United States Tour, 2010
Our trip to the USA in 2010 became an unexpected waypoint in our live. Planned as a four weeks roadtrip to visit some of Americas’ Must-Sees, it ended in endless love 🙂
In September 2010 finally we decided to visit another continent – The United States of America. This should be a very special holiday, cause also Thorstens’ Mum joined us on this trip. So there was no camping this time, just hotels and motels.
As always, Thorsten made a great plan and did lots of research to figure out the best way to drive alongside the Must-Sees we shouldn’t miss. The goal was to discover the west coast, driving the Route 66 and to follow Karl Malden and Michael Douglas by driving on the Streets of San Francisco. This caused us to start our tour in Salt Lake City as the flights to this location turned out to be much cheaper than any flight to the other capital cities on our list.
Wherever it was possible, we drove on the old Route 66 and made stops in little towns like Kingman, Sedona and Flagstaff to also feel the original Route 66. But let’s start from the beginning:
United States - Salt Lake City
Lost In Salt Lake City
Directly after picking up our rental car at the airport, we remarked, that all our navigation systems just turned crazy in the whole city. Oh noo… What a start! We missed every exit we should have taken, drove in circles around the blocks and felt back in time in the 90s. We imploringly hoped that it was a Salt Lake City thing and things will turn better after leaving this city.
Well, the start was a little stressing - until we remarked that Salt Lake City has a very clear and easy road system and we found our way just the old way - by following road signs 😀 . Anyway we spent some hours in Salt Lake City only. We just took some photos and made a little sightseeing before heading to a real "Must-See" – the Yellowstone National Park.
United States - Yellowstone National Park
Yellow Stones And Turquoise Waters
We catched a wonderful sunny day while visiting the Yellowstone National Park. Wooow - how amazing this Park was created by mother earth! This was definitely one of the most outstanding places on earth that we saw so far.
We could have spent hours just by staring in endless deep holes in the ground, by watching the countless hot springs, geothermal features, geysers and different shining colors. You’ll find eruptions and bubbling water near the most fantastic formations of rocks, basalt and other lava.
And for sure the famous Old Faithful Geyser will erupt every 91 minutes as he did for us and millions of visitors before.
The other side of Yellowstone houses a huge range of wildlife such as bison, moose, elk – I think there are round about 60 species living under the favor of the park.
Please always take care of you and all the animals around. You are visiting their home! They are and feel free here, they walk along streets and sometimes they’ll cross your way unexpected.
Don’t miss to visit the Yellowstone National Park sometime in your live. You will definitely not regret it!
United States - Bryce Canyon
Morning Action At Bryce Canyon National Park
Next stop on our roadtrip was the Bryce Canyon. Well to be honest, I never heard about this park before and my expectations were very low. Shame on me! To catch some nice shots, we went there in the very early morning at 4:30 AM to shoot some sunrise shots. The entrance fee was designed more like a parking fee and cost about 30 $. From the parking lot to the so called “Sunrise Point” we needed to walk for a while through the darkness. Fortunately Thorsten was prepared with some flashlights.
Shortly before the sunrise we wanted to install the cam in the right position, that we identified with an android app, called “Planets”.
While carrying all the equipment up to the Sunset Point we didn’t remark, that we forgot to bring the camera with us! It was still in the car! Rarely someone saw Thorsten running that fast! 😀 The way that took us 15 minutes for the first ascension, he made in 5 minutes down and up again now. And still it was pitch-dark. Just in time the camera was installed and the first time-lapse of the day started.
Very special about Bryce Canyon is the fact, that it’s actually not a Canyon! It wasn’t caved by flowing water as most of the Canyons, but by frost and weathering. The frost breaks the rock and the rain slowly let the lime stone dissolve and formed the impressing hoodoos.
United States - Bryce Canyon
Pain And Gain
With all our warm clothes that we put on before the sun was up, we spent the whole day in the Bryce NP. Thorsten carried the whole equipment of 13 kilos up and down the mountains. For sure it felt heavier as the day passed by. He switched the heavy photo-setup from shoulder to shoulder until both of them hurt like hell. This was the day he decided, that our equipment needs to be much, much lighter and all the heavy equipment has seen its last days.
Fortunately we didn’t start to make the whole roundtrip around the park. Heavy rain started at noon, so we were glad to be part of the early birds and catched some nice worms – ääähh… shots...
