First week of road tripping and camping

It’s a good thing that I decided not to write every day. This week I spent a lot of time on the road and went through several areas without internet. It surprises me that there are still quite a few places in America that have no cellphone coverage these days. On Monday morning I pick up my rental car at Hertz. It’s a nice white Chrysler Pacifica. Back at Brittany’s house I pack all my camping gear in the minivan and say goodbye. I drive about two hours north to the house of my friend Matt, who is going to join me for the first two weeks of the road trip.It’s great to see him again and just as me he is well prepared, so we have the whole minivan fully loaded with camping gear in no time. Our first destination is Big Sur where we have a reservation for a campsite. The drive is a bit longer than expected and with only a few stops for lunch and gas, we arrive there just after sunset. It’s the first night I’m setting up my new tent, but with a few helpful tips from Matt it is easier than I thought. We have a campsite in the forest next to a creek. It’s a beautiful place, though there is no cellphone or internet connection. I can’t help but feeling a bit stressed about that, because now my clients back home can’t reach me. Fortunately all goes well and after breakfast at a picnic table we continue our roadtrip along the west coast. We stop at McWay Waterfalls and North of San Francisco after driving over the Golden Gate Bridge. I think I would have liked to go into the city, but Matt tells me that these days a lot of cars get broken into in the San Fransisco area and with so much stuff in our minivan, it’s probably not a smart choice leave our car parked somewhere in the city. So, we skip SF, but I enjoy the view of the skyline of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge a lot.
Our next stop is Muir Woods National Monument, a beautiful little park with many redwood trees. The last time I was here was about 11 years ago on my first America trip. We go for a nice little hike over the boardwalks and trails. It’s already the end of the afternoon by now and we have a hard time finding an available campsite. Most places along the coast are fully booked. When it’s dark and it doesn’t seem like we find a place to camp for tonight anymore, we decide to stay in a hotel for a night. It’s not my plan to stay much in hotels during this trip, because it’s not in the budget, but it’s nice for a night. A shower, a big bed and internet. I wake up earlier than Matt, which gives me some time to catch up on work and respond to some missed calls from clients. I realize again that it’s not always easy to go on vacation when you have your own business. I didn’t take on big jobs for the coming time, but still sometimes clients have questions or need some help with their website.
After work and breakfast we continue our trip north and stop at another highlight which I visited about ten years ago: Avenue of the Giants. It’s a scenic byroad which goes through a forest full of large Redwood trees. Sequoia trees are my favorites, but I now realize that the Redwoods might be a good second favorite. I had forgotten that these trees can also be enormous. We go for two hikes before we continue driving. In the late afternoon we arrive in the town of Eureka where a friend of Matt lives. His name is Phill and we meet him, his wife and three boys. It’s a really warm and friendly family and they invite us for dinner. We have interesting conversations and a lot of laughs and when it gets late, they tell us we can stay at their house. Not feeling like searching for a campsite and setting up the tent in the dark again, we happily accept that invitation. I read some bedtime stories to the boys and then set up my camping bed in the guest room. I think it’s funny how we’ve only really camped one night so far, but I’m sure there will be more opportunities for that in the coming days.
Early in the morning we say goodbye and drive to a local Starbucks for some working time. Then we drive to Redwood National Park which is very nearby. I’ve found a great hike of about 10 kilometers through the woods. There is quite some elevation (400 meter / 1200 foot), so it’s a nice challenging hike. Just like in San Diego it’s misty here in the morning which gives a beautiful view of the forest. When we’re at the end of the hike, at the top of the hill, there are a lot more people. The morning mist is slowly disappearing and the sun is breaking through the clouds. The walk back goes quite a lot faster as it is ascending. We drive to the visitor center and get the happy news that there are campsites available and we drive to the campsite in the park. We set up our tents and drive back to town to get some groceries and firewood. While I’m making a campfire, Matt is cooking dinner at a gas stove, tortillas with beans and hot sauce. A simple, but delicious dinner and I really enjoy the camping lifestyle.
After another good night’s rest in nature, we continue our roadtrip in the direction of Crater Lake. Again the drive is loner than expected, but the views of the lake are amazing. If I remember it correctly, Crater Lake used to be a mountain a long time ago but then a volcano erupted and left the big hole that filled up with water. It’s one of the deepest lakes of America. It has super clear water and is bright blue. There is no easy way to access the water, but I enjoy the view on some rocks at the coast.
The next stretch of our roadtrip is the longest and one that I’m looking up a bit. It’s from Crater Lake to Yellowstone, about 900 miles / 1400 kilometers. A lot of it is wide outstretched farm land. We had planned to do it on Saturday, but since it’s still light outside we decide to start it today to get the first bit out of the way. We drive until it’s dark and then continue. If it was up to me, we would have continued driving the whole night through, but Matt finds it better to pause at a reststop to get some sleep. Fortunately the chairs can go almost completely flat, but with my length it’s still not really comfortable and I don’t sleep much. Matt sleeps more, so he does the driving in the morning while I rest a bit. It’s during these days that I find the challenges of traveling with someone instead of going on an adventure by myself. We have a fun time together, but I notice how I miss a bit of the freedom that I usually have. Normally when I’m on a roadtrip I don’t have to take anyone in account and can just do whatever I want. Now we have to discuss sometimes on where we’re going or what we’re going to do next. The plus-side is that I don’t have to do all the driving by myself and can also relax sometimes and just look out of the window. Also, it’s nice to have some companionship and you can learn some things from each other and get to places that you would normally have not seen.
In the end we make it to Yellowstone National Park at Saturday afternoon and I’m very happy to be here again. It’s been years and it’s nice to see some familiar places. It’s raining a bit and there is not as much wildlife as usual, but we do see a few bizons. We stop at the beautiful waterfalls and then happily find that there are still campsites available. I’m excited to be camping in Yellowstone and setting up the tent is already going faster. When we’ve set up our tents, we drive to a big lodge nearby for dinner. There are fireplaces and the lodge looks out over the lake. I love this place. After dinner we go back to our campsite with the plan to come back to the lodge in the morning, which is open 24/7.
Just before sunrise my alarm goes off and I pack my bed and tent again. As it’s getting light outside there is a bizon walking over the camping. What a fun surprise! We eat some breakfast and drive back to the lodge. And now I’m sitting here, finally writing down the first week of the road trip. I know it’s become quite a long story, but of course I had to fit in a whole week of traveling in one blog post. I really missed writing the past few days and as soon as I saw this big lodge last night, I knew I wanted to take time this morning to write here. I think I could have written a lot more about this adventure if I had kept up with it every day. With so much driving and being active the whole day, there was not really much time left for it. It’s one of the things I like about traveling. You step out of your comfort zone and realize the things you miss. For me this week I missed having time to read and write, the freedom to completely make my own plans and I also missed work a bit. I find that very reassuring, because it means that I normally do the things I love to do.
Oh and one last thing, I wish you could see the view I’m enjoying right now. I sit with my laptop at a desk in front of a window in the lodge, looking out over the lake with mountains in the distance. Behind me is a fireplace and from time to time some people are walking by. I listen to some relaxed jazz music on my headphones while I write this blog post and I really enjoy this moment.
The plan is to go from here to Grand Teton National Park and then head to Colorado for the Rocky Mountains.

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