Denmark to Michigan (June 29 - July 2)
Horrible, horrible Continental. Shame on you
Our first flight was flying 9 AM friday morning. As it was an international flight, we had to be there 3 hours prior to departure. So we went, only to find out the flight was 2 hours late due to bad weather in Newark. That meant we couldn't make our flight in transit to Detroit, so we got new tickets for saturday morning and should pick up some vouchers for hotel and food. Then they found out the booking they did didn't come through, so there we were with no tickets at all to Detroit. We got 2 new ones for saturday morning and 2 on standby for friday night, so we had to stay in the airport for another 3 hours to see if we got a spot on the plane. We didn't but our luggage did in case we got on it ourselves. Then we went to pick up the vouchers and go to a hotel. Only to find out they screwed up again. Only one ticked booked for me and not for my girlfriend Maria. So they tried to hook us up again with some new tickets, I think sunday. That meant the entire weekend with Andrew was going down the drain, tired and pissed we were in a bad mood. After too long a drive we got to the hotel, made some phone calls and got ourselves tickets early saturday morning, and these were finally confirmed. The flight was at 6 am, and the time at that point was 12:30 AM I think. So we decided not to sleep and just go back to the airport and make sure we got our boarding passes. We got them and was finally on our way quite a bit delayed, so we got to Detroit saturday morning around 9 AM after not sleeping properly for like 36 hours, to find that Maria's luggage was missing. I called Andrew, woke the poor guy up after a night out, but he came and picked us up and drove us to our hotel - the only positive thing that happened to us for a long time there. A nice personal cab driver, thanks man, that was a life saver that day.
We got 5 hours of sleep, got out to a local club with Andrew and some friends of his for this theater/comedy show where they improvised some of the show, that was great. Beers went down the drain and we headed on to a bar for the rest of the night were a band played 90's rock for 3-4 hours. So many classics, so many shots, so many beers. We went back to the hotel early and got ourself some sleep. Sunday we went to the airport to check up on the luggage. Thanks again to our wonderful cab driver, we were able to pick it up and we had one glad Maria again. It sure sucks losing your luggage. Then we went out on Cass Lake on Andrew's boat, hooked up with some more of his friends, more beer, blue cups and some chugging, grilling burgers by the lake at night. A nice day of relaxing and enjoying the weather. What was it that weekend? In the 80's I think? Sun was out and we got a little burned for sure. Andrew + friends chose to jump in the water, but after telling us how they just peed in it when they had to go, made me stay in the boat. I was afraid to watch something else drift buy in this hippie haven.
Monday we went by Stardock, dropped of a ton of Danish candy. (Don't know how you liked it? Something you want me to send over?) We saw the notorious cubicles and put the coffee makers to the test. I got to play "Pirates" at lunch, didn't quite understand it at first, but think I got a hang of it along the game. It was great to see the people you work with and talk to almost everyday in person - makes it a bit easier to relate. Of course it wasn't as I expected. The people there were younger than I had expected actually, and of course looked nothing like I imagined - and vice versa I guess.
Michigan to New York (July 2 - July 7)
We got in the plane, landed in NY at time with our luggage. Hooray!
Of in a shuttle bus to the hotel. What a small crummy place. For that amount of money for a 3 star hotel by the name Radisson, I'd expect more. It was more expensive than that Hampton Inn we stayed at in MI. That suite was huge, king size bed, whirl pool in the room, fridge, shower, a desk, a sofa etc. The room at Radisson was like one fourth the size of that place, old and torn. But NY is an expensive town, but I still expected more of that hotel though.
We didn't really like NY that much. Too big and busy for us. Too many busy people in too big buildings that blocked out the sky. Too many horns too. Noisy, smelly. It was sort of like a mix between Copenhagen and Paris, then just 1.000 bigger in every way. Copenhagen is 500.000 in the city and another 500.000 in the surrounding suburbs, so a good million live and work there, so a lot less than NY. We saw the things we should though; bought tickets for a sightseeing bus and drove around in that for 2 days, went to see the Statue of Liberty, walked Central Park, went up the Empire State Building, went by the World Trade Center Site (as the New Yorker's calls it - no Ground Zero!), saw Times Square and all the lights there, saw the fireworks on the East River on the 4th of July and had the best meal we both had in a long time at a Greek restaurant right across the street of our hotel. Doctor Nick was gonna hook us up with tickets for the Museum of Modern Art, we tried and called him but something odd was happening when I tried, I had no problem calling Andrew though. We went by the museum anyway, on a friday, where it's free to get in. We were not the only people there that day, so we left again. We had been standing in line for too long a time to want to do that again. So no museum for us. Instead we went to a movie theater to try and experience that in the US. Things are way different than in Denmark. You walk in, stick your credit card in a machine and out comes the tickets. Now row, no seat number, whoever gets in first get the good seats and those who come in later will stop by the stairs and look after seats that aren't taken. Weird, since here we get specific seats. There was also refill on popcorn and pops and butter for the popcorns. Not happening over here. Refill doesn't exist at all. We even have to pay for water at restaurants too. You need to export those wonderful refills to us.
