A Travellerspoint blog

USA

Utah & Arizona

With Denver now in the rear view mirror, we committed ourselves for the long haul to Utah. Our first stop was Arches National Park; a region famous for its natural arched rock formations commonly featured in movies and internet clips

http://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm

The surroundings were baron, quite rocky but most certainly beautiful. As sunset was nearing, we set off on a hike up to the Delicate Arch. Having ignored the “Keep Hydrated” signs; we climbed with no water.
Unfit and sporting some extra kg’s, we slowly struggled up the ascent making it just in time for the sun to set. We’ll be sure to bring water next time we hike.

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At the peak, Adrian managed to drop his microphone cover from his backpack, which then plummeted to the bottom of a gorge. In doing this, a German traveller sprung to his feet and tried to save the cover before it hit the ground. Grateful for such gesture, it stemmed a conversation with him and a Canadian friend who we later joined for dinner and camped alongside for the night. You just never know when you can come across new friends when travelling 

Saying goodbye to our new friends, we set off early the next day to visit Monument Valley.

http://www.navajonationparks.org/htm/monumentvalley.htm

Adrian ‘John Wayne’ Eppel really wanted to check this region out after watching countless Western films throughout the years. Thankful of such a decision, we were able to check out these huge rock formations, capture some travel footage and fool around in the desert dunes.

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Our next stop is Glen Canyon, another desert region that is known for the Colorado River and Lake Powell running through the middle of it.
Unable to get a nearby town as a reference to enter into the navigator, we set off on what we thought was the correct part of Glen Canyon. Having travelled an hour into our journey, we came across this long winding road that weaved up the side of a cliff. The breathtaking views made up for the often nauseous feeling we would get driving up the road.

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All revved up after the hill climb, we continued the 2 hour drive to Glen Canyon, only to find a series of abandoned campsites and a big storm taking place. Hungry and in need of sleep, we set up our tent beside a covered visitor centre and cooked ourselves an ethnic pasta dish before retiring for the night.

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Morning revealed that we were in the wrong part of Glen Canyon and that we needed to back track 2 hours to the correct location. Fun fun! 
This back track meant that we would once again travel down the scenic, cliff face route. A trusty stop at the mid-point meant that we could let off some fireworks and shoot the BB gun at unsuspecting road workers below. Fair to say the road workers were not too impressed when we drove past. We liked to think it was the fact that they were working on a cliff that made them feel that way.

Several stops and five or six packets of Jerky later, we fast tracked our journey to the beautiful Zion National Park. The National Park includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches. All formed over millions of years by the North Fork of the Virgin River.
We began by hiking to the Emerald Pools were we headed off the beaten track to a nice vantage point, where Adrian took a time-lapse of the region as the sun was setting.

http://www.utah.com/nationalparks/zion.htm

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With darkness fast approaching, we headed back to the car, got some Americanalized Thai food and returned back to our campsite.
To our surprise, we quickly observed the importance of using tent pegs. Our trusty pop up tent got it's world turned upside down in our absence.

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We started Day 2 in the right direction, making our way to 'Angels Landing', a difficult rated hike that gives the hiker a magnificent view over Zion National Park.
It was fair to say that we were a little ambitious and brave taking this hike, a constant incline along winding cliff and elephant spine ridges really tested out our liking for heights! After a good 2.5 hour hike, we reached the summit and took in the views.
Well worth the climb, near heart attacks and spine tingling moments.

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Bryce Canyon was our next destination. We arrived shortly before sunset at Ruby's Inn, the most accommodating campsite we have stayed at so far. After setting up in a great location we made our way to the massive amphitheatre for yet another one of Adrian's timelapses. After a good set of music (Bryce is an Amphitheatre after all) we headed back to camp for a sleepless cold night.

http://www.utah.com/nationalparks/bryce.htm

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Annoyed that our tent was not double layered, we left Bryce the next day very early for our final National Park destination. The mecca, that is the Grand Canyon. But first we had a couple of stops. We journeyed back towards Lake Powell to a rare sight that is not well known in tourism, we are basing this on the fact that is was free entry. Horse Shoe Bend is a beautiful outlook that overlooks the mighty Colorado River as it cuts it's way around one of the numerous Canyons in the area. It also demonstrates the true power of nature and a persistent little river that has been cutting it's way through these rocks for millions of years.

