Saturday, 14 September 2013

It's all about the parks and the coastline

Hi there! Thanks for having a look at the next episode of the VanBaelenGuillot saga. As always it has been a time - or at least we have the impression that so many things have happened since we have informed you the last time! We can only reassure you that you are at the right place to find out what we have done so far! Are you ready? Do you have some time? As always, we have selected a high number of pictures to visualize our story.

As you will remember, the last time we informed you we had arrived in New Mexico via the route 66. As this route required a lot of preparation on a daily basis, we decided to abandon it and go northwards into the state of Utah. This state is mainly known for its dramatic landscapes.
First we stop in the Chaco natural reserve, a place which took about 40 km of serious dirt road to get to. At this site, you can find remainders of old native american structures, which were not only large in size, but were also consisting out of several floors. Quite impressive for a structure made 1000 years ago (ignoring the creation of the pyramids for example).
Our second stop in Utah was in Moab, a village where you can easily spend two weeks with your family. You can hike, cycle, 4x4, raft and on top you can eat good at a reasonable price. Moab is mainly known for it's national park, Arches. As the name implies, the park consist of 2000 of naturally formed Arches, some crossing over 100 metres. It was a great place to hike, although it was very very hot out there (very very hot). Also in Moab, we tackled our first offroad trail in the USA. This trail brought us to the grimaldi bridges, also two naturally formed arches, via a scenic 3 hour drive. The trail was quite doable and no real challenge for the land cruiser ;). At the end of the trail, we found Dead Horse Point, a canyon similar to the grand canyon which appears in the ending scene of Thelma and Louise (and maybe also in some scene of Mission Impossible). Nearby this canyon, we camped in complete solitude, enjoying the good things in life.

After Moab we headed direction two other great national parks: Bryce Canyon and Zion. As the drive was quite long, we stopped in the middle at another park, Kodachrome. At this park we had our first attempt of robbery! When having a chat and a drink with our camp neighbors, we suddenly heard some noise coming from our site. Running over there, we couldn't immediately see what happened. Everything appeared to be there...except our dirty dishes! Now who would steal our dirty dishes? There could have stolen so much more! Shining our flash lights around we could notice the reflection in the thief's eyes, it was a coyote and he apparently liked what we had for dinner! (I can understand it) After searching for one hour the next morning, Alex found the bag with all the dirty dishes about 50 meters away from the car, luckily everything was there and we got away with a good story and all of our belongings.

Continuing with Bryce and Zion: The first we visited with some horrible weather - have a look at the pictures, the sky looks great. We were warned not to go hiking due to the increased chances for getting hit by lightning - obviously we ignored this advise (as we already paid the 20 dollars to enter the park!). The canyon is very spectacular and its shape cannot really be described. We decided to hike around for the day, although all beautiful spots could also be visited by car (which at the end rules the USA).
After Bryce we head to Zion, for us this was the most beautiful so far. It is a dramatic canyon in red sandstone, which you enter via a tunnel. Once you arrive here, you feel like you are in a closed environment. As can be expected, the hikes are spectacular here. We did the narrows (where you walk upward into the canyon, with the river running below you), the hidden canyon (where you go up to search for a hidden canyon) and angels landing (a truly spectacular climb which is not made for people afraid of heights).

After the natural beaty of Utah, we go direction of the sunshine state: California. Quick pitstop in Las Vegas to celebrate Alex's 28 birthday. Mireia organised balloons, cake and a gift (20 Dollars to gamble) and a big surprise: a skype call with the family! Thanksss! About Las Vegas itself: this is not a place for us. We walked around for some hours to realize that we don't like gambling - at the end we only gambled for 1$ on a machine of which we did not understand the game (kind of a losers, eh? )

Leaving Las Vegas behind, we go to Los Angeles, where we decide to take some days of holiday on a campsite in Malibu. After charging our batteries we visit LA. Mireia was ready and enthusiastic to see the city of 'Beverly Hills' and other series which she loves. Alex on the other hand could not really give the city a chance. Following the advise of Alex's dad, we visit the Getty, a modern museum which is free. After we drive around the city and see the Hollywood sign. We decide to leave LA for what it is and continue our road to San Francisco. To go to San Francisco you follow one of the most beautiful highways in the USA, the pacific highway 1, which zigzags next to the pacific ocean. Going there, we pass relaxed villages like Santa Barbara, Sant Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz.

We took about 4 days to drive the 400 km between LA and San Francisco and truly enjoyed the drive and the places it took us at. The only surprising aspect for us was the realization that California was not sunny at all - or at least the coast isn't. Apparently, the Californian coast is dominated by big clouds of fog during the summer, which limit the amount of sunshine.

Anyhow, we arrived in San Francisco with high expectations and in all honest, we were not disappointed at all. The city is beautiful due to its geography and there are plenty of things to see by just walking around. On top, people were super friendly. We visited SF by car, by public transport, by bike and on foot. We have had a lot of luck in San Francisco! (free entrance to Alcatraz, free beers, Mireia lost here phone and she found it back, free bread and others). On top, this city is the only place in the USA where they know how to make good bread and coffee. In total, it is a bit like home.

