California Dreamin’

I can’t believe how fast time has gone, and that I’m leaving the US tomorrow already. These last few days have been crazy, we’ve been leaving the apartment in the morning, come back in the afternoon to shower and switch clothes and then not come back again until late at night. Luckily we’ve been having so much fun, here is a short (HAHA like you believe that…) recap of everything we’ve been up to.

On Wednesday, our first day in LA we headed back north to Camarillo to go to an outlet. My interest in shopping is very limited, unless it’s for bicycles or outdoor gear, so I left my parents to their own devices and headed to the IMAX cinema which was conveniently located there too. While mom went shopping and dad was people watching, I saw the new Mission Impossible movie which I loved. And the lead woman was Swedish, I had no idea she would be in it. I love that so many Swedish women are doing so well in Hollywood at the moment. Since it was a Wednesday at noon, we were only 4 people in the entire cinema, just how I like it.
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After the movie my parents were luckily done too, so after a quick coffee stop we got back in the car to head towards downtown LA. Unfortunately we hit a bit of rush hour, but when is it not rush hour in LA though? It took us maybe 1,5 hours to get there, which was fine. Dad and I got off at Staples Center, because when the tickets to this concert were released I was in Vienna for work. They were released at 19:00 CET and at exactly that moment I was about to do an interview, so my mom got the incredible honor of trying to get me a ticket. I told her that whenever Taylor plays at Staples Center it sells out in less than a minute so if she couldn’t get them it was fine, but she managed to get me vip pit tickets! Yay! They bought them with dad’s card though so he needed to pick them up in person. I had brought the sunglasses I got last week with me, since I wear prescription sunglasses I can’t wear them, so when I saw a little girl and her mom taking photos and looking super excited for the concert, I gave them to her. She got so happy, definitely worth it.
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The pit is right next to the stage, and I only had two girls in front of me who were both much shorter than me. Next to me was another girl named Megan who had been to all 5 (FIVE!) of the LA concerts and had also been invited to the 1989 secret session in LA last year, where she got to go to Taylor’s house in Beverly Hills and listen to the album before it become available. It was so fun to hear the story from when she met Taylor and from the party, I think everyone standing in the pit were completely spellbound and SO jealous.  Taylor’s dancers came out to say hi and take pictures as well, that was fun.
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Then we got to see Vance Joy perform (third time seeing him for me this summer…) and also HAIM which was a lot of fun. This was the first time I got to see them and they were so talented.
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And then it was time for Taylor. It was SO much fun being that close to the stage, actually seeing all the facial expressions and little things you miss otherwise, it was just amazing. And the guest artists! We heard from the security guys that Selena Gomez and Justin Timberlake was gonna be there, which was true and so much fun. But when she said “you guys need to be really nice to my next guest because she has only ever played at a very small coffee shop before. Please welcome Phoebe Buffay!” I though everyone was gonna die. The sound level went up like crazy, because watching Lisa Kudrow walk out on the stage while in the character of Phoebe from Friends to sing Smelly Cat was just beyond anything I ever could have imagined. BEST. NIGHT. EVER. Sorry not sorry for the abundance of pictures from the concert.
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It was just SO MUCH FUN! If you ever have the chance to see her in concert, even if you’re not a huge fan, GO. It’s such an amazing show that it’s hard to describe. I love that woman so much. There is a chance I might try to get tickets for her Australia tour too… OH! And after she had played We are never ever getting back together which has been turned into a rock song for the tour, she threw her guitar pick into the pit where I was standing. It literally landed on me and I caught it completely shocked. The others standing around me glared a bit… like I said, BEST NIGHT EVER.
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Here is the video for Smelly Cat live if anyone wants to enjoy that. I highly recommend doing so :)

