This is going to be a longer than usual update with plenty of pictures, since we didn’t have any chance to do one since we’re in the US!
Getting from Victoria (Canada) to Port Angeles (USA) was one of the most easy border crossings we ever did. Normally when you go to the USA, the border guards are very strict and grumpy, but our guy was fun and easy going. It made our life easy and after filling out some paperwork, we were allowed on the ship towards Port Angeles. But some have E.T. issues…?
I wasn’t going to mention any gun related stuff about the USA, but come on, how can I not show you this picture… It was a sign that we passed just before going into the Olympic National Park. They have a gun problem in America…no way!?
In one of the little towns there was a parade of some sort going on, so we stopped to have a look. Doesn’t get any more rural America than this!
Being the tourists that we are, we had to take Highway number 101 along the coast to have a glimpse of the magnificent Pacific Ocean. Being the adventurers that we are, we had to off course drive on the beach next to the ocean and have our dinner and breakfast there… Seb could just refrain himself from driving into the ocean, because that would have been super bad for Peanut, since we forgot his rain boots…
One afternoon, we decided that we had seen enough ocean for a while and so we cut inland towards Portland, but after a few kilometres, we got stuck in a huge traffic jam, since the road we were on was the main road to get from the coast to Portland and it was Sunday afternoon. We took a side road and found a nice patch of grass next to the road where we set up Peanut. We were playing a board game outside when a guy on a motorbike came past and was looking rather strangely at us. We waved, and he waved back and so we didn’t think anything further of it. At night when we were tucked in to bed and were looking at a series on the laptop, a car stopped right next to the van, but the people stayed inside. Seb didn’t trust it, so he went out to have a look. It turned out that we were parked just next to the private property of Liz and Fred and the guy on his bike was their grandson Zack. They had some problems with their internet and they thought that we were maybe stealing some of their minutes. After Seb explained to them that we only ‘steal’ internet at McDonalds, they were reassured and invited us to come over the next day to have a shower at their place. We couldn’t say no, so off we went the next day to our ‘neighbours’ to have a good warm shower. In the end, we ended up staying over 5 hours, talking about travelling and life and they even gave us a full American breakfast! People can be so generous once you get to know them.
We went on towards Portland, where we had a stroll through the city, visiting the worlds largest book store and grabbing a funky doughnut at the Voodoo doughnut shop. The next day we drove to Salem to have some necessary maintenance done on Peanut and to get a new bolt for one of his wheels (the one we lost in Scotland, 18.000km ago!). The Mercedes dealer in Salem was super nice and after some previous e-mails from Seb, they told us that we should just let them know when we were coming so they could squeeze us in between their other clients. The employees were very impressed with our trip and we enjoyed some complimentary cookies and tea while waiting for our precious Peanut. When we got Peanut back, we didn’t even recognise him, I had to put on my sunglasses to look at him… they went to the car wash and gave him back shiny and new. The Mercedes crew did a wonderful job and we can not thank them enough.
With our shiny new van, we drove inland some more, towards the hot springs. There are a few on the way, but this one was one of the nicest in the Oregon area. It has three cascading hot pools and it was so damn relaxing after a long day driving. It almost felt like taking a bath but we were surrounded by big spruce trees against a big blue sky! This is what heaven must feel like. Normally you had to pay to get in, but the lady that takes the money was just leaving and she said that she ‘didn’t see us’. As long as we would be out of the pools by 19:30 o’clock before the rangers came, it wouldn’t be a problem. We went into the pool at 18:00 and wanted to be out of there in 1 hour, but in the end it was almost 19:45 before we even realised it. Time does fly when you are having fun! The rangers never came and so off we went, totally relaxed and clean to our next idyllic camping spot.
We also found a ghost town that was abandoned a long time ago:
At night I was awaken by a strange sound, so chicken as I am, I wake Seb up and make him go figure out what is wrong! He starts looking around the van and then we hear the sound again, but it is definitely coming from inside… Seb gets back inside and starts shining his flashlight around and then it hits us… we look inside our snack box (a huge IKEA box with all our cookies and chips inside) and we see 2 small eyes looking up at us. We have a small mouse inside the box and he is eating Seb’s chips, looking at him like as if to say : “hey, you don’t like these anyway, so in fact I am doing you a favour!”
In the end, Seb took our guest and let him free outside so we wouldn’t be bothered anymore and could go back to sleep. In the morning we found out that our guest had made his house inside the engine compartment the day before and that he probably came in through the air vent. Hopefully this is the last house guest we will have, because our hours of sleep are very low at the moment…
In the daytime the sun is always shining for us, even though we feel that the temperatures are going down, but at night the temperature drops to -1°C, so very cold!!!
The desert views were stunning and they changed very rapidly. One day we were enjoying the painted mountains with its multi colored hills and the next day we were driving through Hell’s Canyon.
The canyons itself started out very rocky with huge steep cliffs and without any vegetation on them and they went over into more rounded hills with dry grass stuck to the sides. I must say that Oregon is one of the states that has the most variety in them.
At one point on the road we were sure that it would be the end of civilization for a while…
A million stars to watch over us at night:
The Americans are not very resourceful when it comes to naming their towns. When in Rome…take a picture!
In Nevada our fridge stopped working because of the scorching heat and so we had to throw away all our stuff that was in it. The best we had so far was 39,5° in the shadow! We saw on the map that Highway number 50 is called the loneliest road in America aka the Pony Express trail. We found out that the road to get to the highway was actually lonelier than the highway itself but then hey, it’s marketing, right?!
The main reason we wanted to do a bit of the number 50 were the sand dunes that appeared out of nowhere right behind a hill. Our information said that it could become very crowded there with ATV’ers, but I guess we were lucky because there was only one other guy there and we had the whole dunes to ourselves!
There was also a very peculiar tree by the side of the highway which was called the shoe tree. I have no idea how this ever got started but there are a lot of people that apparently don’t need their shoes anymore… We didn’t have any shoes to spare (although I think Seb will say otherwise…) so we just took some pictures instead.
Seb wanted to see the remains of the Pony Express that were scattered along the number 50, but he was so disappointed when all he saw was a pile of stones which used to be the foundations of one of the buildings, that he didn’t even bother to face the heat to take a picture!
Another beautiful camping spot and sunrise in the middle of nowhere:
And we could even play “stormchasers” for a while!