Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Over and out!

We're stepping out of the bus, very impatiently - we just wanna get our bags and get the hell out of here! You know why?! Because it's the last freakin' Greyhound we're gonna set foot off in quite a while. It's NYC baby, we're back home in the crazy city we left 7 weeks ago, and we're safe with all our limbs intact and still working. Everything around us seems the same as when we left, but we've changed and it smells good, no doubt about that.

We figured we would definitely be back traveling around the states and therefore New Orleans could wait for the next time. Instead we decided to go straight home from Austin, nothing more than a 43 hour bus ride across half of the US - good plan! We could imagine millions of places that would be a lot nicer spending 2 nights and one and a half day in than the greyhound buses and stations. But this was a matter of breaking records, ladies and gentlemen. 43 hours and 2000 miles are big numbers, but if set you mind to it you can do everything - especially when home is the light at the end of tunnel!

So now here we are, back home from one hell of a trip. The vast amounts of land we've covered seem infinite. We're talking about more than 10.000 miles in total, that's 16.000 km fellows. To make it more graphical for you to understand, we've travelled through the earth's 12.000 km diameter and have then had 4.000 km to float around the skies or nearly halfway around the globe. 
We've experienced many fantastic things - none bad, and the trip has been one big success (just check out the earlier posts!). Even the fact of being together 24 hours a day has been great. You should think that spending that much time together would either make you crazy and hate each other or bring you even closer... And it's been only a tiny bit of the bad side, a few arguments here and there but nothing that couldn't get solved after a short cool down and a good talk. Besides that we've had so much fun together, and we practically know exactly what the other is thinking which allows us to finish each other's sentences very easily, isn't it cute....! And then we know each other so much better now; the things worth mentioning the most would probably be Marco's desperate need of peeing very very often and Kris being completely bottomless when it comes to eating.. Very weird stuff, yes we know, but also very good to know in many many situations!

And now comes the time to end this magnificent tale on our blog, and it's probably here we should come with some wise and philosophical conclusion to give you and ourselves something interesting to think about. Well we said we have changed, maybe not a lot, but we do feel some change. We have definitely been infected with the American openness and will of course try to bring it back to DK, because that is in many ways the reason behind our great experiences. Without that we would never have had all the fun with our great CS hosts that have been so kind to have us. With that change followed another lesson of life: the less you expect the more you get! Not a bad saying, right? And it has been working throughout the whole trip. We've just tried to go with the flow and let the experiences find us instead of having too much planned out already. And that has certainly carried us away on a big and powerful wave of unforgettable experiences! 
So there you have it, that must count for something...

We'll miss the road, maybe not the Greyhounds, but more the feeling of traveling. And we'll posting stuff on the blog. It's been a lot of fun sharing our wonderful road trip with you here on the blog, and we hope you've enjoyed reading it.. That was mainly the idea haha... But we are also very certain that it will be a great thing to look back on in a couple of years once we are busy with the books at the university.

No more staying tuned, it's over an out... Until the next time of course!

MK off the road.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Liberal Texas

After Grand Canyon was a tough bus trip ahead. Both of us had a real pain in both our legs and it was near impossible to sleep! When we finally arrived to Austin, TX we met up with our host in a pancake restaurant before going back to her place. Danielle was a great host and we got to experience the whole city in her presence. The first day we chilled out a couple of hours at her apartment just to wake up.. Then she took us out to one of the famous streets in Austin, Congress St. It was so hot outside and so humid too - it felt like you really had to struggle to walk through the air. We had lunch at a great and very crowded Mexican restaurant and going back out in the Texan heat was tough with our full stomaches. But we had a walk down Congress St and saw some funny shops, including a candy shop where they had chocolate covered bacon... Special, right. But after a while we had to go back home to get out of the heat and relax in the nice and chilly apartment. In the evening we had some gourmet hot dogs and then went out in the very lively downtown 6th St. There was bars everywhere with music pumping put of almost every single one of them, and there were people everywhee too. The street was closed for cars and instead filled up with people to the edge, most of them locals actually... And Danielle explained that this wasn't even as busy as it could get! We heard some cool blues music coming out of an Irish pub and they let us in without asking for ID's - awesome! We listened the whole concert and tried some very good Texas beers. The band was great and we ended up buying their cd on our way out. We were back at Danielle's around 3.30 am and went straight to bed after a great day.