The next day we went down to the Santa Monica pier, and also rented bikes so that we could ride around Venice Beach. My hand is about the same in pain level, maybe a bit better, but I can ride a beach cruise with one hand so it was fine.
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When I lived in LA I lived just south of Venice, so I’ve spent a lot of time there. I took my parents around the beach area, but also to where the actual canals it’s named after are located. It’s so beautiful there.
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We also walked some along the shops at the boardwalk, and swam in the ocean. Just the perfect beach day.
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That night we drove to Marina Del Rey so I could show my mother where I lived for a year, and we also of course went to the Cheesecake Factory and enjoyed the sunset from their patio. We could also see all the planes arriving at LAX, the sky looked like it was filled with fireflies almost.
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On Friday my parents had arranged for us to go to Universal Studios, where I’ve never been before so I was really excited too. They had even bought us front of the line passes so we wouldn’t have to actually stand in line at any of the rides. Well spent money. One of the best parts was the actual studio tour, that took us around the entire premises and they also had some fun 3D attractions while on the train. It was amazing.
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I love Harry Potter, too bad it doesn’t open until the spring! My brother is going to the one in Orlando this fall though with his family, they’ll have to take a bunch of pictures and send to me. 
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I got more excited about seeing a Wicked poster than the actual studios, it’s one of my favorite musicals. 
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Heading into the King Kong 3D attraction. 
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Whoville from the Grinch! 

We spent the day going on rides and just enjoying the park. It was a lot of fun, but many of the attractions were “just” 3D rides and not actual roller coasters. It’s a very small park though so I guess that’s a good solution. We really loved the stunt show though!
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I love Jurassic Park!

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So wet after the Jurassic park ride. We went through a waterfall at the end after a huge drop, and got soaked. 
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Parks is one of my favorite shows ever. So funny. I love Amy Poehler. 
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Stunt show. It was really good.

The next day which was Saturday, we had booked a tour of Beverly Hills and Hollywood. My parents wanted to go on some kind of tour, so when we were approached at the Santa Monica Pier by some guy we actually signed up for the tour right there and then… not something I usually do, but it turned out great. It was a small bus, only 12 of us on it and our guide Ryan had a lot of knowledge about the area, and was very funny.
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This is the hotel where Richard Gere stay in Pretty Woman. 
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Our next stop was Beverly Hills where we would be shown celebrity homes. I had earlier googled where Taylor lives but come up with nothing. So when Ryan pulled up next to some gates and said the magic words “This is Taylor Swift’s house” I gasped so loud that everyone in the bus heard. YAY! Even though you barely could see anything it was still fun.
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Taylor’s house! 
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Such clear air in Los Angeles… hm. 
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After Beverly Hills we went to Hollywood. The house below is where Julia Roberts lived in Pretty Woman. 
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Ingrid Bergman is my favorite. Casablanca is one of my favorite movies of all time (I say this a lot, I know, but it’s true!) 
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The stairs up to the Dolby Theater where the Academy Awards are held each year. On each side all the Best Movie winners from each year are placed. So much goodness. 
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After Hollywood we were driven to the Grove so we could have lunch at the Farmer’s market. I enjoyed some seafood gumbo to make up for the food I couldn’t eat when I was in New Orleans, it was delicious.
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The entire tour took 5,5 hours in total and it was a lot of fun. I really recommend Surf city tours.

We were pretty tired after that, it’s been so incredibly hot this past week in LA, around 30-38 degrees every day. So typical that they get a heat wave just when we arrive. We had a nice French dinner and did some shopping on Third street later that night. In Sweden we watch tv and eat tacos on Friday nights, here people go shopping… IMG_7632

Today has been our last full day in the United States, and my 89th day here. We just wanted a slow day so a day at the beach was perfect.
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How do you spot a Swiftie at the beach? The bag and the magazine might be a giveaway… 
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The waves and the current were INSANE. I fell over several times because I simply it was pushing on my legs to hard for me to be able to stand. A lot of fun though. 
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Skate park right by the beach in Venice. 
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Venice beach, the most decadent place in all of Los Angeles and of course there are people with these signs. These type of things are something I won’t miss about America.

So here we go. My 90 day visa is up, and tomorrow evening I get on a plane to Brisbane, Australia. I can’t believe I’ve already been here for 3 whole months. It’s been the most adventurous and wonderful months of my life. I can’t believe all the fun things I’ve gotten to experience during my time here, but I honestly couldn’t have wished for anything better. We have talked a lot in the past few days that maybe this accident was supposed to happen somehow, so that I would be able to experience all of these things instead. No matter what, I leave this country with no regrets, only a promise to come back as soon as I can.

