Welcome back! Sorry this has taken such a long time to get round to, but I hope its worth it!
After Las Vegas we set our sites on the scary sounding Death Valley. We stocked up on lots of water in preparation for the hottest, lowest and driest and lowest part of the planet! Due to the heat and everything, we left our trailer in a nearby carpark and set off!
The first stop was the Badlands.. It was amazing, unlike anything I’ve ever seen! It was so warm and dusty and looked just like a sand pit!
Next stop was the Badwater Basin which sits at 855 meters below sea level. It was here that we stopped off, some of the boys played with an american football, we all took typical tourist “leaping photos” and finished off with the whole group tipping water over our heads to cool off.. Only on a TrekAmerica tour!!
You’ll spend the night in a nearby town called Bishop which is super cute and really old fashioned! The camping ground is really nice, you get a token for the laundry room as well so you can save your quarters! Make sure to get a good night sleep as you’re off to Yosemite the next day!
Yosemite was hands down my favourite place, not only on the tour but the most amazing place I have ever been to! We started off visiting a nearby gas station where we all had a quick wander around the gift shop. I bought a really cute “Little Stringlets” Bracelet with 3 beads made out of lava! It represents power/success and according to Brazilian Tradition you tie it with 3 knots and make a wish with each knot. Once these knots wear out and the bracelet falls off naturally these wishes come true.. It certainly worked for me!
Our picnic stop was at Tenaya Lake.. incredible!! One of the guys went for a swim in the lake while we had our sandwiches and then our trek leader Michelle, taught us how to play ultimate Frisbee and oh my goodness we were a competitive bunch! (Our team won.. to the embarrassment of Michelle who swore we were having rematch at another time!) We then took more jumping photos and one of the group tried to teach us all some cheerleading!
After we had all refueled we set off to see some Giant Sequoias! These trees are absolutely huge.. We had a little hike around 5km (you can head back to the bus beforehand if you wish!) and that included clambering over fallen trunks and even crawling through an old trunk!
From this hike we then went onto the campsite, its important to remember here that bears are around so you need to keep ANY food locked away in a bear-proof container.. Remember bears have been known to smash into cars and vans to get food!
Next day was time for another hike! Here you have two options, a 3k or a 6k hike, originally as someone who isn’t really particularly fit I had chosen to do the 3k, however at the 3k point I just couldn’t justify turning round and heading back so continued on and boy was I relieved I did! We played a game which went along the same lines as “Yellow Car” but with animals instead.. It really passed the time! Plus we saw lots of squirrels, lizards and birds¬ Also some horses carrying goods for local traders! And I got a selfie with a deer! (Best day ever!)
After two days in Yosemite National Park we’re off to San Francisco, first point of visit obviously being the Golden Gate Bridge! We got dropped off on one side, walked across the bridge,before meeting the bus at the other side. You get some amazing views of both the city and Alcatraz Island! I would definitely recommend walking across rather than driving across just because you get more opportunity to stop and take pictures of the views. This is another city where you stay in a Hotel, for us it was Hotel Metropolis. It looks like quite a risky area, San Fran does have a big problem with homeless people however the hotel is still nice and I never felt scared in the surrounding area. That night was the San Fran Sunset Cruise! This was incredible. It was provided by Adventure Cat Cruises, and you’re aboard a catamaran boat with a big net you can sit around and watch the waves underneath you (Just a warning.. this IS a splash zone!). You each get two drink tokens and there is a small buffet available also. This is an optional extra, but as you can see from the photos I would 100% recommend doing it!
While you’re also waiting you also get to see lots of sea lions! After the cruise its a free evening, so we all went out to find the local bars! We started off in Players Sports Grill and Arcade where we had some snacks and cocktails, then moved onto the oldest bar in San Fran called The Saloon, which had live music! It was quite cramped inside but the live music was really cool!
After such a late night, many of us took it easy the next day with a late brunch at the famous Dotties True Blue Cafe. The queue was round the corner but with strong persuasion from Michelle that its 100% worth it we stood in line. It was so worth it! I had chocolate chip french toast.. Amazing!! Very big portions though so I ended up sharing mine with a friend! The omelettes were also amazing according to others!
As an optional extra I had pre booked an Alcatraz tour, which meant being a little bit independent and getting the rail car by myself to the port, however everyone is super friendly, and as soon as they hear your accent you make lots of friends! Alcatraz is definitely a must see, there’s so many stories behind the prison and the audio tour is well worth doing.
The next part of the tour took us along the Pacific Coast, seeing sights such as Big Sur which was super cool! The coast really reminded me of the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland just with much better weather! We also stopped to see some HUGE elephant seals.. They were so big and noisy, they were absolutely hilarious!
Finally our last stop was Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, where we walked past all the stars on the walk of fame, bought some sweets in the biggest candy store and took some photos of the Hollywood sign, before sadly we all started to depart. Some of us had earlier flights, others were checking in to nearby hostels to stay for a few extra days, and I was off to Texas to continue by myself!
This was the best two weeks of my life, just a warning though, Trek America will ruin your life. You’ll never has as much fun, experience and laughs as you will do with your new best friends. The tour was amazing, our tour leader, Michelle was incredible and just everything was.. well I’m out of adjectives!
I would highly recommend TrekAmerica if you are thinking of exploring that part of the world!