Guaranteed

We got to see Big Sur properly and met a lot of elephant seals.
There isn’t much food on the way from Big Sur to Yosemite, let alone healthy food. ‘The whale watcher’s’ seems to be one of the very few places to have breakfast, they are well informed about this fact, hence the cafe is pricey (but still good).
We passed through several national parks, including Pfeiffer and Los Padres, all very scenic. But once we entered the Fresno area it became very dull. Very few gas stations, almost no food, very dry and hot, beware.
Yosemite is wonderful from the very entrance though. Glacier point is one of the best landscapes I’ve seen so far. The parking lot looks a bit crowded, but it’s not, there are many more spots, they are just not visible at first.
We danced on the stones a bit, met a rather irritated wolf (avoid meeting him, he looked hungry/hangry) and now we’re driving down to Yosemite valley to ‘God, country, grave’.
LA next.

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Highway 1

Santa Cruz is very charming and has wonderful surf shops of you’re into that kind of stuff and apier that resembles the one in Brighton. We even met two people walking to San Francisco. But Monterrey is more beautiful. The sunset (my iPhone keeps typing ‘subset’, what am I, a mathematician?!) was of a magical lavender colour and then turned fire-red.
On the way to Big Sur Google maps led us into the wild (into the woods) with no light and no civilization. The road, that looked more like a labyrinth lured us to the cliffs and the signal was lost. Soon we saw huge wooden tree-houses with even huger windows and candles on the windowsills. Now I wish to love and write here.
After fourth minutes of complete darkness we arrived to a dead end and we’re approached by a stylish old man with a gun.
‘Tell Google maps it’s been a huge inconvenience having a hundred people here every day thinking they can teach Big Sur through here’.
We promised to show google maps some hell and were released. On our way back we met an unnecessary gigantic pick up truck with an unnecessary attractive young man driving it. He asked if we wanted him to show us the road to the camp (apparently the one with the stylish old man with a gun) and we disappointed him by saying no.
So if you are not looking for a husband, death by a bullet or amazing cabin/treehouse architecture (Aka death from envy), remember: highway 1 is the only way to get to Big Sur (and you’ll see a lovely lighthouse). I recommend listening to ‘Highway 1’ by Foxboro Hot Tubes (more famous under the name of Green Day) to stay awake.
We slept in the car by the information centre, where the road patrol ignored us completely (they were looking for somebody to race with). It was cold, but the sky was hypnotizing.
There’s only one other place with stars like these.

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The wine and me

Napa is so beautiful I want to cry.
We were advised to go either to Duckhorn vineyards, Domaine Carneros or Castello di Amorossa. We chose the last one and were really impressed by the Tuscan castle the owner built there. The wines aren’t sold to any stores or restaurants, which is interesting.
We got to taste 5 wines (they give you a list to choose from) and my favourite was the one called Fantasia, very light and pleasantly sweet.
The weather is finally really warm and we’re driving to Santa Cruz and then to Big Sur.

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Save tonight

Trying to fix the day/fix the mood, we called it an adventure and a unique life lesson and went to have some fish at Scoma’s (epic!) and walk around the Fisherman’s Wharf.
All the old San Fran charm can be seen at Alamo square, the Russian hill and Lombard street (the craziest downhill ride ever).
Take the tram, it’s an important experience.
Before visiting China Town (where they have the best dim sums ever) we drive through the Golden Gate Bridge and then to Twin Peaks for the view.
Got some wine from Sonoma (since we chose to go to Napa tomorrow) and had to get plastic glasses from a diner called Carl’s Jr since (surprise) our vast collection of plastic glasses was also stolen from the car.
Driving back to our hostile hostel was nice: driving on the hills feels like walking on the walls and singing Save Tonight was just very right for the moment. I hope Nora won’t mind my gentle rhyme here, it’s all accidental.

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No surrender

In the morning we discovered one more reason to never safe money on accommodation. Cheap accommodation doesn’t provide parking space. Our car was parked on the street in a public parking place. It got broken into. The window was smashed and there was glass everywhere.
The list of out losses:
iPod: 1
Music: over 2500 songs (including about 10 masterpieces by my ex-boyfriends)
Sunglasses: 1 pair
Chewing gum: 2 packs
Vitamin D: 1 pack
At first I was wishing the thieves a wonderful time and gaining some music education, but after seeing an Apple store I remembered the option of blocking it. A compassionate worker asked if I wanted to put a message on the screen and I settled on ‘Don’t steal, God is watching you’.
Obviously, it can’t return my oh so loved music library, but Bruce said ‘no retreat, baby, no surrender’. And what Bruce says we do.

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Big bad wolf

Best sign of today ‘Weed welcomes you’. Lovely Californian town.
Passing through Oregon. Everything is green and there are wooden cabins hiding in the woods. The signs say you can even rent a treehouse.
Great onion rings but absolutely no public washrooms.
If you are brace and are on the search for a very authentic experience, drive through places like Wolf creek and Bear Creek, where people lead lives very different from yours. (I hope).
Portland has amazing waterfront, impressive bridges and nice coffee. People do care about ecology there.
After entering California we took a proper look at Shasta, that lost the ghost town feeling and looks way to polished. Well, if that’s the way to preserve it.
The drive to San Francisco was quite picturesque with the mountains of foggy blue and gray.
All the excitement faded when we entered the hostel under the name of Budget Inn. Now, friends, I solemnly swear never to try to save money on accommodation again. It was far from clean and a couple of rooms to the left the paramedics were trying to resurrect somebody. The showers seemed to have survived a couple of bombings and for the first time in my life I not only slept fully clothed, but also kept my hands in my pockets while sleeping.

