26 May 2023
One of the highlights of Baja California is whale watching. Besides humpback and grey whales, even blue whales can be seen from time to time. Now, of course, there are many places in the world where you can watch whales. On the Baja, however, one can literally get up close and personal with the grey whales.
The annual grey whale migration is one of Earth’s greatest wildlife spectacles. These animals make one of the longest migrations of any mammal, traveling about 16,000 kilometers. They start at their feeding grounds in the Arctic and their destination is the Baja lagoons in Mexico, where they calve and nurse, and then they swim all the way back again.
The summers from May to September are spent in the nutrient rich waters of the Arctic. In October they start their long journey south. The first animals arrive at the Baja in late December. That is when the whale watching season starts.
Grey whales can reach 12 – 15 Meter in length and weigh more than 36 tons when fully grown. The calves are born in the sheltered and safe lagoons at the west coast of the Baja between the end of December and start of February. From the end of January and in the following months is the ideal time for having a really close encounter with the whales.
Grey whales are known for their curiosity toward boats. They even initiate interactions with the awaiting boats in hopes of playing. They jump, slap their flippers and show off their tail flukes. Perhaps the most soul-touching moments, however, come from the grey whale mothers who “introduce” their calves to humans as they nudge them up toward the boat. Scientists hypothesize that these are learned behaviors from mothers who were also introduced to humans as calves in Baja.
Grey whales leave Baja’s lagoons to migrate back north starting at the beginning of February. Female whales with newborn calves are the last to depart from the lagoons in April in order to give the calves as much time as possible to grow.
Grey whale calves will nurse for approximately seven months and will stay by their mom’s side for up to nine months. If they (and we) are lucky they all will return happy and healthy to the lagoons of the Baja next year!
For us watching these majestic animals was a truly wonderful experience. Even if we were too early in the season for having a “cuddle-moment” with them (we can’t always be at the right time at the right place), it was still awsome to see them so close to our boat.
At the southern end of the Baja we also could admire the humpback whales from the beach for hours and hours every day. Seeing a whale jumping in front of the setting sun is something unforgettable. You can read about all our “wildlife moments” in our new blog.
17 May 2023
The Jesuits who founded the first successful mission in Baja California at Loreto in 1697 were the last in a long line of Europeans who attempted to subdue and convert the peoples of the land they called California.
The Spanish missions in Baja California were a large number of religious outposts established from then until 1834 by Catholic orders, the Jesuits, the Franciscans and the Dominicans, to spread Christian teachings. The missions also provided Spain with a valuable influence on the border area and introduced European livestock, fruit, vegetables and industry to the region. In a policy followed in much of Latin America called reduction, missionaries concentrated Indians in or near the mission for religious instruction and training as sedentary farmers and pastoralists. Their aim was to create a self-sufficient theocracy in which the missionary sought to rule over all aspects of the Indians’ religious and secular life.
The introduction of European diseases such as smallpox and measles had serious consequences for the indigenous population. At the time of first contact with the Spanish, there were about 60,000 Indians living in Baja California. By 1762 their numbers had dropped to 21,000 and by 1800 to 5,900.Mexico secularised all the missions in its territory in 1834 and the last missionaries left in 1840.
Some of the mission churches still remain and are still in use. We visited some of these churches, the buildings themselves are usually really impressive. Otherwise, however, we finally used the time to relax on the beaches of Bahia Concepcion and so the year of travel 2022 ended with a Tequila Sunrise at Playa El Coyote. In our new blog you can read all about our beach adventures.
4 May 2023
In our new blog, we swap the Pacific for the Gulf of California. Here on the narrow Baja, you can theoretically make it from coast to coast in a day.
As soon as we left the Pacific coast, it is as if we are entering another world, the land of cacti.
Having already hiked enthusiastically through the cactus landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park and the Anza Borego Desert in California, we find entire forests of these fascinating plants in the Cataviñá Desert.
Imagine cacti that are more than 200 years old and can weigh 10 tonnes. The Cardon cactus is the largest cactus plant in the world and we are amazed that it can reach this size here in the desert. It is able to store huge amounts of water and its girth expands with rainfall.
Another special cactus and endemic to Mexico is the Cirios or Boojum Tree. This one somehow reminds us of a slender fir tree. Maybe it’s because Christmas is coming up, but we can imagine it as a Christmas tree when it’s decorated.
Now we can only see the green leaves. In July though, yellow flowers grow on the Boojum Tree. It can grow up to 20 meters and the oldest is said to be about 360 years old.
Among all these big and small cacti, huge volcanic boulders are scattered, stacked on top of each other, ready to be climbed by us. From up there we watch a beautiful sunset. We cannot imagine a more magical place to spend the night in our camper.
25 April 2023
Baja California was our first destination in Mexico. Dry desert landscapes with cactus gardens, small fishing villages and historic missions, barren mountain formations, rocky coasts and sandy beaches awaited us. A paradise for whale watching, humpback whales pass along the Pacific coast and gray whales give birth in the bays of Baja.
The peninsula stretches 1300 km from the U.S. border to the southernmost point at Cabo San Lucas, where the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California meet. A long highway winds from north to south, alternately touching the east and west coasts of the Baja. The peninsula is very sparsely populated and is used mainly by Canadians and Americans as a wintering place. We were excited to see what our first weeks in Mexico would be like and were looking forward to relaxing on the beaches of the Baja. First, however, we took another short trip into the mountains, which we did not regret!
Check out our first blog in Mexico where we went from a sunny beach into snow and ice within a day.
17 April 2023
Joshua Tree (National Park) is best known to most people for U2’s album of the same name from 1987.
