Duration: 18 Days
total mileage: 4300 km
mileage hitchhiking: 3300 km
mileage Train: 1000 km
Nights with friends: 13
Nights in Hotels: 4
Nights outdoors: 1
Something completely different
So the day had come the cycling started to be work. After more than two years the moment had come. Then there is only one thing to do, start something different, clear my mind.
Already on the way to Sebastopol I decided to park my bike, take a backpack and go east. Hitchhiking into the Mountains east of California. Giving my body a break, getting some new Impressions.
The days in Sebastopol were quite and doing nothing is hard work. Your body is so used to go on every day that it is a little bit like a prohibition to stay for a while. After a week I started the trip. First with the train, cause the valleys east of San Francisco are so full of roads that it is to tricky to get a ride in the right direction. To difficult for the start.
So I took the train up the Sierra Nevada. The track winds past Sacramento up into the Mountains to Truckee. It was snowing the last weekend so I arrived in the Winter Wonderland. As I travelled without my tent, I had to rely on Couchsurfing and Warmshowers, the two networks for overnight stay.
I stayed two nights up in Truckee with Mike and Kim. Visited Lake Tahoe, get my first experiences hitchhiking and took a long walk along Lake Tahoe. the 15km were a total new thing for me and my legs felt very painful in the evening… The region reminded me of Davos. A Ski Resort with the same climatic (not enough snow anymore) and social (Rent is rising and normal people can´t afford to live here anymore) Problems. Mike and Kim took me to their work in Reno the next day. They drive a Electric Car that is perfect for that distance. Charging it every night is enough to keep it running. It´s just fraction of the cost of a normal car. Great!
In Reno I stayed with Christine. With her and her friends Troy and MaryAnn i experienced Reno. The City is little Las Vegas. Cause of it´s laws about gambling Nevada is full of Casinos and the Low-Tax Policy attracts big companies like Microsoft. So one side of the city is sparkling (just in the night) while the other part of it reminds me (like all the cities I visited in the States by now) of a big village. One family houses string together in more or less cultivated neighbourhoods without giving home to a lot of peoples (like it is in Cities in other parts of the world).
Culture is growing (cause of the big companies) and so we visited a Museum one night to listen to some music and get a drink. Nice museum, nice concept…
The Casino Part is strange, I walked trough it once, watched the people spending their savings into the gambling machines or on the tables… very disturbing sad show. A lot of Loneliness behind the sparkling facade…
I have the opportunity to collect a Christmas tree with them. You have to buy a permit and then you are allowed to cut one in the federal forrest to thin out the renewing forrest. The selection is not that big so it takes us a while to find three pines (firs are not growing here) for all the friends who came with us.
At the end Troy offers me a ride to Salt Lake City. 900km through a deserted land are something absolut new. We choose the US Highway 50 who calls itself the „loneliest Road in the US“…
The way leads us through desertlike, partly prairie Landscapes traversed by Mountain Ridges. The road is absolutely straight for Miles and Miles and that is next to the fascinating Landscape the Highlight of the trip. Through the wide and flat valleys the road leads from one ridge to the next. Wonderful Region. We started to late in Reno so we drove into the night and passed the Salt Flats Einfront of Salt Lake City in the Night. There at the absolutely flat Bonneville Speedway all the all the Speed records were set up.
Salt Lake City welcomed me with an ocean of light in the middle of nowhere and i could find a place to stay at the house of Jeff and Jessica. Cause of the upcoming Christmas days both were totally busy and had only time for me in the night. They gave me all I need to survive in town and we had some wonderful conversations both nights.
So I headed out to the city the next morning. The city is the Capitol of the Mormons (the Church of the latter day saints is the official name) in the world so I spend that day learning more about their faith and traditions.
Two young missionaries from Germany gave me a tour and where testifying a lot. They came here for 18 Months to work in the temple area. It´s voluntary and at their charge. An organ concert gave me some time to take a deep breath before i met Craig and spend the next hours with him. He gave me another intense course Nad was the first professed trump voter I met out there. Long time ago that I talked that much about religion and learned a lot about this special type of christian believe. He told me that every member gives 10% of their income to the church. The details about the church are to much for this place here but you can find a lot of informations in the Internet (if you are interested in). A last walk through the city center and it was time to share my experiences with Jeff and Jessica. The next morning I took the train to get out of the City and then hitchhiked to the south to Moab, my next destination.
Moab is situated in front of the Arches National Park one of the main goals for that trip. Erosion made wonderful things over the time and builded bizarre Rock formations I wanted to take a look at. The Name says it all, so I was looking mainly for them.
Two days i was wandering and hitchhiking around the park and met some wonderful people, enjoyed the nature and the fascinating Rock colours if the sun came through…
I stayed at TerryAnn´s House, an original, hedonist and enthusiastic crazy Biker Girl. Thanks for having me, Terry Ann!
