After a few days in San Francisco I joined a group of people on a Trek America tour. I believe it was called the Western BLT (Budget Lodging Tour) tour. This meant I was in a mini van with 13-14 other people and we had a tour leader who drove us to a few places. We stayed in cabins or hotels. We went to Yosemite National Park, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and we ended up in LA. I’ll admit I was a little nervous. I was now leaving the friends I had made at camp, friends that had taken me a while to make as I was a lot quieter than most of them, to now meet new people to travel to some exciting places in a short amount of time – 7 days. I had booked the trek while at camp. I thought it was a bargain to go to all of these places for around $800.
The tour started in San Francisco. I woke up early, climbed over everybody who was now staying in my hostel room and got ready to leave. I got a taxi from outside of the hotel to go to a hotel where the tour was leaving from, we all met in the lobby and our tour leader introduced himself. He gave us an idea of what to expect and then he gave us some forms to fill out. After about an hour we loaded our bags into the trailer and set off. Some people had only just got to San Francisco and so our first stop was the Golden Gate Bridge. I mean, if anyone goes to San Francisco that is probably number one on your to do list. As we hit the road our tour leader did some ‘get to know each other games.’ I have always hated these, I understand why we did them but I think people getting to know each other on their own terms is far much easier. Anyway, we did all talk and we found out where everyone was from, there were a few others who had worked at different summer camps in the US. Most of us were single travellers apart from two sisters and their friend and another two girls who were friends.
Our first stop was Yosemite National Park. We had a little drive up to our cabin and settled in. We got together and talked about the days ahead and what optional activities we would like to do. Later in the evening we had S’mores around the camp fire and then had an early night. The next day we got up bright and early. Most of us went for a hike while a couple stayed by a pool. Considering I hadn’t done much exercising over the summer and I didn’t really have hiking boots, I was surprised at how easy I actually found this. Luckily I had very comfortable trainers! Yosemite NP is a place where I could absolutely imagine dinosaurs roaming about. I had heard about it before but I don’t think I had ever seen any pictures. It is a must see! Now if a photograph pops up somewhere I instantly know if it is Yosemite NP. It is so distinctive. I loved the hike and we made it to the top of a waterfall, we also passed a smaller waterfall on the way up which had a small rainbow over it. Once at the top, we all relaxed and had something to eat, I could have easily fallen asleep. We took lots of photographs and then made our way back down. As I had never heard of Yosemite NP it had not been on my to do list, but I would go back in a second to explore some more. We left early the next day and on our way out we stopped by a lake where there was a layer of mist just floating on the top. It was such a peaceful morning, It was one of those moments where you just had to be there.
It was then time for Las Vegas! Las Vegas is a place I didn’t think I would be too keen on, as I am not a big drinker and I have never gambled in my life. I am so glad I was able to experience a small part of it because I absolutely loved it. We stayed at Motel 8 which didn’t seem too far from the strip. It was a really good hotel and I swear I looked at the prices on the back of a door and they were quite expensive considering we got the whole trip for around $800. On our first night there we all had a meal at the Hard Rock Cafe, we then went in a hummer limo down the strip, we had photographs at the Las Vegas sign and we went to Freemont Street. I absolutely loved the displays on the ceiling. I think it was this night too that we saw the Bellagio fountains. Again, it was one of those moments. We also went into the Bellagio. I was only brave enough to have a go on the slots. We then made our way down the strip and stopped off in a couple of clubs. We had the next day free. I went with another girl called Rhi, to explore the strip. We went on the New York roller-coaster, It was so good that we went on it twice. We did some shopping while going into a variety of casinos such as the MGM Grand and Caesars Palace. Later in the day we met up with everybody else and watched the volcano show at the Mirage, this was awesome! After this we got cabs to the Stratosphere tower, I paid for two rides, although I was only brave enough for one. The Stratosphere Tower is tall and I went on the ride called ‘Big shot,’ It shoots you up into the air and I was absolutely terrified! I didn’t end up going on another ride after that but It was amazing.
