From high mountains to warm desert-like landscapes – while four weeks is very short for a roadtrip through the USA, you can still get a lot of impressions of the country within this amount of time. With a big Dodge the six of us drove through the westcoast of the USA during these four weeks. We drove through the most beautiful landscapes, wandered through the most gigantic cities and looked down into a couple of the deepest canyons of the world.
I’ve already told you about the details of the destinations we visited, I never told you in detail about our roadtrip. Today is the day. Today is the day that I am going to write down my words on (digital) paper en write about the four weeks we spent in the USA. A great time I happily look back to and a great country where I would happily fly back to.
For ages I asked my parents whether it wouldn’t be nice to travel without our beloved caravan and instead make a longer, and overseas journey. After a couple of discussions about insecurities like ‘No, mom, we don’t mind traveling with you and dad for four weeks’ the idea turned into reality: the tickets were booked, my well-organised folks made a thick planner with information, Google Maps pictures and emergency phonenumbers and our suitcases were packed.
Four weeks definitely wasn’t enough. While it sounded long and ‘more than enough’ (this was going to be my first ever long trip) my parents kept repeating that this would be more like a short ‘trailer’ of highlights after which my sis and I could decide which parts we would travel back to later. My parents, on the other hand would fly back to a familiar piece of ground as they, before I was born, lived in Pasadena for a little while – a city close to Los Angeles.
Our road trip was a mixture of cities and nature parks. Places like the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas were included into our itinerary as our parents thought we just needed to see those parts. Other places like National Glacier Park were included because my parents had never made it here before while living in the States. We skipped Los Angeles – even though I found that a definite must-see. But my parents were not to convince. One thing was sure: Los Angeles definitely wasn’t their favorite part of the planet.
Seattle – Washington
From Amsterdam we fly in to Seattle to enjoy our first six days of our journey here. Enough time to appreciate our lovely jetlag. Oh, how I love to wake up in the middle of the night to then stare at the ceiling, waiting to fall asleep again.
Without expectations I walk into the city and enjoy the first bits of ‘real’ America that I come across. From the regular cokes – which to me don’t seem any less than a bottle of coke – to the big groups of baseball fans and the big shopping malls and Walmarts we come across.
Seattle is my first impression I get of America. However the city itself doesn’t give me a lasting impression and I don’t fall in love with the city – even though the history of it is super interesting. I don’t know. Seattle and I just don’t connect.
During our days in Seattle we spend two days floating on a boat, looking for killer whales (a la Free Willy), spend one day in a touristic beachplace, near Port Angeles (a la Twilight) where ‘randomly’ no one else is to be found that same day and we spend a lot of time in Seattle itself.
Above – Our humble maison in Seattle where at the night I learn how to make S’mores and where I wake up with a beautiful sight of the ocean. Bliss.
National Glacier Park – Montana
With our big Dodge we drive from Seattle to National Glacier park. From a landscape that is packed with rows of houses, high buildings and 9-lane highways we arrive in a landscape where we are surrounded with high mountains. Mountains with tops that are still covered in snow. Mountains where we are warned for grizzly bears and mountain lions, and mountains that are decorated with beautiful lakes and waterfalls and the greenest nature ever.
Glacier Park quickly becomes one of my favorite spots in America. A beautiful sight greets you, where ever you are. And away from all the tourists you find yourself in a peaceful, calm piece of nature. National Glacier Park is a place where I definitely one day will return back to.
Yellow Stone National Park – Wyoming
Yellow Stone is a familiar piece of earth and a completely different side of nature. Before leaving to the USA I saw a countless number of photos and pictures of Yellow Stone. It’s prettier in real life. More impressive. Bigger. Every landscape where we walk through seems different. Some geysers are high. Others are wide, deep or brightly colored. Yellow Stone is a beautiful image and a nature park where I realize how strong the force of our mother nature is. I learn a lot about the ground and finally get an image with the geography lessons I got in high school.