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As we returned to the Car, we noticed the temperature had reached triple digits (in fahrenheit), so we decided a swim was in order before we made our way to the Grand Canyon. Stopping at a nearby inlet, the contrast of blue/green against the red rocks was certainly the weirdest place we had ever swam in. However it truly was an Oasis in the desert, pardon the pun.

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It started to get late so in true Camen & Eppel fashion we made a few stops after dark to light some more fireworks before we reached our campsite near the Grand Canyon National Park. We choose the North Rim as we were told it was just as good as the south, minus the tourists. We set up camp, to our surprise the temperature had dropped substantially, well below the limit our sleeping bags could handle. So we decided to triple clothe ourselves and put a big tarp over our tent in the hope we'd be warmer overnight. It didn't work. We were up again very early the next day after another sleepless night and made our way into one of the world's natural wonders.

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http://www.utah.com/nationalparks/grandcanyon.htm

The Grand Canyon, it can seen from space, it is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,000 feet or 1,800 meters). Nearly two billion years of Earth's geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. This vast open space is incredible. Valleys as far as the eye can see, canyons that could fit cities bigger then Manhattan. There is a reason it is part of the magnificent seven. As our final destination in our 'National Parks' tour of the US we leave the Grand Canyon with our thoughts pondering. How these persistent little rivers are able to move through and erode such monsters of monuments over such a long period of time. It is just another example of how powerful mother nature can be and how small man truly is in the grand scheme of things. A nice cozy bed and lot's of gambling awaits us in beautiful Las Vegas.

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Posted by camenbrothers 22:19 Archived in USA Tagged arizona utah moab lake_powell delicate_arch monument_valley page arches_national_park glen_canyon Comments (0)

Colorado

Unlike every other day, today was different. Today the traveling tripod was reunited and the second stage of our American Road Trip begins. Full of stupid jokes and misbehaving, we headed to a trusty campground in Chief Hosa, Colorado and set up for the night.

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Excited to show Adrian our new toys, we took out the Ball Bearing Rifle for some target practice in the near by National Forest. After a while of shooting beer cans, the park ranger gave us a friendly talking to and asked us to leave. Apparently there is a no arms policy in this specific park.

To celebrate our new arrival, we headed to Golden, a near by town and made good use of the microbrewery happy hours. After washing down a traditional burger with some more beer, we headed back for some sleep. In true welcoming fashion, Adrian had a little too much to drink and proceeding to fertilise the campground with his recently consumed meal! Welcome to America Adrian ☺

We awoke hung-over and partially ready to tackle our next mission, Red Rocks. In a little town called Morrison lies an Amphitheatre surrounded by large pieces of layered red rock giving it the suggestive name. Red Rocks is geologically formed, open-air Amphitheatre that is not duplicated anywhere in the world. With Mother Nature as the architect, it provides acoustic perfection for any performance. So many modern day artists hold it as their favourite venue to play at. During the day it coverts into a fitness arena, hundreds of locals exercise there amongst the various obstacles. We were amazed at how many different workouts could occur in the one venue.

http://redrocksonline.com/

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When guilt finally got the better of us for not exercising, we headed to Estes Park, which is the eastern entrance of the Rocky Mountains National Park (RMNP)
http://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm

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Just minutes after entering the National Park we came across a large pack of Elk grazing in a field. Here stood a large masculine “Bull” over looking his harem of Elk that are coming into mating season. As good as it sounds, it is not always paradise for this bull. Leading up to mating season he will loose almost 30% of his body weight rounding up his girls and fighting off other bulls trying to cut his lunch. This weight loss might not see him through the cold winters up there. David Attenborough, eat your heart out! ☺

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Nestled within the RMNP we found a great campground with a stunning mountainous backdrop.

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To make best use of the fire pit provided we all headed up into the forest to collect some of the dead wood lying around. Our neighbour took a disliking to this and came over and told us about the “No collecting wood rule”.
Thankful and abiding, we stopped collecting wood and started a fire with what wood we collected on our first run. The weather took a turn for the worse and the heavens opened. Our trusty fire was doused so we got into the tent for an early night.

