West Coast vacation

My two school friends and I recently returned from an amazing two week trip to the west coast of America. We spent one week travelling up the coast then across to Las Vegas and the second week in Los Angeles. When people asked what I liked most about I trip I would say it was the combination of places we visited that made it for me. Although we could’ve done with an extra day or so in a couple of places it was great moving around for the first week and then have the second week to relax.

The first week saw us fly into Los Angeles and head off in our hire car after a few hours of sleep to Monterey Bay, but a flat tire one hour into our drive on the 101 at 4am provided us with a slight set back. Luckily the highway patrol in the US were very friendly and changed our tire for us. Then after swapping our small Ford for a eight seater Dodge ‘Caravan’ we were back on our way with a lot more leg room. We made it to Monterey Bay but had missed our whale watching slot so we rearranged for the next day. We then headed to our Airbnb accommodation in Santa Cruz and headed to the board walk to ride the big dipper and try our first corndog.

Heading back to Monterey Bay the next morning we had our first experience of the Pacific Ocean as we boarded the boat in the sunshine and headed out to see some whales. We were told there was a 10% chance that we would see Orca whales and about an hour into our trip we were moving close towards some visible splashing in the distance. When we were close enough to work our what the splashing was we discovered that it was a half a dozen Orcas of mixed sizes and a couple of grey whales, a mother and a calf. Soon humpbacks also appeared. Our knowledgeable guide informed us that what we were witnessing was the killer whales trying to sink the grey whale calf but swimming over the top of it. It was like watching a David Attenborough documentary as we saw these amazing whales in action. We were told that the humpbacks had come to try and help the grey whale calf after it’s mother abandoned it which the guide had never seen before. In the end the orca’s succeeded and killed the grey calf whale. After witnessing such dramatic scenes on our whale watching tour we forgave the Ford for giving us the flat tire as we might not have been so lucky the day before.

Next on our list was San Francisco where we checked into another Airbnb and literally squeezed the Dodge into a tiny garage with a couple of inches between the garage and the car. I really liked San Francisco. Cycling across the Golden Gate bridge was amazing and we had some of the best Mexican food I had ever seen. We were staying close to the Tenderloin area which we were told was a bit dodgy. I don’t know if it was due to the location of our accommodation or if it’s just San Francisco in general but I couldn’t believe how many homeless people there were.  After walking around Manchester on my lunch break today I can’t help feel more sorry for the homeless people in San Francisco. It was clear that a lot of the people was saw in SF were in need of mental help but with no medical insurance they receive no help at all.

After San Francisco we had another long drive in the Dodge to Yosemite National Park which was breathtaking. One thing that definitely took our breath away was when we realized the road we needed to take to get to Mammoth Mountain where our next accommodation was booked, was closed during the winter months and not open until May. Our two hour trip from Yosemite to Mammoth suddenly turned into seven hours. We stayed long enough to see the amazing scenery and get some pictures with some giant trees then we were onto our next location. Mammoth was nice and I didn’t realise that it was a ski resort. We had a good breakfast here and I picked up a piste map to try and claim that I’d been skiing here.

After Mammoth was Las Vegas. Picking up an In n Out burger on our way into Sin City we checked into our hotel just off the strip by Circus Circus. I was really intrigued to see what Vegas would be like and I would say that I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked it. I was expecting it to be full of really strange people and for everything to be pretty tacky. In reality there were some strange people there but no more than SF or LA. I loved all of the casinos, looking around outside felt like you were in a constant Times Square surrounded by lights. And inside the casinos were even more fascinating. They were endless buildings that seemed to go on forever. Strange to see people smoking inside and with no natural light in any of the well list casino floors you can easily lose track of the time. I can easily see how people can spend thousands on nights out in Vegas as my small gambling budget didn’t last very long. Surprisingly in Vegas, which is in the desert, it rained for 75% of our time in Vegas including during our Steve Aoki pool party at the MGM but it didn’t dampen our spirits. I really wish Vegas was closer to the UK as it would be great to go back for more celebratory weekends as I think the weekend in Vegas is enough.

After Vegas it was back to Los Angeles. It was nice remaining in one place longer than a couple of days after a week of moving around. Highlights in LA were witnessing a movie premier for The Huntsman, Warner Bros studio tour, walk of fame, amazing views from the hilltops, Venice Beach and Malibu.

It really was the trip of a lifetime. Here are some other things I liked about America:

  1. Food portions were amazing and if we couldn’t finish the meal everywhere had take out boxes
  2. Drinks were also bigger
  3. Really good Mexican food
  4. The weather (most of the time) is a lot better
  5. Friendly American people, beats anyone who has served me in the UK everyone was really helpful and nice
  6. The streets generally seemed cleaner than in the UK, not sure if that’s because it was sunnier
  7. The beaches, but not necessarily the sea as it was pretty choppy for swimming
  8. Everywhere looks like a film set


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