This year will be the first time I visit mainland America. It’s been difficult deciding how I’m going to spend my six weeks while over there because, as I’ve come to realise while doing my holiday research, the United States is such a vast country with so much to see and do. My storm chasing tour which I booked last year is obviously a given- it’s my whole reason for going to the States in the first place. But it’s only a week long tour, which still left me with five weeks to plan for.
When I got back from Nepal at the end of October 2016, I had no more travel plans for the year so organising my America trip became my focus. Originally, I was thinking of doing a two month circle tour with Trek America after my storm chasing tour finished up, in order to see as much of the US as possible. However, my youngest brother is turning 18 this year and I want to be home for his birthday so I decided against it, as going on such a long tour would’ve meant missing his 18th. I was also conscious of the financial cost of such a long tour. Considering I don’t work full time and I still have lots of travel plans for the latter half of the year, spending an additional ten grand on top of my storm chasing tour seemed excessive.
While I was pondering these money matters in early November, some very cheap flights to the US opened up- $922 return from Perth to San Francisco, flying Singapore Airlines. It was an amazing deal, too good to pass up, and I wanted those flights! It was just the motivation I needed to at least figure out a time frame for my trip, even if I didn’t quite know the details of what I’d be doing yet.
I accepted the reality that I wouldn’t be able to ‘see it all’ this time around and decided I’d focus on exploring the southern states of America. I contemplated just doing my own thing but realised I still wanted to do some sort of tour so I could meet new people. There were a couple of shorter tours that still fit within the six week stint I’d now settled upon and my interest was piqued by the Southern Cross Country tour offered by G Adventures, a 23 day road trip from New York to San Fran.
It wasn’t until Christmas time, when the mum of a student I’d taught a couple of years ago posted a spectacular photo of the Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona which she was visiting with her family, that I realised why I kept umm’ing and ahh’ing about booking the Southern Cross Country tour.
There’s no doubt the United States has some amazing cities and there’s certainly a few I want to visit. But I’d allowed myself to get blindsided by the typical touristy experiences that are recommended for a first time visitor to the States. Deep down, it’s America’s wildernesses that I most want to see: the rugged plains, the grand national parks, the wide open spaces.
Once I’d had this epiphany, my itinerary seemed to write itself. I would visit the cities I was interested in for a couple of days on my own, in between tours. But my main focus would be exploring and wandering through the natural landscapes that speak to my heart.
Now my second tour is finally booked! On the 19th of May, I’ll be starting the Canyon Country and Coasts tour, a 16 day adventure in America’s south-west run by G Adventures. I’ve gone from a tour encompassing 30 states around America to one that will only venture to four of them but I know that my experiences will be no less richer for it.