From Washington DC we take the last mile to New Jersey / New York. On the way, we stop in Madison and visit our friends. Mara and Elin are super happy to meet their friends too and enjoy playing with them! From New Jersey we explore the area and take the boat taxi over to New York Financial district.
Luckily, Yolanda found an apartment in New York after having researched various platforms for hours. We end up staying in a nice apartment in Brooklyn, just next to the botanic garden. Arriving in Brooklyn, we get a warm welcome from our Swiss friends Michi and Maria and join them for dinner at their lovely place (Good timing that Michi and Maria are in town). We do not only enjoy the great view from their terrace but also the delicious dinner. A fresh prepared and authentic Italian dinner – thank you Maria! The last days we enjoy living in the city, exploring New York and shoping. Michi also takes me out and we enjoy hanging out (e.g. at THE STANDING ROOM).
The Outer Banks an certainly be recommended and we will certainly be back in North Carolina one day! Ocracoke is a beautiful and quite island that offers nice beaches and is great to relax. We move on up to Kill Devil Hills and spend our time visiting the Wright Brothers National Memorial, Bodie Lighthouse and playing with the waves on the beach. The Wright brothers taught the world to fly with their first successful airplane flights on Dec 17th, 1903. At Bodie Lighthouse we climb up the 200 stairs to get a gorgeous view of the island. The light house stands between tall pine trees and freshwater marshland.
This is the most visited National Park in the United States. The Great Smoky National Park and UNESCO World Heritage site was the homeland of the Cherokees before the arrival of European settlers. After having visited a few cities we look forward to get back into a national park and do some hikes. We enter the park and we soon notice that this park is very busy. Nevertheless, we head to the visitor center to get all necessary information for our hike(s) and head straight towards the Cave waterfall hike. After a 2 mile hike we notice that we didn’t start at the trailhead and it would be too far to do the full 3.5 Miles (one way) hike, so Felix goes back to get the car and picks up the cow girls on the road to finally get to the trail head. The parking area is crowded. We get into traffic jam. Stop, let me get out – a black bear! A black bear strolls around the parking lot and visitors seem to chase the bear for pics. We finally get a spot to park our car and enjoy the peaceful but quite busy hike to the fall.
We decide to move on and spend some time at the beach – stay tuned!
City Campgrounds are typically located next to the highway. Often noisy but close to the city. Not only the highway is noisy at night, but also the AC in the trailer. However, we learn to appreciate the AC to cool down the trailer to get at least some sleep. The kids enjoy swimming in the pool. In order to learn more about Nashville, we decide to book a tour (with Tommy). The brochure promises to be the most entertaining and authentic Nashville experience! Tommy truly starts very entertaining while he picks up all the guests along the Campgrounds, Motels and Hotels. However, in some instances it is hard to follow his talk track. It may be related to the strong accent. Nashville is an amazing city and we decide to drive into downtown for dinner. We explore the boulevard – what an experience strolling around on the street and listening to the country music and vivid ambience in the hongky tonk.
So far, we are over 5,000 miles on the road since our start in May and looking for another 5 to 10,000 miles ahead of us! We decide to head east and move towards Florida to spend a week or so at the beach. Our first stop is Williams. We enjoy this lovely cowboy city on the route 66 with lots of nice restaurants and shops. We continue our trip and get to spend some time in the Petrified Forest National park – our last opportunity to admire these colorful sandstone formations before crossing the country. For the next few days we are expecting long drives (4-6 hours a day) and stop in Grants and Amarillo. Time has come to plan our route a bit ahead. We decide to change our initial route and continue on I-40 heading to Oklahoma. Mara and Elin get to listen tons of stories (Bibi und Tina and Yakari) and enjoy the ride so far. Our upcoming destinations are Memphis, Nashville, Smokie Mountains, … And some when we will head south again to get to Florida!
We are having an amazing time here in Las Vegas area starting with
Bonnie Springs where spend a few days at the Ranch enjoying the shows and the pool winding down from all the hikes in Zion and cooling down from the heat (> 107 F). July 23rd is full of surprises and starts with a horseback ride in the desert followed by a great breakfast at the Ranch to kick off Mara’s birthday – what a surprise! Mara was also super happy about the present sent by his god father Sven- Thank you! And Thanks to Amazon who was finally able to deliver it to Bonnie Springs. At lunch, Prisca (Yolanda’s Sister) and Marcus join us – Mara cannot believe her god mother is here.
Las Vegas Lake: After a few days at the Ranch we transfer to Las Vegas Lake and are spending a few days in a gorgeous condo with pool. We enjoy relaxing, cooking and do a daytrip to the famous valley of fire. Due to the heat conditions and following the Rangers recommendation we decide not to hike to the fire wave – we will keep this place on our to do list for our next visit. Mara and Elin are happy to have her Aunt and Uncle here to play with. And of course they enjoy getting pampered. Finally we move on to get to
Las Vegas! We check in at the Venetian – wow what a huge hotel! The kids enjoy the big hotel room, Michael Jackson Live show #MJLIVE. Mara and Elin, both love the show! Thank you Markus for inviting us all to the show – it is an amazing night!
Getting into Zion National Park, we are not quite sure whether we can drive thru the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel or not due to the traffic control for oversized vehicles. Construction of the 1.1 mile Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel began in the late 1920’s and was completed in 1930. At the time that the tunnel was dedicated, on July 4, 1930, it was the longest tunnel of its type in the United States. The purpose of the building the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel (and the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway) was to create direct access to Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon from Zion National Park. Unfortunate, our RV is an oversized vehicle with a width of 8 feet and 10 inches meaning that we need to pay to go thru. Unfortunate, we get too late to Zion – all campsites are full at 12 p.m. so we drive thru and luckily we got a spot in the village next to the park entrance. Visiting a dozen of NP, we are extremely surprised how well the parks are organized and how well they manage all the crowd. Shuttle buses waiting time in the morning is between 30 and 45 minutes to get into the park! We load our Bikes and get into the Park. Here we enjoy a few smaller hikes including the river walk to the Narrows. What a surprise and amazing hike! Mara and Elin enjoy walking in the water and splashing. Luckily, Mara and I loaded our Bikes and enjoy a long decent down the valley to the campground. We drive fast to get some wind and cool down as temperatures are climbing over 100 F.
We all now enjoy the lower pace of travelling. Here in Brice Canyon we enjoy hiking, playing at the campground with other Swiss- or English speaking kids and as usual, we never miss the Junior Ranger Program that Mara and Elin love. This National Park in Utah features a collection of giant natural amphitheaters and is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos. We all enjoy and admire the hoodoos and arches on our hike (Navajo trail, Queen Garden and Wall Street). The latter is an impressive climb (mostly in the shade) up to Sunset Point. Back at the campground (after a 5 Km hike), Mara asks to go Biking. So we pack our Bikes and enjoy the ride along the nice bike trails in the National Park up to Inspiration point. This is truly an inspiration point and we get rewarded by a gorgeous view over the Amphitheater! We drive back our bikes and still get the whole afternoon to play in the pool!
We enjoy the scenic drive thru Capitol Reef National Park. The Park is located in south-central Utah. It offers plenty of hidden treasures filled with cliffs, canyons, domes, bridges and water wholes. In the park we undergo the mandatory Junior Ranger program with Mara and Elin and enjoy a few amazing hikes such as the Hickman Bridge, Grand Wash (Tanks), … As part of the program we join the Ranger Talk and learn about the fruit Orchards (Apricots) in the valley. We reduced our pace a bit and are enjoying light activity days, playing in the pool and on the lawn at the campground!