And as for Australia? People keep telling me “what are you going to do when you get there?” and I honestly have no idea. I have no plans really, which I don’t mind though. I have had no time to make any plans except to actually book my ticket there. But isn’t that the greatest adventure, just letting life take you where it wants?

I’m sure Australia will be just as big of an adventure as the United States has been. I can’t wait!

Heading down the 101, California here we come.

On Friday last week I headed out of Mariposa and Yosemite to go back to San Francisco, to meet my parents at the airport. I dropped off my car and waited for them to arrive, which they did almost on the dot. All of a sudden it felt like no time had passed at all since June 2nd when I saw them last, except that we were now on the other side of the world. We took the very important selfie and then got in a taxi back to the same hotel I stayed in last weekend.
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After having checked in (yes, I managed to get us upgraded into a slightly better room :)) I forced them to come eat at Cheesecake Factory with me. It wasn’t a very long night for either of us, I was tired from driving and they from flying from Chicago.

The next day we had exciting plans, as we had booked tickets to go out to Alcatraz. I have been there before but I thought it was great last time so I was looking forward to it. We got on the boat and headed out to the island.
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Once you get there you can watch a short documentary about the history of Alcatraz, and once you get to the prison you’re issued an audioguide that let’s you go on a tour at your own pace. I think it’s such a fun experience and even my mom, who had no expectations, loved it. And we were in luck, because an actual former prisoner was there to sign a book he recently published about his time doing time at Alcatraz. So cool. His name is Robert Luke, prisoner AZ1118.
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After getting back to San Francisco we just walked around Fisherman’s Wharf for a bit before taking a bicycle taxi up to Chinatown. We felt kind of sorry for the guy who had to pedal all three of us up the hills of SF, but he kept reassuring us that he likes his job, and he does this by choice and we should not feel sorry for him. Well, okay then…
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Sea lions at Fisherman’s wharf.
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Hej! Out of all the world’s greetings, the Swedish one was at the middle of the heart at Union Square.

Later that evening we enjoyed some drinks at the skybar at the 46th floor of our hotel. My parents couldn’t believe their eyes when I got asked for my ID (as per usual) and they thought it was hilarious when the waitress said “but you look so young!” when she looked at it. Well… thank you I guess. I’m not sure anymore. 
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The next day we were going on one of the typical hop on hop off busses, which we had a very bad start with. We had to switch buses three times and we couldn’t hear anything the guides said and I was preparing to write a very bad review on tripadvisor in my head. Luckily that all changed after we switched buses after we had been to the Golden Gate bridge, so let’s get back to that later.
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This building was built and is owned by Francis Ford Coppola! He used to have an editing suite at the top floor, where apparently the Godfather movies were edited. Pretty neat. I love his daughters work more though, as Sofia Coppolas film Lost in Translation is one of my all-time favorites. 
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The traditional jump shot. 
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After Golden Gate we got back on another tour bus which completely changed the entire experience. The bus was different so we heard the guide much better, and he was so funny. I’m so happy it all turned around, and that we had a good experience in the end. We got off in Little Italy, to go to Lombard street, which is a very famous place as well.
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After two days full of sightseeing and experiences (and shopping, I bought shoes!) we were ready to head down the coast.
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Rainbow shoes in the rainbow city, very fitting.

Monday morning we picked up our new rental car, a white Ford that looks almost exactly like Stacey! I think that’s why I’ve had such a hard time picking a new name for her. I’m thinking that Betsy might be it though… let’s see. I drove us out of San Francisco and towards highway 1, before my dad got behind the wheel and I could just enjoy the scenery fully for the first time this entire road trip. It was nice.
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When I was in Houston at Janet and Phil’s they told me about the 17 mile drive in Monterey south of San Francisco, so I told my parents that we needed to drive it. It’s a small road that goes through a really fancy neighborhood and it also took us to Pebble Beach golf club which my dad really liked since he’s a golfer. It’s a very famous golf club which even I knew from playing the Tiger Woods computer game when I was a kid. (it was the only game we had. I was such a deprived child haha.) It was so beautiful and we saw sea lions and all different kinds of birds and just enjoyed the scenery mostly.
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The Picture:
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How the picture was taken:
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We finally got to Pebble Beach and I think we attracted a few weird stares when we took this. 
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It was fun to see and a very nice addition to Highway 1.

