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September, October in the United States

albano, San José (Costa Rica), April 1999

September 3, 1998. By car, my parents bring my bike and me to Zurich-Kloten, and we take off for New York. There, my friend has organized a taxi, only one link in an uninterrupted chain of hospitality. I may even take part in a Saturday training of the local cycling club, where I make a stir with my carriers and my touring sandals.

A few days later, I meet Jonas, another Swiss, at the airport in Seattle, Washington. He has been on the road since June already. We travel together until San Francisco, and, on our way, we experience more American generosity. In Seattle, we camp in a private garden. Later, we stay on the grounds of a farmhouse and of a week-end house on the shore. Each time, it goes without saying that we are feed by our hosts.

A dusty gravel road brings us to the coast. Further south, Oregon and California keep some first class natural wonders ready for us: rugged cliffs, rocky islands, frothy waves, sometimes even outdone by impressive sand dunes, as well as giant Redwood trees, protected in innumerable parks, but still cut and sold.

After a side-trip to Napa Valley with coutious wine-tasting, we manage to reach bustling San Francisco, despite two bridges reserved for motorized traffic. There, Jonas and I split up for different adventures. Only an invitation for dinner not much later will give us a short reunion. I stay for a few days around and in the city, see the Golden Gate Bridge and am challenged by streets, sometimes leading straight into the slope.

After another stop in Santa Clara by the end of the month, urban surroundings abruptly disappear, but the observatory on Mount Hamilton, where I pass an interesting night with insiders, provides an excellent compensation, as well as the breathtaking but costly National Parks coming up soon after. Yosemite means a long climb to Tioga pass, but the scenery with trees, rocks, creeks pays off the hard work. Death Valley resembles more a trough, going below sea level, mostly bold, hot, dry - another challenge. Between the two parks, I am invited to see a special film.

Las Vegas makes a sharp contrast to the surrounding desert. Instead of gambling, I fill up at the cheap, brim-full buffets and study the clinging dresses of the waitresses. Between there and San Diego, there is more desert to pass, and right in the middle of it, one of the few families living out there invites me to stay for the night.

My second month on the road ends with a deception which is only partly balanced by meetings with interesting people, by my visit to the famous zoo and by my call on a public Halloween party: After nearly two weeks, my general delivery letter from home has still not arrived at the post office.

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© 4-12-1999 albano & team