Nanoq on the road

Getting ready

Last check up...

March 17, 2017

A perfect day for travel...

After hours of driving we finally reached Antwerp Euroterminal to get our Land Rover Defender called Nanoq registered for the overseas transport to Baltimore. Everything went surprisingly smooth; at the check in we only had to fill in a one-pager, park the car on the right parking spot (which actually turned out to be the biggest challenge. The port is huge and watch out, there is more than one park spot with one and the same number...!), wait for the service personal to come and catch the car key - that's it. Then it's time to say "goodbye Nanoq, safe travel and c u over there..."

April 1, 2017

Simply happy...

The journey begins...

First Stop on our tour...

New York

april 1 - 4, 2017

doing the sightseeing

New York City at the southern tip of the state of New York is the most densely populated city in the US with a population of about 8.55 million spread over an area of 305 square miles. The city is considered as the financial capital of the world. In 1998, five boroughs were merged to form the city of New York; they are Staten Island, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan.

The five boroughs in New York City

All connected by five big bridges; Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Queensboro Bridge and the George Washington Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge is probably the most famous bridge of New York City. It was built in 1883, and has got a great history; it was the first bridge to provide passage across the East River between Brooklyn and Manhattan, back when Brooklyn was still an independent city; it has a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m) and was the first steel-wire suspension bridge constructed.

The bridge was initially designed by a German immigrant, John Augustus Roebling. While conducting surveys for the bridge project, Roebling had a crush injury to his foot, developed a tetanus infection which left him incapacitated and soon resulted in his death. His 32-year-old son Washington Roebling took over the project. Unluckily Washington Roebling also became sick soon after been taken over the project and were unable to physically supervise the construction firsthand. But like it is - behind every successful man, there is a woman :-) - and luckily there she was, his wife Emily Warren Roebling who not only did aid her husband, but did also spend 11 years assisting Washington Roebling, helping to supervise the bridge's construction and engineers on site in order to complete the project. At the end building the bridge did cost US$ 15.5 million dollars (in 1883, about US$ 385'554'000 in today's dollars) and 27 people did pay with their lives during its construction.

As the bridge finally was finished, Emily Warren Roebling was the first to cross the bridge - however on May 30, 1883, six days after the opening, a rumor that the bridge was going to collapse caused a stampede, which was responsible for at least twelve people being crushed and killed. Because of the many accidents during its construction people believed the bridge was some kind of cursed and they didn't want to use the bridge anymore. A catastrophe, if you consider the time and money spent!

Luckily Mr. P.T. Barnum the 19th century New York’s biggest showman made a proposal. In order to prove the bridge was safe, he offered, he’d walk his troupe of 21 elephants, 7 camels, and 10 dromedaries across it. And it helped to squelch doubts about the bridge's stability - the Brooklyn Bridge became one of the most popular of America's bridges - and it's well used - more than 120,000 vehicles, 4,000 pedestrians and 2,600 bicyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge every day as of 2016!

Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge
Flatiron Building - Empire State Building - and tower view...
Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal is the largest train station in the world by number of tracks and number of platforms and also one of the world's most visited tourist attractions, with approx. 22 million visitors each year. During the morning rush hour, trains platform there every 58 seconds and every day, more than 750,000 people pass through the Grand Central. The information booth is a perennial meeting place of the station, most noted for its magnificent clock. Each of the four clock faces is made from opal, and auction houses estimate its worth at more than $10 million. The statues around the clock on Grand Central’s south face featuring the three gods Mercury, Hercules and Minerva, represent the railroads with their attributes of speed, strength and intellect. All in all the beaux arts architecture building is really impressive and worth a visit or two. And in the Spring of 2016, a team led by the Danish food entrepreneur Claus Meyer opened The Great Northern Food Hall in Grand Central Terminal and made it even better :-) Check it out - we did!

Classic tourists - hop on, hop off...

New York is multicultural. The population is composed of approx. 45% white, 28% Latinos and Hispanic and 25% African Americans. The rest of the population is composed of the Asians, Native Americans and other minority races. Wherever you go, you will get to know another culture inspired by the many immigrants from all over the world.

The High Line - love it!

The High Line is a public park built on a 1.45 mile-long, historic freight rail structure on Manhattan’s West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues. Originally it was built in 1934 as part of a massive infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement. The idea was to lift the train traffic in the air and remove dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan's largest industrial district. The freight trains carried mostly food and agricultural goods to the upper stories of factories and warehouses. Following decades-long growth in the interstate trucking industry, the last train runs on the High Line in 1980.

Repurposing of the railway into an urban park began in 2006, with the first phase opening in 2009, and the second phase opening in 2011. The third and final phase officially opened to the public in September, 2014. A short stub above 10th Avenue and 30th Street is still closed, but will open by 2017. The project managed by the non-pro organization "Friends of the High Line" has spurred real estate development in the neighborhoods that lie along the line, and increased real estate values and prices, as a "halo effect". Overall the Friends of the High Line can look back at more than 15 years of successful project management, also bringing nearly 5 million visitors every year to the High Line. Pretty understandable, if you ask me...

on the water...

Having a great view of New York City, the skyline and Statue of Liberty...

The new new york...

Westfield World Trade Center

The Westfield World Trade Center - also called the new New York, the place to be - is another spot we really loved. It replaces the shopping center called "The Mall", which was located in the concourse area of the original World Trade Center complex until it was destroyed on September 11, 2001. The new mall with it's architecture and shops are simply awesome - but make sure you bring a big pocket!

Walkway at Westfield World Trade Center

short list of OUR FAVORITE PLACES and to do's:

  • SoHo, which means South of Houston Street, at Lower Manhattan is the location of many artists' lofts and art galleries, but is now also known for its variety of shops ranging from trendy upscale boutiques to national and international chain store outlets. If you plan a trip to NY and like this district, check out the Hotel Arlo SoHo. We did spend three nights here and loved it! Especially we would like to mention the great breakfast at the hotel - you can eat till you drop!
  • Greenwich Village is one of the most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan. During the 1630s, Dutch settlers called this area Noortwyck and by 1713 it was renamed to Grin'wich. In 1836 New York University was founded here and shortly after German, Irish, and Italian immigrants flooded into the area to work. Step by step restaurants, cafés, galleries, art clubs and societies popped up in this area. Since the start of the twenty-first century, the village is a major tourist mecca and continues to be one of the most dynamic and diverse neighborhoods in New York City. On of the most popular spots in Greenwich Village is the Washington Square Park, a public park, well-known as a landmark as well as a meeting place and center for cultural activity. Walking around in this area and discover nice spots is simply great.
  • High Line and Meatpacking district as mentioned above
  • Hudson River simply a perfect place for having a nice walk, a run or riding the bike. We started our "walking tour" from Lower Manhattan (Hudson Street) and went up to the High Line and Meatpacking district, approx. 30 minutes walk. Walking is the best way to experience the character of neighborhoods in Manhattan and the contrast and continuity between them - so we were walking and walking, day in, day out...
  • Westfield World Trade Center as mentioned above
Hotel Arlo SoHo - simply superb...

April 5, 2017 - Baltimore

Today we have been informed the Grande Dakar will arrive on April 10, 2017. It's is a pity, but what can we do... We decided stay for two more nights in Baltimore and clear customs in advance in order to hopefully get Nanoq express after arrival on 10th. But first we will enjoy the sunny and warm weather and go for some sightseeing at the inner harbor.

Baltimore Inner Harbor
Baltimore Inner Harbor

april 6, 2017 - baltimore

Today it's raining cats and dogs! A good day for customs we thought. At customs, we have to get the clearance for the temporary importation of our Land Rover Defender. After approximately 2 hours, the paper work was done and we received the clearance in order to pick up Nanoq on April, 10th at the harbor of Baltimore. Happy :-)

april 7 - 9, 2017

Bad news this morning. Our Defender will arrive in Baltimore with another three days of delay...!! So it will not arrive on April 10th, but around April 13th. Not happy, but what can we do? We need a Plan B to bridge the time until Nanoq arrives. So we booked three nights at a beautiful waterfront house in Crownsville. From there we had some nice day trips to Washington D.C., Chesapeake Bay Bridge to a small cosy town called Easton and Annapolis.

