In these first two month of our journey from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego we do have seen so many impressive places and met plenty of interesting and helpful people… Sometimes it is hard to capture all these moments and impressions as we are moving on nearly every day, meeting new people and seeing new places. Finally we are back at the ocean which we have seen the last time in Anchorage. It was a particular moment to smell, feel and see the open endless blue water again. We skipped driving through the Death Valley as it is just the wrong season with around 50°+C; and you always need a reason to come back to a place ;) Therefore we changed our route and just drove a part of the famous Coastal Highway No 1 in California which just opened again after being closed for 1 ½ year cause an landslide.
Visiting all the national parks became more and more a gamble as the holiday season started and most of the campsites are booked out many months in advance. And of course you are not allowed to camp wild (boondocking how it is called here) inside of any park. On the way to the ocean we had a little detour back to the north visiting Sequoia NP and Kings Canyon NP. Giant sequoia trees are the world’s largest single trees and they are really impressive. Kings Canyon is a rugged glacier-carved valley more than 1600 m deep. It includes multiple 4300 m peaks, high mountain meadows, swift-flowing rivers with waterfalls, and as well some of the world’s largest stands of giant sequoia trees. Luckily we always snatched a camp spot and enjoyed a couple of days with hiking and swimming in the rivers and the waterfall pools.
A little bit further north located western in the Sierra Nevada of California is the Yosemite NP. Everybody is saying it is a must see with its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows and glaciers. But as well it is one of the most visited parks in the US. We doubt that we would find any spot there but we gave it a try. As soon as we left the cooling heights of the Kings Canyon it turned immediately to HOT HOT HOT. South of Yosemite we had a stop at the Visitor Centre of Oakhurst. We were informed that there is a big fire ongoing just at the south-western edge of the park and that many people left the park or cancelled their reservation. The ladies were extremely helpful to find a cool place for us aside a river inside the park. So we went. Arriving at the Wawona camping it was pretty smoky and it was snowing ash. But soon it cleared up a little bit and we were spying at the red-orange sun behind the damp while having a refreshing bath in the river. The rangers told us that they will probably close the glacier point road the following day to establish a fire-fighter-camp. So we woke up at 5am the next morning to drive up there. We were not having the usual breathtaking view into the valley and to the Half Dome but we had a very special spirit… Together with an old local guy we loved this dazed view in the early morning where usually queuing hundreds of people. The ride towards the east end of the pass on the Tioga Pass Road was nice but as well pretty covered in smoke that day and later on we were surprised by a thunder storm with lightening’s all around us, pretty close too… and cached again one of the last camp sites. East of the park the Mono Lake is situated which we visited in the early morning; it is a large shallow saline soda lake which has natural limestone “tufa tower” formations. (We just heard they had to close Yosemite because of the fire – how lucky we have been, even though we had a different view than most of the people)
The photo-gallery of the last post were missing and now added – sorry for that ;) Las Vegas we left without gambling or visiting any Casino – probably we saved a lot of money ;) Therefore we had a nice evening together with Brit, Jacob and some friends of them at the old strip of Vegas and we explored the colorful `Valley of Fire´ together with Jacob on the motorbikes on our last day.
Breathtaking, gorgeous, magnificent, striking, amazing… whatever word you use it will not explain how you feel in these sceneries of the National Parks. Following more or less the Colorado River we visited parts of the Escalante NP, went through the Capitol Reef NP, spent a full day at the Bryce NP, drove through Zion and up to the Kolob Reservoir and finally we explored the north and the south rim of the Grand Canyon. We hope we can transfer an idea off all this impressive beauty we saw with the pictures we selected.
On the way to Las Vegas, where we are now, we drove a part of the famous Route 66. The road on its own was pretty boring except the stops where they display all the oddities of the old times; nevertheless a good alternative to the Highway and probably it helped us to escape the thunderstorm. Actually we have been lucky all these days with the weather. Pretty often we could see a black wall, heard the thunder rolling, saw the lightning but except strong winds and a few drops of rain we never were caught by one of these storms. Cross finger it stays like that!
Las Vegas is HOT! And we are lucky that we found a place at Brittany’s and Jacob´s home to stay. Sascha’s AT seems to drink a little bit too much oil and sometimes I can see a dark cloud coming out of the exhaust. As well he has misfires continuously. He just has an eye on it at the garage. For the evening we plan to investigate Las Vegas and its famous Strip. Sascha is keen to gamble a bit – I will think of the budget to release for that ;-)
Someway we are sure we have a hidden Gollum with us; constantly we do miss items or doing not logical things. OK, the heat is cooking our brains pretty much… but nevertheless we never had so many losses on any journey before. The list is getting longer and longer: Sascha is missing his chain guard (we hoped he forgot to put it back in Prince George when he refilled the scot-oiler, but unfortunately Kelly could not find it). We lost a poach of tobacco, a lens cover of the camera, 3 mini screws of a lens and as some other things! Dam it! The zipper of Sascha´s tank bag is broken and when he put the new tires it took him 3 hours for mine because he misplaced the space holders – how frustrating that was you can probably imagine… Anyhow we hope we can break the jinx and free the Gollum soon.
The days with Patty and Kevin in Salt Lake City were just great. We enjoyed the Spa, cooked together, went to the Air force Museum and met their lovely family. Kevin supplied not only his great workshop but was always there with and helping hand and good advices. And Patty was the best route adviser for all the upcoming national parks. As well we had the chance to adapt a little bit to the hot climate. Thank you both so much for everything!!!
