There and Back Again
My journey with the Slumber Queen has come to an end. 13 month, 50.000 kilometers, 5750 liters of gasoline, 9 countries, 20 border crossings, 16 fellow travelers, 81 new Facebook friends and about 250 Quesadillas. And those are just the rough numbers…
I stay one week with Santiago in Mazatlán, celebrating my birthday and discovering the city once again. On my birthday we pick up Alex at the airport. I had met and travelled with him in Guatemala. Now he’s here to accompany me on my way back to Canada.
On the 29th of June, Alex and me board onto the giant ferry that is supposed to bring us to La Paz on the Baja California Peninsula. The whole procedure, until we are back on the road, takes almost 24 hours but we get a cabin and some good sleep in the meantime. The Baja is very different to the mainland. Much more americanized than the rest of Mexico, it doesn’t feel very adventurous anymore. Most of the landscape is desert, filled with cactuses and sand. Little secluded bays with turquoise colored water surround the peninsula. We reach the US border in Mexicali after only three days.
From Mexicali we decide to take Highway 395 through the inland. But on the 4th of July (Independence Day) we are driving up the highway past Los Angeles when the first signs towards Las Vegas appear. We had no intention of making that 350km detour until then, but in the end it’s the National Day of the United States and we have no better party to attend to…
By the time we reach Vegas the fireworks have already started. Thanks to my generous friend Alex we get a room in the Bellagio, overlooking the famous fountains. I will never forget our arrival with the Slumber Queen in the valet parking! It turns out to be a hell of a weekend in Sin City including everything the city is well known for. The myth of “Fabulous Las Vegas” is truly hard to avoid when traveling though the Western United States! ;)
To get back on track we have to cross Death Valley, the lowest, driest and hottest area in North America. With temperatures around 50 °C we don’t stay longer then we have to. Just a few hours later we cross the Tioga Pass to enter the Yosemite National Park from the east. At 3000 meters it begins to snow. The temperature drop of over 50 degrees in a few hours is probably the craziest weather change of my life so far.
We sleep one night in the park, but in those kinds of temperatures I’m not prepared to accommodate two in the camper anymore. The next day we are woken up by heavy rainfall and decide to get back on the 395. The road leads us through colorful plains with dried out lakes and mountain ranges in the west. While we camp in the middle of nowhere, we are surrounded by rattlesnakes.
Pretty soon we find ourselves in Oregon and leave California behind us. Close to the Smith Rock State Park we meet up with Thomas and Martina, a German couple I had met last winter in the Joshua Tree National Park. The two have lived in the States for years, finding a great balance between working and traveling. We enjoy two days in their company and I get invited to return after selling the camper in Vancouver.
On the way to Portland we camp in the Columbia River Gorge and hike a few hours around the Multnomah Falls Lodge to see a bunch of cascades, including the Multnomah Falls (with 189 meters the highest falls in Oregon). On the next day we make our way through Portland and into Seattle in Washington State. Even though it is the plan to separate on the following day, we end up spending 6 days together in Seattle. 6 Days in which we get to like the city a lot. Unfortunately it’s a very pricey area too…
Finally Alex takes a rental car to drive down the West Coast and I drive the last bit up north to reach the Canadian border. Because my car registration has expired by now, I’m almost denied entry. But finally I’m granted three weeks on a visitor visa to be able to sell the car.
After two days of organizing, cleaning and preparing the camper, I don’t have to wait very long for the sale to happen. The first potential buyer to come and visit the car buys the Slumber Queen straight away. I get to keep the camper a few more days to visit the previous owner in Delta and some friends in Squamish before it’s ultimately time to do the handover.
Slumber Queen for Sale:
Exactly 386 days after I moved into the camper, I’m suddenly back in the middle of Vancouver with nothing but a giant backpack. I only spend one night in a hostel close to the main train station, before taking a bus back to Portland. I arrive in the afternoon and catch a second bus to Central Oregon in the same evening. When I reach Terrebonne late at night, Thomas is already waiting for me on the supermarket parking lot with his old and worn out Toyota Camry. I can stay here for a while on a self prescribed travel-cure (vacation from traveling), before taking a flight to Hawaii and ultimately New Zealand!