We have now been here for 17 days and we have seen and done so much that this may take a while J When we arrived in LA we had some trouble getting our rental car due to misplaced credit cards and drivers licenses but in the end we got a car and drove towards our motel near Manhattan beach. Everything was closed by now as it was 11pm (I thought we were in LA) except for the fast-food chains of course - so for our first dinner in the US we had McD and wine from 7eleven in plastic cups in our cheap motel room - and it felt just perfect. We were exhausted and happy - even though Andreas had just found that their brand new company van had been robbed. Damn you, you conniving little thieves!! Again - hurraaaaahh for insurance J
The next day we prepared for the 3 months ahead. We got a temporary drivers license for Andreas, a GPS, prepaid sim-card and and and… Everything you need for the road. We finally celebrated our arrival with an amazing dinner at the Manhattan Post on Manhattan Beach (highly recommendable), and watched the sunset at the pier - soooo romantic ;-).
LA is huge, and confusing but also thrilling and so much fun. We spent the next day at Universal Studios, which was somewhat of a contrast to the quite non-commercial South America. We had beautiful weather and so much fun watching all the shows and trying all the rides acting like kids again (I especially liked the Simsons ride). We needed some time to get used to the LA traffic but when you are not on a schedule this is a lot easier. There is still so much to see in LA so I am glad that we are ending our trip here again in June so that we can enjoy more of this cool city.
By now it was Friday (we arrived Tuesday evening) and we headed towards San Diego after spending some time at the LA beaches - we didn't really think about traffic (still had not gotten used to it) so we left LA at 4PM which meant that it took us 4 hours to get to SD - usually it takes 2, go figure. But with a short stop in Long Beach to watch the sun set over a glass of red wine (now that our car was all stalked up for the road we of course have alcohol, glasses, candy, etc. in the trunk).
We arrived late in SD and surprise: due to the weekend everything was fully booked but after driving around for a few hours we finally found a room in a nice inn near Pacific Beach and Mission Bay which according to most people is the place to stay. As summer had arrived (a bit early according to the locals), it was weekend and spring break had just begun SD was packed to the limit.
We drove to Coronado Island and had lunch, strolled around Pacific Beach in the afternoon, saw the most amazing sunset and had dinner and margaritas in a local, party bar/restaurant. We had luckily found a cheap dorm room for the night on Pacific Beach, BUT even though they claimed that this was not a party hostel the people staying there strongly disagreed. We didn't sleep much that night with 12 people in the room and at least 90% of them drunk and snoring loudly. So we were happy to check into an inn again the next day. I guess we are really getting to comfortable for dorm rooms so we decided that this was the last time. Sunday we went to play volleyball all confident after our last two wins - but boy were we in for a surprise. Everyone by the nets basically looked like complete professionals, no one under 1,85cm tall - even the women. Andreas insisted (of course) that we challenge some of these semi-professionals so yes you guessed right - we got our buts kicked. It was still a lot of fun though and we kind of got a feeling of what life in SD could be like. We went to La Jolla in the afternoon, which is a beautiful upscale part of the city and had dinner at an amazing restaurant back in Pacific Beach. We had saved SeaWorld for last as we would then avoid the weekend crowds - and yes I have also seen the document about SeaWorld and was quite ambiguous about going there but in the end my curiosity won and even though it hurts to see those animals locked up in cages you can't help but be impressed with their performances. We enjoyed our day even though I had signed a petition to close down the amusement park the day before - long live double standards…
After spending so much time in beach towns for 2-3 weeks we were now ready again to take on the national parks and go inland so after our day at SeaWorld we headed towards Phoenix, Arizona. We chose a longer more scenic route and spent the night in a tiny mining town in the mountains called Julian - we arrived here at 8pm expecting to get dinner but apparently everything closes here around 7pm (and opens at 5AM) but we were lucky to find a small Mexican joint - so don't worry we didn't starve. The next morning we had the best breakfast at Granny's kitchen, which really lives up to, it's name and started heading east again. We stopped to see the Colorado River on the way (damn that is a long river) and arrived in Phoenix Tuesday evening. My uncle had hooked us up with some former co-workers so we stayed with them for two nights while exploring Phoenix. We did the Camelback mountain hike, which was really cool - and extremely popular I might add - shopped at the local outlet to upgrade my entire sports wardrobe (and buy a pair of high heels - why?? I have no idea J) and had a barbeque with our host family in the evening. They were really cool and we had great discussions about owning guns, Chinese history (they were originally from China) and lots more.
We had planned to go mountain biking early the next mourning but when we woke up we found out that approx. 15.000DKK had been used on our credit card in Rio so we had to talk to the bank all morning sorting things out - it's so violating when people do that. We had the card on us the whole time so they must have copied the card and the pin. Really annoying - but we already have the money back on our account so a quick commercial for a well functioning Danske Bank customer service.
