Wildfire in Yosemite

After a chilly night above Mammoth Lakes, we drove down back to the valley and kept going North towards the beautiful scenery of Yosemite National Park, a paradise for rock climbing and hiking, where the granite cliffs dive into clear lakes shadowed with old pine trees. Most of the park is above 2500 meters.

We spent half a day driving across the park, enjoyed a breakfast near a lake of crystal clear water, and started going down towards the coast. As we were following Tioga Pass Road, we ran into a wild fire that was carefully controlled by tens of firemen and rangers. Very impressive.

We both wished we could have stayed longer, but we had to be in San Francisco before Monday since Xavier was starting work at the French Lycée on Monday. So we kept driving west across the orchards, stopped for lunch in a field of almond trees, and arrived near Oakland by the middle of the afternoon to join a traffic jam at the entrance of Bay Bridge.

Death Valley



We drove North West outside Las Vegas and took a left at Beatty. For ten kilometers, the road was following a straight line before entering the State of California and Death Valley National Park. We stopped to cook lunch for a while, and just as we were packing our stove, felt a few drops of rain. Somewhat surprising in one of the driest spot of North America.

The rain didn't last, and we went for a little hike on the gigantic sand dunes of Mesquite Flat. From the distance, we saw the wind picking up, lifting the sand in whirly motions, and approaching quickly and soown we were running back to the car, protecting our faces and our camera with our shirt from the sand.

We kept driving across the national park, crossed its several mountain ranges, took a right at Lone Pine to drive North all the way to Mammoth Lakes, passed the ski slopes above Mammoth Lakes, and found a nice view point on Devils Postpile where we cooked diner and sat up our camp for the night.



Vegas, baby

We spent two nights in Vegas, crawling the gigantic casinos installed at the feet of some of the biggest hotels in the world. Our host Lorenzo showed us the strip on the first evening, and we went in the old part of the town on the second one.

Xavier likes to play poker, so he had a go and joined a table of the Bellagio. I sat behind him and watched. The characters at his table all seemed to be part of a movie. On a table nearby, the chips were of different colors. There was enough money there to keep me traveling several lifetimes.

It was an interesting visit, although it often felt very uncomfortable in this strange atmosphere where kitsch, glitter and vaguely erotic are blended in a 'buy now, spend more' fashion. We were happy to take the road again to the desert, leaving the strip behind.

French surfers


Meggan's home

After almost 6 months travelling, I still hadn't paid for a single night, and only once, in Toronto, I was hosted by a fellow CouchSurfer, Dylan.

In Jackson Hole I started looking for a nearby sofa to crash on. It didn't take very long. In less than two hours, my phone was ringing: Meggan, one of the couch surfers I contacted, told me it was no problem for me to stay at her place. Sweet!

That evening, with my backpack and my skateboard, I arrived at Meggan's house 5 minutes before her. Over the phone, she told me to enter. I wasn't sure, didn't dare, but she really meant it: her house is open. No keys needed here! I had a great time with Meggan and her friends, and spent not one but four nights in her home, a very sweet home.

Also on CouchSurfing, I learned about Xavier, a French guy travelling around the world and who was also Jackson Hole. I sent him a message and went back at doing photo backups and writing my diary. ... more

Gold Rush


Sunny Badlands

While in Chicago, I posted an ad on Craigslist, looking for a rideshare towards Yellowstone. Within two days, someone named Trevor sent me a message. Trevor was not only willing to go West, he was interested in going camping and hiking with me! Dora found that a bit odd, and my friends from New York were slightly sketched out. But... why? Driving and camping all the way to the other side of the continent with a complete stranger? Sure, go for it!

Trevor came to pick me up in his gray car from 1988. A Ford Crown Victoria it seems. Exactly the kind of car that I imagine when I think about road movies in the States. Since I still don't know how to drive a car, he had to drive all the way, from Chicago to Yellowstone, more than 2300 km long that is. But we are still friend.

On the way, we crossed the huge prairies of Minnesota and South Dakota, went across the surprising rock formations of the Badlands, visited the Mount Rushmore by night, camped in the middle of the Blackwoods, had breakfast in Deadwood and a look at the Devil's Tower. Given all that, in the end it was not that spooky. ... more