50 More USA Travels



From Arizona our first destination was New Mexico. Our aim was to collect a new compact scanner/copier/colour printer which we had ordered online. A most useful little device to have on board! The postal address we used was of friends who have a lovely farm and serve divine margaritas.

The nuclear bomb was conceived at Los Alamos, NM.

In the historical display we saw the replicas of the nuclear bombs, ‘Fat Man” and “Little Boy”, which had destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Los Alamos research laboratories at present employ 11 000 people in scientific research, with an annual budget of $2 billion.

The mesmerizing drumming and spectacular Indian dancing at the annual pow-wow in Albuquerque, NM had Leone in total enchantment. Costumes were of leather or hand-woven fabric, with adornments of beads, embroidery, feathers, fringes, quills and jingles.

The southwest USA has preserved cliff dwellings where people lived in shelters within terra cotta rock faces as far back as 5000 years ago. (Canyon de Chelly AZ and Mesa Verde, CO).

Navajo National Moment, AZ has cliff dwellings and an attractive free campground with facilities.

At the Overland Expo 2015 at Mormon Lake, Flagstaff, AZ. we meet adventurers and travellers and gawk at vehicles, equipment and gadgets. We encounter a manufacturer of Skottle Grills; smaller copies of the South African skottelbraai, which are very popular in the U.S. at $95. We also meet Graeme and Luisa Bell; South Africans travelling the world in a Land Rover 130 with their 2 children, Jessica and Keelan. (www.a2aexpedition.com )

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument’s information centre has a display, of ”horny” dinosaurs found there in Utah; like.“Nasaceratopstitusi” or “Big nose horned face” After a sleety shower, at the top of a plateau on a slick clay track, Dipli‘s wheels were turning but we were going nowhere!. All we could do was to wait in the road for a day and watch mud dry.

“The Loneliest Road in America”. We take it, in search of some of Nevada’s natural hot springs. It was divine to immerse in wild hot springs at sunset. Further north at Hidden Meadows hot springs, Leone soaked under the starry night sky. The next day she was covered with itchy bites from sand flies, also known as “no-see-ums” and ”granny nippers”!

We drove right around Lake Tahoe, admiring the blue waters from the Nevada and from the California side. Snow flowers were emerging after the winter.

In the meantime we had discovered “lost” South African friends in Vancouver. So north we went.

The Canada/BC border procedure was quick and as always at borders in North America, no one took any notice of the vehicle or his papers.

On a busy freeway, only 15km from our destination in Vancouver, suddenly: “clunk!”. Dipli is not moving in high range. In low range at 40km/h, max we make it to street parking in front of our friends’ apartment. We reunite with Richard and Hazel from our Drakensberg hiking days. We reminisce and relive how Hazel had once slipped and tumbled down an incline; stopping just before the precipice, with a broken arm, while the rucksack went tumbling.

Checking Dipli the next day confirms that it is the transfer case! Jan phones and searches online: No manual Land cruisers are imported to North America. .

Gerhard our son in law in South Africa is to find and courier a new transfer case. It takes a week. After we had been parked for 5 days in a Vancouver main road, a policeman stops and says: “Do you know you are on a 2-hour zone? I suggest you move it” “Mmm actually it is broken” “Then put a note on the window. I’ll tell them at the office” (How nice).

The repair can not take place there, so when DHL arrives, we crawl to Ian and Jenny, other SA friends, and we squeeze into their lovely garden. Dismantling and replacing takes 2 gruelling days. Good bye to a 300 000 km-done transfer case. We leave Canada and drive south again.

In Washington state new friends, Yvonne and Richard show us Olympic National Park.

Framed pictures made from Polish amber adorn their walls

Leone discovers with delight that she makes jewelry.

In Washington state new friends, Yvonne and Richard show us Olympic National Park.

Framed pictures made from Polish amber adorn their walls

Leone discovers with delight that she makes jewelry.

Near Seattle, in WA we visit the Boeing factory. Everything is huge: site: 1025 acres; building: 13 million cub. m; elevator: holds 9000 kg. We see the new 787 Dreamliner with 50% carbon fibre.

In Oregon we drive along the mighty Columbia River.

We admire the famous Crater Lake from the overlooks all around it.

Salt Lake City, Utah has flower-filled squares around The Mormon temple. Within the Great Salt Lake is Antelope Island, where we spend a night and float the next morning on the surface of the saline lake water.

Juniper camp with succulents.

A radiator problem sends us to Flagstaff. There in a parts store, Jan meets David who invites us to get water at his house. (The beginning of a great friendship)

We enjoy the solitude of staying in Coconino National Forest. Yet not far from Flagstaff’s library and business centre. Jan replaces the slipping clutch friction plate in the woods.

At the Flagstaff Arboretum the guide points out, and we smell that the bark of Ponderosa Pines smells like vanilla. A section of the botanical garden. has the plants Indians traditionally used as natural dyes for hand-woven fabrics. The green house has solar heating.


