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1000 Americans: Kathryn Korn, San Diego

March 21, 2009 by , 981 views  
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Kathryn and Ceasar, San Diego

Kathryn is the daughter of Bill Korn and grew up in Santa Maria. Now, living in San Diego, she works as a fitness instructor for the in-house fitness centre of the Nokia employees.

The dog (‘Ceasar’) was a guest like us :)

1000 Americans: Ryan and Merridith, San Diego

March 18, 2009 by , 902 views  
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Ryan and Merridith, San Diego

Ryan & Merridith are a young couple from San Diego. They eat mostly vegetarian and live car-free, biking everywhere, while finishing up their studies. Math-major Ryan has cycled through Europe and the US.

I could not choose between portraits and as the above technically is a self-portrait, I included one more below :)

Ryan and Merridith, San Diego (2)

Day 234-241, 2-9March 09. Back on the bike, LA to San Diego. Jai Ho!

March 11, 2009 by , 1,640 views  
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2nd March 2009: LA – Lomita via Santa Monica, 50km

The Sarraseca family, LAWe spent one more day and night with Claudia and Diego, watched our new favourite movie, Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire (Jai Ho! became our new motto :)) and then we headed out again. We wanted to start again, where we had been picked up by Diego, so we actually first went North-west, back to Santa Monica.

It took us about 20km right through Los Angeles, which simply confirmed itself to be a rather ugly place.

Felix and Ivana, LANot that we ever felt any danger (besides from ridiculously oversized trucks and SUV’s of course), most of the people on the streets were very friendly. But the roads are a mess (especially for such a car-centred society), trees and parks missing, and houses and streets dirty.

It reminded us more of something we had seen in developing countries than one of the most important cities of the USA.

Only when approaching the coast, the houses got cleaner again and the areas greener. We enjoyed the Sushi buffet one more time and headed down the coastline.

The weather was great again and we walked down the Venice Beach boulevard, receiving some small gifts and encouragements from the street vendors, the homeless and the neo-hippies. The route stayed nice, following the nearly deserted beaches all the time.

Venice Beach boulevardThe spirit of Venice Beach

5 March: Lomita – Newport Beach, 60km

We had stayed two nights in Lomita, with a special host. Nepalese-born Shamu is the father of Japhy (Jeff), who is also cycling down from the US to Argentina. Just this same week, he had stayed with Ivana’s father and with her mother, both living close to each other in the San Juan province of Argentina, on the other side of the planet.

So while Jeff’s father was taking care of us, Ivana’s family was taking care of his son even though none of us had ever met before. That is the great thing about the hospitality of the CouchSurfing and WarmShowers hosts.  Shamu also introduced us to one of his friends, who not only took us for a nice walk on the Redondo beach, but also taught us a lot about hydro culture and natural foods. Oh, and we watched Slumdog Millionaire again :)

Captain Bueno and son Jake, Newport BeachThe section through Lomita and Long Beach was one of the most horrible so far, traffic wise, with no shoulders and thousands of trucks, but soon enough we were along the beach again, where the wind blew us swiftly past kite-surfers towards Newport Beach.

We had contacted Harry Barton through CouchSurfing but when we told him that we would stay for one night only, he stressed that he did not live near the beach, but on the beach :)

We ended up staying a few nights with ‘Captain Bueno’ (his LA radio alter ego from the 70’s) and his kids and enjoyed talking about politics, technology, travel and life in general, while catching up with work and blogs.

8th March, Newport Beach – Carlsbad, 80km

Ghost Bike memorialWe kept cycling close to the beach on another hot winter day. Just before entering the Military Zone (where cyclist can pass through as long as they have ID and a helmet and arrive before about 1500 hrs), we passed a strange sight: dozens of drinking bottles and a bike frame and –jersey were hung on the side of the road, a tragic memorial to a killed cyclist.

(edit: Steve Stuart send me the following correction/addition: “To clarify – it was a memorial but the the cyclist was the owner of a bike shop in San Clemente just north of there. He wasn’t “killed” but had a heart attack and passed away when riding at that spot.  Your description sounded like a car hit him and I thought this was a little less depressing. At least he passed doing what he loved.”)