The first destination was Moab, Arches NP and we followed Patty’s guidance to ride the Gemini Bridges Trail. A beautiful off-road track which we really enjoyed even though I struggled here and there a little bit with the parts of fine sand and big rocks in between. So it happened and I had my first crash. Nothing really bad but I was annoyed about myself of course. Suddenly Sascha was shouting `stop where you are!´ There was a section where the track went down steep ( I would say about 80% gradient) for about 150 meter with really deep fine sand and big rocks. At the end we could see a giant rock on the trail and we were wondering if we will be able to go through. Sascha walked it down in the heat to have a closer look and met two motorcycle guys in the shade of the giant rock. They were coming the way up, saw the road condition and decided to have a break before going it up J But they had the good message for us that the trail is much better from now on. We decided it is better if Sascha brings down both bikes. I felt slightly guilty as it was striking hot and he had to walk up and down this sandy section three times now. He brought the bikes down safe and we had all together a break in the shade while inhaling this remarkable deserted area. We did a little detour to the Dead Horse Point (The legend of this name: In the 1800s wild mustang herds were common in this area. This peninsula, 2000 feet above the Colorado River, was used to corral and capture them behind a 50 ft. fence at the neck of the formation. One time a herd of unwanted horses was left out there, where they died of thirst. – what a sad story in such a beautiful place!) Later on after a break at the Colorado River we explored the Arches NP with its stunning stone formations and arches. Our neighbor at the camp side was family originally from Germany, Bavaria who lived several years in the states now moving back home and they supplied us with yummi fruits and chocolate pancakes (we wish you a good start back home!).
The next destination was Bryce NP. But spontaneously we were following some signs which led us to the Natural Bridges NP. A wonderful place with only a few people around. We were told that this is one of the darkest places in the US so we were sitting and watching the stars for a looong time…
The Beartooth Highway was a really great ride and it goes up to 10036 feet (3345 meter). Yellowstone is impressive no question about that. The scenery, the geysers and the wildlife; but suddenly there were everywhere so many people, partially you had to cue up. We were not use to it. Nevertheless we enjoyed the parts we saw but we decided to shorten it a little bit. A funny thing was we met Bill and Josh at the camp site and they gave us one of these hiking dried food bags for the way, “Pad Thai”. Everybody who knows us knows we do love Southeast Asian food especially Pad Thai – but like that??? So we are curious to find out one of these days how the taste is – but for now we will keep it as an emergency reserve. Thank you Bill and Josh! It was a pleasure meeting you and have save travels!
It was not only because of the crowded places we hurried up. In Salt Lake City, were we are just know, we are hosted by Patty and Kevin – thank both of you for your great hospitality and your help!!! They offered us to stay with them and using their workshop. Do you remember the broken gas pipe? Since then we do smell a little bit too much gas all the time, and sometimes the Transalp seems not to take the throttle – it feels like little holes/hick-ups. Sascha is just working on that… I hope we will find out the reason and we are able to fix it. As we were rushing we just went through Grand Teton National Park but really enjoyed the ride – it is certainly worth to spend more time there. Going to Jackson (hey you know the song!?) we were hungry, tired and running late. Just before the sunset we found a place for our tent when we drove 6km into a gravel road a little bit south of Jackson. Surrounded by cows, mosquito’s and birds we felt soon asleep. We woke up early to arrive in time in Salt Lake City. We built down the soaking wet tent (we slept next to a river) with frozen fingers and we hopped onto the bikes. Somehow it felt very strange to me (I did not have a coffee yet!) and I said so to Sascha. He just yawned, yeah me as well… BUT ohhhhh nooooo!!! You have a flat tire!!! Here we go… we used the “fix A flat” as we wanted to get a new tire anyhow. And with some stops at gas stations filling up air we finally made it to Patty and Kevin in Salt Lake City. We started with maybe 2-3°C in the morning and arrived completely sweated and overheated with 36°C. Puhhh we need to get used to the new climate from now on and rearrange our clothing packs.
Oh I nearly forgot to mention our new companions. The 18th June we had our 8th Wedding Anniversary (and 18 years together). Sascha got a little black bear from me to take care of him. Two days later on a very remote recreation camp we found `Pepe´ alone on a bench looking really sad. For sure there is a kid somewhere very sad as well. We decided to take Pepe with us – either we will find his owner somewhere on the way or we will find a new kid taking care of him on our way to Tierra del Fuego. So from now on Kerstin is driving `two-up´ ;)
Cheers and see you soon!
Time is flying, 3 weeks are gone again… how to summarize? The last time we updated the Blog we stayed with Kelly (from ADV Rider) and his lovely dog Bruno in Prince Georg. We had not only the chance to blog but as well to do laundry and some little maintenance. We spend a great time cooking and exchanging experiences. Thank you Kelly for your great hospitality and for the nice ride together on the day we left – and a big hug to Bruno!!! There as well we met Erik; original from Switzerland but living more than 20 years+ in Canada – it was fun to meet you again and again on the road. We wish both of you all the best and hopefully we meet again one day.
Our route is following the famous National Parks. We went through Jasper and Banf in Canada. The Glacier National Park we did not really enter as the “road to the sun” was not open yet and nobody could tell us when they will do so. Instead of that we explored the “Hungry Horse Lake” which we really can recommend. On the way to Yellowstone we heard about the “Beartooth Highway” which leads from the North-East into the Park. While heading that direction we were captured by a real thunderstorm with lightening, heavy rain, hail and strong winds (we were even afraid the motorcycles will be blow away). Luckily we were just standing in front of the “White Sulfur Springs Motel” – the people were really nice and the rooms had reasonable prices and included the usage of the hot springs – so we just checked in. Later on another two motorcyclist (one Indian and one 1800cc Kawasaki) arrived after a 1000km ride from Montana and socked by the rain (unfortunately we forgot your names – sorry! Please send us a message it was really nice meeting you guys!!! Save travels!)