The idea of using a Joshua Tree photo came from photographer Anton Corbijn, who suggested a trip through the Mojave Desert to take pictures. Bono liked the name so much it became the album title. Corbijn recounts that Bono consulted a Bible and was taken by how the tree got its name from Mormon settlers who thought its limbs reminded them of a Biblical story of Joshua lifting his hands in prayer.
That the park itself is proud of this is evidenced by the fact that a Fender Stratocaster guitar by “The Edge” hangs in a display case in the visitor center.
For us, it was a dignified farewell to the United States of America. Once again we could enjoy the incredible variety of landscapes and lace up our hiking boots. In our new blog, we will report on our last week in America before heading to Mexico.
Check out our latest video about the even more famous Grand Canyon National Park and about the probably less known, but not less spectacular Red Rock State Park.
4 April 2023
It has been quiet here on our blog for a while now. We have given our camper a break for two weeks and on 20 March we flew from Cancun to Havana.
Together with Romy’s parents we explored this wonderful Caribbean island by rental car. Accompanied by Cuban rhythms, we drifted through the streets of Havana, went hiking in the tobacco fields of Vinales and the mountains around Trinidad and dived into the blue of the Caribbean. The warmth of the people, the music and quite a few delicious cocktails will always remain in our memories.
Now we are back in Cancun, sleeping in our own bed and will slowly say goodbye to Mexico. In a few days we will continue to Belize and we are excited to see what will await us there.
While enjoying the Carribean sun, we jump back in time with our latest blog and find ourselves at the Californian Pacific Ocean. It wasn’t as hot there, but after many weeks in mountain areas and deserts with cold and snow we really enjoyed the sun and warmth. We followed the famous Highway No. 1 from Monterey to Los Angeles and saw a lot of wildlife in and out of the ocean.
18 March 2023
For nearly two centuries, from the days of scrambling peaks in the Sierra to the cutting edge free climbing on El Capitan, the cliffs of Yosemite National Park have set the standards for climbing.
El Capitan is probably the most recognized chunk of rock in the world to rock climbers. Climbers come from across the globe to challenge themselves on the walls of El Capitan. It’s an awe-inspiring thing that first time one goes to the Valley and stand at the base of El Capitan, looking up 1000 meter of granite.
The first ascent of El Capitan was made in 1958 when after a 12-day push Warren Harding, George Whitemore and Wayne Merry reached the summit. More routes were developed in the coming two decades. The 1970’s saw an increase in the number of climbers and a greater focus on free climbing.
In the early 90s, climbers began racing up El Capitan, climbing “The Nose” in under 5 hours. More impressively, Lynn Hill made the first true free climb of El Capitan, with an ascent of “The Nose”. Free climbing means that the climber can only use climbing equipment for protection, but not as an aid to help in their progression in ascending the route. Lynn Hill returned a few years later to free climb the route in a single day.
Later in the 90s two Austrian brothers, Alex and Thomas Huber stormed through Yosemite, adding to El Capitan free climbing. Other climbers raced up El Capitan as well with “The Nose” speed records dropping from 4 hours to just over 2.
The American climber Tommy Caldwell turned to the steep section of the Dawn Wall. After 10 years of preparation and practising he finally had completed the route after a 19-day climb in 2015. To this day it is considered to be the hardest long free climb in the world.
In the mid 2000s Alex Honnold began climbing in Yosemite as well, free soloing several routes. The most astonishing, scary and crazy climb was his free solo climb of El Capitan.
Free solo means climbing without a rope, in this case climbing a 1000 meter high rock – without a rope. Everybody who has seen the movie “Free Solo” might have got sweaty hands just by watching Alex climbing. Not only did he succeed, he was also filmed while doing so and this National Geographic Film one an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. It’s a great movie, not only for people that like rock climbing.
We stood at the base of El Capitan and looked up the wall into the sky. We could not imagine to climb even 20 meter on this wall, let alone 1000!! We saw some climbers high up there, almost invisible, trying to reach the summit. The view from up there must be awesome.
But also the rest of Yosemite National Park is wonderful and worth a visit, even in winter. In our new blog you can read about our hiking there and about the giant trees in Sequoia National Park.
12 March 2023
A desert metropolis built on gambling, vice and other forms of entertainment, Las Vegas has drawn millions of visitors and trillions of dollars in wealth to Nevada in just over a century of existence.
Las Vegas was established as a municipality in 1911. Nevada banned gambling in 1910, but in practice there were still illegal casinos. By the time gambling was legalized again in 1931, organized crime had taken root in the city. That same year, construction began on the Hoover Dam, which attracted thousands of workers to the city. Casinos opened and showgirls arrived. The Wild West-style freedoms Las Vegas enjoyed – gambling and prostitution – provided a perfect home for East Coast organized crime. Money from drug trafficking and organized crime was invested and laundered in the casinos.
In 1941, the first resort opened, soon followed by other hotel-casinos, and the stretch of highway became known as “The Strip”. In the 1950s and 1960s, mobsters helped build several large resorts. Money from organized crime was combined with money from more serious investors. Tourists flocked to the resorts, attracted by artists such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Elvis Presley, and by the rows of slot machines and gaming tables.
Beginning in the 1940s, Las Vegas experienced a military boom with Cold War facilities, most famously the Nevada Test Site, where more than 100 atomic bombs were detonated overhead between 1951 and 1963. Mushroom clouds were often visible from hotels on the Strip. Postcards have referred to Las Vegas as “Up and Atom City.”
In the 1960s, billionaires like Howard Hughes came in and bought up the hotels in Vegas, displacing the interests of the Mafia with those of mega corporate conglomerates. In 1989, casino developer Steve Wynn opened the “Mirage”, the city’s first mega-resort. Over the next two decades, the Strip underwent another transformation: Old casinos were blown up to make way for huge complexes that transport today’s Las Vegas tourist to ancient Rome, the Egyptians, Paris, Venice or New York in just 6 kilometers.