The Zion National Park Is Full Of Squirrels - They Are Cute, But Hoggish.
Zion National Park
Next stop on our trip was the Zion National Park. Thorsten drove the whole way so far, so this day I took over the helm – even when I don’t like driving long distances at all, or driving on unknown streets, or driving in a foreign car. And so the inevitable happened: The Zion National Park welcomed me with huge road works. I had the feeling to drive on this narrow blinking road for hours!
Fortunately the park inside offers a nice shuttle system, and so we made a round trip through the park without any hustle. The shuttle drives the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and one can just leave and get in at every station.
The hike at Bryce Canyon was still in our bones, so we just did some smaller walks. We visited the Temple of Sinawava and had some fun with cheeky squirrels that tried to eat my handbag. Take care of your hands and stuff at Zion! They seem to be sooo cute but actually they are just hoggish and if you don’t take care, they will bite in your fingers or hand.
United States - Helicopter Flight Over The Grand Canyon
Some Days Before “The Day Of The Days” - The Grand Canyon
Everything about the Grand Canyon is said and written somewhere and for sure more than 100 times with different words. There is a reason, why they call it the “Grand Canyon”. Not to repeat all the previous words about this magical place, here is our very own Grand Canyon story:
Thorsten booked a helicopter flight to make our visit an unforgettable experience – I thought. He booked a very nice hotel because it was in the near – I thought. He was somehow exited the whole days – because of the upcoming helicopter flight – I thought. After visiting the Grand Canyon at a not so prominent site, we were heading for the flight. Everything was well prepared, but I was scared like hell. My fear of heights was a little stronger than my joy about all the spectacular views. While flying, the helicopter sank several times into scary air holes. As we were told right after, these air wholes are very typical over the Grand Canyon. Thorsten didn’t feel very well and couldn’t really enjoy the flight. The fact, that I clawed my fingers in his thigh also didn’t make it any better for him 🙂 After the landing he needed some time to regenerate as he felt really dizzy and close to vomiting.
Marriage Proposal At The Grand Canyon
Later on we continued our tour through the Grand Canyon National Park and found - seemingly by chance – a wonderful viewpoint directly at the rim of the Canyon.
We sat down and enjoyed the view. “Well, I never wanted to do this again but… I want to ask you … whether you want to marry me” he asked. I must have looked as though I’d seen a ghost! I was so surprised as I didn’t expect his proposal at all! First I needed to sort my thoughts and make sure that he’s not kidding. But why should he kidding me – here – in this environment – wouldn’t make sense at all – but can this be true? – it’s true, it’s wholeheartedly! “Yes! Yes! Yes!“ I was finally able to answer. “Well then, it’s all organized already. We’ll marry in three days in Las Vegas!” Yeeeeeehaaaaaaw 🙂
So for three days I was the happiest fiancée in the world 🙂
WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS - The City Of Lights
These three days passed by incredibly fast. Soon we arrived at Vegas.
THE City! A greyish city during daylight, the most colorful and exiting city we saw so far at night. Countless lights, casinos and tourists everywhere. In every corner you can explore something special or smell something unknown or meet just crazy people.
We organized the last necessary documents in the evening before OUR day. Therefore we visited the Clark County Courthouse at 200 South 3rd Street and needed to fill out some forms for getting the so called “Apostille”.
Thorsten prepared shoes for me already in advance and “smuggled” my japan dress out of my sight in the luggage. OUR big day arrived.
Me, 10 Minutes Before Our Wedding In The Belleza Wedding Chapel In The Paradise Road In Las Vegas
Our Wedding Chapel - Belleza
We found ourselves in a white chapel in the paradise road. We got acclaimed by the manager of the chapel and had to answer some organizational questions. My biggest fear was, that I needed to speak lots of English for the wedding promise, but they all ensured that it will be just a “yes”.
The lovely lady at the entry of the chapel offered her vanity case to me and tried to calm down my nervousness. Shortly after I was walking around in circles in kind of a waiting room.
