London and myself have in recent years fallen out of love. I lived there for 10 years before I decided to leave and go to pastures new. I had grown tired of the commute,the people and the humdrum of life that came with the daily grind. I’d started resenting its culture, people and the way it seemed to throw things back in my face. I had given it my heart and soul and at the time, I felt it had given very little back. It was time for me to leave and distance myself before the relationship became toxic.
I have just come back from travelling for 4 months on what I and most of friends would call a “life changing” trip and I cant help feeling down about it. Yes, I should be thankful I have had the opportunities to see the things I have and everyone is obviously really pleased to see me and say how well I look –fitter and healthier but inside I am aching and heartbroken. In short I’m grieving.
I have that awful aching deep in the pit of my stomach, I get teary eyed every time I hear a song which reminds me of my trip, I constantly talking about people I have met trying to keep them alive, always looking at photos and shutting myself away under the pretences I am still tired from my trip. It is like I have lost someone. A dear friend, except this friend is called adventure.
Don’t think about it just book it! Is my one piece of advice to anyone who is thinking about booking a trip with Trek America.
I cannot recommend it enough and I know it is a cliché to say this but it changed my life. From the booking process with the team over the phone, to the epic itinerary which saw us visiting 33 states and 2 Canadian provinces it was truly awe inspiring. Yes I did the trailblazer and I would do it again in a heartbeat if I had the chance.
I met some of the most wonderful people I have ever met and I am still in touch with most of them on a weekly if not daily basis. I have met up with a number of them since coming back to share the wonderful memories and reminisce about the experiences we had. So good were the friendships I made that I have since, been travelling around Central America with someone I met on this trip. The Trailblazer is a once in a lifetime adventure and I cannot recommend it enough I saw some of the most breathtaking sites from the awesome Grand Canyon to doing a lone hike in Glacial National Park. I literally had to pinch myself to actually believe I was there at times seeing such amazing sites.
Sixty four days may seem like such a long time but in truth it flew by all too quickly. From the moment we all shyly met up in the foyer of the hotel to saying goodbye in LA again felt like no time at all. This was due partly to how well organised the trip is (yes at times it feels a bit rush – but there is a lot to see)! to the excellent guides we had who aren’t just knowledgeable but are there to answer all your questions and of course drive you from one place to another!
My favourite bits? I not going to give too much away but the National Parks are stunning and so different , don’t be fooled that America is all the same it certainly isn’t and I was very surprised how diverse it was and, how certain places have been unfairly stereotyped. Austin was the surprise for me as was Las Vegas. My true love however was Vancouver in Canada so much so I am now actually considering moving there.
If your having doubts don’t, it was the best experience I have ever done. It has made me a happier, healthier stronger person- so much so I am considering booking for Route 66 next!
Lissy’s Tips for the Trailblazer
1. Make sure you have lots of things to entertain you in the van. Music, TV programmes, Games, Books. You spend an awfully lot of time travelling between places and there is only so much of small town America you can watch from the window!
2. Portable Batteries – I bought one of these with me and it was amazing! Yes you can charged your phones and tablets in the van and at some campsites but there are limited sockets. I found having one of these made my life easier and I was able to charge it back up at one of the hostels we stayed at. I recommend Power Monkey (available most outdoors shops)
3. A Pillow- Sounds odd but trust me you will use it in the van and when you camp. I got mine from a Walmart when we were there and was the best $4 I spent.
4. Don’t bring masses of toiletries (yes talking to the girls mostly here). They are so cheap in the states and you stop nearly ever day for food to restock. It is pointless bringing things you can but also limit your make up I really only wore it when we went out in the towns and cities.
Woke up at 7.30am after a dreadful nights sleep. The ground was so hard even with 2 ground mats and it wasn’t just me who felt it, everyone was a little sore and grumpy. As we were staying another night it meant we didn’t have to pack up the tents which was great and meant I only had to worry about getting myself organised for the day ahead. It is so much harder living out of a backpack and trying to be tidy in a tent especially when what you need is right at the bottom of your bag! After breakfast and before we left, we all made packed lunches.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in the park today as it was our free day. There was talk of hiring bikes and more swimming last night around the camp fire, but the majority of us decided to hike up to Vernal Falls and to really experience what Yosemite had to offer. Ro and Morgan who aren’t big hikers decided to stay in the park and take the bus tour. The scenery was so beautiful and breathtaking and my words cannot really do it justice. It was something else.
Really cloudy and overcast this morning and was spotting with rain as we packed up camp. Consequently we packed up really quickly, certainly a lot quicker than when we put it up; but I am sure with the 63 days we have left we will become experts in all weather conditions! I had an alright sleep except apparently I snore really badly which I was actually really embarrassed by, especially as I don’t know everyone that well yet. After going on the beach last night I was so blocked up and think I am getting used to the outdoor air. I felt so bad for Amanda who I was sharing with and Rich and Lucy who were nearby. Hopefully it will clear up soon or maybe I just snore and never realised it!
Woke up this morning pretty nervous and excited about the trip ahead but I shouldn’t have worried everyone was really nice. Amanda (my room mate) is lovely and we really got on and ended up talking till about 11pm last night.
We all met in the hotel foyer at 7.30am and were introduced to Jake our leader. We then through paperwork and other formalities before introducing ourselves. There are 10 of us in total on the trek doing coast to coast north and 4 of us doing the trailblazer. 5 girls ( Lucy, Morgan, Roisin, Amanda and myself)and 5 boys (Mo, Alex, Rich, Yo-man and Go-man). The people doing the Trailblazer are Mo, Roisin and Morgan so I will be spending 64 days with them whilst the others only go to New York. Everyone seems really lovely and I will go into more detail about everyone as the trip goes on. The girls I am going with on the trailblazer with were feeling a little worse for wear today as they had been out drinking till the early hours they seem a right laugh though.
Didn’t sleep that well last night I had forgotten what it is like to sleep in a bustling city where it never sleeps with the loud music from the night club, sirens and a really drunk person at 5am screaming outside!
Today has been a great day for exploring and had an epic time wandering. Didn’t leave the hotel that early as wanted to get up slowly especially when I have to be up meeting the trek group tomorrow at 7.30am.
People travel for many reasons – to escape something, to see the world to discover themselves to name a few. The truth is I have started to realise I haven’t seen and done everything I want to in my life. I want for once to do something for me, discover who I am, put myself first as selfish as that seems, instead of doing what others want me to do.
I have been thinking about travelling solo for a while but never had the guts to do it until now.
Why now? Lots of things have changed recently in my life I have relocated, changed careers, had more time to think and the unfortunate death of a friend/colleague who I thought would honestly live forever made me realise, I am not immortal or invincible and I can’t wait for fate to deal me a decent hand, I’ve got to go and get it myself!