Report US trip 5/1/1990 to 7/8/1990

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Victoria, 8-Jul-1990

Tucson, the old western town in Arizona, became one of the milestones of our trip to the USA. Primarily not because of its beauty, its nice warm weather or the wonderful "Arizona Sonora Desert Museum", but because Reto had to see a dentist for the very first time outside of Switzerland. The toothache started at the end of April in the desert. When we arrived in Tucson on 4/30, the pain became so bad, that Reto no longer hesitated to see a dentist. The guy did a very good job and after two hours on the dentist's chair, Reto felt like reborn. Because a second visit was needed, we spent two more days in Tucson, hiking through the hot desert of the Saguaro national monument, where the cacti still were blooming. We also spent a few hours at Old Tucson, the "hollywood of the desert". Until recently, the place was used to shoot western films, today it is a unique tourist attraction.

Sheriff's office at Old Tucson, AZ
Sheriff's office
Old Tucson, AZ - "hollywood of the desert"
Old Tucson
Jail at Old Tucson, AZ
Hawk at Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
Ocelot at Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
Prairie dog at Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
Prairie dog

On 5/4 we drove the long way through the hot desert of Arizona to Escondido, California. It was like coming home, when our friends give us a warm welcome. We spent five wonderful days with Debbie, Rolf and their kids Dustin and Kristen. They showed us the harbor of San Diego, the beautiful Coronado island and we went swimming in the refreshing cool water of the Pacific ocean. The temperature was unusual high for this time of the year, up to 110°F ! The ocean was the only place to be. One day, Rolf and Debbie took us to the Cabrillo national monument where the famous lighthouse at Point Loma resides high above the ocean. We had a perfect view of San Diego and the bay with the large battleships of the US marine. In the evening, we saw breathtaking films about the creation of our home planet and the journey of the spacecraft Voyager  II.

Our VW next to Steeve's house in Escondido, CA
Our Joker next to Steeve's house
Skyline of San Diego, CA
Skyline of San Diego
Sand beach on Coronado Island near San Diego, CA
Coronado Island
Light house at Point Loma near San Diego, CA
Point Loma

On the last day we spent in Escondido, Rolf's father took us on a very interesting tour through a farm he is working on. We saw huge strawberry fields, orange plantations and large fields of corn. To us, the extensive irrigation plant was a very unusual sight, because at home, precipation isn't a big problem, but enough sunshine is difficult to get !

Farm near Escondido, CA
Farm near Escondido
Reto and Susanne get oranges directly from the tree
Orange trees
A strawberry almost the size of Susanne's hand
Huge strawberry

But we also had to take care of our camper, because a problem showed up from time to time. The red warning light, indicating that the temperature of the cooling water was too high, started blinking when we drove on the highway. In flagstaff, we visited a VW-station and we had been told, that the seal of the cylinderhead has to be replaced. This would take a full day and cost about $600 ! But in Escondido, the mechanic could fix the problem by only tightening the screws. To be honest, we didn't thrust too much in this solution, but for the next six weeks, he seemed to be right ...

On 6/11, the time had come to say goodbye to Debbie, Rolf and their kids. When we left, we gave them a travel guide about Switzerland, hopping they will make use of it one day ... We followed the Pacific coast all the way up to San Jose.

Highway 101 following the Pacific coast
Highway 101
Pacific coast
Pacific coast
Drift wood at the Pacific coast
Drift wood at the Pacific coast
Our VW van behind "Tunnel Tree" near Leggett, CA
"Tunnel Tree" near Leggett, CA

From there we made a side trip to Kings Canyon, Sequoia and Yosemite national park. In the first two national parks, it was quiet and we enjoyed nice weather. On a long and winding road, we drove to the very end of Kings Canyon. In the Sequoia national park, we hiked through beautiful country. One evening, Susanne had a close encounter with a large black bear when she wanted to return from the restroom. It is not known, whether the bear or Susanne was more afraid, but we do know, that in any national park, Susanne will never ever go to the bathroom all by herself after dark !

Park road in Kings Canyon NP
Kings Canyon NP
Kings Canyon NP
Kings Canyon NP
Reto and Susanne in Kings Canyon NP
Reto and Susanne in Kings Canyon NP
Marmot in Sequoia NP
3 Sequoias in Sequoia NP
Steller's Jay in Yosemite NP
Steller's Jay

On 5/17 we proceeded to Yosemite national park. Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to stay in the national park, because all the campgrounds were already full. Therefore we had to drive each day from Mariposa to Yosemite and back again. But we had a good time anyway. We hiked every day. We especially enjoyed our full day tour up to Half Dome. At the very top, the mountain is so steep that hikers do have to pull themselves up on cables. But the view was breathtaking.

