That's it! We are finally off to somewhere far from London. We'll put updates and photos so you can travel with us ☺️ Ça y est! On est enfin parti loin de Londres. On va mettre des photos régulièrement pour que vous voyagez avec nous! 😊
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  • Day190

    Sequoia National Park

    June 24 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    We left the coast and head back inland for our final stop on our USA roadtrip, and what a place to end on, the Sequoia National Park, the third national park to be inducted. (And we promise this is the last post with lots of trees)

    We started at the northern end of the park, winding our way up to the Big Stump grove, so called for the huge Tree stumps that are a left over relic of the logging days. One of the biggest, nicknamed the Mark Twain stump, which was one one of the biggest trees in the world at 91 meters high and 28m in circumference. It took 2 men 13 days to cut it down back in the late 1800's, all so they could put pieces of it in a museum (apparently one piece is in the British museum in London). We went on to see the third largest tree in the world, named the General Grant. Not the highest or the wider but the this largest tree by volume. Pretty epic.

    After a very dark night in our campsite up in the hills we rise early and did a solid 15km hike around the Giants Tree Grove, not bad considering we were at 2200m altitude. We stopped by the most famous tree in the aream, the General Sherman tree, officially the Number 1 largest tree in the world. Honestly it didn't look any bigger than the Grant tree but we'll take their word for it. They were doing some controlled burns in the area so our route had to take a detour via a shuttle bus to make it down to the Big Trees Museum, a bit of a niche museum to be honest but it had some pretty good exhibits.

    Our campsite wasn't busy and we saw a few deer at dusk eating a tasty looking bush nearby. We are in bear country so they couldn't have eaten our food as it was safely stored in a bear proof box. We've also learnt from warning documents hanged around the campsite what to do if you come across a bear, don't run and shout "Get out of here bear" 🤭

    A quiet night back at the van and a few rhum and soda to celebrate the last night we'll spend with her. She's been a solid companion and seen us do just over 4100 miles (6600 km). We'll miss her but I'm happy to be back in a hotel room with a hot shower 🚿.
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    Claire Huitric

    Funny!

    Claire Huitric

    The tree seemed to be carved!

    Claire Huitric

    That's impressive indeed!

     
  • Day187

    Montery, Carmel and the Big Sur

    June 21 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    The coast line south of San Francisco almost all the way to LA is part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary which means there is an abundance of amazing marine life. Just south of the town of Monterey, the landscpe becomes a 100 miles of rugged craggy coastline with beaches, waterfalls and great sea cliffs. Amazing scenery as long as the coastal fog doesn't get too thick and hide it's natural beauty.

    Our first stop out of San Francisco was to see some more of the amazing Red Wood trees. Unfortunately the main Red Wood park is still closed following a forest fire in 2020 but luckily for us our campsite for the night was in the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, so we took a very scenic walk and spent the night surrounded by the natural giants.

    The following day we headed down to the town of Monterey, an old town which was once the Sardine capital of the world in the 30s. Over fishing and the decline of the Sardines meant Monterey had to reinvent it self, turning the old canary factory and warehouses into a world class aquarium and creating one of the biggest Marine Sanctuaries in North America. We saw some pretty huge Tuna, Leopard Sharks and some rescued Sea Otters.

    Continuing down the coast we stopped for ice-cream at the picturesque town of Carmel-by-the-Sea , a quaint well manicured little place which seems to ouze wealth. Lots of expensive art galleries and restaurants but some very charming and peculiar little houses. It looks like everyone could choose the style of house they wanted from Normandy cottages to Tuscany village!

    We spent the night at the northern end of the Big Sur in a campsite near a little River, very cute but the mosquitos were in full flight. An early morning saw us up and on the Big Sur in time to see the morning mists roll in. It gave the natural bridges and beachside forests of Pfeiffer beach a rather spooky feel.

    We continued south past some amazing cliffs and a waterfall which flows right into the sea at high tide and made it down to Point Piedras Blanca's beach, famous for its colony of Elephant seals which stay here year round. Most were content to laze in the warm sand, once they had found a decent spot, but a few of the younger males were practicing their fighting technique in preparation for the upcoming mating season. It looked like hard work.