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Cold and sore from an interrupted sleep, we woke up to serious condensation in our tent, soaked belongings and Park Rangers wanting to chat. Apparently our good neighbour reported us in for collecting wood.
To repay the nice gesture we placed all our left over wood on his fire pit awaiting his return.

As timber fugitives, we headed towards Grand Lake, located on the western edge of the National Park. We encountered yet another flock of Elk, which Adrian had a Mexican stand off with the bull in his pursuit for the perfect shot.
Adrian: 1 Bull: 0

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Up at 12,000 ft we also got to see some wild mountain goats. Our wildlife highlight was the rare sighting of a brown bear that was chilling out on a tree stump beside the road. An old local stood with us and mentioned that he had never seen a bear here for the past 40 years. We guess luck was on our side; otherwise he has probably been wearing the wrong glasses!

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All natured out, we headed into Denver for a fresh up. To our surprise we had learnt that Colorado now has legal marijuana dispensaries for Medical / Recreational use. So Luke didn’t really see a lot of the boys that day! ☺

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That night we headed to Beta Club to see Dubstep artist, Skism absolutely destroy the place. Our new Colorado friends Colin and Bo from Luke’s Freeman Festival experience joined us in a night that was one to remember. At the end of his 90-minute set we got to meet the great man and have a chat!! Great Bloke

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To finish off our Colorado experience, we met with Colin and Bo again the following day for a traditional Texas grill that completely blew our minds.
Full to the brim with Colorado experiences, we now head off to Utah.

Posted by camenbrothers 23:24 Archived in USA Tagged colorado rockies fire national_park denver bear wood bull elk red_rocks skizm Comments (0)

Road Trip - Detroit to Denver, Colorado.

We picked up our Grey Ford Fusion from Detroit Airport and set off towards Indiana, which we soon found out must be the corn growing capital of America!
Needing a GPS, we hit the local highway and came across a large fireworks factory that serves the public. Like kids in a candy store we stocked up on the necessities, (Roman Candles as thick as your arm, big mortars, crackers and rockets) all for a 10th of the price we pay back home. The manager of the shop even served us beer whilst browsing. ☺ This was the only thing he asked i.d for!

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After getting a few hundred kilometres under our belt, we stopped in a small town called Muncie and slept amongst some cornfields. Having not purchased any camping equipment yet, Daniel slept awkwardly across the back seat, whilst Luke slept beside the car gazing at the fireflies whilst becoming mosquito food.

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Our next day begun by heading to Wall Mart and buying camping equipment that will see us through the impending journey. We quickly learnt that Wall Mart stock a large range of BB Guns and air rifles so it would have been rude of us to not partake in such activities! ☺

Our destination for the day was Turkey Run State Park located in Marshall, Indiana.

http://www.turkeyrunstatepark.com/

We spent a good day hiking the many trails on offer, passing through the sandstone valleys, ravines and natural waterfalls that represent Mother Nature’s handiwork. One of the clear highlights was Daniel almost stepping on a snake trying to be adventurous and not use the steps provided. If only we caught the shocked look on his face, it was highly entertaining!

Now fully equipped and in need of a shower, we paid $10 and stayed in a fully serviced camp ground near by. It was crazy to see how big some of these American RV’s can be – They are literally a home away from home for these folk.

Later that night, Turkey Run certainly put on a great lightning show, however it was not accompanied by rain. Winning ☺

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Our first stop for the day was Springfield, Illinois. The Capital of Illinois, which was once occupied by the famous Abraham Lincoln. Hungry and wanting to get amongst the beautiful parks on offer, we stopped for breakfast in the National Park where hundreds of local people partake in their daily exercise around the park.

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On our way out of Springfield we saw an old classic car collector, which had old, worn out American Muscle Cars. We instantly relived childhood memories of our father telling us stories about these car yards existing, so we took the nearest exit and backtracked through cornfields to find out what gems where left to rot in this field.

