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September 25, 2011

Turning the page to new adventures

Turning the page to new adventures

And so, my three month dream trip across the US has come to an end.

It is time to turn the page to new adventures. And I promise to keep you posted on that in the not to distant future..

In the meantime will be finishing and updating this blog quite a bit, so please come back to read the finished posts and see the photos from Charleston, Washington, New york and much more!

Here I am - turning the page to new adventures. This is the third monument of the great Danish fairytale writer, Hans Christian Andersen, I have come by on my road trip across the USA. This one is located in Central Park, New York. It was almost as if the monument of old Andersen came alive and whispered an encouragement in my ear to keep the adventures going...

September 20, 2011

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal

What an amazing visit I had today to Grand Central Terminal in New York City. I was lucky to be able to tag along with a group of the nicest ladies and Daniel, who took us to the most unbelievable and (previously) secret placesin the world’s biggest, best and most amazing railroad terminal. Daniel did a fantastic job and kept all of us mesmerized for hours.

Thank you ladies, thank you Daniel!

I look forward to sharing the story and some more photos, a.s.a.p. when I get them processed.

This photo was taken from the opposite window to what you see at the end of the terminal. There are glass walkways, so we could walk "inside" the huge windows. As you can see the window could also open. For me it was the window of opportunity...

 

To take this photo I had to go through the situation room of Grand Central, the control room, through a secret door and climb up an old rusty ladder all the way up behind the iconic Tiffany's clock. How about it?

 

September 5, 2011

Mission accomplished!

Mission accomplished!

Having reached Jacksonville Beach I have accomplished my mission to travel across the States coast-to-coast from the Pacific to the Atlantic! :-)

I still have a couple of weeks left on my trip, though, before I must depart from New York, and I intend to make the most of the remaining time.

If you have followed the blog, you will know that I spent my birthday August 31st by myself in Destin, Florida. I loved the pearly white beaches and the emerald green waters there, but the nightlife was really not much to speak of. The season was ending, and there were not many people in town.

I could have stayed throughout the Labor Day holidays and hoped for more activity, but as a front approached, I headed east, which turned out to be a good choice.

The beaches of Jacksonville Beach (Jax Beach) are not pearly white. They are more grayish. But there is a nice fishing pier, volleyball nets, lots of restaurants, cafes and bars in a good layout as well as a very nice atmosphere. There were also more (local) people around. In addition quite a few came into town for Labor Day.

So, I enjoyed the gray beach, playing in the smashing waves and tried to make up for my mediocre birthday celebrations in Destin by exploring Jax Beach at night.

Rush Bar was the place to go, and it turned out to be quite amusing.

On the first night a girl came over and introduced herself. She informed me that she was celebrating her 21st birthday with a bunch of girlfriends. Yes, I could see that… She went on to explain that it was on her the to-do list to have a shot with a redhead – and I while I explained that my hair is “golden blond” – it was close enough.

I did not get a shot, but the other girls shot a bunch of documentation photos of us together for Facebook or whatever. Made me feel like my 15 seconds of fame as all the flashes went off. And hey, girls if you are reading this – where are the photos you promised to send me?

Next, one of the girls was kind to compliment my attire consisting of a short-sleeved shirt, jeans and sneakers. She knew what she was talking about, because she had just graduated as a fashion major. I, on the other hand, did not know what I was doing, because I was stupid enough to reveal that the shirt was a 10-year-old rag. Then she asked about my age – since she probably figured that I did not buy the shirt at the age of 10 or 11. So, I admitted that I just had my 33rd birthday, which turned out to be another mistake. She thought I was around 25. Doh!

When will I learn to be more dishonest, and play my cards better?

OK – I am just kidding here – about playing my cards. But in any case, somebody knew how to play his cards, because a while later the fashion major had retreated to the shadows of the corner with a dude – and her girlfriends fired away again to get a documentation shot for Facebook.

On my second night in Jax Beach while I was having a drink by myself – as usual – I could not help noticing three girls tearing up the dance floor doing a dance or something together. And I was not the only one watching their antics. A whole bunch of guys were lined up with their jaws dropped to the floor.

When the three girls finally took a break from the dance floor, one of them walked past me and complimented my glasses. She thought they were hot. Well, so was she.

We had a short chat about the glasses, this and that. Then before moving on she suddenly turned her back on me, bent slightly forwards and started grooving like an earthquaking, hipshaking, soulbreaking machine – to quote a song I heard on the radio the other day. What could I do but step up to the challenge and join the dance?!