Next stop was Saint George deep in the southwest of Utah. Here temperatures where much higher and like spring so I enjoyed it a lot wandering around without a jacket. I made a hike with Steven, where I stayed for the night. We made a hike and looked down to the developing areas at the outskirts of the city. Every House had a green garden and a pool. Crazy with all that dry land around.
The next morning I hitchhiked to the Zion National Park. A gorge, huge and deep! there I met Martin, a pilot from Austria, we explored the Canyon together. The Landscape was wonderful and the colours and the size of the rocks amazing. He took me a little bit further to Kanab where we split up. Now i was at the south eastern end of Monument Valley, There all the classic western Movies were made. The Rock Towers are the Picture you got from the west of the US. You can´t see that much of it from the town and this time I will not enter the Valley. I was heading further to the south east towards Page in Arizona.
There I wanted to visit a slot canyon. These narrow gorges are dry most of the time. Just a few times in the year water is running through it. Then it is so much that the rocks and stuff is deforming the sandstone and are building bizarre formations. Beautiful place and so it is normally totally crowded. The Antelope Canyon near page is situated on Navajo-Country and is one of the biggest sources of income for them. Thousands are visiting the Canyon everyday but I came in winter so it is almost abandoned. hard to imagine how it looks in the high season… Short before Noon I left Page southwards, made a short stop at the Horseshoe Bend, a U-Turn of Colorado River. Here the River has digged a 300m deep Canyon… Impressive. After that I went on to the Grand Canyon.
I reached the Canyon in the evening, right before the sunset. I was speechless, the name says it all, it´s the great one but this notch in the crust of our planet is unbelievable impressive and wonderful and down there Colorado River was meandering through. In some parts it´s going down 1500m. Without a tent and a contact in town I decided to sleep outside. Temperatures in the night were around -5 degrees Celsius, possible with a good sleeping bag. A bench situated 2m away from the edge was the place to be for that night. It was a full moon night and the canyon was enlighted… mystical. It was windy and dry that night, in the morning the wind stopped and the humidity came down so I woke up in a soaking wet sleeping bag. Sunrise was awesome and after that i made a walk along the gorge.
While leaving the Park i got some kind of a conflict with the park rangers. They are the official police inside the Park, hitchhiking is forbidden (i did not know that) so they informed me about that. Then they offered me a ride to the Parkgate, but not without searching me for weapons… So i got the full service, spreading legs, hands on the back and been touched by a police officer… After that i got a 10km ride in a caged backseat and can delete another thing on my list: A ride with a police car…
In front of the gates of the Park i crossed the Route 66. The Mother of all roads is just existing in parks cause Interstate 40 is replacing it. In Williams there is a piece of it and so every building is marked with a Logo… Pure Nostalgic-Tourism…
In the evening i reached the city of Las Vegas… what a contrast! An ocean of light in the middle of the dessert. In the center there is the Strip, an Avenue full of Casinos Shops and expensive hotels. Every part has it´s special theme and it´s made very good. It´s not like a cheap Disneyland, it looks real. But inside you can see the real purpose for the buildings. Gambling to squeeze the money out of the pocket of the people… This works very well and it´s so strange to watch the people wasting their money on the tables and in the machines… Sad.
The next morning the magic is gone. Streets are grey again, Homeless people hanging around, Dirt is cleaned up… pure Illusion.
From here i went back to California. After crossing the State Border my Luck was gone. It was so nice to hitchhike in the last days, met up to 7 different people a day, great stories, whimsical moments and wonderful people. Just once I had to wait for one and a half hours in the dessert of Utah, Zero Degrees Celsius and Zero Traffic bothered me a little bit, but even here there was someone to relieve me :-) Having no problem getting a ride until now it´s almost impossible now. The people prefer to give me some Dollars before listening to me… A nice try to redeem from social contact. I rejected the money, i don´t need money, I need a ride! Short after Bakersfield my good fortune was totally gone, so i decided to take the train from there back to Martinez, where i change to a bus that brings me to Rohnert Park near Santa Rosa.
Here I could stay with Will and his family for a few days. Great!
I reunite with my bike the next day. It´s still in the house of Jessie, but cause of a family visit she has no place for me. So she brings my stuff to the house of Will so I can start over 2 days later to San Francisco
I reached the City in the evening and rode my bike over Golden Gate Bridge. I read a lot about the city, you know it from TV and Movies but cycling through is something completely different. Great! I enjoy two days in town, walk around and most of the time downtown i have to look up to the sky to see the skyscrapers. In the Suburbs it´s different. small buildings follow a perfect Checkered Pattern ignoring the Hills. So some roads are so steep that the cars are just slowed to park lateral to the road. In some of them the famous cable car is running and you always get a new and totally different view into the city. Awesome! definitely a place to visit…
In San Francisco my trip ended for this moment. I decided to take a break. Bring down the Mind, Meet family and friends and refill the batteries. I think I will be back on the road in Summer…
Until then I will use the time to clean up my website, my pics and maybe create some new videos… Surprise!