Here are a few more interesting facts about Las Vegas:
And even though we avoid cities as much as possible on our trip, we still had to take another quick look at all this craziness that is taken to the extreme here in Las Vegas. We only stayed a few hours, and before and after that there was a big dose of indescribable nature. Thus we made sure that our inner balance was not disturbed. Valley of Fire and Death Valley helped to digest the Las Vegas shock well. But just look for yourself in our new blog.
4 March 2023
The state of Utah is probably one of the most scenic in the USA. Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park are two of the most spectacular and visited parks. Even though we have been there many years ago, we wanted to visit them again.
But there are many more scenic features in Utah. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was totally unknown to us before we came to Utah. Grand Staircase–Escalante has been created about 275 million years ago. But it’s relatively new to us humans: It was the last part of the lower 48 United States to get cartographed and has been established a national monument only in 1996. The Monument now spans across more than 750.000 hectares of America’s public lands. Since 2000, numerous dinosaur fossils over 75 million years old have been found at Grand Staircase–Escalante.
Much of the sweeping Grand Staircase region is quite remote. Very few trailheads can be reached on paved roads.
The Escalante Canyons area is the most popular area of the monument. Especially the “slot canyons” are part of the appeal of hikes through the Escalante’s backcountry. “Slot canyons” are very narrow canyons and often have particularly beautiful shapes formed by rainwater trying to find its way through them. They can measure less than 1 metre across at the top but drop more than 30 metres to the floor of the canyon and they are often subject to flash flooding. It is important that one checks the weather situation before hiking them. In many of these narrow canyons, it can be a long way before a safe exit or rescue is possible.
It is said that Utah has the largest concentration of slot canyons in the world. The most famous slot canyon is probably Antelope Canyon. The “problem” with Antelope is that this canyon is commercially exploited. The prices for an hour-long organized tour were not feasible for us. We found the perfect alternative in the slot canyons of the Grand Staircase Escalante.
We did some really adventurous hiking through the Dry Fork Narrows, Peek-a-Boo Canyon and Spooky Canyon. You can have a look at all the wonderful pictures not only from the canyons but also from Zion & Bryce in our new blog.
23 February 2023
The Colorado River, one of the most important river in North America, rises in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and flows through seven states – Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California – over a length of 2,330 kilometers into the Gulf of California in northwestern Mexico. Because of the intensive development, the river is often called the “lifeline of the Southwest“.
For more than 1,600 kilometers of its course, the Colorado has cut a deep gorge. Each subsidiary river has cut another canyon, and thus the upper and middle portions of the Colorado basin are crisscrossed by a maze of deep gorges. The longest of these canyons is the spectacular Grand Canyon. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Marble Canyon and Glen Ganyon are some of the other canyons we visited.
Extensive economic development caused other spectacular changes in landscape. In 1936 the construction of Hoover Dam was finished and this created Lake Mead. In the mid-1960s Glen Canyon Dam was completed, impounding Lake Powell. Multiple other large projects on the Colorado itself and its tributaries have been completed. Laced with innumerable dams, both large and small, that impound the total flow of the Colorado and by increasingly severe competition for whatever small quantities of water might remain, the Colorado basin remains fraught with controversy.
When one sees the Colorado River where it empties into the Gulf of California in Mexico then one knows that the river is over-apportioned. At this point the river is only a trickle, and, at times, it is totally dry.
The Colorado River and the 40 million people who depend on it for their water supply are facing uncertain times. Due to decades of overuse and because of climate change, demand for the river’s water far exceeds its supply. In the next two years, Lakes Mead and Powell could reach water levels too low to flow through the dams and downstream to the communities and farmers who need the water.
Despite these obvious problems we were still able to admire the greatness that nature (and humans) created, on our trip across the Colorado plateau. If you want to see more pictures, please read our new blog.
13 February 2023
When reading in our guide book about Arizona we found some interesting information about a place called Sedona. We hadn’t really heard about Sedona before, but it seemed to be a special place.
Sedona’s worldwide reputation as a spiritual mecca has attracted some of the most amazing healers, artists and spiritual leaders. Sedona is considered by these people to be the perfect place for spiritual and personal enrichment of body and soul. From healing massages, yoga, spas and salons to hypnotherapy and retreats, everything the spiritual heart desires can be found in Sedona.
Among the red rocks, there are said to be so-called “vortexes.” Sedona vortexes are believed to be swirling energy centers that promote healing, meditation and self-exploration. They are places where the earth seems to be especially energized. Many people feel inspired, recharged or encouraged after visiting a vortex. Two of the most famous vortexes are located at Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock – each radiating its own energy. While hiking in this areas, we saw several people meditating, doing yoga, or performing other rituals.
We also tried to feel these powers, but perhaps it takes more patience and practice. In any case, the beautiful landscape and vibrant colors were once again impressive and we enjoyed hiking to the fullest. You can check out our new blog to read everything about it.
4 Feburary 2023
New Mexico is called the land of enchantment – and the chili capital of the world. As we strolled through Taos and Santa Fe, we saw chili everywhere. People hang dried red chiles on long strings along fences, on patios and on portals all over New Mexico. These strings, called “ristas”, are used for decoration, as a symbol of good luck and good health and as a constantly available supply of hot chile spice.
New Mexico is the largest producer of chiles in the United States and they are used abundantly in virtually all dishes. Chiles range from the sweet bell pepper to the fiery hot habenero. They are considered a vegetable when green, and a spice when dried. For hundreds of years, people in Mew Mexico have perfected the art of growing exquisite chiles on the rocky, rugged soil. Several hundred varieties of chiles are grown here, including New Mexican (green and red), cayenne, and jalapeño. Chiles are an important source of vitamins and many essential nutrients. A green chile pod can contain six times as much vitamin C as a Florida orange. As pods turn red, the vitamin A content increases. Then they contain twice of the vitamin A of a carrot. All the more reasons to eat chile!!