Next morning we packed our stuff and went for lunch at a local greasy burger place! And then after a short, but great stay, we had our goodbyes with Danielle and went our separate ways. Before taking the bus we went to the Barton Springs - a closed area of the Colorado river that runs through Austin, where they keep the water clean and let you swim in it. We had a quick swim, nice and refreshing, and then made our ways to the Greyhound station for our Bus to New Orleans...

Once again we've had a great stay in another American city. Even though the stay was brief we got to suck in the great things about Austin. Some would say it's a weird city with too many things going on being the only democratic and liberal city in the very Republican state of Texas, but we would easily just compare it to the atmosphere back in Denmark - they pretty much let you do whatever you want to. And who can argue with that...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

2.500 billions what?!

Arriving to Flagstaff, AZ we were once again unlucky with our hiking weather. It was cold, grey and raining... But we got in the shuttle to the Grand Canyon and hoped it would be better once we arrived there. Unfortunately that was not the case at all, because when we got there it just started raining even more than before. Then it was time for a very powerful and painful shower of hail, and then some snow of course - our hiking morale had hit rock bottom! But we had arrived to the south rim of the Grand Canyon so we just had to accept the weather conditions and get going. To camp down in the canyon you had to buy a backcountry permit. We didn't have one, and they are not very easy to get a hold of. They actually recommend you book it a couple of months in advance. Just in case though we made our way to the backcountry office to see if we were lucky enough to get a permit anyways. And probably because of the bad weather we were lucky indeed to get a permit for a very exclusive and isolated campsite way down in the canyon. The hike down to the campsite was almost a 8 mile hike so we would have to get moving quickly if we didn't want to walk around in complete darkness, but we had to go to the general store to get some supplies for the hike - you are very isolated once you're in the canyon so your 'survival' depends on the supplies you pack with you.

Before we finally started the hike we had to find some shelter for a couple more rain/hail/snow showers, but when we reached the rim we had our first view of the gigantic mega hole we were about to get down in. It was amazing imagining how big the powers of water can be when it can carve a canyon big as this. The first minutes walking down, we were almost in shock and just couldn't take our eyes from the stunning views we were witnessing.

After an hour or so, the skies cleared up a bit and we were in perfect moods, very happy the way things had worked out and that we had decided to experience the canyon this way. With our high spirits the weird conversations followed and one worth mentioning is definitely the calculation of how many MK's could fit inside the canyon. Yes, very stupid, but interesting too. After roughly calculating our's and the canyon's volume the final result was that approximately 2500 billions of MK's would fit inside the Grand Canyon - amazing right! The conclusion to that calculation was that filling the canyon up to the edge with people would never be possible. Behind all this nonsense was in fact an interesting thought in both our minds; experiencing this gives you a feeling of being very insignificant in the story of the earth. We felt very small indeed.
Around 7 pm it began getting dark and we had no idea how far we were from our camp - or if we were even on the right trail. But then, in almost complete darkness, we finally arrived to the camp, which was actually a mere shelter under a pair of trees, but very cost though. Now the challenge of putting the tent up was ahead of us. First of all we were not able to see anything and second we had no idea how the tent should be put up, not exactly the best combination. But after some struggles we managed. Then there we were inside the tent in our sleeping bags enjoying our primitive dinner of beef jerky and a pretty dry roast beef sandwich with probably no people at all within many miles, besides another group there that was already sleeping. 