"Our" house - a dream...!
with such a great view...
Washington D.C. plenty of monuments and museums to visit

April 10 - 14, 2017

Plan B program continues: today we are flying to Florida to go touring in Miami, Key West and Everglades. Hopefully, by the time we return to Baltimore, the vessel will have arrived and we will finally be able to pick up Nanoq and start the REAL ADVENTURE we came for :-)

Welcome to Miami

So here we are, 4 days in Miami -the place to see and be seen.

Ocean Drive
South Beach

What To do and see in Miami:

  • Ocean Drive
  • South Beach
  • Rent City Bikes
  • Lincoln rd
  • Diamond Harbor
  • Boat Trip
  • Everglades
  • Trip to Key West
  • Visit a Baseball or Football Game (we didn't find time - not yet - but for sure will...)
Air Boat at Everglades

Everglades National Park in Florida protects more than 2400 square miles of Florida's primeval past. More than 85 percent of the park is designated wilderness, composed of freshwater and coastal prairie, marsh, pine and cypress woods, mangroves and the waters and islands of Florida Bay. It's also the area of alligators, river otters, wading birds, turtles and other reptiles. We been told that the ideal time to see Everglades is Mid-March through April. Later on it will be very crowded and the mosquitoes are coming. Lucky to have picked the best time of the year without those small but very abundant species, and to greet some alligators - from distance of course :)

On our way to Key West

Day trip from Florida City to Key West - about 130 miles - one way - a long, long drive and plenty of dark clouds and rain... However we did spend a nice day at the Keys, walking around, doing some people watching and visiting Ernest Hemingway. If we would have had more time we would have stayed overnight in one of the cosy wooden Bed & Breakfast houses e.g. Olivia by Duval - a charming getaway. Next time - maybe...

90 miles to Cuba only - however the water was too cold.
Love those old wooden houses

April 14, 2017

Bye, bye Miami - we must admit filling the gap while waiting for our car to arrive could have been worse - in fact it was great! We will for sure be back one day...

April 15 - 16, 2017

Back from where we "started". - we will spend 3 more nights at "our" Waterfront House in Crownsville and wait for our Defender to arrive. Although it was Easter the owners of the house, Ron and Lorie, invited us to stay for dinner with family and friends - and we're glad we accepted, we did spend two really nice evenings and feel very grateful to have met so many lovely people. And the food was delicious - not to forget...! Thanks, Ron and Lorie!

Seafood Party at Ron's place

Our route so far

New York City, Baltimore, Annapolis, Crownsville, Washington D.C., Miami, Key West, Baltimore, Crownsville - to be continued...

April 17, 2017

Today is the day - Nanoq is finally with us. Everything fine, no damage and all personal items still "on board". Soooo happy...!!! So we're leaving "our" dream of a waterfront house at Little Round Bay in Crownsville and saying goodbye - or so long! We really loved our stay here! Ron and his family and friends made this a time to remember...!

Getting ready...

Finally on the road - heading direction Route 66 South and I-81 till Front Royal, Virginia wherefrom we enter the Shenandoah National Park to drive the Skyline Drive.

Shenandoah National Park is a real beautiful park in Viriginia and the closest one to Washington D.C. The park is famous for the its 105-mile long scenic roadway, the so-called Skyline Drive. Altogether you will find 75 overlooks alonge the route and if you are lucky you will not only have breathtaking views, but also find deer and black bears. We actually did, however the co-driver (no name mentioned, but the co-driver was male :) was too late and missed taking a photo...!

Our first camp

April 18, 2017

Waking up somewhere in the middle of "nowhere", having a cup of coffee - feeling good, feeling free!

There's nothing like a piping hot cup of coffee on a cold morning...

April 19, 2017

Today we're heading west following I-81 and I-40 to Knoxville and Nashville, from there driving further to Memphis and Little Rock. Except from Highway with Monstertrucks (feeling pretty small...) and green hills with cows and horses not much to tell about - we're driving and driving and not yet sure where to spend the night... But no problem, our bed is right behind us :)

Surrounded by Monstertrucks

April 20, 2017

A new star is born! Already now, after 3 days on the road only, we have got so many likes for Nanoq. No matter where we are; Walmart, Starbucks, Shell and so on - people are starting a small chat with us - having questions about our car. Of course they're also asking about our visit in the US, sometimes giving us great tips where to go and what to do next and wishing us safe travel. So far we have had positive experiences only - hopefully it will last.

By the way today we're heading further west - Colorado Springs or somewhere close by is our destination. But there's a long way to go...

April 21, 2017

Today is a BIG day - it's Sidney's birthday - hipp, hipp hurraaaaa...!!! Yesterday we didn't reach Colorado yet, but today we will. Only 215 more miles to go. That's like nothing:) However first we will start into the day with a great American breakfast at Village Inn in Colby, Kansas.

Finally we reached Manitou Springs and Pikes Peak Campground, where we will spend the night, but first we will go "downtown" for dinner to celebrate! We will be back...

Pikes Peak Campground

April 22, 2017

Waking up at 6 am and checking the weather forecast. Unfortunately not so good, around 0 degrees with rain and snow (!!!) so Pikes Peak will be closed. What to do instead?

The Place for Coffee and WiFi

After some "surfing" we decided our next stage will be Grand Sand Dunes National Park, laying at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colorado.

Getting there...

The National Park is well-known for the tallest dunes in North America, reaching heights over 750 feet with a dunefield covering 30 square miles. The dunes are probably about 440.000 years old and really impressive. There are many wild animals in the park; Black bears, Mountain lions, Elk, Bighorn sheeps, Kangaroo rats among others. Park and preserve elevations range from 7515 feet (2308 m) to 13604 feet (4146 m). So you might get altitude sickness. In summer the sand surface can reach 150F (66C) in mid-day and in spring windy blowing storms often occur - be prepared with clothing and drink a lot of water! We were lucky, stayed safe and healthy :)

Medano Pass Primitive Road

After a windy, but great day at Grand Sand Dunes even with some "off-road driving" on the Medano Pass primitive road (unfortunately parts of road were closed due to springtime with highwater) and walking in the sanddunes we are leaving Grand Sand Dunes National Park and heading to Rio Grande National Forest through the Wolf Creek Pass at 10857 ft. By the way we recommend everyone to pay Grand Sand Dunes a visit. It's a beauty!

Grand Sand Dunes National Park
Beautiful...

Our next stop will be Pagosa Springs, a small cozy town right after the downhill from the Wolf Creek Pass. After dinner at Ajia Asian Restaurant with good food and great service we were ready for the night at Happy Camper Campground. They have WiFi (sometimes...), laundry, restrooms with showers - basically all you need - however the restrooms could need some renovation. Nevertheless we're glad that we could stay - since we arrived late in the evening and the office was already closed this is not to be sure. Please note most of the campgrounds do not make any reservations or let you in after dawn!

April 23, 2017

First stop today Durango - the City is the county seat and the most populous municipality of La Plata County, Colorado with a population of approx. 17.000. The town was organized back in 1880 to serve the San Juan mining district. Durango is nestled in the Animas River Valley surrounded by the San Juan Mountains. The Animas River - El Río de las Animas (River of Souls) runs through downtown and is popular for fly fishing, rafting, kayaking and canoeing. Durango is also popular for outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, road biking, backpacking, slacklining, rock climbing, hunting, off-roading and golfing.

We had a short stopover only and no time for any activities. However we did pay the historic old town at Main Avenue a short visit. Here we did find many nice, old buildings, boutiques, restaurants and cafes such as Jean Pierre French Bakery & Winery - in our opinion a must!

Durango, Colorado

Next stop Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park offers a look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years. For reasons still secret, residents left Mesa Verde by 1300. Local ranchers first reported the cliff dwellings in the 1880s and the Mesa Verde National Park was created in 1906 to preserve the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Today the park protects nearly 5.000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. Tomorrow we for sure will visit at least one of those cliff dwellings.

Our camp at Mesa Verde

The night we will spend at Morefield Campground inside the Mesa Verde National Park. The campground turned out to be a perfect choice although not yet opened for the season - so limited camping only - but we're fine, having everything we need - although traveling light. And again we were so lucky - our "neighbors" at the camp were great! First we met Mark, a very friendly young guy from Michigan - and by the way also a real adventurer and adrenalin junkie - if you could see his vehicle and the crazy jumps he could do with it - you know what I mean. And then we also met Cathy and Chuck with Rick & kids - coming from Colorado. Cathy and Chuck even invited us to come over and have some lasagna with artichokes and spinach. I asked myself, who bothers making lasagna when camping? Well, they did and we were lucky - it was delicious! Chuck also turned out to be an experienced camper and hiker so we did get many great tips where to go next. It couldn't have been better! Thank you, guys - and Mark we keep in touch!