We also admired the adobe architecture in New Mexico and we experienced a bit of the old charm of the Route 66. Read our new blog for more information and photo’s.
Our latest video tells our adventures in the incredible Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Park. We were amazed by the natural wonders and wildlife that can be found there.
30 January 2023
And again the landscape changed on our journey through the USA. Almost every day we were immersed in different landscapes, we felt like we were driving in fast forward, so often the savannahs changed to mountains, to farmlands, to ranges of hills, to badlands, back to mountains and now to desert.
The highest sand mountains in North America, a sandpit of epic proportions, the entire dune field covers 77 square kilometres and the highest dune rises 229 metres. Nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Great Sand Dunes have formed and sifted over billions of years – the result of the unique wind conditions in the San Luis Valley.
Before that, we visited the unique dwellings of the pueblos on the Mesa Verde (the green table). See and read all about it in our new blog.
We posted a new video, too. This one is about our first natural highlight in the USA, the Glacier National Park with its beautiful mountains, immersed in autumn colours. We did some great hiking there and even found icebergs in the middle of the mountains.
19 January 2023
Since our last leg of the journey had revolved around the history and fate of the Sioux around the Black Hills, we were now on the road again in the mountains. Besides the already known Rocky Mountains, we also visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which was unknown to us before. Winter had finally arrived and we were hiking in snowy surroundings. In between, we mingled with the basketball fans and experienced a live NBA game in Denver. You can find the story and the photos in our new blog.
In our latest video we say goodbye to our first country on this trip, Canada, where we had traveled 4,5 months and had enjoyed nature and wildlife even more than expected.
7 January 2023
“Die Söhne der grossen Bärin” is one of my favourite books from my childhood that I have read countless times. The six-volume novel by Lieselotte Welskopf-Henrich tells the story of the Indian boy Harka, who fights for survival in the Black Hills with his “bear band” from the Sioux-Oglala tribe. Although the story and most of the characters in it are fictional, Welskopf-Henrich’s novel cycle is based on scientific findings. Thus, real-life characters from history, such as Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse or Buffalo Bill, also appear in it. For her meticulously incorporated historical background of the novels, the author used sources that were highly regarded as ethnological works and travelled to several reservations in North America herself.
One of the main characters in this book is Crazy Horse, first Harka’s enemy, later teacher, friend and comrade-in-arms against the whites. Crazy Horse or Tasunka Witko (Lakota language) was born around 1840 as a member of the Oglala Lakota. It was a time when cultures clashed, when land became a deadly issue of contention and when the traditional way of life of the indigenous people was threatened and suppressed.
Even at a young age, Crazy Horse was already a great warrior. His bravery and skill in battle were well known among the Lakota and he became one of their most important leaders. In 1876, Crazy Horse, along with Sitting Bull, led a group of Lakota warriors against Custer’s Seventh US Cavalry Battalion in the Battle of Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand.
In 1877, Crazy Horse went to Fort Robinson, Nebraska for negotiations under the flag of truce. He was killed there by a soldier on 5 September 1877.
I have always wanted to see with my own eyes the home of the heroes of my childhood and already in 2000 I had planned a trip to the northwest of the USA, which unfortunately did not come about at the time. If you like, you can join me in our new blog on my journey through the homeland of Harka and Crazy Horse. We were visiting the sites of their struggle, victories and ultimate defeat in the states of Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska.
We also have a new video for you to watch, about the magical trees in Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island.
Happy New Year 2023!!
28 December 2022
Well over half of the world’s geysers and hydrothermal phenomena are in Yellowstone National Park. Hundreds of species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians have been documented here. Grizzly bears, wolves, Wapiti elk and the largest and oldest free-ranging herd of bison live in this park.
Yellowstone was the first national park in the USA, enacted by President Grant on 1 March 1872, and is also widely regarded as the world’s first national park.
For thousands of years before Yellowstone became a national park, it was a place where Native Americans seasonally hunted, fished, gathered plants and used the hydrothermal waters for religious and medicinal purposes.
Trappers and mountain men came to the area in the first half of the 19th century, and there were numerous reports of boiling mud, steaming rivers and petrified trees, but most of these accounts were thought to be myth at the time. In 1869 the first official expedition took place and in 1871 the Hayden Expedition laid the final and decisive foundation for the protection of the area.
During the 1870s and 1880s, Native American tribes were effectively excluded from the national park. A treaty was negotiated in 1868, under which the indigenous people ceded their lands but retained the right to hunt in Yellowstone. This treaty though was never ratified and the government denied their claims.
These days 27 tribes are formally associated with Yellowstone. They request to participate in resource management and decision-making, to conduct ceremonies in the park, and to collect plants and minerals for traditional uses.
The railway arrived in 1883, making it easier for tourists to visit Yellowstone. Visitors in these early years faced poor roads and limited services, and most access into the park was on horse or via stagecoach.
Nowadays, 150 years after being declared a national park, 4 million people visit the park each year. We have been two of them and we were amazed by the natural wonders and the wildlife. You can read our story and watch our photo’s in our new blog which also contains a couple of amazing days in neighbouring Grand Teton National Park.
By the way, did you already watch our latest video about the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island?
We wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy New Year 2023 with lots of love and happy travelling.
20 December 2022
On our journey through Canada and Alaska we had come across many former gold mining areas. But all that glitters is not gold. There is another, very valuable precious metal, and it is unearthed in the Silver Valley in Idaho, which was one of our first stops after crossing the border from Canada.
