Part 1 - Canada To Area 51, Nevada
After another amazing summer in Canada, the clouds started to roll in, the temperature started to drop and our 6 month tourist visas were nearly up, it was time to roll out. It had been several years since me and Carly had been home for Christmas and our parents said they would pay for our flights home for the festive period as our Christmas presents. We searched the Google and found that flights from Florida were about a third of the price than from Vancouver but the only thing in the way of those bargain flights was pretty much the entire US of A, in fact we couldn't be entering the States any further away from Florida. I don't think there was even a second thought, a road trip and an adventure to get home for Christmas. To make sure we went as far as we could, we set Key West as our finish point, the most southerly point of the continental USA, and also the furthest point away from where we were starting.
Our camper car (yes, there is a double bed in there!)
Fortunately we had the perfect vehicle for a road trip already; a $250, 1992 Ford Festiva, known to his friends as Steevie Wonder. By far my favourite feature was the lay flat seats, these meant that after removing the back seats, I was able to build a folding bed frame which allowed us to change from driving to sleeping in about 30 seconds! Smallest car in America AND a camper.
We spent our first few days driving around BC to visit friends and say good bye before dropping down into Washington State in the north west of the US. Within an hour of crossing the border we had left the mountains behind and were in farm land. Just fields and orchards as far as the eye could see. Uninspired by our surroundings we decided to hightail it to the coast to take in the famous Route 101, a far more visually stimulating drive.
Heading away from the Rockies and into the plains of Washington.
Our first camp spot in America. Inspiring eh?!
The fields of western Washington State
Cannon Beach, Oregon with Haystack Rock in the background
Or first stop along the coast was Cannon Beach, somewhere I had come with friends when I was hitchhiking. It was where they filmed the last few scenes of my favourite childhood adventure movie, The Goonies (if you haven't seen it, you should). From there we stuck to Route 101 for a few hundred kilometres and decided to head inland to go and see Crater Lake, a massive lake inside the crater of an extinct volcano. It took a couple of days to reach but it was a stunning drive, slowly climbing higher and higher the further we got from the sea. In fact, we got so high we ended up actually inside the cloud and by the time we reached the rim it was a total white out and we couldn't see 20 meters in front of us. We decided it was about time for some sun and warmth so we set off for where we knew it would be summer, Death Valley.
The stunning Crater Lake. Truly breathtaking.
Pretty sure we weren't supposed to camp here, but nobody saw us so I guess it was OK. It was a wildlife reserve and there were deer and all sorts everywhere. Bliss.
By far my favourite place in America is the Sierra Nevadas. Desert framed by snow capped mountains.
The ghost town of Bodie, California is well worth a trip if you're in the area.
Death Valley Survivor #beargryllsfanatic
After about a month of driving around the west coast and sleeping in a car, we figured it was time to treat ourselves, and what better way to do that than by having 3 days of drunken debauchery in Las Vegas. However you know what they say, what happens in Vegas... comes in another post.
Tired and broken we rolled out of sin city and headed into the desert in search of aliens. Yep, we were headed down the Extraterrestrial Highway to see what all the fuss was about at Area 51.
Apparently UFO activity is highest along this highway in Nevada. It's also the road to Area 51.
"Heads up, there's a truck coming... In about 10 minutes"
When we eventually made it to the perimeter of Area 51 out in the desert, we were greeted by some signs saying we had got to the end of the road. We also noticed a couple of security trucks parked in the hills watching us, so we turned around and went to find a camp. About 300 metres from the perimeter we spotted a hill which we managed to maneuver Steevie Wonder to the top of. As we got our chairs out and set up for a night of UFO spotting one of the security trucks parked up on the road below us, about 100 meters back. They remained there until we left in the morning.
Can you see the sneaky security guard on the hill?
The sun is setting above Area 51 which is behind the hills. The dust trail is coming from a bus heading down the road to the base, no doubt for shift change.
Sadly there were no aliens or anal probing, just amazing views of the Milky Way and countless shooting stars.
In the meantime if you're impatient to find out if we made it, here's a video of our entire road trip: