america part one: seattle, portland, the redwoods & san francisco

We started planning months ahead. The idea of going to America came really sudden. I mean, I’ve been wanting it my entire life, but now it just seemed time to go. Because why not? Twenty-five seems an excellent age for the ultimate road trip, right? Besides that, being child-less, not being able to work anyway due to school holidays and craving this kind of experience like a mad-man… that made me do it. Buy the plane tickets. Rent the car. Drool over travel photography of the places we would see.

Months went by quickly and then it was actually time to go. America always felt like some made-up country, something I’ve known from movies and music. The songs about California, the stories about Vegas, the photos of diners, motels and endless roads. The poems about the ultimate calmth when being surrounded by nothing but pine trees and mountains.

So there we went. Dear friends of ours drove us to the airport and we flew off to the land of dreams. We first landed in Reykjavík, Iceland, where a delay hit us. We waited for five or six hours before we finally took off to Seattle. After a pretty exhausting flight (the plane was waaay smaller than expected (I secretly hoped for this fancy more-than-one-pathway-aircraft) and we were super tired as it was almost morning for us when we arrived. It was late in the evening in Seattle, so luckily we could sleep as soon as we got to the hostel. I never ever flew this long and this far, and the jetlag was new to both of us. When we woke up in the morning, I really felt like waking up from a late afternoon nap, as if it was 5pm or something. But nope. It had begun.

The morning didn’t really go as smooth as expected. We went to the car rental downtown to pick up our car. However, the company where we rented the car gave us the wrong location. We then took a cab and went to a second location, but that was the wrong one as well. Even the third one, way out of town, wasn’t the right one, but luckily they did have a car for us (a Nissan Rogue, gosh I wanted to take it home so bad). Our first stop after getting the car was inevitable: Walmart. And ha! It was really cool indeed. So big. We got ourselves a tent, a mattress, pillows and some other stuff that came in handy for camping.

 

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So there we went, just us and our stuff and our car, driving South, already amazed by how rapidly the landscape changed. We quickly found ourselves surrounded by misty trees, as we drove up this slingy (a word very true but non-existent) road, hoping to see Mt St Helens. However, because of the fires in Vancouver most of Washington state was covered in fog and smog. So we kind of saw nothing. Of course I fell asleep in the car (this summer I discovered that road tripping may not be my thing) and it was too late already to make it to Portland that day. We stopped at the Silver Lake RV Resort near Mt St Helens and decided that was the perfect place for our very first American campsite. It was warm, the lake was shimmering and we were as well. It got a bit cold at night, but we got through the night easy-peasy. In the morning we saw the first squirrels. Then still utterly impressed, not knowing a gazillion squirrels would follow in the next three weeks.

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We left early for Portland. I don’t know why, but I remember a moment last year, when I suddenly felt the urge to go there. Not knowing what it was that I was hoping to see- actual not knowing anything about the city or its surroundings. Somehow it just caught me and it didn’t let me go. And indeed, I felt so good there. I loved the atmosphere in town; it was sunny, the streets were green and full of big trees, the leaves on the ground made it feel like fall and it just felt good. We started in downtown Portland and walked around a bit until we found the great and famous bookstore Powell’s. Then we went back to the car and drove a bit out of the centre, arriving in this mini food market thingy. Small stores in actual old silver American campervans with plants and babystuff (I mean you already got me there), delicious foods and an overall lovely atmosphere. We had to leave within a few hours, but I will not forget how good that place felt. I’m definitely going back there.

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From Portland we drove to the coast. For the first time in my life I saw the Pacific ocean, and that was pretty magnificent. The ocean dude! It was cold though, but that didn’t make it less amazing. The blue grey water, the fresh winds and the huge rocks in the water formed and felt like an incredible sight.

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We then drove into the Redwoods. Oh my dear. The most gigantic trees I had ever seen, big fat giants rustling next to the roads we drove. Pure magic if you ask me. My love mentioned it felt like the huge trees looked after us, making sure nothing bad would happen. Somehow I couldn’t realise how special it was to be there, but now the photos really leave me here in awe. Plus: California baby!

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Driving through these redwoods was utterly amazing. A few hours after cuddling those bad boys, we arrived in San Francisco. So weird to actually be on the Golden Gate Bridge! Well, half of it. It was covered in mist, which is apparently very common but I didn’t know.

We first went to China Town and then we took a look in the downtown area. The shops were cool and all but unfortunately we really didn’t really feel safe. Lots of homeless people (which broke my heart) and small groups watching you very closely in a not so positive way- of course it doesn’t mean they had any means to hurt us in any way but we aren’t used to this at all, so it was quite something. We took a cab to Haight Street, the famous area that never lost its hippie image. Very cool to see. After that it was time to go get some rest. My love had booked this room in a hotel, but he kinda forgot to check the area, that turned out to be not so safe. The hotel really was fine though and our car didn’t even get jacked. Woohoo! Another lesson learned.

The next day we headed out to the suburbs and ended up in the Mission District. This area was beautiful. Like those houses, ugh! Also there was an amazing view of the city skyline and a stunning park. We spent the day just driving across town, looking up the best places there, and they were beautiful. It felt really good to see this positive side of the city as well, before we left for the even more amazing and sunny Santa Cruz. More of that in part two!

And even though we found out those huge cities may not be our thing, oh my god they are photogenic… ❤ X

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