who are we?
We send an email
around that we will soon be on the road again.
"But where to should
I send my
Is the reply of our friend
Heidi, a gifted
photographer whom we met two years ago
"We will pick it up at your home," is
"Really? You know how
to make a woman
response of Heidi.
"PJ, do you know where Heidi lives?", I ask.
"Yeah, just about."
I grab the map of North America. "Look, this is where we are
going to land", and I point at Calgary in Canada. "And Heidi
lives here", and point at the northernmost point of the state of
"Holy shit," mutters PJ.
A = Calgary, E = Heidi
And this is how
our road trip begins through many states where we have not been before!
On Sunday, October 28th we fly to Canada. We are not affected by
hurricane Sandi that plagues the eastern states of the USA. Not
even a hint of turbulence.
From the air, we have a beautiful view of the sun setting over
the snowy city of Calgary.
We have checked
the weather closely these last weeks, because we did not want to have to dig out
the camper and just as in the Netherlands it was a beautiful mild autumn. But
just as in the Netherlands the last week was quite a bit colder and in Alberta
the first snow fell.
So it is bitterly cold an hour after landing in Calgary when we are standing
outside waiting for the free shuttle bus that will take us to our hotel.
We check in, bring our luggage to the room and then quickly walk a few hundred
meters to a McDonalds for a fat snack. There is one inch of snow on the streets
and the wind-chill factor makes it feel like 23°F. Our ears are almost freezing
off! At 8:30 pm we are in bed, both exhausted in the warm room.
The next morning we are very curious how our camper is hanging in after more
than four months in an outdoor storage. After a huge breakfast of scrambled
eggs, sausage, Belgian waffles, cereal, muffins and loads of coffee we take the
free shuttle back to the airport and there we take a taxi to the store. Yes, we
remain cheap Dutch eh?
Our taxi driver is an Indian guy with a blue turban and a huge white mustache
and beard. He is taciturn, but knows to find the storage faultlessly 3 miles
down the road.
The camper is looking good - what a shame that squatters have pooped all over
the truck - but unfortunately the engine does not start. PJ brings out the
generator, but after five minutes that one quit.
So PJ 'borrows'
a truck at the office and jump starts the batteries. After two attempts the
engine starts, but then also check engine light (go immediately to the nearest
dealer) is blinking. Hell no, that's pretty much the reason we have sold the
We drive to a Dodge dealer and explain the problem to the workshop manager and
hope that it has to do with the empty batteries and the jump start.
"That seems very unlikely," is the dismal response of the technician, but he
promises to check it out today.
After three hours comes the redeeming answer: yes, it was caused
by the dead batteries. After the computer in the pick-up is
reset and we have paid 100 dollars, we are back on the road.
We buy some
groceries and quickly drive to the winter RV park northwest of Calgary. We
arrive here at 4:30 pm; the day has slipped through our fingers.
So we unpack the suitcases and store the groceries and check out
what is not working in the camper. The boiler has been frozen
during the previous winter storage and we have not yet fixed
that. The water pump of the camper does not work (frozen?) and
the toilet does not flush, so we have to rinse with a bucket. We
bought a small electric heater and soon it is toasty in the
We check the weather (snow) and distances and have not decided
yet what to do and which way we will go first.
2012, Calgary, Canada
When we wake up, it is still dark (annoying that jet lag), but as soon as the
first rays of sun colors the horizon I go outside with a camera. A full moon
sets slowly and the sun comes up with a great fanfare.
PJ repairs the broken water pump, which turns out to be only a blown fuse, but
when he turns on the pump, we hear water running through the kitchen cupboard!!
Unfortunately, the water filter has broken and water sprays through the cabinet!
PJ fixes this temporary with a screw in the plastic pipe. The toilet will have
to wait until we get into warmer weather.
When we wake up on October 31 (again at 6 am), it's Halloween,
21°F (-6°C), and I am a year older.
My visit to the shower building is a little creepy. Of the three
coin showers (I hate coin showers, especially if you just paid
C$ 39.- for the RV park), two are out of order. While I am
undressing in the only available shower cubicle, suddenly the
shower next to me starts running! Halloween ghosts? And without
starting my shower with some coins, it also starts to run hot
water. So I jump under this free shower.
I more often wear flip-flops under the shower, but this is the
first time in my life that I keep my knitted hat on! Wow, it is
cold in this building!