Hey, that girl knew how to get down on a dance floor – as if I did not know already. It was great harmless fun. God bless America! ;-)

Before leaving Jax Beach the following day I went for a walk on the beach, while I attempted to catch a bit of the atmosphere with my camera.

As I did not have a big tele lens with me, I could not photograph the dolphins that was jumping off the coast but I hope that the photos below gives you a good idea of what Jax Beach is like on a cloudy day!

There is a lot of acivity around Jacksonville Beach Fishing Pier, but I managed to snap this shot of it in a quiet moment.

 

I headed out on the pier to see if the sport fishermen had luck.

 

I did not catch a fish this big. I was just happy to have completed my journey coast-to-coast.

 

It was also close but no cigar for Grandpa, if he had not brought the tobacco himself.

 

But this guy got lucky.

 

And this guy was even more lucky catching a nice trout.

 

A couple of younger fishermen agreed to pose for a picture.

 

In fact, this little dude could not get enough of being photographed - and he wanted to be just by himself in the picture!

 

Someone hooked a sea turtle. Crocodile Dundee to the right (with the knife between his teeth) was there immediately to handle the situation. He took the knife and - a break for drama here - set the turtle free (after unhooking it of course).

 

As the fish is also a Christian symbol it was not totally off that this group of friends studied their bible on the pier.

 

There was a need for prayers that day on the beach. Behind this rescue vehicle a mother was weeping, as she had lost track of her 4-year-old son. Fortunately, he was found sound and safe. If the tears were not already flowing, they poured as they were reunited.

 

So there was something to celebrate and nobody did it better than my new friends from Puerto Rico. What a beat!

 

As I walked back for a pizza and a sweet tea before hitting the road, I came across this classic and beautifully restored Volkswagen.

 

A girl was taking a nap inside. Probably she had also had a night on the town. Notice the reflection...

 

August 7, 2011

Nebraska

Nebraska

I drove across the state of Nebraska in one day only stopping to fuel, have lunch and for a “smile break” now and then.

I was surprised to pass through what seemed like endless farmland mile after mile. I did not pass through a single city; only small villages around huge grain silos.

Apparently, Danish immigrants settled in Nebraska in the early days, as I could see signs like “Rasmussen Farms”, “Knudsen Farms” etc.

A (wild?) turkey and its chicks also showed up at the side of the road, but they quickly ran off when I stopped to photograph them.

Anyway, I did find a nice old car with a lot of patina that deserved to have its picture taken.

Here are some silos in the middle of a field. There would be even bigger ones in small villages.

 

In one of the villages I came across this car for sale. Correct me if I am wrong; I believe this it is a Lincoln. It sure needed some work as did the desserted house behind it.

 

Looking at the old car and house was like stepping back in time.

 

This sign also made me think of days gone by. I did not see any horse carriages, but I wondered if there are Mennonites in the area?

 

August 3, 2011

The Highway Patrol #3: roadkill accident

The Highway Patrol #3: roadkill accident

I am alright and nobody was injured – except the mule deer that I unfortunately hit as it jumped out in front of my Jeep.

I was on my way from Yellowstone to Thermopolis when the accident happened at dusk just 18 miles before entering the great western town of Cody (founded by William Frederick Cody also known as “Buffalo Bill”).

There was a car right in front of me, and I believe we were both doing around 60 mph where the speed limit was 65 mph. As we passed a steep slope, the deer suddenly jumped from out of nowhere between the two cars. I guess it must have been standing on the slope. There was a fence on the slope, so the deer could only jump to one side. I slammed the brakes, but there was nothing I could do…

The quite large deer lay in the ditch injured. It was calm but tried to drag itself a couple of times on its front legs. The people in the car in front of me stopped, as they saw the deer came flying though the air. They had not seen it before that either. I inquired which authority to call to put the poor animal out of its misery. They in turn inquired if I had a firearm to do it. Obviously, I do not pack a gun as a tourist traveling the States. And I have to admit that my bare hands and/or small pocket knife was not fit for the job either. Then there was nothing I could do, they advised me and sort of implied that I should just leave it at that. Then they left.

I decided to look for assistance elsewhere; at one of the nearby ranches.

I bet they had firearms at the first ranch I passed, but since there was a sign saying “No Trespassing”, I was not going to find out… At the next place I met Amy and her husband, who advised me to call 911. I asked Amy to do it as she could probably better give directions, and I was a bit rattled anyway.

