Home Sweet Home

So our amazing US 47 days trip is over. After 47 days, 3,200 miles, 5,200 pictures and over half a million steps walked in the streets and parks of the United States, we are back home. It’s been a one-of-a-kind trip, an unforgettable experience and a journey that we will forever remember.

The US have exceeded our expectations. Specially people. We did expect amazing landscapes, astonishing cities and unforgettable drives. What we didn’t expect was actually what Google couldn’t show us. The kindness of their people, their good faith and and their willingness to help us. From the service in bars and restaurants to the assistance when asking for help at a tourist office, a supermarket or simply on the street.

Now… well, now it’s time to go back to our day to day life, to actually do some work and stuff. Start earning again so that we can travel again. Next time it probably won’t be for as long or as far as the United States and, most certainly, won’t be as expensive.

The US is great, ok, but it is also pretty pricey. At least for people from Catalonia! But at the end of the day, what’s money for if not for travelling?!

Guys! Thanks for reading, sharing and caring!

See you soon!

Marc.

New York and Good Bye USA!

So… I’m writing this post from Girona. Why? Well, I did not find the time while in New York to write about it. I guess the lack of our “RV time” had something to do with it. But still, very fresh memories of our last two days in NYC; visiting Central Park, showing up at a Stand Up Comedy Show and wandering around Times Square. Altogether, the icing on the cake of a colossal US Trip!

IMG_6396Times Square, all pictures, right here!

Sunday was a busy day. Central Park was in our to do list and as you know, Central Park is not a little tiny green area. We got to the area by 11am and planned to buy a salad at a supermarket so that we could have lunch on the grass. But the supermarket happened no to sell any salads, so well, we had Pringles instead. Not the same, I know, but did the trick.

About the park. It’s huge, but we knew that. What I didn’t expect was to find a man sleeping with his pants down in one of the park’s public toilets. Also amazing the amount of people jogging, running or doing some sort of sport. Just incredible. We starred at all of them while eating our crunchy potato chips. 

From the park we went to have some pizza and just to top it off we enjoyed our second Johnny Rockets shake, our favourite shake in the States. Our few kilometers of walk were compensated by a (maybe) too high amount of fat. But happiness does not understand of calories so we enjoyed everything of our day.

We then headed to the city centre where we took a few pictures of the Flatiron building. That building of a triangular shape. And that was the preamble to our funniest night of our trip. We visited the “Comedy Cellar” for some amazing stand up comedy. Very cozy underground bar with amazing comedians making us laugh and forget about the outside world. A highly recommendable experience to do while in New York.

Our walk around Times Square was otherwise brief. Lots of light, heaps of people but, without Broadway tickets or feeling like a drink, not much to do. We did enjoy our stroll in the area, took a few pictures and headed back home for a well deserved sleep.

Our last day in the big apple was much more tranquil. We had a breakfast at a coffee shop in Brooklyn followed by a walk around Manhattan, stopping for a very long lunch in the 9/11 memorial area. After eating, we went for a final stroll around Battery Park, an area close to Downtown and next to the pier. From there we went back home with a stop at Grand Central Terminal for a few shots of lots of people going to catch a train.

We were at the airport more than two and a half hours before our flight was scheduled. Still, we nearly missed it. We got to our gate with 45 minutes of time, but we got our times messed up. We though that our departure time was our boarding time so we started watching an episode of Sons of Anarchy with our gate at our backs. Bad idea.

The episode finished and I turned my head around to realise that there was absolutely nobody behind us. I took my earphones off and heard the classic airport announcement: “This is the last call for Marc Fonoll and Chalita Jenratha“. We jumped out of our seats, grabbed all our stuff and literally ran to the gate, just a few meters away.

The faces of the airport staff were kinda “what the hell, they’ve been sitting here the whole time!!!“. They let us in. We fitted our luggage in the overhead compartments, sat down, laughed a bit about what happened and relaxed. Then Chalita said “aaaaah! Our phones are charging in the terminal!!!”.

So yes, when we left running, we forgot that our two phones were charging in the terminal. I ran like a maniac through the plane to get to the door and be told that there was no way I was getting out of that plane to go grab our phones. It was 23.22 and the departure time was 23.20, so we were already late because of us.

Don’t ask me how but after a lot of begging I got the crew to let me out of the plane to get our two beautiful devices. I am pretty sure I ran the 100 meters to the terminal in less than 9.58 seconds so I think I am entitled to a World Record, but whatever, the important thing is that we got out phones to travel with us back home, where we are now.

