Friday, November 2, 2007

The End

And now our trip has come to an end. Jonas is leaving tomorrow, and Jakob will finally start getting some real work done.

For the last week and a half we have been sleeping in a living room in a Berkeley community, taking up precious space for everyone living here. It felt natural to end it by making dinner for all of them (Flora, Karin, Keina, Ben and Jimmy) as a way of thanking. If felt equally natural to provide them all with moustasches to properly fit in!




This trip has been fantastic, and we have seen lots of nature, lots of burgers, met lots of people, and above all, we have had all the time in the world to discuss the nature of facial hair. I hope we have managed to convert at least some of you readers out there.

We would finally like to thank the following people in no particular order:
Heather at the location bar, Brady the truck driver, Sandra and Tom and their sushi hating dog Bianca, Flora, Ben, Jimmie, Keina, Karin and Rahman in Berkeley, all the hamburgers, American breakfasts with hash browns, Bulleit bourbon, Chrysler for creating such an enormous and plastic car, Moose Drool brown ale, Merle Haggard, Neil Young, everyone wasting money in Las Vegas for creating that place out of nothing, the restless youth in Butte (Montana), the peaceful cow on the road (Montana), the bison greeting us early morning in Yellowstone, the entire family in camouflage outfits at A&W in Whitehall, Leah the political hooters waitress, the Burger King staff in Hollywood not speaking the slightest amount of English, unknown ex-beauty at the blues Saloon and above all (except the burgers that is) the unknown American moustasched man nodding to us in an aisle at Walmart (somewhere).

So, thank you for reading, and good bye.

The End

And remember the old saying: "Don't be caught in public with a naked upper lip"

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And then...

We apologise for not updating our blog. After finishing our road trip it just didn't come naturally to us.

Since we got to San Fransisco we've been doing the following things:
  • I (Jonas) have been walking around all over San Fransisco while Jakob has been trying to get some work done. I also visited a WWII submarine and talked to some veterans inside. It's widely known that I'm a sucker for submarines, and now it's also on the internet.
  • We went to the Saloon, a legendary old pub in San Fransisco. Then we watched this amazing girl on the dance floor. She went through all the basic dance moves, starting out with "the chicken". After that she continued with "the knee-and-hands trick". Here we thought she was finished. But she amazed us with a good "robot", and then a stunning "fishing pole". The fishing pole is not seen often nowadays. The dancefloor was actually completeley dominated by women in all ages. One of them, a well preserved souther lady (I'd say Miss Alabama 1973), did her very very best to pick us up, one after the other. Somewhat scary, but possibly understandable since her husband (relaxing with a beer) did not sport any kind of facial hair...
  • We went to sixties hippie epicenter Haight-Ashbury to buy whigs for a halloween party.
  • We went to an American Halloween party dressed as seventies detectives (see picture). Our costumes didn't draw much attention, but our mustaches did, everyone wanted to feel if they were real (probably just an excuse; they just wanted to feel their great texture). Obviously they are not used to fancy facial hair in the states.
  • We went on a one day miniature road trip to Point Reyes to watch the wales. Unfortunately the wales only pass there in spring, so that was a bit of a miscalculation from our side. But the scenery was nice.
  • After the trip to Point Reyes we went to the Bridge School Benefit Concert and watched a lot of bands, among them Neil Young, Tom Waits and the Kronos Quartett, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Metallica. The marijuana fog was dense over the concert area the whole day. Waits/Kronos were the most interesting, Young was uneven but played some amazing stuff, Lewis just boring and Metallica played an acoustic take of a Dire Straits song... (we left after this).
  • Being good tourists, we went to Alcatraz this morning. It was actually a god tour. The worst thing for inmates must have been being able to see the vibrant city just a kilometer or two away. They say that on some days they could even hear the sound of people partying.
  • We experienced our first earthquake today. At least at some unconscious level, since unfortunately we never noticed it. But some people did. At least they say so.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Days 11 - 15. Sunny California

After waking up in a far too bright and warm Las Vegas, we called Sandra and said we were coming to visit her in Santa Monica. Planning ahead has never been one of our major characteristics, and this is no exception.

We drove out of Las Vegas, got stuck in a traffic jam in the middle of the desert, and then we
arrived in LA. We thought we were there. But as all of you who has been in LA know (and as we know now as well) we still had a few hours of highway traffic jams to get through before we got into Santa Monica. But we eventually found the right address, and after all, everything went pretty smooth.

Sandra and Tom greeted us with a couple of beers and Hawaiian bbq at their balcony. We presented a bottle of Bulleit bourbon (this has been the brand of this trip, it is a very good one) as a small gift, not knowing that we would all help out finishing it the very same evening. The evening turned out a long and pleasant one. The morning after was a warm and pretty unpleasant experience.