A bit further down the road we met a German biketraveller. Kris had just gone up from South America.

German biketraveller heading NorthHe had his camera robbed in Colombia, when some girl pretended she was interested in him. It caused such an outrage and shame when the local TV and radio found out that he got donated a new camera and he got new lenses almost free as well…

Somehow we managed to miss the right entrance of the military zone and suddenly found ourselves on the broad shoulder of the busy Interstate 5. Cycling was actually allowed here as besides the army zone, there is no other road.

At least it got us into Oceanside quickly, where we found ourselves arriving in Redneck Heaven; what had happened to all the nice little beach towns? It was a mess on the street and every car seemed to have extra exhaust pipes for extra noise, oversized tires, loud paintings, darkened windows and even louder music. I wanted to ask the drivers if they were born stupid or raised that way, but probably none of them never even saw me (or anything else with those windows), so I had to let them off the hook.

Maybe it was just the influence of the military bases nearby, as fortunately the atmosphere improved considerably when approaching Carlsbad and that evening we found ourselves in a nice house behind a huge plate of delicious lasagne and salad, prepared by bike advocate Steve and his wife.

9 March 2009: Carlsbad – San Diego, 60km

My knee was doing the same as before: quite ok during cycling, but afterwards it was hard to walk and only ice and NSAIDS (anti inflammatories) relieved. Before reaching San Diego, we had a few hills to climb, but they did not pose too many problems. The many small towns on the way looked nice, we were really getting into the surf-and-relax area.

Our guidebook managed to show us the way through the busier suburbs like La Jolla. On one very busy uphill road, a car was parked on the bike lane, with the driver still sitting inside. I honked my horn several times, but he just waved in the direction of the busy road where cars were passing non-stop at 50miles per hour. As I was barely going 10% of that, overtaking would mean suicide…

So I had no choice but to climb up the sidewalk. Normally I let things like these go, but I felt angry and tapped his window, which he lowered after a while.

“Excuse me, but what part of ‘No Parking, Bike Lane’ you don’t understand?” I asked him, pointing at the signs.

“Eh, I, I am not from around here..” he stumbled, which made me angrier.

“So you also do not stop for STOP or other signs here?”. He did not know what to say and just looked straight ahead.

“I am sorry, I am not from around here…” is all that he could utter, at which point I thought it would be wiser for both of us to just go and continue the climb…

Finally, San Diego

Ivana, San DiegoAfter more than 8000km/5000miles of cycling (of which 3000km in the Lower 48), we entered San Diego.

We arrived from the North West, first alongside nice beaches of Mission Bay, then along a busy road and finally a long shared walking/biking path alongside Harbour Drive. SD is situated nicely along some pretty bays and peninsulas, the weird thing is that the airport is exactly in the middle of several popular (and populous) neighbourhoods and every 2-3 minutes a jet would fly over the hills of Balboa Park, drop down quickly and land between a few highways. An accident waiting to happen and definitely not good for anybody’s health.

We worked our way up the steep hills of Broadway until we found the house of Daniel Wolf. We only stayed with him for a night, but he was the first of a few interesting hosts that would help make San Diego feel like home, a last stop before heading into the great unknown called Mexico…

1000 Americans: Daniel Wolf, San Diego

March 10, 2009 by , 2,393 views  
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Daniel Wolf, San Diego

Daniel has been working on many projects, all of them focused on humanitarian issues.

“Philosophically I’m a kind of anarcho-socialist Confucian (got that?!). Very socially responsible, very involved in solving social and environmental problems, believe in equality and like to see government minimize interference in personal lives but support people and social needs where the countervailing force of the collective can improve life; yet believe in the duty and responsibility of all people to honor and respect others and their responsibilities and rightly exercised powers.”

 

“I’m a social entrepreneur, a vocation that ultimately sidetracked my Ph.D. studies, and right now I’m busy reintegrating all the facets of my life to create a new career (in the classical sense of "journey through life") that creates income and increases the probability of success of my social and business ventures.”

