Once again across the continent …

07/09 – 15/10/2023

…that was the motto for the last four weeks of our trip to North America. First, however, we made our way to the desert regions of California, Arizona and New Mexico, passing through the notorious Las Vegas, Nevada. But as we drove (in our caravan) along the famous “The Strip”, we realised one thing. You can only really experience and understand this city, with its themed hotels and casinos, if you spend several days in it. Given the circumstances, we decided against it and decided to plan a longer stay in the future.

The next day we reached our next destination, Joshua Tree National Park. However, the Joshua Trees are not actually trees, but yuccas (palm lilies). The park is also home to fluffy-looking cacti, known as teddy bear chollas, and ocotillos, which are not cacti despite their thorns.

One of the most well-known forms of cactus that most people probably think of when they think of a cactus is the saguaro cactus, which we saw in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Here, in the centre of the Sonoran Desert, together with the organ pipe cactus that gives it its name, it can be found almost everywhere. But ocotillos, teddy bear chollas and other shrubs and trees adapted to the dry conditions also characterise the image of this “green desert”.

Wild donkeys at Pheonix

Once we arrived at the Petrified Forest National Park, we looked at the fossilised trunks of 217 million-year-old trees. Thanks to the right circumstances, the wood of the trunks turned into quartz over the course of time. Due to the manganese and iron content, not only pure (white) quartz was formed, but also a variety of different shades of colour.

We visited the remains of another settlement of the Pueblo ancestors at Bandelier National Monument. At this site, however, they not only erected buildings at the bottom of the canyon, but also carved some storage rooms into the soft tuff (volcanic rock) of the canyon rim.

We then travelled to an area where dunes made of gypsum crystals can be found in only three different places in the world. The White Sands National Park, located in the northern section of the Chihuahua Desert, protects part of this largest gypsum dune field in the world and thus offers the opportunity to experience the white “sand” up close and learn about the flora and fauna of this extraordinary ecosystem.

Sunset over the desert

Have you ever walked through a stalactite cave the size of 6 football pitches? We hadn’t until now, which is why we visited this impressive cave in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. A 2 km long circular route led us through the impressive main cave, which is around 240 metres deep. Afterwards, we took part in a guided tour through a no less spectacular side cave and were able to enjoy this place in absolute darkness and silence for a few minutes.

We still had around 3000 km (shortest route) to go to Baltimore, where we would soon have to hand over our trailer in the harbour. This meant that we had to cover a large part of the route over several days. Fortunately, the centre of the country offered hardly any spectacular sights for us anyway, but of course we made a diversion for a highlight in the city of Waco (Texas). The Waco Mammoth National Monument is home to the only known fossils of a herd of prairie mammoths (Columbian Mammoths). The up to 4.2 metre tall herbivores are descendants of the Eurasian mammoth and the closest living relative is the Asian elephant. So far, bones from 23 individuals have been uncovered here, including a bull and three young mammoths.

This was followed by 3 stops, each with a hiking day in the middle of the Appalachian mountain range.

1st stop: Mammoth Cave – only water and naturally occurring carbon dioxide formed the 686 km long cave system (explored so far), the largest in the world.

2nd stop: Carter Caves State Resort Park – a path led us through autumn-coloured forest past several natural arches/bridges and we enjoyed the rustling of leaves under our feet during this “forest bath”.

3rd stop: New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

To round things off, we then made a visit to Washington, D.C., the US capital.

And now a very short & sweet farewell, because this was the last report from our trip. We don’t yet know if, when and in what form we will continue. But we’ll be sure to let you know if there’s anything new here. Take care.

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