On 15-Apr-2019, after the regular Monday RC Calvía International meeting, Ulla, ably assisted by Ralf on the projector, gave a presentation on the very special trip around North America.
Today I would like to give some details about our 7month trip through the Pacific, The United States and western Canada. Half a year before, we had toured New Zealand with the campervan and Ralf and I were dreaming about a long trip through the USA and Canada. One morning he woke up and spontaneously he said: not at some point, but now. We found via internet a Swiss Company, where you lease Campervans and for a fixed price can return.
The first week of December 2008, we flew to Los Angeles and from there to Tahiti, Papeete. There, we boarded a combined ship, cargo and passengers. The name of this ship was ARANUI. This vessel runs once a month seven islands of the Marquesas and brings everything, that is needed there. From cars to the excavator, from beer to clothes, because there were no companies, no airport and no hotels.
Only the ARANUI once a month. The Marquesas Islands group is one of the most remote in the world, lying about 1.370 km northeast of Tahiti
and about 4.800 km away from the coast of Mexico, the nearest continental land mass. Total islands 15 and Population 9.000.
We visited seven islands, each in their own way beautiful and we realized, this is still original South Sea without commerce with friendly islanders.
We saw typical dances and rites and the habits of these population on these secluded islands. The crew of the ARANUI were consistently native and mingled with the travelling guests.
We celebrated Christmas on the ship, the captain in a white T-shirt and the women in a pareo with a coloured flower in the hair, the men in short pants. No Schickimicki. Later the crew played on their homemade musical instruments songs from the islands. It was full romantic.
Those 14 days were a real experience. Simple pretty people and a dreamlike nature.
We flew back to L.A.and in San Luis Obispo, north of L.A. we took over our campervan, 27 feet, naked, with Mattresses only. We bought at Walmart all the equipment we needed. Later, I sewed curtains and a blanket over the beds. And we bought carpets, artificial flowers and a cosy table lamp.
This should now be our home for 6 months.
Our trip: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, all along the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana. Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, back to the States: state of Washington, Oregon and California, where we started.
In Southern California, we stopped in Palm Springs, where we spent many golf holidays. Tombstone/Arizona, where Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp had done their misdeeds. El Paso, Texas, where the Mexican border goes right through the middle of the city. San Antonio, where the battle of Alamo took place nearby. Fredericksburg, where live many Germans, we went to a restaurant, where the people were dancing wearing Stetson hats and western boots.
In New Orleans, Lousiana, we saw Carnival Parades accompanied by Jazz and Blues music and we still saw the destruction of cyclone Katrina. In Florida, we visited friends and we made a Break for a week on a beautiful campground in Kisseemee to relax. During this week, we drove to Key West and Cape Canaveral.
In Georgia, Jekyll Island, where the rich families spent their holidays. For example Vanderbilt, Oppenheimer, Rockefeller, we saw beautiful villas in large parks and a luxury Hotel with its own golf course Savannah and Charleston reminded us of the movie: Gone with Wind.
Further into the Black and Smokey mountains, we drove through magnificent forests and high passes with wonderful views. We came to Chattanooga/ Tennessee (Glen Miller) where I did not get alcohol for my dinner because I did not have my ID with me. They don t serve alcohol until you were 18 years. SI was very amused.
We visited Nashville with many Pubs, where country- and western music was played and we saw a concert in the Grand Opera. In Memphis, we admired Graceland, the home of Elvis. We came to Huntsville/Alabama, where Ralf’s aunt lives and we were astonished and surprised, when she told us, that Ralfs German father was not his real father. His biological father was a former soldier from Ohio. What news!
We drove through Arkansas, the city Hot Springs, where Bill Clinton grew up. After Oklahoma, the Land of the Choctaws Indians, we went to North Texas. Through the city Amarillo to New Mexico, Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Santa Fe is a wonderful town, in the old town there are many houses in Pueblo Style.
North of Santa Fe, there is a very small village named: CHAMA, where we met an Indian man. From him I got a self-made cross with: God bless you.
The next states were Utah and Colorado, with small towns like Cortez with ruins of the aboriginal inhabitants like Mesa Verde. Coming to Aspen, the famous winter sports resort. Salt Lake City, Utah, is the home of the Mormons, very clean and ordered. We were inside the big temple of this confession.
Idaho and Wyoming, the typical Cowboy land. Jackson whole at the entrance of the Teton Nationalpark was one of the most beautiful places we saw. Of course, we drove through the Yellowstone park. There we also saw the Old Faithful geyser. Montana followed towards Glacier Nationalpark.
4 1/2 months had passed and we came to Missoula a nice European like town about 350 km ahead of the Canadian border. The last city in the United States was Kalispell, the entrance gate to the Glacier N.P.
Calgary, very modern, many malls, high-rise buildings, is the fast-growing city on the continent with over 1 Mill. Population. The beautiful Lake Louis nearby Banff, deep in the Rocky Mountains, where I celebrated my birthday in the magnificent Banff Hotel. Further north on the Icefield Parkway we passed 11 Glaciers before we came to Jasper. With a special glacier vehicle, we drove on the Athabasca glacier. This was a great experience.
In these regions, there are beautiful, romantic campgrounds and on one of them, we encountered Brown bears, running directly next to our van. In the evening we had a barbecue and the dark sky with millions of stars ….oh my God, it was a great wild west mood. The next stop, the famous village Whistler, where the winter Olympics took place. Many restaurants, young sporty people and nice holiday apartments.
Now it wasn’t far to Vancouver, one of the most attractive Cities, we have ever seen. Wonderful location. The snow-capped mountains in the background and the city itself are still beautiful. We transferred over to Vancouver Island, to Victoria, the English inspired city. Our campsite was right on the water, where the water taxis, small planes, took off and landed. Let s go to Tofino, a small town with young people, where the road was over, as the end of the world. Only nature at its best and a campground in the middle of the forest.
Back to the United States by ferry about 3 hours, we looked forward to the State of Washington with the capital Seattle. A regular American
City but one famous building: the space needle. We headed to the wine regions, Sonoma and Napa Valley. This landscape Is unusual beautiful, wine is grown everywhere and the small towns have the flair of Europe. Some wine tastings…and we were happy.
San Francisco, further to Monterey, on the number one, along the Pacific, Pebble Beach, the dream of all golfers. Carmel, a cosy city. We passed Big Sur and we came to Morro Beach, 12 miles north of San Luis Obispo, from where we started. In Morro Beach, a small seaside resort, we spent another week until delivery of our Motorhome in San Luis Obispo. There we played Golf and relaxed for the flight home from L.A.
After 28.000 Kilometer our trip ended. We stayed at almost 100 campgrounds and we passed 18 American and two Canadian States.
We met many Americans on our trip and we saw a lot of poverty. The Americans mostly were friendly and helpful but especially in the middle
of the country, most of them seemed to be uneducated.
For us, it was a great experience and a wonderful adventure, without TV and distraction. Ralf and I were very close, we had a lot of conversations and…unfortunately, on this trip we noticed Mr Parkinson for the first time. But again and again, we would repeat this journey, although we had to
pay more than 400 dollars for our excess baggage.