Category : travels

Big, bigger, biggest

My summer holiday of 2012 was a 3000 mile road trip in the United States. It was one of my best holidays ever. So, how come I never wrote about it here? The answer is simple. Since I arrived back in the Netherlands, I’ve been quite busy creating something (more on that in the future). Surprisingly, I finally found some time to write about the USA trip… Today, it’s time for part five; “Big, bigger, biggest”.

Think of America and it’s easy to think of everything being big. We all know the cliché, every American has a big car, eats XXL fastfood meals, lives in a big house located in a big generic neighborhood, which is connected to a megacity via a multi-lane highway. Although this is true for some Americans, it most surely isn’t for most. Besides, this is not the kind of ‘big’ I want to talk about.

Sequoia

Instead, I want to talk about trees. Big trees. America is home to the biggest and tallest trees of the world. They’re known as Sequoia trees and can only be found in California. So we had to check ’em out as well.

These trees truly are massive! And believe me, they’re much bigger in real life.

Meet General Sherman (the tree, not the soldier). With a height of 83,8 meters, a diameter of 7.7 meter and an estimated age of 2.300-2.700 years, it’s among the tallest, widest and longest-lived of all trees on this planet. In fact, measured by volume it’s the largest tree on earth. Did you notice the people in the bottom left corner of the photo?

This isn’t General Sherman. Still, it’s an enormous sequoia tree.

During our stay in Sequoia National Park, I hoped to see a black bear. Unfortunately, I didn’t. But to see this mule deer doing a photo op was great as well. This also concluded our visit to Sequoia National Park. Death Valley will be next.

My next stop: Death Valley

Previous posts

Part 1: Exceeded expectations
Part 2: Google vs. Apple
Part 3: Look left! … No, look right!
Part 4: Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp

My summer holiday of 2012 was a 3000 mile road trip in the United States. It was one of my best holidays ever. So, how come I never wrote about it here? The answer is simple. Since I arrived back in the Netherlands, I’ve been quite busy creating something (more on that in the future). Surprisingly, I finally found some time to write about the USA trip… Today, it’s time for part four; “Johnny Depp”.

During our stay in Los Angeles, we saw many of the great studios like Universal, Paramount and Disney. Also, we toured Warner Brothers Studios, which was a great experience. During the Warner tour, we realized how many things were fake. The houses… fake. Lines on the road… removable. The streetlights… fake as well.  Even the cladding of the buildings can be removed and replaced by other styles.

After seeing all these fake things, it was great to learn about something very real… which is Johnny Depp, the Hollywood actor.

The Disney Guy

We met a very friendly employee at Disney Studios. He’s a Mickey Mouse Company veteran, which prompted us to ask if he ever met a celebrity like… wel… ehm… Steven Spielberg? Unfortunately, he did not. But he did meet Johnny Depp several times. Which makes sense, since he plays the character of Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, a major Disney production.

He told us there’s no Johnny Depp when a Pirate movie is in production at Disney Studios. Depp’s ID tag (including the photo) refers to him as Captain Jack Sparrow. Also, it’s contractually agreed that all Disney employees should refer to him as either Jack, mr Sparrow or Captain Jack Sparrow. This allows Johnny Depp to stay in character during the entire shoot, both on and off camera. Which is exactly why Jack Sparrow feels so real… because there’s no Johnny Depp when there’s Captain Jack Sparrow.

Fake turns real

I love this story, because it shows how serious this Hollywood actor is about his performance. And it shows how fake he has to be in real life (he even orders coffee while being a pirate) in order to become a real character on the big screen. Which is also true for a studio like Warner Brothers. It’s the most fake environment you’ll ever see (check out the red arrows below), but on the big screen… it’s real.

My next stop: Sequoia National Park

Previous posts

Part 1: Exceeded expectations
Part 2: Google vs. Apple
Part 3: Look left! … No, look right!

The Inauguration of Barack Obama

On January 20th 2009, two million people, including myself, were in Washington DC to witness one of the most historic US presidential inaugurations ever… The inauguration of Barack Obama. Since it’s been four years, I’ve been thinking about what to write about this truly historic event. Truth to be told, I don’t know.