So, you eyes must be tired now and you feel like taking a nap after this long text? Don't close the eyes yet, because the best thing still needs to come: the pictures!

Enjoy and talk to you later!
Alex and Mireia

One of Chaco's big house ruins used for ceremonies

Dead Horse Valley - can you see Thelma and Louise driving of this cliff?

One of the more beautiful arch in Arches - Delicate Arch

And after the most beautiful, the longest. This arch spans 100 meters!

Utah is amazing. Every 10 km the landscapes change entirely. After  the sandstone we suddenly see Aspen forests for a long time.

Found you! No coyote steals from VanBaelenGuillot!

Bryce canyon - the view that is hard to describe in words

Bryce Canyon - Part II

After walking on the rims of the canyon, we went down

A natural tunnel

Dear slippers, you have served me good, may you rest in peace in slipper heaven.
Alex's slippers passed away after ten years.

Night photography in Zion #1

Night photography in Zion #2

And number 3 - for your info, this picture is taken at our campsite and the lights are from a bus passing by

Zion during the day - what you see is the arrival of 'Angels landing' a place so beautiful that angels would land there

Hiking to the Angels landing - vertigo is not appreciated here

Hard hike + Warm weather = Sweaty people

Happy birthday!

Blowing out the candles on Alex' longest birthday ever (24 + 9 hours!)

Representing Las Vegas megalomania

Balloon party!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes!

Los Angeles Getty museum

Hollywood at night! But  no famous people at all!!

Hippy beach wedding in Santa Barbara - Interesting...

Sant Luis Obispo's local beauty

Sant Luis Obispo's chewing gum street - yammieyammie

Starting the Pacific Highway 1 - look at the summer fog

One big tree

Driving above the fog finally gave some sunshine!

We found mussels!

Santa Cruz' boardwalk - a attraction park next to the beach

It was a shame that it was closed as the park looked fun

Below the Santa Cruz pier hundreds of seals were taking a nap

A prime example of Art Deco in San Francisco

Clam chowder - Please note that San Francisco is the only place where they know how to make real bread and real coffee!

Typical San Francisco view

Cycling is hard here!

The cable train - which actually really drives around the city via a cable which is build under the road and which pulls the trains forward!

Look how cute the sour dough bread turtles are (plus we got them for free instead of paying 5 $ for each)

The golden gate bridge - for many the most beautiful bridge in the world

On our way to Alcatraz. 'The rock' used to be the first high security prison in the USA and was closed somewhere in the 60s.

Inside Alcatraz

Mireia is still studying hard like before (empollona)

Driving down a beautiful street (sorry we don't remember the name)

Golden gate bridge

I got the power!

More on this the next time: entering Yosemite Park which has been the victim of some serious fires the last weeks


  1. Congratulations Alex!!!! Us tinc molt presents!

    1. Thanks a lot Marta!
      Hope you all had a great holiday in the north!

      Alex and Mire

  2. Wow, cool pics. Just want to comment on the food - our favourite! Mosseleeeeuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhh!!! And for the filled bread-bowl - Bjorn will be so jalous, as he's been asking for a bread filled with spaghettisaus for his birthday for about six years now (he once saw this in Slovenia, a bit like the one you've had, filled with soup, now dreams of his own version).
    Brunch with the family yesterday was great, we missed you! Enjoy the rest of your trip!

    1. They were good!!! Björn, small hint, in Leuven there is a restaurant where they have this dish as well - not sure what they have inside. Maybe you should pass there once, the name is 'De Werf', better check there opening hours as they are very volatile!
      Glad that you enjoyed the party!!

      Talk to you later,
      Alex and Mire

  3. Driving down the twisty road in SF.... hopefully the powersteering did his job!
    For your info: the name of the street: Lombardstreet

    1. True, thanks for reminding! It was a long day writing the blog, hope you have enjoyed it! Powersteering did great, as the rest of the car!


  4. happy birthday alex!!! i hope you're enjoying a lot!!
    mireiitaaa!!! que guay ehhh!! jo ja he començat el colee!! i em fas molta envejaa!!
    segueixo practicant el francès!! muak!

    1. marta!! Thanks! it was a great birthday!
      Trés bien! tu doit etudier! :P
      t'estimu! anims amb el cole! :-)

    2. ja no faig francès...!! pero igualment precticare!! :)

    3. jjajaj ok! bueno segueix estudiant idiomes!! :-)

  5. Just passing to see amazing pictures! So jalous! You'll have stories to tell for many years to come. Best wishes to Alex's 28e birthday (late again like always but no less sinsere). Sweet dreams!

    1. Thanks Simon!! :-) happy to hear from you!! and thanks for the wishes to alex!
      kusjes to you and Jessie!

  6. Migela and Alex!

    the pics and your comments are just great :-)!! waiting for more!

    Take care guys and enjoy!
    Miss you,

    Dori en Barto

    1. Dori! Barto!
      Is very nice to hear from you! Thanks for readin us and posting a comment! We appreciate it a lot!
      Soon there will be a new blog with more van baelen guillot adventures!
      Lot of kisses, take care!