After the shower we decide about our route. We have repeatedly
checked the weather. I would like to enjoy the winter weather a
bit longer, so I ask PJ if he would like to take a detour North
through Banff and Jasper National Park over the
Icefields Parkway through the Rocky Mountains and then from
Edmonton back to Calgary. Well, of course he cannot refuse a
The first part from Calgary to Banff is a bit disappointing,
there is only snow on the shoulders, but nothing on the trees.
But when we get to higher altitude, there is even fresh snow and
the trees with a little snow in the air.
We spent the
night at a "RV park" in Golden. I write this in brackets, because there
are only a few places next to a motel with power, but without water or showers.
And Wi-Fi costs C$ 5, so we pick that up illegally from a neighbor. Golden is
much lower in altitude, so the snow is now rain and it is 41°F (5°C) outside.
Tomorrow it is going to rain all day, that would mean snow on the Icefield
Parkway, so we decide to
stay another day around here and will drive the Parkway on Friday. We do not
expect to see bears, maybe a few elk, but this will be mainly about the
beautiful scenery with hopefully lots of snow for pretty pictures.
2012, Golden Canada
We drive the Icefield Parkway, a route that runs at 6000
feet along many glaciers, hence the name. It is a bit
disappointing, because there is no snow on the trees! We
specially stayed another day in Golden, so we would miss the bad
weather, but the forecasted sunny day for Friday is not there
and it is a gloomy cloudy day. But the Icefield Parkway remains
a beautiful route.
We spend the night in a 'winter camping' in Jasper, but that
turns out only a parking lot with power (no dump and water) and hot
showers. Our electric heater is running nicely and the showers are
clean and the spray is fantastic. I stay there for fifteen minutes
(without a hat) and I am not known as a somebody who takes long
November 3, 2012, Jasper, Canada
Another gloomy day with even a little rain. We drive the Maligne
Road where we shoot some bighorn sheep.
In the afternoon we
have e-mail contact with Martin, a Dutch high school friend who
lives in Edmonton. We ask him if we can come over today
instead of Sunday. Of course we are welcome.
While we are driving the Yellowhead Highway from Hinton
to Edmonton, there is suddenly a lot of snow on the roadsides and on
the trees. But we want to arrive in Edmonton before dark, so we have
no time to stop and take pictures. So I have to do with snapping
pictures from the moving camper.
At 6:30 pm
(still after sunset) we arrive at Martin’s. It has been over
28 years since we last saw each other at a reunion and it is
good that I became 'Facebook Friend' with him a year ago,
otherwise we would not have recognize him! From a 16 year
old teenager, Martin has turned into a handsome guy of 48.
PJ and I both know him from high school and after our
graduation 30 years ago he emigrated with his parents,
brothers and sister to Canada. Everybody went back to
Holland after years of living in Canada, but Martin stayed
behind with his Canadian wife Marianne and their three
children. Unfortunately Marianne is not home, she is in with
relatives in Australia. Martin immediately orders a large
pizza and we talk all evening together. What has happened a
lot in those 30 years!
The next day is a
bright sunny day and time for some memory photos.
From Edmonton we drive diagonally down through the provinces
Alberta and Saskatchewan that prove to be terribly
boring. We camp at a winter RV park that has no water and dump. This
is now starting to be quite annoying, especially because they let us
pay C$ 28 per night.
November 6, 2012, Canada-USA Border
Today we cross the border Canada-USA in Fortuna, North
Dakota. A female customs officer negotiates everything, asks many
questions, but remains polite and friendly. So, that is an easy
border crossing. Finally we have the advantage that we flew into
Canada and cross into the USA via a land border. Now we can stay on
our 90 days visa in the USA, and then leave the United States via
Mexico. Because if we fly into the USA, the rule is that you
after 90 days you have to fly home. Now we can winter in
Mexico and come back in March to the USA on a new visa. Do you
still get it?
It is an exciting day because the Presidential election is today.
Who will it be, Barack Obama for another four years or will it be
Mitt Romney? The world is holding their breath.
To continue the Presidential feeling we drive to Theodore
Roosevelt National Park, where we arrive in the dark. The
campground is completely empty.
2012, T. Roosevelt NP, USA
I wake up with a deafening silence! It is long since we were
parked somewhere for the night, where there is no noises. I
have to think about it for a while to realize where we are
and why I do not hear anything!