This led to my third encounter with the Highway Patrol on this trip, as a young, super professional and very pleasant state trooper arrived within half an hour. He took a report and reassured me that there was nothing I could have done. It happens all the time in the area. And it was a good thing that I had not hit a bock with huge antlers that could have come through the windscreen or perhaps a grizzly bear that obviously would have gone bezerk if injured. In fact such an accident had just occurred recently, state trooper Miears explained. Most importantly, no humans were injured.

As there was nothing more I could do, I thanked Amy and the state trooper and headed towards Cody to look for a room. I really did not feel like going on another 100 miles or so to Thermopolis. But there were no available rooms, so I had to move on.

It was not that pleasant a drive on the long and lonely highway from Cody to Thermopolis. I think I passed only 4-5 other vehicles for the next hour and a half. And my eyes seemed to play tricks on me seeing wildlife everywhere. And just as I started to relax, another deer appeared on the road, but I easily avoided it. Five minutes later a bobcat jumped out in front of me and I slammed the brakes again to avoid more roadkill on my conscience that night.

Finally, I have arrived in Thermopolis – home of the biggest thermal spring in the world and a grand museum of dinosaurs. I trust they remain in their exhibits…

Many thanks to Amy and state trooper Miears for their kindness and assistance!

Tomorrow I will see Hertz to file an incident report and get a replacement vehicle.

 

The damage to the Jeep was minimal despite the size of the animal. The hood was dented, the grill broken (right side) and the license plate bent. There may be some scratches on the bumper as well. Fur from the deer can be seen stuck between the hood and the grill.

 

 

State trooper Miears was a young man, but not this young. However, he kindly let Amy's son, Jasper, sit in the police car and have his picture taken, which was a pretty cool thing, I think.

 

July 27, 2011

The Highway Patrol – again

The Highway Patrol – again

As I drove through the great western state of Wyoming, I enjoyed the fresh smell of the pine trees and the hay on the fields. There was also something for the visual sense, and I let the beautiful scenery catch my eyes to the left and right.

Suddenly something in my rear view mirror also caught my eyes: red and blue lights. Oh no, the Highway Patrol again!

I pulled over and waited for the officer to approach me. Nothing happened.

So, I decided to get out of the car and approach the police car, but I was immediately commanded to “get back in the vehicle!”

OK – will do, and I’ll put my hands, where you can see them.

After a while conferring over the radio, the officer finally got out of his car and approached me with his hands in a quick draw position like some old western movie.

I kept my hands on the wheel until I had to produce my license for the officer. I found it appropriate to inform him that I was going to reach for it from my pocket. No reason to create a misunderstanding there…

It turned out that I had missed a 30mph sign as I was taking in the smells and views of Wyoming. I got off with another warning and a reprimand to pay attention!

Yes, officer – I sure will!

 

This is another image of the Arizona police interceptor. In my judgment the Wyoming incident was not an appropriate photo opportunity.

 

July 21, 2011

The Shafer Trail, Canyonlands

The Shafer Trail, Canyonlands

There is a badge on my Jeep Liberty that says: “Trail Proven”. So I decided to take it for off the beaten track for an off-road beating.

The testing grounds would be the ole Shafer Trail in Canyonlands National Park.

The trail was originally established by John Sog Shafer around 1917 as a cattle trail. In 1952 it became a route for trucks hauling mined uranium ore out of the area. Nowadays it is a trail into the park primarily for four wheel drive vehicles.

Off course, I am exaggerating the part about “beating”. First of all, I take very good care of my rental car! Secondly, the trail is not off-road. It is just an unpaved road on the side of the canyon walls…

The trail had been suggested to me by “Woudy”. He was a Hummer driver, who I met in the tavern of the local Moab Brewery. Woudy could tell some great stories and enhanced the punch line by throwing in a great “pirate” laughter. Hrahrahraaaah….

He told me how he would make people (women) cry every day, when they went with him on a Hummer safari on the trail named “Hells Revenge”, where you literally go straight up and down on certain stretches. You don’t stop in the middle!

Woudy explained to me that the Shafer trail would be a good trail for the Liberty and I. He could drive it with his minivan. Hrahrahraaaah….

I am sure that he could. But I certainly would not want to do that.

It is not so much the four wheel drive that you need on the trail. It certainly helps. But you really need the high clearance. There would be some huge holes in the road and some big rocks sticking out that you do not want to hit the undercarriage of your vehicle.