From the earth into our lives – silver is not only used for coins and jewellery, but is also an essential component of solar panels, wind turbines and smartphones.
Did you know that silver also has antibacterial properties and is therefore used in bandages to treat wounds, to purify water, in clothing to regulate body heat and in dental amalgam?
And so, once again, we learned something on our journey. After our stroll through the silver town of Wallace, we went back into nature. You can see how beautiful autumn was in Glacier National Park in our new blog.
11 December 2022
As we write our last blog about Canada and our great time on Vancouver Island and in Vancouver, we are currently on our way to the Mexican border in our camper. In three days we will start a new chapter on this journey, we will dig out our currently still sparse Spanish skills and plunge into the adventure in Latin America. Our first destination is Baja California, where we hope to find sun, beaches, deserts, cacti and whales. From now on, we will no longer count the bears we encounter, but the police-checks along the way. We will eat tacos and enchilladas instead of pasta. We will still enjoy the beautiful nature and maybe from now on we will stroll through one or the other beautiful colonial town again.
People here are slowly getting into the Christmas spirit, the decorations are getting more colourful and the Christmas lights are getting brighter. We’re not really in the festive mood ourselves yet, so let’s see what awaits us at Christmas and New Year in Mexico. We are curious and excited.
4 December 2022
Why is tree hugging good for us? Research shows that spending time in forests and near trees has real and long-term benefits, such as stress reduction, improving the immune system, lowering blood pressure and faster recovery from illness or trauma.
The giant trees in the Pacific Rim National Park were perfect for hugging, even though our arms didn’t come close to reaching around the trunk. It still felt wonderful and the atmosphere in these almost mystical forests was unique.
We hugged a lot of trees, before we went to Nanaimo to meet a very interesting, kind and inspiring couple, with whom we spent a few days in their beautiful home. Please read more about it in our new blog.
Although we had already left Alaska and were back in Canada, we had another brief but very impressive reunion with this state. On the eastern edge of Misty Fjords National Monument lies Hyder/Alaska, which is so isolated from the rest of Alaska that its 60 residents depend almost entirely on canadian Stewart. Hyder residents change their clocks to Pacific Standard Time (not Alaska Standard Time), use Stewart’s area code and send their children to Canadian schools. All this can make a trip here seem like an international affair. But one that was definitely worth it, as you can see in our new video.
27 November 2022
After we had started our journey in Canada in May at the Atlantic Ocean and had driven over the Dempster Highway to the Arctic Ocean, we now reached Canada’s third ocean that bordered the country in the west, the Pacific Ocean. It was nice to be back at the sea and especially with nice weather, after our time in Alaska had been so rainy. That meant we could get the towels out again and enjoy ourselves in the water. But there was much more to do and see on the Sunshine Coast and on Vancouver Island and Quadra Island. Whale watching, hiking and learning everything about a Potlach. Read about it in our new blog.
In our latest video you can see our bear encounters in Valdez and us walking on a glacier in America’s biggest National Park Wrangell-St. Elias. We hope you enjoy it!
18 November 2022
Today a short update about our trip. In the meantime we have been in the United States for almost 7 weeks. Our original departure date would have been November 4, but fortunately it worked out in the second attempt with a new 90-day visa at the border between Canada and the USA. So now we theoretically have until the end of December to travel on to Mexico. We are enjoying the time in the States more than expected and are glad we got the extra weeks. In the meantime, we have arrived in Nevada, having already traveled through 10 states, and we are amazed every day by the incredibly diverse nature and landscape. We will stay a few more weeks and after the last wintry weeks with often sub-zero temperatures at night, we will seek out the warmth of California. By Christmas at the latest, we will probably be at the Baja California in Mexico.
In our most recent blog we drove back into the mountains close to Vancouver after crossing northern British-Columbia. Did you already check out our latest Alaska video about the Kenai Peninsula?
7 November 2022
On our trip through British Columbia, we were able to admire the masterful totem poles of various First Nation tribes in many places. We were incredibly impressed by these expressive symbols of their culture and craftsmanship. Totem poles are monuments created by Native people of the Pacific Northwest to represent and commemorate ancestors, stories, people or events.
Totem poles are usually made of red cedar, a malleable wood relatively common in the Pacific Northwest. Most totem poles depict creatures or heraldic animals that mark a family’s lineage and confirm the powerful rights and privileges the family possessed. Common figures on totem poles include the raven (symbol of the Creator), the eagle (symbol of peace and friendship), the killer whale (symbol of strength), the thunderbird, the beaver, the bear, the wolf, and the frog.
Totem poles are between 3 and 18 meters high, but some can reach over 20 meters. The colors used for painting the totem poles are mainly black, red, white and blue-green. Carving a totem pole requires not only artistic skill, but also a deep understanding of cultural history and forest ecology. Before a cedar tree is cut for a totem pole, many First Nations communities on the coast perform a ceremony of gratitude and respect in honor of the tree. To the artist, each tree is like a person; it has its own personality and uniqueness.
Apart from bears on totem poles we were extremly lucky to also witness grizzly bears in action at the Fish Creek in Hyder/Alaska. Have a look at the incredible images in our new blog.
29 October 2022
A headline on the front page of the “Seattle Intelligencer”on July 17, 1897, triggered the greatest gold rush in North American history. Thousands dropped everything and set off on foot, on horseback or by steamship to the north of Canada.
A popular route led from the port in Skagway over the mountains to Dawson City, the fortune seekers had to cross the 1067 meter high Chilkoot Pass. About 100,000 people crossed this trail, about which Charlie Chaplin later made his film “Gold”. Jack London also processed his own experiences in the book “Alaska Kid”. The hike had to take place in winter in order to reach the Yukon River in time for the ice to break up. In addition, it was obligatory for the gold seekers to be able to present equipment and provisions of one ton for a whole year. They had to undertake the hellish ascent to the pass up to 30 times, heavily packed. The up to 45 degree steep climb over ice steps was also called the “antechamber to hell” at that time. Many men gave up on the way and returned home, less than half reached the Klondike after three months.