After a while the birds wake up and we see wild turkeys
foraging. They are oblivious of the fact that Thanksgiving
is in two weeks.
We photograph cannon balls, round stones with a diameter of
three feet that have fallen straight out of the soft rock.
Unfortunately, it is a bleak and cloudy day, so we move on. We read
on the Internet that Obama may try it for another four years.
It is now a 12 hour drive to Heidi, who eagerly is waiting for us.
In her enthusiasm she proposed a program like we would stay for a
month, instead of a few days. At least we feel very welcome. We hope
that we can shoot the Northern Lights one of these nights.
2012, Babbitt Minnesota USA
Babbit, the home of Heidi and her husband Tom is in
the middle of nowhere. There seems to be no end to the road
through the miles and miles of forest in Minnesota.
But we are happy that we have finally trees around us,
because we are fed up with the barren plains of Alberta,
Saskatchewan and North Dakota. We see many hunters and
assume that they hunt for deer, but this turns out to be
wolves. Not good!
The welcome is warm
(even from their two dogs) and what is it nice to Heidi in her own
environment. Heidi had written that they do not have a spare room,
but of course we can sleep on the couch. This is obviously not
necessary, because we always bring our house with us. I wonder how
small they live, maybe they live in a mobile home. But of course
Americans do not live small, Heidi and Tom are living in a normal
house with three bedrooms (both occupying a room as their home
office), two living rooms, two bathrooms, a sunroom (more about this
later), garage and a huge garden with evergreens.
We park our camper in
the driveway of the neighbors, because they are on vacation.
Eggs Benedict for breakfast. It turns out that Heidi was a
chef, before she became a full-time nature photographer, and
she can cook very well. Full of admiration I watch her
poaching the eggs and whisking the Hollandaise sauce. The
English muffins are in the oven, the ham is heated, the
table is set, cupcakes are laid out on a beautiful crystal
bowl, fresh coffee is made. Wow, what a welcoming breakfast
Heidi tells us
that Christmas with her family always have a theme
night. "This year we are going to celebrate a Dutch
Christmas!". I think this is very funny and what a
coincidence. I give Heidi some Dutch recipes of the treats
we eat in December. Too bad that this time we did not bring
any Dutch treats from home, so they could eat samples.
But when a month later she sends us a picture of the giant
Windmill cookie she baked, I know that it all worked out.
One evening we
play the board game Sequence in the sunroom. This is a room
with lots of glass that is actually meant for late summer
nights or balmy spring evenings. But Tom keeps the fire
going, Heidi has made pizza which stays warm on a hot plate,
drinks at our hands, so without sun we can stay all evening
there in the sunroom without being cold. The next evening we
play sequence in the living room, for a pleasant change.
On Sunday Heidi takes
us to the International Wolf Center in Ely, a place where you can
study a pack of wolves behind glass. There is also an exhibition
are, many stuffed wolves and lots of information on the conservation
of wolves. One of Heidi's Aurora pictures is hanging on the wall.
Then we drive
to the end of the road. From here there is only one more
lake and then Canada begins. This is the place where many of
Heidi's beautiful Aurora photos were taken. We would have
loved to stay up all night with Heidi to shoot the Northern
Lights, but unfortunately it rains all weekend.
2012, Babbitt Minnesota USA
On the day of our departure it snowed, it is bitterly cold
and we bid farewell to the dear Heidi and her kind husband
||After a day
of driving we arrive at a Wal-Mart in St. Cloud,
Minnesota. When we step into the camper, it appears to be
30°F (-1 C) inside! The gas heater is working overtime, we
pick up very slow Internet and with much effort we write an
e-mail to Regina, our next place to stay, to ask where she
lives. After two hours the stove has not enough power from
the batteries and starts to blow cold air. We crawl under
the covers to keep warm, but also our reading lamps on the
bed are giving virtually no light. This is no fun anymore.
We urgently need to check on the batteries, because after a
day of driving, they are not charged by the pickup. In the
morning the outside temperature is 17°F (-8°C) and 29°F
(-1.5°) in the camper!
In southern Minnesota
we pass through a village called Holland. We cannot resist taking
some crazy pictures.
From Babbitt it is a two-day drive to our next girlfriend: Regina, a
park ranger from Hyder, Alaska. When we first met her she was
only 19 years old and now 12 years later she is married, has a
daughter of one and a half and lives in Sioux Falls. We
arrive at the end of the afternoon. Her husband is on a business
trip for a week, but what is it nice to meet her daughter Rory. The
reunion with Regina is much fun and soon we are laughing at silly
things like we used to do in Hyder. I just love Regina sense of
humor. When Regina was a ranger in
Alaska we spent many hours on the platform, waiting for bears.
