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Trek America

The "Westerner 3" tour with Trek America
Los Angeles, United States
Met my tour group today, me and 11 girls, mostly fresh out of uni, with another guy joining in San Francisco. Not exactly what I was expecting but could be interesting. We left LA and headed up to Santa Barbara to check out the beach and pier for a couple of hours then headed up the coast to our campground. My camera battery I've discovered is totally drained though I recharged it just a couple of days ago and the spare is acting dodgy. Hard to charge at a campsite though I'll get a bit of charge into it now and hope I have enough for tomorrow before we get to San Francisco. My body wash has also managed to explode in my back pack though it was reasonable isolated in the top pack. So a bit of a dubious start to be fair, surely can only get better!
+1/10/2016Pacific Coast Highway
Carmel by the Sea, United States
No fog this time! A sunny drive up the coast though I slept through a great deal of it. We did have stops at Ragged Point and McWay Falls that I'd missed on the way down and the falls especially were great. It was sunny at the Elephant Seals this time but I actually preferred the fog bound visit. We camped at Carmel by the Sea which is just below Monterey. Not right next to the motorway this time which is a bonus.
+2/10/2016San Fransisco
San Fransisco, United States
The next morning was a straight drive up to San Fransisco where we walked over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was cloudy and cold when we arrived but turned sunny by the time we finished. The hostel we’re staying in is the same one that I stayed before picking up the rental car so both and it and the area are familiar. In the evening me and a couple of others went on a Sunset Sail around Alcatraz and out under the Gold Gate Bridge. The day had turned out lovely and we sat around drinking beer and watching the sun set.
Alcatraz, United States
A bit of a miserable day with cloud and the odd rain shower but we were heading out to Alcatraz so it kind of suited the location. At the start a guy from the National Parks Service spent about an hour walking our boat load up the hill and telling stories about the prisoners who tried escaping from the prison. Definitely the most interesting part of the trip. They also run an audio tour through the actual prison itself which was really well done and gives you an idea of the life that was led there. It didn’t sound all that bad, most of the prisoners were there because they’d escaped other prisons before and they were kept fed and warm to make additional attempts less likely. I then headed up Coit Tower to get a view of the city even though the weather was a bit miserable for it. The views were OK but I don’t think even the sun would have made them that remarkable. I’d managed to smash my iPhone at Alcatraz so picked up a new one at the Apple store at Union Square. Not the cheapest solution for sure but I don’t need much of one to buy the latest toy.
Yosemite, United States
Tuesday was mostly driving from San Francisco to Yosemite. We stopped in the Giant Sequoia grove for a walk being heading to our campsite near El Portal. Today we headed up to Glacier Point and took the Panorama Trail down to the top of Nevada falls. Great view from the top and a decent walk down. Pizza for dinner in the village then back to the campsite.
+6/10/2016Keough Hot springs
Keough Hot springs, United States
A short 3 hour drive through Yosemite and an early arrival at our campsite before we headed to the hot springs in the afternoon. More like a rural swimming pool with a hot pool but a nice way to spend a sunny afternoon.
Zion, United States
A long drive today today with a brief stop st a “ghost” town. More an outdoor art exhibit and a couple of old buildings. We rocked into our campsite early in the evening and that was the day, mostly driving.
+8/10/2016Angels Landing
Zion, United States
The most famous hike in Zion was well worth it. It's a relatively easy climb until you near the top where they've put chains along the ridge and you clamber along with steep drops down each side. The view from the top is pretty spectacular. I was a bit nervous at times on the climb but coming down was easy. After lunch a few of us headed to Emerald Pools, a short hike that was so packed full of people and kids that it was a frustrating walk. The pools at the end weren't particularly spectacular either so we were glad to get back down. A walk along Sand Beach Trail finished of the days hiking.
+9/10/2016Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon, United States
We headed out to Bryce Canyon which has some fantastic spire formations created by the slow erosion of the cliffs. We walked from Sunrise Point down to Queens Garden then took the Wall Street half of the Navajo Loop back up to Sunset Point. From there we headed out to Kodachrome State Park where we're camping the night out in the middle of nowhere.
Moab, United States
Most of the day was driving out to Moab before visiting the Delicate Arch for sunset. Sadly a bit cloudy so the photos weren't spectacular and we even got caught in a brief downpour before getting back to the van.