Our destination for the night was San Simeon halfway between SF and LA, which felt like the perfect stop. It would have been way too far to drive the entire way in one day, at least along the tiny and winding hwy 1.
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Sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

When we had dinner with a view of the ocean my dad kept saying “it looks just like a whale out in the ocean, I keep seeing bursts of water!” and mom and I didn’t believe him. We would come to regret that. But first, on Tuesday morning we had tickets to Hearst Castle, which is located high up on a mountain in San Simeon. I had absolutely no expectations for that place, which just made me absolutely love it. We went on a tour of the grand rooms of this insane place, and I really recommend it. Hearst was a media tycoon and begun building the castle in 1919, so he wouldn’t have to sleep in a tent up in the mountains when he came there… well, it’s certainly a bit different from a tent. He used to have people there all the time, mostly famous people from Hollywood but also sports stars and politicians in the 30’s and 40’s. Had I been invited I would never had wanted to leave.
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Look at that pool! I really, really wanted to take a dip.

After the castle we headed south on highway 1 again, towards Los Angeles. As we started driving my dad said “Pay attention here, it’s where I saw whales last night!” and to my big surprise I saw one just seconds later. We pulled over and were entertained by several huge whales swimming really close for a long time feeding and making everyone gathered go “OOOOH” over and over again. So cool, I have never seen whales in the wild before.
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After that we headed south, but we had to drive through Solvang first though, which is a Danish city in California. It’s really cute, and surprisingly very Scandinavian. But after many hours on the road, and more than 10 000 km driven by me in this country this summer, I reached my final destination: Los Angeles. We have rented an apartment in Santa Monica through AirBnB here, and it’s so nice. It’s a penthouse actually, and I love it. So nice to have space to move around!
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It’s very close to Third Street Promenade and the Santa Monica Pier which was my requirements, and I think my parents agreed once they saw the apartment and the location. Now we have five full days here, which I’m looking forward to a lot. I can’t believe that this is my last week in this country though, I don’t want to leave… stupid visa rules. But I’m sure I’ll enjoy Australia too, once I get there!
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On Wednesday I’m seeing Taylor Swift again, so excited about that, but we have a fun week ahead of us, that’s for sure. So come on now America, give me all you got these last days in your country!

Yosemite, you magical wonderland.

On Monday I enjoyed a rest day. I drank red wine and watched movies and it was glorious. End of story.

But on Tuesday it was time to get in the car and drive to Yosemite. I’m staying in a tiny town west of the national park called Mariposa, just 1700 people live here but it’s perfect for me. It takes about an hour to drive to Yosemite, but considering how much driving I’ve been doing this summer I don’t think that’s too bad. I decided to head to Glacier Point, as the nurses at the hospital had told me that I needed to go there. I’m happy they did.
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At a place called tunnel view, where you can look into the Yosemite valley. So pretty.

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The main attraction at Glaciers Point is Half Dome which can be seen here to the left in the picture. It’s really, really cool and all the pictures I took almost look like paintings. I swear I didn’t do anything with them or use a backdrop, this is how the actual place looks. Amazing!
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After having spent some time there I decided to just follow a trail and go on a little hike. It was very warm though and it didn’t turn out quite as small as planned. Also I didn’t realize that it was just downhill the entire way to the waterfall I walked to, but I sure noticed on the way back… some random man and I really struggled with the heat and the steep hills while his son basically bounced ahead. Ugh, kids… :)
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After that strenuous hike I was all too ready to find somewhere to cool down, and luckily I drove past a stream with a lot of people swimming just a short while later. It was so nice and cool in the water.

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On Wednesday I had done some research and decided to hike to a place called Mirror Lake. The pictures I saw from that place looked amazing so I parked and started walking. Well, after having embarrassed myself after asking a park ranger where to find water when I was standing right next to the pump…oh well. You can’t always succeed.
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So this is what greeted me when I got there. It’s August and California is in a drought, maybe I should have done better research of the current conditions of the lake, since there wasn’t one. It was completely dried out. It was still good though, and so pretty.

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Usually this rock is submerged in water.

But not to worry, there is still water in the park and as I hiked back a different trail I found this stream where I spent an hour reading and snacking. Perfect.