By the way, in case you were wondering, the final episode of season 3 of Sons of Anarchy was totally worth the stress.

Again, if you want to have a look at all pictures on Google Photos, follow the link!

New York, New York!

California is now just part of our memories. All of it… the warm weather, the quietness of our campervan and the take it easy peace. Now it’s New York. That’s been, up until now, cold weather, hectic city and rush! We can feel the difference. New York is what we’d imagined and more. The best: The amazing city atmosphere. The worst: The dirtiness of it, outside of Manhattan, it’s a pretty filthy city.

IMG_5772Our first Manhattan View. All pictures are on Google Photos.

We had our two last days in California kinda “days off” style. We did stuff, but the rhythm was not nearly as fast as it had been the earlier days. West coast was a marathon and the last few steps were a bit slower than the rest of the journey. Our flight to New York, great; really liked flying with Delta. 5h on the air that felt much shorter than that. Couple movies, lots of “free” food and snacks helped a lot.

Got to our Airbnb in Brooklyn and got a bit disappointed but we though “whatever”. Took a very (really very) long hot shower and went to bed. 8am we were up despite feeling like 5am California time. Google said that it will be the sunnier day of our stay in New York and we could not just waste that.

7 days Metro Card with us and started up from the Brooklyn Bridge Park, nice walk, sunny skies (yet cold) and not too many people. Crossed the bridge on foot and started exploring Manhattan. The 9/11 memorial gave me goosebumps. Seeing the names of all those who lost their life now 15 years ago (oh my God, 15 years!) was quite moving.

Went for lunch and walked to Chelsea to take a picture that I had wanted to take for probably 20 years or so. The facade of that building were the guys from Friends supposedly lived. Funny thing is that they never filmed in New York but whatever, I had to go there and take a picture of that building which is… just that, a building. It’s got a restaurant on the first floor (The Little Owl) and people living inside in the rest of them.

Then we had tickets to go to the “Top of the Rock“. That is, in other words, the top of the Rockefeller Building. Great views. A pity that what had been a sunny day until 5pm turned into a very cloudy day after that. Still, views were impressive. Also the amount of people that were in the building. It took us nearly 45 minutes to actually leave “The Rock”. 45 minutes waiting for an elevator. No wonder how they make 25 million dollars in profits every year.

We wanted to get something to eat so we went to the supermarket and got lost four times before we could actually get home. It’s funny because I actually have a very good sense of orientation. But not gonna lie, when I get out of a subway sometimes I get confused, specially if there is no sun and it’s cloudy so I can’t see the Pole star to guide me.

Today… well today it has rained the whole day. So we spent the morning at home, recovering from our yesterday’s 26km walk across New York and got some energy back before heading out under the rain to an ice-hockey game. I’d always wanted to see an NHL game live and the NY Islanders were playing home. Got a couple tickets for $6 each and enjoyed a pretty fun game against the neighbours of New Jersey. We topped up our evening with some amazing snack and went back home.

20170331_210855

Fun fact of the day. Bought an umbrella at 6pm to protect us from the rain. The wind completely wrecked it 6 hours later. So, left home without umbrella, came back home without umbrella. Still, $5.12 out of pocket. What a disaster.

All pictures, as usual, in Google Photos. Nicer and with comments.

Back to San Francisco… oh oh!

We are now back to San Francisco. That means two things. First one, we are flying to New York in less than 48h, second one, our holidays will end in a week from now. I think we are already missing this trip! Anyway, our trip back to San Francisco together with a sunny Monday, have taken us to the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge for some spectacular views of the bridge.

IMG_5708If you wanna see the pics on Google Photos, just click here!

36 days and 36 nights in an RV. Struggling with the shower, with parking, with driving uphill… but we will miss it. The independence that a RV offers you can not be compared to any other freedom. No need of bookings, of a tight schedule, of strict plans. Plans are made on the spot, as you go. And that, my friends, is priceless.

We left the town of Merced and headed straight to Oakland. Wanted to watch the Golden State Warriors playing against Memphis Grizzlies at the Oracle Stadium. But we could not make it. Prices went up, way more that we could afford. No basketball game is worth $250 for the two cheapest tickets for sale.

Instead, we went to a very nice sports bar in Oakland… called Halftime Bar. Awesome. $3 beer and some amazing beef nachos. From there, we drove to San Francisco, as we wanted to spend Monday morning at the north part of the Golden Gate Recreational Area to enjoy some overviews of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

So this morning we did that. We also visited the Point Bonita Lighthouse for some sweeping views of San Francisco Bay. Again, we saw seals. This animal does not impress us anymore, we’ve seen too many of them!