Mesa Verde, Park Point Overlook 8572ft

April 24, 2017

We're starting the day with breakfast inside since sun still hiding behind the clouds and it's quite chilly outside. Hope it will be better later on when we will make our tour to the Balcony House.

The Balcony House tour was an adventurous cliff dwelling tour involving climbing ladders and crawling through short tunnels. The dwellings are in incredible good shape, nevertheless it's hard to imagine how the Pueblos used to live here. If you're close by go and visit the Balcony House - it's worth it.

Climbing and crawling
Balcony House

In the afternoon we're leaving Mesa Verde and heading to Salt Lake City, Utah to catch some "gadgets" for Nanoq. On our way we were passing Moab, actually we wanted to stay overnight however it was so crowded and hard to find a place so we went further to Green River State Park and did spend the night there. Probably we will get back to Moab in 1 - 2 days.

Mesa Verde National Park

April 25, 2017

Early in the morning we're leaving Green River State Park and heading to Salt Lake City. On the way we are surprised by a "snowstorm" - one more reason to get back "south" asap!!!

Winter is back...

April 26, 2017

Last night we returned from Salt Lake to Moab, where we had already booked two nights at KOA Campground. National parks like Arches and Canyonlands are both close by so we will make some day trips the next days, but the first thing we need to do is laundry! Easily we did find a 24 hours laundry and noticed it's exactly like in the movies; while waiting for the laundry to be done people are eating, watching tv, chatting on Facebook or Skype, or even sleeping. A funny experience and our garderobe is again complete!

KOA Campground Moab

By the way Moab is always very busy so make sure to book an accommodation in advance - and if you need some camp equipment, sportswear, maps, electronics or whatever Gearheads Outdoor Store at the Main Street in Moab is a real cool shop!

Arches National Park

Today we're going to the Arches. The 119 square miles Arches National Park hold the world's greatest collection of natural stone arches - more than 2'300 of them - along with a supporting of cast of fins, spires, hoodoos, domes and towers. A 300-million-year-old story written in stone of a time when coastal dunes and primeval inland sea deposited sediments that have since been uplifted, carved, eroded and scoured by the forces of nature.

Arches National Park

Arches is a great park where you can walk to many features - if you feel like. We were hiking the Windows Primitive Trail and the Devils Garden Trail.

Windows Primitive Trail is a slightly longer trail than the Windows Trail, however the better choice, if you would like to escape the crowds viewing the park's most visited arches, the North Window and the South Window Arches.

Windows Trail

The Devils Garden Primitive Loop is the longest of the trails with 7.2 miles and includes Double O Arch and Landscape Arch. If you hike another 0.5 miles you will reach the Dark Angel, a big 150-foot-high sandstone, which was used as a historic landmark by ancient travelers. Since this is the longest trail in the park and you will be challenged with elevation changes, rocky footing and climbing you should plan on spending at least half a day. We are glad we did - it was fantastic!

Devils Garden Primitive Loop

April 27, 2017

Today we will visit Canyonlands National Park. Canyonlands preserves a wilderness of rock at the heart of the Colorado Plateau. You will find hundreds of canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches and spires formed by water and gravity. The park has three districts: Island in the Sky, The Maze and The Needles - at center stage there are two canyons with the Green river on one side and the Colorado river on the other. Each district is of distinct character.

Canyonlands National Park

We decided to mainly discover the Island in the Sky part and drive the White Rim Trail. However to do so we first need to go to the visitor center and ask for a permit to drive the primitive rough dirt road. With our vehicle we easily got the permit needed, however since the campgrounds inside the national park were fully booked a one-day-pass only - so before sunset we should have been leaving the park.

Canyonlands Shafer Trail and White Rim Trail "on the edge"
Musselman Arch
Back on "earth" - leaving White Rim

On the way back we decided to take the Potash Trail bringing us back to Moab. We had a few stops along the trail to enjoy the beautiful views on Green River and Colorado River. One of the viewpoints is also famous from the movie "Thelma and Louise".

Green River

On the way from Potash Trail to Moab you'll find several BLM and primitive campgrounds. We recommend the Gold Bar Campground located right on the Colorado riverside. Unfortunately all the sites were booked so we couldn't stay overnight. Again - welcome to Moab!

Hungry and tired after a long day we went to Spoke House in Moab. Nice location, food and service ok - however we were a bit "stressed" to pay and leave as soon the last bite was taken. Although it's quite common in the states, we're not really getting used to it.

After dinner we were not motivated to do anything but sleep - however we didn't have any reservation... We stopped at the first and best hotel we could find with the sign "vacancy" - unfortunately the "sign" was broken so they didn't have any rooms left - of course it would have been too easy - I guess the lady at the frontdesk could tell how disappointed we were - "don't worry she said, I'll call my sister and ask if she has a room for you" - and YES she did and minutes later we checked in at Redstone Inn. Not THE place to be, but ok for one night.

No cooking tonight ...!

April 28, 2017

Today we're leaving Moab and heading to Goblin Valley State Park, located between Green River and Hanksville in Utah. Chuck, who we met in Mesa Verde recommended the park, so we will see.

Goblin Valley State Park

Around 11 am we arrived the Visitor Center in Goblin Valley and first of all made sure to reserve a campground site for the night. We were lucky and could choose between 7 sites - woooow - in Moab that would have been a dream!

Our camp in Goblin

In the afternoon a really strong and cold wind came up, so we decided to go to Hanksville, a small, old "town" just a short drive from Goblin State Park. However there wasn't much to see - we ended up having dinner at "Duke's", a cozy, old traditional restaurant with good food. BBQ Spareribs for Sidney and fish for me. By the way Duke's do also have a nice campground. Tomorrow we wil go to Goblin Valley and have a look at the "stone gnomes".

Beautiful colorful mountains in Goblin

April 29, 2017

During the night it was getting even more windy so we felt more like being on a ship than on a camp and glad we were sleeping inside the car and not in a tent like others.

Before leaving Goblin Valley State Park we're going to have a look at the famous "stone gnomes" in Goblin Valley. The wonderful stone shapes of Goblin Valley result from millions of years of geologic history. The goblins are made of Entrada sandstone, which consists of debris eroded from former highlands. The goblins show evidence of being near an ancient sea. Cowboys searching for cattle were among the first to discover the Goblin Valley. In the late 1920s Arthur Chaffin, owner of the Hite Ferry, and two companions were looking for an alternative route between Green River and Caineville. They came to a point about one mile west of Goblin Valley and were impressed by what they saw: five buttes and a valley of strange shaped rock formations surrounded by a wall of eroded cliffs. In 1949 Mr. Chaffin returned to the area he called Mushroom Valley and did spend time exploring and photographing the mysterious valley. In 1964 Goblin Valley was officially designated a state park.

Goblin Valley

After Goblin Valley we went to Capitol Reef National Park. Capitol Reef National Monument was established in 1937 and became a national park in 1971. Still Capitol Reef isn't the most famous National Park, however getting more and more popular and today millions of visitors from around the world visit the park each year. The park located on the Colorado Plateau in Utah offers similar geologic wonders as Zion and Arches, but is larger and more isolated. The park strech for 100 miles north to south and it's quite narrow. Popular spots in Capitol Reef are: Fruita Historic District, the Hickman Bridge, the Cathedral Valley, the Grand wash with the Waterpocket Fold among others. You can also find many carvings (petroglyphs) and paintings (pictographs) on rock walls - reminders of the American Indians who lived here from about 300 to 1300 Common Era.

Cowboys on the road...

Later on we decided to drive the Scenic Byway 12 leading us to Bryce Canyon National Park. Some of Utah's most outstanding high desert scenery unfolds along this All-America Road, starting with the immense sandstone domes of Capitol Reef and ending with the pale orange spires of Bryce Canyon. Between these two national parks the Scenic Byway snakes along narrow ridgetops, red-rock canyons, prehistoric Native American ruins and Boulder Mountain at 11'000 ft. On the way we recommend to stay at the Calf Creek Campground located by the river in Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument. Here you will also find hiking trails to Calf Creek Falls.