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I walked around the entire valley but I still felt pretty tired so I decided to drive back to the hotel and rest instead. I read and swam in the pool and then treated myself to a really nice dinner. I love these tiny little towns so much, they’re calm and friendly and I actually prefer them to the giant cities.
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Thursday was my last day in the park, and I knew that I wanted to hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail during my stay here. The only problem is that it goes through the east part, a 2,5 hour drive from my hotel. I didn’t let that deter me though, as this was a dream of mine. It wasn’t that bad of a drive though, even if I still get annoyed with how stressed so many people are. There are huge signs about not speeding, and that 15 bears every year gets hit by speeding cars, and still people drive like maniacs. I hate it.
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Oh well. I got there safe and sound at around 9:30, and was so giddy when I saw the PCT sign that I was bouncing.
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It was a hot day and the trail was pretty packed later on in the day, but during the morning hours it was just me and a few other backpackers. Almost everyone else I met wore huge packs and were planning to be out for days, jealous! I didn’t meet any thru-hikers which is good, since they should be much further north now to make it in time before the snow. I did see a lot of deer though, and different types of squirrels and other rodents.
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I decided to walk one way for two hours, so that it would become a 4 hour hike in total. When my two hours were up I was at this beautiful stream high up in the mountains, just simply breathtaking.

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Such a fun day, I can’t believe that walking can be so much fun. But it’s like with cycling, it’s also such a simple pleasure. One day I want to come back and hike the entire trail. Hopefully. I do need to learn some basic wilderness survival skills before that though.

When I got back to Mariposa I headed straight to the hardware store to buy a saw so that I could saw off part of the brace. I really only need it on my hand and it’s so hot around my arm. Also people have started to really comment and ask about it and I don’t like it very much. But at least now it’s only around my hand which is where I need it so that’s good. It’s really such a huge help, more than I thought it would. The pain has decreased so much when I wear it so it’s definitely worth the hassle.
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Success!

On Friday I’m heading back to San Francisco to meet my parents! I’m so excited, it will be so fun to travel with them for a while. They’ve been visiting relatives in Chicago this week, and this weekend we will be exploring San Francisco before heading down to Los Angeles. And there I once again will be seeing Taylor Swift in concert, and even though it’s the third time I’m seeing her this summer I’m so excited. Especially after receiving this VIP package in the mail today.
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Another random thing happened too:
Dad: maybe you can get us upgraded in SF too.
Me: I don’t think so, it only works at Hiltons.
Dad: But we’re staying at a Hilton.
Me: We are? Which one?
Dad: Hilton Union Square.
Me: Are you kidding?? That’s where I stayed last weekend! I had no idea!

So random. Out of all the thousands of hotels in the bay area I will be staying at the same hotel twice without even knowing. I’m releasing all travel planning to my mother after tomorrow, it used to be her profession so she’s more than capable. I can go back to being a kid and not having any responsibility haha.

I’ve also been looking at what I should do when I get to Australia. I really have very little plans, except for the fact that I’m going to be staying with my friend Reese during the first time. He’s leaving for a while shortly after I arrive though, so I’m thinking about checking myself into some beachfront resort during that  time. I might seem spoiled to say this considering how amazing my life is at the moment, but I’m so mentally exhausted. It’s been a great summer, but so draining and I just need to slow down some. So once I get to Australia that’s the plan – slow down. I’m sure I will have plenty of adventures in Australia as well, I can’t wait!

Taking the long way.

As I drove south from Arcata towards San Francisco, my gps and I were not the best friends. I wanted to drive highway 1 that goes right next to the Pacific, but my gps thought I was being unreasonable and suggested I turn around at every opportunity until I finally decided to just shut if off, a very good choice. But I had not really realized just how small and winding the roads on hwy 1 is, as driving down to SF took me almost 10 hours (a 500 km trip) and I think my speed was mostly around 25-35 mph. That’s 40-55 km/h to the rest of us. But oh, so beautiful. It was definitely worth it.

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There were so incrdibly many cyclist though, braving the wind and the insane hills and small road with heavy traffic. Once again, not jealous. I don’t think I saw a single stretch of the road that even resembled a flat surface. I pulled over next to a guy with his fully loaded bike taking a break, and he just stared at me while I stopped and got out. For some reason I got the feeling he thought I was going to yell at him or something… instead I did the usual and offered him everything from water to beer to snacks which he accepted. Yay, finally I get to pay it forward a little! He said I was the first one stopping for a week to offer him anything. Come on people, be nice to the bicycle tourists! If you have something to offer, and it’s safe to stop, pull over and do so. I know first hand how incredibly nice that is.

