Report US trip 1/3/1990 to 3/7/1990

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Miami, 7-Mar-1990

Even if we hardly can't remember the days in the snow, we would like to let you know what we have done during the last two months. as you remember, we had rented a condominium in Vail, where we stayed for seven beautiful days. the weather was mostly sunny, the snow good, even if there was not too much of it. when people found out that we were from Switzerland, the most asked question was, how Vail was compared to the ski areas at home ? well, since the transportation systems were all manufactured in Europe, there was not too much of a difference in that section. but the snow was different. because the weather in the rockies was dryer, the snow was much better. in Switzerland, powder stays powder for only a couple of days. but here in Vail, the snow was still very light after two months. on the other hand, we think the trails in Switzerland are generally a little bit more difficult, steeper, more narrow. but we loved Vail from the very first day and we still enjoyed our last run on the last day. not only skiing was of great pleasure in Vail, but also our condominium was a big change. we felt home immediately, especially since the phone rang at least twice a day. our parents and friends at home were glad, that they could call us, and they did, even at six o'clock in the morning (our time, of course !). Susanne used the kitchen very heavily. she baked delicious bred, Christmas cookies (we missed that so much !) and cooked superb meals every evening. we even didn't go to a restaurant !

Susanne at the phone
A phone call from Europe at 7 AM
Susanne in the kitchen
Susanne bakes bred and Christmas cookies
View of Vail with our rented condominium in the back
Our rented condominium on the far side of the highway
Susanne and Reto with rented skis
Our rented ski equipment
Slopes cut into the woods
Ski slopes
View of the skiing area
Skiing area

On January 9th, we left Vail and headed for Denver. We drove through a wonderful winter landscape and enjoyed the journey until a red light in the dashboard signaled, that the cooling system of our Joker had a problem. We couldn't find anything wrong, so we continued our drive to Denver, where a leaking house was detected and replaced in a VW-garage. Unfortunately, the parts were not on stock. Because we had to leave the car in the garage, we had no car over the weekend. But since Reto's friend and partner Thomas came to visit us in Denver, it wasn't too bad. He was in Chicago on training and we took the opportunity to meet over the weekend. Together we visited a few places around Denver, including the "Garden of the Gods", the ghost town Cripple Creek and the Rocky Mountains national park.

Capitol of Denver with colorful Christmas decoration Capitol of Denver with colorful Christmas decoration Capitol of Denver with colorful Christmas decoration (close-up)
Capitol of Denver with colorful Christmas decoration.

Because of the extreme changes of the temperature (it was below 0°F in Vail, then almost 70°F in Denver on 1/9 and back to 30°F on 1/10), Susanne caught a terrible cold with high temperature and all the bad things coming with it. She stayed in bed for two days. On Monday, our Joker was repaired, on Wednesday, Susanne was back on her feet.

Susanne sick in bed in our Joker
Susanne sick in bed

We drove southward to see the Great Sand Dunes national monument, but all we could see was a heavy snowstorm. Our camper was covered with ice about one inch thick and the waste water tank was frozen for at least one week.

City in the south of Colorado in winter
Snow covered city in the desert
Snow covered desert
Wintery desert
Our Joker on snow covered road
Joker on snow covered road
Ice all over our VW Van
Ice all over our Joker

Therefore we headed further south and visited the famous pueblos at Taos. Here, Indians still life in their houses, which are hundreds of years old. We had the chance to talk to some Indians and to get some ideas, how they see their situation.

Indian village at Taos Pueblo
Taos Pueblo
Pueblo with oven
Pueblo with oven
Indian handcraft: Carpet and vase
Indian handcraft

During the next few days, we continued our journey southward and visited Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico. All of the sudden, we found ourselves in a complete different world. Santa Fe is such a beautiful city, each and every house is built as a pueblo.

Santa Fe - a city of Pueblos
Santa Fe
Pueblo buildings - also known as Adobe style

On 1/24 we arrived at the White Sands national monument, which was another very unique experience. We drove on the white gypsum sand and strolled over the dunes. Finally the weather was as we had expected, sunny, dry and warm.

Our Joker on a road on gypsum sand
Road on gypsum sand
Yucca in a gypsum sand desert

Our next stop was at Carlsbad national park, with its gigantic cave. While we joined a tour through this huge cave, we realized, that no artificial decoration will ever be as beautiful as this cave, made by nature over thousands of years. Unfortunately, we were too early to see the famous bats, which life there during summer time.

Entrance to Carlsbad Caverns
Entrance to Carlsbad Caverns
Rock formations at Carlsbad Caverns
Rock formations

On 1/27, we crossed the border to Texas and stayed for three days in the very quiet Guadalupe Mountains national park. We hiked every day, but almost never met other people. There are no roads in this national park, the only way to explore it, is to walk. The sun was shining every day, the temperature during daytime was always in the 60s or 70s, while it was in the 30s during the crystal clear nights.

