My Trek America Experience - Westerner 3

Thursday, August 11, 2016

It has been exactly a year since I went on the trip of a lifetime. As I've just set up this blog I thought what better place to reminisce. Get yourself a cup of tea before you sit down to read this post, it could be a long one!

I spent almost a month in Summer 2015 travelling around the west coast of America with Trek America and a group of 13 'strangers'. I booked the Westerner 3 and I cannot recommend Trek America enough, the booking process was so straightforward. I booked everything including the trek, departure hotels, flights and insurance from them. Obviously, you can book flights etc separately, however, booking it this way was the easiest for me and it also meant that I only needed to pay a deposit at the time of booking.  

This was the first time I had ever travelled solo and my first trip to America, so as you can imagine I was nervous although incredibly excited at the same time. What will America be like? What will my group be like? Can I manage to sleep in a tent for 3 weeks? How will I cope without electricity and wifi? Have I packed the right things? All of these questions and more were whizzing around in my head. Not only had I never travelled alone before but I'd also never been on a camping trip! I do enjoy the outdoors and going for hikes however, when it comes to camping I was so inexperienced. I stepped well and truly out of my comfort zone but I love every minute of it and would do it all again tomorrow.

What did we do?

Our Trek started and ended at the Custom Hotel in LA. There was 13 of us in our group plus our trek leader, which I have to say was brilliant! We spent 21 days together travelling around the West coast of America. We began our journey in LA before heading to San Diego, Vegas, The Grand Canyon,  Lake Powell, Monument Valley, Moab, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Yosemite, San Francisco and Santa Barbara before heading back along Highway 1 back to LA. 

We all travelled by bus, which was pretty small, sometimes for hours at a time. However, these long road trips meant we could all get to know each pretty well. We played games, talked and told stories to keep ourselves entertained. We were all like a little family by the end of the 21 days. We did have access to wifi on the bus however it is limited and we had to take turns to use it.

We stayed at campsites for the majority of the trip with only 4 nights in hotels (Vegas and San Francisco). I have to say almost all of the campsites we stayed in exceeded all of my expectations. The majority all had great facilities, the showers were clean, they had electricity points and free wifi. Some even had swimming pools. Only a couple of camp sites were more basic than that, for example, we stayed for one night at a hot springs where there were natural hot tubs but no showers and portaloo toilets. That being said all of us enjoyed our time there and the lack of facilities did not make any difference to us. In Vegas, we stayed at the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street which was amazing and had a pool with a shark tank. In San Francisco, we also stayed in a hotel, which was nice and comfortable but I can't remember the name of it.

We stayed at a guest ranch for one night near Lake Powell. Here we all went horse riding before being cooked the most amazing steaks for dinner by the owners of the ranch. The ranch had great facilities as well as having a party barn where we had a fancy dress party that night. 

For food, we all paid into a food kitty at the start of the trek. We made stops every couple of days at a supermarket to get food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All of this food was then stored in cool boxes. We were split into groups and had a rota to share out the different jobs, such as cooking dinner, washing up and cleaning the bus. We did have dinner out sometimes, this was not included in the kitty so we had to pay separately for that. That being said, we did have money from the food kitty left over at the end of the trek so this was divided equally between us.

I have to say nights spent around the campsite as a group, cooking, playing games, gossiping and even having a silent disco, were one of my highlights. We had a fantastic group and we all bonded pretty quickly. Although I don't see them very often now, we still talk a lot and we have had a couple of reunions since. I met some amazing people and friends for life.

On our trip, we visited some of the most amazing National Parks.

The memories of The Grand Canyon will stay with me forever. Our tour leader blindfolded us all for our first look and lead us all down to a viewing point. When we took off the blindfolds the impact of seeing it like that for the first time just hits you and I have to say there were some tears. It was the most amazing sight! The next morning, some of us woke up at 4am to hike The Bight Angel trail, we watched the sunrise during our hike and then went back to camp in time for a helicopter tour of The Grand Canyon. 

This is definitely one of my highlights of the trip. I cried as we came over the edge of the canyon. Words and pictures cannot begin to describe how amazing this was. You have to experience it for yourself to understand it.

Monument Valley will always hold a special place in my heart. 

We spent the night here in a Navajo hut. The day we went we had torrential rain however this didn't dampen our spirits. After a 4x4 tour of the valley, we went for dinner (Navajo tacos), where we watched some traditional Navajo dancing, before being taken to our hut for the night. We laughed, told stories and played games until we finally went to sleep. 

We then made our way to Moab, where we went to Arches national park and hiked up to delicate arch and went on a hummer tour, before heading to Bryce Canyon for a very foggy early morning hike. 

In Zion National Park we hiked Angels Landing, something I wanted to do since I booked the trip. 

It was a difficult hike but the views on the way up and from the top were breathtaking! After that, we headed back to camp where we made dinner and then all of us lay on the ground and watched the stars. The sky was unlike anything I have ever seen before!

Yosemite was breathtaking. We hiked The Mist Trail up to Vernal falls and the views we were met with at the top were unreal! It was like looking at a postcard. I couldn't even compare this to some of the other National Parks we visited as it was so different. I absolutely loved this place and would love to go back someday.

As well as visiting some of the most amazing National Parks we also visited Vegas and San Francisco. I loved Vegas even more than I expected to. Our first night here is still a bit of a blur even now! We met up with another tour group before heading out in a party bus down the strip.

We made various stops including the Vegas sign and the Bellagio fountains before heading to a rooftop bar, where we partied the night away. The next day we were all surprisingly raring to go some of the group went to a gun range while the rest of us decided to explore the strip during the day and look in some of the hotels. I definitely did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did!

I also loved my time spent in San Francisco. We did a lot while we were there, we went on a boat trip in the bay and sailed under The Golden Gate Bridge, partied in a karaoke bar, visited Alcatraz and explored the city. We did so much walking over the two days we spent here!

Sorry this has been such a long, picture heavy post, there is so much more I could say about this trip. If I were to pick out every highlight from the trip we would be here for a while. I loved every single moment of it! If you are thinking of going on a trip like this then I would say go for it! Put yourself out of your comfort zone and have fun! You will see amazing sites and meet some amazing new friends along the way. I have to say thank you to Trek America and our fantastic tour leader for the most amazing trip ever!

I will be doing a separate trek/travel tips post over the next few days for anyone that is planning to go on one of these trips so keep an eye out for that.

Follow Me

You Might Also Like


Follow on Twitter