 

“I’m a lawyer, political scientist, one-time architect, amateur engineer, executive coach, entrepreneur in the arenas of landmines, robotics, public health concerns like pandemic flu, and green technologies. I’m presently involved in two startups: developing a robot for use against improvised explosive devices (roadside bombs), and taking a carbon-negative sewage-to-energy system to market.
My nonprofit is taking a new org under its wing, and we’re helping set it up as a nonprofit security organization to protect NGO/humanitarian workers in Afghanistan, where 64 have been murdered, and eventually other places.

“Another project, which is shaping up as tons of fun and may help millions raise themselves out of poverty, is Piclopedia, an open-source effort to make home-buildable tool/device plans available to everyone in ways that overcome language barriers. See our new website at www.piclopedia.org.
Some of my other work can be seen at www.terrasegura.org, www.prepare4flu.org, and www.advancedearthtech.com. You can Google Daniel H. Wolf and Terra Segura International to see some of the articles I/we have published.”

 

“Current Mission: "Dedicated to empowering people to cope with disasters and explosive remnants of war"”

(all from his profile on CouchSurfing.com)

1000 Americans: Steve Stuart, cycling teacher, Carlsbad, USA

March 9, 2009 by , 1,266 views  
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Steven Stuart, Carlsbad

Steven Stuart is a teacher, and as he does not want to take away family time for keeping in shape, he gets up early every morning and cycles an extra hour to get to his work.

“High school chemistry teacher, sport rider,bike commuter, occasional cycle tourist, outrigger canoe paddler/racer, general outdoor travel and ocean enthusiast. Wife and 3 kids at home. Often times a pick up game of volleyball or basketball next door in afternoons.” (from his profile at WarmShowers.org)

1000 Americans: Harry ‘Captain Bueno’ Barton, Newport Beach

March 8, 2009 by , 1,324 views  
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Captain Bueno, Newport Beach

Harry used to host a radio show in LA in the 70s, being ‘Captain Bueno’. Coming from very humble beginnings, learning at 12 schools in 12 years, he worked his way up to the highest corporate executive positions and financial levels and has friends of all kinds.

Now he is back where his roots are, enjoying the simple life on the beach.

1000 Americans: Shamu Dhungana, Lomita, USA

March 5, 2009 by , 978 views  
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Shamu, Lomita, USA

Shamu Dhungana was born in Nepal, but moved to the US later and is now helping Nepalese immigrants with the many legal papers.

(His son is currently also cycling from Alaska to Argentina, see http://www.transformundo.com )

Day 232/3, 28Feb/1Mar 09: US parking Part 3: Grand Canyons & Joshua Trees

March 2, 2009 by , 2,618 views  
Filed under Arizona, California, Trip reports, USA

We had a nice breakfast with Fanny & Didier and then finally said goodbye for real (this was the 3rd time), as they would fly back to Switzerland that day.

We went to the edge and viewed down the Grand Canyon. It is one of the world’s most famous and visited tourist attractions, with more than 5 million visitors each year (most of them from the US). It is something that many people put on their ‘bucket list’, but after looking down into the void, we both thought the same. ‘Is that it?’

Grand Canyon (6)Don’t get me wrong, it is an amazing place. The gorge (with the Colorado River flowing through) is 1800m/6000ft deep and the other Rim (closed for winter) several miles away.

There are many beautiful rock formations everywhere, and different light creates different colours all the time.

But maybe because of the size we both felt like we were on a mountain looking down and towards another mountain. We both have climbed many –higher- mountains and 1800m drop was maybe therefore not so impressive.

Desert View Watchtower, Grand CanyonMaybe it was just the Grand name of the place, but we both agreed that Bryce canyon and the Horseshoe Bend were far more impressive places.

We headed to the visitor centre and then decided to simply see all the famous spots along the Canyon Rim. The Grand Canyon is most developed on this Southern side and a nice windy road curves along its edge, passing forests where elk roam free.

Photographers waiting for sunset, Grand CanyonWe spent some time in the old Watch tower, headed into the main lodges (where there was free Wi-Fi!) to Skype my mom for her b-day and then went to see the sunset that never really came in the western end of the route, the Hermit’s Rest.

