First days. Acquaintance with the inhabitants of California
In fact, initially Zhenya and I did not understand why we were going to America. We didn’t know anything about it and never burned with the desire to visit it, unlike “free” Europe. They just submitted documents to the embassy for the company of friends, they turned out to be two lucky ones who received visas. They thought for a long time, took the skateboards under their arm and flew to sunny California.
It seems that only after arriving in Los Angeles, we began to understand what was happening in general and that we were on the other side of the planet. Despite being tired and late, the first thing we did from the airport was to pre-booked cabriolet. On him we spent moreth часть already funny for States budget, и я was sure that at the end of the journey we will have to beg in the Beverly Hills area. An hour later we sat в latest Mustang and, gathering remains forces, rushed в downtown. Был evening fridays,butthere was no one in the center. we wandered half an hour и for a well deserved rest chose the firstfallen place — Long Beach. parked under palm trees overlooking the raging ocean and, hunched over, fell asleep в convertible that became our home for that night and the following nights.
The next morning opened for us a three-week series of daily surprises and discoveries. Walking along the beach, we caught the smiles and greetings of every passerby. Giant pelicans flew around us, pet dogs rushed around with Frisbees, sports pensioners ran. In the States, I expected to see heroes of reality shows that are not burdened with intelligence, which are shown to us on entertainment channels, but my assumptions were destroyed: people here are intelligent, open and friendly, in any case, Californians. There are few types of reality show heroes, but they meet – they make greasy jokes and look indecent. Everyone looks fit, fresh and cheerful: both young people and middle-aged people, and old people. It is striking that the people here are very beautiful, but not with the beauty that is planted on TV screens and magazine covers. It is felt that each person enjoys their appearance, life, city, and this is reflected in their appearance. No one is embarrassed to stand out, so getting the attention of locals is not easy. Some residents look bold, and some do not bother – they go in whatever they have to. At the same time, here, as in other American cities, one can often meet urban lunatics thrown to the sidelines of life.
At some point, Zhenya pointed to the ocean, and not far from the coast, I saw wild dolphins emerging from the water around a slowly swimming windsurfer. And this is in the suburbs of a huge metropolis! Where it seems to be in the order of things. We watched for five minutes, not daring to move.
Exchanging greetings with the localswe went back to the car and went in search of a gas station, or rather, a gas station. Dhaving reached the goal, mы,like teenagers, uestriplets on the curb next to the parking lot, had breakfast and looked at пgas station visitors: exemplary family men or guys who look like members of criminal gangs. I had breakfast contents of two kosher meals from chestkov, which were left untouched by the rabbi, our neighbor on the plane – I appropriated them.Always wanted to know that same хwounded in these chests. Suitable for vegan there were hummus, bun, jam and waffle.
Confused in the vast Los Angeles and its suburbs, we postponed inspection cities for later and headed out in San Diego, where we were waiting Trevor, friend and former classmate my Italian friend. Along the way we сreturned to the lookout overlooking the ocean. There we were attacked by fat chipmunks, and we treated them to peanuts.Standing among the thorns and chipmunks, Zhenya asked me: “Do you believe that we were in Moscow a day ago?”
It was already dark when we todrove to small two-story at home. Cassie — Trevor girls. Оnor with friends met us on the veranda.Together we set off to mexicanoh cafe nearby. chatting, we absorbed huge vegan quesadillas, burrito and corn chips. By the way, even in the most ordinary American eatery there will always be an exquisite or simply pleasant vegan dish: for example, several types of plant-based milk are attached to coffee at every gas station. О children do not know anything about life in Russia, and often they delicately askwere leaked explain us obvious, for example – what is an avocado. They are were super hospitable, treated us to everything, what was in their field of vision, not taking objections.
We spent several unforgettable days in San Diego. And if on the first morning, waking up hunched on a non-reclining car seat, I scrolled the thought in my head: “How did I get here?” The next morning I had no doubt that this place would remain one of my favorites. On this day, we visited a real American flea market with Mexicans in hats and mustachioed cowboys with beer bellies, mountains of jeans, old guitars and skateboards. In addition to rarities in the form of 40-year-old soda and baseball accessories of the same age, we managed to find a can of Russian red caviar from the 90s. Didn’t buy.
Since America does not have a rich history, there are no impressive monuments in its cities, and San Diego is no exception. The city is located in southern California near the Mexican border, whose influence is felt in everything: the historic center consists of white houses hung with sombreros and ponchos, and tacos for every taste can be tasted at every step.