Bryce National Park

In the evening we arrived Bryce National Park and checked in at Ruby's Inn RV Campground. One of the best campgrounds so far and super friendly staff. Ruby's Inn was established already back in 1919 by Reuben C. (Ruby) Syrett and today the business is carried on by his grandchildren.

April 30, 2017

Waking up with a lovely morningsun and -8 degrees celsius...!!! Now we're glad we did bring our Norrøna and Devold clothing. No matter what we are ready to explore Bryce National Park and go for a closer look at the fascinating canyon walls, fins, windows and hoodoos.

Bryce we're coming...

First we made the Queens Garden from Sunrise Point, a easy 1.5 miles trail.

Queens Garden - simply beautiful
You need to see it, to believe it...

And then the Peekaboo Loop Trail, a rather strenuous 5.5 miles round trip, and finally the Navajo Trail 2.2 miles back to the top to Sunset Point.

Navajo Trail
Thors Hammer

Many people say "no place on earth looks like Bryce Canyon" - and we agree - it's amazing!

Tomorrow we will go on traveling - Zion National Park next...

May 1, 2017

On our way to Zion

Zion is not only one of 390 National Parks in U.S., but also the oldest and most popular one. It is open year-round. From spring to fall the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is open to shuttle buses only. The Zion Mt. Carmel Highway, Kolob Canyons Road and Kolob Terrace Road are open to vehicles year round and not that busy. However most of the popular trails such as Angels Landing, Watchman Trail and The Narrows, and viewpoints are located along the Zion Scenic Drive.

Impressed by the beauty

The red and white walls of Navajo sandstone from the Jurassic era rise 2'000 feet to the sky. On the way to the National Park we were impressed by the beauty, however as soon as we arrived Zion Plaza and the visitor center, we were rather disappointed: the "ranger" or "trainee" at the visitor center was quite unfriendly, we couldn't find a park slot, the campgrounds fully booked, the Narrows were closed and no free driving in the park - you all need to take a shuttle...

Although we would have loved to hike the Angels Landing we didn't feel like being a part of the "show" and decided to leave Zion and go to a less touristic spot. We will probably give Zion another try when we visit the States again. Yes, we're already now planning a second trip. We noticed this country is SO big and there are SO much to see! Since we prefer to take our time and explore more of each region and not just rush from one point to another several places on our "bucket list" will be skipped (this time). "Schweren Herzens " we will cancel California including San Francisco, L.A., San Diego, Yosemite and also Las Vegas, Yellowstone and Glacier National Park. Those destinations will for sure be part of our next trip!

Bye-bye Zion...

May 2, 2017

Last night we arrived Kanab, Utah. Kanab is for sure not as famous like Zion or Bryce however the city and especially the surroundings have a lot to offer. Kanab is also very centrally located right in the middle of ten of America's greatest scenic wonders such as the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Kaibab National Forest, and the Paria Canyon Area among others - making it the perfect basecamp for exploring, hiking or backcountry adventure. We decided to stay two nights in Kanab and another one in the Stateline State Park, where you actually can stand with one foot in Utah and with the other one in Arizona at one and the same time.

Stateline Arizona - Utah

The famous geological sandstone area known as "The Wave" is also located on the Utah / Arizona border, about 50 miles from Kanab. Until 2009 The Wave was nearly unknown. That changed rapidly when Microsoft launched Windows 7 with a beautiful photo of The Wave as its desktop wallpaper. Many have called The Wave the "Holy Grail of Hikes" - not because of the hikes difficulty, but the difficulty getting the chance to do it. Only 20 people per day may do the hike and you need to apply for a permit. Daily 10 online permits and 10 walk-in permits are issued - per lottery. We decided to go to Kanab Visitor Center and participate.

The Wave Lottery

Unfortunately we didn't win, so we will go for the White Pocket instead. Like The Wave the White Pocket is located on the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in the Paria Canyon. To get there we acess the House Rock Valley Road, a maintained dirt road, which might be impassable when wet. Later on we continued on unpaved roads 1017, 1087 and 1086 with deep sand requiring a four-wheel drive-high clearance vehicle. If you don't have a proper vehicle, you for sure will be stocked and it's very tricky to find help out there!

House Rock Valley Road
and then the Honeymoon Trail

And finally we were there - and the best thing we could find six cars on the parking only - much better than Zion! Ok, the fact that only 4WD with high clearance can pass the primitive rough roads and especially the last 10 miles with deep sand probably prevent many people to come out here - but good for us :)

White Pocket
Such a nice and peaceful place

May 3, 2017

This morning we would like to again try our luck with the Wave Lottery - a very last time. Unfortunately again we didn't win. However we have been told that the Wire Pass Trail and Buckskin Gulch Trail in the Paria Canyon Area also should be nice, so we decided to go there and spend the night in the middle of the Park at Stateline Campground to be close to the hiking trails.

Stateline Campground

The Paria Canyon Area is wild! No designated trails, campsites or facilities will be found within this wilderness boundary. The canyon terrain is rugged and hikers better be in good physical condition. The Paria River is normally dry in May and June, however the canyons may have mud and quicksand after floods. Ask the visitor center and they will give you the information needed to plan your trip accordingly. We did get superb information and maps at the visitor center in Kanab - the adventure can begin!

Flash Flood Warning
Although it looks very dry right now
Entering the Wire Pass
Finding beautiful colors
Like Antelope Canyon - without crowd

After about 10 miles of hiking we are heading back to our basecamp at Stateline. Tomorrow we will go to Glen Canyon including Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and Page.

May 4, 2017

The best breakfast ever at Kanab Creek Bakery before leaving Kanab and heading to Glen Canyon.

Delicious "Good morning" breakfast

Glen Canyon is nestled in the center of the Grand Circle - a collection of seven national parks, eight national monuments and numerous state parks, historical sites, prehistoric Indian ruins, colorful ghost towns and stunning geologic formations, which reaches from northern Arizona into southern Utah, western Colorado and northwest New Mexico.

Kanab Creek Bakery

In the afternoon we arrived Page, Glen Canyon and decided to stay two nights at Lake Powell Campground. First we need to do some shopping and laundry - again - and make the planning for the next days. Tomorrow we probably go for Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell.

May 5,2017

This morning we begin with the Horseshoe Bend and in the afternoon we have booked a half-day tour on Lake Powell - a Sunset Kayaking Tour. The Horseshoe Bend gets its name from the serpentine, 180 degree curve in the Colorado River. The trail head for Horseshoe Bend is about three miles southwest of Page and the hike to the canyon's edge is only 0.5 miles and an easy walk for nearly everyone, so be prepared you want be alone.

Horseshoe Bend

In the afternoon we were ready for the Sunset Kayaking Tour on Lake Powell. The weather was perfect and the group of six people a dream team :) Our guide Brad did a great job and made sure that everything went smoothly.

On our way to Lake Powell
A perfect afternoon for kayaking
Trainees
and our guide Brad - a bit more professional
Having a break...

May 6, 2017

Today we will go to the Antelope Canyon. Unfortunately you cannot go there by yourself - you always need to book a guided tour - and so we did since we really would like to see the place.

Rush hour at Antelope Canyon
Colorful
Beautiful
Amazing

Although Antelope Canyon is a very busy spot and you cannot even walk through the canyon in your own speed (the guides will "stress" you to keep on moving), we're glad we could see it.

After Antelope we're heading further south to Flagstaff, Arizona where we will stay one night in a Hotel - hopefully nice showers and fast WiFi. On our way we stopped at Horsemen Lodge Steakhouse and had a real great dinner!

May 7, 2017

This morning we first went to Slide Rock State Park, located in Oak Creek Canyon 7 miles north of Sedona in northern Arizona and taking its name from a natural water slide formed by the slippery bed of Oak Creek. Tall red rock formations that are typical of the region also surround the park. Slide Rock is a popular recreation spot for families, especially on weekends.

Slide Rock State Park

After a rather short visit at Slide Rock we were driving the scenic drive along the Oak Creek Canyon until we entered the town of Sedona. Sedona a small town in Verde Valley in Arizona, which nearly everybody seems to love. If you're looking for a place to do some shopping and visit some nice restaurants, cafes or art galleries - this is the place for you. They do also have some real nice, but expensive spa and retreatment hotels and hiking trails, which we didn't try out. Nevertheless in our opinion Sedona is being a bit overrated. Less modern tourism and more charm of a history would have been great - however I guess its all a question of what you're looking for.

