This article was written 15 years ago in 2005 when I was just 20, so I ask you not to judge the writing too harshly! The text is as it was originally published.
Summing up the events of this past week in one blog entry is going to be quite a challenge.I have managed to get near computers during this time, but it was either inconvenient, ridiculously expensive or slightly cheeky to access the internet, so hence the delay in blog entries.
I will tackle as much as I can remember in chronological order, but then will probably will throw in nuggets of things that I forgot and since came to mind as I work my way through this text as otherwise I'm going to be back tracking and editing for hours.
On our last night in San Francisco we moved back into The Commodore hotel on Sutter. Our trek was to leave from there the next morning, so to minimise on early morning transportation we decided to relocate from the hostel (which we had enjoyed a lot).
Food was once again Subway (Aren't we predictable) while watching The Transporter on the room TV. The next day was an early rise, a meet-up in the lobby and some introductions s we filled out paperwork for our tour in the lobby.
Our tour guide was a guy called Joe - Californian born and bred and clearly a big fan of his job. There were mostly Brits (11) and two Aussies, who we ended up becoming really good friends with. On the initial van ride (we were heading out to Yosemite) I sat next to two Welsh girls, Ellie and Kerry. It later transpired that Ellie worked for BHFNC (My client) and therefore knows Broomy, while also being the girlfriend of James' ex-housemate's brother. Small world.
We stopped for shopping, then lunch (staple sandwiches which were to become lunch every day) at a covered bridge. By this stagewe were getting to know people a bit better and by the time we had set up camp on the outskirts of the National Park we all knew each other at least by sight. Joe took us to explore the giant Secoya trees (the biggest living organisms on the planet) which provided time to get to know each other, including walking under and scrambling through some particularly old logs. The latter experience was very funny, and nobody escaped without a good thick layer of dust and dirt. Some great photos were taken.
At camp we played card games while food was cooked by the designated team. Toothpaste was evacuated from the tents as apparently bear attacks are regular and they have a particular penchant for Colgate.
The next day was yet another early rise and was the first indication that a pattern was emerging here. I slept really well (considering it was camping) and we made tracks up through the park. En route we saw elk, some very fats squirrels and some odd blue headed birds too.The vistas were stunning - truly beautiful almost untouched scenery. James and I concur that we would never have seen all this had we chosen to visit the park ourselves, and is one of the many reasons we have changed our preconceptions about travelling the world by tour.
After a good number of hours trekking up and back down, Joe took us to a secluded part of the park river where we
screamed bathed in icy cold water. There is some good video footage of this but I haven't got the ability to attach it to the blog until I get home. Unfortunately I managed to damage my toe, and later I discovered the entire side of my foot had been shredded apart by the sharp shale I had heavily landed on in my first cannonball, but it's all clearing up now, and thankfully I escaped any pain.
That evening we ate philly steak at a park restaurant before heading back to camp via some impressive rocks including the famed El Captain rockface. Once again I slept well.
Another early rise and packing up tents meant we were back on the road. This time we were heading to a different type of destination; Las Vegas. The place really is as hot as it is made out to be, but all the same one of the most fantastic places I have ever visited. The glitz, neon lined streets and strange desert existence makes for a place that has to be experienced to be believed. Joe had totally talked down the rooms and the experience, and we stayed at the Golden Palm just off the strip. Undersell would be an exaggeration, as the rooms were the biggest we had been since since we had arrived in the states, and the location was prime, although we were only paying ten bucks per twin queen-size per night. I've never seen that kind of deal before.
We stuffed ourselves with pizza before, which unfortunately led to me bing sick (there may have been other factors like the water/atmosphere, but I am unsure and so have blamed it on over-indulgence), but it didn't stop me enjoying our first night out in the place, and we headed out to the hotel car park to be greeted by our 'ride'.
We had been promised a limo drive down the strip, but once again under-sold we arrived to find a gleaming black stretched Hummer and champagne. Awesome. I will never forget the ride. The driver had some bad-boy tunes on the system and we watched music videos on the monitors while we waited for the lights to change. It took one hour to travel the length of the Strip and back, and gave a really good opportunity to get our bearings. The drive was punctuated by stops at various points including a display the longest screen in the world, a 200 metre overhead video display to some classic Vegas music.
Many photos later we say in a bar at the MGM Grand, which is the worlds largest hotel casino. Joe had chosen the place as he knew we were less likely to get 'Carded' (ID'd) and we sat and drank some very expensive drinks. It was at this point we split and headed into the Casino.
Our Australian buddy Pete managed to do quite well for himself and actually came away with more money that he went with. Joe didn't carry such luck, but we all had a superb night, strolling down past and into the casinos including NewYork, New York, The Bellagio and The Monte Carlo.
I've realised we're going out for food. This story is to be continued...
This post was first published on Thu Sep 08 2005