In September 2011 we embarked on an epic road trip across the USA. Anna was five, Elyssa three and Korey just under 3 months old. It was something we had talked about doing on and off for years but never made any actual plans for, until one night we started discussing it and then bam! We decided to just go. Simple as that. The next day we began booking and organising and, never being ones to waste any time ‘planning and procrastinating’, 10 days later we were touching down at LAX!
We spent our first five nights at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel in Anaheim. The hotel was brilliant and from our room we had an awesome view of California Adventure Park which had recently been built next door to Disneyland. On our first night we walked over to Downtown Disney, a bustling complex of restaurants and shops, and I can clearly remember Peter saying to me “This place is awesome. No wonder they call it ‘the happiest place on earth’”!
We had three jam packed, fun filled days at Disneyland, crossing over to California Adventure park a few times. Anna and Elyssa went on their first ever roller-coaster and Korey went on his first ride, the spinning tea-cups, in the carrier on Peter. After some serious coaxing, I managed to get the girls to go on the Haunted Mansion ride with me. They did not enjoy it! Especially when the ride stopped for a good few minutes for some reason…………in the middle of the graveyard!
We hired a car for our last day in Anaheim and visited Universal Studios. On the way we stopped at Venice Beach for a little swim. Universal Studios was great. We loved the back-lot tour and we were all so excited to see Simpsons characters and shop in the Kwik-E-Mart. We stayed until the park closed then drove into Los Angeles. We had a walk along Sunset Boulevard and had dinner at The Hard Rock Cafe.
The next day Peter picked up the RV we had hired and over the next 4 weeks we had an incredible adventure, seeing and doing so many amazing things.
We began travelling along the famous route 66. We spent 2 exciting nights in Las Vegas, saw Hoover Dam and drove through extreme winds to The Grand Canyon, via Bearizona, a drive-thru wilderness park in Arizona, where we had bears wandering around the RV. We were all in awe of the sheer size of The Grand Canyon, it was surreal and absolutely breathtaking.
We stopped in Albuquerque to attend the annual Hot Air Balloon festival and ate at the famous Big Texan Steakhouse in Amarillo, Texas. We fed alligators in Louisiana, ate frogs legs in Mississippi and spent a day touring Graceland. In Nashville, Tennessee Anna and Elyssa were invited to sing on stage! That was a massive highlight!
Originally we had planned on going south to New Orleans, but at the last minute changed our minds and headed North to Niagara Falls instead. On the way up we spent a couple of days In Lancaster, Pennsylvania where we learnt about the Amish and their way of life.
We crossed the border into Canada where I was told off for taking a photo and made to delete the photo and hand the camera over to be inspected. Not the greatest first experience in Canada! We had a fantastic time visiting Niagara Falls and were extremely happy with our decision to travel there.
Driving into New York City and seeing our first glimpse of The Statue of Liberty was such an exciting moment. We had made it all the way across The USA! We had travelled over 7000 km’s/4350 miles in 4 weeks. We were relieved, excited, proud and exhausted all at the same time.
The few days we spent in NYC were awesome. We caught the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, got snowed on in Times Square and went to the top of the Empire State Building. We rode the Subway, went on a horse and cart ride, spent hours in Central Park and visited Rockefeller Centre and the Fao Schwartz toystore. We absolutely fell in love with the city, a few days were not nearly long enough.
The day we were due to fly out of New York, the city saw what we later heard described as ‘The great snowstorm of October 2011’. All flights were cancelled and we spent a night in an airport hotel, in turn cutting our time in San Franscisco from 2 nights to 1.
After going from being hot and sweaty in LA to freezing cold in New York, we welcomed the mild temperature of San Fransisco. In our one day there we saw the Golden Gate Bridge, wandered up and down Fisherman’s Warf and rode a cable car through the city. We visited the crooked Lombard Street and stood where Adrian Monk (Monk – my favourite TV show) had. It was wonderful to spend the very last day of our trip in such a beautiful city that offers so many brilliant things to see and do but we wished we could have stayed longer.
After five crazy, phenomenal weeks, heading home felt bittersweet. We were happy to be seeing our family and friends again and enjoying the comforts of home, but that sense of adventure we’d left with had only grown and we were already wanting more……………..