seattle because we had an appointment at a Garage for doing some maintenance on our car. Oil change, checking some things, changing tires... such things.
It worked out really well, the tire shop did an awesome, fast and professional job – even compared to German standards – and surely MUCH faster than it would have been done in Germany. They changed four tires, flipped two on the rim and adjusted everything in just 30 minutes! Awesome and not possible in Germany in such a short time!
The garage, which was a landrover specialist, did an awesome and really professional job as well. Thank you so much, Gord'n! We were really satisfied with your work!
Now the car was in a good shape and the journey could continue.
Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens
Our first stop on the day after was Mount Rainier. Mount Rainier is the nations fifth-oldest national park. Mount Rainier itself is a almost 4400 meters high mountain which is – on a good day – even visible from Seattle. We had to visit that place of course!
We had an almost-7-hours hike with awesome view over the glacier(s) from the White River Campground (where we stayed for two nights) to Sunrise and around the area. The view was amazing and I was able to take some really nice photos not only during the hike but also from the campground.
Mount St. Helens was also really nice. The overlook from the Johnson Ridge Observatory was cloudy, but still beautiful. We stayed there for a couple of hours until the clouds went away and we were able to take awesome pictures of Mount St. Helens. The information material at the Observatory was also really good and kept us busy until the sight cleared up. On the day after that we drove around Mount St. Helens and went uptp the Windy Ridge where we also did a little (2 hours) hike. The view from there was almost better than from the Observatory!
After our stay at Helens, we wanted to visit the Dunes near Tillamook, called “Sand Lake”. We were not surprised when we heard loud noises near the campground we selected for that night, but after just one hour we were so annoyed that we left: People driving with their ATVs over the dunes!
The car dies and Oregon Coast
In Lincoln City our Landrover died at a crossing. Bummer. Luckily, we were able to fix it quickly on a nearby parking lot.
Then we drove the Oregon Coast south. The Coast! Finally! No more trees! Or so... I hoped. The coast was nice, albeit cold and dusty/cloudy. We did nice walks on the beach anyways and enjoyed 3 great days on the coast.
We saw whales and maybe even Sea Lions (not sure though). The whales were amazing to see – not only because we saw them right away after we parked at the coast (so no waiting like with the Bears in Hyder), but also because they are such beautiful and majestic animals!
Crater Lake, Lava Beds and Lassen Volcanic National Park
We visited crater lake – one of the clearest lakes in the world – on a smokey day. Not too bad, though still not optimal. The lake was beautiful though and we also did a little hike around it (not all the way, just for about one and a half hour). We met Thomas and Andrea from Germany which are on the road on and of for years and found a nice place, had a nice dinner and a really nice conversation with them. They left into the direction of Kansas City on the next morning and we continued south to California.
On the boarder we gave Lada Beds National Monument a drive through. We also tried to see one of the really nice “Lava Tube” caves there, but it was a sunny day and inside the caves it was rather chilly, so we decided to only see two of them for a few minutes, to get a general impression, and then go on. We also met a really nice couple from San Francisco there and had a nice conversation about differences and similarities between Germans and US citizens during our hike through a little trail in the Lava Beds.
Lassen Volcanic National Park was also really nice, not only because of the great view we had (almost no more smoke) and the nice hike up the Cinder Cone (wow – it was really hard to get up there) where we took really great pictures of the landscape around us. Later that day we saw the hot mud tubs in Lassen which were quite impressive - not as impressive as Yellowstone, but still amazing and even bigger than the mud tubs we saw in Iceland!
After Lassen we wanted to drive south, to Reno – because Gas and possibly also everything else is really expensive in California, so we figured we rather drive to Nevada and try our luck there and later come back to California. Our general route permits this luckily. We picked a nice lake from “iOverlander” (a nice app for travelers) and started driving. Unfortunately, we had to drive 18km hard off-road with sometimes not even 4km/h uphill and through the forest to get there. So we decided to stay two nights there instead of repeating that trip on the very next day. Taylor Lake – we will remember you!
Yosemite, Alabama Hills and Death Valley
What would you write about Yosemite National Park after having seen so much of this continent? What can you actually write? After weeks and weeks of awesome landscapes, great people and a lot of pictures taken?
Or so I thought. But now, writing this article, I cannot say it loud enough: Yosemite is the best National Park I've been to, ever. Finally getting to see all those awesome desktop wallpapers, the Half Dome, the El Capitan, Yosemite Valley ...
I cannot describe the awesomeness and the nature I saw there.
After visiting Yosemite, we stayed a couple of days in the Alabama Hills and enjoyed the awesome (almost too hot) weather there. The nights were especially awesome because one could see the Milky Way – despite full moon! I eternalized the awesome night with my mediocre photography skills.
After visiting Death Valley, we drove, with a few days break in the middle of nowhere, to...
Well, Vegas, baby! No, not really. I only stayed one evening and my flight back “home” (what is that, really?) to Germany. We stayed in a nice hotel and had dinner in the Mirage all you can eat buffet, which was really good. But besides that, I enjoyed Las Vegas not that much. Well, the water-shows are great and the city is definitively worth a visit, but overall I enjoyed the nature of the States much more than the Cities, especially concerning Vegas.