March 30, 2011


My roadtrip across the National Parks has ended. Here are my personal top three sights along the trip (because there is no way to recount every single bit of awesome, but I can at least make you want to come here, too *g*):

#3 The Delicate Arch
I could not imagine after countless postcards how this arch was more special than the tens and hundreds of different sized arches in - you guessed it - Arches National Park. But gladly I still went up the trodden path to it, because some things no photo could show me. The way leads over smoothly polished stone surfaces marked only by little "cairns" (towers made from small stones) to a stone bowl as big as a football field and on the edge of it there is a cliff where finally you see the huge arch. True highlight!

#2 Antelope Canyon
Countless calendars have been made with pictures of this canyons colorful wavey-lined sandstone walls. But this place is not only in the top three because it did not disappoint, but of how you get to the canyon. The whole place is owned by the Navajo Indians and a couple of companies run shuttle services to the canyon entrance with convoys of five trucks across a sandy track. The shouting and laughing in the back of the truck as we all realized that our driver was not just avoiding ditches, but actually racing the other drivers and having fun with it, is among the coolest memories from the trip.

#1 The Grand Canyon
Just because :) I saw sunset and sunrise at this place and hiked down it half way. Absolutely magnificent! And on top of being wonderful, the whole organization of tourism is flawless here, so my travel friend and I had no problem finding a place to find everything, camp, hike, shop, and get around. Great experience!


Now I have already changed location to California, but that is a story for a whole other post :)

March 25, 2011

"Unexpectedly detained by the world"

This is how Neil Gaiman put it in his book Stardust. Traveling has kept me from reporting all my experiences back, but I will do my best to share some of my stories again, while computers get more accessible. Here are the places I have been sleeping in since my last post:

- Greyhound bus station in Houston
The second part of my trip from New Orleans to Austin over night was canceled unexpectedly, so I took out my sleeping bag and got some sleep while waiting for my connection in the morning.

- Austin
Being there during the SXSW festival I missed my brother, who would have been the perfect companion to explore the movies that had their world premiere here. But I was not bored and while people crowded downtown I did sweaty yoga - so good! - and played in the park, both events thanked to awesome guides native to the couchsurfing community :)

- Greyhound bus
A 24-hour bus drive took me to Flagstaff via Dallas, Amarillo, Albuquerque, during which I sat next to an overweight black woman, a chatty ex-convict, and a very small Asian girl, who apparently did not know much English but looked grateful when I offered my towel as a blanket when we all got cold during an overlay in Amarillo.

- Flagstaff and a whole bunch of motels all across 4 states
It was to become the starting point of a round-trip through the four corner states (Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico). After meeting up with my travel companion we got ourselves a rental car and hit the road. The following is just a list of places we visited. I know a list does not say much, but my fascination with some of these places will have to find room in another blog post:

- Grand Canyon National Park
- Zion NP
- Bryce Canyon NP
- Antelope Canyon
- Arches NP
- Canyonlands NP
- Mesa Verde NP

I am back in Flagstaff today and will soon be leaving for Nevada and California. There will be new pictures in the album shortly! I hope all of you are doing well! Sunny greetings from the colorful and diverse Colorado Plateau :)

March 06, 2011

New Orleans

Oh, New Orleans, how I love you! This charming place that should be a swamp, if it weren't for humans, has so much life in it. Although I have heard a few stories of people being robbed somewhere in the city there hasn't been an instance in which I felt uncomfortable here. Not when I was walking all across town after dark or waiting for a bus in a less busy neighborhood. The warm climate and the mounting party atmosphere during Mardi Gras season definitely helps, too.

The city is quickly getting more crazy. Costumed people walk in the streets and bars are open 24 hours. Unlike in any other city in the US you are allowed to drink alcohol openly in the streets and that is what people are doing. Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras, the carnival days after which begins the period of Lent, will be the culmination of what is already going on in the streets of the French Quarter.

There are daily parades of dancing troupes, big bands, and so-called floats, that are typically huge decorated platforms - drawn by a small tractor - with costumed people throwing gifts down into the crowds at the roadside. There is a whole variety of "krewes", i. e. Mardi Gras associations for the purpose of raising funds among themselves and organizing parades for public entertainment. The number one thing that the krewe-members throw from their floats are (plastic) beads. Those beads are found all over town, around people's necks, in the street, on trees and frequently flying through the air :) The custom is that women flash their breasts for men that give them beads, but while there is some nudity during the parades, I have not seen this happen (yet). I have however collected a huge stack of beads that look pretty, if nothing else :)

So while all this is going on in the city and I have been enjoying it immensely, I needed a break for some days and took a rental car for a short trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It was severely hit by the BP oil spill and the beach front is still flattened and has no buildings. That leaves a nice view for the motels in the second row. Skye told me that many people have received thousands of dollars for missed income from BP in exchange for not suing the company. The gulf coast is also known for its casinos, so I saw it as a nice opportunity to try myself at gambling. The atmosphere is strange in those luxurious halls. Thousands of slot machines will take your money for credits and randomize symbols until you have lost all your credits or took out your wins. The majority of players at the slot machines are middle aged and older women, who sometimes play with huge amounts of credits, looking rather bored while they press the buttons repeatedly. I spent 20 dollars and lost 15 of it over the course of 1.5 hours. I did get the appeal of losing, but I did not understand the addictive effect it obviously has on so many. In any case it was quite an interesting experience.

This is it for now. I will leave you with some new pictures in the album on the top right hand side. Enjoy and have a great weekend!