And in her spare time Regina took us on adventure trips through bear
infested woods, climbing to an ice cave or camp overlooking the
Salmon Glacier. When PJ turned 40, she surprised him to appear in a
Smokey the Bear costume on the platform and on another birthday
she baked a bear cake for him.
Regina has to go to
class the next evening and she asks us if we want to look after Rory.
With no effort we play, read, eat dinner, clean a diaper and bring
Rory to bed and the three hours fly by. What a lovely girl, that
does not talk yet, but seems to understand everything.
November 16, 2012,
Sioux Falls, South Dakota USA
From Sioux Falls we drive westward throughout the state of
South Dakota to a number of National Parks and tourist attractions.
As we drive along Mitchell, we cannot resist to visit
the corn palace. Palace might be a bit big word, but this
building is plastered with corn kernels, grains and grasses. This
has been done since 1892 and each year the murals have a different
theme. This time it has to do with sports. Inside it appears to be a
basketball arena. Too cheesy for words, but always nice to have just
seen. And the only appropriate thing to eat after a visit is a bowl
of creamy corn chowder made by Regina.
Badlands National Park covers an area of nearly
250 thousand acres
and consists of ravines, canyons and hoodoos, - caused by water and
wind erosion - interspersed with large areas of grass prairies. The
Badlands is a dry area with little vegetation and soft rocks.
Therefore, the steep slopes with loose, dry soil, slick clay, and
deep sand look like a moon like landscape. I did not expect wildlife in this dry desert area, but we
are surprised by a Rough-legged Hawk, mule deer, pronghorn, prairie
dogs, coyote, bison and a badger.
We get up early to
photograph the sunrise over the rough terrain and despite the thick
layer of clouds on the horizon, we are pretty satisfied.
Next is Mount
Rushmore National Memorial: you know, those four president's heads carved out of
the rock. We drive the winding road to the place where the heads can
be seen best and read that we have to pay 12 dollar to park and you
cannot stop anywhere along the way. We think this is a rip off,
especially because the memorial is in the National Park pass and
yearly three million people come to visit. So we
drive back and forth a few times, while I shoot pictures from the
truck window. Seen it, done it, this was on PJ’s bucket list.
2012, Wind Cave N. P. South Dakota USA
At the end of the afternoon we arrive at the Wind Cave
National Park and we missed the last cave tour of the
day. So we camp at the campground for only U$ 6. Great,
these are the nice prices.
The next morning we get ready for the tour. It will be only
50°F (10°C) in the caves, so I dress in multiple layers, my
hat, gloves and sturdy walking shoes. Well, only the latter
are necessary, because the caves have a humidity of 90% and
soon I am sweating like an otter.
Because there are only have two couples in the tour, the
guide asks us if he can take us for a longer tour, two hours. Perfect! The walk begins with an elevator and
that makes me giggle: PJ always asks whether a hike is
wheelchair accessible, because he is does not like hiking.
The caves are
impressive, you will not find any stalagmites or stalactites here, but
creations called ‘boxwork’. It reminds me of delicate lace, sugar or
2012, Douglas Wyoming USA
From South Dakota and Wyoming we drive into
the town Douglas where we can camp for free in a city
park with an RV dump, water (the water is everywhere already
closed for the winter, so we are urgently in need water),
Wi-Fi and even hot showers! I shoot a beautiful sunset while
mule deer frolic through the grass.
November 21, 2012,
Longmont Colorado USA
We have contacted Bob and SueAnn in Colorado, which we
affectionately call our fossil friends. B & SA have no house, but
are living in a trailer parked next to the Baptist Church and School
in Longmont. Also them we first met in 2000 in Hyder,
Alaska. But with this couple we have traveled extensively to
photograph wildlife. For example Moose in Alaska, Grizzly Bears in
Bella Coola and Bighorn Sheep in Jasper.
We are invited to a Thanksgiving lunch with friends of Bob and
SueAnn. The table is nicely set and everyone has a made a dish. The
dessert is four kinds of pie.
It strikes me that
Americans are not beautiful dressed for a dinner, as we do for a
Christmas dinner. Jeans is not a problem and everybody has left
their shoes at the door.
