Pan America 2011 - 2012
American writers like Kerouac and Miller influenced me a lot when I was in my Twenties. And I heard lots about the West Coast from American travellers, recommending great national parks and the Route 101 that is sort of famous thing to do for cyclists. So I decided to postpone other planned adventures and flew to Vancouver BC, equipped with my good old pushbike, a tent and a (warm!) sleeping bag.
After fantastic landscapes and forests down South to San Diego I teamed up with Kathrin, a great cycling mate. When we reached the Southern tip of Baja California, we decided to move on together, crossed Mexico into Guatemala and Belize. After living in a rented house on the Lake Atitlan we ventured out for snow capped mountains of South America, crossing the Andes from Santiago to Mendoza and moved up North again, to Machu Picchu. After 11 months and 11000 kilometres I arrived back in Germany, with Kathrin...
- Category: Pan America 2011 - 2012
After the WWOOFING attempt failed, I went on to Los Angeles. Easy ride along the coast, Malibu, then Santa Monica with a bicycle trail on the wide Muscle Beach and Venice Beach. The waterfront promenade is a colorful assembly of artists, jewellery and snack stalls, cafes and musicans, tourists and transients. A bit of that hippie spirit seems still to be here. Barry, a retired musician and cyclist whom I bumped into a few weeks ago in Astoria and who introduced me to the Warmshowers network, hosts me for two nights in his girlsfriends house a mile away from the glamorous cinemas and glitter of Hollywood Boulevard. A splendid time, I'm spoiled with great diners and wine and chocolade. Spend a day cruising the vast city. In LA downtown a big financial building is surrounded by small tents and protesters against the financial system and the misery of the past economic crashes. Drums and chorals everywhere. Little Tokyo - a district with Japanese restaurants, shops and even a real temple. A big Chinatown nearby. I visit Jim Morrisons former residence on a hill nearby Hollywood, where many singers back then resided. This is Love Street, or rather was.
Quick decision - getting me a car for a week on the next day, and head East. It takes hours to get out of the suburbs of LA, and eventually I arrive in Joshua Tree, close to the National Park of the same name. The Joshua tree is actually a successor of Lillies rather then real trees. A cute shop assistant and singer tells me about an Artists party the next day, and that she will play there. Spend a great day cycling around the National Park with its giant boulders, lookouts and the dimensionless desert that seems to merge with the horizon. The desert is actually living. Lizards and chipmunks rush over the red brown dry soil between the shrubs and cacteen and the Joshua trees. Climbers must like it out here, where the selection on high balls or towers and walls is almost infinite. Itchy hands, yet no climbing shoes. And a foulish big tour to cycle for today in my mind.
I arrive at the artists party by 7PM. Robby Furst is living close to the National Park. The building on his ground looks like a barn, half like a hangar. A big Airstream trailer is parked beside, and a few extensions to all asides accomodate the creative chaos this guy lives in. It is often hard to distinguish what is rubbish and what is art. On a big screen in the hangar a blur 1970ies like color movie is displayed, showing a car trip to the Mexican Hat near Monument Valley in Arizona. A band is playing rather psychedelic rock music on a stage outside. At least half of the many dozen guests wears fancy Halloween dresses. Most of them are somewhat local, some are artists. It is very easy to get in contact, every one smiles and easily chatters. Inspiring stoned and drunk talks with bright minded people.
Spent a long day driving up and down through the desert on endless straight roads. The pale green of the dry shrubs nearby, the pink shine between the nearby green and the distant red brown naked hills reminds me much to that psychedelic Seventies movie last night. And the cockpit light of my car switches off whenever I switch on the light. Sedona was the nearest Hertz office on the way to Flagstaff and the Gand Canyon. When I get there in the late afternoon, I'm completely blown away by the scenery of the white and red layered rock formations around. I find the Car Rental, yet the staff can't fix that stupid light issue. Instead, she swaps my car for a Chevrolet Traverse, a tank of an SUV compared to the small Nissan. Marvelous sunset with the scenery of the neighboring giant rocks on the crowded viewpoint on the airport hill. Nice chat with a cute Hippie girl from Phoenix with some hints what places I should visit while I'm here. I just had no clue what Sedona was like a few hours ago, and now I'm all taken away by its beauty and the set of events that just happend to me. A little later Pamela, the kind lady of the Tourist office tells me about the famous energy vortexes here in Sedona, hands me maps etc. And my new cars right front tire is flat, ripped by metal pole of a broken park barrier on the parking lot. Luckily, I took the full insurance package... An hour later a mechanic of Hertz shows up and mounts the Donut, the emergency wheel. As well, he knows the solution of the cockpit illumination in the Nissan. Happy Halloween! It is 10 PM, and the "cheaper" 70 Dollar motels are full. So I decide to spend the night in the Tank on the parking lot behind the Hetz office. Next day, I swap cars again in the early morning, and get my Nissan back. I leave the car and rather cycle and hike out to Boyton Canyon. What a landscape - ruled by those giant white and red layered rocks behind the lush green of the pines and oak trees on dark red soil - it seems impossible not to stop every minute and take pictures. Talk with some Japanese on the way to one of the vortexes, which apperantly made Sedona famous in Japan. Whether or not energy spot - I just like it.
After two nights sleeping in cars I'm happy to check into a hostel in Flagstaff, have a descent shower and cook Tofu and vegetables with an Indian travelling lady. What a difference to these Chilli Con Carne cans that I usually have for Diner! The Ashtanga Yoga session I joined the next morning was a great opportunity to learn about new postures and mistakes in the ones I usually do on my own since half a year. Despite all those ideas of having Chai and mode-made cookies with Burda at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, I am cycling and walking on my own, on that freezing cold day. It is really hard to mentally cope with the vast bewildering scenery of the Grand Canyon. Am I saturated by scenic beauty? Half fainted I look into that crazy rocky and hilly dry valley carved by the Colorado river, up to 1800 meters deep and up to 30 kilometers wide. Eventually I escape the flocks of tourists on the bike, find some peace and sunshine and a pinnacle rock to calm down, play a few songs on the Jews harp and tune in. Dust in the Wind, all we are is dust in the Wind. As sun sets, I'm clsoe to the Desert View park entrance, and really enjoy the colors of the Grand Canyon on another lonely pinnacle. Back in Flagstaff, I get lost completely, roam the streets for an hour before I find back to the hostel. Burda presents me her tasty hand-made cookies. And I'm more than happy to stay in a heated building rather than in the freezing desert.