Now… tomorrow we have the heavy mission of packing all our stuff and getting the van cleaned. As per contract we have to return it in the same condition that was handed to us. That’s gonna be tough considering that we were the first users of this vehicle, but well, at least we will try!

Next stop, New York!

Yosemite National Park, WOW!

What a National Park. For all those who love nature, well, that’s their (our) place. Forest, rocks, waterfalls, wildlife, it’s got everything. It’s also got heaps of rain which can ruin pretty much any visit too… but if lucky enough to spend 24h with sunshine then… well then anybody can have the time of their life. 

IMG_5307Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View, many more pictures of our visit to the Park, here!

As we were leaving the Sequoia National Park we had a look at the weather forecast in the Yosemite National Park. We planned to spend a couple nights in the park so we had to have a bit of sun to actually make the trip worth. Google let us know the forecast for our three days: Rain, Sun, Rain. Not ideal, but that bit of Sun in between a sandwich of rain seemed enough to us.

Got up at 7am in the unknown town of Oakhurst and drove directly to the park. Got there, took a shot from Tunnel View (one of Yosemite’s “must place” to take a picture from) and drove down to the valley where we had to find the office to “check in”. If there is something we have realised that Americans do not know how to do, well, that’s giving directions or setting up enough signs so that tourists (and locals) don’t get lost. It took us over 30 minutes to find the Tourist Information Office and another half an hour to find the Campground Reservation Office. But well, better late than never, we found them both, paid $54 for two nights in the park and headed to our parcel.

For our “day 1” rain was scheduled, and rain was there, specially in the afternoon. We had a bit of a walk just to get the feel of the park. The feeling was amazing, but the weather did not help us to enjoy a thirty minute stroll. “Whatevs” we thought, our hopes were on day 2. So went back home, cooked some 49 cent beef noodles for dinner and went to sleep. Sleep, also known as “freeze to death“. I don’t wanna bore you with details, but bottom line, the heater system in our home with wheels, sucks.

IMG_5337Our afternoon hike under a thin yet persistent rain

Got up, opened the window and looked up in the sky, sun was there. Thanks Google for your reliability. Quick breakfast and walking by 9am. We chose a hike considered to be “strenuous“. We thought it was an 11km hike and it turned out to be an 18km hike because of winter conditions making us do an extra 7km plus doing an extra valley. Yes, our hike was strenuous. Fun fact: My phone told me that yesterday was the day that I  walked the most since I share my life with it. According to it, 29,000 steps. Quite a few when you think about it. On a normal working day I do about 500 steps in a whole day. Lazy ass.

The hike. Well, amazing. Truth being said, when you are walking inside the forest, suffering to climb up rocks and avoid slipping down the mountain you do wonder if the suffering is worth, but then you get to the top and say to yourself “hell yes!”.

IMG_5477Top of Nevada Fall, astonishing

We manage to get to the top of Nevada Falls at 5,791 feet (1,765m). We started at 4,000 feet (1,219m) which is like “oh come on, that’s an elevation gain of not even 2,000 feet!“. That’s what we though too when we first planned the hike, but it turns out that half way through the trail (and when you are at like 5,200 feet), the path takes you back down like 500 feet which you need to climb back up again on the other side of the mountain. If I am not explaining myself clear enough… well, go ahead and do the Nevada Fall Trail and then we can discuss it.

The sun was with us all day and we must be very grateful for it. We have had to suffer rain in other occasions and trekking when raining is awful. Not to talk about how it is to take pictures when it rains. So our happiness yesterday, despite the over-strenuous hike and the low temperatures, was absolute. Couldn’t have been better!

Collection of pictures. More of them, better quality and with comments, here.

Back to the camp, cooked some more soup and tried to get some sleep after our 19km walk in Yosemite. A walk that we will keep in our memories for a long long time.

This morning and with rain as Google had forecast, we still had energy to do a short walk to a place called Mirror Lake, a lake where you are supposed to see one of Yosemite’s landmarks, the Half Dome, reflected on the water. Well, when it rains, that effect does not take place. We still enjoyed the green landscape and the forest walk. We missed seeing a bit more of wildlife in the park, but well, we can’t have it all can we?

IMG_5597Morning walk

Now, in a Coffee Shop called Coffee Bandit in the lovely town of Merced (name of the river that runs across the Yosemite), time for some relax time. Holidays is also about finding some time to let time go together with a nice huge cup of strenuous flavoured chocolate mint latte.

