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My USA Adventure - Summary

Rob, 1995

In 1995 I went on a five week adventure around the US, which was excellent. I left on May 29th, flying from Perth to Sydney to Los Angeles to Chicago to Minneapolis, arriving 27 hours later - what a long trip! I had nowhere organised to stay and ended up in a sleazy motel on the wrong side of town, the cheapest place on the directory at the airport. [more ]

I was headed to Minneapolis for a conference. Once that was out of the way, I was free to explore. I visited the biggest shopping mall in America, and went on the roller-coaster ride contained within it. Did some nightclubbing with an American guy I met at the conference. I also visited the Metrodome, where the Minnesota Twins play baseball and Minnehaha Falls which was immortalised in Longfellow's 'Song of Hiawatha, and is near the beginning of the Mississippi River.

From there I flew to New Orleans, the other end of the Mississippi River. The Youth Hostel was just a sort tram ride into the French Quarter, where you can buy cheap beer on the streets and wander the around listening to the blues sounds wafting from the bars. It was very humid. New Orleans is apparently the most violent city in the US. One night I went out with an Australian guy, and met up with some local girls who showed us some out of the way places. One of the girls had a gun, and wasn't afraid to show it around and use it. Back at hostel very late! So late that I slept in and missed my lift I had organised to Miami today, and had to catch a bus instead. I decided to have a stopover in Orlando Florida on the way to visit Disney World.

I stayed in Orlando, the home of the Orlando Magic Basketball team, who were in the middle of the finals playoff. Visited the EPCOT Centre (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) which is part of Disney World. It took me 12 hours to see everything I wanted to. The highlight was the 3-D show called 'Honey I Shrunk the Audience'.

In Miami I stayed at a youth hostel down at Miami Beach area, and the building had actually starred in a few Miami Vice episodes, with photos to prove it. In Miami I caught some rays on Miami Beach. Nice beach, lots of gays though. Miami also has lots of South Americans, which is not surprising as it is so close. Knowledge of Spanish would be useful.

From here a I had short sojourn to Mexico.

My next destination was San Diego. Visited the world famous San Diego Zoo, which is just like most other zoos I have visited, and then caught a bus to Mission Beach where everyone goes to be seen. From here I caught a Greyhound bus up to Los Angeles and stayed at friend's house in Santa Monica, just a couple of blocks from the beach. Hired some roller blades and went skating along the foreshore with hundreds of others out on this sunny Sunday afternoon.

Start of my one week Suntrek tour. I shared a minibus with a couple of French girls, a German couple, and three Israelis. First stop was Disneyland, which was not as impressive as in Orlando, then off to camp at the Joshua Tree National Monument. They call them Joshua Trees because when the Mormons first saw them as they were crossing America they thought they looked like Joshua showing the way to the promised land. We were heading the opposite direction though. One of the highlights was seeing a real-life Road-runner but unfortunately there was no coyotes around.

We arrived at the Grand Canyon in the late afternoon, arriving to see and take lots of pictures of the sunset. Woke at 4am the next day, and returned to the Grand Canyon to see the sunrise, then hiked down into the canyon for 4 hours. At 10am we headed off toward Las Vegas, on the way stopping to see Hoover Dam, one of the biggest in the world. We had a big night in Las Vegas. We enjoyed a few complementary drinks while we pretended to play the 5 cent pokies. We returned to the hotel about 4 am then climbed the fence and went for a swim in the pool. That only left us 1 and a half hours sleep before we had to leave again.

Drove through Death Valley, one of the hottest spot on earth, on the way to Yosemite National Park. The changing landscapes were phenomenal, from the valley floor to the snow capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada. We camped in a small town on the east side of the park. The local pub was pretty boring until an old lady took a shining to me but I was able to stay clear of her by convincing her that I could only speak French.

Drove across the mountains, through the snow to reach the west side of Yosemite. We drove into the park for a look around. There were huge waterfalls everywhere, and with the big trees and blue sky made for great pictures.

The end of the trek. Drove to San Francisco and straight away experienced some of the gay culture with a walk down through the Haight-Asbury district. Caught a ride on the famous San Fran cable cars to Lombard St, the curviest street in the world, then to Fisherman's Wharf to catch a ferry out to Alcatraz Island. They had a great audio tour of the prison in which you heard famous inmates recalling the days when they were inside. Walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, which was covered in fog at the time.

Took an overnight bus from San Fran to LA, and back to my friend's place in Santa Monica. This time had a little more time to check out the place. Checked out Hollywood Boulevard the day after Hugh Grant was caught there in a compromising position.

The next morning, we woke early and went roller blading along Venice Beach. Visited the Tar Pits (full of dinosaur bones) and the LA art gallery (exhibition by impressionist painter Caillebotte). In the evening went to a Dodgers game and Dodger stadium and had a Dodger Dog and had a great time. They lost.

On the way back stopped over in Hawaii. There I walked up Diamond crater for spectacular views of Waikiki Beach and other parts of the island. Lazed on the beach among the Japanese tourists, fine tuning my tan before going home. Arrive in Sydney from Hawaii. Spent most of the day catching up with my Peter and his family, but also saw some old friends from Canberra (Cindy and Simone). Finally made it back to Perth, at 1am on 3rd July!