Sedona town

Although one positive thing we would like to mention about Sedona: we met Barbara and Kevan, a very nice Dutch-Scotch couple being traveling for more than 1 year with their Defender 130. We enjoyed to spend the day and later on the night together with the two of them on a BLM somewhere between Sedona and Cottonwood, Arizona.

Barbara and Kevan's Defender 130

May 8, 2017

Time to say "so long" to Barbara and Kevan. Probably we will meet again at the Overland Expo in Flagstaff in a couple of days. But first we are heading south since the weather forecast for northern Arizona is rather bad and we had enough of the cold, windy weather!

We decided to travel to Lake Pleasant Regional Park and have a stopover in Cottonwood, a city in Yavapai County, Arizona. Cottonwood is located in the "Heart of the Verde Valley Wine Country". The Old Town is known for its Main Street with several Wine & Spirit Tasting Rooms, Cafes and restaurants, antique stores, galleries, boutiques and trails along Verde River that attract visitors and support local residents. Our favorite place was the "Red Rooster Cafe" with excellent service, coffee and food!

In the afternoon we arrived Lake Pleasant. Lake Pleasant is an essential water reservoir in Central Arizona, located about 30 minutes north of Phoenix. The park offers 23'600 acres of Sonoran Desert beauty, of which nearly 10'000 is lake water. It's an ideal destination for camping, picknicking, hiking, boating and swimming. Although the weather wasn't the very best I did the last and it was "fresh" but nice.

Lake Pleasant

MaY 9, 2017

"Keep on moving" - today we were driving further to the Apache Junction and decided to stay at Lost Dutchman State Park at Superstition Mountains in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. The park was named after the fabled Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine. According to legend, a rich gold mine is still hidden somewhere out there. There have been many stories about how to find the mine, and each year people search for the mine. Some have died on the search. The mine is named after German immigrant Jacob Waltz (c. 1810–1891), who purportedly discovered it in the 19th century and kept its location a secret. The Lost Dutchman's is perhaps the most famous lost mine in American history.

Cave Creek
Ghost City

Unfortunately we didn't find the gold mine, but had a lovely hike through the brush and cacti and a great stay at the campground.

Superstition Mountains
Lost Dutchman State Park

May 10, 2017

After a healthy breakfast in the morning sun we're leaving this beautiful campground and head back "north" again - since we need to be in Flagstaff on Thursday, 11. On our way we will make a stopover in Tonto National Forest.

No fastfood today!

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is tucked away in a tiny valley surrounded by a forest of pine trees. It is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. The bridge stands 183 feet high over a 400-foot long tunnel that measures 150 feet at its widest point. Visitors can stand on the top of the bridge or hike down to get a closer look at this geologic wonder. We did the hike - of course...

Tonto Natural Bridge

May 11 - 14, 2017

The next days we will spend at the Overland Expo in Flagstaff - the premier overlanding event in the world. No other event offers the scope of classes taught by the world's leading experts, alongside a professional-level trade show that brings together in one place all the camping and vehicle and motorcycle equipment and services you need to get outfitted and get going. We will tell you more about the event and our experiences done later on...

May 15, 2017

After four nights in Flagstaff it's time to say goodbye and continue our journey. We did spend a really great and interesting time at the Overland Expo; learning more about vehicles, equipment, traveling around the world and made new contacts. Especially we would like to mention Kaelin & Ian our Expo neighbors, Alex Martin from Las Vegas (and publisher of Camp-Thing), Sandra and Andreas from Konstanz, Christa and Johan from Switzerland, Kip, Linda and Steven from Durango, Gordon "next door", Ian Kelly with his lovely "old" Land Rover Dormobile and of course our friends "from Sedona" Barbara and Kevan - and simply say thank you to all of you! Hope to see (hear) you again!

Some impressions from Overland Expo - take your choice!

Earthroamer Expedition Car Deluxe
"Oldtimer"
Tiny House on wheels :)
Alex Camp-Thing
The coolest dog

We did also learn to know Bryan and Steve, the publisher of the Alloy+Grit Magazine - North America's Independent Land Rover Journal - and as already mentioned Alex Martin from Camp-Thing, who made a film about the Overland Expo and also one about our road trip. Can't wait to see it!

May 16, 2017

Overland Expo was great, but now we need to move on. Our next destination will be White Sands in New Mexico.

"Der Weg ist das Ziel"

On our way we did pass Valley of Fires and the Malpais Lawa Flow - a lawa flow that stretches for more than 40 miles into the Tularosa Basin. The lava believed to have come from Little Black Peak nearly 10 miles away. Even at 5'000 years old, geologists consider this flow to be one of the youngest in the continental US.

Valley of Fires

We did also pass several small old towns, valleys, fields and never-ending roads...

Countryside
and "Big City"

As we finally reached Alamogordo, a town in New Mexico about 15 minutes away from White Sands National Park, we needed a break and were happy to find Cafe Plateau Nespresso. Surprisingly we did also find a German School close by and learned that the German Air Force's tactical training for the F-4F Phantom Jet takes place at Holloman Airforce Base in Alamogordo, so their kids (166 students today) are going here to school.

Later in the afternoon we were ready for White Sands National Park and the largest gypsum dune field in the world. It shows a spectacular landscape, shaped by natural forces and believe it, the sand is really white like snow!!! We were impressed and would say it's like no other place on earth!

White Sands National Monument
Black and White

After our visit in White Sands we went to Lincoln National Forest to find a place to stay for the night. Lincoln National Forest named for President Abraham Lincoln, is massive with its 1 million acres and stretches over four counties and has elevations that range from 4.000 to 11.000 feet. Even then we were quite surprised finding a Ski Palace up there, at a place called Cloudcroft. When I think of New Mexico, I don't think about skiing - do you?

On our way we did also find a old charming "general store" called Old Apple Barn. When you enter the store, it feels like somebody just pushed the button on a time machine. Unexpected and quite cool...

Old Apple Barn
Coffee, Pie, Candies and lots more...

May 17, 2017

First stop today again the cafe "Plateau Nespresso" for some great coffee, chai tea, hot cheese sandwiches and also to take advantage of their highspeed WiFi - that's not at all to be taken for granted in the States! After breakfast we went to the New Mexico Museum of Space History. New Mexico had been home to many space pioneers and developments that made space travel possible. It was interesting to see and learn more about the history, science and technology of space exploration. And again we were surprised by how many germans (e.g. Wernher von Braun, Hermann Oberth, Ernst Steinhoff etc.) were involved and have taken influence in the American Space History.

New Mexico Museum of Space History

In the afternoon we were moving on. In Carlsbad, New Mexico we had a short break - not to see the caves, like probably most people do - we went to "Tina's" and had some great Mexican Food:)

Delicious and great service

And then we went on till Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, where we will spend the night. We were told, there are some mountain lions around, but unfortunately we didn't meet them.

May 18, 2017

Last night it was extremely windy, so we couldn't really sleep - around 5 we were back on the road again. We did find a route suggested on TripAdvisor - the Rio Grande Scenic River Drive - starting in Marfa and following the river Rio Grande till Lajitas, which means entering Big Bend National Park from west. We decided to follow the recommendation and glad we did - it was such a nice drive - one of the very best so far.

Rio Grande

In the evening we arrived Terlingua, Texas, not only known as a Ghosttown, but also as town of the best chili. We liked this small "town" so much and decided to stay.

Terlingua
La Posada Milagro Guesthouse

May 19, 2017

Waking up this morning and the first thing we saw - "our" videoclip had been published. Exciting! Thank you, Alex - you did such a great job! For those, who didn't see it yet, here it is :)

After breakfast with espresso y poco mas at La Posada Milagro Guesthouse in Terlingua we were ready to explore Big Bend National Park. We started with the Chisos Basin. The Chisos mountains were formed by vulcanic eruptions between 17 and 38 millions years ago and today people like you and me can admire the beautiful nature, however keep in mind this is a Lion and Bear Country!

Be awake and keep your food stored

We did first go to the Window, then we did the Lost Mine Trail, a 5 miles moderate (rather easy I would say) round trip with excellent mountain and desert views from the Lost Mine Peak at 7550 ft (2300 m). Yes, I know it isn't that high, however starting at 5400 ft and a thermometer showing 40 degrees celsius in the shadow, it still means you can feel your body is working.