I wander around in Yellow Stone for two days. During the nights a small tipi is my home. A small piece of tent under which I find two beds, covered with a thick layer of sleepingbags. And a big can of bear-pepperspray. The bare necessities for a night in Yellow Stone.
Above – On our way to Yellow Stone we stop at a river in Montona to do some rafting. A rough piece of nature surrounded with a beautiful piece of forest.
Salt Lake City – Utah
For a short amount of time I wander around in the center of Salt Lake City. While I enjoy my first encounter with The Cheesecake Factory I also learn a lot about the Mormon history in the churches and buildings that are the center of the city. A big part of the community of Salt Lake City is mormon. A religion you won’t see often in The Netherlands and a religion I never learned something about before visiting Salt Lake City.
We also visit the Salt Lake it self. We float on the salt water and witness one of the most beautiful sunsets ever.
Bryce Canyon – Utah
While the landscapes are getting flatter and dryer and the roads are getting longer and more abandoned we are getting closer to a warmer America. A desert-like landscape with bold, high and weirdly shaped rocks. After a while of driving through the deserted area we see the first gigantic orange rocks in front of us. It doesn’t take long before we arrive in Bryce Canyon. A less visited national park in America. While it is less touristic, it still is breathtaking.
We hike through the park to see more of the landscapes. The color of the park intrigues me. It doesn’t look like anything I know. The sun burns onto my skin while I step through the park in my hiking shoes. It is hard, but it’s worth it.
Grand Canyon – Arizona
The Grand Canyon. A breath taking sight of which you dream about for years as a traveler. A landscape you look forward to, to see it for yourself. And then, when you finally stand in front of it, facing it, it doesn’t look like anything you know. It’s wonderful. Magnificent. Stunning.
For hours I look down into the canyon. For hours I look at the big, high rocks who don’t seem to loose any of their beauty – no matter how long you are staring at it. For hours I look at the sun, that shines on the Grand Canyon, making it look different every hour of the day. Eventually, at night, the sun goes down. A piece of magic, to see the sun disappear behind the canyon. I am in love.
No photo will show you the true beauty of The Grand Canyon. It will not show you how it looks in real life. Words are not enough to describe how beautiful this sight is. You just have to see it for yourself.
Las Vegas – Nevada
Nuts. Las Vegas is completely nuts. From our car I can see The Strip already. Rollercoasters peak above the high, insanly designed hotels. In between the buildings I can see a monument that looks exactly like the Eiffel Tower and big billboards flash before my eyes.
It is fun to witness Las Vegas for yourself. We check in into hotel Circus Circus. A hotel at the end of the strip, where circus shows, huge rows of gambling machines and an indoor amusement park pretty much describe how this hotel looks like.
From Circus Circus I walk over the Strip for a couple of times during the time we are in Las Vegas. I walk into some other hotels. I shop at Ceasars Palace, look out over the canals of the Venetian and enjoy the attractions of The Strip. I enjoy the bustle, I enjoy the lights and the unique atmosphere. Las Vegas smiles at me. I smile back.
San Francisco – California
After three and a half weeks we arrive in San Francisco. When I step foot into the city I fall in love. I am in love with the little tram that climbs the steep hills. I am in love with the rows of houses you know from movies and photos. I am in love with the ocean, the piers and the atmosphere. The city is crowded. I see students, tourists and habitants of the city. I look at the plays that are going on at the streets, listen to the music that street musicians play and walk into the shops that you could only find in San Francisco.
At night I wait for the boat that will bring me to Alcatraz. One of the most famous and notorious prisons of the world that is situated on an island right in front of the coast of San Francisco. The fog, that mostly hangs around San Francisco surrounds the island, giving it an ominous look. At the island we learn about the prison after which we return to our apartment to watch the movie Alcatraz.
San Francisco shows me a different side of America. The city is big, but has a nice and fun atmosphere. The city is unique in every way. The ocean is beautiful and the Golden Gate Bridge shines in front of the coast. San Francisco is definitely one of my favorite cities. It doesn’t cost me long to realize that.