The next morning we woke up early around 5.30 with our bodies aching because of the last day's hike and the many rocks giving us a very 'soft' ground to sleep on during the night. Furthermore we were freezing in the cold air of the dawn. The other group was already awake. We went out to be welcomed by 2 guys and one girl at our age and an older man probably in his 60's.. They were nice and we ate breakfast with them and were even offered some of their coffee. After packing down the tent it was time for the hike back. We had decided not to go directly back to the rim, but instead first go even further down into the canyon to reach the Colorado river - the same river as the one we took a swim in in Colorado. We began hiking, and the weather was beautiful! Once again began the discussions about our insignificant size. 
We had two backpacks - one big backpack with the sleeping bags, the tent, spare clothes etc. and a smaller one with the food, so we swapped bags every once in a while. The hike was killing our legs, and when we had hiked halfway down to the river (about 2 miles further down) through some of the most beautiful terrain in the world, we decided to turn around and hike to a viewpoint over the river instead. We were in a hurry, and both very exhausted, but the amazement was still fueling our legs - we got to the viewpoint - incredible... Nobody should miss out on seeing the Grand Canyon! It's fantastic! After that the trip back up to the rim was now ahead of us. We began climbing up in a fast pace, but our legs got more and more useless. The pace kept dropping, and by the end we were completely emptied of energy and both needing a really good night's sleep! 

Our bodies were dead because of the exhausting 35 km (22 miles) we had hiked in steep terrain in less than 24 hours. Instead they were filled with astonishment, and the feeling of accomplishment. We took the bus back to Flagstaff, and from there we left for Austin with the Greyhound bus.

Don't stay up too late waiting for the next post!

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas... Maybe next time

And now about Las Vegas!
Hmm what to say... It's a special city indeed! Awake 24/7 and founded for entertainment! Very crazy!
We arrived Monday in the evening and went to our hotel in downtown Las Vegas on Fremont St - the 4 Queens (a hotel the danish girls we met earlier had recommended). The hotel website said you had to be 21 to rent a room, but we took our chances and it worked out just fine! When we had settled in our hotel we went for a walk to the famous Strip - the street where everything happens. It was a long trip considering we had been traveling for many hours! The city is not the best city to visit not being 21 years old because of the fact that most of the bars, shows, casinos and places to go are restricted to 21 and up, but we just walked by all the weird places, casinos, people that was keeping the city awake.  After walking for some hours we took the bus home to get some sleep. 
The day after, we started off by buying us some tickets for an acrobatic show called "Absinthe". It was pricey, but it seemed like everything in the city was pricey, so what the hell - we felt we had to see some show! We took the bus to the strip and went to a place called Gameworks - a giant Arcade with hundreds of video gaming machines. We played some of the old classics like PAC-MAN and some racing games. Very special indeed, but fun! We had the worst lunch ever - very very bad! And then we went to the acrobatic show. It was amazing! It was comedy mixed with acrobatics - they did things you wouldn't believe humans could do. After the show we went down the strip again - we met some girls that wanted us to join their party, but we were, as mentioned before, too young, damn it... Unfortunately, but we must come to the city again another time then!So we went back home high on the show, but disappointed about the age limit!We decided to leave early and go to the Grand Canyon with a tent that Francois and Rachael from LA gave us. 

Off we went the next morning!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The grand finale of California

