A Travellerspoint blog

Grand Canyon

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There's no way that words can describe how awe-inspiring the Grand Canyon is, so here it is...


After an amazing day exploring the canyon, we met up with some other Suntrek groups at the campsite, including Anke and Thomas's groups. It was like a mini reunion, even though it had only been about a week since we were travelling together!

Posted by BensWorld 08:42 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

San Diego, Lake Havasu & Seligman

sunny 23 °C
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After leaving the manic highways around LA, we arrived in San Diego. I had heard that San Diego Zoo is supposed to be one of the best in the world and I haven't visited a zoo on my trip, so decided to take a look. The best bit of the day was seeing the Polar Bears - one had obviously been given a bone and kept throwing it against the wall inside the enclosure. The bear kept doing it over and over again, so I just thought it was going a bit mad! But on the 7th or 8th attempt the bone broke in two and then the bear sat on his rock eating the inside of the bone...amazing! I also saw grizzly bears up close, which was good after seeing them in the distance at Yellowstone and Yosemite.


After staying at a campsite in San Diego, we moved on to Lake Havasu City. As the name suggests, this is a city next to an enormous lake and was in the middle of the desert in Arizona. But the most interesting thing there is a bridge - London Bridge! An eccentric millionaire moved it there brick by brick from London in 1971 - as a tourist attraction! I guess it worked...we ended up there!


We then travelled on Route 66 for a while and stopped in a town called Seligman, which was like a 1950s time capsule. Lots of quirky shops there, and also some 1950s cars that are the same as those in the film Cars. It turns out that Seligman was one of the towns that inspired the film.


Posted by BensWorld 10:16 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

California, Los Angeles & Pacific Coast Highway

sunny 18 °C
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After Yosemite, we had a drive through California to our last campground at a small town just north of San Francisco, called Petaluma. We arrived on a sunny Friday afternoon, and there were queues of families all arriving for the weekend in their RVs (or motorhomes as we know them!). It reminded me of a Saturday morning at Beachside!

It was the last day together for our group and so a big night in the small bars of Petaluma! Then the following day we made our way to the finishing point of our tour, just outside San Francisco. About half the people in our group were then going on a second tour, so we spent the afternoon at the hotel enjoying the pool!

The next morning after some emotional goodbyes we all went our separate ways and I joined my second group. It was fairly hectic that morning at the hotel, I think there were five Suntrek tours leaving and it took me a while to find my group - it didn't help that my new tour guide was calling out a different name for the tour than on my itinerary! But everyone found each other in the end and we were off. First stop Santa Cruz...


We spent the morning at the Boardwalk funfair. Our group is great and our tourguide Steve Coogan (yes that is his name!) has everything under control! Our group of 11 is well mixed, Rianne is from Netherlands, Isa and Iris are from Switzerland, Anne is from UK, and from Germany there is Christina, Basti, Kai and Jan. Hoon is from South Korea and Katrina from Russia.

After our first night camping we drove south on the Pacific Coast Highway to Monterey. Apart from Monterey Jack cheese, Monterey is apparently famous for the setting of a book called "Cannery Row" written by John Steinbeck, about the sardine cannery industry in early 1900s. We then continued our drive south and saw hundreds and hundreds of sea lions sleeping on a beach. I've never seen so many sea lions before - amazing, but they are so lazy!


The next day we stopped at Santa Barbara, a very wealthy part of California full of expensive clothes shops and lobster restaurants. Very nice but a bit beyond my shoestring budget though!


Later that day, we drove through LA and stopped at Rodeo Drive, which is apparently the shopping area of rich Hollywood stars - we didn't see any, but the shops did all have bouncers outside! We drove along Sunset Boulevard and saw lots of the rock clubs I had heard about on the radio when I was younger. Then we walked along Hollywood Boulevard and saw all the 'movie theaters' where the premieres are held.


Last stop of the day was Santa Monica, - an amazing beach, and then a group meal out at "Yankee Doodles"! It was a characteristic American bar and while we were there someone was trying to complete the challenge to eat an entire HUGE meal and get it for free.