Window
Simply beautiful

After Chisos Basin we had Rio Grande Village and Hot Springs on our list. The Hot Spring water is considered old water, fossil water, ancient and irreplaceable. Heated by geothermal processes and emerging at 105° F, the water carries dissolved mineral salts reputed to have healing powers. To get there you take the Hot Springs Road, a two-mile gravel road descends down a rough, narrow wash to the Hot Springs Historic District and trailhead area. Motor homes and oversize vehicles are prohibited on the one-way sections of the Hot Springs road. From the trailhead, the hot spring is a 0.5 mile easy round trip.

Historic buildings at Hot Springs

Of course I did also try to soak in the hot springs as every travel guide tells you to do, however 105F (40 degrees celsius) hot water and the same air temperature (in the shadow), that was too much for me - I felt like a lobster being cooked! So I went for a swim in the Rio Grande instead. Also the water in the river was too warm to cool down, but still it's something to be recommended (with care!) - it's a kind of special since on the other side of the river, which you can touch by reaching out your arm, you'll find Mexico.

Hot Springs

At the end we went to Boquillas Del Carmen - the Port of Entry to / from Mexico. However the boarderline closes at 6 pm, so we were a bit too late and could only have a sight from the close by overlook.

Viva Mexico

In the evening we left the Big Bend National Park - I believe, one of my favorite parks so far (sorry, but to pick only one is impossible) and started our trip to Fort Stockton, where we will spend the night.

May 20, 2017

Today we will go to Fredericksburg, Texas. Actually we didn't plan to stop here, however while drinking our morning coffee we had a small chat with a guy, who said "Cool Land Rover! Where are you guys from? You must go to Fredericksburg, it's such a cozy small town, you will love it" - so we went and he was right, we loved it!! The Main Street offers all kind of restaurants, cafes and small boutiques. Downtown as well as all the way from Fredericksburg to Austin you will find plenty of places for wine tasting. Cheers!

Boutiques
Magnolia Pearl

Tonight we will be a bit retro and go to the "Blue Starlite Urban Drive In" and watch "Mad Max Fury Road". The film probably not worth to see, but the location and organization of this event is just 1A!

Something Special and Superb

May 21, 2017

Before leaving Texas we will pay Austin a visit. The Hope Outdoor Gallery, SoCo (South Congress Avenue) and the Colorado River, Texas or so called Lady Bird Lake is a Must - we think...

Austin
Hope Outdoor Gallery
Busy Sunday at Lady Bird Lake

Next stop will be Galvestone Island State Park in Texas, where we will camp on the beach. Finally beach!!!

May 22, 2017

Today we planned to discover Galvestone Beach and Downtown, however a tornado warning and the worst rainy weather I've had ever seen changed our plans immediately. Instead of sun and city sightseeing we've got closed roads, vehicles with flooded engines, military giving a helping hand and right in the middle of the happenings a few trucks and Nanoq!!!

Luckily we managed through the flooded streets without any breakdown and reached the ferry from Galvestone to Port Bolivar safely. By the way the ferry is for free - unbelievable but true - and if you're lucky you will see some delphines - we did - or at least we believe it was delphines, it could also have been some kind of whales :)

Ferry from Galvestone to Port Bolivar

May 23, 2017

Today we continued our trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. On our way we had lunch at Rita Mae's Kitchen in Morgan City. The location isn't what you would call fancy, it's more like a grandma's kitchen - but if you want to know how traditional southern cooking taste like, you should go here! They don't have a homepage, but you'll find them on Facebook.

In Morgan City we did also visit Sweet & Simple, a super cute cafe serving great coffee and yummy cupcakes! You'll find them on Facebook as well.

Sweet & Simple

Full of energy we're back on the roads and in about 1 hour we will reach New Orleans and our "home" for the next two days "The Ben Louie" Boutique hotel located in the "middle" of New Orleans. Look forward to exploring!

Ben Louie

May 25, 2017

After two lovely days in New Orleans we're back on the roads! So what did we do in New Orleans and what to be recommended?

new orleans - to do:

Go to the French Quarter and see the Bourbon Street! Although we're not (anymore:) what you call party animals and the streets are a kind of stinky and dirty - or to put it into the words of Sidney "it's like a mix between Reeperbahn and Ballermann" - and most people are drunk or at least on a good way getting there, we thought it was worth it - but one time is enough...

Live music day and night...
Stars of tomorrow...

For dinner we went to Coop's Place, located at Decatur Street, recommended by our friend Alex, and we liked it a lot and noticed that locals also go here - normally not a too bad sign. Check it out!

Coop's Place

Have a break at Cafe du Mondo and make sure to order beignets besides a coffee. Beignets, a kind of donuts, but just sooooo much better. I don't really like donuts, but loved these beignets, served warm and with a lot of powdered sugar on the top. Go for it!

Pour some sugar on me...

Have a "Moon Walk" along Mississippi or have rest on one of the many iron benches while people watching or boat spotting. The port of New Orleans is one of the largest in the US and the Mississippi is heavily trafficked with all kind of vessels ranging from historic paddle steamers to huge container ships and cruise ships. The Moon Walk is also a popular place for street performers and chances are you'll see jazz musicians playing in return for some donations. Visit Jackson Square, a historic park in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The park was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960, for its central role in the city's history, and as the site where in 1803 Louisiana was made United States territory pursuant to the Louisiana Purchase. In 2012 the American Planning Association designated Jackson Square as one of America’s Great Public Spaces and we do understand why, cause it's a beauty.

Moon Walk Mississippi and Jackson Square

Take a ride with one of the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world. The streetcars have been rumbling around for more than 150 years and symbolize the charm and romance of the City of New Orleans. Plastic seats and aluminum - forget its - here you'll find mahogany seats, brass fittings and exposed ceiling light bulbs.

There are three different lines: St. Charles, Canal Street, and the Riverfront, each of which originates downtown but takes you different parts of the city. It might be crowded, however it's a nice way to explore the city.

New Orleans Streetcars

Eat breakfast at Riccobono's Panola Street Cafe or Ruby Slipper at Cortez Street. Both places offer a big choice of breakfast meals, all tasting delicious and service is great. At Ruby's we even got coffee to go for free - a perfect start on a perfect day - thank you Misty!

Riccobono's

Make sure you don't miss the Garden District and go and see Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. Normally we don't go and visit cemeteries - honestly who does? - however Lafayette Cemetery is something special and a part of the history of New Orleans. It was established in 1833 and is a unique monument to a city which has known a tremendous amount of cultural diversity. It is located just 28 blocks uptown from Canal Street and the French Quarter, and only one block from the historic St. Charles Streetcar line - which makes it a perfect place to visit during the day. One can spend hours here, exploring and delving into the rich history of the city. Within it's walls lies the possibility to trace aspects of the city's growth from Creole settlement (1718), to American (1803), to a thriving city of immigrants and beyond. Major figures from the Civil War also are interred here.

Lafayette Cemetery

The Garden District area was mainly developed between 1832 and 1900 and is considered one of the best-preserved collections of historic mansions in the Southern United States. Originally the area was developed with only a couple of houses per block, each surrounded by a large garden, giving the district its name. In the late 19th century, some of these large lots were subdivided, as Uptown New Orleans became more urban. Thus, the "Garden District" is now known for its architecture more than for its gardens per se. So if you're interested in architecture and history you should book a guided tour like we did. Many people in New Orleans are very "religious" and "spiritual" and believe in Ghosts and Voodoo. So if you book a guided tour through the Garden district and Lafayette Cemetry you will probably also learn about the previous owners and residents - some of them still "live" there today - we were told...

Garden District
District of Audubon, Touro, Uptown

Again it's time to say goodbye - we're leaving New Orleans. Next stop will be the Whitney Plantation.

Whitney Plantation

The Whitney Plantation Historic District is a museum devoted to slavery in the U.S. South that is preserved near Wallace, in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana.

The museum opened on the plantation property in December 2014. It was founded by John Cummings, a trial attorney from New Orleans. The grounds contain imaginative exhibits and original art works, such as life-size sculptures of children to symbolize the thousands of children who died while in slavery.

The Children of Whitney

The French Creole raised-style main house built in 1803 is the most important architectural example in the state. In addition, the plantation has numerous extant outbuildings or dependencies: a pigeonnier, a plantation store, the only surviving French Creole barn in Louisiana, and slave quarters. The complex includes three archaeological sites which have had varying degrees of exploration.

