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