At Hagemann fossil beds we saw fossils of the first horses. (Equus simpliadens). We learned that the camel evolved in North America 50 million years ago and THEN went to Asia and South America (llamas etc.)

Idaho’s capital is Boise. At the Boise Art Museum we saw huge panels of art with reflectors (like on bicycles) but of many colours, by Richard Ellis. The Museum gives you a flashlight for the best effect.

We camped next to the Salmon and Snake rivers beneath the jagged peaks of the Saw Tooth Mountains.

On Labour Day Ketchum hosts the annual wagon parade. Scores of horse and pony drawn carriages of all shapes and eras are driven through the streets.

The campground at Craters of the Moon National Monument is between cinder cones and different types of lava formations from ancient volcanic eruptions.

EBR near Idaho Falls was the first power plant in the world to produce usable electricity from nuclear energy. (1951)

At the Idaho Potato Museum. Blackfoot, we learned that onions and potatoes should not be stored together. They give off gases that spoil each other.

A fun day at the East Idaho fair Blackfoot started with looking at animals, quilts, sugar craft and ended with entertainment by singer Charley Jenkins, and a hypnotist.

He hypnotized 18 teenagers on the stage. His commands were: to sleep; with them falling off their chairs on top of one another. Other commands like “scream on a roller coaster”,” make like rock star”, “lick ice cream from a cone “, were executed hilariously..

Pocatello’s Museum of Clean has thousands of cleaning devices collected from all over the world. The owner, Don Haslett, guided us through 3 floors of objects related to cleaning, dating from many eras.

He has written scores of books on cleaning; also dvd’s like: “how to clean your bathroom in 3 minutes”


The town, Lava Hot Springs, has hot pools surrounded by beds of flowers and shade shelters over the Jacuzzi. The back drop is of trees turning autumn colours...

The stores are bursting with Halloween stuff. It is time to head for Flagstaff. Coconino National forest is a good place to sort and pack to fly home. David, Jody and Ruger come to visit in the forest. Then back to South Africa again.




We arrived in Phoenix and immediately went to Flagstaff. The awning, ordered online, was waiting at our friends’ house. It was cold and windy but with David’s long ladders, it was soon mounted.

Leone was once again taken to Albuquerque, New Mexico for The Gathering of the Nations Pow Wow. The dancing and clothing as amazingly colourful as before!

Santa Fe was still chilly at the beginning of May. After a few days on our favourite Pinon Pines farm we went to El Morro National Monument, a. lovely sandstone bluff with petroglyphs by Native Americans of the 7th to 13th C. Around 1600 Spanish pioneers found perpetual water beneath the rock face and left their inscribed names.

At The Overland Expo 2016 we visit on a windy night with the Bells of the a2a expedition, 6 of us in Dipli.

We explored south west Arizona; driving along the scenic Mogollan Rim great escarpment. The area has forests and lakes and pleasant towns like Payson, Eager and Safford.

The Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area is a green ribbon in a dry land; 3 rivers form a perennial waterway providing a life-sustaining ecosystem. It is a tranquil isolated area to camp at.

Chiricahua NM. has rhyolite rock formations from a volcanic eruption 27m years ago. Spires, balanced rocks, and strange shapes are fascinating.

We enjoyed seeing wild javelinas (peccaries).

In an 1877 silver mining camp called Tombstone, days of lawlessness and violence climaxed in the infamous “gunfight at the OK Corral”. The shooting between Wyatt Earp and brothers and the Clanton bros is re-enacted for tourists.

Kartchner Caverns, AZ is unique because it is “a wet living cave” where stalactites and stalagmites are still growing. It was only opened in 1999 and has many unbroken long thin “soda straws”. (It cost 35 million dollars to develop for tourists.)

In June the Saguaro cacti had crowns of flowers.

Biosphere 2 consists of steel and glass structures form 5 biomes: rain forest, ocean, savannah, desert and marsh. The biosphere researches an ecosystem’s ability to recycle air, water and nutrients in order to sustain human, plant and animal life.

In 1991 8 bionats entered B2 for a 2 year duty. They had to grow and harvest food. The before/after photos show them as considerably thinner after their stint.

We start the “Dress Rehearsal Tour” to enable us to plan exactly the trip with the family next year. In Bryce Canyon National Park Leone hikes up to at last get close to an ancient Bristle cone Pine tree. Some are more than 2000 years old. The stems with needles are like fox tails. The young cones are orange and have bristles.

In California we appreciate the views along the Big Sur Coast, south of San Francisco.

The ornate Hearst Castle has 165 rooms, 61 bathrooms. It was built by William Randolph Hearst from 1919 to 1950 in the .Mediterranean Revival Style by architect Julia Morgan.

When he was running his publishing empire Randolph had 60 telephones. An airplane brought all news papers everyday

In Los Angeles the Walmarts have “no overnight parking” signs. In LA all campgrounds forbid vehicles older than 10 years. South of LA we find Crystal Cove State Park with lovely ocean views. (at $50 a n!) We have a run-in with the state park police because we refused to park “back-in”, like all other campers facing the same way.

