What I’ve done so far – America!

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Tick, Tick, Tick off the bucket list you go!

I wrote two recent articles about my Bucket List, which is no doubt expanding all the time. Today I even added camping in the Sahara Desert after reading about it on The Travel Hack this morning, written by the very lovely Monica who I had a joy to meet when working at Gapyear.com. Yesterday though, I made the first steps to ticking off my next big thing – seeing the Northern Lights! Yes, that’s right, in January I am heading to Iceland for 5 days to not only see the Northern Lights but to also bathe in the Blue Lagoon and see some geysers at the Golden Circle!  In light of this, I wanted to write a post on all the things I’ve managed to do so far, starting with my 3 week travels in the USA.

Helicopter trip over the Grand Canyon

This is top of my brag-about achievements, and I really think I do deserve a free pass on the basis of how awesome it was. I have to say, the Grand Canyon it’s self was some what underwhelming, maybe it was because I was reaching the end of my time in America and I was tired, or the countless photos and tourists diluting it a bit, I’m not sure, but my helicopter trip allowed me to see it from a whole other angle which really gave this world wonder it’s awe back. My helicopter flight costed $450 (Summer 2011) and it was part of the itinerary on my Southern Sun trip with Trek America. The funny thing about my helicopter flight was that I didn’t find it scary! I know that may seem a bit of an odd thing say but I am actually afraid of flying, however when I was in a helicopter I was fine, and I even had to sit at the front (as you get put in order of weight) with the pilot where the bottom was glass. I have to say the only bad bit a bout the trip was the cheesy music playing through the head phones, for example ‘Come Fly with me’ and Foo Fighters ‘Learn to Fly’ but the views made up for that and hey, it was America.

Hiked Angels Landing, Zion

This was my favourite National Park in America and the challenging Angel’s Landing hike was one of my favourite hikes! We were up at 5am, packed our breakfast and got on the bus to take us to the foothill of our hike. It’s always best to get up early for a hike to avoid the crowds and the midday sun. The hike is pretty standard at first, a lot of steps, twist and turns and Darth Vader panting, but then you reach an option where you can choose to stop at the already high stop or keep going, and by keep going I mean pulling yourself up on chains – no harness – until you reach the top. This was a pretty terrifying, but also exhilarating, especially for me as I am quite scared of heights but the amazing views of what looked like a pre-historic Utopia made it completely worth it and I’d do it again!

Put my hand on a dirty pavement in Los Angeles

Lots of things are odd, yet acceptable, once you cross over the USA threshold, and tonnes of people kneeling on a grim pavement to put their hands in the mould of celebrities is one of them. LA was my least favourite place in America but seeing the Hollywood walk of fame was definitely a bucket list item, even though the number of badly-dressed entertainers kind of ruined that celebrity vibe.

Hung out with a complete tourist trap Navajo tribe in Monument Valley

I am usually one to run a mile from tourist traps – you won’t see me on a sight-seeing bus! But I have to say I really did enjoy the Navajo experience in Monument Valley. We got to eat traditional Navajo food which was the god send which was Navajo fry-fry bread which I could have eaten all day, every day. We also got to hear some traditional Navajo stories and sit around a fire in the midst of the orange sands and beautiful ‘Monuments’ in the Valley – see what I did there. Although I have to admit being forced to get up and dance wasn’t my greatest moment but it was still enjoyable none the less. My boyfriend was given a similar experience in Monument Valley this summer but towards the end of his trip they discovered that the Navajo tribesman were no longer running these outings for some unknown reason so make sure you double check it is back up and running before you go.

Getting trapped under a raft in Tennessee

At the beginning of my America adventures we headed to Tennessee to do some white water rafting down the Ocoee River in the Cherokee land. I love my adventure sports and was super excited to do some white water rafting, I’ve also grown up sailing and playing in lakes and rivers so I love the water as well -well that was until I got trapped under raft and mentally bid my farewell to the world. We were going along fine, the usual bumps twist and turns, putting are paddles up when we hit a rapid and paddling left and right when ordered, but then out guide decided to show off and do something known as ‘riding the bull’ which is when you sit on the front of the raft – however, all didn’t go to plan and we all got chucked out. In a commotion of water, bubbles and waves I opened my eyes under the water to see the bottom of the raft above me and feel the rocks of the river below, I put my hands up to try and find my way out but all I could feel was rubber and couldn’t find the end of the raft. After 30 seconds, and panic making me lose my breath I sort of realised that I forked out £3000 to drown in Tennessee and had the thought of ‘my mum is going to kill me’ going through my head. Thankfully just as I was giving up I notice my friends leg and managed to grab on to it and pull my self out from the raft into the fresh, fresh air where I came to the more troubling news that I had lost my paddle!

Seeing New York from a height

Again, with the heights! Going up to the top of the Rockefeller with my sister was high up on my lists to do when I went to New York in July 2011 and we made sure to squeeze it in to our itinerary. On trying to find one of the tallest buildings in New York we got lost which meant we made it to the building late than planned. I unfortunately don’t remember the correct price but it couldn’t have been too much as I’m super tight with money, but what ever the price, I would definitely do it again. My sister is afraid of lifts so the lift having a glass ceiling where lights are shown didn’t set us off well – or the other people in the lift with us who all looked very concerned – but when we got to the top all her worries and my embarrassment faded. We stepped out on to the top just as the sun started to set and we both stopped in our tracks, and as cheesy as it, my breath was literally taken away. New York is an amazing city, but it can be quite stressful and daunting as you walkthrough the streets on foot, but seeing it from a height really made you realise why there was  so much pride and wonder in this movie-like city. It was also where I got my first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. I was also thankful that we got lost as not only did we get to see New York in the day light, but also sunset and at night, all for one price! So definitely make sure you head to the this must-do destination in the evening to get your moneys worth. Oh and if you’re one of the tourist who put their hands (and cameras) through the glass panels to take a photo – stop it, you’re making me nervous!

If you are unsure whether to choose the Empire State building or the Rockefeller, my boyfriend did both when he visited America and not only was the Rockefeller cheaper, but it was also a better experience.

What exciting things have you done so far in your travels and also generally in life?

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