Some of my favorite experiences from USA (part 1).

A while ago a friend of mine suggested that I write a list of the top 10 things I experienced during my three months in USA. I started thinking about it and slowly started adding things to my notes in my phone. I soon realized that there was no way that I would actually be able to list these things according to how much I appreciated, as it would be unfair to all the other things… yeah I know, I’m way too sentimental but I just couldn’t. So this will be a list of some of the greatest things that happened to me, in an order that is in no way relevant to how much I enjoyed it.

– Getting picked up off the street in North Carolina and taken in by a family.
This will forever be one of my favorite memories and experiences. I hadn’t even been in the United States for a week when I one stinking hot Saturday in June got to Mt Gilead, North Carolina. I knew that there was no way I would be able to keep on cycling that day as I had already suffered a small heatstroke just an hour earlier, so I sat down on a street corner, stealing wifi from a local business and waiting for something to happen. And it sure did. Just moments later Laura and Courtney came walking by, and I asked if they knew somewhere I could camp that night. Minutes later I was on a couch in Laura’s spa, drinking a soda and eating chips while half of the Mt Gilead community came by to say hi. My bike was loaded onto her pickup and I spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out in their amazing Gone With the Wind-type house, meeting both Laura’s husband and kids. It was just what I needed that day and I still can’t believe I was that lucky. I’ve been getting sweet messages from both Laura, her super cute helper Courtney and Tammy who works at the spa on instagram all summer as well. I’m a lucky girl, for sure!
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– Learning to surf in Florida.
Learning how to surf has always been a dream of mine, only I’ve always dreamt of accomplishing. I have never had the opportunity to learn before though, so when I found myself with all the time in the world in the US I quickly decided to go to Florida and take some lessons. I thought it would be insanely hard, and I’m not going to lie, it was hard, but somehow I managed in record-breaking time. Less than 20 minutes after entering the water, and with only a 10-minute briefing on the beach, I rode my first wave. It was such an insane adrenaline kick and I loved every minute of it. Even though I need hours and hours of practice to be any good though, I can actually say that I know how to surf now and that is just insane.
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– Spontaneously going to a baseball game in St Louis.
The one thing I had been told about baseball games is that they can go on forever, and that they are boring. I never knew anything about it myself though, since I had never watched a game in my life. But when I found out there was a game between the Chicago Cubs and the St Louis Cardinals when I was in St Louis, I barely hesitated before I bought myself a ticket. I walked to the arena with no expectations whatsoever but was just blown away by the entire experience. I actually really liked the game, but even more I enjoyed the company I found myself in. Thank you Todd, Brittney, Janet and Thelma for accepting the Swedish girl at her first baseball game, and both explain the game to me while keeping me company. Talking to everyone around me just really made the entire night so much better, which I’ll return to later as well. The only regret I have? Not buying a Cardinals shirt…
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– Going to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana by myself.
Going to an amusement park by yourself can seem like a really strange choice, but I really don’t see what the problem is. I don’t think being alone should ever stop you from doing something! So I went to Holiday World in Indiana, mostly because I really wanted to go to a place called Santa Claus. My first day there I decided to spend at the waterpark, where I after having gone in a ride with three kids quickly got accepted into their gang and spent the entire day with them just having so much fun. What would have been a fun day turned into an amazing day and I can’t believe that they just accepted me so quickly. The best time at the very best waterpark I’ve ever been to!

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– Falling in love with hiking in Zion national park, Utah
My very first real hike in United States was hiking up to Angel’s Landing in Zion national park. It was named “very strenuous” but I didn’t let that stop me, despite having literally no experience. I loved every moment of it, and from the moment I decided that it was going to be the thing I’d keep doing throughout the rest of my stay in the United States. I can’t wait to go back and do more hiking!

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– Being treated as family in Colorado.
Before I even left Sweden I had a standing invitation to Jeane and Mike in Westcliffe, Colorado, so when I got closer I started planning my visit to them, and I’m so glad I did. From the moment I arrived to their wonderful house right by the mountains in Colorado, I knew that this would be an unforgettable stay. They took me in, had bought me gifts and treated me like one in the family. I only spent 24 hours in their house but I got to experience great cooking, some nice red wine and we even had time to go on a hike. They have told me that I can come back and visit anytime, and I promise that I will. In fact, I can’t wait until I get the chance to go back to Colorado.
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– Seeing Taylor Swift in concert three times.
The first time in Charlotte was just amazing, because everything was completely new to me. I knew nothing about what to expect or anything and it was just a magical evening. The next time in Santa Clara was just as much fun, as the arena was enormous and also because my friend Josefine joined me. I knew what to look for and when to film if I wanted to do that. And Julia Roberts was there, it was so cool. And the third time was even better because I was SO close to the stage and to Taylor. Though I’m glad that wasn’t my only experience because being that close kind of makes you miss the show, all you see is her and the videos and everything else kind of gets lost. Oh, and seeing both Justin Timberlake, Selena Gomez and Lisa Kudrow was fun too. Okay not fun, it was amazing. Now I’ve seen Taylor in concert a total of five times (Oslo 2011, London 2014 and these three times) and I can’t wait to see her again, whenever that might be.
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– How a random baseball game can lead to beautiful friendship.
At the baseball game in St Louis, Janet told me that if I ever found myself in Houston, I could come stay with them. After I made my plans after Florida known, I promptly got a comment from Janet reminding me of that invitation. Of course I put that into my plans, and arrived at their fabulous townhouse in central Houston a Saturday afternoon. I got to ride in an amazing Mustang, was fed great food and we exchanged travel stories all afternoon. Janet and Phil are such amazing people, with really interesting stories as well. Once again, I’m so glad I ended up sitting next to them at the baseball game in St Louis, without knowing much about me they just accepted me into their homes and lives and I’m forever grateful for that. And we still keep up to date with each other through mail, they check in to make sure I’m doing alright and I can’t wait to hear about their European cruise soon.
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– Parks and recreation.
As soon as I started making my tentative plans for the months I’d have in the US, I knew I wanted to visit as many national parks as possible. I knew it would be good, but I never expected them to be just as great as they were. Even though I guess Grand Canyon rates very high on most peoples list’s of parks to see, I have so many others I’d recommend instead. Yellowstone is of course on top of my list, but I loved the more unknown places too, like Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Yosemite was great, and so was Rocky Mountains and Zion. There are so many places left to visit though, but I am young, I have plenty of time.
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– Exploring the coast of California with my parents.
When I say that I love being alone, I really mean it. I need solitude to recharge and I very seldom feel lonely. And with all the technology of today I can just call my family up on Skype or Facetime and see their faces in seconds, so that helps a lot. But after having travelled across the Unites States alone for 2,5 months I was very excited to have my parents join in San Francisco. My dad came to visit when I went to school in Santa Monica in 2007, but my mother hadn’t been to the states since 1966. A lot has changed since then, I’m sure of. We had a blast exploring San Francisco and Alcatraz especially, then driving down to coast on Highway 1. We all enjoyed Los Angeles as well, and I’m so thankful that they could come join me on my last weeks in my favorite country.
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There might be a part 2 to this someday, but I think this is enough for now. Thank you USA for the best summer of my life. I will never forget this for the rest of my life.

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…