As I got closer to San Francisco I finally realized my mistake, as I was heading into the city at the worst rush hour. My gps jumped from telling me I had 20 minutes left to my destination, to telling me I had 1 hour and 15 minutes to go. Ugh. But we slowly, slowly moved forward and soon I was rewarded with this sight.
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I was completely spent when I got to the hotel, but since I’m now a Hilton honor gold member I got to skip the line to check in, the woman at the front desk told me that I was being upgraded to a better room and I got free wifi and breakfast. I mean how can you be tired when you get to admire this view? I ordered room service for the first time in my life and spent all night just looking at the city from the 39th floor.
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The next day I slept in, before heading out to Macy’s to meet my friend at the Cheesecake factory. It’s a tradition of ours, since we lived right next to the Cheesecake factory in Marina del Rey 8 years ago. Their chicken madeira is to die for… and the salted caramel cheesecake wasn’t too bad either!

Later that afternoon it was time to get back in the car and head south to Santa Clara and Levi’s Stadium. The night before I watched the news and they filmed the stadium as Taylor Swift was playing there that night too. I was so surprised to find out it was actually a huge outdoor stadium! I have only seen her at indoor venues before with 15 000 in the audience at most. Here it was somewhere between 50-65 000, I haven’t been able to find out for sure. Woah.
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The concert itself was brilliant. The atmosphere was insane and she was really on top of her game. Someone described going to a Taylor Swift concert that it feels like she’s talking just to you and playing just for you, and it’s so true. She really knows how to connect with her audience and I think a lot of it comes from just how much fun she seems to have up on stage, and the sincerity when she tells stories about her life and the songs. We also got two guest performances, first out was a group called Little Mix who she sang their song Black Magic with. I’ve never heard of them or the song before but it was fun.
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And then during my favorite song Style she called out “Let’s welcome Joan Baez and academy award winner Julia Roberts out on stage” and I just turned to my friend and screamed “OH MY GOD!!!” I love how Taylor invites the most random but inspiring women to join her on tour, this type of thing happens a lot during her concerts. When I saw her in London last year it was Ed Sheeran who came out to sing with her. But Julia Roberts, wow. Such a legend.
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I was on such a high when the concert finished, I was just bouncing around. It was fun to get to share the experience with someone for the first time as well. But the happiness didn’t last too long as it was complete chaos trying to get out of the parking lot. We stood still for an hour and basically nothing happened at all. So frustrating! I can’t believe how such a big stadium has such a absolutely crappy handling of the traffic.

We got back to SF at around 1 in the morning and I was still on an adrenaline rush so I had a hard time falling asleep. That and you know, watching Taylor’s performances that I had filmed over and over again probably didn’t help. Can’t wait for the LA concert on the 26th, when I’ll be in the pit right next to the stage.

The morning after I got up and drove out of San Francisco towards Madera, where my insurance company had told me to go check up my hand again. I had to go to the emergency room and had expected this to take all day, but I was the only other person there. I got checked in and put in the waiting room, when a police officer and a woman came out through the doors. He looked devastated and she was crying so hard. I have never seen anyone be in more emotional pain in my life than she was in that moment. She sat down and alternated between crying, screaming and just clutching at her chest. I was almost in tears because it was so upsetting to be witness to. It didn’t take more than a minute for a nurse to come get me though, and apologized that I had to see that.
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They asked me a bunch of questions, everything from if I’ve had suicidal thoughts (NO) to if I’ve been to west Africa lately before I was sent to have an x-ray. Seriously though, as far as hospital visits go this was so pleasant. Everyone was really nice and friendly, I sat next to nurses station and we talked and joked around while I waited. Soon after that a doctor came to get me and we looked at the x-rays. She told me that there was no trauma to the bones, but that the muscles and soft tissue in the hand had gotten a pretty rough beating. She gave me a brace to wear to help keep my hand from moving too much, as this will hopefully help the healing process. But still, she said it can take months. I wish there was a more concrete cure, that it could just be FIXED and FINE but as I’ve said before it could be so much worse.
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Unfortunately most braces are made for wrists, not hands, that is why it’s such a huge thing. Now it looks like I’ve broken my arm, but it will have to do. I kept it on all evening yesterday and after a while I realized that I had felt none of the shooting pains in my hand I usually get at night, so it clearly helps. As soon as I take it off to sleep, I felt that very familiar pain. So the brace will stay on for the time being, and I really hope my hand will heal faster now.

