Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Country roads, take me home...

As I mentioned on my previous post I've recently backpacked from East to West coast of the USA (or 'Murica, as we ended up calling it). It FAR surpassed my expectations. I knew I'd fly over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter, roll in a jeep and hang out with the Navajo tribes of Monument Valley (I certainly wasn't expecting them to sing to us, something I will NEVER forget), visit the shrines of American presidents at 1am at the nation's capital of DC (PLEASE do this at night, the memorials are beautiful and the glow from the Washington Monument and Capitol Hill are gorgeous!), and go wild in Las Vegas. But what I ended up doing...well, a hell of a lot more, as if these things arnet enough! I took a riverboat into the New Orleans bayou and saw huge crocodiles (they love marshmallows), I wandered through the French Quater and stammered back to my hotel at 5am after trying the 'hand grenade' drinks they sell there, we got into a party limo in Vegas and spent 2 hours driving down the strip and casinos while blasting music and watching the male members of my group (and the G Adventures group going the opposite way that we bumped into in Vegas) pole-dance. Yup, I kid you not. Us girls wouldn't touch those things, but the guys? All over it. Hilarious! The limo dropped us off outside The Bellagio where apparently I was drinking out of an empty champagne bottle and playing piano very badly in front of 200 well-dressed Americans. I remember nothing from this point onwards...probably a good thing. :P At least I found out that agreeing to try all three terrifying rides on top of the Stratosphere tower/casino with a hangover was NOT the best of ideas the following night. XD

We had a pizza party as we watched storms form over the south rim of the Grand Canyon. We had massive meals in American diners that looked like giant juke-boxes. We were told to "STAY DOWN!" as a storm roared over our camp for hours on end. We swam in lakes and rivers where we could find them in the desert and in the huge mountain ranges of Yosemite. We drove for hours through the Mojave and saw nothing but sand and joshua trees. I got bitten to death by mosquitoes and walked through some of the deepest caverns in the world in Carlsbad. I tried alligator (with a lot of guilt I might add, as I'd held a baby one earlier that day...), I hiked the Appalachian Mountains, Mesa Verde, and the Arizona desert. We made burgers in the middle of nowhere and got attacked by wasps. We line-danced to country music wearing cowboy hats in Nashville, and wandered through Beale street listening to many musicians compete against each other to try and reach the top in Memphis. We went on mad shopping sprees in Wal-Mart (like ASDA multiplied by 10 because 'Murica, bitches), watched fireflies dance across the horizon (never seen one until this year! so pretty!), walked through Elvis Presley's home and airplanes in Graceland and stayed next door to Heartbreak Hotel, investigated the crashed UFO case in Roswell's funky town, got milkshakes in Seligman; Birthplace of Route 66 and gazed over at the Golden Gate and Alcatraz from the Twin Peaks of San Francisco. During my time alone in New York city, I watched John Mayer play a concert, the US Army fire shots across the Hudson river, I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge eating loads of strange looking ice-cream, I joined a group of Australians and watched the July 4th fireworks. I visited the Central Park zoo, and took a ride downtown and Brooklyn with a girl from South Africa. I went to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and stood next to the Saturn 5, and watched people working on REAL rovers. I slept in a wooden hut overlooking the sea after a huge American BBQ with 12 people sharing stories and laughing until the early hours.

And to top all of this off (there was so much, I don't really know where to begin...I'm just listing things!), I spent my last week with my good friends from University in Costa Rica. They were kind enough to show me the Poas volcano and rainforests. I have had the best month and a half of my life and the 17 hour journey home was very hard, but I look back with VERY fond memories and I have made friends for life. I feel incredibly lucky and proud of myself that I worked so hard for such an adventure, and coming home to a warm welcome from friends and family, a new qualification certificate and a trip to see Pacific Rim followed by 2 days of sleep (and lots of energy drinks), made this one of the best things I have ever done. Knowing I survived New York by myself for 4 days was enough to start. :D  If you have been following my Instagram, you will find lots of piccies (I took many, MANY more on my camera), but for art's sake, here's a drawing I did when we camped in Monument Valley, one of the most beautiful places I have ever experienced;

I love you, America. I hope I'll see you again one day. ^_^ Whenever I hear 'Country Roads' again, I'll remember Tim's van, and the 12 of us singing along as the American countryside rolled past the window. <3


  1. Wonderful journey, I am glad you made it through and back safely. America is such a great place to explore, so much land. I would like to see more of the Northern states in the future. I think my favourite state so far has been Montana, very pretty state. Very nice sketches. You know a place like monument valley is stunning when it is very difficult to take a bad photo of it, that is how amazing the place is.

    I am sure you are already planning your next trip somewhere. What souvenirs did you get on the trip as well?

  2. Aw man I literally can't say in words how beautiful and huge and inspirational and....RED that valley was ;_; I always think back to those 2 days in Monument Valley, and remember the Navajo tribe singing to us in their language and hearing the silence mix with their voices and instruments as we sat there looking over the rock formations at sunset. I absolutely loved it and I really want to go back someday. They were such kind people too and had so much to tell about their land, and some of the dust storms looked like something out of a movie! Speaking of, Lone Ranger is filmed there, and I can't wait to see the movie just to see the valley again.

    There is so much to see and do. We crammed each of our days to the max, but it still wasn't enough. A month is a good amount of time to see many of the big sights but the more you travel and see things, the more you realize you haven't seen. Kinda like the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know. X) I would sell my PC, Car...anything to keep going, but the realities of home have to kick in at some point.

    I am going on another G Adventures tour next year, though it won't be half as expensive as the one I just did (plus I get a discount from the CEO of the last one). I'm thinking either Cambodia, or The Great Wall of China. I won't be away so long either (about 2 weeks), which is great because I'll be living in a flat of my own around that time.

    I'd, URGE anyone to see the world. the stuff that kept me down before I went seemed so narrow and small when I came back that I almost forgot them. I can't understand anymore when people look miserable and say there's no point in living; There's a world of beauty out there and I can't believe Tim actually meant it when he said it would change our way of thinking. :)

  3. It has been a lovely read so far Laura, brings back memories of travelling a lot growing up. It is wonderful to travel and I certainly will do more when I can and have the funds. I honestly miss Wales if travelling a lot, it may not have a lot of sunshine but it has character and charm to make up for it XD

    I did the east coast of China with my family for a few weeks last year, absolutely awesome. China really opens your eyes to how different this world is the further you go, mindblowing stuff. Seeing a guy walking a Llama on a leash in the street was worth flying half way accross the world XD