Saturday, November 29, 2003

No 41.

So all aboard for the American tour

Song: Free Four
Album: Obscured By Clouds

A few days after graduating I went travelling in the United States. I went on my own because I knew that way I could do what I liked. The only definite plans I had were the flight out to New Orleans, the flight back from San Francisco four and a half weeks later and a week long bus tour from LA to San Fran about three weeks into the trip. Other than that I really had no idea where I would be, or when.

I stayed in New Orleans for a few days with a friend I'd met in my first year at university. The Big Easy is a fabulous place. The French Quarter looks like it will fall down at the slightest sign of a storm but it holds a wealth of jazz bars and Cajun restaurants, the best in the world.

From there I took the Greyhound to Houston and spent a couple of days there. Apart from a visit to the Space Centre that was actually really dull so I moved on quickly to San Antonio, a beautiful little city with the lovely Riverwalk, a stretch of canal in the centre with bars, restaurants and nightclubs all along it. Then, of course, there's the Alamo, with about as much history as you get in the U.S. It sort of put it into perspective for the Americans I went along with that the school I went to was founded a couple of hundred years before the Alamo!

I was staying in the Youth Hostel there and found a guy who was going on to San Diego, my next destination, and, more importantly, had a car so I arranged to hitch a lift with him. He drove 1100 miles in a single day to take us from San Antonio to the Californian border, where we stayed in a motel for the night, and we got into San Diego early the next morning. Much better than the 27 hours non-stop it would have taken on the Greyhound!

I loved San Diego. It's such a laid-back, calm city and I felt very much at peace there. I rested up for a few days after the trek across Texas and New Mexico and visited the zoo and the old mission. I then headed up the coast to LA, where I stayed in the youth hostel in Santa Monica, a really tough two-block trek from the beach. :-) I was in LA for three days before I had to join the minibus tour but, apart from taking a tour through Beverly Hills and Hollywood (which you have to do while in LA) I never strayed more than a few blocks from the coast. I walked several miles south along the beach past Venice and just spent some time relaxing and breathing in the sea air.

The minibus tour was a whirlwind seven days taking in Lake Havasu (jet skiing and London Bridge), Joshua Tree National Park, The Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam, Las Vegas (just one night but what a great time that was), Death Valley (where it was 116F (about 47C) in the shade, Yosemite National Park and, finally, San Francisco. It was hectic, but great fun, even given the two French girls who just moaned about everything the whole time.

I then had four or five days in San Francisco before my flight home again. Unfortunately, by this point I was getting tired of living out of a suitcase and I didn't enjoy the city as much as I might have done. I did take a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and ride on the trams etc but I was beginning to look forward to getting home again.

That was my tour of America, in brief. Looking at it, I think I could definitely write much more about it so I may revisit the subject in the future and fill in some of the many gaps. I'll definitely be going back there at some point, though next time we'll hire a car so we can truly go wherever we like.

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