Almost every day, the guys treated us to the coolest vegan donuts (donuts) in the city (the kind that Homer Simpson devours in huge quantities) – fried and baked, drizzled with icing, sprinkled with cookie pieces – local vegans certainly do not suffer from a lack of food delights.
Also, a mandatory program of every day was a visit to the beaches, sometimes human, but more often – seals. Seal Beaches is another striking example of how the big cities of California are in harmony with nature. These friendly, huge, but at the same time defenseless “larvae” lie with their cubs right on the coasts and are practically not afraid of people passing by. Some seal pups even respond to extraneous sounds. In the same place we tracked down crabs, gave fingers for trial to predatory blue sea flowers.
Kessy works at the main zoo in the States. She gave us two tickets, assuring us that the animals in their zoo were taken care of, some wild animals were rehabilitated and then released into the wild, and I decided that visiting it would not be a crime against my conscience for me. Only when I entered it, I saw pink flamingos without half of the wing – a measure so that they would not fly away. The enclosures of the animals are large, but they clearly do not have enough space. The feeling of depression left me only at the exit from the zoo.
At home, the guys have a black royal snake named Krumpus and a leopard gecko named Sanlips. We seem to have found a common language, in any case, Sunlips pulled her tongue to my face, and Krumpus wrapped herself around her arm and fell asleep while I was browsing the Internet.
Nature and some fun
On the sixth day of the trip, it was time to say goodbye to the hospitable San Diego – we went to the Grand Canyon. We drove up to it at night along an unlit road, and in the headlights on the sides of the road, deer eyes, horns, tails and butts flashed here and there. In flocks, these animals passed right in front of moving cars and were not afraid of anything. After stopping ten miles from our destination, we went back to sleep in our RV.
In the morning, as usual, we had breakfast on the curb and went to the park. We were driving along the road, and at some point a canyon appeared on the left side. It was hard to believe my eyes – it seemed that a huge photo wallpaper unfolded in front of us. We parked near the observation deck and rode the boards to the edge of the world. It seemed as if the Earth had cracked and pulled apart at the seams. Standing on the edge of a huge canyon and trying to capture the part of it that is accessible to the eye, you realize how pathetic the short human existence is against the backdrop of something so powerful.
All day long we hung over cliffs, roamed over moss and rocks, trying to track deer, lynx, mountain goats or lions along the tracks of feces left by them here and there. We met a thin poisonous snake. We walked all alone – tourists do not move away from the sites allotted to them further than a hundred meters. For several hours we lay in sleeping bags on a cliff and met the sunset there. The next day it became crowded – it was Saturday, and it was time for us to move on. At the exit of the park, the deer we were looking for crossed our path by itself.
For the sake of curiosity, we also looked into Las Vegas, which is located near the Grand Canyon. We arrived there in the middle of the day. There is no trace of Californian friendliness left in it – only employees of entertainment establishments are friendly. Dirty, the wind drives garbage, consisting of fast food packages. The city embodies the negative image of America – the contrast of luxury and poverty, rude faces, vulgar girls, gangs of aggressive teenagers. One of these guys followed us – followed us on our heels, even when they tried to outsmart him. I had to hide in the store – he waited a bit and left.
As darkness fell, more and more lights lit up in the city, bright and beautiful. It looked colorful, but artificial, like the fun that people go to Vegas for. We walked along the main street, periodically going into huge casinos, spying on funny pensioners at slot machines. For the rest of the evening, like schoolchildren, we looked at the curvy croupiers and casino dancers, climbed to the top of the highest hotel, pretending to be successful Americans.
One evening in the artificial city was enough, and we went to the Sequoia National Park, the road to which lay through Death Valley. I do not know what we expected to see, but apart from sand, stones and unbearable heat, there was nothing there. It bothered us after twenty minutes of contemplation. After driving a short distance, we noticed that the entire surface around was white. Zhenya suggested that it was salt. To check, I had to taste – salt. Previously, on the site of the desert there was a lake connected with the Pacific Ocean, but it dried up, and the salt remained. I collected it in a cap and then salted the tomatoes.
For a long time we drove through mountain serpentines and deserts – dry thorns were every minute replaced by stones, which then were replaced by flowers of all shades. We drove to the park of giant Sequoia trees through orange groves, and when we arrived at the park at night, it seemed that we were in a magical forest.
