Is there anything new I can tell you about California? I don’t think so but it’s still worth sharing some memorable experiences. Such as camping between the boulders of Joshua Tree underneath starry skies and three-day backcountry camping in Yosemite bear country. On the urban side of things, towns and cities seem to have invented all things retro, vintage and expensive. Such as a 200 dollar ticket for skipping a stop sign handed to me by an authoritarian (but friendly) police officer. Thanks for the goodbye present, USA!
As we've arrived in California today, it's time to look back on the last 2 months. First up, Canada. Coming from Alaska, British Colombia definitely felt crowded. Although the Rockies are (rightly so!) well know for their beautiful rugged mountain peaks, it feels hard to appreciate wilderness with a wild amount of tourists around you. However, having the opportunity to enjoy it all with family was great. After they left, Anne & I had to find our own rhythm again. As we made our way down, Washington turned out to be a great surprise. Its rough coast line and the (Alaska-like) Northern Cascades only seem to be know to Washingtonians, not rightly so. As goes for Oregon, its coast is the state's pride but the state seems to be unpopular with Europeans as well.
Seemingly more so than its Canadian neighbours, Washington and Oregon seem to be internally divided. Progressive metropolises Seattle and Portland (Portlandia is so accurate) feel like a different world from the rural areas. Let's see how California is different.
Snow-peaked mountain ranges, wildlife and the summer solstice with it's never ending days. When greeted upon arrival by a grazing moose in someones front yard, we had a feeling the state's reputation may be accurate.
Anchorage is jokingly but truthfully said to be nice because it's 20 minutes from wilderness. While Alaskan cities feel bare and desolate, they are all close to natural beauty. Even though we were crippled at first by not having a car, we were still able us to explore the surroundings thanks to the most expensive public transport ever but even more so due to helpful, friendly Alaskans willing to borrow us their cars, trucks, bicycles and canoes.
Hiking into well defined trails may not seem adventurous, though seeing half the Alaskans carry guns on their chest and the other half sporting bear spray gave these walks a strange flavour. Trails are nice for speed and safety reasons, it’s easy to get lost and bears do not like groups of people. However, Alaska truly is wild and best appreciated when no-one is in sight. And as Alaskans will tell you, 'oh boy, is this an empty state!'
While we were traveling through South America, not too many people were enthusiastic about Panamá nor Costa Rica. Too expensive, too touristic. Overall, our expectations were low, which is good, because both countries turned out to be great fun. Way more expensive than all countries in South America, yes, but it's definitely possible to go cheap and see many beautiful things. Photographic impressions below. And now, off to Alaska!
A little bit more text and explanation this time! During our visit to Colombia, we've visited a large part of the tourist trail. Our itinerary was as follows:
Pasto - San Augustin - Desierto Tatacoa - Filandia - Salento - Parque Natural Nacional Los Nevados - Medellín - Bogotá - Villa de Leyva - La Mojarra - Cartagena - Rincón del Mar - Cartagena -> boat to Panamá.
Nothing truly adventurous (except for Los Nevados. In short; don't visit in the rainy season without rubber boots) but amazing none the less. We planned for three weeks and stayed for six but you can easily spend a few months in Colombia. It's big, it's beautiful and people are exceptionally kind and helpful. In the words of the owner of a hardware store; you can travel the world but Colombia has it all. Many others we've met have felt the same. By leaving Colombia, we leave South America but we will definitely come back.
Enough already, on to the photo's!