Sunday, August 29, 2010

Road tripping

Everybody knows that the US is a huge country, but I wanted to see it with my own eyes. I also wanted to see all those places that I had heard about, but never visited: New Orleans, Texas, the Colorado, Los Angeles, the sequoias etc. The best way to do this, of course, is by making a road-trip. First, Chloe and I wanted to rent a car, but luckily we found someone who wanted his car driven from DC to San Francisco - exactly where we wanted to go.

So on August 16th, we got into the Honda Hybrid - me with all the stuff I would take to the Netherlands after our trip - and headed south. It was really hard to leave DC behind, I enjoyed the two years that I lived there so much. I met great people, learned a lot, got some great experiences - and met the love of my life! Luckily, she would stay with me for the rest of the road-trip, and will someday also move to the Netherlands.

But as hard as it was to leave DC, I had a great journey ahead of me that I had been looking forward to and dreaming of for months. The US would finally reveal itself as we headed further and further to the West. Driving so far and seeing so many different places was like a 2-week long trip of intoxication. Every town and every road offered new impressions, new amazement and new experiences. I won't bother you with all the details, but just describe some of the highlights:

In Savannah, we stayed at Tybee Island, a wetland about 20 miles east from the city. While it was great to be able to swim in the sea in the morning, the most amazing experience was a overwhelming thunderstorm the first night we were there. After dinner, we walked on the beach while huge clouds drifted through the sky. It wasn't raining, but every second another lighting bolt illuminated the sky, the sea and the beach. After enjoying this wonder of nature for about 30 minutes, we made a dash to the car and made it just in time before the downpour.

In New Orleans, EA Sports launched a new football-game and as a promotional event the software-developer sponsored a free concert with Cowboy Mouth and Galactic. All football-fans gathered and sang along to Cowboy Mouth's "anthem" of the Saints winning the super-bowl and danced to Galactic's funk. On our way to Austin, we made a short stop at Beaumont, where the first large Texan oil-field was discovered at Spindletop, and we visited the Gladys City Boomtown Museum, named after the drilling company that discovered the field.

In Austin, we enjoyed our time at Highball, a great bar with live music and bowling alleys, the Continental Club, the many vintage clothing stores, the great cafe's and restaurants (organic, vegetarian, fair trade, locally farmed, you name it) and the largest urban bat population in the world! Every day at sunset, the bats would fly out form under the S Congress bridge over the Lady Bird lake and hunt the many insects there. It results in a spectacle of hundreds of bats flying around, watched by both tourists and locals.

In Utah, the rock-formations in Arches National Park and the vastness of Canyonlands were incredible. Walking around, we felt like Alice in Wonderland discovering Lewis Carroll's imaginary world - nature had come up with things crazier than a Mad Hatter or a Chester Cat! I can't really describe it, you just have to go there sometime.
On our way to California, we crossed Nevada through the Loneliest Highway (route 50): 300 miles of road with just a few old mining towns for gas and food.

And then: California! Finally I saw that famous state. In San Francisco, I marveled at the hippie-infested Haight-Ashbury district, where beautiful fashion shops and a great record store where lined by street-artists, creative minds and bums. A very interesting place. I was also happy to discover Japan Town, a huge shopping mall with all kinds of Japanese stores inside and around it. It made me feel as if I was back in Tokyo.

In LA we spent most of the time swimming and relaxing at Venice beach, but I also had to see the beach-town El Segundo (after listening to A Tribe Called Quest since I was 14 years old) and Hollywood boulevard. The first was nothing special at all, the second was just a large tourist-trap.

After LA, we went back north, and after visiting a friend of Chloe we went camping at King's Canyon, where we saw some huge sequoia trees. When I was a child, I played the song Meta Sequoia by the Dutch guitar-player Harry Sacksioni, so it was great to see where he got his inspiration for that song.

And finally, we headed back to San Fransisco, from where I took the plane back to the Netherlands. It was an amazing way to end my stay in the US, seeing so many different things in such a short time, like a compressed, miniature version of the previous two years.

Goodbye United States, I miss you.


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