To end a year 2016 a bit morose, I needed to breath, taking fresh air, something exceptional, unexpected. Here is the summary of 6 weeks of happiness spent on the road…
With my girlfriend, Tamara, met a few months earlier, we decided to face a risky test: Take the road together, reveal the most honest parts of ourselves. By experience I know that there is no such thing than Travel to learn about someone else or actually even about oneself.
We needed a true roadtrip, THE Roatrip with a big “R”. USA? Maybe a bit cliché, I admit. An easy choice, not so original you would say, but still an unalterable fantasy. The great spaces that have seen many duets losing their souls. We were more fitting the trip of two sweetened Bonnie and Clyde than swimming down the Amazon or a crossing of Groenland the way Mike Horn does. We needed to make this trip our own, to make it an unforgettable experience which belongs to us.
In this blog post I’ll just talk roughly about our trip, the big lines of our 8000 miles journey, like a snapshot taken with a wide angle lense, where humans and landscapes merge on the same canvas.
Then in some nexts articles I will focus on certain steps of the trip, sharing with you some crunchy anecdotes collected on the road.
To spice the things up and make the trip more exciting we had the perfect formula: we’ve heard about the “MyStopover” program proposed by IcelandAir, often showcased on Instagram. On our way from France to the US, that was the perfect opportunity to try it.
Icelandair offers passengers the chance to stopover in Iceland for up to seven nights at no additional airfare. The “Stopover Buddy” is an even more funny version of the program, inviting you to meet some locals and/or celebrate a special event. You can find more details here.
First stop: 6 days in Iceland
Everything starts for us in Iceland, the first day very well spent with Hjördís, our actual “buddy” from IcelandAir, who invited us on the land of her childhood up North of the country.
We spent the next 5 days in the South and we already knew that we would just have time to explore a very few parts of the Viking’s land. The roads to the highlands were closing live in front of my eyes while I was looking at the road conditions on my phone… Sad moment for me. Anyway, in order to face the unpredictable climatic conditions known to make the country more than charming, we’ve rented an off-road car at Lagoon Car Rental, a small local family business that I highly recommend.
The road 1 also called the ring road, will offer us some of its treasures although it is still very touristic in low season. From burned lands to icy lands, from geysers to waterfalls, from car trunk to 4 stars hotel, from darkness to golden light, our senses have been shaken, amazed and fulfilled.
Just enough time to realize how outstanding was our surroundings that we already have to take off for the next step to the land of paradoxes and gigantic. United States, here we are! Iceland, we will be back for sure!
The wild west conquest
We all dreamt about to conquer the wild west right? I think this is what pushed us to start our trip from Orlando in the south East to Seattle, north west, the best way to cross America. Our kind of gold rush as a symbol.
To finance this one-way journey we’ve been supported by Momondo, perfect travel companion when it’s about finding the best rates for car rental, flights and accommodations. Plus, I advise you to go and take a look at their blog, it’s very inspiring and it gave me tons of ideas for my next trips.
Across 10 States, a multitude of landscapes, a most varied fauna and flora… we never stopped driving. Averagely 270 miles per day in our comfy Volvo. The modern roadtrip.
Florida, its moisture and kitsch, its retirees with an immaculate smile, their caps screwed on their heads, sometimes under the shade of an umbrella at their gathering meetings, lining the gleaming old cars… Florida looks like a California under conservatives which try desperately to preserve the pomp of a gilded era.
Louisiana, its mythical and outlawed New Orleans hiding its valuable jazz in the most shabby nooks, its bayous filled with reptiles of all size, with bearded and scary trees when shimmering in the stagnant water, was the theater of many encounters and memorable misadventures. Good or bad memories they make the story and perpetuate the journeys with this same magic: the unexpected.
Texas will be the State of the first times. First night in the car’s trunk, frightened by the fantasy of a mad killer redneck, comforted by an awakening in the middle of the cows. First National Park of our list. This great Texas that took us from Austin and its londonian vibes, paradise for moderate hipsters, to Terlingua, a wacky hippie bastion in the middle of the desert, has been a wonderful surprise.
In New Mexico we had only few and quick stops. Transitional State in our journey, it still let us time to dream about aliens and Heisenberg the drug baron. New Mexico farewelled us the best way through the meeting of Jody, the one and only couch surfing host of the trip.
And here we are at the gates of the West! The call of its red deserts and sacred giants that sounds familiar to me for having crossed them a few years ago. There I found again the sensation of “horizontal vertigo” which had taken me to the guts and sometimes moved to tears, my first time there. I was euphoric to share with Tamara her discovery of this myth. To see her inner child soul stunned by the grandiose mother Nature… Monument Valley, Moab, Grand Canyon… such dreamy playgrounds that I won’t mention them all here.
A myth always hiding an other one in the US, we’ve arrived on the Road 66, or what remains of it, a long knotted cord like an hazardous promise to reach someday the bright California.
A California which always knows how to make us dream, even just by pronouncing the names of its ambassadresses: L.A. Palm Springs, San Diego… Blazed skies, success stories are an obvious part of the game. Whether you want it or not, whether you like its pretentious behaviour or not, California will never leave you indifferent. The phenomenal diversity of the californians parks sticks to the retina and thickens the glottis, that’s how it is.
An anecdotal Vegas and we are soon close to the end… not without a final ingredient to conclude this odyssey. Joining old and very close friends in Oregon, taking our time with them to drive up along this wild (and underrated) coast was so peaceful. Time to breathe, to slow down the pace…
The last days gave us time to taste the fullness of our happiness by ending the road vertigo. Time for us to let run the cogs of memories, physical, digital and sensory that tangle and flood us. I am pleased to share some of them here with you.