Success: surviving 2 months on the road with a hairy yeti (aka. Michael)!!! Not only did both Michael and I survive with no missing limbs or broken bones (except for a few missing toe nails), we had no problems with the truck (except for one minor incident with a Sheriff in Southern Utah). Fail: finding time to blog!!! This means I’ll be attempting to cram 2 months worth of travel into a few hundred words.
In total we drove about 6500 miles, across 9 West Coast States and 13 National Parks; starting the trip in sunny California!! I think I wrote about this in my previous blog, so I’ll quickly skip to our next State, the hippy State, Oregon. For me Oregon was the most liveable state of the ones we visited, mainly due to the large number of amazing vegetarian restaurants, and the huge running community. This is where I ran in the Eugene Marathon, smashing my previous PB by 25 minutes… amazing, since my training resulted largely from drinking local beer, eating a shit load and not really running all that much. I was also delighted that Michael decided to sign up, and walked the entire marathon in an amazing 5hrs something (not at all bad for a walker). We also couchsurfed in both Eugene and Portland… Eugene possibly one of the worst couchsurfing experiences of the trip (no one wants a bunch of kids jumping on you when you’ve just ran 26.2 miles), and Portland, the best couchsurfing experience (basement floor apartment with ensuite, spa and cocktails on arrival… not too mention the host was in a marimba band and we got to watch his band practice which was awesome)… My verdict on couchsurfing… just do it!!! Definitely the best way to travel and see the city!!! Oregon was also the State I picked up a strange ‘red neck’ stalker from Chiloquin, luckily we only camped in Chiloquin a few nights, mainly just stopped to check out Crater Lake.
From Oregon we headed to “Twilight land” Washington state, unfortunately I did not find myself a Jacob while in Washington 😦 but I did get to stay with some pretty awesome people in Quilcene and Seattle, learnt some folk dance, did some hikes in Olympic National Park and Mt Rainier National Park (definitely a must see, especially in winter/Spring), jammed in a band (yep, I am now a musician), got lost, slept under the stars… and drank muchas local beers. After Washington we passed through Idaho (the potato state) heading straight to Montana (the State of huge meals, where I probably gained about 5kg). Michael wanted to see some band called Primus; a ‘high school dream’ of his apparently. To be honest I didn’t really know anything about them… which meant Michael had to play me hours of Primus tracks on the drive to Missoula. The band actually rocked, and it was a really awesome night. If you ever get the chance to see them live, you should (just don’t tell Michael I said that).
We decided to head from Missoula straight to Wyoming, to camp and explore YELLOWSTONE National Park!!! Apart from the lack of shuttle bus, which meant a lot of extra driving for me, Yellowstone was great. We saw herds of bison, elk, grizzly bears with cubs, black bears, beavers, picas, chipmunks, yellow bellied marmot, squirrel, and osprey. Ever been stuck in a bison jam? It’s probably the best kind of jam to be stuck in and we got stuck in plenty. I’d say spring is the time to go to Yellowstone, cute furry babies everywhere. We did however get rained on, discovering that the tent leaked. Sad times!! From here we headed to Teton national park, then Jacksonville; a really strange hunting town, where there seems to be hundreds of archways made from various animal antlers… not the place for a vegetarian to hang, so we quickly moved on to the Mormon state, Utah. We decided to stay with a Mormon family in Salt Lake City, then head further South to Capitol Reef (awesome 4WDing trails), Grand Staircase escalante, Bryce Canyon and my fave, Zion. Zion has 2 of the best hikes I have done, the Narrows, where you hike in a river through a canyon and get completely soaked; and the Angel’s Landing, some crazy hike up a cliff, no harness required, just hang on to a few chains nailed into the cliff side… we almost made it to the top, but Michael wimped out so I thought I had better head back down with him 😉
From Zion we drove what seemed like days (in reality only about 5 hours) across desert into Arizona… it was a horrible, boring drive, and when we finally got to the South rim of Grand Canyon all the camp sites were fully booked due to some national holiday we had no idea about. Luckily we just slept in the National Forest just outside the park, FOR FREE!!! Grand Canyon was impressive; if you ever make it there, make sure you do at least one hike into the actual canyon, it’s hot, it’s steep, it hurts, but it is worth it!!! LAS VEGAS, Nevada was our next destination to celebrate my ageing (27 😦 ) with stupid amounts drinking, attempting to gamble, stealing M&Ms and best of all HOT SHOWERS!!! The plan while drunk was to get married at a cheesy 24 drive thru chapel, then get tattoos on our arses… however it was mid-week and we couldn’t find a open tattoo shop or chapel – lady luck was definitely sitting in my corner that night!!
After Vegas we headed back to California, where we had to say “goodbye” to the truck we called home, and start our travels into Mexico. But not before checking out Death Valley, Yosemite (Panorama hike – one of the best hikes of the trip) and Sequoia National Park (seeing the ‘fattest’ tree in the world)… and losing a few more toe nails.
Overall the road trip was a massive success, completely exceeded my expectations. I even managed to leave the States within my budget, spending well under $50 per day, closer to $35 per day… so some quick tips for anyone planning a road trip and wanting to do it on the cheap 1) Couchsurfing 2) Find some awesome American that has a truck, and convince him to lend it to you for a couple of months 3) Don’t be afraid to sleep in the back of the truck (some of the best nights involved sleeping under the stars in the middle of the wilderness) 4) Camping (all National Forests in the States have free camping sites available) 5) Don’t buy water, you can get free water practically anywhere 6) If you get pulled over by a Sheriff, stay in the car and just unwind your window, that shit they say on the TV is true (who would have guessed), then play the dumb tourist card, chances are they will see your foreign licence and decide it’s too much hassle 7) Stock up on as many free condiments as possible (I had quite a impressive creamer selection at one point during the trip)
I cannot get over the number of amazing Americans we met in the West (what can I say West Coast people rock in any country!!!) I used to think Americans were largely, well fake, but this trip has change my opinion. Fake people don’t take you into their homes, show you around the city, lend you their car, cook you dinner, and just show you the best the States have to offer! You guys seriously rock!! Thank you for such an amazing trip… USA, I’ll be back!!!
Until then… Hola Mexico… show me the tequila!!!