So I’m new to this blogging thing and I’ll admit that while traveling around the states I wasn’t the best at keeping it updated.
[EDIT: I’ve just finished writing this and realise it’s a long one! Skip the reading and watch the video if you prefer… https://vimeo.com/user57772446 ]
So this is a run through of where I went and what I got up to…
After I left camp myself and two camp friends went to Washington DC to stay with my friend Sarah from university. We stayed for 3 days and her family were so friendly and welcoming. We spent a day trekking around and seeing the sites of DC including all the monuments and of course the White House. We took a hiking trip and swam in a waterfall and we had a day shopping in typical American shops and swimming in the public pool that Sarah manages.
We then moved on a caught a bus back up the country to New York where we were reunited with two more camp friends in Central Park, it was a short stay for me having down NY previously in 2013 but we managed to fit a lot in. A trip up the rockerfella followed by dinner in Ellen’s Stardust diner, the next morning we went down to the 9/11 museum and memorial where I left the girls in the afternoon to head back to Upper Manhatten where I had a ticket to see Wicked! on Broadway…what a show!
I headed back to the hotel to bid farewell to my friends and caught a midnight taxi to the airport where I would try and find a bed for the night. My 6am flight to San Francisco would see me reunited with my mum and step dad at our apartment in the city. We hired a Victorian San Franscican house for the week which was stunning and perfectly located. San Francisco was amazing, we cycled across the Golden Gate Bridge, took a day trip to Alcatraz Island, rode the traditional trams up the steepest of roads, went wine tasting in Napa Valley and even drove a Ford Mustang down the Pacific Coast Highway.
After 5 days it was time to say farewell again as I continued my travels alone on to Los Angeles. I had booked for 5 nights in the USA Hostel on the Hollywood Boulevard. I made some great friends with my roommates, two girls from Germany and a girl from Australia. We planned activities together and I also took up the offer of the activities hosted by the Hostel. After a hike up the Runyon Canyon, a tour of the Warner Brothers Studios, a hike to the Griffith Observatory and across to the Hollywood sign, a tour of Beverley Hills, a pub crawl down the Boulevard and a trip to Santa Monica it couldn’t have been any better.
I boarded the coach for my shortest transfer of all to the quirky San Diego and I stayed in an awesome Hostel just meters from the sea front. It was only a short stay but I managed to fit in a few hours surf, a bonfire on the beach, a trip to La Jolla Bay, snorkelling with Sea Lions, a trip to Coronado Island and a day trip to San Diego Zoo. I wish I’d have planned more time to stay in San Diego if only I’d have known how much there was to see and do and how wonderful the people would be.
I have no regrets though and boarded my longest coach of all to travel back up the West Coast and in land to Sin City. I arrived in Las Vegas at 5am and despite not booking accommodation until that night the Hostel I stayed in were so welcoming and arranged for me to have a room to stay so I could get a few hours of sleep in before heading out to explore. My trip to Vegas was split by a prebooked tour of the Western Deserts and so I took the opportunity to explore the Fremont Street Experience an indoor/outdoor shopping centre which is the heart of Downtown Las Vegas full of old school neon lights and street performers lining the pavement. I had an early start the next morning so no casinos for me just yet.
I rose early the next day to catch a taxi to The Luxor Hotel where I was to meet my group for the 3 day trip to the Grand Canyon and other natural wonders in Utah and Arizona. We boarded the coach where I was found to be the only English speaker. This wasn’t a problem as both the guides spoke brilliant English and made sure I was well looked after. We began the trip driving out to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon along Route 66 and had our lunch stop at Cafe 66 in a baren town. I had chance to explore and found a few gift shops but not much more. We continued our drive to the Grand Canyon and I mean I’ve seen photos before but nothing could do this place justice. It was incredible. As I’m sure you can imagine there are parts that are full of tourists but I managed to take my self along the footpath and find a perfect spot to sit and appreciate it’s natural beauty. I gave up trying to take photos from quite early on as they simply do not do it justice. After a few hours we reboarded the coach and drove a few hours to our hotel for the night.
The next day we went on a boat trip across Lake Powell, a canyon that has been filled with water. The boat trip was amazing as we got to sneak down some of the creeks and you could almost touch the walls. The landscape around the canyon was also amazing with rock formations appearing from the desert landscape. To be told that you’re floating on water that is 256ft deep is something special.
We left around lunchtime to head to the second stop of the day and once again our guides had the perfect place planned for lunch. It was a cafe near an Indian reservation and we had the place to ourselves, it was very quirky with props outside for photos and set up like a Native American street. Comfortably full from lunch we were on our way to the place that I was secretly most excited by. Bryce Canyon. In Washington we watched a 3D movie celebrating 100 years of the National Park Service and it showed some stunning video footage of Bryce Canyon and from then I had my heart set on visiting this place. The rock formations and different to the other canyons and the canyon is full of the most incredible towers of rock that layer the canyon floor. We had time to take a hike down into the canyon and it was amazing to be surrounding by such towering rock formations for miles. I couldn’t stop smiling and once again I gave up with taking photos and just took the time to appreciate how lucky I was to see something so incredible.
Reluctantly we had to leave and so we climbed on the coach and headed to our next hotel. Our final stop on day three was to Zion National Park. Now it may have been because I didn’t know what to expect with Zion but once again I was blown away by its natural beauty, it was very green and luscious but had such majestic mountains springing up between the blanket of trees. I took a hike up to the emerald pools and stood on top of a waterfall where the views where amazing. It was a hot day and a challenging hike but it was definitely worth it.
On our drive back to Las Vegas we stopped for an All You Can Eat Buffett. It was a crazy place. Almost like a supermarket but instead of a basket you have a plate and you only pay one price. The range of foods were unbelievable and it wasn’t hard to see why America has an onesity problem.
We arrived back in Las Vegas and I checked my self into the Luxor Hotel. I was very lucky to have been given a free ticket to see Matt Goss perform in Caesars Palace so after a much needed shower and freshen up I jumped in a taxi and explored the palace before taking my seat in the show. I’ve heard of Matt Goss before but have never really listened to his music but it’s fair to say I became a fan after listening to him perform. It was an intimate show and full of class. After my 3 days of trekking it was early to bed though and I spent the next morning by the pool in the hotel. I took a trip to the Las Vegas sign, explored The Strip in the daylight and watched the Bellagio Fountains display. That night I had made plans to meet a friend from San Diego so we could go out and explore the casinos and night clubs on the strip. We had an amazing night but a 5am flight to Florida called an end to the party at 3am.
I arrived in Florida to be greated by my camp friend, Dan and his friend who kindly picked me up, hangover and all, and drove me to Miami to my hostel and to get some much needed food. I only stayed for a short stay in Miami but we took a trip to the Everglades and spotted some Alligators in the swamps and I spent the next day sunbathing on South Beach. Despite the temperature being cooler in Miami compared to Las Vegas the humidity made it very uncomfortable (probably not aided by the hangover!).
That was it, I spent my last day topping up my tan in the hope to make it last til the winter and then I boarded my flight to be reunited with mum in Gatwick airport after the most incredible 4 months. America you are beautiful, you may have your political issues but the land itself is a natural wonder. I think it’s fair to say my USA Bucket List is complete.