First day of our trip, it is 10 am, at Canadian Tire, we are praying Glen is as trustworthy mechanic as his name implies. After all we could only come up with one other Glen and he seemed to back up this theory. The diagnosis was a leaking break line with the recommendation to replace all of them due to thorough rusting. Considering this would have taken much too long, we settled with only replacing the one leaking line and moved on. We picked up Joce and Lucas (who were joining us for a two week trek through the US) and the trip began with four of us humans and our canine companion Ella.
The border crossing, which was nervously anticipated proved to be a breeze. Most likely due to the utter confusion of answers given to the customs officer. Starting with Brett saying we were headed for Chicago, which was followed by Joce’s answer that she was flying out of LA or Las Vegas, but first going to St. Louis before returning to Canada, while Lucas was going straight to Canada, and the two of us were actually going to Central America. Our lack of consensus was clear proof that anyone with any intention to hide something could probably not come up with a more confusing story. Within minutes we were in.
First stop was Chicago, which provided excellent company and tour by our local guides Jimmy and Julia. The following two states of Iowa and Nebraska were slept through.
Next came Colorado and its incredible elevational variations especially considering the state of our brake lines. The highest reaching 3600 meters only to descend and climb multiple times, but luckily there were plenty of runaway ramps. Our first real experience with free national forest camping happened in the Rockies at 3200 meters, where the altitude added to the overall experience. The forgetfulness and loopiness meant incalculable trips to the van to retrieve forgotten items. It also proved to be a great spot for laundry, due to the rapids resembling the not so gentle washing cycle. The clothes were stuffed in bags and tied to spin in the rapids for 35 minutes, but only after Brett released a load of laundry forgetting to hold on to the string. Luckily Lucas had this covered.
The most exciting spot so far was probably the Grand Canyon at the North Rim. Not only because it is an incredible natural landmark but because we got to experience it free of other humans, with our tents set at the edge of the canyon. This came with a bit of a trek from the paved road, to gravel then dirt road, only to run out of road completely. Lucas’s search for the road proved unsuccessful and we decided to take the longer but gravelled road. However the experience gave Astrid a good run at off-roading and its owners a beaming sense of pride. Potentially Brett’s driving skills could also have accounted for the successful return to the marked roads. As well as Mother Nature’s signals to get out, starting with the darkness followed by a downpour which turned to hail.
The following journey to Las Vegas in 44 degres heat was not over soon enough as Astrid the van, struggled to keep it cool. Needless to say the pacific coast was a great relief. Beach campsites with intolerable wind and beautiful sunsets were welcomely embraced. Apparently mother nature has no adjustment switch.