You also want to pay attention not going off the cliff! Much of the trail was just on the edge, and streams of water had eroded the trail in many places. So be careful, if you go there!

The reward of the drive include that you are pretty much off the beaten track. That part is true. I only met around four or five other jeeps and two bikers that day on the trail. You also get to see some incredibly scenery with the opportunity to take it all in without a whole bunch of other tourists running around shouting and and standing in the way of your photos.

In the end I drove all the way up into the park, onto the paved road and back to Moab after watching the sun set over Canyonlands.

Thanks to Woudy for suggesting the Shafer Trail. It was great. Hrahrahraaaah….

PS: I have many photos of the spectacular scenery in Canyonlands – more to come, if I get the time!

Before leaving the paved road I came by this great petroglyph of a bear. Unfortunaltely, som "clever" people decided to add their tags to it. The petroglyph is still great though!

 

Not far from the petroglyph, I came by these dinosaur tracks. Some thoughtless person (to say the least) has tried to cast them. One should not do that, nor touch them, as it breaks down the fragile sandstone. As you can see, there is even some plaster left in the top right of the picture. It is a good thing that not all petroglyphs and fossils (or fossilized tracks) are pointed out to visitors.

 

Uranium is not the only mineral mined in the area. I came by some giant sediment pools that belong to the Potash mining operation. Potash is the common name for various salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. Water obviously trickled away from the operation. I hope it is not a problem to the environment.

 

And so I entered the Shafer Trail. Here is a nice stretch.

 

Here is a "step" on the road of approximately half a meter (1.5 ft) in height. Obviously many went straight ahead. I went around as I did not have clearance for that!

 

No, the Jeep is not parked under the rock. It is behind it...

 

Here is another huge rock in balance at the Gooseneck Overlook.

 

I shot the Happy Birthday Michael video at the Gooseneck Overlook.

 

These dead branches seemed to come alive in the dying rays of the sun as it set over Canyonlands National Park.

 

July 17, 2011

More photos, less text!?

More photos, less text!?

Thanks for the comments on the blog as well as by private email.

The headline reflects one of the comments. There have been other requests for more photos and that “postcard” photos should be visible in the posts. The latter was a technical problem, which has been resolved. Thus I have revised each and every post.

Phew!

I should definitely be pleased to share more photos, whenever I have photos worth publishing.

Regarding the text, I will probably keep on rambling and sharing as many of my experiences as I have time for, because I actually like writing. You do not have to read it all, my friends. ;-)

What do you think?

Feel free to comment and offer suggestions. I deeply appreciate the feedback!

I found this wreck near the historic Route 66. Somebody did not make it any further...

 

The wreck taken from another angle, in different light and with another lens (Canon 50mm f/1.4).

 

Modern travelers have more advanced opportunities. And I sometimes think that I have a problem with traveling light?

 

July 14, 2011

Stopped by the Highway Patrol

Stopped by the Highway Patrol

Driving through Arizona I notice a police interceptor on the highway well in advance before I am about to pass him.

I am not speeding or in violation of any traffic code to my knowledge, so I am not worried – until he pulls out in pursuit.

He quickly intercepts me and comes right up to the side of my car obviously taking a look; then he falls back staying in pursuit. Apparently he has his eyes set on me.

What did I do?

It goes on for a few miles until the truck in front of me is slowing down climbing a hill. I overtake the truck, and the police car immediately turns its red and blue flashing lights pulling me over.

Oh dear!

My stress level surges. I can just envision how the officer will yell at me at gunpoint to put my hands where he can see them. And next I will be leaning over the hood of the police car while being handcuffed and read my rights: “You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…”

Of course, that did not happen. I have seen to many movies. Well, I put my hands where he could see them alright. But officer Burns approached my car calmly and politely asked for my license and rental papers.

Apparently, I had been a little to close to that truck when overtaking it. Officer Burns let me go with a written warning. Phew!

If you are reading this officer Burns, thanks for your professional courtesy and for keeping the highways safe!

 

Officer Burns pulled me over driving this interceptor.

July 9, 2011

Sleeping in the forest

Did not find lodging tonight – so I will be sleeping in the car somewhere in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park, home to the biggest living organism in the world measured by its mass: the General Sherman tree.

After taking a look at General Sherman I walked back to the car and passed two deer on that were not really bothered by my presence. Have not seen any bears yet. If I do encounter one, I will have to remember to follow the park guidelines. First, try to scare it away. If that does not work and it attacks; play dead. If that does not work – fight back!

Goodnight, over and out.