Arian, a friend of ours who has been living in Germany with Oliver for the last 6 months, invited us on a road trip.
So after flying to San Francisco, we picked up our rental car, loaded it up with all our gear, the tent and lots of food and beer and headed for Yosemite NationalPark. We drove in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on historic Highway 49, a scenic route through the old mining towns of the California Gold Rush. When we arrived, the weather was not ideal, but the impressive scenery helped us to enjoy this first stop despite the strong wind and rain.
We found a small campsite near Yosemite Falls at Camp 4, long known as a base camp for the world's best rock climbers who attempt the huge granite walls of Yosemite Valley.
I can't really remember the last time I went camping, so I was a bit scared of sleeping in a tent on the ground. I mean... I'm getting older and I really prefer some "luxury", but after our first night I was surprised how comfortable camping can be.
After a few days and a few kilometres of hiking, a trip to the Yosemite waterfalls and exploring the huge redwood forests in Yosemite National Park, we decided to drive on to Zion National Park in Utah. The drive to Zion Canyon was really long and exhausting, almost 12 hours, but it was also fascinating to see how the landscape changes so much in such a short time. When we arrived in the evening, we quickly set up camp and went to bed to be fit for the next day.
In the morning we made our way to the famous lookout point Angels Landing. After a beautiful but nerve-wracking hike, we were greeted by a breathtaking view high above the canyon floor of Zion National Park. Breathtaking colours, blue skies and the solitude of the viewpoint made Zion National Park one of the most impressive places on the whole road trip for me.
Stop relaxing, get active! Next stop: Moab, the off-road mecca on the Colorado River. Dirt bikes, jeeps, all kinds of off-road vehicles and hundreds of mountain bikes covered in the red dust of the rocks populate the town and its immediate surroundings. Two of Arian's friends joined us in Moab and we spent two really active days on our bikes, mixed with a bit of off-road scrambling in his friend's off-road vehicle.
After each trail uphill, we were rewarded with breathtaking views and, most importantly, exhilarating downhill rides that were worth every drop of sweat from the climb. The beautiful scenery of our exciting adventures around Moab made everything seem almost unreal.
After Moab, we set off for our next stop, an overnight stay at the Grand Canyon. On the way there, we drove through the impressive Monument Valley with its huge rock pillars towering high above the desert floor. When we arrived at the Grand Canyon, we were overwhelmed by the sheer size of the view we had before us. We spent the night surrounded by elk in a beautiful forest near the canyon shore. In the morning, we witnessed the sunrise over the canyon before leaving the desert for the glitz and glamour of LA. L.A. was our first stop on the way back to the ocean, so we tried to familiarise ourselves a little with the surf culture of Venice.
After a few painful failures, we finally managed to get some degrees and felt like real B.A.'s. We enjoyed the craziness of the Venice Boardwalk, the atmosphere of the Santa Monica Pier and also some of the fine cuisine at "Gjelina", which made L.A. a great place to relax after a long, exhausting wilderness experience.
Freshly strengthened and full of energy, we continued our journey and drove north along the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). After a lunch break in Malibu, we arrived in beautiful Santa Barbara in the afternoon. After a few sunny days in the university town of Isla Vista at UCSB, we continued north on the PCH and stayed overnight in Big Sur and Santa Cruz. Big Sur, a sparsely populated region of the Central Coast, offers some of the most beautiful unspoiled coastline I've ever seen.
For us, however, Big Sur offered an even more memorable, exciting skunk experience, as our campsite turned out to be a nighttime playground for dozens of skunks. I will always remember Arian's face when two skunks appeared near our campfire and prepared to splash us. But super-bright torches, a few well-aimed pebble throws and the Cave protected us for the night.
After two and a half weeks, we decided to head back to Sacramento to recover from all the outdoor adventures before returning to the city where it all began: San Francisco. There we got a glimpse of the city and spent our last days exploring during the day and partying at night before saying goodbye and heading back to our respective homes after an incredible journey.
Arian, Oliver and Dominik.