+11/10/2016Devils Garden
Moab, United States
An awesome hike in the morning through Devils Garden visiting all the arches. The track was rough with plenty of climbing and just marked with cairns. Some of us even managed to get lost in the valley in the middle of the loop for a bit which added some excitement. In the evening five of us went on the Hummer tour. This wasn't the exciting ride I'd expected but a slow climb up big rocks, with lots of stops for info and stories. Fun it's own way but not what I'd been hoping for.
+12/10/2016Monument Valley
Monument Valley, United States
The scenery here is just fantastic and you see why it's been used in so many westerns. We got here in the afternoon then had a tour around the valley before having Navajo Tacos for dinner inside the park. The really cool bit was staying overnight in the valley. We had the option to sleep in a Hogan, a trade Navajo mud hut, but we all opted to sleep outside under the stars. Well clouds to start but by 2am the sky was just fall of stars.
+13/10/2016Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend, Arizona, United States
We were up for a lovely sunrise in Monument Valley, then a quick breakfast, before leaving the park. Along the way we stopped at one of the most photogenic spots around, Horseshoe Bend, which is a point in a Canyon where the river wraps almost entirely around, hence the name as the curve looks very much like a horse shoe. In the afternoon most of the girls went horseback riding while a few us stayed at the camp ground and played corn hole, a game where you sacks onto wooden boards that are 10ft apart. You got one point for every sack in a round that you landed that the other team didn't and two if you managed to land it in the hole in the board. In the evening we had a steak dinner that was one of the best I've had. Huge steaks beautifully marinated and cooked followed by chocolate brownies that melted in your mouth.
+14/10/2016Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon, United States
We spent the morning driving out to the Grand Canyon. For our first view Katie had us wear bandanas as blindfolds then led us out for the big reveal. It was actually a bit disappointing. In the afternoon though five of us took the helicopter ride out over the Canyon which was spectacular. A low approach over the pine forest surrounds then we were out over the Canyon and got our first real understanding of how big it is. The flight also gave us a much better appreciation of how varied the terrain is. My first time in a helicopter as well and it was a great experience. 50 minutes over the Grand Canyon is probably one of the best flights you do mind you.
+15/10/2016Bright Angel Trail
Grand Canyon, United States
Bright Angel Trail The Bright Angel Trail is a 20km round hike down into the Grand Canyon. Easy going down, hard coming back up in the midday heat. The views of the Colorado River at the end were great but I'd already been spoilt with the views from the Helicopter. We watched the sunset at the Canyon rim then it was Mexican for dinner and
Vegas, United States
We stopped in Seligman briefly which is on Route 66 and had a milkshake at Delgadillo's Snow Cap before hitting the road to Vegas. At one point we crossed the Hoover Dam but didn't stop to check it out. In the evening we had a two hour drive around Vegas in a party bus that had a stripper pole down the back and was basically a drinking session before going to a club in the Bellagio.
+17/10/2016Cirque du Soleil
Vegas, United States
A late start to the day after a late night out. Had the hotel buffet for breakfast/lunch at midday then chilled by the pool. In the evening headed out to a show with a few of the girls, Mystere by Cirque du Soleil. Really well done, some amazing acrobats and bizarre and intriguing costumes. Walked around the casinos afterwards before popping some Champagne for Lucy's birthday at midnight.
+18/10/2016San Diego
San Diego, United States
A long drive day down to San Diego where we settled into our campsite by the bay and made the most out of the hot tub. The morning was a relaxed start, with some going to the beach and others to old town. The brief view I had of old town was of a bit of a tourist trap and according to the girls who stayed it pretty much was. I had to get a new lens cap for my camera and when I found one was almost halfway back to the beach so just kept on walking. Not the most pleasant walk through town along the motorways but the final stretch around the bay and marina was nice. We chilled out on the beach for the afternoon before heading out to catch the sunset and the last group meal. There was a line at the brewery Katie had chosen so we ended up at a pub around the corner and joined in on the trivia quiz before back to the camp ground for a nightcap.
Los Angeles, United States
We finished our trip back in LA. A boring drive up the motorway from San Diego then some stops at Venice Beach and Santa Monica pier I really could have skipped. LA's not my favourite city and as I'd already been to both places just wanted to get to the hotel and crash; which I eventually did of course.