Published: August 13th 2007July 6th 2007
Hey everyone. Apologies for the gap between the last post and this - the Travel Blog website crashed a few weeks ago and all our posts were lost. Thankfully I managed to restore them so I can carry on boring you all to death for a bit longer. Incase you haven't noticed I've uploaded a few photographs to the site starting with the 'Washington, Philly and New York City (Extended Version)' post.
Anyway, here is my extended version of Days 19-24 (wow - that's a long time ago!) Incase you've forgotten where I left off, we just spent the evening listening to rock 'n' roll music on Beale Street in Memphis... I'll try and keep the moaning about walking to a minimum! Day 19 (22/06/07)
We began the morning of the 22nd by watching a film starring Harrison Ford and Paul Bettany on our hotel room television. We later discovered it was called 'Firewall'. We checked out of the hotel at about half 11 and grabbed a burger for breakfast on Beale Street. Our next Greyhound bus journey would take us through Arkansas and into Texas. While we were in St Louis a guy called Walter recommended a
few places in Texas that were worth visiting. These included Houston, Austin and San Antonio. We chose the latter because it was about halfway between Memphis and the Grand Canyon and Walter mentioned it was next to a river - which sold it to Iain! Anyway, the journey was fairly smooth and we arrived in San Antonio at about half 8 on Saturday morning - only a 17 hour journey this time! Day 20 (23/06/07)
We both managed to get a good few hour's sleep on the bus before we arrived in San Antonio. We decided to check out the Visitor's Centre to find out how to get to the hostel we were planning on staying at (the street didn't appear on the map in my USA book). It turned out the hostel was about 2 miles away. The guy in the Visitor's Centre gave us complicated instructions to get there on the tram which involved changing about four times. Much to my delight we ended up walking. The hostel was pretty nice but it was in the middle of nowhere and a 1km walk to the nearest restaurant (which didn't serve alcohol!) After relaxing at the hostel
for 5 minutes we walked 2 miles back into the centre of town. There was a nice river walk that we decided to take and we had a look around a fancy shopping centre that annoyed the hell out of Iain because he kept getting lost! Later that afternoon we went to see the Tower of the Americas. Inside was an elevator that took us to an observation lounge that gave us a good view of the city. After that we tried unsuccessfully to find a place with Internet access. We met a couple on the way back to the centre who recommended a place to eat by the riverside. I had tortilla wraps with chicken - very tasty. After dinner we gave our families a call before walking back to the hostel. The humidity in San Antonio was pretty high and we were sweating a bit by the time we got back. Thankfully our room had air conditioning, although Iain had to get up in the middle of the night to turn it off because we were too cold! Day 21 (24/06/07)
On our second day in San Antonio, Iain went to do some laundry in the
morning then we made our way to the library to try and get on the Internet. They had some computers but there was a long queue to get on them - probably because they seemed to be the only computers in the city! We briefly checked out the Alamo then sat on a bench outside and tried to decide what to do. There wasn't much else to see in San Antonio so we just decided to return to the hostel and have a swim in the hostel's swimming pool. On our way back it started raining. We'd almost forgotten what rain felt like! This was the first rain we'd had in over 3 weeks after all. We discovered that a few days after we left there were some serious storms and floods in Texas - we're lucky we left when we did. Anyway, after the rain stopped we went in the pool. We spent about 2 hours doing all the silly stuff we used to do when we were kids, i.e. holding our breath underwater, somersaults, etc. Iain seemed to be enjoying his pool experience more than anything else on the trip so far! After our swim we went for
dinner at a place called 'The Pig' (or something like that!) The meal was nice but the guy brought us way to much and we were totally stuffed at the end of it. After dinner we headed back to the hostel and went to bed. Our second day in San Antonio had been pretty uneventful so we were looking forward to travelling to Flagstaff the next day - only a short 23-hour bus journey away! Day 22 (25/06/07)