After dinner and the dishes the men are bulging on the couch and
watch American Football and the ladies start leafing through a large
pile of advertisements papers. Tomorrow is Black Friday, the
traditional day to buy Christmas presents with huge discounts. It is
therefore the busiest day of the year for retailers. Some people
stay days in advance at the store's doorstep (and miss their
family dinner). But nothing is sacred, not even Thanksgiving and the
stunting of the retailers begins on Thursday evening, much to the
dismay of many Americans. But not for this family and they are
working out a plan to be in time for the rows in the store. And this
staying in line goes on through the night, each store has its
different times for different offers. The shoppers leave at 8 pm and
we are brought home by Bob and SueAnn at 9 in the evening. What a
privilege to join this traditional celebration.
November 23, 2012, Longmont Colorado USA
Meanwhile, a photographer friend of Yellowstone responds when she
read on Facebook that we are in Longmont, Colorado.
"I live only 15 miles away, are you coming to visit us?".
Of course we will and Cathy and Rick turn out to live in a forest,
near Rocky Mountain National Park. The deer graze in the garden and
at night black bears and the occasional mountain lion wanders
through the backyard!
We have a nice evening
together and the next morning we drive in two days to Utah,
where we pick up our stuff for Mexico from the basement of my niece
Diana and her husband Randy. Because we do not like to schedule our
route to the North or South always via Utah to retrieve summer or
winter clothes, this time we leave as little as possible in the
basement. Because of the new flatbed construction that PJ built last
year, we have much more storage space and we can take not only our
thick winter coats but also things like an electric hot plate, our
hammocks and bird feeders (which we only use in Mexico).
2012, Plain City Utah USA
This morning we went to a Trailer builder. The batteries of
the camper do not charge while driving, so that is checked.
It appears to be oxidized connections and are replaced.
Hopefully the problem is now solved.
In the afternoon we go to another garage to have something
done on the suspension of the pick-up truck. There are four
new shocks installed.
2012, Utah USA
We hurry south, because tonight is the full moon and we want
to shoot this from Bryce National Park. I think this
is the most beautiful place on earth (we go there now for
the fourth time).
When we arrive at the observation point, the horizon is
covered with a thick layer of clouds. That's a little
disappointing, but we are still able to shoot some nice
landscape photos with the light of the moon and a slow
campground we read a sign that in September a cougar was
spotted at the campground! I know that this is more than two
months ago, but the idea that this illusive night animal has
wandered near people, is exiting enough for me. If we had
been here in September, I would have stayed up all night for
This picture of a live
mountain lion was taken at the Sonora Desert Museum in
November 29, 2012,
Bryce Canyon NP Utah USA
We get up at six o'clock to be on time for the sunrise of 7:30. The
time well before the sun rises is the best time to photograph the
natural amphitheater. Bryce Canyon is famous for its unique geological rock
formations. Due to forces of freezing and thawing, the limestone and
sandstone formations slowly eroded, forming the so-called hoodoos.
The worn peaks provide beautiful formations in the first sunlight. The soft light creates shades of the colors on
the rocks and seem very mysterious. The colors range from pink to orange.
While PJ tries to capture bright orange horizon, I focus on the
ever-changing colors of the canyon. We really enjoy it and are happy
with the result.
From Bryce Canyon we
drive through Red Canyon.
We stumble on Coral
Pink Red Sands Dunes State Parkon by accident because our camper
is too high for the main road to Zion (due to a tunnel) and we take
a shortcut along these Pink Dunes. It turns out to be a beautiful scenery that
reminds us of the red sand dunes of Namibia.
The last bit (only 3
miles) is unpaved and when we are back on asphalt and stop for a
drink, we see what a mess it is in the camper!
to 8 December 2012, Parker Arizona USA
For about a week we stay in a beautiful spot on the Colorado River in
Parker, Arizona. Around us are bare red mountains and planted palm
trees. It is like an oasis in the desert. It's not real RV park, but a
huge park, where most large trailers camp without power, with only a
water tap. Dry camp they call it. We are very lucky, because we are
allowed to park at an unofficial site near the boat ramp, with a picnic
table, electricity, water and we pick up WIFI from the clubhouse for
only 17 dollar per night! Every
evening a beautiful sunset and at night we hear coyotes howl that sounds
so close that I go out a few times to check if they really not sitting
under the camper.