Soon after arriving, we were met by an eccentric bloke telling us not to take photographs. His tone soon changed once he knew we were no harm and began to tell his life story.
Dave has been in the game for 16 years, collecting old barn finds and sending them to new homes around the world so they can be restored to former glory.

http://www.davescc.com

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All listened out, we hit the highway again only to see a monster sized car yard so we once again stopped to check it out. This yard was different to Dave’s as it contained old collectables that are in far better shape.

http://www.countryclassiccars.com

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Hungry and a bit over seeing these beautiful cars and having no money to by them, we made some distance and stocked up on supplies. Nearing sunset, we stopped in this very wealthy area and could only find a piece of swampland nestled amongst mansions to set up our tent. As we were visible to the neighbours, we went and made dinner in some near by corn fields, watched the sunset with some local beers and testing out some of our newly purchased rockets! ☺
That night we were put to sleep by what sounded like thousands of crickets having an orgy!

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St Louis was the next city on our agenda. Conscious of all the trouble going on in near by Ferguson, we kept it low key and checked out a few of the local sites.
We stayed in this pretty run down hostel just beside the baseball ground, which had all the comforts required.
We were pointed in the direction of 4th St, which has all the happening bars and settled in. Once again, the accents made us a lot of friends, one in particular, a 32 year mother of 4 who was busy boasting about her newly purchased fake breasts. She had the moves of a stripper and even offered to show us how she can still lactate! We thankfully declined and headed to a Karaoke bar with a friendly group of people, which quickly escalated into a drunken party that stretched into the early morning.

Awake, and seriously hung over, we began our journey towards Kansas City.
Nearing the end of a days driving, we really struggled to find anywhere to camp out. This particular region that we had stopped in had these enormous sand flies that would surround the car as soon as we came to a halt. Annoyed by this, we got a caffeine hit and continued to drive towards Kansas until fatigue started to kick in. We got off the highway and managed to find a piece of land beside a dirt track to sleep the night.
Unaware of our new surroundings, we were woken up by farmer Joe screaming like a boy whose balls have not yet dropped demanding we leave straight away.
Abiding and apologetic, we used this early wake up to get some km’s under our belt and head to Bonner Springs for a “Life in Colour” paint party.

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Upon arriving in Bonner Springs, we found a campground located close to the amphitheater hosting the paint party. Hot and Humid, we put some swimming shorts on and heading to the local aquatic park that was heavily signed. To our surprise the aquatic park had no water in it as senior school had commenced, which meant that all the life guards were unavailable to keep watch. So we headed to the library to complete those accumulating errands you get when traveling on the road. (Mainly Facebook)

The Bonner Springs Amphitheatre hosted a Life in Colour party, featuring some our favourite electronic DJ’s such as Loudpvck, Pegboard Nerds and Kill the Noise. Excited by what was to come, we were greeted by a young energetic crowd, wearing next to nothing and ready to get amongst some paint. At the gate, securities main concern was to stop Glow Sticks coming into the venue so everything was happy days. For the next 4 hours we bounced around to some great music and got drenched in paint. Being the tall people we are, girls kept coming up wanting to sit on our shoulders and get a better view. A few days on, Luke still cant feel his right shoulder!! ☺

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Leaving Bonner Springs, we now had our sights on heading to Denver, Colorado.
We found a trucker’s rest stop, which doubled as a campground for the night, which provided a good opportunity to rest before committing to the 800 km trek that remained for Denver.

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Posted by camenbrothers 15:08 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip cars tent camping fireworks amphitheater st_louis classic_cars illinois state_park camaro kansas_city charger life_in_color bonner_springs turkey_run kill_the_noise edm american_muscle_cars Comments (0)

Detroit

The world’s general view on Detroit is bleak, it’s seen as a city riddled with crime and unemployment, which came about from the automotive industry crashing some time ago. A city that had a proud population of over 5 million people now stands at approximately 650,000.
Taking this on board, we took it on ourselves to check it out and make up our own view of a city that has recently become bankrupt.

As a result of the financial crisis, a lot of business have either gone bust or packed up and moved elsewhere, leaving old historic buildings abandoned and left to rot. This allowed us the opportunity to do some urban exploring and get a feel for what this city once was.