That evening, when we arrived back at the campsite, another Suntrek group was there and it turned out to be Anke's! (who was in my group for my first tour). The next morning was Venice Beach, the final stop in the LA suburbs and a chance to catch some rays on the beach. Besides the beach, the promenade was probably the weirdest place I have visited so far on my trip. Hippies, Bodybuilders, Tattoo shops, "Medicianal" drug dealers, it has it all - and apparently its legal! The next stop will be San Diego!


Posted by BensWorld 06:24 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Salt Lake City & Yosemite

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Leaving Yellowstone National Park, the first stop we made was Craters of the Moon - a National Monument of black volcanic landscape. Although still fairly cold, we left the snow of Yellowstone behind. Unfortunately we missed a visit to Grand Teton National Park because the snow was so bad!


The next night we stayed in Salt Lake City. This is the home of the Mormon church and our tour guide said we should go and have a tour of the temple. Luckily I wasn't converted while there, but they tried very hard! We were staying at a campsite right in the centre of the city, which was great, and it had a cool little grungy heavy rock bar just outside. A few beers were had by all...

The next leg of our trip was the longest driving day - 13 hours!! Its a long time to be stuck in a small minibus! We were travelling from Salt Lake City to Lake Tahoe and on the way stopped at Reno, a city that wants to be Las Vegas, but is failing...its a small city and was a bit tacky, with some small casinos and plenty of walk-in wedding chapels!


So we finally arrived at Lake Tahoe and Nick had found us a 4 bedroom lodge to stay in (as it was snowing again when we arrived!). It was also Sam's birthday, so we had a nice meal and cake! The next morning there was snow on the beach beside the lake, and amazing sunshine - a little bit bizarre!


After a short drive the next day, we arrived at Yosemite National Park. I think this was somewhere that we were all looking forward to and it was the last big destination on our trip together. The scenery at Yosemite was stunning! Below are just a few of the photos I took that day. Daz and I managed to fit in 3 hikes in one day, Mirror Lake, Vernal Falls and up to Lower Yosemite Falls. On the last one we climbed 1000m up and then 1000m back down again. It was a good day of hiking!


Posted by BensWorld 05:32 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)


semi-overcast 4 °C
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Yellowstone National Park is the second Geothermal area I've visited on my trip (after New Zealand), but Yellowstone was different because it was snowing! The Yellowstone plateau is at high altitude, so is very cold. We were staying at a town called Gardiner, in cabins again, which was good for two reasons - firstly they had heaters in and secondly we were in bear country! One evening, when we were cooking outside, the temperature reached -6C!! The group cooking that night didn't have it easy - I think it took about an hour and a half to boil a pan of water!

The Yellowstone area is very unique, with hot springs, thermal vents, bubbling mud pools and geysers everywhere! We went for a swim in the Gardner river (yes, in the snow and freezing temperatures!) just where some hot springs flow into the river. Swim in the wrong direction and the water would become scalding hot or freezing cold!


Along with the landscape and the geothermal features, we saw some amazing wildlife up really close. We saw Bison, Elk, Bears and Arctic Wolves. Bison are absolutely huge! We also saw a grizzly bear eating something it had caught.


We also met a TV presenter called Casey Anderson who makes wildlife programmes in Yellowstone, in one of the bars near our campsite. His programmes are on TV in UK as well. Check out a clip of his programme below!


On the third day we went for a hike in the national park. Our tourguide dropped us off and arranged a meeting place and time - however at this time Daz, Sandra and Jen did not arrive back. One hour went past, then two, three and eventually they arrived back after 4 hours - just before the rescue plane and search dogs were about to be launched! Their excuse...they hadn't heard our guide tell us the path was not in a loop! Travelling is all about experiences I guess...!


The first picture below shows the view from our campsite over the town of Gardiner - an amazing view! The second picture shows the last stop we made - the Yellowstone Grand Canyon, not to be confused with The Grand Canyon. It was huge though and looked stunning in the snow!


Posted by BensWorld 14:07 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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