The deserts, endless gunbarrel straight highways and canyons of South West USA have always appealed to me as a photographer, outdoor walking enthusiast and lover of wide open spaces. So during my recent trip to the USA after visiting San Diego and the Twin Kansas Cities I began a 2 week road trip through California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
I have a drivers licence but since I was travelling by myself I didn’t want to drive long distances on often remote roads. So I did this road trip as part of a small group of travellers who had signed up to Intrepid’s “American Gold Rush” tour.
The plan was to drive in a loop from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park, Cathedral Gorge State Park, Zion National Park, Byrce Canyon National Park, Moab, Monument Valley in Navajo Nation, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas to Los Angeles.
In many ways this was the best group travel camping trip I’ve experienced which is why I think I should go out on a high and not travel like this again. From now on I’m sticking strictly to motels, hotels or camper vans.
As much as I enjoyed the journey the constant early starts and lack of sleep due to other people at camp sites making noise wrecked my body clock. Also sleeping in tents may sound fun but it’s actually quite impractical when travelling in a region of the world where some places can have temperatures in the 30C’s at midnight and other places can be around 10C.
Traveling in the USA would be much better if they paid service staff a decent living wage, so customers didn’t have to guess how much of a tip to add to a bill.
Also as a vegetarian it can be hard to find healthy fresh food at road side stops.
Having lived in 4 countries and travelled around the world to many more can really change your character. In my case the more I’ve travelled the more chilled out I’ve got. It takes a lot to rattle me and I have a strong sense of perspective when I feel like being grumpy due to something annoying me because I can remember seeing many people in other countries who are far worse off I am.
The older I get the more I agree with the saying that “it’s the journey, not the destination, that really matters”. I’ve enjoyed travelling a lot more since I tried to have no specific expectations about what I would see, so any pleasant experiences were an upside. Also often the most interesting parts of a trip which you remember are the people you meet and chat with, rather than the places you see, memories of which fade and blur with time.
Some people like Las Vegas. I am not one of them. To me it’s like a city sized Venus Flytrap. Luring people in with spectacles & then efficiently extracting money from them. Every sin is catered for in the city & it was almost 40C with hardly any shade – my idea of the Gates of Hell rather than a fun place to travel to.