Half Dome at Yosemite NP
Half Dome
Steep climb to Half Dome at Yosemite NP
Steep climb
At the top of Half Dome, 1000 meter above the valley floor
A site with a view
View point in Yosemite NP
Yosemite NP
Reto and Susanne at the top of Half Dome in Yosemite NP
Reto and Susanne at the top of Half Dome
Sierra Nevada in Yosemite NP
Sierra Nevada

On the 22nd, we had the chance to meet Cheryl in San Francisco. It wasn't too easy to find her, but once we were together, we had a lot of fun. We spent a whole day in San Francisco downtown. We couldn't get enough of cable car riding. The next day, we met another familiar person. A former fellow worker of Reto was on vacation in California and it happened, that he was just in San Francisco the day we were there. Together, we visited the Golden Gate national recreation area at the northern end of the bridge.

Main street in San Francisco with cable car
Cable Car
Main street in San Francisco with cable car tracks
Main street
Cable car driver in San Francisco
Cable car driver
Golden Gate bridge with San Francisco in the back
Golden Gate bridge
China Town in San Francisco, CA
China Town
Downtown San Francisco, CA
Downtown San Francisco

In the afternoon, we continued our journey northward. While we followed the beautiful Californian coast, the weather became first cloudy and soon rainy. It was pouring the whole day we spent in the Redwood national park, but we hiked down to the world's largest tree anyway.

Redwoods in Redwood NP
Susanne at the foot of what they claim the world's tallest Redwood, Redwood NP
Susanne at the foot of what they claim the world's tallest Redwood
Rhododendron blossom at Redwood NP
Rhododendron blossom

On 5/27, we left the coast and started our side trip to Yellowstone national park. While we drove trough Oregon, the weather changed every five minutes. But as we visited the Craters of the Moon national monument, the sun came out and we had a wonderful, sunny afternoon. We crawled into the small caves in the lavaflows where the temperature is so low, that the ceilings and the floors of the caves are covered with ice and snow year around.

Lavafield at Craters of the Moon NM
Marmot at Craters of the Moon NM
Lavafield at Craters of the Moon NM
Crack in the lava at Craters of the Moon NM
Crack in the lava
Susanne and Reto in a lava cave at Craters of the Moon NM
Susanne and Reto in a lava cave
Susanne climbing out of a lava cave at Craters of the Moon NM
Susanne climbing out of a lava cave

On 5/30, we finally arrived in West Yellowstone, Montana, just outside the Yellowstone national park. Even if the weather sometimes was rainy and we also had a short snowstorm one afternoon, it was a very good decision to visit this national park at the beginning of June rather then in August. There was plenty of room on the campgrounds and the roads were not crowded at all.

Snow covered mountains at Yellowstone NP Untouched landscape at Yellowstone NP
Untouched landscape at Yellowstone NP Forest and river at Yellowstone NP
Untouched landscape at Yellowstone NP

We visited the colorful Mammoth hot springs, walked along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and patiently waited for the geysers to erupt. But we also had the opportunity to watch many animals like bison, wapitis, moose, pronghorns and dears. The only animals we didn't see were the bears.

Bison at a river in Yellowstone NP
Moose in Yellowstone NP
Elk in the forest recently destroyed by a fire in Yellowstone NP
Elk in the forest recently destroyed by a fire
Bison on the campground at Yellowstone NP
Bison on the campground
Moose on the campground at Yellowstone NP
A visiting moose
Bisons with calves in the forest recently destroyed by a fire at Yellowstone NP
Bisons with calves in the forest recently destroyed by a fire
A resting wapiti at Yellowstone NP
A giant owl at Yellowstone NP
Giant owl
Mule deer at Yellowstone NP
Mule deer

But we meet some other VWs from Switzerland, there was even a couple from Zurich.

3 VW vans with Swiss license plates on the parking lot of the visitor center at Yellowstone NP
Group picture of VW vans with Swiss license plates

After five days in Yellowstone, we proceeded to Grand Teton national park. The rugged mountains looked almost like the alps. But there was still too much snow in the higher elevations for hiking. Therefore we strolled along the small lakes. On day, we rented a canoe and paddled on Jackson lake for a few hours.

View of the mountain range at Grand Teton NP
Grand Teton NP
Jackson Lake with mountains in the back at Grand Teton NP
Jackson Lake
Canoeing on Jackson Lake at Grand Teton NP
Canoeing on Jackson Lake

On 6/9, we left Wyoming and headed back to the coast. But not without stopping by at Crater Lake national park. The afternoon we arrived was sunny and a cloudless sky greeted us. Fortunately, we took some pictures, then the next morning, the sun was gone. Low clouds hang on the rim of the Crater Lake, most of the time, we couldn't even see the surface of the lake. But a heavy snowstorm changed the landscape in only two hours into a beautiful winterday. We hiked down to the lake and admired the extraordinary blue of the Crater Lake's water. The color of the water derives from its cleanness, not from the reflection of the color of the sky.

Crater Lake with island at Crater Lake NP
Crater Lake
Winter is back in June at Crater Lake NP
Winter is back in June

On 6/14, we were back at the coast. Since we didn't want to miss a single mile of highway number 101, we drove all the way back to Crescent city, where we left the Pacific coast highway. For the last time on this trip, we spent a few minutes in California, before we entered Oregon again. As we followed the coast, the weather became better and better. We watched a beautiful, cloudless sunset at Sunset bay.

