Memories of road tripping the US & Canada (Part 1)

In 2010/11 I spent a year studying in Georgia, USA as part of my degree. At the end of that year I had 7 weeks before my visa expired – so of course I spent that time doing a loop of the country (plus a bit of Canada) via Greyhound bus. My memories of this are somewhat flaky due to it being so many years ago now, but with the help of my scrapbook and an old notebook with all my plans, I shall do my best to recall!

PART 1 – SOUTHERN UNITED STATES & CALIFORNIA (2 weeks)

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-11-27-09As you can see from the map above, we started our journey by heading west from Georgia on a very long route across the continent to California. A few highlights plus travel times:

11 hour overnight bus to…

neworleansNew Orleans, Louisiana: We had three days in this European colonial style city. Very colourful with excellent food (beignet doughnuts, gumbo & lots of cajun spice), plus we had amazing weather. The signs of Hurricane Katrina were still about even 6 years later in the form of search party spray paint on garage doors. We visited Louisiana State Museum, explored the French Quarter and found lots of jazz and blues musicians. 

11.5 hour overnight bus to…

Dallas, Texas: We only spent one day here to break up the journey – and despite all expectations of Texas it rained all day. Not a traditional tourist city but there’s enough to keep you busy such as the Sixth Floor Museum (based in the building & floor JFK was short from) and the Thanksgiving Landmark of America.

20 hour bus (which turned into 25 hours because of delays) to…

grandcanyonGrand Canyon, Arizona: Again only one day but you could spend so much more time exploring and hiking here. Absolutely stunning. Unfortunately we got lost and missed the last shuttle back to our hostel in Flagstaff where we were due to catch our next bus in a few hours… so the day ended on a not so positive note. My first and only time hitchhiking. 

5.5 hour bus to…

lasvegasLas Vegas, Nevada: Two days here, which were utterly different to my expectations. Las Vegas is FUN. There’s kids and grandparents there on family holidays, so many crazy hotels to explore and shows to see. We stayed on the strip in Circus Circus hotel, which has all the usual casinos and slot machines but also circus acts throughout the complex. Also my first and only time gambling – I put $1 into a slot machine and came away with $24! But best to wait until you’re 21 to really enjoy Vegas. 

8 hour bus to…

San Diego, California: 2 days. Surprisingly not that warm considering we were only half an hour from Mexico. Still got sunburnt though. Beach time, Seaport Village plus a visit to the USS Midway which is now an aircraft carrier museum.

3 hour bus to…

laLos Angeles, California: We spent 1.5 days here and packed a LOT in, mostly around Hollywood but also with a trip to Santa Monica (glorious beaches, where they filmed Baywatch & end of Route 66). We used a Starline Tours hop on hop off bus to get around (LA traffic really is as bad as they say). Went to a comedy show, checked out stars on the Walk of Fame and visited Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (location of premieres) & Kodak Theatre (location of Oscars). Plus an improv comedy show at Groundlings Theater! Really a lot. Oh and the best smoothie shop I’ve ever been to.

7 hour bus to…

sfSan Francisco, California: 4 glorious days. SF was one of my favourite locations on the whole trip. Met up with various friends, cycled across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, visited Alcatraz, saw the sea lions on Fisherman’s Wharf, explored China Town and local parks… and so much more. We also got lucky that there was an Asian Heritage Street Festival going on while we were there.

We then flew 4 hours from San Francisco to Milwaukee, Wisconsin via Cincinnati to continue the next part of our road trip.

I would definitely like to revisit California in particular – one downside of travelling by Greyhound is that you don’t get to see the Pacific Highway. Yosemite is also very high up on my list, and exploring the Grand Canyon further would be great if there was time to head further out. Looking back now the bus times were horrendous – do not underestimate how long it takes to cross the continent! I was very good at sleeping on a bus by the end of the trip.

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