Grand Canyon (2)
Grand Canyon (10)

Grand Canyon (8)
Grand Canyon (1)

Us in Grand CanyonWe decided not to stay another night in the park and took the main road out. It was still off-season, but there was a long row of cars, I can not imagine how busy these roads must be in summer…

After a few hours in the dark I had enough of driving and just off the ‘hysterical Route 66’ we asked the manager in a local Subway shop (we are still in the $5 footlong season :)) where we could pitch our tent. She said that we could drive down a dirt road and pitch our tent ‘anywhere after the 2nd cattle guard’.

Ivana, Grand CanyonWe headed into the dark middle of Nowhere, parked our car and pitched our tent next to the road in a grassy patch. In the middle of the night some cars passed which made us quite comfortable. It was weekend, the cars –all trucks- were doing at least 80 miles per hour and we were in the middle of Redneck country were, according to many people we had talked to, guns were more present than common sense…

1st march 2009: Wonderful desert in Joshua Tree

We made it through the night without any bullet holes, packed our tent and headed further west. Route 95 South was like a miniature rollercoaster, and only 2 lanes wide. We passed a cyclist heading our way, but due to heavy traffic, there was no place we could safely stop –let alone turn- to share some food and water, so we continued through the dry desert.

Joshua TreeWe arrived in a small town with the interesting name ‘Twentynine Palms’ (we spotted more) where we took the detour through Joshua Tree National park.

It basically is a high desert zone, named after the most common plant to be found here, the Yucca Brevifolia, better known as the Joshua Tree. Made famous by Anton Corbijn for the U2 album with the same name, it is an impressive plant. Not 2 are the same and it takes decades, centuries or even millennia to grow full size.

There are concerns about the future of the plant as climate change might make it too hot for the plant to grow, at least in most of the park.

I really enjoyed this place. Ivana liked it as well, but did not find it so special, but I could not get enough of walking around the desert sands, checking the different plants, scrambling up rocks, and watching rock climbers climbing the bigger ones. Not sure what, but something about the park is very peaceful and much more fulfilling than the Gran Canyon had been…

here is a photographic impression of the small park. As always (if you read this on the website and not in the newsletter): click for an automagically enlarged version on your screen. If you get bored by plants or trees (or photos in general), I suggest you scroll down a bit 😉

Joshua Tree NP (9) Joshua Tree NP (10) Joshua Tree NP (11) Joshua Tree NP (12) Curvy Trees ahead Joshua Tree NP reflectionJoshua Tree NP (2) Climbers in Joshua Tree NP Skull Rock, Joshua Tree Joshua Tree NP Joshua Tree NP (4) Joshua Tree NP (8)Joshua Tree NP (6)

One more night of luxury: Palm Springs

The Springs Hotel, Palm SpringsAs mentioned in a previous post: I had traded some writing and photography for hotel nights, and we still had one ‘left’. We had contacted the Springs hotel and we were all set for a nice night in the hotel in Palm Springs.

once we dropped down across the San Andres fracture -that is actually visible here- into Palm Springs, we were happy to see the desert filled with hundreds if not thousands of wind turbines harvesting the energy of the desert wind.

The place itself was a bit deserted, and many restaurants were closed, but the room was great and the pizza from around the corner tasty and spicy, a perfect ending to a great road trip.

On a bicycle alone we would never have seen all of these natural wonders, though it would make a great bike trip on its own. Hope you enjoyed the images and get to visit these places yourself one day.

Wind power, Palm Springs (2)Wind power, Palm Springs

Next report coming up soon:

Back in LA, time to pack the bikes and head down South again: From Los Angeles to San Diego, getting close to the border with Mexico…

Day 230/1, 26/27 Feb09: US parking part2: Bryce Canyon, Wire Pass Canyon, Horseshoe Bend

March 1, 2009 by , 6,305 views  
Filed under Arizona, North America, Trip reports, USA, Utah

On our way we passed through Red Rocks, a quite nice place in itself.