Later in the day, efter a healthy egg and bacon breakfast, and a couple of painkillers, we drove around in Venice, Beverly Hills and Hollywood. we didn't see anyone worth mentioning. We finished that day by going to a sushi restaurant. As we misunderstood the menu we ordered food for maybe seven people, and we four had some trouble eating it all. The sushi was very good though, and it was still good the morning after (the concept of a doggy bag is applicable even to sushi here, even though Tom's and Sandra's dog Bianca didn't fancy our price winning leftover sushi at all).

The same evening we also got to visit a hooters (delightfully tacky, yet unrefined) bar. It wasn't really what we expected. And when we had a political discussion about Barak Obama with our very friendly waitress Leah, we realized our prejudices about this place were a bit off. She was of the definite opinion that his claimed political inexperience actually is an advantage - Hillary would have to spend too much time dealing with old allies.


Sunday we went on some hiking in the hills (hot!) and then we went to a Chicago Bears bar to watch a game. That was an experience. Some of the guys in that place will die from a heart attack some day. One guy looked like he was about to explode, and if the bears had lost I truly believe that he would have. Luckily, they made a touchdown in the last couple of seconds of the game. The Bears touchdown song was played incredibly load, almost shaking the shack and all its inhabitants to pieces.

Thank you so much for having us there for a couple of days Sandra and Tom! We had a lovely time and it was really fun visiting you!

Monday morning we left LA, and drove north in a wide turn around the Malibu fires. Even on our route (highway 5) we could see hills burning around - one day later this road was closed as well.

Then we ended up in Big Sur, a somewhat distant coastal area between LA and San Fransisco, to camp for the night. The night in the tent was finally warm enough to call nice, and in the morning after we took a swim in the ocean. Or maybe not a swim, more of a plunge, since being in water of that temperature for more than a few minutes probably can kill you. This amounts to Jakob's sixth Big Sur visit...

Then we drove a couple of hours back to San Fransisco and returned the car. And that marks the end of that road trip. We cried some manly tears. But we still have a lot of time in SF, so it will not be the end of this blog.

After this ceremonial ending of the road trip we finally were able to retrieve Jakob's lost suitcase containing everything we actually would have needed, including guidebooks, clothes, music for the road and tent poles. Maybe we can hang them on some walls as decoration.

Now we are staying at Flora's and her room mates' Berkeley house again, sleeping very comfortable on a huge mattress.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Root beer floats


We are trying out the strange american thing called root beer floats. Root beer (a soda tasting like perfume) mixed with ice cream. Somewhat disgusting. Shouldn't the soda be cold (like sweden this time of the year)?

Malibu is burning

We are in Santa Monica visiting Sandra and Tom. Malibu just north of here is on fire. Our plan was to drive from here tomorrow on the pacific coast highway up north, but thats not happening anymore since it is burning. We can clearly see the smoke from here, but otherwise we are not affected at all.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Day 10. We lost all of our money

My (Jonas) birthday began with the alarm sounding at 06:30. We woke up in a freezing tent (again) at the edge of Grand Canyon. After watching the sunrise together with a japanese traveling party we had breakfast and birthday donuts in the open.


Then we drove a couple of hours to Las Vegas and spent a good hour trying to find our hotel. Too cheap to gamble, we spent the evening walking through the big casinos, watching fat people being fead with endless buffés, poor people throwing away fortunes at no-chance-of-winning-machines, and most of all, we tried to get as many free drinks as possible. That became quite many. Most of our money was spent on tip to waitresses, and the bus to and from the hotel. We only played when the waitresses were looking, so that they would keep the drinks coming.

Day 9. Tourism!

Today we visited Mesa Verde national park. After driving upwards for about an hour we went on a "demanding" guided tour in old indian settlement inside a cliff. The tour took an hour, of wich approximately 20 minutes was actual guiding, and the rest was transportation of fat people down the 38 step stair and bad jokes from the park ranger José.

As I'm writing this we're in the car, driving in the dark towards Grand canyon, after a nasty dinner in some place in the desert. We will camp there (Grand Canyon) to watch the sunrise over the canyon in the morning. Then we will head for Vegas.

Day 8. Highway 666

After waking up in a tent on an empty campsite in Utah, too cold again, we continued driving south. We just drove all day and nothing happened. Towards the evening we looked forward to driving along highway 666. But of course, since this is Utah, it had been renamed to 491. Not exciting at all.

Day 7 part 2. Location Bar.

