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The trip in reality – Intrepid Winners story

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To those who might not know I won this part of the trip…a mini West coast exploration with Intrepid Travel who I would highly recommend! Amazing experience and I will definitely use them again. Ideal for people travelling alone or people who want to fit in a lot of sight-seeing in a short space of time. So I shall continue…

21st November: Only 3 days Satetside so far and I’ve already had a blast and it just keeps on getting better! Up bright and early, unfortunately too cold for a swim, for the complimentary brekkie. I don’t know how Americans start the day on sooo much sugar and they add a large coffee on top of that too! Again its another beautiful day and tough to leave LA but also excited about whats to come! Time to meet everybody!  Off the bat everyone was so nice and the tour guide introduced herself and the trip with such enthusiasm that you just knew it was gonna be fantastic! Being stuck in a minivan with the same 13 people for a week was going to prove to be a great bonding experience. Thankfully we didn’t have any awful people on the bus and everyone got along great! A lovely mix of nationalities too despite the majority being Aussies, yay for making some aussie friends! 😀 Others from Sweden, Switzerland, Argentina & Malaysia. The first day was easing us in and we headed straight to Joshua Tree National Park. Beautiful place. Not a cloud in the sky! We had a picnic, walked around the place, climbed up piles of rocks, just so peaceful and so enjoyable. Tonight we were to discover we were staying in The Golden Nugget casino in Laughlin. A mini taster of Vegas that we would be hitting hard in a couple of days. I went to bed pretty early most of this week except the one night in Vegas. I was being sensible and wanted to enjoy the days, though I did become quite the expert at falling asleep sitting up on the bus…think we all did! It was always nice to come together everyday like one big messed up family for a meal too. I’ve always wanted a big family and often I get to experience the atmosphere of one, including on this trip. It was great!

22nd November: Time to head to the Grand Canyon! So exciting! We drove down parts of Route 66 along the way and stopped in a place called Seligman which has been kept alive through tourism alone. The historical Route 66 was made redundant when they put in new roads. If you’ve seen the film Cars you get the picture kinda 🙂 I was ecstatic to be on Route 66! The place is pretty eerie and quite kooky, perhaps what you would expect of a teeny American town in the middle of nowhere.  Pictured is our home for the week parked on Route 66. Once we reached the Grand Canyon our tour guide had the hilarious idea of blindfolding us all, marching us all up the hill through the chuckling tourists and letting us all see the amazing sight exactly at the same time. A really good idea and so cool to hear everyone say wow or gasp when we first set eyes on what was in front of us. There are no words for how beautiful and amazing this place is and I would suggest EVERYONE go and see it for themselves!! Our first look featured… I have hundreds of pics from the whole trip and the majority probably being from here but a picture cannot do justice to the place. We didnt have as much time here as I would have liked but we had time to hike half way down the Canyon where on Twitter you will see I have posted a pic of myself with the amazing view from down there. Its crazy how different your view is from anywhere you may be in or around the Canyon! Apparently only a small percentage of the tourists who visit every year actually go below the top of the Canyon and I was one of them! 😀 The hike back up was killer though OMG! I did need the exercise however. Hadn’t worked out that hard in a while. Again it was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky, the sky is so so blue over there!  We met back up as a group at the top to watch the sunset over the Canyon. Just wow! Not wanting to leave we have dinner and head to our motel for the night, which I’m very pleased to discover is on Route 66! No cabin though, which I feel would have been slightly, only slightly, cooler.

23rd November: Still at the Canyon we head out early to go get our helicopter rides! These were pricey but totally worth it, the views you get of the place are truly astounding and the pilot was very knowledgable and a laugh and played a great soundtrack! I actually have a short video to try and get a panoramic view and to give people more of an idea of what it was like but really there is no way of describing it. I will post the video in a separate post if anyone is keen on seeing it. Snow in the Grand Canyon who would have thought it?!? I never would have! I wish I could post all my pics! I have them all up on Facebook so you can check them out or add me if you don’t know me.

Still the 23rd November: The drive to Vegas. I’m pretty sure nothing is going to top the Canyon but a top night out was had in Vegas! We started with a limo ride around the city, I managed to score a bargainous bottle of Moet! As any night out a fair bit of it is blurry details. We stopped at the Vegas sign for pics, the Elvis wedding chapel, downtown for a Queen light show then ended at the Bellagio to catch the water show. At night with the lights is pretty cool considering all it is is water and lightbulbs, simple yet incredible, like anything amazing. After some bar hopping we ended up in Studio 54, old haunt of the incredibly cool and famous. I didn’t see anyone famous but to be fair I wasn’t interested in anything other than having a good time and was very drunk by this point! 24th November: First time I got up after 9am. It was quite nice knowing we didnt have to pack up and were going to be in the same bed for more than 1 night. Second day in Vegas was mostly sight-seeing after meeting up for a buffet lunch, which was actually our breakfast. I didn’t fancy a hangover on the bus the next day!  Walked pretty much the whole of the strip. Went inside a couple of casinos. The Venetian is beautiful!  Ended the day with a trip up the Stratosphere, I think the highest point in Vegas and went on the aptly named ride Insanity. So incredible! The view is pretty breathtaking and once you get over the fact your hanging hundreds of feet over the ground its fantastic, though you start to get dizzy towards the end. You can just about see the ride hanging over the edge in the pic. My room mate had disappeared with a “friend” in the 2 days we were in Vegas so I got some time to myself too which I think is invaluable on a trip such as this.

25th November: Heading to Death Valley.  I was wrong there is a lot to see but as far as story telling goes, not much to say. We stopped at Badwater Basin 282 feet below sea level, Earth’s lowest point. Now I just gotta climb Everest to get the double 😉 Beautiful scenery all along the way. The roads are long and straight and there’s nothing but desert either side pretty much.  Love the road trip feel, stopping at tiny Gas Stations. This made me laugh in these far out places  Saved the postie from driving hundreds of miles a day probably!  Saw some incredible sunrises/sunsets along the way. Watching the sunset over one of these long roads was pretty amazing. You just cannot explain the wonder of driving around these places you really can’t!

26th November: Last sight on this incredible trip. I realise I’m using the words incredible, awesome and amazing a lot but that’s just what this trip was and I won’t apologise 😛 Yosemite National Park probably my second favourite place along this little tour. Really beautiful place and again wish we had more time for hiking up and down. Whilst hiking up to one of the waterfalls the guy who plays Will Schuester in Glee jogged past us…my first celeb spotting and it was in Yosemite of all places! I also saw a pretty awful sight in this place too… It’s nails are painted pink!!! Poor dog! Only in America huh. Breathtaking mountains, greenery and waterfalls.  Was hoping we would get to see some bears or maybe a mountain lion but no luck 😦 Also a  little sad that its our last full day together as a group.

27th November: All that is left to do is have our last supper, drive to San Francisco and say our goodbyes. I loved every minute of this trip and met some amazing people. Our last supper was at this famous and apparently most delicious burger place in California called In & Out burger.  I wasn’t best pleased after eating mostly burgers and pizza for a lot of this trip but also interested to try this famous burger…’Animal style’ they call it. Well it was horrific, made me feel sick after eating it, lucky we didn’t see anyone having a heart attack in the place! What shocked me was a large group of cyclists in all their lycra getup were sat in there munching away. How they got back on their bikes after I have no idea, I could just about walk back to the van! What I did enjoy was the Neopolitan milkshake though! Hello San Francisco!

Sorry this post is quite lengthy but wanted to keep the Intrepid trip in one part. Just a few more days in America before I had to leave…

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