We entered the Bryce Canyon road in the afternoon, and it was already getting chilly. There was a lot of snow near the road and on most of the hiking trails, but still the views were spectacular. Rows of hoodoos and other interesting geological phenomena were basking in the winter light, while crows were begging for food from the few visitors…

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon (4) Crow, Bryce Canyon

Red Canyon, Dixie National ForestBryce Canyon (5)

Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest (4) Bryce Canyon (2)

Us in Bryce Canyon Bryce Canyon  (3)

27th February: playing the Slots again: the Wire Pass Canyon and Buckskin Gulch

All the campsites in Bryce were closed and full of snow, so had headed out again. We had made it to back to the junction with Zion park when it got too dark and we had gotten too hungry. A salad bar called our name and the waitress (shouting loudly “You ok with the Dr Pepper over there” to some other customers :)) told us that we could not camp behind their restaurant, but that the old RV park across the street was abandoned.

It was freezing at night and quite chilly, the next morning we had to scratch the ice from the car before we could drive. We had planned to see the famous Antelope Canyon, a ‘Slot Canyon’ where some of the most wonderful images of the US have been taken.

Buckskin Gulch, UtahAs this and some other canyons are on Navajo land, our park pass did not apply and they charge additional fees for mandatory guided tours. Once we found out that this would cost $32 per person, for each of the two sections ($128 total!), we refused and decided to find some other canyons instead. It is the Navajos right to charge the fees, but in our view these are ridiculously high and there are several other places nearby.

Us in Wire Pass Canyon, UtahOne of these is the famous ‘Wave’, a curvy feature made famous in photos and books about the South West. To protect it only 20 permits are issued per day and nothing was available.

Nearby is the Buckskin Gulch, one of the longest and largest ‘Slot Canyons’. The first part is usually wet and not so interesting, but when entering sideways through the impressive Wire pass Canyon, you see the best of both parts.

We spent a few hours wandering around, scrambling over some rocks, stepping in soft mud and admiring the shapes and colours and even some petroglyphs.

As we had come in through one end, the walls wee steep and high and both other ends were impassable as well due to soft mud and deep water, I did wonder where that cougar was, whose tracks I had just seen…

Ivana in Wire Pass Canyon Ivana in Wire Pass Canyon (2) Ivana in Wire Pass Canyon (3)

Petroglyphs in Wire Pass Canyon Cougar print in Buckskin Gulch, Utah

Buckskin Gulch, Utah (2) Ivana in Wire Pass Canyon (4) Wire Pass Canyon, Utah

Save the best for last: The Horse Shoe Bend

We had talked with an elderly couple who actively hiked and photographed the South West. They told us about another place we should not miss, called the Horseshoe Bend, close to the city of Page.

Utah roadAs it was on our way, we made a note in our mind and on our map as well and headed out onto the desert roads again.

We were on the shores of the Glen Canyon Recreation area, a huge artificial lake created by the Glen Canyon Dam, which is as impressive as the Hoover Dam.

Glen Canyon recreation areaOne of the few benefits of the dam is that the Colorado River water is filtered, so when we reached the Horseshoe Bend an hour later, we saw almost clear blue-green water instead of the muddy slush running through the other canyons.

There was a small parking space and half a dozen cars were parked. A sandy track led about 800m over a small hill and then down to the edge of the canyon. You could see part of the U-shaped Horseshoe bend from above, but only when stepping right onto the edge we could literally feel the magnitude of the void in front of us.

Ivana above the Horseshoe Bend, Colorado River, ArizonaIt was the most impressive place we had seen so far on this road trip and we already had seen so much in such a short time.

The combination of the colours, the height, the grand scale and the peacefulness made us admire it in awe and we spent a lot of time walking on the edge, taking many shots, but it was impossible to catch the total scene.

The image below is a composite of 5 images (a poster can be bought here on ImageKind), as even my 16mm wide angle could not fully grab it…

Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River

Rocks near Horseshoe Bend Desert Flora

Next and final part 3 coming up soon: Grand canyon & Joshua Tree National Park

We entered the Grand Canyon park after dark and the entrance was officially closed. As we had our yearly pass, we simply entered through the exit road and searched our way to the campsite. Lo and behold, we again stumbled upon Fanny & Didier :)

next report: images from a Grand Canyon and a desert forest of Joshua Trees….