November 9, 2012, Yuma Arizona USA
We meet for Happy Hour in Yuma with our friends Jim and
Linda. We met this Canadian couple years ago in La Penita Mexico. Four
years ago they bought a park model in a senior park and spend the winter
in the mild climate of Arizona. They take us out to dinner at a grill
buffet restaurant and we eat far too much. Very nice to see them again.
December 11, 2012, border USA to Mexico
After three lovely months in Mexico we cross the border into the USA
again in March.
March 23, 2013
check is jovial, but then we have to park the camper for a food control.
To PJ's displeasure we will not cross the border with an empty fridge
and freezer, but with all kinds of meat, fish and vegetables.
customs officer is very friendly. We have to get used to her slurred
speech: she sounds drunk, but probably she had a stroke. We are allowed
to import shrimp, chicken, beef, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers and
cucumber, so I am glad that I did not throw anything out before we
crossed the border.
Then we have
to go into the building for immigration. This time it is very difficult.
The officer is not familiar with visas and for a long period checks his
computer where all our data is stored.
"You are border hopping", he claims.
Well I would not call it border hopping: we have just spent three months
in Mexico and we have been for a whole year in the Netherlands.
"Where are you going now?"
"In two week we fly home from Calgary home".
"Calgary? What is Calgary? "
We will blame our accent, because Calgary is a well-known and major city
in Canada ...
Ultimately, the immigration officer gives us a 90 day permit.
We spend the
night at the RV park in Why, Arizona.
refreshing night and a hot day we drive north to Phoenix, where we spend
the night at the Walmart parking lot.
2013, Arizona USA
Flagstaff we go grocery shopping and I see a headline of the local
Sunday newspaper: 'At last Grand Falls is flowing again " with a photo
of an impressive red-brown muddy waterfall.
Back in the
camper we googled Grand Falls on our laptop. This waterfall in the
Painted Desert is only impressive in March and April when the waterfall
is fed by snow melt. The rest of the year it is a pathetic trickle. The
waterfall is about 50 miles from here (in the wrong direction) and
partly on a dirt road, but we nevertheless we decide to drive to it. I
take the directions of the Internet on all turns and distances, because
the waterfall is not a well-marked attraction in the Navajo Indian
through a flat desert landscape and it is hard to imagine that somewhere
flows a 56 yards high waterfall. After PJ parks the camper at the Little
Colorado River crossing we see a pick-up gets stuck mid-river! After
some wiggling the truck loosens up and drives back. We remain on this
side of the river. Through the Internet we know we still have to walk a
mile on a flat path, so I walk on my slippers.
view at the waterfall is impressive. Not so much the surprising extent,
but especially the many terraces where the chocolate milk colored water
flows over before it falls deep below us into the Little Colorado
But PJ sees
immediately that he wants to shoot the waterfall from the bottom of the
gorge. After all there are people walking there.
"But I'm on my flip-flops!", I complain.
We are not the only ones who come to admire this magnificent spectacle
and I attribute that to the Sunday headline.
We walk along
the edge of the canyon looking for a place where we can climb down and
find that too. The path is fairly simple - with a few jumps - we reach
the bottom of the gorge.
experiments with slow shutter speeds (I had been carrying the tripod)
and we enjoy this cool spring
And now we have to hike back again!
We drive to
the Grand Canyon National Park to photograph the sunset, so we are in a
hurry. To our amazement a huge line of cars is at the entrance and we
proceed very slowly. When we finally arrive at the ranger station
entrance booth and show the ranger our Eagle Park Pass (free entry to
all National Parks) we ask what is going on.
The ranger replied surprised: "It's Spring Break".
Oops, we had not thought of that. Then, of course, all the campgrounds
will be full too.
We drive quickly to the first viewpoint, but the sun is already so far
set that the canyon is already in the shade. Too bad!
We try out
all viewpoints, but nowhere can we take good pictures. We drive out of
the park on the east side and camp for free along the way.
2013, Grand Canyon USA
What is it cold! I look at the outside temperature and see to my horror
that it only 17 F! Just three days ago we were in Mexico with 82F
degrees. What a transition. It really is time that we get our winter
duvet from the suitcase, which is strapped to the roof.
temperature slowly rises to 52F, but the air is clear and the sun is
We drive to
Utah and enjoy the view of Monument Valley.