Slaves cabin
Dark is life...

The historic district was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1992. Whitney Plantation is also one of 26 sites featured on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail and some of the land is still planted in sugarcane.

We made a guided tour, approx 90 minutes - it was very interesting, however also a kind of sad and indeed a story for reflection!

The Fields of Angel - never forget

Second stop today was the Oak Alley Plantation. Oak Alley Plantation is also a historic plantation located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, in the community of Vacherie, St. James Parish, Louisiana. Oak Alley is named for its distinguishing visual feature, an alley or canopied path, created by a double row of southern live oak trees about 800 feet (240 meters) long, planted in the early 18th century - long before the present house was built. The allée or tree avenue runs between the home and the River. The property was designated a National Historic Landmark for its architecture and landscaping, and for the agricultural innovation of grafting pecan trees, performed here in 1846–47 by an enslaved gardener.

Oak Alley Plantation

The Bon Séjour plantation, as Oak Alley was originally named, was established to grow sugarcane, by Valcour Aime when he purchased the land in 1830. Aime, known as the "King of Sugar," was one of the wealthiest men in the South. In 1836, Valcour Aime exchanged this piece of property with his brother-in-law Jacques Télesphore Roman for a plantation owned by Roman. The following year Jacques Roman began building the present mansion under the oversight of George Swainy and entirely with enslaved labor. The mansion was completed in 1839. Roman's father-in-law, Joseph Pilié, was an architect and probably designed the house.

The famous oak trees

The most noted slave who lived at Oak Alley Plantation was named Antoine. He was listed as "Antoine, 38, Creole Negro gardener/expert grafter of pecan trees," with a value of $1,000 in the inventory of the estate conducted upon J.T. Roman's death. Antoine was a master of the techniques of grafting, and after trial with several trees, succeeded in the winter of 1846 in producing a variety of pecan that could be cracked with one's bare hands; the shell was so thin it was dubbed the "paper shell" pecan. It was later named the Centennial Variety when entered in competition at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, where it won a prize. The trees may be found throughout southern Louisiana, where the pecan was once a considerable cash crop.

Jacques Roman died in 1848 of tuberculosis and the estate began to be managed by his wife, Marie Therese Josephine Celina Pilié Roman (1816–1866). Celina did not have a skill for managing a sugar plantation and her heavy spending nearly bankrupted the estate. In 1859 her son, Henri, took control of the estate and tried to turn things around. The plantation was not physically damaged during the American Civil War, but the economic dislocations of the war and the end of slavery made it no longer economically viable; Henri became severely in debt, mainly to his family. In 1866, his uncle, Valcour Aime and his sisters, Octavie and Louise, put the plantation up for auction and it was sold for $32,800 to John Armstrong.

Successive owners could not afford the cost of upkeep and by the 1920s the buildings had fallen into disrepair. In 1925 the property was acquired by Andrew Stewart as a gift to his wife, Josephine, who commissioned architect Richard Koch to supervise extensive restoration and modernize the house. As a virus had wiped out the sugarcane industry in the early 1900s, the Stewarts ran Oak Alley Plantation as a cattle ranch. Josephine had grown up on a cattle ranch in Texas and was familiar with this type of industry. Sugar cane cultivation was reintroduced at the plantation in the 1960s. The Stewarts were the last owners to live in residence. Josephine Stewart left the historic house and grounds to the Oak Alley Foundation when she died in 1972, which opened them to the public.

May 26, 2017

From New Orleans and the plantations Whitney and Oak Alley we're on our way to Florida. Wherever possible we will drive along the Golf of Mexico and probably make a first stopover in Pensacola.

Love this urban dining in Pensacola

After a lovely afternoon in Pensacola and at the beach of Gulf Island National Seashore - a protected region along the Gulf of Mexico including mainland areas and barrier islands of Florida and Mississippi - we're ready for our next stop - the Osceola National Forest in Florida.

Beach time at Gulf Island National Seashore

May 27, 2017

Osceola National Forest was created by President Herbert Hoover's proclamation, on July 10, 1931. It is named in honor of the Native American Seminole warrior, Osceola. The forest is made up of approximately 200,000 acres (810 km2) of pine flatwoods and cypress-hardwood swamps in northeastern Florida and is about 50 miles (80 km) west of Jacksonville. There is one officially designated wilderness area in the forest, the 13,660 acres (55.3 km2) Big Gum Swamp Wilderness.

In the forest you will find wildlife such as black bears, birds, frogs, insects and alligators. You might think the worst thing could happen would be meeting an alligator - but it wasn't - actually there was an alligator having a swim close at the beach, but he was friendly - the worst pain here were the insects! Yellow flies and ants attacking and biting!

May 28, 2017

After a rather miserable night at the campsite in Osceola National Forest fighting against the yellow killerflies and the heat we're back on the road - next destination Savannah, Georgia and surrounding country, where we will stay for the next two days. What we did during our stay in Savannah and thereafter will be shared with the next update...

May 29, 2017

We're back... On our way to Savannah we had a short stopover at St. Simons Island - the largest barrier Island in the Golden Isles - located on the southern part of Georgia's scenic coastline. Beautiful marshlands surround the area, sandy beaches stretch on for miles, stately oaks line the winding island streets and welcomes you with southern charm and hospitality. St. Simons Island a busy place on Sundays, you'll find people enjoying their day-off with picknick and fun-games with family and friends, fishing or just strolling downtown or at the "garage sale".

Lighthouse St. Simons
Pier
Sunny Sunday

After St. Simons Island we were ready to explore Savannah - the oldest city in the U.S. state of Georgia - established in 1733 on the Savannah River. The city became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. It was a strategic port city in the American Revolution and during the American Civil War. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important Atlantic seaport. It is Georgia's fifth-largest city and third-largest metropolitan area, which also means there is a lot to see and do in Savannah. This is what we did:

First we went to the Market Place, where you'll find shops, art galleries, cafes, restaurants and sightseeing tour operators.

Savannah City Market

And then to Savannah's downtown area, which includes the Savannah Historic District, the Savannah Victorian Historic District, and 22 parklike squares, which is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States. Most of Savannah's squares are named in honor or in memory of a person, persons or historical event, and many contain monuments, markers, memorials, statues, plaques, and other tributes.

Sightseeing Savannah

The oldest black church in North America - the First African Baptist Church - sits on Franklin Square, named for Benjamin Franklin. The Church was organized in 1777 and its sanctuary completed in 1859. The ceiling of the church is in the design of a “Nine Patch Quilt” which represented that the church was a safe house for slaves and also served as a map and guide. The holes in the floor are in the shape of an African prayer symbol known as a Congolese Cosmogram. In Africa, it means “Flash of the Spirits” and represents birth, life, death, and rebirth. Beneath the lower auditorium floor is another finished subfloor which is known as the “Underground Railroad”. Slaves would try to make their way as far north possble through the tunnel. There is 4ft of height between both floors, however the entrance to the Underground Railroad remains unknown and there are no records as to who went through the tunnel or how many.

The square itself tells another less known story with a monument to the Haitians that fought in the Siege of Savannah during the American Revolution. The drummer represents young Henri Christophe, who participated in the October 9, 1779 battle of Savannah. Christophe later became a leader in the struggle for the Haitian independence for French colonial rule, ending in 1804. A commander of the Haitian army, he became king of Haiti, being of the first heads of state of African descent in the Western Hemisphere.

Franklin Square

Some of Savannah’s squares have been made famous by their star turns. Chippewa Square got its big screen moment in “Forrest Gump,” as one of the prettiest bus stops on film. You can’t sit where Forrest sat with his box of chocolates and says “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.” - the movie-prop-bench resides in the Savannah History Museum - but you can admire the grand bronze statue of Georgia’s founder, James Oglethorpe, framed in Spanish moss.

Historic District Savannah

Thereafter we passed on to see Jones Street, which was voted one of the most beautiful street in North America - and we do confirm, you'll find many nice houses in this street.

Houses at Jones Street - alike but not the same

However on our way we did pass several other nice and impressive architecture buildings - e.g. at the East Liberty - Lincoln Street you'll find many beauties.

East Liberty - Lincoln Street

After Jones Street we went to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist - a Roman Catholic cathedral. There are no words to describe how beautiful the architecture, stained glass work and carvings are. You need to see it with your own eyes.