Thorsten was already in the wedding room and I couldn’t wait to join him finally – even if we were separated for not more than 5 minutes 🙂
Finally we started. Our charming reverend gave a lovely speech and we were very thankful for the great atmosphere. Obviously also our reverend had lots of fun with us. Even he had to laugh, as I tried to repeat the promise and had no idea what I was talking about.” I plight thee my troth“. What? 😀 I thought, I only need to say “YES!” 🙂
Our Marriage Certificate - September, 12th, 2010
"I, Sonja take thee, Thorsten, to be my wedded Husband. To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, and thereto I plight thee my troth."
"I, Thorsten take thee, Sonja, to be my wedded Wife. To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, and thereto I plight thee my troth."
At The Las Vegas Sign.2010
It was such sentimental hour in our lives and Thorsten couldn’t hide the tears in his eyes. An unforgettable waypoint in our life. I love you my honey!
We ended the day with exploring and having fun in Las Vegas. You shouldn’t miss to do so, too.
Los Angeles – The City Of Angels
Fore sure we also visited Los Angeles. The home of the Film- and TV industry – Hollywood. Directly after entering the town at night, we went to Bunker Hill and took the first shots of Walt Disneys Concert Hall.
The next morning we started at the Santa Monica Pier, as there is the official end of the legendary Route 66 and herewith we ended our Route 66 tour also. Some bikers obviously did so too while we explored all the little shops and attractions before the first coffee was sold there.
We did a lot of sightseeing in LA. We walked the Walk Of Fame while searching some of our personal stars, went to the Getty Center in the Westgate Heights and passed the Hollywood Hills.
The day in Los Angeles past by as just minutes. There is so much more to explore but our time was limited, as we still had some more destinations on our route. LA can be seen as an allegory to our whole trip. There are long distances from aim to aim, there is so much to see and explore and we had not enough time.
Some days Thorsten had to drive more than 500 kilometers to stay in our scheduled time plan. The average distance per day was just too high, to call it a relaxed trip. Next time we’ll be better prepared and bring more time with us.
HOLLYWOOD Sign, Los Angeles
Yosemite National Park
But one big plus of our road trip was the great route planning Thorsten did in advance, by searching the waypoints and defining the route itself. As we are not those big fans of cities, he mixed up cities and nature so that we never got bored by the one or the other.
The Yosemite National Park was our aim between Los Angeles and San Francisco to enjoy some more nature in between the urban areas. The impressing rock formations, the vegetation and wildlife just seemed to be again completely different from the parks before.
You’ll never feel like you’ve been there before, when you put your own National Park tour in western USA in practice. In Yosemite don’t miss to visit the Glacier Point and take a long look at the famous Half Dome. Enjoy!
United States - Yosemite National Park
“Streets Of San Francisco”
Last station on out trip was the visit of San Francisco. What a great city. We just love the special feeling that occurs while driving on this streets – up and down and up and down again.
Every photo we took of any street could be sold as a postcard. Unfortunately we didn’t have the possibility to drive by Cable Car, as our book “1000 Places To See Before You Die” recommends. All the Cable Cars were just overfilled by too many people and additionally huge crowds waited at the stations. We decided to delete this ToDo from our list.
We catched a foggy day and the Golden Gate Bridge was not as visible as we wished. But Fishermans’ Wharf and the whole marina area compensated this little drawback. What a great feeling in this amazing city.
Do you know the songtext of “San Francisco” from Scott McKenzie?
"If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there..."
"The City Of Nonsmokers!"
Well, when he wrote this songtext I’m quite sure, he didn’t smoke 😉 Smoking seems to be something absolutely incomprehensible. And people don’t even try to be gentle when they see you smoking.
We went to a laundromat to get some washing done. While waiting on the little bench in front of the salon Thorsten smoked a cigarette. A lady arrived with her huge Dodge Ram and needed to pass by in a distance of round about 1 meter. She started simulating a tracheal cough, waving with her hand to dispel the smoke in the air. If looks could kill…
Afterward she entered her gas-guzzler again and let the 6 liter engine of the Dodge run for as long as her washing needed to be done.
Unfortunately in Frisco our tour came to an end. It was a sad goodbye, as we would have loved to stay a bit longer in the land of opportunity. But we’ll be back. That’s for sure.
Streets Of San Francisco
Our TOP Desintations In The Northwest Of The United States So Far:
. Yellowstone National Park
. Bryce Canyon National Park
. Zion National Park
. Route 66 / Flagstaff, Sedona, Kingman
. Las Vegas / Hoover Dam
. Los Angeles / Hollywood
. Yosemite National Park