I always hated that German saying: “Alles hat ein Ende nur die Wurst hat zwei” = “Everything has an end just the sausage has two”. But unfortunately, it doesn’t matter much what I hate or dislike. Some situations can’t be changed.
One of these is the inevitability of an airplane leaving tomorrow mid-afternoon from Houston airport with two disappointed European adventurers on it.
One – I guess – a bit more than the other. Hass is glad to go back and see his kids and he also got some job interviews lined up. Even though he isn’t sure where he will be calling home, there is a silver lining and he seems to look forward to a bright future.
I, on the other hand, have – next to the furry goodness that’s waiting for me – a lot of uncertainties and difficult conversations and decision making awaiting me. But this is no time to spill my guts or speculate, it is neither the reason I would love to stay.
Austin and the USA, in general, have been very good to us. Besides sending us home with a bit more mass than we came with – thank you for your unsaturated fat and sugar products, most of them flavoured cinnamon or bacon – we are also heavy on memories and a sense of awe and wonder.
Wonder mostly on how this country is able to function with all the controversies. (And all the things that are bacon and cinnamon flavoured.)
People seem very smart and friendly as individuals. But the media sometimes paints another picture. Apparently most adverts are made for people who preferably don’t think too hard. For example Pills for this and that with more severe side effects than the actual affliction, they are taken for.
Also, the news programs amaze us with one after another horror story.
Everything from teenagers being shot in the face for knocking at a door, to anti-abortion groups opposing contraception. They seem to prefer the consequences of people having hundreds of children that in turn can’t be fed and raised right and turning to a life of crime.
Switching channel you then have people complaining about crime rates and poverty and about too many people in this country which – as far as we experienced – is extremely empty. Racism seems to be happening all over the place without people identifying it as such – also forgetting, that the modern Americans are the real immigrants on this continent. But when you tell an individual you are from Europe, you get a warm welcome and lots of tips and advice plus the question, ‘Why don’t you just move here?’.
This sounds now very negative and maybe insulting. And it is not my intention at all. I am just highlighting certain contradictions and certain groups here are just more vocal than back home and have strange thoughts that I can’t empathise with. I am sure Hass can and maybe will give you some more in-depth idea about the political side of contradictions in this country. That has never been my interest and therefore I will not include it in this post. Though I have to include that in all his political explanations and elaborations to me, he made me more aware of the founding values America is built on and which – if you only listen to the media and we have been too briefly here to sample the view of the individual – seems to be mostly forgotten. These values had so much potential and the founding fathers seemed to be a bunch of highly intelligent people, but like other written words, they seem to be lost in the translation of time.
Adding to the contradictions, the friends we visited and made here are the kindest and lovely people you can imagine. Strangers are mostly helpful and surprising. Stereotypical places and people are on one hand so different than what you expect and on other occasions are just like the movies. The countryside is grand and impressive, nature varies and the different animals seem to be more easy to spot here in nature than back home. Then; parts of America are so advanced and other parts are just like when the pioneers have first settled. I heard stories of the disgruntled Native Americans that just try to milk you for all the money you have, but all we encountered are friendly people who are proud of their heritage and more than welcoming when you open up to them. Of course, they have to sell and market their culture. But in my opinion not in the tacky and sleazy way I have been warned of. Americans are very inventive and can make a hole in the wall an inventive and fanciful attraction and on the other hand, they let a goldmine as Roswell rot in the dust.
I probably could go on for hours what contradictions we have found with our European eyes. With our mindset from the old world liberated by travel. But I am sure this blog post would meander too long.
My personal highlights this vacation was being eye to eye with a wild bear and any of the wildlife actually. We have seen in the wild: Grey whales, a grizzly bear, sea lions, birds of prey, a dead possum, squirrels, geckos, bison, deer, antelope, foxes, dead badgers, porpoises and odd-looking insects that didn’t identify themselves.
Then the places we have been for example the coast of Oregon with its foggy beaches. It is awe-inspiring when you are standing at the shore in front of a wall of mystical mist, the sea is roaring but you can not see it. Black boulders standing tall and glistening n the sunshine with its base in the mist. Human figures appear and disappear and all still in a bright and warm setting since the sun is trying its best to burn away the fog. The Redwoods with live trees – many of them date back to the roman empire.
Or Antelope canyon, which lays in the desert. You enter the canyon and it right away captures you with its beautiful forms, shapes and patterns, but if you are a photographer you will fall really in love with this piece of earth. Through your third electronic eye, a different spectrum of colours and shapes gets revealed.
I have trouble choosing, which places to highlight. Should I mention Hawaii with its unreal coloured, breathtaking waves?! Seattle with its offbeat attractions and cultural beating heart?! Portland with its hundreds of culinary adventures or Vancouver with its own merits and hidden treasures.
Maybe Los Angeles where stars walk amongst us and bones get cleaned off the black tar of history?! Maybe rather Las Vegas, where you are tempted to never see daylight and just stay in your theme park of a hotel….
2,5 months is a long time on paper and even though Hass got tired of packing the tiny trunk, it is a too short time to travel 13 states and take away more than just a tiny mouthful of their independent culture, nature and people.
Let me tell you: It was one hell of a ride, we are truly blessed and if I ever get the chance, I would do it all over again.
Now I would like to close with a few fun statistics.
Our trip in hard facts and soft estimates:
- Days in the USA: 81 days
- Days on the road-trip: 52 days
- Extra days unplanned on a road trip: 14 days
- Attractions planned but not visited: about 10
- Miles/km driven total: 7816 miles /12578 km (135 km short of the polar-diameter of the earth)
- Average day: 242 miles a day / 5 h a day
- States visited: 13 states
- Countries visited: 2 countries
- Meals eaten: about 240 🙂
- Different beverages tasted: 85 beverages
- Pairs of shoes bought: 2 – boots and sandals
- Number of hotels: 30 hotels and motels (not counting friends accommodation)
- Number of packing up the car: 32 times Hass puzzled all our gear in the small trunk
- Days driven as cabriolet: 49 days
- Unfired breakfast on the road trip: 9
- Times people mentioned that it is untypical weather for the time of year: about a dozen
- Number of times we thought we lost something: 42
- Actually lost items: Ring, trouser, deodorant, sandals, travel pillow, keycard to the hotel, some sanity
- Longest traffic delay: about 9 hours because of a flash flood in the desert
- Best place: Oregon Coast (we both could imagine living there permanently with Austin a close second)
- The worst place: Roswell, New Mexico (Hass: I am never going back there unless I buy it)
- The most awe-inspiring place: Redwoods, California (Hass) Cannon Beach, Oregon (Nadja)
- Most underwhelming place: Grand Canyon, Arizona
- Entire days without mobile phone reception: 5
- Days with long periods of no mobile phone reception (3+ hours): 12
- Best value for money Motel: Baker City Motel & RV Park
- Least value for money Motel: Rodeway Inn, Page
- Highest elevation: 8046 ft / 2452 m – between Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon
Though this concludes our trip and this is the end summary, I will spend some more days writing up posts and adventures. There are lots of half-done articles that just need to be refined and released. So stay tuned.