Thursday, 29 August 2013

Following the mother road towards Utah and its parcs

Hi all! Thanks again for your patience! We have been searching for a good time to write a blog post!

Last time we spoke, we were at the Niagara falls on the American Canadian boarder. Since then, we moved many many miles/kilometers.

After the waterfalls we moved direction Chicago, passing the Great Lakes. These lakes are so enormous that they look more like a sea. We were completely surprised by these and were happy to see that they even have beaches for us to relax on! Via these lakes ( mainly Lake Erie and Lake Michigan) we head into Chicago for a one day city trip. Arriving there we park ourselves and decide to use the bikes to go through the city. Great idea! On only 6 hours we passed through the city center, passed the harbor and next to the beach area of Chicago!

Nearby the beach, we prepared for our next big part of our voyage through the states: route 66. This route was a popular route between Chicago and Los Angeles between 1900 and 1950, when the interstate highways made it obsolete. It was mainly used by people to move to the west in search for better economic conditions (movie cars is based on route 66!!)

Now, we are not going to write to much about the route 66. It is mainly a driving route and although it was very interesting for us, it is not something to write a lot about. What can be said is that it is a very interesting way to pass the USA, as you travel slow and get the opportunity to talk to a lot of people. In the beginning the route is very alive, with plenty of old buildings restored. Further to the west, passing Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, the route becomes more abandoned, with ghost towns and little traffic on the road. After 7 days on the route we are in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is a lovely town and one of the oldest cities in the USA and it really looked like we were in Mexico! It actually looks so good, that we didn't believe it was real in the beginning- Alex didn't believe ;)- , but it appeared to have some buildings over 300 years old!

As the Route 66 has been very exhausting for us (many kilometers, small roads and getting lost several times a day) we are looking forward to leaving the route for a moment (as advised by a couple we meet in the road and affirmed by a second couple! Thanks to both!! :) )we will go into Utah to visit some of the natural parks, after which we'll go to the route again to go direction Santa Monica, Los Angeles, the finish of the marathon roadtrip of 2200 miles (if you don't get lost)

Please enjoy the pictures, there are again many! We have put a question in there, if you want to guess, please use the comments!!

Lots of love to everyone in the VanBaelenGuillot family,
Alexander and Mireia

Going to a beach nearby our camping at Lake Eary

The helmets could take a break together with us ;)

Next to lake Michigan, also part of the great lakes, we found this beach. We couldn't believe it was actually a lake!!

A big shinny bean in Chicago makes for great views of the city

Chicago is the actual birthplace of the skyscrapers!

And Chicago also has a beautiful beach next to lake Michigan, another surprise for us!

Preparing for the next part of our trip. Any idea what we'll do?

Does this hint help you?

Now you must know what we'll do next!!

What a beauty!

Oh my god!

This is one of the first things to see on the route 66 - a rocket man

The route is filled with authentic gas stations which have been restored! we did pics of all of them!

Explorers need a good breakfast

It is important to know how to read when you go swim

Body shops along the route have some creative ideas for future models

A copy of a later route 66 vista - see later

Stopping for some BBQ - we were not hungry for a few days after this meal!

The longest pedestrian bridge in the world - an old route 66 bridge crossing the Mississippi river

The famous St Louis arch in memory of the economic expansion towards the west

Another old gas station and souvenir shop

Can anybody guess what this is? It can be found next to the route 66! Add your answer in the comments!

The route is very known for the neon! You can find everywhere!

Apparently they know how to speak Catalan here (Benvingut)

This section of the route is referred to as the sidewalk, only 9 feet wide, as the state of Oklahoma did not have the budget for two lanes

Lucky Luke?

Totem pool park - 30 meter high concrete totem made by a non-indian

A big blue whale relaxing in a lake

Great shot!

If you look carefully you can see a skin disease often seen with people on the road - the trucker arm

The route brought us in contact with great people! John and Heather are Land Cruiser fanatics and helped us with the rest of our trip through the USA! Thanks! 

After a few days we see much more abandoned buildings

A route 66 classic: Cadillac Ranch

Mireia uses here old rebel graffiti skills to further decorate the cadillacs

Result: additional publicity for Van Baelen Guillot- can you see it?

Temperatures have been high and without air-conditioning the feet need to hang outside for refreshment

Santa Fe in New Mexico is one of the oldest cities in the USA and this museum is almost 100 years old

We need a hat?

Great city with a nice atmosphere

Surprise surprise: A lost lens from Mireia was found after 5 days on the car!

See you all in the next post!!! hope you enjoyed the picss!!!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

From the east coast to the west and Canada (and almost to jail!)

Dear members of the VanBaelenGuillot family, friends and followers! Welcome back!