Hey readers! We've got some great stories for you about our last week or so!
When we returned from our surf trip to San Diego in the chocolate van the house was empty. Rachael, Francois and the kids had left on a camping trip With their Church community.
We used Thursday, Friday and Saturday on surfing, a bit more surfing and just hanging around on the beaches and the house. Sunday morning - around 4 o'clock AM we woke up and left for LA National Park - the weather was rainy, and we were gonna hike 5 miles (8 km), crossing a river 7 times to get to the Bridge of Nowhere, from where we were supposed to bungee jump!
We arrived at the parking lot where the hike should begin with high expectations even though the weather was bad. Many of the people who were supposed to jump had cancelled, so our group was small - 8 persons (cancelations was not an option for us!). By the time we got to the bridge we were all soaked! It was freezing and very windy.. We began our jump school - they taught us about the cords, the jumping technics and so on; soon we were ready for the actual jumping...
We both had to do 3 jumps - the swan dive, the backwards plunge and one jump of our own choice. Kris was the first to do his jumps - suddenly there he was on the edge of the bridge ready to jump off. First the swan dive, then the backwards plunge and then he chose the elevator drop as the last jump; a backwards jump falling down with your legs first - and almost touching the bridge bouncing up again - a rush through the veins! After Kris it was Marco's turn. One jump, another jump and then the third: the classical ankle dive as you see it in the movies. Even though he slipped a bit on the last jump, it was amazing..! It just didn't look that good, but who cares. 
After we had did our jumps, it felt like they had passed in a flash; we were in and out of the bungee gear before we could know it! And the cold that was killing us was replaced by pure adrenaline rushing through our bodies - with a little help from some hot Gatorade (a surprisingly good drink!). It was very much one of the coolest experiences ever! We can't wait to try it again, next time we'll do it at the world's highest bungee jump site: off a bridge in South Africa with more than a 200 m drop! We did video shoot some of the jumps, but the videos take to much space to put on the webalbum.
Then we had our 5 mile hike back to the car and drove off as soon as we got there. Coming out of the canyon, both of us almost fell asleep, so before any accidents we stopped and got some lunch and a little rest.

Back at the house we were completely exhausted and went straight to bed for a 3 hour nap. In the evening Francois, Rachael and the kids came back from their trip. We told them about our surf trip and the bungee jumping and they were happy to know we had had a great time, and glad to see that the house was in good condition.
Monday morning we had our goodbyes with Rachael and the kids and then Francois gave us a ride to the Greyhound station where the bus was going to take us to Las Vegas. Considering we had stayed at their house for almost three weeks and had a lot of fun with them it was pretty emotional saying goodbye to them! We are gonna miss the kids, Rachael and Francois and who knows; maybe the next time we'll visit them in South Africa or have the pleasure of having them stay at our place in Denmark! We nearly didn't want to leave California, but new adventures were awaiting - the never sleeping city Las Vegas, the astonishing views of Grand Canyon and the upcoming trip to Austin and New Orleans!
Stay tuned for new experiences we want to share with the world!

P.S. Check the new pics on the picasa album 2.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Surfing the coast of California - a roadtrip within a roadtrip!

Hey dear readers! We know you are there reading, even though there's not a lot of comments!? We have now had over a thousand views on the blog - impressive! Therefore we have added another feature - the music of our roadtrip! But enough of that...

As you read in the last post (our new post about LA) we have been on an amazing trip down the coast of California in the last couple of days in our beloved chocolate van. We left Tuesday around noon in our van - packed to the edge with sleeping bags, wetsuits, surfboards, clothes, CDs, etc... We firstly drove to the coast city San Clemente. We surfed by one of the beaches there and had a walk in the city - ended up eating dinner in a Thai restaurant before leaving for San Diego. Just outside San Diego we stopped in the town La Jolla, where we went to the cinema to see the movie "Fast Five" - an action packed nobrainer! After the movie we went to the beach to go for a walk before finding a spot to camp in the van for the night. We made ourselves comfortable there and made the van really cool and cosy!After a good night's sleep we went to Pacific Beach in San Diego to go surfing - California really has some wonderful beaches and some damn good weather! We surfed, relaxed and thereafter we drove to the San Diego Old Town - not really impressive, but we got to play some cards! When that part of San Diego was explored it was time for a place to eat dinner; we went to the Gaslamp district - a cool area with tons of shops, galleries, restaurants and bars. In the outer skirts of the district we found an nice little Indian restaurant - it was great! We got pretty fed up and drove off to the town Del Mar to sleep through the night - as tradition we took a stroll on the beach and a little walk in the town where we got some frozen yogurt (fortunately we came before closing time, the shop was actually closed but we were lucky!) before going to bed.