A river in the desert of Guadalupe Mountains national park
A river in the desert
Muledeer at Guadalupe Mountains national park
A winding hiking trail at Guadalupe Mountain national parks
Hiking trail
A dry river bed at Guadalupe Mountains national park
A dry river bed
Susanne and Reto at the top of Guadalupe Peak
At the top of Guadalupe Peak
Guadalupe Mountains at Guadalupe Mountains national park
Guadalupe Mountains
Guadalupe Mountains and the desert
Fantastic view into the distance
El Capitan at Guadalupe Mountains national park
El Capitan
One can see up to 300 .. 500 km (200 .. 300 miles)
Fantastic view into the distance

We spent the first six days of February in another national park, which became one of our three most favorite national parks so far: Big Bend, Texas. Only the Rio Grande separated us from Mexico, but more then once we crossed the international border. On the very first morning, we were surprised by a heavy thunderstorm with rain and lightning. We didn't expect this kind of weather in the desert, but we are here to learn ... Since the clouds disappeared very quickly around noon, we explored the park by car in the afternoon. Then we spent the next three days on the trails, where we met whitetail deer and javelinas. The later were not afraid at all, they let us almost touch them while they were eating loud and a lot. They didn't leave any cactus untouched, they just didn't care about the spikes ! In the evening of the fourth day, we drove to another campground in the Big Bend national park. Just when we arrived at the entrance, a red light in the dashboard signaled a new problem. The next day, we found out that a switch was broken and our car lost plenty of oil. The nearest VW-station was 500 miles away ! But with the help of a lot of friendly people, we were able to fix the problem at least temporarily. The following day, we joined a river rafting tour on the Rio Grande through the Colorado canyon. The water was rather low, the rapids not too rough, but the sun was shining all day long and we were a nice party. We stopped twice and our tourguide led us a few footsteps into the endless desert on the Mexican side of the river. We ended our stay in this extremely beautiful national park with a nice bath in the hot springs, which were located just on the edge of the Rio Grande, so that we could easily change between the hot water of the spring and the cold water of the river.

Mule ears mountain at Big Bend NP
Mule ears mountain
Casa Grande Mountain at Big Bend NP
Casa Grande Mountain
View from Big Bend NP into Mexico
View into Mexico
Javelina at Big Bend NP
Javelina at Big Bend NP
Whitetail deer at Big Bend NP
Young whitetail deer at Big Bend NP
Coyote im Big Bend NP
Road runner at Big Bend NP
Road runner
Rio Grande at Big Bend NP
Rio Grande

On 2/8 we arrived in San Antonio, where we got our car fixed and strolled through a huge shopping center. Two days later, we were in Houston, where we visited the "Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center". We especially enjoyed the guided tour to the "mission control center", where all manned space tours were controlled. But also the lunar rocks, the Apollo space ship and the rockets were very impressive.

Lunar mobile at Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Lunar mobile
Apollo space ship at Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Apollo space ship

Next major event was our visit of New Orleans. The first day, we explored the "french quarter". That's were you guys have fun ... ! We haven't see so many adults entertainment throughout the whole united states as in "Bourbon street", oh oh !

House with very characteristic balconies at New Orleans
House with very characteristic balconies
Nightlife at New Orleans
Jazzband in New Orleans

The next day, we rode one of the world famous Mississippi paddlewheeler. Unfortunately, the weather became very rainy for the next few days, but we still had the chance to see a lot. Like the very luxury plantations along the mighty Mississippi river.

Villa with oak tree alley
Villa with oak tree alley

On Saturday, we had the luck to see a "Mardi Gras parade". Susanne showed an unknown talent for catching things, thrown from the many floats

Man throwing stuff from float at Mardi Gras parade
Throwing man
Balcony with decorations for Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras
Man at  Mardi Gras parade, waiting for us to take that picture
"Take a picture !"
Float at Mardi Gras Float at Mardi Gras Float at Mardi Gras

We temporarily managed to escape from the pouring rain by continuing our journey to Florida, the 25th state on our tour. In St. Petersburg, the sun was shining again, the temperature went up to the 80s. Only the swimmingpool could save us. We visited the "Sunken Garden", a little paradise in the middle of the town. They showed lots of exotic plants and many different animals. Main attractions were the parrots, some of them were able to say words like "hello" and "bye". On 2/22 we reached Orlando, where another major service on our joker was due. While we waited for our car, it was raining cats and dogs. Florida, "the sunshine state", what are you doing to us ?! We drove eastward to the coast, but there was not too much difference as far as the weather was concerned. We spent two nights near Cape Canaveral where we hoped to see the launch of the space shuttle "Atlantis", but we had no luck this time.

Spaceshuttle on the launchpad at night
Spaceshuttle on the launchpad

After two nights with almost no sleep, we drove to Miami and later down to the Keys. Here we enjoyed much sunshine, the cool water and relaxed from the long journey from Colorado to Florida.

Susanne in front of the washer
Susanne does the laundry
Public laundry
Susanne in front of a dryer
Susanne loads the dryer
Susanne and Reto having breakfast
Breakfast in Florida

On 3/8 Reto's parents will visit us here in Florida. How we enjoyed our stay, you will read in our next report ...

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USA9002E.html (revised version) / 23-Apr-2010 (ra) / reto ambühler