    We eventually made it to Morro Bay at the southern end of the Big Sur and the end of the Marine Sanctuary, the fog had rolled back in so the famous Morro rock which marks the start of the natural harbour was hidden and we couldn't see it's full glory. The beach is flanked by sand dunes and the sand was very warm so we took a walk and managed to see a sea otter playing amoungst the kelp, glad we finally got to see one in the wild.
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    John Humberstone

    Wasn't it Carmel where Clint Eastwood was mayor?

    James Travels

    yup, back in the 80s, they had a big picture of him on the road in. Very strange little place

    Claire Huitric

    Good try🤣

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  • Day184

    San Francisco

    June 18 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair 🎶
    After a long time in small cities, we almost dread to stay in a big city for a few days, however we fell for San Francisco. It was maybe the famous art deco bridge with stunning sunshine, the blooming flowers on the streets, the cute seals and sea lions warming up on the docks or the street festivals we stumbled on to, without even looking for them, with live music and a chill atmosphere, or maybe a combination of it all that made us appreciate this big city.

    We started on the North Shore at the Muir Woods, a redwood forest with some of the tallest trees in the world to make you feel very small, then took a scenic drive to one of the oldest bay lighthouses with fantastic views of the city and the famous bridge. We paid our toll and drove across accompanied by Armelles fantastic singing.

    The next day we hit the classic tourist spots, the winding steep Lombard Street, the charms and wildlife of Pier 39, the fearsome jailhouse Alcatraz and took in the smells and sounds of the ChinaTown and little Italy districts.
    Our second day was a sunny Sunday so we walked around Golden Gate Park, a huge park where everyone can find their liking: BBQ for birthdays, cycling on the no car roads, walking dogs, enjoy some art in the museum, play with remote control boats on the lakes, there was even a polo field but it wasn't used. We just walked it all and enjoyed the atmosphere. After the park we continued walking amongst neighbourhoods more for tourists with hippie painted houses just for fun and alleys with murals that depicted messages for equality, peace amongst others. A short bus ride and we found ourselves in the Latin neighborhood, very different vibes, with music and a lot of people on the streets.
    It felt nice to be in a big walkable town again, made us both miss home just a little...
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    Armelle Travelling

    It was to give you an idea that it wasn't obvious to spot them! 😀

    Claire Huitric

    wouaouh

    Claire Huitric

    good music!! At least for my generation 😘

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  • Day181

    Yosemite

    June 15 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Yosemite was the third National Park to be inducted, and what a wonder it is. Laying in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, Yosemite was formed around 11 million when the fault was forced upwards creating deep and narrow granite valleys. About one million years ago glaciers formed at higher elevations which eventually melted and moved downslope, cutting and sculpting the U-shaped valleys we see today, rich with flora and fauna on the valley floor.

    We walked down into the valley to loop around the bottom of Yosemite falls and then a very steep path to see the top half of the falls, which is apparently the tallest waterfall in North America. Pretty impressive and when the wind gets going it blows all the water off course. After lunch we walked further down the valley to sit in the El Capitan meadows and watch the climbers up on the Nose, one of the climbing Holy Grail routes for those who like Big Walls. It's a grueling 3-5 day climb which means sleeping on little improvised platforms attached to the wall. You have to take all your food and water up with you and bring it all back down as well. Not for the faint hearted. We sat for about an hour and could see a few groups slowly making their way up.

    Our second day in Yosemite we headed over to the Tuolumne Meadows. Sitting on a plateau above the Yosemite Valley it is a little cooler and the Alpine meadows have some stunning scenery. We took a trail up to Dog lake and hardly saw any other people the entire 10km trip, very different from our day down in the valley. It was the first time that we were a bit scared to meet a hungry bear on the walk! We managed to get a view down into the Valley from above to see a different aide of the iconic Half Dome mountain.
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    Gaëlle Huitric

    i saw just one..n

    Gaëlle Huitric

    seems very happy indeed in a place like that I would be happy too 😀

    Jessica Duran

    I can only see one for sure. Can't tell if others are there or if it's just shadow.

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  • Day179

    Lake Tahoe

    June 13 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    The second deepest lake in the USA, took us 2 days to drive there from Yellowstone, nearly 800 miles and it's cold, Lake Tahoe. The second day of driving was the worst one of our trip, it was really windy and we had to cross the desert. Windy means that we need to accelerate hard even downhill to go to 60miles/hour which means that our Aircon would stop working! It was tough but once we arrived at lake Tahoe it was all worth it.