The day after went off with some surfing on the beach of Del Mar and a good smoothie from a cafe there... Mmm.... And then some more surfing on another beach in San Clemente! We came home both pretty sunburned, with one more great experience in the backpack! It was great to see all those beaches and experience the laid back atmosphere in Southern California!

Stay tuned and spread the word of our blog (or leave a comment)!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Living the life: the Californian style!

Sorry for again being late with a post on the blog. We just keep bumping into new experiences and are therefore very occupied. Our stay at Francois and Rachael's, and their kids 4-year-old Joshua and 2-year-old Erica, has been so great and they have been treating us very good and have been way too generous with us!
The last couple of days have mainly been used on surfing and lying on the beach getting a good tan. We arrived Tuesday 2 weeks ago from a wonderful stay in San Francisco to Los Angeles. The city Los Angeles is an enormous city - 200 km from one end to the other! The roads are all filled with cars to the edge - each family in the state of California has approximately 2.5 cars and there is 80.000.000 cars in total in the state!

So we arrived and took the train from the nearest metro station to the Greyhound bus station. There had been an accident between the second and third stop... We were directed to exit the train and either walk from the second to the third station or wait for a shuttle bus to pick us up. We choose to walk. The walk wasn't far, but we were in the middle of a huge crowd just walking on the street. We called Francois to tell him we were going to be late. Explaining the situation he just replied with: "Ah, that's LA. They don't know public transportation." Walking past the accident, there was an endless line of cars, and a lady stuck her head out the window and asked: "Are you being evacuated?!?" Actually a rather good question given the fact that hundreds of people were walking away from the accident and multiple helicopters were flying around the area. But man, the way she said it was just too funny! Anyways eventually we arrived to Long Beach and Francois and Joshua picked us up in the car. We went home, met Rachael and Erica and had a nice dinner. After that a shower and then straight to our big nice beds - you get so tired of siting in those greyhound busses!

Wednesday was dedicated to relaxing - we didn't do much and we needed some time to relax for sure! 4 weeks of pure tourism, experiencing, adventuring and socialising is exhausting - but in a really good way! We chilled out, took a walk with the dog and later a walk to the beach nearby, and had a good dinner with Rachael, Francois and the kids. Rachael and Francois had planned for us to borrow their old choccolate van and two of their surfboards so we would be able to drive arround LA and go surfing - they are so generous! Our plan for Thursday was therefore to drive the choccolate van to a smog test so the van could be properly registrated. We got up early to go to Rachael's bakery so we could take the van to the smog test from there. We found Francois' longboard and skated a bit on it until we were ready to go to the smog test. When we were ready the van wouldn't start! The battery was dead. Hmmm.. A good start! We tried with a batterycharger, but we couldn't get it to work. Rachael said we should wait to the day after; maybe Francois could get it going. So we gave up and borrowed Rachael's car and went down to Huntington Beach to surf for the first time. After a couple of hours we came out of the water exhausted. It went good, but the waves were powerful and paddling out past where the waves break was at times very frustrating. Unfortunately Kris didn't get up on the board, but being the first time he tried surfing no worries there. Having tried it before Marco got up a few times. But in short, we were both beginners indeed and hoped we would get better during our stay here. Later that day Francois and Rachael took us out to dinner at a French restaurant to eat some delicious crepes. After dinner Francois took us back to the bakery and fortunately got the van going, great.
The next day we got the van to the smog test and now we were ready to go wherever we wanted. Off to the beach we went for another surfing day.

The next couple of days merged a bit together with a lot of surfing, relaxing, a food tasting festival Rachael invited us to, where she also had a stand to promote her business. And almost the most important: a lot of home cooked great dinners- including Francois' South African barbecue! And even though we are beginners on the surfboards we've been having so much fun, and of course also getting better day by day (and getting more and more soar!)! - we've seen dolphins, seals and all kinds of seabirds whilst surfing, it's incredible! Next year we'll probably have big contracts signed with one of the major surf brands, just wait and see!