To escape the heat of the California central valley we head for the Eastern Sierras. At a landscaped rest area the sunset is enhanced by a “sierra cloud”.

We find camping in a forest near Mammoth Lakes, perfect except for the biting insects.

A radiator problem sends us back to mechanic friend David in Flagstaff.

It is August and ”Rio 2016”. We watch the Olympics with David and Jody.

Flagstaff’s logging history is depicted in the Riordan Mansion; architect: Whittlesey (a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright). Built in 1904 for 2 brothers married to 2 sisters. The home had electric lights, central heating, running water and telephones. Refrigeration was still from blocks of ice.

Leone enjoys events like the Coconino County Fair, the annual Art fare and the Pickin’ in the Pines Country Music Festival

Jan replaces the Injection Pump on Dipli.

HAWAII, Sep-Oct 2016

Dipli was placed in self-storage and we flew from Phoenix to Honolulu on Oahu Island, with as little as possible baggage, only one carry-on.

The Castle Pacific Marina Inn is a motel conveniently near the airport and Pearl Harbour. It has a court yard with palm trees surrounding the swimming pool.

We could, from there, easily be at Pearl Harbour early morning for the limited tickets.

A boat took us to the sunken USS Arizona memorial ship where, 1177 crew men had died on Dec 7 1941, when Japan bombed the naval base.

After 75 years drops of oil are still leaking from the sunken ship. They reflect rainbow colours on the surface of the sea, aptly called. “Black tears”.

We tried the local cuisine like “poke”: marinated raw tuna with ginger and sesame; “lau lau:” steamed meat-filled taro leaves. and “pupu”: snacks, “ulu: breadfruit, “pipikaula” beef jerky ’haupia”: coconut cream-custard. The most popular meal seemed to be.” loco moco”: rice, gravy, egg, bacon and hamburger.

Leone spent a morning in The Foster Botanic Garden. It has a large variety of plants like heliconias, gingers, Loulo palms (endemic to Hawaii), a cannon ball tree and a sacred fig from 1913.

Against a back drop of high-rise hotels, Waikiki’s white sandy beaches have green lawns and shady trees. Also a walking/running lane.

The nearest snorkelling beach is Hanauma Bay. Leone saw lots of pretty fishes in the sapphire and turquoise waters protected by a rugged volcanic ring.

Lunch was a picnic on Kailua Beach Park under shady palms,

The road north through central Oahu Island passes sugar and pineapple plantations and coffee farms.

The Marriot North Coast is a spanking new hotel with its own beach and a pool the size of a small lake.

Nearby Turtle Bay has a protected alcove, ideal for being startled by turtles and for swimming with them.

A whole day’s spectacle of colour and action at the Polynesian Culture centre was a once-in-a-life-time-experience. Each Polynesian island has a show of crafts or music. Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Hawaii, Tahiti, Aotearoa (New Zealand).

The canoe pageant featured vessels with dancers in brilliant different-coloured outfits.

At the banquet we each wore a lei of 40 fresh orchids. “Luau“, the traditional pork, roasted in the ground, was served together with other dishes and tropical fruits

The entertainment included fire dancing.

We returned the rented car and flew to the city of Hilo on Big Island, The Island of Hawaii. The rainfall is high on that east coast and vegetation is lush.

The foyer of our Pagoda Hilo bay hotel had 12 flower arrangements. It has a swimming pool overlooking the sea. Next door was a large Japanese garden.

Near Hilo on the summit of Mauna Kea volcano at 4,205m there are many observatories and telescopes. In downtown Hilo is the Imiloa Astronomy Centre with information and exhibits.

We also visited a macadamia nut factory, a vanilla farm and an orchid nursery.

Hawaii Island’s Kilauea volcanic crater was active. We could see the red glow and drove closer. The lava was flowing into the sea and created a steam cloud. At the Volcanoes National Park we learned about types of lava: rough and chunky: “A’a”; or smooth and ropy: “pahoehoe”.

Black lava fields lead to black beaches where green sea turtles lie. Near Naalehu is South Point, the most southerly point of the USA

Our last accommodation, in Kona on the west coast of Big Island turned out to be at a resort. We had a suite with 2 bath rooms, lounge, full kitchen with washing machine and drier. Fortunately 2 TV’s. One for Trump vs. Clinton.

Leone could snorkel from a walk-in beach and from a rock ledge into a bay with colourful coral and sea life.

In the evening there was a hula dancing show on the green lawn with a backdrop of palms and the azure sea.

Crowds of fit looking people and scores of bicycles gathered in Kona for the annual Iron Man World triathlon Champs.

We returned via Phoenix to South Africa.

This journey up to October 2016:

Time on the road (excluding home visits): 8 years 2 months

Kilometres driven: 333 000 Countries visited: 111 (with Dipli) + 8 without. US States: 49 + 1

Go to 0 Contents