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Sparks

Food. Sunsets. Views. Food. This is Seattle, people.
Even though we arrived at midnight and went straight to our couchsurfing hosts Sabrina and Tyler (and their dog Familiar), we managed to see Seattle’s beautiful skyline.
The locals advice to avoid the touristy Space needle and look over the city from the observatory. We seem to have found an even better option. My friend Liza, who I haven’t seen for over 10 years, showed usage view from Gas Works Park. We ran up the hill and watched the sun set, while some people were sitting there in sleeping bags playing music or drinking wine. (And in that moment, I swear, we were infinite).
But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
We started the day at Pike Place market. We would have ended the day here as well if our stomachs had no limit. Food here deserves eternal glory: mac&cheese at Beecher’s (they make their own cheese there and you can watch), dangerously delicious pies at a Russian place called Piroshki Piroshki (it’s PiroZshki guys and I’m a nerd) and for yo at the Shy Giant. The first ever Starbucks has large queues and no seating, but do visit it still, it’s nice and you get to see how for some people coffee is religion and Starbucks is Mecca.
There’s a wonderful second-hand bookstore that has everything by Daniel Wallace, Thoreau and funny on phraseology (and unfortunately a lot of McEwan).
The market has beautiful huge cherries, but the secret is that if you drive down Madison there’s a pick up truck selling them considerably cheaper.
We visited Jimi Hendrix’s memorial, that surprisingly wasn’t surrounded by fans at all.
In the evening Liza showed us the campus of University of Washington that is no less beautiful than Harvard (it was also completely empty that obviously added to the atmosphere) and told us some exciting legends, that were probably invented by students. They have the Red square there, that is rumored to have a statue of Lenin hidden somewhere. Liza says that when it’s raining it’s fun to watch people fall.
In the end of the evening we saw the Troll, a huge sculpture under the bridge made of old cars covered with sand. We came to a conclusion that it resembles Taras Bulba.
We ended the day with a pleasant conversation with Sabrina and Ty. It turned out they worked with rescued wolves in New Mexico for university’s charity work.
Some more food advice: for Mexican, go to Cactus, guacamole is as good as Nora’s and they keep it coming.
For early breakfast (here I mean 6 am early) go to Essential baking company, they have quite a selection of teas, straight-out-of-the-oven croissants, including almond and blueberry ones, and their granola+yogurt is huge.
Also if you, like us, are leaving for ghost towns with the first rays of sunshine, stop by Pike place market again to see it empty and slowly coming to life.

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Born to run

After getting lost in foggy/rainy/snowy Yellowstone and making friends with one or two grizzly bears at 3 am, we managed to find one road to Bozeman that wasn’t closed. We got to the motel at 5 am.
Make sure to get maps when you go to Yellowstone, no phone signal, no GPS. The park in tremendously (courtesy of Vittorio) beautiful, a lot of snow, lakes and geysers, I highly recommend making enough time for it. Beware of daredevil deer.
Montana has some pretty exciting advertisements. My favorites so far are:
1. Dirt needed, call Bill ************
2. Life. A beautiful thing.
3. Got sunburn? God has sunscreen.
We allowed ourselves to wake up at 10 and then had breakfast at the Western cafe on East Main str. They serve amazing breakfasts, the portions are so generous that trust me, you only want one dish, even if the description makes it sound small. I got the Harvester omelette with cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and herbs. It was twice the size of my face. Mary had eggs Benedict with an English muffin and a sausage. Their coffee blend is really nice and a bit citrusy (and obviously you get gallons of it).
People, both the employees and the regulars, were very friendly and sincerely interested in our travel plans. We even had discussion about how big is the possibility if me having ginger babies with a nice lady on the street.
Heading to Seattle now. Hope our couchsurfing host is sleepless, because apparently we won’t arrive until late. Can’t believe it’s been almost 4 years since I worked at Starbucks.
Thank you, Nora, for making me appreciate this song.
Switching to Incubus now. Dave Matthews Band to follow

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Come on hold my hand – I wanna contact the living

The drive to Yellowstone National Park is very beautiful and even more so if you’re listening to Robbie Williams’ best.
It’s hard to find food here – it took us a lot if effort to find a pub, but they said they didn’t cook on Sundays. Note for the future: bring actual food and more water.
Blackhorn is extremely impressive. Visited a charming town of Shell, it’s population is only 83 people, but they have sheep and rabbits.

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Sons of anarchy

We got stopped by a kind policeman in the American version if Newcastle. He forgave our speeding and let us go. We drove through abandoned and functioning ranches and managed to stop when a deer was crossing the road, looking very proud. We were grateful to the kind policeman and wouldn’t want to upset him by killing a deer.
I’m starting to really enjoy Wyoming with it’s views, small bright houses and pick up trucks. Maybe I should leave the Kingdom and get a cabin here.
There are groups of bikers everywhere. So much leather, so much metal, so much beard. They gather by the Devil’s tower trading point and enjoy ice-cream there.
Oh, we got stopped again.

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