If you want to have a look at more pictures (nearly a hundred), feel free to click on top of click.

Sequoias are pretty big

The day at the Sequoia National Park was a-ma-zing. Here’s the thing. We had already been next to a massive tree. When in New Zealand I visited, twice, the biggest Kauri there is. But holy moly! I think Sequoias are much bigger. Either that or my memory sucks. Plus, in New Zealand, there are no many Kauris, so you actually need to look for them. In the Sequoia Forest National Park (SFNP), Sequoias are absolutely everywhere, surrounding you. Breathtaking.

IMG_4913Can you see how big Xalita is? Many more pictures in here!

So we had the great idea of wandering around the village of Visalia the afternoon before heading to the SFNP. Let me tell you one of the many big differences between Europe and the US. In Europe, a little village in the middle of nowhere may have a 1500 years history, so a stroll around old town, even though not memorable, may as well be a very nice walk. Here in the US… well, not like that. These towns have no history (fewer than a hundred years), and strolls are quite boring. Downtown is two streets where you can find a Starbucks, a Cinema and some shops.

IMG_4771Visalia Theatre

We walked them but went back to the car to find  a place to spend the night and leave early in the morning to the true reason for us being there, the SFNP.

Up and driving at 7am, at the park by 8.30 and walking surrounded by the biggest trees in the planet by 10.30. Oh, and we were curious to see if we would meet any bear. Apparently those forests are packed with bears. Well, we didn’t see any although we were scared a couple times by kinda nasty bear-looking-logs.

After our morning hike up to Moro Rock, we headed north to The Sherman Tree, biggest tree on earth. 84 meters high, 31 meters circumference at ground, 11 meters diameter and, what makes it the biggest tree in the world, 1500 cubic meters of bole volume. So here is the thing, there may be a higher tree, or maybe a thicker tree, but there is no tree with such huge volume as the General Sherman Tree.

IMG_5108General Sherman Tree, and Xalita

We walked with our feet deep in snow, taking more pictures that any other day of our trip, trying to fit those giant trees in our screens and fit them nicely, good looking and in a way that, when seen in pictures, they actually look as big as they are. Hard job. If you have a look at my pics, keep in mind that all I’m trying to do is capture the size of the Sequoias.

That’s just a few of our pictures. You can see a few more right here!

When we finished our day, exhausted, we tried to camp at the park, but all campsites were full so we decided not to stay longer in the park and start heading to Yosemite National Park, our last “nature” stop before heading back to San Francisco, returning our “home” and flying to New York. 

Now, we are taking a break day in Fresno, well deserved break I’d say.

Death Valley, as beautiful as hot

We knew it. A hot place. But we went there anyway. It is an incredible place, but to us, just too hot to enjoy it properly. We nearly reached 40ºC and that is just too much to enjoy a nice hike or some splendorous views. We did our part and made it to Badwater Basin to see a Salt Lake, but that was about it. The idea was that we could even sleep in the park, but after sweating just too much while trying to have lunch, we decided that we needed to head to a cooler place.

IMG_4677Badwater Basin. More cool pictures, clicking here. (Bad internet today so can’t upload more here)

Today I have been to the lowest place I have been in my whole life. I had never been at 85 meters below sea lever. Never. I’ve never taking a submarine and my scuba diving abilities are limited to 12 meters of depth. But at the Death Valley National Park you can actually be nearly 100 meters below sea level without having to get your feet wet. Badwater basin is the lowest place in North America. So here is that. We walked over salt in the lowest place we had ever been. Not too bad for a Saturday.

After the walk over a lake with salt instead of water, we went for lunch near some sand dunes. It’s been way too hot while cooking and eating. That’s when we decided that we were leaving the park. We packed our stuff, took a few more pictures and drove a bit more than two hours to get to what seems to be a “big town”, Ridgecrest, where we intend to spend the night.

IMG_4723Our lunch place… just too hot!

Let’s see how it goes!

Oh by the way. When I booked our RV I paid for 2,500 miles (yeah, mileage was not included, stupid). I paid for 2,500 after checking in Google Maps our approximate route and adding some miles to the total number “just in case”. Well, you know how many of those miles we have left? You got it. None. We are now officially exceeding our prepaid mileage… I think I must’ve miscalculated our road trip by 1,000 miles. Talk about accuracy!

If you are wondering what that means, well, now we are paying $0.43 per mile we drive. First I got really scared, but the prepaid miles were paid at a rate of $0.41, so ok, we’re paying an extra $0.02… we’ll survive.

And if you feel like seeing some more pictures, check them out here!