The following day we went to the Grand Canyon. Some of us had chosen to go on a helicopter ride while the others stayed back at the hotel. I am 100% happy that I chose to do this. I was sat right at the front and it was the best experience of the trip. Do you know in films when the camera is just soaring over the trees? It was like that! Then all of a sudden we were over the Grand Canyon and it totally made my stomach turn. It was incredible! I loved every second and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Later on in the evening we watched a video about the Grand Canyon in an IMAX theatre. I had never been to one before but it definitely made me want to go to one again, though I am still waiting. We also went to a steakhouse for dinner. We woke up early the next day to watch the sunrise at the Grand Canyon, again, it was another incredible moment. After this most of our tour team did a 10 mile trek into the canyon. Myself and two others did a trek around one of the rims. I am pleased we did this as it did turn into a hot day. We later chilled out in the pool at the hotel. The others came back extremely tired but they also enjoyed their trek.
The Grand Canyon also had the friendliest squirrels ever.
It was another early morning to make our way to LA. This was a long journey, but we made it and we went straight to the beach and stood in the Pacific ocean. Our tour leader then took us to our departure hotel. I paid for one night here. We all said our goodbyes and went on our way. I had booked a few days in LA. I was staying at a hostel just off Hollywood Blvd. It was a busy hostel but exactly how it looked on the internet. My room was hot though, It only had a little fan to cool down all eight of us who were in there. The hostel organised tours and pub crawls. I went to a comedy night in the hostel itself which was good. It turned out Rhi who was on the trek with me was staying at a hostel a few minutes away and we planned to meet up. We went to Madame Tussauds and we also did a tour of LA and the Hollywood Hills. I was sooooo hot on this day! I literally felt like I was burning. We also did a bit of shopping. The next day we went to Universal Studios. I had so much fun and I also booked tickets to go to see the LA dodgers the following night as Rhi had booked some previously. I had wanted to go but I wasn’t sure about how to get them. Luckily at Universal studios there was a LA Dodgers store and I could get them there. Pitbull the rapper was at the game and he threw the first pitch. The day after the game day we went to the Warner Brothers studios and had a tour. I saw the set of Central Perk from Friends, Friends is my favourite show in the world! I was ecstatic! This was my last day and then it was time for me to leave and go to New York!
I thought to myself, I had been with people every step of the way, one way or another, at camp and on my travels, but I was actually on my own in New York. One of the biggest cities in the world and I was on my own. It turned out that I didn’t mind one bit! It is so busy that you’re just on the go. I used a shuttle bus from the airport to my hostel. This wasn’t the best in the world but it was close to everything and I only slept there. I then went to explore. I went around the corner and a couple of streets down and I ended up being in Times Square. I didn’t realise how close it was. I went in the shops and took lots of photographs. I then found the Empire State Building, I had previously booked this online, It was really easy and quick to get up. I spent a while just taking everything in when I got to the top. The following day I went to Central Park. It was a beautiful day. I made the mistake of wearing sandals and boy did my feet ache. I recognised so many areas of the park that I had seen in films. There was also a mini castle which I didn’t know about. I also got lost for about ten minutes. Trust me. I did end up finding the Central Park Zoo. It was small and an odd place for one to be considering how busy New York is. I spent most of my day at the park and then I did some shopping. It turned out some people from camp went to the park that very same day but I didn’t see their message until I got back to the hostel which was a shame. What was the luck in that? The following day I went on a TV and Movie tour which I had also previously booked. I recognised every place we were taken too. Later on in the day I went on a boat which took us up to the Staten Island. I had never realised how small the Statue of Liberty was until then. It was also freezing on that boat! I then had one more day where I just explored and shopped with the $100 I had left. I had an early flight the next morning to go back home.
- While on the Trek America tour we all put money in each day to buy food to make sandwiches and easy meals instead of us going out for meals all of the time which would have been more expensive.
- We changed our seats on the mini bus to ensure everyone had turns in the window seats. The internet also worked better in certain places on the bus.
- We stopped off at quirky towns in between the main stops.
- There was a lot of travel but it helped us to catch up on much-needed sleep.
- We had fun.
For how much I paid for the trek and the places I saw, it was definitely worth it. I would totally recommend Trek America. I had absolutely no problems. They’re good for a group of friends or if you’re by yourself. If you’re outgoing or if you’re shy. It is an affordable way to see some of the big sites while also visiting places you hear nothing about. I have always wanted to do another one, I just haven’t been able to get the time off work as next time I am hoping to go on a longer Trek. If you want to travel America and don’t want to do your own road trip, this is the way to go! http://www.trekamerica.co.uk/