After leaving Teton national park, we continued south through Jackson towards Flaming Gorge recreation area. On the way there we stopped for coffee at the Location Bar in extremely small Big Piney. This turned into our best experience on the road yet, and this is how it goes:

Big Piney is so small it doesn't even have any of the regular fast food restaurants. That means a population way below 1000. For some reason we had our minds set on coffee so we stopped outside a small wodden house in the middle of nowhere with curtains down but with a semi-visible old Open neon sign. Outside one black and two white bearded hillbilles tried to fix a piece of junk that maybe once was a pickup truck. We were a bit afraid to enter, with the three hillbillies closely watching our every move. Inside the bar we found the barkeep Heather (tatooed and extremely dangerous/rocknroll looking, and probably the hottest chick in town) and a friend of her, a blonde master in the art of looking disinterested.


It seemed pretty unpolite to take photos inside but we kind of wish we did. But being unpolite was not an option here since we were still a little bit afraid to get shot just for being foreigners. The bar was packed with cowboy stuff, posters, flags, a wooden counter with the regulars names carved into it, and a sign that said "We don't call 911, we call the coroner". All people we met so far have been very welcoming and curios about us (like the cowboy at dairy queen in Jackson that introduced himself as we ordered, or Brady the truckdriver from Fort Worth, Texas, that we met in the worlds biggest truck stop Little America) but Heather made it pretty clear that she didn't give a damn about us.

After a while the hillbillies entered, and from the conversation we figured out that the black guy was probably the only black guy in town. He went by the name Infamous Black Bob. Heather filled him upp with Jim Beam pretty good, while we had our Monday afternoon coffee, telling him "Last Monday I overfead a guy with Jim Beam... it was fun, but it wasn't pretty".

When we wanted to pay Heather just said "Coffee's for free honey". And so we left, a bit scared that we didn't tip her enough.

Half an hour later we think we saw Infamous (and most likely drunk) Black Bob pass us on the highway in a pickup shaped wreck.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Informational

We were very well prepared musicwise for this trip. We had Jonas' ipod loaded with American road trip country and 70's rock, Jakob's laptop and an external hard drive packed with records, and as a small backup Jakob's ipod shuffle. United airlines quickly disabled all Jakob's music since the external hard drive was in the lost luggage. Then a deceptively leaking glass of bourbon permanently disabled Jonas' ipod. On the other hand we get to hear nice American catholic radio talk. Watch for signs of religousness when we get back!

Now entering crazy mormon Utah...

Day 7. Bourbon by the campfire.

Bozeman was a nice town. But as with all nice places we visit on this trip, we left it immediately. After buying some sleeping pads we were finally set out for some camping. After a steady breakfast in Livingston, with just about the weakest coffee we've ever tasted, we left for Yellowstone National Park. The oldest national park in the world, and also the only present home of wild bisons.

Entering Yellowstone also meant crossing the border to Wyoming. Leaving Montana felt as an important turning point on this trip, so we decided that this is the place to do some facial hair sculpturing. We are now carrying some very handsome moustaches.

The weather here is exceptional, blue skys and a very warm sun (warmer than most of the swedish summer), even though we are at 2-3000 meters elevation. But as soon as the sun goes down the temperature drops til way below zero. This night was a very cold one, and it took some hours before we could feel our toes again this morning.

Yellowstone is famous for its abundant animal life, and rightly so. Therse plenty of both bison and elk, creating a feeling very much like in the Ol' Western movies. Some part of the freezing night was spent worrying about whether one of the regular grizzly bear attacks would take place. Another part listening to the wolves howl. But the most dominant form of live is the Nature Loving American. By day they travel in packs in oversize mobile homes (some of which have three exits and extendable living rooms easily making them larger than an average apartment). And when stopping for the night at some nice camping spot, possibly with all kinds of animal life, they turn on portable diesel generators to make their trailers warm and cozy... We Swedes had to make do with a warm and cozy oversized campfire and a couple of swings of bourbon before freezing our asses off in the tent.


After sunup we continued to watch some geysers. Yellowstone happens to be the most geothermical active area in the world as well. But after seeing one we turned back to cook some tea on a huge parking lot. And now we're driving south through Teton national park. All this nature business got some kind of an end with a short, freezing and nice swim in Lake Louise. Our route from here is still very unclear, but we're aiming for LA. The choice is between Salt Lake, Denver, or somewhere in the middle along smaller roads.



PS. Latest news on the luggage is that it is maybe found in Frankfurt. Maybe.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Day 6. Brokeback Mountain

After the nourishing breakfast you see below we continued up north through some indian territorries, mormonic Idaho Falls and the potatoe capital of the world, Blackfoot (famous for loading potatoes into boxcars - we looked in vain for this spectacular event).

In the afternoon, just before crossing the border to Montana we visited the Fort Hall indian reservation casino. It made cheap Las Vegas copy Reno seem really classy.