Pacific coast in Oregon Pacific coast in Oregon Pacific coast in Oregon
Sea lions at Sea Lion Caves at the Pacific coast in Oregon Drift wood at the Pacific coast in Washington Rock formation at the Pacific coast in Washington
Pacific coast in Oregon and Washington

On 6/16, we arrived at Olympic national park in the state of Washington. We visited both, the rain forest at the coast and on the west slopes of mount Olympus. But there was more then just rain and trees. We spent a sunny afternoon in the Sol duc Hot springs and drove all the way up to Hurricane ridge, where we had a gorgeous view of mount Olympus. In Washington, the summer started with an exceptional beautiful day.

Pacific coast at Olympic NP
Pacific coast
Rain forest at Olympic NP
Rain forest
Nurse tree at the rain forest in Olympic NP
Nurse tree
Snake at Olympic NP
Squirrel at Olympic NP
Marmot at Olympic NP
Fungi at a tree in Olympic NP
Susanne watches animals with a binocular at Olympic NP
Watching animals
Hurrican Ridge with Mount Olympus at Olympic NP
Hurrican Ridge with
Mount Olympus

As we took the ferry from Winslow to Seattle, we had a breathtaking view of downtown Seattle and Mount Rainier in the back. The first thing we did in Seattle was having lunch at the restaurant on top of the space needle.

View of Seattle with Space Needle
Seattle with Space Needle
Skyline of Seattle
Downtown Seatlle
View of Seattle with Mount Rainier in the back
Seattle with Mount Rainier

Then we spent the next two days in the Mount Rainier national park. The weather continued to be sunny and nice. One day, we hiked up to camp Muir, located more the 10'000 feet in elevation high on a glacier. We had to hike all the way on packed snow. We terribly missed our skis on the way down !

Mount Rainier in the national park with the same name
Mount Rainier
Glacier at Mount Rainier NP
View from Mount Rainier of Mount Adams, Mount Hood and Mount Saint Helens
View of three neighboring volcanoes
View from Mount Rainier towards Mount Adams
Mount Adams
View from Mount Rainier towards Mount Hood
Mount Hood
View from Mount Rainier towards Mount Saint Helens
Mount Saint Helens

But there were more volcanoes to visit. We spent afternoon of 6/25 at the northern slope of Mount St. Helens, the famous mountain, which exploded and collapsed on May 18, 1980. The next morning, we drove all around the volcano and watched several slide programs and movies about the eruption ten years ago.

Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
Mount St. Helens
Zerstörte Wälder im Mount Saint Helens NVM
Destroyed forest
Trees leveled to the ground at Mount Saint Helens NVM
Trees leveled to the ground
Trees in the Spirit Lake at Mount Saint Helens NVM
Trees in the lake
Trees leveled to the ground at Mount Saint Helens NVM
Trees leveled to the ground
New emerging live after the disaster at Mount Saint Helens NVM
Emerging live after the disaster

After another day at Mount Rainier, we continued further north. We spent two days in the North Cascades national park, an area which is called "the alps of america". In fact, the landscape reminded us of home, but of course, in Switzerland the land is much more developed.

A few days before our first anniversary
Susanne and Reto

On 7/3, we drove back to Seattle. we wanted to see the fireworks for the celebration of 4th of July. The weather was real nice and we spent an interesting day in Seattle. At the Pacific science center, we had the chance to see the film "to the limit", which we missed in San Diego last December. The night at the beach was spectacular, the fireworks lasted at least 15 minutes.

Celebrations at the beach in Seattle Concert in Seattle Juggler at Seattle
4th of July at Seattle.

The next day, we crossed the border to Canada. The officer in the Canadian immigration office was very nice and gave us the permission to stay for six months without any problems. This was quite a different experience compared to our first visit to Canada last fall, when the Canadians allowed us to stay for only two weeks ! But after good news, there are always bad news. As mentioned above, we had these problems with a leaking seal on our Joker. During the last three weeks, the red light in the dashboard started blinking from time to time, but it always stopped after a few seconds. Therefore we thought, the problem is not serious. But soon after we arrived at Vancouver, the light started blinking again and did not stop at all. So we had to see another VW-station. As we expected, the seal of the cylinderhead had to be replaced. We brought our Joker to the garage and spent the whole day in Vancouver. To our surprise, the people in the VW-station managed to finish the 12-hour job in one day. The next day, we took the Joker on a test-drive to Whistler, a popular resort about 70 miles north of Vancouver. Since the car performed perfectly, we decided to continue our journey as planned. Today, we took the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria. Once more, it was a beautiful, sunny day, we had a wonderful ride on the boat and we spent the afternoon in this nice old english style town. We strolled through the streets of Old Victoria, enjoyed the sun and watched people walking by ...

Tomorrow, we start driving up Vancouver Island and on 7/12, we will take the ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Ruppert. If we can follow our planning, we will arrive at Denali national park at the end of July. If it worked out that way, we will tell you in our next report ...

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Production note: Images have been taken as slides using a Minolta 7000AF camera with various Kodak films. Images have been digitized using a Canon Scanner and have been processed using Microsoft Image Composer.

USA9006E.html (revised version) / 03-May-2010 (ra) / reto ambühler