And now I’m in Yosemite, and have three fulls days here. Well, four really but today I’m spending by the pool because I’m still absolutely exhausted.

Life is intense but amazing. Lucky to be alive and living life to the fullest!

The magnificent redwoods in Northern California.

As I set off from Bend in the early morning, the sky was hazy with smoke from the wildfires coming in from Northern California. I headed west, and when google maps had told me to head northwest, my gps in the car told me to head straight west, on the exact same road that the transamerica trail takes. The slow and winding road was on of the most beautiful I’ve driven on so far in this country, and as I reached a summit a man stood with his fully loaded bike admiring the mountains. I stopped too, to take some pictures and offer him snacks or water. He refused everything, but we talked some. Nowadays I rarely tell people that I started this journey by bike for some reason, I just leave that detail out. But I couldn’t stand there talking to him thinking I was an “ordinary” car driver so he got the full story. I would be reaching the coast in just a few hours, and he still had days to go. It’s weird how that works now that I’m on the other side.
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South and North Sister in front of the Sea of Lava. The air heavy with smoke from the fires.

As I drove on I soon saw a sign telling me that the Pacific Crest Trail goes through that area, and soon after I saw a man sitting by his backpack by the side of the road. I pulled over right away, there was no way I wouldn’t offer my services to a PCT thru-hiker. He was from New Zealand and had been hiking from the Mexican border for 3,5 months. So extremely impressive. I read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild a few years before it became a movie, and since then I have been fascinated by the PCT. It stretches from the Mexican border through all of California, Oregon and Washington before ending at the Canadian border 4286 km/2663 mi later. Though I’m only now getting into hiking, it’s been a dream of mine of someday attempting it, but at the same time I know how extremely few who set out to do it actually finish it. But that is truly to measure yourself, isn’t it? Someday, maybe. In the meanwhile, I recommend this blog about the youngest girl to every thru-hike the entire trail. Sierra was only 9 when she and her mother finished the PCT in 155 days, I’m so amazed by that girl.
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He didn’t want any water nor snacks, as he was heading the opposite direction to stock up on food himself. That tiny backpack is all he’s carrying on his hike, wow. Too bad we were going our separate ways so soon, I would have loved to given him a ride if it wouldn’t have meant a huge detour for me. Hopefully someone picked him up shortly thereafter.

I kept heading west, feeling very conflicted. I saw so many bicycle tourists and it still hurts you know? Every single one of them could have been me. But then I saw the small roads, with lots of traffic and very narrow shoulders and was kind of happy that it wasn’t me. Like I said, very conflicted.

At around noon I got to Florence, Oregon, and could drive down to the beach and dip my feet in the Pacific Ocean. I made it. I definitely took the longer way to get coast to coast, but every single second of this trip has been so amazing. When it comes to the people I’ve met and the things I’ve seen on this trip, it’s been more than I ever expected.
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You should have seen me try to take pictures of myself in the ocean. I set off the self timer and RAN as fast as I could into the water. I have at least 15 pictures of me running, just turning around or looking silly… 
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Finally someone came by who I could force to take a photo of me instead.

After a while on the beach I got back in the car and drove south, to the tiny city of Coos Bay. There I found this:
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I got super excited, but that excitement quickly diminished once I realized that the girls working there not even knew that the name of the café was in Swedish. Kaffe means coffee in Swedish. Oh well. I went and bought sushi instead and got this in a fortune cookie.
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I like it!

On Wednesday I was back in the car heading south. I passed the border into California, and had to drive through some sort of inspection for the very first time.