Monday morning at six o'clock we went out to the Long Beach airport to go flying! It was a plan that took shape late Sunday night, when some of Rachael and Francois' friends came by - one of them owning an airplane with 4 seats. Francois asked if he could show us LA from the sky and yes: we saw LA from the blue sky early next morning! We both got to steer the plane, and both got to take-off the plane from the airport! It was so cool, definitely one of the greatest experiences ever!
Coming back home from that awesome experience we set out to pick Amine and Laura up at Venice Beach to go to the Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park. The park had some crazy rides with an endless amount of loops and other wild things - and we tried them all, including a roller coaster shooting you backwards up a humongous ramp with 160 km/h. After that we followed the girls back to Venice and had some nice Chinese food for dinner. Then we took a stroll down the Venice Beach Boardwalk with some very special characters filling the street. And then back home to Long Beach for a well deserved sleep after a long day with lots of excitement.

The next day we started out doing absolutely nothing, just hanging around the house. But after a while we went out and drove to Redondo Beach to visit Marco's stepmother's brother Joe. Him and his wife Vicki were very nice with us. We talked a bit, then they cooked us some lunch and after that they let us borrow two bikes to drive down to the nearby Hermosa Beach. It was very nice down there, and we enjoyed a great 2-4-1 burger and a beautiful sunset before returning the bikes back at Joe and Vicki's and getting back home for another good sleep.

Wednesday we had our last day with Laura and Amine just chilling in the sun at Venice Beach and doing a bit of surfing too. We've been very lucky meeting them - it's been fun times girls. We'll see you back in DK!

The next day was another lazy day until we went out surfing with Francois and the kids. The surf was not that big, but Francois gave us both some helpful tips to improve our surfing skills ;) Friday was almost the same, but we did some grocery shopping and cooked dinner for Francois, Rachael and the kids - just to show a little gratitude for how wonderful they've been treating us. During our stay we've been comparing Francois' South African language Africaan (very close to Dutch) and our Danish and it's amazing how many words are if not the exact same at least very similar in both languages. And when they asked about Danish food, and we said frikadeller, Francois replied with "we have frikadeller too." Of course they do. So we made them some frikadeller with some roasted potatoes and a salad, and fortunately they enjoyed it very much.

During the weekend we spent a lot of fun time with Francois, Rachael and the kids. First Saturday we rented some stand up paddle boards and went out in the ocean to try surf some waves. It was not easy to stand up on those boards even though they are very long and wide - we just kept bouncing from side to side and eventually falling off. So we were like 'screw the paddle', and tried doing some regular surfing instead. It was a lot of fun and not that hard due to the boards' bigness. But then we tried to master the paddle again and almost got a hang of it. It was a very good exercise, and we were indeed exhausted after another good day. Francois of course insisted on paying for our boards, we're just getting so spoiled. Sunday we went all together on a little road trip going a bit north to Santa Monica and Malibu. We had a little walk in Santa Monica, another down the beach in Malibu and a very nice dinner with some grilled fish!

Monday we went to Hollywood to have a gaze at the famous people... Unfortunately there were none. The only thing we saw was some stars in the pavement - we ended up going to a record store and bought some CDs for the van. Our camera went dead the same day. That's why there haven't been any new pics the last couple of days. We have bought a new camera though that is waiting for us on our arrival back in Long Beach. Fortunately the Hollywood sign is just a sign and as the tourist website said: 'if you don't wanna go close to the sign, then there's tons of photos of it on the web!' But we had a very beautiful scenic drive up in the Beverly Hills driving on the famous Mulholland Drive - enormous mansions and breathtaking views.

Upcoming is a trip to San Diego, but not just any trip; it's a roadtrip within a roadtrip - a surftrip with sleeping bags in the chocolate van. Actually the trip is no longer upcoming but ongoing at this very moment. But we'll tell you more about that in the next post, 'cause we gotta go now - the waves are calling for us here in San Clemente.

Bye bye from the two Danes here in California.
Catch you on the flip side!