In the summer of 2019 I set off to do a classic east-coast-west-coast roadtrip with my father. We took the southern route, going towards Florida first and then continuing west along the southern border passing through Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, . The trip took 5 weeks. We mostly used AirBnB for lodging booked on the road as we went.

 

 

Baja California is a state in Mexico. It is the northernmost and westernmost of the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico.  It has an area of 70,113 km2 (27,071 sq mi), or 3.57% of the land mass of the country.  Its geography ranges from beaches to forests and deserts. The backbone of the state is the Sierra de Baja California, where the Picacho del Diablo, the highest point of the peninsula, is located. This mountain range effectively divides the weather patterns in the state. In the northwest, the weather is semi-dry and mediterranean. In the narrow center, the weather changes to be more humid due to altitude. It is in this area where a few valleys can be found, such as the Valle de Guadalupe, the major wine-producing area in Mexico. To the east of the mountain range, the Sonoran Desert dominates the landscape. In the south, the weather becomes drier and gives way to the Vizcaino Desert. The state is also home to numerous islands off both of its shores. In fact, the westernmost point in Mexico, the Guadalupe Island, is part of Baja California. The Coronado, Todos Santos and Cedros Islands are also on the Pacific Shore. On the Gulf of California, the biggest island is the Angel de la Guarda, separated from the peninsula by the deep and narrow Canal de Ballenas.

       Located in Ulster County, NY Minnewaska State Park Preserve is situated on the dramatic Shawangunk Mountain ridge, which rises more than 2,000 feet above sea level and is surrounded by rugged, rocky terrain. The park features numerous waterfalls, three crystalline sky lakes, dense hardwood forests, incising sheer cliffs and ledges opening to beautiful views, clear streams cut into valleys, 35 miles of carriage roads and 50 miles of footpaths on which to bike, walk, hike and simply enjoy. And, all this within an hour and a half drive from New York City. Four of the five sky lakes on the Shawangunk Ridge lie within the preserve: Lake Minnewaska, Lake Awosting, Mud Pond (also known as Lake Haseco), and Lake Maratanza. Lake Minnewaska is a bit less than one-half mile (0.8 km) long by one-eighth mile (0.2 km) wide at its widest point. Lake Awosting is roughly three times as large, with a length of about one and an eighth miles (1.8 km) and a maximum width of about one-quarter mile (0.4 km) mile.

 

     La Vérendrye wildlife reserve is one of the largest reserves in the province of Quebec, Canada, covering 12,589 square kilometers of contiguous land and lake area. It is named after Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye, a French-Canadian explorer. Located 180 kilometres (110 mi) north of Ottawa, it is traversed from south to north by Route 117.

     With more than 4000 lakes and rivers and two huge reservoirs (Cabonga and Dozois), the wilderness territory is a venue of choice for outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to hunting and fishing, it also offers the opportunity to practice wilderness camping or canoe camping on more than 800 kilometres (500 mi) of interconnecting canoe routes.

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Whiteface Mountain is the fifth-highest mountain in the U.S. state of New York, and one of the High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. Set apart from most of the other High Peaks, the summit offers a 360-degree view of the Adirondacks and clear-day glimpses of Vermont and even Canada, where the skyscrapers of Montreal, away, can be seen on a very clear day. A great skiing destination, the Whiteface Mountain, home to 1980 Winter Olympic Games, is often called the Ice Face, because of icy conditions that occur along with extreme temperatures.  On a coldest day of my stay, December 27 of 2017, the temperatures at the summit dropped to -30C, some of those photos were taken that day.

 

Niagara Falls is one of those places that you hear about early on in your life, probably in geography classes when they tell you it’s the largest fall in the world. You imagine it being really high. It actually isn’t so. Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between Canada and the United States; more specifically, between the province of Ontario and the state of New York. They form the southern end of the Niagara Gorge.

