Day 13 –Pacific Coast & Halloween Party
At the beginning of each day before we head off in the van (unless it’s a free day and we’re not driving anywhere), Lana always shows us the map and talks us through the route that we’re needing to do to get to our next destination. Until this point, we’ve mostly driven across very basic landscapes which I’m not going to lie, is quite boring. However, having been the DJ for the last week (which means I sit at the front with Lana organising the soundtrack for the day –tougher than it sounds when you have an audience to please!), I haven’t been able to just nod off when I like. So it always amuses me when Lana says (to everyone), “you can fall asleep for this first part, but make sure you’re awake and looking at the views through the second part” because I can guarantee you, I want to fall asleep when the view finally gets interesting!
The Pacific Coast, is beautiful! Quite twisty turny so while I get a little bit travel sick, I was grateful for sitting in the front but the west coast is honestly, stunning. But a bit like when we were travelling through Yosemite I had my eyes peeled for bears, the Pacific Coast is all about whale watching and looking intensely at the sea as you’re driving along and questioning every suspicious looking object and ripple is tiring!!
I’ll let some pictures do the talking for a min of the Pacific Coast (Big Sur)…
Tonight was really fun, as it was our last night camping before we’re back at The Custom Hotel in LA we had a Halloween party. A couple of days ago we stopped off at a WalMart to find costumes and accessories and pick up any alcohol and things we would want for our last night. My efforts were fairly poor against Verity and Hannah who bought a bacon and a hot dog outfit respectively, I just had a pair of ears, a tail (that I could quite impressively swirl around), and a bow tie. Verity painted me on a nose but against them I hadn’t really made an effort.
While Team A carved pumpkins, it was my team’s final turn to cook and in honour of Mr Chow (kind of), we opted to cook sweet and sour chicken with noodles. I think most of us afterwards were on a sugar high as Lana had bought a ton of sweets which we munched on as we played Corn Hole.
Tomorrow we have a fairly leisurely start before we pile into the van for the final time and head back into Los Angeles (all the sad emojis).
Day 14 –Arriving back in LA
The final day of the trip has been kind of strange as is anything I think when you’re wrapping up an experience. While I have been sad knowing our trip is coming to an end and wanting to savour the last moments, equally I found myself wanting to just get on and be back at The Custom Hotel already. The only goodbyes we have today are to Kay, Tom, Mr Chow and of course, Lana.
Our first stop before arriving back into LA was in Santa Barbara which has a lovely relaxed vibe to it. We only had about an hour there but I would’ve quite liked a bit longer to explore the shops more. We then drifted into Venice Beach where, guys and gals, I captured the trip in a commemorative tattoo! I said right at the beginning of the holiday that I would like a tattoo while in America and true to my word, I did.
Our first experience of LA was of grotty Hollywood a couple of weeks ago but I actually really liked Venice Beach. While I wouldn’t particularly spend any more time there, it was so wacky and independent I just loved it. The beach also is fabulous and Verity, Hannah and I sat and amused ourselves watching a dude in a pair of budgie smugglers taking posed selfies of himself!
We were dropped off a little before 5pm and saying goodbye to Lana with an awkward handshake and a hug was a bit strange (but more on tipping another time) and suddenly we found ourselves back at the hotel, just with each other like it started. Trek America is done.
First things first, I would absolutely, categorically recommend Trek America and the Westerner 2 trip. If you want to travel across and around various parts of America, these types of trips are perfect! I won’t lie, it did after a point get quite tiring as you’re on the move every couple of days, but with so much to see in a relatively short amount of time, this is how it is.
Without knowing any specific questions you guys may have about the trip or my experience with Trek America, I will simply break my summary down in two simple ways –the good points (& trip highlights), and the not so good points.
Beginning with the Good Points and Trip Highlights:
My favourite night of the trip was camping in Benton Hot Springs –sitting in the hot tub with everyone as we chatted and relaxed with a couple of beers, looking up at the most amazingly clear and beautiful sky full of stars will be something I never forget. This was also inspiration for the tattoo I got in LA –the eight stars I got not only represented each of us, it also was a reminder of that night in Benton.
I will also remember fondly the second night camping at the Grand Canyon where I overcame some initial anxiety and had a blast round the campfire with another tour group and had fun hiding from Park Rangers. Ha!
Hiking in the Grand Canyon and Yosemite was also one of the top highlights of the trip and I would firmly recommend that you do the same if you get the opportunity.
The bad points
To be honest, and I am not just saying this, I really don’t think I can find a legitimate bad point during the two weeks. The only thing though (and this really is going into some dark depths to find something), within the first couple of days of the trip, I think a few of us were a bit unsure what we had signed up for on the basis that we seemed to be on a scout trip rather than a holiday. When you camp there’s obviously housekeeping involved whereby you have to cook, clean up, wash up etc. and there were moments where we felt if we weren’t doing something, we were expected to be doing something. I am not saying we were being lazy, I mean it was like we were expected to find chores for the sake of chores such as van cleaning. But after a few days when we settled into camp life, and with each other, this feeling disappeared and that’s all we’ll say on that.
Was it value for money?
In total, the trip cost me about £3000 but that includes spending money. I think I was the only one that had booked the trip over a year before and because of that, I had sufficiently had enough time to save and budget so I could afford everything I wanted to do. My parents were kind enough to pay for my flights.
Do I think it was value for money? Yes I do. Had I done the BLT Westerner 2 then it would’ve cost more to accommodate hotel costs which is one of the reasons I chose to camp instead. I also think camping allows you to bond quicker and better with the rest of your trek group and for me it was certainly a worthwhile experience from that perspective. For the additional activities, I budgeted about $300 and I think that was perfectly sufficient for me but then I chose to opt out of the Grand Canyon helicopter flight. My advice would be to definitely budget for the activities you want to do, meals out and general spending before you factor in souvenir shopping as this will affect your trip the most. If you can’t afford an activity because you went a bit nuts elsewhere with your dollars then you’ll regret it I think.
Do you have any questions about Trek America or the Westerner 2 trip? Feel free to contact me or comment below and I’ll do my best to answer anything. Overall I hope you have enjoyed these diary posts and learning about what I got up to on my trip.
Until next time x