New York to Salt Lake City (July 7 - July 14)
We got in the plane, landed in SLC at time with our luggage. Hooray!
Driving around and around
Maria's cousin and dad picked us up, drove us back to his family's house where we slept that night. Sunday we drove down to Zion's National Park. On our way, we passed the wild fires that raged the area, we stopped and got some gas and after doing that, they closed the way in north direction, so we just made it out of the area before they closed both directions.
Once a dessert like Sahara with dunes measuring up to 700 feet, rain, floods, minerals and wind turned the dunes into rock over a period of 200 million years. Amazing place with wonderful nature. We took 4 hikes there, to the Emerald Pool and by the Virgin River and a couple of others. Hot and hard some times, but worth the effort.
Then on to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Here we stayed at the most disgusting cabins. You could do a horror movie there easily. Smelly, old and torn, filled with flies. I'm pretty sure someone at some point was killed in the cabin we slept in. Up early in the morning to catch the sunrise. That was just incredible over the Grand Canyon, I'm so glad we did that. You can't really comprehend how big Grand Canyon is. Denmark can fit in it. My small little country fits into the Grand Canyon.
Lake Powell, Glenn Canyon Dam, Navajo
Then we drove through the Navajo reservation, saw how the Indians live in the dessert these days, trailers, wooden houses placed randomly with 4 cars around them, they primarily make jewelry and sell that by the road or at the shops in the small cities, small cowboy cities with lot's of hill billie's. Then we passed by the huge Glenn Canyon Dam at Lake Powell.
Then on to Moab, a central point to all interesting things in Utah. We stayed at the Sunflower Hill Luxury Inn there. I can totally recommend that place, so cozy and nice, where each room has it's own theme. Free cookies and M&M's too. They had a deer in the backyard too that had grown accustomed to people. We stuffed ourselves with cheap Mexican food, tortillas and beans. 4 people $47. $47! Look at that price, that's what we would pay for 1.5 person over here for the same amount of food. Insane. We went of to the Arches 8 o'clock that night, a hike that's steep up hill over the mountains. It's supposed to take 2-3 hours to complete it. We did it in 1 hour and 45 minutes. When we got to the top, it was already getting dark, so only time for one half bad photo of the famous Arch of Utah and then down again. When we got down it was almost pitch black.
Dead Horse Point
An old cowboy legend says that they trapped wild horses at a narrow point at the Colorado river and people would come and buy them there. Of some reason they left them there with no water and the horses died and that's how the name originated. It's quite a unique place with mountains and good overlook of the Colorado river.
Price, back to Salt Lake City and back home to Denmark
Then on to Price where Maria's dad's sister lived and died, we drove by their old house and put flowers on her grave. On the way back home to SLC we passed a small sandstorm, pretty unusual. One day of relaxing up on Mount Snowbird, signal on the cell phone again, Starbucks around the corner, back to civil life and a nice BBQ with the family before we were on a 3 plane route back to Denmark again. I got the most crazy jet lag now. We're 6 hours ahead of MI and 8 hours ahead of Utah. Getting back "right on time" is tough. I slept 15 hours straight saturday to sunday, woke up in the afternoon, couldn't sleep tonight, only got one hour or something and I'm so messed up right now. Hope I get back in sync soon.
Differences and what I miss
Things are nice in the states. Food and beverages are cheaper than at home, water is free, refill is free, you can pick up huge bags of ice everywhere, air condition all over the place, Starbucks all over the place (I fell in love with the Orange Mocha), Cherry Coke and Dr. Peppers (have to buy that as import here for big $$$), tender steaks, the meat is soooo good, people are really nice and chit chatty. Like you're out buying stuff, people just start talking and enjoys that. A thing like that will never happen here. We're too grumpy and close minded in our cold climate. Interested and very committed to please you, service is awesome.
The image of the typical American we have is nothing like reality. The typical American to a Dane is a gun-loving, overweight, obnoxious, self-centered "USA is best", ignorant person who thinks the capitol of Sweden is Denmark and he/she loves Bush. A lot of people were interested in how we saw the Americans, as they felt they were unappreciated in Europe. Some do in fact feel the US is interfering too much politically around the world and Bush sure isn't popular either, and after spending time with your average American you soon discover he/she isn't like that stereotype at all, but pretty much is the same as yourself. The media just tends to create a different picture, which is sad.
Now what you DO need to change:
Drop tips and just include it in the bill. We do that over here, we don't have to tip anyone. We do do it, but only if the service has been really exceptional. And that almost never happens. Tipping is annoying and you have to do maths! Skip it.
What's up with the cinnamon fetish you have? That's utterly disgusting. Toothpaste and chewing gum with cinnamon flavor, root beer tastes like cinnamon, cinnamon cereal, cinnamon here, there and everywhere. Yuck!
Won't be the last time we visit the states though, tips and cinnamon won't keep us away. See ya soon.