Maybe a story about the great ‘We Are One’ concert of Bono, Bruce Springsteen and other celebrities will do? Or what about the strategic location I choose to see the inauguration and parade… I could talk about this for hours! No? A horror story about the ‘Purple Gate of Doom’ perhaps? Wait! It’s a party. No horror stories today…

I believe the story of an African American pastor from Chicago is great. While waiting for Obama, he told me about the moment when he met President Bill Clinton (in the 90s). One day, this pastor traveled with Clinton’s motorcade when the president decided to get some fastfood. He directed the entire motorcade to the nearest fastfood chain and used the drive through to order food for everyone… True story.

Or wait, I met this other great guy from New York. He told me about the unprecedented security measures in his nephews office, which is located next to the parade route at Pennsylvania Avenue. Or is it more interesting to tell the story about George W. Bush? I was near the White House when he arrived there for the last time while being president. That was quite something. We (the NY-guy and me) knew that president Bush’ helicopter, Marine One, would land on the South Lawn. But we didn’t expect three identical helicopters. All three approached the White House from the south. But George W. Bush was in just one of these presidential helicopters. I guess these three helicopters did the ultimate (real-life) shell game. It took us until the third helicopter to figure out in which one George Bush travelled. Speaking of people from Texas, our section of the parade route was secured by Texan police officers. How sad is that, being a republican police officer from Texas who’s deployed in the nations capital on that particular day. That’s a true ‘being in the belly of the beast’ situation. But I have to admit… we, including the Texans, had lots of fun together. Which is good, because it was an extremely cold and long wait…

Which leaves us with the last story to be told… which is the inauguration of Obama itself. During those days, the message of hope and change sounded throughout the United States. Everyone hoped for better times, which could easily be seen on the faces of the people attending the inauguration. It simply was unbelievable and something I’ve never seen before. And… the sound of two million people shouting Barack Obama’s name and going wild after he took the oath of office… That was quite something!

Well, I don’t know which story I should pick. But perhaps I don’t have to. Instead, I created a new OneMinute video (see above). It’s the inauguration (and preceding days) in just one minute. Enjoy!

Barack Obama’s motorcade

Exactly four years ago, on January 17th 2009, I was in Washington DC. It’s three days before the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States takes place. An event I was looking forward to for a very long time already. In fact, this trip was planned (and paid for) about four months earlier, in September 2008. Barack Obama and John McCain were still in campaign mode and the election was two months away. At that time, I didn’t realize I was about to experience an historic inauguration. An inauguration attended by two million people in Washington DC and billions (!) more via television.

Anyway, I finally arrived in Washington DC. After a tour inside the US Capitol and a visit to the National Mall, I walked to Lafayette Square, which is a public park in front of the White House. All I wanted was to cross the street and make some pictures of the White House… but a nervous security guard stopped me. He ordered me to wait for a few minutes. It didn’t take that long before a helicopter positioned itself right above us. Also, in the far distance, there was the (increasing) sound of many police cars… It’s the motorcade of Barack Obama! Immediately, I grabbed my camera and shot this video (see above).

Three days later, Obama was sworn in as 44th President of the United States.

Look left! … No, look right!

My summer holiday of 2012 was a 3000 mile road trip in the United States. It was one of my best holidays ever. So, how come I never wrote about it here? The answer is simple. Since I arrived back in the Netherlands, I’ve been quite busy creating something (more on that in the future). Surprisingly, I finally found some time to write about the USA trip… Today part three; “Look left! … No, look right!”.

Earlier, I wrote about two amazing places, San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Today, I write about… wait for it… a road. Highway 1 to be more precise. “Why?”, you might think. “What’s so special about this road?” Well, Highway 1 is famous for running along some of the most beautiful coastlines in the USA. The scenery is simply breathtaking.

The following is a random scene, while driving on Highway 1. I am driver, my brother called shotgun. For quite some time already, we enjoy the beautiful views over the ocean. Suddenly my brother yells “look left!”. We simultaneously turn our heads to the left and see some really beautiful hills. The view is amazing. Nonetheless, my brothers interest is short lived. His eyes glance to the right… “Look right!”. That view turns out to be even more impressive. During the next few hours, this moment repeats itself waaaaay too many times, which definitely makes this highway a true highlight of the USA road trip.

My next stop: Los Angeles

Previous posts

Part 1: Exceeded expectations
Part 2: Google vs. Apple