Montana is all you could wish for. They call it "Big Sky Country", and we understand why. I don't think any photos will do the sky justice, but it is just bigger here. And we see snowy mountains in all directions, while explosive yellow-leaved trees dot the harsh valleys. We can really understand why cowboys here start having doubts about their preferences, it's ridiculously romantic. But to really fit in here, we should carry some guns. People here are generally very nice, and interested in were we come from. They know surprisingly much about northern Europe. And they like guns. And beards.

Note: It is truly amazing to see a father with four sons aged four to twenty enter a fast foos place all dressed from top to toe in various kinds of camouflage outfits.

Cities here are all more or less ghost towns left from gold digging days. Butte (not pronounced as funny as you would think) was once the copper mining capital of the world. It's a pretty big city (kind of like Upplands Väsby), but today most buildings in the once vibrant old downtown are abandoned. It is pretty similar to what I imagine Murmansk to look like. The streets were completely empty a Friday night.

Yesterday we went to an Irish pub in one of the non-empty houses in Butte's historic center and mingled with the locals. They were quite friendly, but we were obviously the outsiders. We were simultaneously watching their behavior (as some play) and expecting them to start beating us up. Everyone (all 10) knew each other, and the bartender was drinking just as heavy as the one man band entertaining us. The Irish lager tasted nothing, and the Guinness tasted something. It didn't taste like Guinness though. Little did we expect that an even larger shot of america waited around the corner. Heading home before our jet lagged bedtime we stuck our noses into the only place in Butte actually crowded. The bar was quite full with a big (and suprisingly mixed) audience shouting and whistling at a rather violent strip show featuring barebrested girl, an overweight man and some large square structure filled with a dark material. We took our swedish noses out of there without getting all the details.

Today we visited a real gold digging ghost town, Bannack. The old lady working there told us some cowboy stories about Henry Plummer that made Clint himself seem a bit lame. The road there featured the same old hills, sky and trees; today sprinkled with sunshine. If it wouldn't be quite late and our hostel beds in (surprisingly nice) Bozeman weren't waiting we could easily shower you with another few pages of adjectives...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Day 4. Fat


Pancakes with butter. Breakfast for champions.

Day 3. Bad news.

The wednesday began with a call to the airport who told us that they had traced Jakobs luggage, but not found it. Whatever that means. After that we went to the north face outlet in Berkely to get some cheap camping gear. Pretty useless though since United Airlines still has the tent poles somewhere in Russia or Australia or whatever.

After driving around in Berkely buying stuff for a while we headed up along highway 80 through Sacramento. We stopped in small and picturesque and semi-genuine Auburn for coffée. The owner of the café, the local mailman and a loud organizer of some fundraising stuff were all suitably amazed that we were from sweden and draw pseudo-readable maps with tips about where to go. Continuing towards Nevada a man in a red pickup filled with flowers overwhelmed our senses (at least jakobs).

Around dusk we reached picturesque Lake Tahoe. After a few minutes of nature watching we escaped the splendor to a small motel in South Lake Tahoe, washing a few sandwiches down with some burboun. Everything leading up to the first Shaving, with Jonas aiming for a well tendered "Lemmy" and Jakob a somewhat disorganized "diskoplatta".

The night turned out to be freezing. Newly showered with wet hair Jakob made the european mistake of actually trying to walk out to get some morning tea. It took some long along-highway-waking and highway-crossing and looking-rediculous-with-frozen-hair-in-diner before actully getting the tea.

Now we have just arrived in Twin Falls, Idaho, to get some sleep in another sleazy motel. Since we woke up this morning with a temperature just below zero, we have driven through sunny Nevada desert climate and here it is cold as hell again. Latest news on the luggage is: "Do not expect us to ever find your stupid bag" (quoted from the top of my head).

On the way here we passed Reno (Las Vegas light) and walked around there for a while and looked like tourists too cheap to spend any money.

In Twin Falls we will probably buy hats. From what we have seen so far, that is the latest haute couture.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Day 2. At last

This incredible long day seemed to never end.

We met up as scheduled in Frankfurt and got on the plane to San Fransisco.
The inflight entertainment consisted of bad movies on a broken tv screen. After what seemed like an eternity we landed and found out that almost all of our luggage had made it all the way to SF. Almost is not good enough. Especially when your plans are to immediately hit the road.



So we got in our big american car (big to us, small to americans) and drove to Berkely and met up with Jakobs friend Flora and after being awake for around 30 hours we fell asleep in her livingroom.

Today plans are 1) Jakobs luggage back 2) buy camping stuff at the north face outlet and 3) drive towards Reno.

Update: The bag is traced, but not in this country. We will drive off and force them to deliver it to us wherever we are.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Day 1. Frankfurt flughafen


We are waiting in terminal c. Carefully so that we don't enter the white wall. That would be strictly forbidden.