We crossed the mountains parallel to the Chilkoot Trail by car to the border at White Pass and could – probably in contrast to the hikers at that time – enjoy the beautiful panorama of the surrounding mountains and lakes and were even allowed to admire the northern lights.
Read more about it in our new blog. Our latest video reports about our visit to Denali National Park in Alaska.
19 October 2022
During our time in Alaska, we saw a myriad of seaplanes. Be it a scenic flight over Denali or Wrangell St. Elias National Park, grizzly spotting in Kodiak and Katmai, or the cargo flight to McCarthy bringing mail and groceries. Alaska would not function without its bush pilots. They bring equipment, mail and medicines, fly patients to hospitals, search for missing persons or take explorers to remote areas.
Anchorage is home to the largest seaplane airport in the world, with up to 1000 takeoffs and landings on a busy day. We saw runways on the side of the road and private planes in the backyard, every small town has an airfield and many people in Alaska own their own plane. We thought about this experience ourselves, but the prices were too high for our travel budget. Nevertheless, we found it fascinating to watch the many small airplanes in front of beautiful mountain scenery.
We have reached America’s largest national park Wrangell St. Elias without a plane and were able to watch black bears eating salmon in Valdez. You can find the story and photos here in the new blog. Don’t forget to also read about our time on Kenai Peninsula in the “United States of America” Travelblog.
By the way, we saw our first grizzly on the Dempster Highway and our Arctic Ocean adventure can be watched in the new video.
6 October 2022
What little we knew about salmon before was, that it comes from Alaska (or sometimes Norway). We had seen the pictures and movies about jumping salmon that somehow swim up the river instead of drifting with the current and occasionally is caught by a grizzly. We have learned a lot more about salmon on our trip through the Yukon, but especially in Alaska. And it is fascinating, somehow sad, but also simply a miracle of nature.
There is not one but five species of salmon in Alaska. The largest, King or Chinook salmon can weigh up to 50 kg. Salmon eggs are laid in freshwater streams typically at high latitudes. First they stay for six months up to three years in their natal stream, after that the majority then migrates to the ocean, where they stay for up to 5 years. When they become sexually mature, they return to their birthplace. Salmon can make amazing journeys, sometimes moving hundreds of miles upstream against strong currents and rapids to reproduce. Some species travel up to 1400 kilometer and climb more than 2000 meter on this journey, while not eating anything. This exhausting journey also means the immediate end. The salmon will die after spawning.
We haven’t caught any salmon ourselves, but we have watched the whole spectacle of salmon. Their struggle to get back home, their somehow tragic end on the hook of a fisherman, the claws of a bear or the beak of eagles and seagulls. The cycle of life in nature.
Watch our new video about our trip on the Alaska Highway to the Yukon and read our new blog about the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, where everything is about fish!
28 September 2022
In the meantime we have arrived in Vancouver and our time in Canada is coming to an end. Soon the exciting moment will come at the border, where the question will be clarified whether we will get another 90 days to travel through the USA to Mexico.
When we entered Alaska at the beginning of August, we have already entered the territory of the USA and since then the countdown has actually already started, which means that we need to arrive in Mexico at 4th of November. Now we hope for good-natured border officials so that we have more than 4 weeks time.
Either way, Alaska was a milestone on our journey and what we have experienced in the first week there in Denali National Park, you can read in our new blog.
A little further back are our adventures in the Rocky Mountains. If you haven’t done already, you can find out what we did in Kootenay and Yoho National Park and how beautiful Banff and Jasper Nationalpark are.
17 September 2022
Dawson City was the capital of the Klondike Gold Rush which brought around 100.000 prospectors from all over the world to the Klondike region of Yukon between 1896 and 1899. Gold was first discovered in the summer of 1896 and when the news reached the United States, the run up north began.
One of the men that had big dreams of striking it rich in Dawson in 1897 was 21 year old John Griffith Chaney from California, better known as Jack London. I guess most of you know at least his name or have read one of his books. I remember the books from my childhood standing in the book shelf in my parent’s house. He did not become rich and his health suffered strongly from the harsh circumstances in the Klondike region. But after he had returned home with empty pockets he started writing and created a couple of his most famous novels about his experiences during the Gold Rush – “The call of the wild” and ”White fang”. He was one of the first American authors to become an international celebrity and ultimately became very wealthy, not from finding gold but from writing.
There is a museum about his life and work in Dawson City and it is one of the places full of history in this intriguing town. We’ve quite enjoyed our stay there and it was a great place to start and finish our adventurous drive to the Arctic Ocean. Read more about this in our new blog.
9 September 2022
Having already had 12,000 kilometers across Canada on the teller, arriving in Dawson Creek meant the official arrival at the “Panamerican Highway” for us. The road that made us decide to make this trip and that connects North America with South America.
The origin of this road is in Central America, where Mexico was joined with Panama. It is estimated that the entire network of roads now consists of 45,000 kilometers from Fairbanks, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina.
The last section was constructed during World War II. From a military point of view, it was considered necessary to better protect the unguarded Alaska. America and Canada felt increasingly threatened by Japan and the Soviet Union in 1940. In February 1942, ground is broken. Approximately 11,000 soldiers work on the so-called “Alcan Highway”. At temperatures of up to minus 20 degrees in the most impassable terrain, later tormented by myriads of mosquitoes, on mossy permafrost soil, man and machines suffer. Many soldiers have accidents, but after 8 months and 12 days, 2,237 kilometers of road are built. The Alaska Highway, as the road is called in 1948 after its opening for non-military use, was born, from Dawson Creek in the ‘south’ in Canada to Delta Junction in the ‘north’ in Alaska.