We decide to
ignore this Indian Park, because we want to drive the Valley of the Gods
tomorrow. The landscape of Valley of the Gods is very similar to that of
the more famous Monument Valley. Also in Valley of the Gods you see
beautiful sandstone buttes that are scattered in an otherwise empty,
expansive desert landscape. Via a 20 miles dirt road you can drive
through the lonely valley. Admission is free and because it is not as
well-known as Monument Valley, you have the desert to yourself.
We stay for
free in Goosenecks State Park with stunning views on the San Juan River,
1,000 feet below. This river flows here 8 miles long here through an
area that is 1 mile wide. The water seeks the path of least resistance,
and because it is often not the shortest way there arise bends in the
PJ climbs on
the roof to open the suitcase and throws the duvet and our winter coats
down. But what a letdown: mildew in the jackets and they smell musty!
Fortunately the duvet was in an airtight bag. We air everything in the
sun and I leave the coats out overnight.
2013, Goosenecks State Park USA
slept well under our down comforter, but wake up to a cloudy sky! We are
very disappointed, because these rocks rising from the desert have to
photographed with a blue sky with maybe some clouds.
The foul smell has not gone away from out winter coats.
drive the dirt road through Valley of the Gods, but we do not shoot
really pretty pictures.
further north, we take Utah State Route 261, called a scenic byway,
which begins north of the town of Mexican Hat (named after a rock
formation) and which ends near Natural Bridges National Monument.
Find the differences
Most of State
Route 261 is paved, but there is also three mile gravel area. This part
is called the Moki Dugway and rises after a number of steep but well
graded switch backs (10%) to almost 1,200 feet high in the Cedar Mesa
The views of
the area and the road is magnificent, so I suggest that PJ drives the
road one more time riding up and down so I can take pictures. This is
time consuming, but we end up with spectacular photos.
through grand Utah with a tiny bit of sunshine to Goblin State Park, but
unfortunately the campground full. We were looking forward to a hot
shower, but we have to boondock again. PJ finds a swell spot in the San
Rafael desert and I photograph the setting full moon in the early
The next day we drive to a town RV park, take a shower and wash our
winter coats at the public Laundromat. The mildew smell is almost gone.
I start packing the suitcase. For the longest time we have doubt if we
would change our flight tickets and stay longer in de USA, but when we
hear that Yellowstone National Park will open a week later than planned
and that would mean that we have to wait another month. We do not want
to, so we will catch the plane of April 2 from Calgary. We drive to
Ogden for the technical inspection and stay with my niece Diana and her
partner Randy. It's almost 68F in Ogden!
leave Utah and drive in the state of Idaho. There is still snow on the
ground and the temperature drops to 59F degrees.
We are visiting girlfriend Melissa in Victor at the foot of the Grand
Teton Mountains. She lives with her three dogs, two cats and a rabbit in
a log cabin. We socialize and go out for dinner. The next morning
Melissa already left early for work, so we drive further north.
Today we cross the border of the USA - Canada. There is a huge line (it
is Easter Sunday) and we have to wait more than 40 minutes in line.
Everyone is friendly and we get a visa for six months. We stay for free
in a parking lot of a mall in Calgary.
1 and April
2, 2013, Calgary
As we drive
past the Canadian Superstore supermarket, we cannot resist to go inside
for some cheese and cinnamon rolls. At the bakery a lady is just glazing
the cinnamon buns with icing. She sticks her gloved hand in a bucket of
icing. When she offers us the sandwiches, I suddenly blurt out: "Can I
lick your fingers." First she looks shocked, but then she starts
At the winter
RV park north of Calgary we pack the suitcases and PJ prepares the
camper for a cold storage. He replaces all the water in the tanks and
boiler by antifreeze. At 4.30 pm we are at the storage and pay for four
months. We do not know exactly what we are going to do, but we can
always pay extra later. We then take a taxi to the airport. Our flight
does not leave for another four hours, but could not arrive later at the
We have quite
a lot of food and drink leftovers, so after we checked in, we sit down
in front of customs on the leather sofas, with a good bottle of red
wine, diced aged cheddar cheese, cheese and cinnamon rolls and watch
some television shows on the Internet.
We fly from
Calgary to London and then to Amsterdam, where we arrive in the evening.
We are picked up by my father-in-law and he brings us to our mobile
home. Our dear friends have done breakfast shopping, turned on the
heater, bought flowers, and took our car out of storage and connected
the gas/water. What a treat!