Sequoia Wonder Forest
The road to the forest lies through the mountains, steep serpentines, and a mountain river flows rapidly nearby. A trip to it after canyons and deserts is a breath of fresh air, especially since the forest exceeded our expectations. The area of the trunk of each adult sequoia is larger than the area of my room, the area of the General Sherman, the largest tree on Earth, is 31 square meters. m. – nearly two-room apartment. The age of each mature tree is approximately two thousand years. For half a day we kicked giant cones, chased lizards and poked around in the snow. When we returned to the car, Zhenya suddenly fell asleep, and I decided to walk alone.
I climbed mountains, hills and huge stones, jumped on dry branches and stopped at the edge of the forest. Throughout the walk, I indulged in thinking aloud, which at the edge of the forest took on the form of a full-fledged monologue. For an hour I walked back and forth on the trunk of a fallen tree and philosophized loudly. When the monologue was coming to an end, behind me I heard a deafening crack that broke the idyll of my edge. I turned around and twenty meters away I saw two bear cubs climbing a tree, under which, apparently, their mother was guarding them. The realization that for an hour I had been making noise near the bears immobilized me for a moment. I took off and ran, jumping over forest obstacles, seized with fear and joy at the same time.
We left the sequoia forest in the evening, going to the next point – Yosemite National Park, having previously robbed an orange grove for a box of fruit.
Yosemite National Park
In the States, we discovered something new every day, and the state of constant surprise began to develop into a habit and fatigue, but nevertheless we decided not to deviate from the plan and visit Yosemite National Park.
Нand in words, the description of the wonders of local nature looks monotonous, because there are no words to describe these places. All day we skateboarded along small paths in a green valley among mountains and waterfalls, chasing free-roaming Bambi deer. These miracles already sound ordinary, so I will repeat: we rode among the rocks, waterfalls and deer. We were intoxicated by what was happening and behaved like children: we ran, hitting rare tourists, laughed for no reason, jumped and danced non-stop.
On our way back from the park to the car, we found a dying brazier by the river and had a barbecue of Mexican tortillas and beans on it with a view of the waterfall.
We spent the last week between Oakland and Berkeley with Vince, whom I found on couchsurfing, and his friends. Vince is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Childlike, a hooligan, a vegetarian, a traveler, a climber, he works in a union, controls the working conditions of workers, and plans to become mayor. For every occasion, he has a lot of stories, my favorite of which is about his trip to Russia. Together with a friend, not knowing a word of Russian, in the winter he traveled from Moscow to China, studying every backwoods of our country. The police tried several times to steal his passport, in Perm they tried to rob him gopnics – that’s what he called them, in a passing village a vulgar aged snow maiden tried to make acquaintance with him, and on the border with Mongolia, on a hunger strike for two days due to the fact that all the shops were closed on New Year’s holidays, stole a bag of tea from the police and tried to eat it secretly from his friend.
He said that he wanted us to leave his house with the confidence that this is the best place on Earth, and stubbornly went to the goal. Free from political activities, he spent time with us, inventing entertainment. Even if we weren’t hungry, he made us eat the most delicious vegan cheeseburgers, pizza and smoothies, took us to concerts, took us to San Francisco and out of town.
We became friends not only with Vince, but also with his neighbors. During the week of our visit, we put his Dominican friend Rances on a skateboard and inspired him to become a vegetarian – with us he ate the last chicken wings in his life. Rances has a smart cat named Calise, who goes on climbing trips with him.
They have another neighbor, Ross, a languid, silent guy who is also a climber. Together we went to visit friends of the guys on Tahoe – a blue lake among snow-capped mountains, waterfalls and forests. They live in a spacious wooden house on the edge of the forest with two giant Labradors, the largest of which, Buster, has become my pillow and heating pad while I sleep.
Together they made our days unforgettable, and I do not remember any place I left with such regret as Auckland.
Last day in the city of angels
This is how we spent these three weeks, either communicating with hospitable American vegetarians and vegans, or sleeping in our camper in the wild.
We spent the last day of our trip in Los Angeles with local intellectual skater Rob, driving around the city in his car, enjoying soy ice cream. A few hours before our flight, we were having fun in Rob’s luxury hotel-like house, jumping outdoors from the jacuzzi to the pool and back again.
When I started writing this story, I wanted to tell about the cities and the impressions of visiting them, but it turned out to be about nature, about people, about feelings and emotions. After all, the essence of travel is not to see something and tell about it, but to be inspired by a foreign culture and discover new horizons. Returning to the first words of this article, I answer the question: why did I go to America? Probably, in order to find out how similar the dreams and aspirations of people living in different parts of the world, regardless of the state, mentality, language and political propaganda. And, of course, to try vegan burritos, donuts and cheeseburgers.
Anna SAKHAROVA traveled.