For decades, the road was an adventurous rough gravel road and the only connection to the Yukon Territory. Today the highway is paved, but it still leads through deserted regions. The asphalt of the Alaska Highway is largely of excellent quality. Especially when you consider the weather conditions it faces especially in the winter. To maintain this quality, a lot of maintenance is needed which we witnessed from time to time during our ride. We passed several larger and smaller construction sites where sometimes longer waiting times were inevitable.
What else happened on our way to Whitehorse, the capital of “Canada’s True North”, on the trail of the adventurer and gold seekers, you can read in our new blog.
30 August 2022
Although we both love to travel by train, we are not “rail fans” or otherwise particularly interested in railroads. However, during our crossing of Canada we often noticed the endless freight trains of the Canadian Pacific Railway running parallel to the Trans-Canada Highway. It is not uncommon to see these trains stretch to more than 4 kilometers, weighing up to 18,000 tons. The railroad line in the Rocky Mountains is impressive and in Yoho National Park we were able to see with our own eyes how one of these trains struggled at snail’s pace for a whole 26 minutes through the upper of the two spiral tunnels over the Kicking Horse Pass.
How do you connect such a gigantic country from east to west and also overcome the Rocky Mountains? This question was asked after the founding of Canada in 1867. Work on the Trans-Canada Railroad began in 1881 and Calgary was reached in 1883. It took another two years and untold effort to build the track through the steep Rocky Mountains. In 1886 the first train left Montréal for the Pacific. The construction of the railroad played a decisive role in the settlement of western Canada, brought farmers and gold seekers, but drove away the bison herds and the indigenous peoples who had resisted the construction of the line until the very end.
There is not only freight traffic; even today you can also make this long journey as a passenger. The distance of 5000 kilometers from Toronto to Vancouver is thereby covered in 4 days. With our camper it took us a little longer to get to the Rockies, but we have no hurry. What else we have experienced in this fantastic mountain world, you can read in our new blog!
21 August 2022
Before European contact there were around 30 million bison roaming the Great Plains of North-America. They were extremely important to indigenous people, supplying food, clothing, shelter, tools and more. When Europeans arrived on the prairies, a war against the bison ensued. By 1880, there were only a few hundred bison left in North America.
Nowadays bison have made a comeback and are no longer threatened with extinction. After 120 years of absence, in 2005 Plains Bison were re-introduced into the Grasslands National Park. Today the park manages a population of 500 – 650 animals. In our new blog “The big skies” we will tell you more about our visit to this beautiful national park and its flora and fauna.
How we got there, all the way from the forests and lakes of Ontario to the prairies of Manitoba on the Trans-Canada Highway, you can watch in our new video.
13 August 2022
In the meantime, we’ve arrived in Alaska and we’ve already run across a moose or two here. Our experiences with moose and bears in the Canadian province of Manitoba, on the other hand, were already a while ago. But these were particularly exciting and you can read in this blog what else we have experienced between endless wheat fields, 30 meter high sand dunes and the animal-rich Riding Mountain National Park.
8 August 2022
It’s been a while, we’ve been traveling in northern British-Colombia and the Yukon for the last few weeks and that’s when towns become scarce and so do internet options. Now there is a new blog about our trip to the west of Canada on the Trans-Canada Highway.
On this trip we also visited Manitoulin Island, an island which is inhabited to a large extent by indigenous people. Our experiences there and other experiences on our journey so far have prompted us to write an article on the topic of “Indigenous Peoples of Canada”.
For German click here.
For Dutch click here.
Also for the film fans among you there is something new, our video about our (animal) experiences on water and land in the two big provincial parks Algonquin and Killarney can be found here.
24 July 2022
Beaver or bear?
In our new blog we will tell you about our exciting experiences in Killarney Provincial Park.
As in many other places on our trip, we were able to find a wonderful place to spend the night. How we find such places, we explain to you in this video.
We hope you like it!
17 July 2022
Chip ‘n’ Dale
Since we are travelling through Canada, we are almost daily harassed by hundreds of annoying mosquitoes and pursued by them on our hikes. You have probably already seen this in the blogs or in one of our videos. But today we would like to tell you about another, much more pleasant, really cute hiking companion…
Already in Martina’s garden in Great Village they welcomed us to Canada. On all our tours they are present; we usually hear their warning calls before we even get to see them. Most of the time they are very well camouflaged, then we do spot them, but before we have our camera “ready to shoot” they have already scurried across the path and disappeared again. In contrast to the squirrels, which climb up a tree quickly and are still easy to see with their bushy tails, these little forest dwellers disappear in a flash in the bushes or in one of their holes in the ground.
The little chipmunks also amused us on our hikes on the Gaspé Peninsula. Which (bigger) animals we saw there, you can see in our new video. You can also find our latest blog and photos here.
10 July 2022
All Canadians know Tim Hortons, 92% of residents between the ages of 18 and 34 have visited Tim Hortons at least once in their livetime. For some, it’s their morning coffee-to-go or breakfast burger with egg and bacon, and the line at the drive-through is always substantial. For others, it’s the daily meeting place with friends to chat about the good old days. There are nearly 5,000 restaurants worldwide, and in Canada you’ll find them at most gas stations, in cities, in commercial areas or along the highway.
For us, “Timmies” means wifi and thus working on the website, checking our emails, bank statements, Whatsapp messages and the regular video call with our families at home. And all this usually with a “dark roasted filtered coffee” and a “roasted hazelnut cold brew”, of which only 3 people even know the blend and roasting receipe of the main ingredient.