Located on the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, the combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world that has a vertical drop of more than 165 feet (50 m). Horseshoe Falls is the most powerful waterfall in North America, as measured by flow rate. The falls are 17 miles (27 km) north-northwest of Buffalo, New York, and 75 miles (121 km) south-southeast of Toronto, between the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York.

Niagara Falls was formed when glaciers receded at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation (the last ice age), and water from the newly formed Great Lakes carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment en route to the Atlantic Ocean. While not exceptionally high, Niagara Falls is very wide. More than six million cubic feet (168,000 m3) of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow, and almost four million cubic feet (110,000 m3) on average.

Niagara Falls is famed both for its beauty and as a valuable source of hydroelectric power. Balancing recreational, commercial, and industrial uses has been a challenge for the stewards of the falls since the 19th century.

The Camargue is a natural region located south of Arles, France, between the Mediterranean Sea and the two arms of the Rhône River delta. The eastern arm is called the Grand Rhône; the western one is the Petit Rhône. With an area of over 930 km2 (360 sq mi), the Camargue is western Europe’s largest river delta. It is a vast plain comprising large brine lagoons or étangs, cut off from the sea by sandbars and encircled by reed-covered marshes. These are in turn surrounded by a large cultivated area.

Approximately a third of the Camargue is either lakes or marshland. The central area around the shoreline of the Étang de Vaccarès has been protected as a regional park since 1927, in recognition of its great importance as a haven for wild birds. In 2008, it was incorporated into the larger Parc naturel régional de Camargue. The Camargue is home to more than 400 species of birds. Its brine ponds provide one of the few European habitats for the greater flamingo. The marshes are also a prime habitat for many species of insects, notably (and notoriously) some of the most ferocious mosquitos to be found anywhere in France. I learned about it the hard way. Camargue horses (Camarguais) roam the extensive marshlands, along with Camargue cattle.

Salt has been harvested in the Camargue since Roman times but it became an industry in the 19th century when Pechiney built a factory here. Sea water is pumped from March to September and flows across different salt flats before arriving in the salt pans. By then it is saturated in salt, and the water is evaporated by the sun and the wind so that the salt can crystallize. It will then be harvested between late August and early October before being used on winter roads or for industrial products.

Few areas of France are as distinctive as the Camargue; and apart from dramatic mountain areas, few are as interesting.

Iceland stole my heart from the very first day. It’d been on my list for a longer while, the first attempt to see it failed in December 2012 due to lack of funds, but I finally managed to get there 4 years later. It wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be, but it surely was just as pretty as I’d imagined it. At first I was slightly disappointed not to see fresh snow, but then I realized I could actually see more of the landscapes – not just an endless whiteness, so that worked out well too. Iceland in winter is all about that soft light, waterfalls, horses and – if you’re lucky – the Aurora Borealis. I did get lucky one night up north and saw a breathtaking spectacle of dancing green light – an unforgettable and unreal sight. I will be coming back for more without a doubt.

 

        My second time in California and it was really good to see San Francisco again. First time in Yosemite though! In the year when National Parks of America celebrate their 100th anniversary, I had the privilege of discovering one of its finest gems – the majestic Yosemite National Park – full of animals and sweet light. Roadtrip is embedded in the American history because there’s no better way to see this huge country and it is my favorite way of traveling as well. Once we were done with Yosemite, we followed Highway 1 running along the coast – the classic route – through Big Sur all the way to Los Angeles. So much to see while bathing in the bright Californian sun.

 

 

Check out those 3 short timelapses below!

          I finally managed to get to know Canada! albeit only a tiny bit of it. Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were the provinces we visited on a 12 day roadtrip kicking off from Montreal – a beautiful city speaking that beautiful language. A city I could see myself living in. Summer roadtrips and camping are unique in that the temperatures allow you to be outside all the time and soak it all in. A pleasantly warm Canadian summer with amazing skies was a much wanted break from steaming New York.