We still went mountainbiking in Scottsdale - very close to Phoenix. This time my godfather had put us in contact with a real cool adventure company who showed us an awesome route and even gave us the bikes for free. So happy to have family and friends to help us out along the way J
After Phoenix we drove North towards THE GRAND CANYON with a short layover in Sedona.
Sedona is absolutely beautiful, surrounded by red rocks and apparently located on a big crystal, therefore attracting all kinds of alternative people looking for healing and meditation. We watched both the sunrise and sunset here, which was just stunning and on our second day we went to a hot yoga class (Andreas' first) and did a hike called the hangover trail. The hangover trail was recommended to us by some people we talked to along the way but no one told us how incredibly bad the trail was marked so we ended up several times in places that were not exactly trails again challenging my increasing fear of heights. Also I was so clever that I wore my brand new sports shoes for the hike, which resulted in huge blisters on both feet. Damn it those hurt. But we had amazing views and returned exhausted to Sedona in the late afternoon ready to drive the rest of the way to the Grand Canyon.
We spent the night in Flagstaff which is not much of a town but it's really impressive what you can get for 50USD - a huge room with king size bed, balcony, pool, breakfast included etc. It really pays of to be here just before peak season as everything is cheaper and not as crowded. We spent 2 full days at the Grand Canyon. First day we did the Bright Angel trail down into the canyon which is a 8KM down and 8KM back up - exhausting and amazing. We had dinner inside the national park at the famous 100-year-old restaurant El Tovar with views of the canyon and spent the night just outside the park so that we would not have to drive too far to get up for the sunrise the next morning.
We got up around 5.30 and arrived just in time for the most amazing sunrise - it gets cold at night here but the days are nice and warm so you just remove layer after layer throughout the day. After watching the sunrise we did a 12KM hike along the South Rim of the canyon with stunning views the entire way - at times a bit challenging for someone with fear of heights (again I am referring to ME!). We drove away from the canyon on the famous Desert view drive and continued North East towards Page, Arizona where the beautiful Horseshoe bend spot is located (pictures available J) and also the Glenn Canyon Dam. We watched the sun set over horseshoe bend, and left the next morning for Monument Valley - about 1,5 hour North East. Monument Valley is situated in Navajo land (old Indian tribe) and absolutely amazing. We did a short hike in the park (there was not a soul around), had dinner at the restaurant The View which really lived up to its name and watched the sun set from our car with a glass of wine. Fun fact: Navajo land is holy and you are not allowed to serve alcohol, as it is against their religion. I guess that some Americans are feeling a bit guilty about the way they took the land from them.
We left Tuesday morning for Moab, Utah, which is a city right in the middle of numerous national parks and a great spot for adventure sports. We hiked around in Arches National park the first day and got to see the most famous arch in the park - Delicate Arch (it is shown on the license plates of Utah cars). Wednesday we spent all day in Canyonlands national park but I had now decided that I could not wear trainers until my blisters had healed and hiking in Birkenstock with socks is not that easy - not to mention very unsexy. So we only did some small hikes and saw all the amazing viewpoints that could be reached by car. We actually saw some of the most amazing views yet in Canyonlands. Short side story: The moment I realized that I probably had to give up on hiking and running for a while was on my 6KM morning run - after 3km my blisters hurt so much that I had to take my shoes off so I ran back to the motel on socks. Quite ridicules I know - so no more hiking with trainers for a while.
For Thursday we had booked skydiving!!! We started the day with some yoga - also to calm our nerves and by 1pm we arrived at the local tiny airport ready to jump out of a plane at 15.000 feet. Unfortunately the skydiving company was running behind schedule so it took about 3 hours before we actually got to board the teeny tiny plane. We were so ready for it - scared and excited. The conclusion: It was soooooooo much fun. The thrill you get is just incredible and once we landed safely we were all pumped up with adrenaline ready to go out for margaritas and beer. After a few beers and drinks the adrenaline had worn off though so no hard-core celebration of the jump. But still - best adrenaline rush!
We got up early to see the sunrise in the Arches national park the next day and got ready to take the 6-hour trip to visit my brother in Boulder Colorado (North East of Moab). The trip went really well. We stopped in Glenwoods Springs for lunch and arrived in Boulder just in time for dinner with my baby bro whom I hadn't seen since December. We had a lovely home cooked meal in his very cool farmhouse (vegetarian of course) where he lives with 5 other people.
Today is Saturday and, as I started out by saying, we have now been in the US for 17 days - again it feels like we have been here for months because we see so much in so little time. But we just realized we are more than half way through our trip!! - Damn time flies when you are having the time of your life.
After a fun day of seeing downtown Boulder, hiking around in the nearby mountains (again with Birkenstock and socks - you sexy motherf***er) we are now ready for yet another home cooked organic meal. Actually I am writing this while Freddy and Andreas are playing volley in the garden and the afternoon sun is shining in my face. Life is just good!! We miss you guys at home and we are happy that we have good lives with amazing friends and family to come home to.