To celebrate Daniels 25th birthday we ventured up to Rochester Hills for the Mad Decent Block party and enjoy some of our favourite DJ’s.
As the Detroit public transport system is scarce, it meant we could only take the one daily bus there, arriving 6 hours early for the party. This certainly worked out in our favour as we stumbled across the worlds biggest car cruise – “Woodward Dream Cruise” which saw more than a million people observe over 30,000 Muscle cars cruise down an 11 mile circuit. We were in heaven! ☺

http://www.woodwarddreamcruise.com/

So now arriving over an hour late for the party, we were greeted with an eye full of Detroit beauties, a lack of clothing, portable beer stands and filthy electronic beats that were enjoyed by the Molly crazed crowd. Bliss…
Our aussie accents made us a lot of friends, one in particular was a beer stand worker who was kind enough to drive us back to Downtown Detroit, avoiding a sleepless night until the 8am bus arrived. On our drive back we passed the infamous “8 Mile Road” ironically on the same night Eminem was playing in Detroit.

http://www.maddecentblockparty.com/

We woke the next morning to the sounds of Rotary, V8 and turbocharged drift cars taking over city streets in a legalised event – Again catching us by total surprise. ☺ This place seriously caters for all our needs!
So we scoffed down breakfast, jumped on some push bikes and watched some crazy American drifters display their skills in front of the famous abandoned train depot.

http://omgdrift.com/midwest-dopeness-midwest-drift-union-2014-round-4-streets-of-detroit/

Having access to push bikes gave us the freedom to explore the diverse street scape and local neighbourhoods of Downtown Detroit. We were able to check out the Heidelberg Project, A non for profit communal area that converts abandoned household goods, toys and furniture into decorative art that has changed the whole demographic of the area and has now become a tourist hotspot rather than an area you would once avoid.

http://www.heidelberg.org/

Detroit has, and will continue through tough times. Serious potential is shining through with investing business beginning to come back and a community presence that is banding together to make this city great. We feel Detroit is very similar to Berlin (Post Berlin Wall) that is just on the brink of becoming magical.

For all those planning a U.S holiday, see past the negative press and give this city a go. You’ll be greeted by such friendly people that are willing to give up their own time to help out where needed, or even to share a simple hello, alternative restaurants and bars, a big sports culture, beautiful architecture and a great American Muscle Car community. After all, it is known as the motor city.

Along the lines of Fedde Le Grand – “Put your hands up for Detroit, (We) love this city” ☺

Abandoned Detroit Train Depot.
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Abandoned Book Tower - Tallest abandoned structure in America
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Woodward Dream Cruise
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Mad Decent Block Party - Rochester Hills MI
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Nissan S15 - One of the many drift cars
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Heidelberg Project
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Posted by camenbrothers 10:51 Archived in USA Tagged buildings travel detroit historic_buildings drift abandoned_buildings urban_exploring car_cruise v8 downtown_detroit rochester_hills mad_decent heidelberg_project dillion_francis immunity brothers_wandering Comments (0)

New York

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After four consecutive years travelling through Europe and South America, it was now time for us to explore what Northern America had to offer.

New York, the concrete jungle was our first destination. We were fortunate enough to be hosted and made sincerely welcome by our mothers friend May.
Situated in Queens, 40 minutes from Manhattan we had a great apartment and a kitchen that just kept producing amazing American / Haitian meals.

Only having 3 days in this city meant that time was against us, so we hit the ground running. Making good use of the extensive subway system, we were able to visit the touristic hotspots and get a feel of local life by taking a train to a random station, getting lost and finding our way back from there.

A lot of childhood movie memories were bought back to us when exploring this busy city. In particular seeing Times Square come alive through the cover of darkness, observing the business folk of Wall Street rushing to their next big meeting and the leafy Central Park morphed us right into scenes from Home Alone.

The way of life here is large, busy and can be summed up as a city that does not sleep.
Stay classy New York, until next time.

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Posted by camenbrothers 09:24 Archived in USA Tagged bridges buildings wall_street new_york world_trade_centre time_square sky_scrapers Comments (0)

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