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Exploring the
Western USA

I was waiting for this call for weeks, almost months, and then finally my phone rings. Oliver, one of my best friends, with whom I’ve spent a lot of time within the past few years, told me that we finally can make our plans to explore the Western USA a reality.

 

Arian, a friend of ours, who was living with Oliver for the last 6 months in Germany, invited us for a road trip.

So after we flew to San Francisco, we picked up our rental car, loaded it with all our gear, tent and a whole lot of food and beer, then we headed towards Yosemite National Park. We drove in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the historic Highway 49, a scenic ride through the old mining towns of the California Gold Rush. When we arrived, the weather wasn’t ideal, but the amazing landscape helped us enjoy this first stop in spite of the strong winds and rain. We found a small campsite near Yosemite Falls at Camp 4, long known as the base camp for the top rock climbers in the world as the challenge themselves on the giant granite rock faces of the Yosemite Valley.

I can’t really remember the last time I was 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 “luxuries”, but after our first night, I was surprised how cozy camping can be.

After a couple of days and some miles of hiking, a trip up Yosemite Falls, and exploring the Giant Sequoia Redwood groves of Yosemite National Park, we decided to push on to Zion National Park in Utah. It was a really long and exhausting journey to Zion Canyon, almost 12 hours, but it was also fascinating seeing the landscape changes so much, so quickly.
Arriving in the evening, we quickly set up camp and got to bed to be fit for our next day. In the morning we set out for the renowned vista point, Angels Landing, after a beautiful, but nerve-rackingly exposed hike up, we were greeted by an amazing breathtaking view from high up above the canyon floor of Zion National Park. Stunning colors, blue skies, and the solitude of the view point made Zion National Park was one of the impressive spots 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 deranged off-road vehicles and hundreds of mountain bikes covered in the red dust of the rocks dotted the town and its surroundings. Two of Arian’s friends joined us in Moab and we had two really active days on our bikes mixed with some scrambling off-road his friend’s off-road truck. After every trail uphill, we were rewarded with amazing views, and best-of-all, thrilling rides back down, all making it worth every drop of sweat to get up. The beautiful landscape of our thrilling adventures around Moab made it all seem almost unreal.

After Moab, we set out for our next stop, a night at the Grand Canyon. On the way we passed through the magnificent Monument Valley with huge pillars of rock standing high up above the desert floor. Arriving at the Grand Canyon we were blown away by sheer scale of the vista’s we had before us. We spent the night surrounded by elk in a beautiful forest near the canyon’s edge. In the morning we took in a sunrise over the canyon before leaving the desert for the glitz and glamour of L.A.
L.A. was our first stop back at the ocean so we tried to get a little familiar with Venice’s surf culture. After a couple of painful wipeouts we finally managed to catch some closeouts and felt like real B.A.’s. We enjoyed craziness of the Venice Boardwalk, the atmosphere of the Santa Monica Pier, as well as a bit of the fine dining experience in “Gjelina“. This made L.A a great place to chill out after a long strenuous wilderness experience.
Recharged and thirsty for action we continued our trip and headed north along the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). After stopping for lunch in Malibu, we arrived in beautiful Santa Barbara in the afternoon.
After a couple of sunny days in the UCSB college town of Isla Vista, we continued heading north on the PCH camping in Big Sur and Santa Cruz.  Big Sur, a sparsely populated region of the Central Coast offers some of the most beautiful raw coastline I have ever seen. However for us, Big Sur offered us an even more memorable thrilling 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 popped up close to our campfire getting ready to spray us. However, super-bright flashlights, some 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 get cleaned up again after all of our outdoor adventures before returning to the city where everything started, San Francisco. There we got an insider’s view of the city as we spent our last few days exploring by day and partying at night before saying our goodbyes and all heading back to our respective homes after an incredible journey.
Arian, Oliver and Dominik.