    The lake itself is really quite pretty, with different shades of blues and greens. It is surrounded by mountains and we hadn't realised how high it was, at 1900m in winter it becomes a ski resort. Despite the skis being packed away and the Jetski coming out the cold was a constant reminder of our altitude, dropping to below 0 at night (no electricity in our campsite, so no comfort heater!) The town in South Lake Tahoe straddles the border of California and Nevada and the dividing line was quite obvious, large casino hotels on one side, and bicycle lanes on the other.

    We had a nice time at lake Tahoe, walking in the town and chilling by the lake, but mostly we were recharging our batteries, for the next step of our trip!
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  • Day176

    Grand Teton

    June 10 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    We headed south out of Yellowstone to its neighbouring National Park Grand Teton. The mountain of the same name is the highest peak in the Teton range standing at 4199m rising above pristine lakes and Sage Brush plains. Formed between six and nine million years ago by the moving Teton fault, the western edge was pushed up to form the Teton Range mountains while the eastern edge was pushed down to form the Jackson Hole Valley and lake. It is very unusual to see a mountain range which seems to grow straight up out of the lakes and makes them look even more magnificent.

    We took a walk around Jenny lake through the Pine forests and into the foothills of the mountain range, up to the Hidden Falls and a lakeside viewpoint called Inspiration Point. Not sure how inspired we felt but it was very blissful and calming sitting below the mountains looking out over the valley.

    We also managed to make a stop at the most photographed Barn in America, according to the Park Rangers, an old abandoned Mormon Barn with a view. More Bison and Antelope roam the flats and bears and Moose can be found down by the River, although we didn't see any today.

    We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in the National Parks of Wyoming a vast and diverse place of incredible wildlife and geological wonders.
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    Claire Huitric

    C'est magnifique!!

    Gaëlle Huitric

    still snow on the mountain !!

    Armelle Travelling

    Yes! We felt it during the nights when temperatures reached 0! 🥶

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  • Day174

    Yellowstone - The Grand Loop

    June 8 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    Our second day in the park and we headed north to check out the Norris Geyser basin, a smaller but more compact area with some large Geysers nestled into a moonscape scenery. Again with the vibrant Blues,Greens and Oranges it really does look like an otherworldly place. We weren't as lucky today and didn't see any major eruptions, although we did see the Steamboat Geyser letting off some steam, people were optimistic that it was about to blow, but given it only goes off roughly every 2 weeks we didn't fancy waiting around. Waiting for geysers to erupt is a sport here, people come with their chairs, food and warm clothes to be there when it erupts!

    We saw some more wildlife today! How do we spot them? Usually when there is a traffic jam on the road... Yellowstone is so big that you need to drive to the different sites otherwise you would be there for weeks to see everything. In the traffic jam our little game is to check the different number plates and see where people have come from. We think we've pretty much seen all the different states! The furthest being maybe Florida or Alaska. We also saw a couple Canadian plates as we are actually not that far from the border! Coming back to the wildlife...when traffic slows down usually means cars are stopped along the road to see an animal. When it is a bison we get angry because there are about a million bison in the park...but today we saw a bear, an elk and a moose! That was cool! Of course we can't get too close to them but even seeing from far is great.

    We drove back down through the Yellowstone Canyon, not quite as deep as the Grand Canyon but with views of the stunning falls at the top it is still just as impressive.

    After a pit stop for lunch on the Lake we made it to the Artists Paint Pots and Prismatic Hot Springs, a collection of springs and pools, again with the luxurious colours that make this place so alluring.
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    Gaëlle Huitric

    impressive !

    Claire Huitric

    Beautiful colours again! Your description of how to spot the wildlife reminds me our stay in Canada🤣

     
  • Day173

    Yellowstone - Old Faithful and Basin

    June 7 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Established in 1872, Yellowstone was America's first National Park, and what a place to start. Yellow stone has some unique hydrothermal and geologic features, with two thirds of the world's active Geysers. Formed when a massive volcano erupted around 600,000 years ago and created a crater around 80km wide. The area inside the crater, or Caldera, is closer to the active lava lake below the surface, the hot spot, which heats water rapidly forcing it through a series of natural pipes up to the surface, increasing in pressure along the way. This is the science behind it, but really what we see as we go along the park is some forest, grassland and rivers and every here and there some steam coming up between trees or a river covered by steam!

    The first thing we noticed was the cold. We drove through a snow storm to get to where we are camping at just over 2000m and at night it drops to under 5°C. We were not prepared for this, luckily the campsite had an extension lead so we could power the mini heater the van hire people had given us, we had really not expected to need it, so we didn't freeze in the night.