Tim Horton was a Canadian hockey player, named one of the “100 greatest NHL players in history” in 2017, who founded the company in 1964 but died in a car accident in 1974 at the age of only 44. 40 years later and worth $11 billions, Tim Hortons accompanies not only most Canadians, but a great many Overlanders on their journey across Canada.
And if you want to see what we were working on during our last coffee break, check out our new blog and images.
3 July 2022
Just a few thoughts….
A few things that we have noticed on our trip in Canada so far:
Canadians are really very calm and friendly people. We had numerous random conversations with strangers that approach us, everybody is very welcoming and curious.
Canadians love to mow their lawns. Their houses are built on big properties (there is a lot of land and there are not many people in it compared to how we live in Europe). Mostly they have just a huge piece of gras around the house and they are constantly driving around in their little “mowing machines” likely to compete with their neighbours about who has the best “golf course lawn”.
The roads in Canada are worse than we had expected. Many roads – even the highways – are not very well maintained and there are even, not only a few potholes on the highway. That might have several reasons, we can only guess. Maybe the climate is too rough, from 40 degrees in summer until -25 in winter may not be good for the asphalt. Maybe they do not have the money for maintenance as they are not paying any road/vehicle tax. The latter is also the reason why so many can afford driving these huge and heavy 4×4 pick up cars.
We are always the slowest car, on any kind of road. Even if we drive a little over the speed limit, everybody – also the big trucks – are overtaking us. There are fines for speeding, up to 300 CAD, but nobody seems to care and maybe there is no speed control?
There are more things of course, we will tell you at a later stage. Some things you might also notice by reading our new blog or watching our new video.
26 June 2022
Check out our third video about our adventures in Kejimkujik National Park here!
22 June 2022
Nous sommes en voyage!
We have finally left Nova Scotia after spending almost 3 weeks in this Atlantic region.
Right now we ‘pratiquer’ our French as we are in French speaking Quebec at the moment!
Read the new blog about our last week on the Gaspé Peninsula right now!
Also we would like to remind you to have a look at our Statistics and Route pages for up-to-date info about our adventure!
14 June 2022
We’ve made a video about the days in Halifax and about finally picking up our camper. Check it out here.
Um unsere Webseite in Deutsch lesen zu können, kann man rechts unten die Sprache anpassen. Ook de Nederlanders kunnen rechts onderaan op de pagina de taal aanpassen.
2 June 2022
We are reunited with our camper, everything worked out well yesterday! Now we are on the road in Nova Scotia with our own van, how wonderful is that!
Check out our adventures with preparing this trip and the first week in Canada in our new video!
31 May 2022
It’s about to begin!
As you can read on our blog, we have been through a few things already. Every day we try to shift down a gear in order to enjoy doing nothing. At the moment this only works partly, but maybe this will improve when we finally travel around with the camper!
Speaking of the camper…it has now arrived in Canada! Even though our Airbnb is around the corner from the harbor, we totally missed the boat coming in and going out. We tried to get as close to the harbor area as possible to get a proof photo. As you can see, our car is in good company with about 20 other RVs!
We will try to pick up the camper tomorrow and get ready for hopefully great miles together!
21 May 2022
Get set, ready, go!
The last few days have been hectic. The whole house had to be thoroughly cleaned and everything tidied up. You think you don’t have a lot of stuff, but secretly you have saved quite a lot over the years.
What do you throw away, what goes in the camper and what goes on the plane? It was a lot of planning until the last moment!
The stress of Schiphol Airport is now also behind us and we drink one last coffee on Dutch soil. There is no way back 🙂 The sun is shining so nothing can stop us anymore! Get set, ready, go!!
16 May 2022
Port of Antwerp
On 16 May, the time had finally come…we would bring our car to the port of Antwerp today!
On this day, we got up early in the morning to get ahead of the morning rush-hour traffic from Maassluis with two cars. At 8 o’clock we were already standing in front of the gate of the Euroterminal where the official part of the day began. Since only the owner/driver of the vehicle is allowed to enter the port area, Romy was on her own. We were prepared for the process to take about two to three hours, but after the last preparations and checks Romy was outside the gate again after about an hour and we drove back home…The car is on its way to Halifax with the Atlantic Star leaving Antwerpen 19th May…we still have to wait six more days!
Update April 2022
Who would have expected this – not one year, but two years of waiting and postponing this trip. Two years have passed, the year is 2022 and finally we can set the countdown again until we leave for Canada. Countries have opened up and our van is ready to go on the Atlantic Sea freighter “ATLANTIC STAR”, planned departure 13th May in Antwerpen. Unfortunately we are not allowed to join our van as we had originally planned. The shipping company decided to not take passengers anymore on their vessels. We will follow by plane two weeks later, ETA 21st May 2022. Right now we are busy with the last preparations and enjoying some family & friends time in Dresden.
Update July 2020
I am writing this input on the day we were looking forward to so much. We had booked a room and a place for the van on this particular day on the Atlantic Sea freighter to cross the ocean. Instead I drove to the small Dutch village Zalk spending the night along the river IJssel changing the countdown settings further into the future…
The work has been done and basically we are ready to go. Waiting for winter time to be over and the sun taking over starting a new spring season in Canada. And of course Corona will just be a subject for new history books…
We are aiming for April 2021…
After one year of preparations we obviously are looking forward to the day that the Atlantic Sea freighter will take us from Antwerp to Halifax. Hours of organizing and planning will be left behind us and we will settle down, reading a book on an 11-day-long cruise across the Atlantic Ocean, until we reach the city of Halifax on the Nova Scotia peninsula…Canadian soil…
Feel free to visit our website once in a while to check out, what we are up to. We would love to keep you up to date.
Let the journey begin…but until then we’ve got some work to do!
Take care and see you soon!
Read our Preparations and Corona reports.