Last time we talked we picked up our car in New York and we were ready to attack the American continent! After picking up our car we went south to Baltimore to visit two Catalan friends who had just had their first baby! Sandra and Ignacio welcomed their baby Ignacio a few days before our arrival and were enjoying their first days as parents!

Driving to Baltimore was pretty easy and did not cause any problem - even without a GPS!-Mireia is a very good copilote ;) -We arrived late in the afternoon so we searched a place to sleep: This would be our first camping experience in the USA! Our stop in a State Park turned out to be excellent: Beautiful camping spots, great accommodations, reasonable prices and great wild life! Only downside were the large amount of mosquito and the sweetness of our skins!

Baltimore itself does have some less pleasant areas, but we mainly enjoyed the comfort and pleasure of our friends' home and our visit of Baltimore was limited to the center and the harbor. We were very lucky to park our car safely in a parking, as we wouldn't feel comfortable to leave it on the Baltimorean streets.

After Baltimore we went to Boston, which is north of New York and around 700 km away so we had to make a pit stop in the middle. We made a quick stop in Philadelphia to see some of the main items. To be honest, it looked like a very nice place with a very good vibe, but we had to keep on moving to go to Boston were Marta and Iñigo were waiting for us (a very long wait of 2 days - sorry for that!!). Boston is a vibrant city with a huge amount of history, many universities, affordable prices and a good atmosphere! It somehow felt a bit European and is very easy to explore due to the Freedom trail. This is a physical red trail running through the city which passes all main sights. It allowed us to visit the city in a couple of hours with the bikes of Chos&Iñigo).

As we had some time, we could have a look at the electrical issues we had. After measuring everything and having a call with Peter, it appeared that the secondary batteries were simply to empty to charge and that's why we didn't have any power. So the solution was to connect the secondary batteries straight to the main batteries!!

In addition Marta, who works for a Mountainbike firm in Boston (Montague), was able to help us get a sponsorship deal! We got two super cool mountainbikes which are foldable to take along on our trip. In return we regularly write for Montague's blog! A great win-win situation we think!

Having spend several days in Boston we really had a great time, we met a lot of people, had much fun and saw the city from different angles (kayak, walking, biking...) Still the time had come to continue, so we left west to the Canadian boarder to visit the Niagara Waterfalls. The waterfalls lay on the American and Canadian boarders and can be seen from both sides.

The falls are extraordinary and cannot be captured by pictures. They are so enormous (every second 2,5 million liters falls over the main waterfall, which equals the water within an Olympic swimming pool) and you would imagine that all this natural power would make much noise. Still the contrary is true: it's surprisingly silent and you don't need to shout to talk to each other.

After having enjoyed the views from the American side we felt like crossing the bridge and entering Canada. Being by bike we had to pass the bridge together with the cars, which was no problem as the entire bridge was filled with cars who were standing in line at offices. Alex, spontaneous as he is, didn't seem to remember that you have to stop at a boarder and passed to boarder control at full speed with the bike. This was something that Mr Rambo at the boarder could not appreciate and after some serious shouting and threatening (we could have been arrested, we could have gone to jail and we could have had to pay a fine of 1000 dollar) we were allowed to enter in Canada to enjoy the beauty of the waterfalls from there.

Thanks for reading so much, now the fun part: the pictures! It is necessary to say that Mireia is learning to use the camera and she is doing great pictures!!

Keep reading the blog :-)

Van Baelen Guillot!

Waking up with this view - who would not be jealous?

Having a look at the Baltimore harbor when visiting Sandra, Ignacio and Ignacio (the baby)

A lot of love in Philly

Mireia and Marta laughing about a fart joke

L 2 R: Inigo, Marta, Mireia, Ryan and Katrina

Extreme sport fan Inigo doesn't mind to do a back flip on the bridge!

Kayaking on the famous Charles river

Waaaawza - what a big Aubergine

American style - Big iced coffee slurpee from Dunkin' Donuts - lekker lekker!! Me gustaa!!

One of the visits along the Boston freedom trail (Whaaaaw, what a beautiful picture! by Mireia)

There are not only Irish in Boston, the Catalans are also here (ref: the Catalans symbol is a  donkey)

Scenic block along the Boston Freedom trail

Boston is very bike friendly

Arriving on Spectacle Island - 4 miles from Boston

Sponsorship mountain bikes from Montague!

Evening cooking nearby the Niagara Falls

Alex ready to tackle the waterfalls: Check

Mireia ready to tackle the waterfalls: Check

No caption required

Again no caption required

The waterfalls illuminated at night

Sometimes Mireia is a true artist

A beautiful day ends with complementary Canadian fireworks