Police: Where are you traveling from?
Me: Eeeh. Wow. Well right now Oregon. I picked up the car in Idaho but I’ve come from North Carolina originally on this trip. Well, from Sweden really. I am from Sweden. So is that where I’m traveling from? Or Oregon?
Police: Okaay. Are you carrying any fruits or vegetables?
Me: No.
Police: There’s an apple on the passengers seat.
Me: Oh right. I forgot about that.

How he even let me through is a miracle…
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And once again, it’s the random encounters that makes this trip. I stopped at an overlook, and an older man had stopped there as well with his RV. He wasn’t a person who I would have probably started talking to had we been anywhere except a beach overlook right past the border of California, but we got talking and talked for 20 minutes. He told me about his travels through the lower 48 states, and I told him about Sturgis and everything I’ve experienced (this is an example of where I didn’t tell him about it starting as a bike trip, I don’t even know why…). He was such a nice man, and even if he did have a kind of rugged exterior I could tell his heart was good. And he gave me that same stern look as everyone has been giving me for 2,5 months now “Be safe, there’s a lot of weird people in this country!” as we said goodbye.
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I was heading towards a trail in the Jedediah Smith redwood forest, the Boy Scout Tree Trail. I had to drive on a dusty little road up a mountain to find it, but it was definitely worth it. The boy scout tree is one of the tallest trees on earth, measuring up to around the same size as the statue of liberty. That is insanely tall.
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There were some other people on the trail as well, but mostly it was just me and the jingling from my bear bell. It’s a great conversation starter apparently, as a lot of people stopped me to tell me about their bear encounters. One even took out her phone to show me a picture of the grizzly mama and her two cubs they saw in Glacier national park just a week earlier. Scary! They had been terrified and left as quickly and quietly as possible.
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Feeling small. 
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After a great hike I only had 1,5 hours left to drive to my hotel. Highway 101 was full of bicycle tourist, and once again I didn’t exactly envy them. In many parts the road is narrow and the speed limit high. I was just waiting for something to happen really, but maybe I’m just overthinking everything when it comes to cars and bicycle tourists at the moment.
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On Thursday morning I headed north again on the 101, as my very good friend google had told me to go back up to Prairie Creek redwood forest to hike there. I checked in with the ranger to get a map and ask about the trail, something I always try to do. I’m hiking alone, so I want to at least make sure someone knows I’m out there, where I’m going and what I look like. I also carry my road ID with my information on it, and my gps tracker with emergency functions.
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I took miner’s ridge trail down to the beach, then hiked along the beach to Fern Canyon and back on James Irvine trail. All in all it was 24 km/15 miles. That’s the longest walk I’ve ever done in my life. It was also the loneliest hike I’ve ever done. I didn’t meet anyone at all until I reached the beach, and only a few on my way back. You could reach the canyon by car though, so that was full of people.
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The last photo shows that not all trails are easy to walk. Here I had to climb over this huge tree trunk. Someone had put nails in to make it easier I guess. Well, it wasn’t. But I like obstacles so I didn’t mind!
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I was completely exhausted after that very long hike, so after some snacks I was ready to go back to the hotel. I was so dirty and smelly, but luckily this hotel has a guest laundry. It was needed. And as interesting as it would be to hike the PCT, I doubt this is how they can soften up their muscles at the end of the day.
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The perfect end to an exhausting day!

So what’s up next? I’m driving highway 1 to San Francisco on Friday. I haven’t taken the short way so far, why should I start now? I’m planning on going slowly and enjoying the scenic drive, before I make it to San Francisco by late afternoon. After that I’m planning on locking myself in a hotel room for 24 hours because I’m in desperate need of some relaxation and rest. As much fun it is to travel and hike, it’s exhausting too. Luckily I have been to San Francisco before and will go back once my parents get here later, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on much. And on Saturday night I’m finally seeing Taylor Swift in concert again. And even better, this time I’ll be joined by my friend Josefine coming all the way from Sweden! I’ll be able to speak Swedish with people LIVE, not just on Skype! Weird. Josefine and I have been friends for a long time, we were figure skating buddies when we were little, but we also went to California together 8 years ago to study at college for a year. We also went to San Francisco then, but that was on Thanksgiving and we saw rain for the first time in months. It sure didn’t rain much in Southern California that year.
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And after San Francisco it’s finally time for Yosemite national park. The only question is, should I try to hike a fourteneer or no? We’ll see, we’ll see…