    After a frosty morning and once we thawed we started our journey into Yellowstone in the upper Geyser Basin. A well maintained walking trail which passes by some of the most predictable Geysers in the world, some with time estimates for their eruptions down to the minute. We were lucky enough to catch the Grand Geyser blow as it shot boiling water and steam up to 100m in the air. Lucky enough indeed as the predictions sometimes are +/- 1 hour... A long wait when there is so much to see in the park!

    We followed the trail through the woods and had some close encounters with squirrels, marmots, a wolf and some bisons, which we found grazing right next to the path. We made it back in time to finish our day with the most famous geyser in the world, Old Faithful, so named because she goes off roughly every hour, not the biggest or most extravagant eruption but the regularity of it is what's most impressive.

    On the path, in between geysers, there are hot springs. These are great as there is no timing involved, just gazing into the different colours that each has. Some are monochrome, just a deep blue or turquoise or transparent, and others have a mix of blues, oranges, greens and white. These are the ones on the advertising pictures for Yellowstone and we were doubtful that we would actually see those and for once they don't lie! Our pictures do not do them justice, they are really colourful! The science behind all these colours? The organisms that live in them. Depending on the water temperatures (usually quite hot, minimum 30C ) and acidity level only certain types of organisms can live in them and they give those colours.
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    Giulia De Cicco

    😲😲😲 wooow

    Jessica Duran

    wow!!!!!!

    Jessica Duran

    always wondered...does it smell like sulfur?

    Armelle Travelling

    Yes the steam that comes out of the pools always smells a bit eggy, but it is not too much of a problem as there is quite a lot of wind and most of the time you can avoid it!

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  • Day171

    The Great Salt Lake

    June 5 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Heading out of Canyon country and North, a 300 mile drive with changing scenery. The desert gives way to the Rocky Mountains to our east and lush open grass lands and forest to our west. We spent the night on Antelope Island just north of Salt Lake City and over looking the Great Salt Lake. A very peaceful spot to spend the night as we make our way to the National Parks in the North West.

    The Salt lake itself is the vastest water feature we've seen for a while, it was refreshing! We went for a walk by the lake on one of the beaches and it does smell like the sea! Gnats decided to hatch just before we got here so we didn't dare swim in the lake (or even take our shoes off!)
    The island is not only home to gnats, but to all-sorts of Birds, Antelope and Bison, who were quite content to have their breakfast next to the road.

    We started to find our rhythm in the Van now and it is becoming home, which is good as we have another 15 nights before we have to return it.😆
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    Claire Huitric

    good night🤫😴

    Claire Huitric

    very nice and peacefull

    Armelle Travelling

    Yes, peaceful if we forget all the gnats 😂 (you can see them when you zoom in, they're everywhere!!)

    Claire Huitric

    ça pique les "gnats"?

    Claire Huitric

    They still have space!!

     
  • Day170

    Red Cliffs and Zion

    June 4 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Heading north out of Vegas our first stop was at a little state park called Red Cliffs and it really did live up to its name. Amazing red rock cliffs rise up either side of a very dry river bed. Just next to the parking lot is a fossilised Dinosaurs foot print embedded in the rock, not a big T-Rex but still pretty cool to see it.

    We spent the night back in the van in a campsite just south of the Zion National Park. This campsite is a lot busier than the first one we slept in and we can see from up close the bus size motorhome that we drive past on the road. The winner of the day is a motorhome that tows a pickup truck that has a buggy on top of it! 🚍🛻🚙
    Zion is a really well organised park that stretches up through the Zion Canyon, lots of well maintained trails and a shuttle bus to ferry everyone up to the trail heads and limit the impact of the Cars.

    The following day we started with the middle and lower emerald pool walks, slightly underwhelming, the water was green with algae rather than natural minerals but the scenery was outstanding. Onwards to the main event, the Narrows. A trail which leads straight up the Virgin river, sometimes up to waist deep as you move through the Canyon, sometimes over 100 meters of sheer cliff on either side. Really a natural wonder and phenomenal to see, even the view from our campsite is pretty spectacular, I don't think we'll ever tire of the desert mountains.
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    Jessica Duran

    Wow! Looks so beautiful!!!!

    Gaëlle Huitric

    the rocks have very Nice colours

    Gaëlle Huitric

    😆

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