Sunday flashback: 2008 USA trip

I have been blessed with having been able to do quite a bit of traveling. Just this summer, I traveled through the US and Canada and it was epic. But it wasn’t the first epic trip traveling North America. I went to New York numerous times during my student days, but the most epic trip I ever took, was my 2008 USA trip. I embarked on a 30 day trip which took me to Washington DC, Columbus, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Fransisco and New York. It was the perfect ending to my student days: once I returned I became a teacher and I have been ever since. Since I didn’t have a blog yet when I went on this trip, it hasn’t been getting a lot of mention on here. I thought I’d change that today.

Sunset w/ thunder storms over Lake Mead (that strip is a lightning flash)

6The trip took place from the end of July till the end of August. I was gone for 4 weeks, visited 6 different cities and stayed in each city for roughly 5 days every time. My first stop was Washington DC where I stayed for just 4 days and I stayed in Columbus, Ohio to visit a friend for a day or 2. I ended my trip in New York where I stayed for a week with a little detour to Atlantic City, NJ for a Backstreet Boys concert. I tried to combine a mixture of city and nature during my trip and here’s what I did.

Washington DC

The White House

In DC, I did a major amount of walking. I took the subway to The Mall two days in a row. On the first day I just walked around a lot and then I spent a day visiting some of the museums. I went to the National Gallery and the museum of Air & Space. I also visited Arlington Cemetery and met up with a friend from the time I was on exchange in the US in 2005. I also visited the Dutch correspondent in the US who operate from Washington DC.

Los Angeles

Union Station, LA

After DC, I went to Columbus Ohio, but I didn’t do much sightseeing there. I visited my friend, who stayed the night at my hotel and we went shopping. I then went to LA. My hotel was close to the train station and the subway. LA isn’t the best city to navigate with public transportation, but it is doable if you take the time. The first day I just explored the area around my hotel.

Paramount Studios

I then walked around a lot the Hollywood & Vine area and went on one of those tours that take you up to Beverly Hills and show you the houses of all the stars. I also visited the Paramount Studios lot, which is still a fully operational movie studio and we were allowed to visit a few working sets on the tour.

Hollywood sign

One thing you have to see of course is the Hollywood sign. I had heard that the best view is to be had from the Observatory. So I took a bus and hiked up the hill to the Griffith Park Observatory. It was well worth the hike and the views were quite stunning despite the smog.

Beverly Hills

I spent a day in Beverly Hills too. I shopped on Rodeo Drive (they also have Gap and Victoria’s Secret) and took the bus back to downtown LA which is where I was staying.

I also wanted to see a beach of course, so I went to the Santa Monica Pier, had a funnel cake and watched the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

Las Vegas

Fremont Street

My next stop was Las Vegas. I took a Greyhound bus from LA to Las Vegas and they drive you straight through the desert. My hotel was the Four Queens on Fremont Street which is the old part of Las Vegas, which is just north of the Strip. I spent one day walking in and out of the hotels on the strip, but after doing a bit of shopping, the lights and noise got a bit much, so I decided to get some nature into my system.

Grand Canyon

I went to the Grand Canyon! I booked a pick up van which took you to a small airport in Henderson and from there a small place took us to the Grand Canyon where you visit some vista points, can do a bit of hiking and take some pictures.

Me @ Grand Canyon

Due to bad weather part of my booked tour was cancelled. I had booked an all in trip including a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. The weather at the Grand Canyon was the complete opposite from Las Vegas though and so it would be too dangerous to be doing helicopter rides.

Quad @ Nevada desert

Since Las Vegas is a desert town, I wanted to see some desert. So I tried to see what would be the best way to do that and the only thing I could really find was a 4-wheel drive quad ride. I figured that you only live once, so I booked  a trip and spent an hour cruising the desert on this monster of a machine. I hit a bump in the path on the way back to camp and almost ran off into a ravine. Leave it up to me to do something that silly.

Grand Canyon take 2

On my last day, I had booked a ticket to see a Cirque du Soleil show, but I also saw a spot open up on a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. With the refund I got on my original cancelled trip, I booked a separate helicopter ride. And that took place during sunset. Let me tell you: Grand Canyon @ Sunset + Rainbows make for some unforgettable memories.

San Fransisco

San Fransisco cable car

I stayed on the West Coast for a bit and visited San Fransisco. Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, the Golden Gate bridge: I visited all the main sites and then some. By this time my feet were killing me from all the walking and so I booked a ticket on one of those touristy buses to get around. I am usually not a fan of doing that, but sometimes it’s just the handiest.

Muir Woods

I decided to also book a trip to Muir Woods. Muir Woods is a forest which consists of Red Wood Sequoia trees: the largest trees in the world. These trees are thousands of years old. On the way back we stopped in Saulsolito which gave some stunning views of the San Fransisco skyline.

Golden Gate Bridge

Since the bus ticket I bought was valid for 2 days, I saw this bridge more than I bargained for. I walked across it as well, but for most of my stay the bridge was covered by fog. This was the first day you could actually take a good enough picture.


Another touristy visit was Alcatraz. This prison which closed in the early 60s, but everything is still there. One of the guards who worked and lived on the island in the 50s was there and he was filled with stories about his time there.

New York

View from Top of the Rock

My final stop was New York. I did some touristy things but also spent some time in Atlantic City to see a BSB show. I saw Mary Poppins The Musical on Broadway, visited the MOMA and went for some views from the top of Top of the Rock.

One of the last things I did was to visit Coney Island which is a bit run down by now, but still cute and quaint and something different if you try to get away from the city. I spent my last day in Central Park just walking around and enjoying a chilled out day before heading home.

What was one of your most epic trips?

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