Going to America…

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(>Pictures at the bottom!)

….back to the USA
It was wintry and there was already snow around Aesch; time for us to travel back to California. Our things were quickly packed and we were off to the airport early in the morning (4.30am!!), where we were to embark on a several-hour flight. Actually, everything went really well and we left the plane in Los Angeles with a great sense of adventure. But when we entered the USA, things came to a standstill! The immigration officer wouldn’t let us in and a short time later we were stuck in an immigration office for almost two hours. It was an uncertain time and we had all kinds of fears that we would not be able to re-enter the USA. The 6 months we had spent in the past year made the officials suspicious and the questioning on our part was correspondingly tedious. The immigration authorities couldn’t quite understand how we were financing our lives and were accordingly suspicious that we would be working somewhere and how in the USA.

After a long period of trepidation, we did manage to enter the country and received our 6-month residence permit again. But our luggage could not be found! After a long search with the help of the airline that brought us to Los Angeles, we were happy that all seven of our things were back in our possession. After a long delay, we were finally able to leave the airport building and get into a taxi that took us to Santa Paula. Anticipating something, I contacted the campsite in Santa Paula as we would be arriving relatively late. The receptionist gave me instructions on where to find the documents for the accommodation. When I asked if she could take our jeep out of storage, I received a rather negative response. Yes, we had rented a small cottage and we probably wouldn’t need our car for the first night.

It was already dark by the time we reached the KOA campsite outside Santa Paula, and the office had long been closed by this time. I (Tom) left the taxi in no time at all to look for the necessary documents at the reception entrance. Out of sheer haste, I searched the entrance area somewhat hastily, but didn’t find the documents I was looking for anywhere. So we took a taxi to the booked accommodation, where fortunately our jeep was already waiting.

The receptionist confirmed that the last few digits of my telephone number were also the access code to the cottage, but that darn door wouldn’t open. Attempts to somehow “crack” the door also failed. Totally exhausted, we decided to spend the fresh night in our jeep, locked out of the warmly heated cottage.

The next day, everything soon became clear to our (Tom’s) disadvantage: all the documents had actually been deposited in a special box, but in the darkness and my haste I had simply overlooked this box.

Despite this unpleasant arrival; the entry, the luggage and the involuntary night in front of the reserved cottage, we took on our preparations for the onward journey with a lot of energy. In addition to putting our things away in the jeep, I (Tom) replaced and improved the lock on the rear door so that we would no longer be locked in or out, which repeatedly led to strange actions.

With fresh courage and a thirst for adventure, we finally set off again. We took out liability insurance for the USA for a month, which will certainly be enough to get us as far as the Mexican border. But once again, we were in no hurry as far as the distance was concerned, so we chugged leisurely across the north-western mountains of Los Angeles, where a few wealthy residents had their magnificent villas built in the most beautiful corners of this landscape.

Driving through the juggernaut that is Los Angeles was once again somewhat special, but the neighbourhoods of Santa Monica, Venice Bay and the suburban communities to the south had their charm. It was also Friday and everything that could get out of the city was on its way to the weekend. This made it difficult to find a place to stay for the night. Most of the campsites were already fully booked and we didn’t want to go to any RV parks for financial reasons. It was already dark when we were able to reserve a pitch in a state park online and to our surprise; it was a pitch right on the Pacific Ocean.

Somewhat unprepared and naïve, we were surprised the next day by the heavy traffic on the 8-lane motorway, where the traffic moved haltingly in a southerly direction. The long weekend (Martin Luther King JR. Day) meant that half of California was travelling out of its usual environment into the great outdoors, and thousands and thousands of cars were heading out into the wilderness.

In Oceanside we had enough of the gridlocked motorway traffic and left the Pacific coast for the inland and the mountains. And the further we left the coast behind us, the quieter the traffic became. We reached several smaller Indian reservations and the Cleveland National Forest via countless side roads. Surprisingly, almost all forest roads in the national forests of southern California are closed to the public, so we had to follow the tarred road through the mountains to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

This desert park immediately appealed to us and we were thrilled by this unique landscape. Although the park campsite in Borrego Springs was fully booked, the ranger gave us a few valuable tips on where we could spend the next night in the wild. So we stayed for several days in this park, which has been shaped by major tectonic forces and the course of the earth’s history. In addition to the scenic highlights, I (Tom) was also able to let off steam on terrain of varying difficulty and sometimes push the jeep to its limits. But here, too, we had to turn round several times, as the road would have been too big for our Rubicon.

After so much off-roading, we headed south again towards the Mexican border. The starting point, or is it rather the end point of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at the newly constructed border fence, was a point where we decided to stay in California for a few more days after all. In the end, we were able to enjoy southern California for another two weeks before our insurance expired.

So, reset the compass and set off eastwards along the border for new adventures.

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