St. John the Baptist

Directly across the street from the cathedral of St. John the Baptist we did find a lovely guesthouse - the Mirabelle Suites & Cafe. Nothing can replace "Home Sweet Home" (or mostly it can't), but here they do their best to provide you with all the comforts and perks that make you feel like home. We loved this place with a lot of southern charm and if we would have stayed another night, we would have chosen this hotell.

And of course you can't visit Savannah without checking the nice shops and cafes - and so did we. At the end of the day we were quite tired, but also happy about all the beauty and southern charm we did experience during our stay. Savannah always wort visit - or two -maybe we will be back on day...

After a lovely time in Savannah we went on to Beaufort, South Carolina. Due to Memorial Day - a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces - almost everything was closed and the streets of Beaufort rather empty.

Beaufort South Carolina

We took a walk along the river...

Beaufort Riverside
Sunset Park Beaufort S.C.

... and did also explore parts of the old district - again there's only one word to describe it all - beautiful!

Old District of Beaufort

May 30, 2017

Today we will visit another city in the Southern States - Charleston - the oldest and largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina.

Historic District of Charleston

The Historic District of Charleston is full of heritage protected buildings.

I often asked myself what's behind that door...
and walked closer to find out...

After a nice day in Charleston and some luxus at Hyatt House Historic District we're ready for our next destination - Outer Banks!

May 31, 2017

On our way to Outer Banks - however stll more than 330 miles (500 km) to go! Excited and sad at one and the same time since this will be our last stop before we return to Crownsville and Baltimore, where it all started...

June 1 - 4, 2017

This morning we took the very first ferry at 7 am from Cedar Island to Ocracoke Island, the southernmost barrier Island at Outer Banks (commonly called OBX) located in Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina.

Welcome to Ocracoke

We have been told that you will find miles and miles of beaches at OBX where you can drive with a 4x4, acess for kiteboarding, hang gliding, wreck diving, sailing, sunbathing or just sit back and enjoy nature. The towns and villages at OBX, each with their own character and southern charm, are filled with warm and inviting folks happy to have you. So this is what we hoped to find and our first impression of Ocracoke was very positive - and the following too...

Pier Ocracoke Village

We immediately loved the charm of Ocracoke Village with its wooden houses, the small streets, the shops and the many nice restaurants and cafes.

Our favorites were Eduardos, a food truck serving fantastic mexican food or Dajio, serving flatbread pizza or seafood. For great coffee, chai tea or ice cream we liked the Slushy Stand and for breakfast, coffee or pasteries the Ocracoke Coffee Co. For smoothies The Magicbean is to be recommended and for some beer- or winetasting Zillie's is the place.

Our favorite places

We did also go to have a look at Ocracoke's Lighthouse, which is the nation's second oldest still in operation, completed way back in 1823.

Ocracoke Lighthouse

And of course no OBX without the beaches. A 130-mile stretch of barrier islands - waiting for you - no matter what you may prefer, a ORV driving, walking, sunbathing, swimming, kayaking or surfing - this is the perfect place to explore and enjoy! We especially loved the beach on Ocracoke, because of its "untouched" landscapes " - there are no hotels, restaurants or cafes directly on the beach.

The Beach

June 4, 2017

We don't really feel like, but it's time to say goodbye Ocracoke! It was such a pleasure being here - we loved everything about you - okay the mosquitoes and the biting flies you could have kept by yourself - they were really a pain and made Sidney freak out. However the rest; the village, the shops, the restaurants, the cafes, the festival, the beach, the campground and last but not least the people we met - it was just the perfect place for us to stir the soul before slowly heading back to Baltimore and "our" home in Crownsville.

As mentioned we did again meet so many lovely people on Ocracoke: there was Moreen and John, who organized a beautiful spot directly at the sand dunes. Moreen and John are planning a trip to Europe soon, so hopefully we will meet again. Then it was Mike with his girlfriend Brenda. Mike lives a few hours away from OBX and is often traveling by camper or sailboat to this beautiful island. He said we must come back one day and he will take us for a sailing trip. Of course that sounds like a good idea and we would love to come back and meet Mike and Brenda again. And last but not least we would like to mention the sweetest old lady you can imagine! We met her one day at the Slushy Stand in Ocracoke Village. She told us about her deceased husband, who always had a big dream to travel and explore the world, but since they had many children and not enough money they couldn't. However shortly before her husband passed away they bought a small camper and were able to fulfill his dream and travel. So that's why she wanted to hear "everything" about our roadtrip, and said if we come to Pennsylvania one day we're heavily welcome!

In the early morning we broke camp and moved on to the most northern point of Ocracoke Island in order to take the 6:30 am ferry to Hatteras Island, another island at Outer Banks. While driving the sun rised - so beautiful - and we asked ourselves, "who wants to leave a place like this?"

Sunrise at Ocracoke Island
On the Ocracoke - Hatteras Ferry
Still a bit tired but happy

About one hour later we arrived Hatteras Island. Time for coffee! We stopped at "Dancing Turtle Coffee Shop", a very cozy place with yummy cinnamon rolls!!!

Dancing Turtle Coffee Shop

And guess who suddenly walked in while we were enjoying coffee and cinnamon - our sweet old lady and her grandchild. It was such a pleasure to see her again.

Next stop Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla, Outer Banks, North Carolina. The red-brick lighthouse is located in the historic Village of Corolla Village. Visitors can climb the winding staircase, 220 steps in all, to the top of the lighthouse for a panoramic view of Currituck Sound, the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Outer Banks.

Currituck Beach Lighthouse

June 5, 2017

And here we are - back in Baltimore - and the first thing to do today - we need to take care of customs! Which means a lot of paperwork and patience - normally - but thanks to Sidney we're well-prepared - so hopefully everything will be just fine.

Our first try this morning wasn't very successful - however we know what to do now and will come back again tomorrow and deliver the Defender. So now we just need to clean, pack and load our personal cargo properly. No more dirty sand, no more stuff on the roof rack!

Adventures leave some marks...
Nanoq "stripped" and ready for the shipping back to Europe

June 5 - 9, 2017

Our last days in the States before flying back home from New York we will spend at the Waterfront House in Crownsville. We're so glad that we met Ron and Lorie back in April and even more happy to spend a few days more together with them in their wonderful home. It's a perfect start and end of our roadtrip 2017!

Seems to be a perfect day for a boat trip
and indeed - it was...!
Ron - the Captain!
Farewell Dinner

Thanks again Ron and Lorie for wonderful evenings and for having us in your home - now our second home :) We are so happy to have met you and hope to see you again!

Life is about moments like this...

June 10, 2017

And then we're back home again... Ten weeks ago our roadtrip started. At that point we - and everyone else as well - thought "wow, ten weeks - that's long...". Today we know even better than before how fast time flies, especially when you're having a good time.

Definitely gonna miss this...

Alan Burdick wrote in his book "Why Time Flies" following: Those seven days felt like 10 minutes. And then you were back to work, where 10 minutes can seem like seven days. Why is that? How come enjoyable things whiz by fast and why do you wake up seconds before the alarm goes off? A reasonable question, if you ask me - so I will read his book and might find answers...

But first of all we both need to get used to everyday life again. Probably it will take a week or two, but we're so lucky having great neighbors making it a bit easier for us. Thank you - you're the best!

Welcome Gift - so sweet...

June 12, 2017

At the end..

It has been a long, but successful Roadtrip 2017. We did drive about 11'000 miles (18'000 km) in 50 days (exclusive Miami and Key West, where we did fly in and out). Sounds like a lot - and it was :) However we enjoyed every single mile and were again and again surprised to find so much variety landscape and beauty!

We did visit 15 different states, 11 national parks, 10 state parks, several national forests and cities.

Highlights

It's difficult to mention only one highlight - there's so many! However we loved hiking in Arches, Bryce and Paria Plateau in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, the 4x4 driving in Canyonlands and Paria was great, and Big Bend National Park and Apache Junction with Superstition Mountains and its wide open desert and cacti landscape was beautiful. The architecture in the Garden District and Uptown of New Orleans was unique! And the southern charm of Savannah and Ocracoke we simply loved it. Finally New York will always be one of my favorite big cities.

Wherever you travel, you will find beauty. The world is like a book and those who do not travel read only one page. Travel broadens your mind - provided you're ready for it.

Life is about moments. Don't wait for them, create them!!

Credits:

Created with images by Steppinstars - "rock formations goblin valley utah"

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