The next morning I went to do some laundry and when I returned we got a taxi (hallelujah!) to the bus station. I met a guy from Halifax that morning and he had a good moan to me about the hostel and the fact it was so far away from everything and there didn't appear to be any buses. He asked me how I was getting to the centre. I said we had been walking in. "Walking???" he said. "Are you nuts?? Sod that!!" It was nice to finally meet someone as lazy me! Anyway, we got to the station, bought our tickets and set off from San Antonio at about 3pm. The journey was long, uncomfortable and the bus
was full of loud and annoying Americans. One was a former drug addict who was very proud of herself for kicking her habit and didn't hesitate to brag about how much of a better person she was after her ordeal. Basically the kind of person who doesn't care about what anyone else has to say as long as she gets people to hear her story. We chose to go to Flagstaff because accommodation at the Grand Canyon was hard to come by and Flagstaff was a "funky, vibrant town" and they did loads of cheap bus tours to the Canyon. The hostel we planned on staying in was infact called 'The Grand Canyon Hostel'. Anyway our journey continued into Tuesday... Day 23 (26/06/07)
After a 3-hour delay in Albuquerque, New Mexico we finally completed our journey, arriving in Flagstaff at 3pm (having moved back another time zone). We'd made reservations for our hostel in Flagstaff and fortunately I convinced them that although my name wasn't 'Ben Ribbies', as it appeared on the reservation sheet, it was infact me who had made the reservation! The hostel was very nice and seemed to be very well run. There was a
free breakfast in the morning and we signed up for the $60 Grand Canyon tour which included the bus ride, lunch and a tour of several parts of the Canyon. After checking in we went for a wander around town and eventually went to a brewery bar where they had a number of ales on draught. I tried one that I didn't particularly like before settling for a Hefeweizen which was very tasty. In the bar we met an American called Ian Morrison. Most of Ian's upper body was covered in tattoos. He worked in ceramics and designed them all himself - some were pretty stylish. We chatted for a while about Scotland, America and the Grand Canyon before he took us to a whisky bar where they had about 200 different types of whisky available. After a few drinks he invited us to a house party. We decided to grab some dinner before meeting him at his house - apparently only a 10-minute walk from where we parted Unfortunately for once Iain didn't know where we were going (I never know!) and we ended up walking around in the dark aimlessly for a while before finally giving up and
heading back to the hostel. I was well gutted. I'd missed out on my first chance of going to a house party in America and I took my anger out on poor Iain for not being able to find the guy's house - even though I didn't know how to find it myself! Never mind though - the next day's trip to the Grand Canyon more than made up for it. Day 24 (27/06/07)
The bus to the Grand Canyon was supposed to leave from another hostel down the road at 9am but they were running a bit late. We chatted to a guy from Oxford called Perry who was also going on the trip with his Canadian girlfriend. At about 10am our tour host Mike introduced himself to us all. Mike was about 21 and he'd just got the job last year as tour guide but he really knew his stuff. On our way to the Canyon (about 80 miles away) he gave us some interesting facts about trees and volcanoes that we passed. Once we arrived at the Grand Canyon Park we all bought some water and snacks. Accompanying us on the tour was a Danish
couple, a Spanish woman and her baby and Perry and his girlfriend. Mike drove us to a part of the Canyon where we could get a good first view. He asked us all to cover our eyes before guiding us to the edge. When we looked up the view was incredible and kind of surreal. None of us could really get our perspectives and the far end of the Canyon didn't really look real. Nevertheless it was a pretty astonishing view. Mike told us we could all go for a short hike alone for an hour or so. Once we returned to the group we got back in the bus and Mike took us to a quiet little place on the Canyon about 10 minutes away where we could have our lunch. We all sat right next to the edge of the Canyon while we ate our sandwiches. Mike sat with his legs hanging over the edge - I wasn't quite ready for that yet! After lunch we went to a part of the Canyon where there was an old copper mine route that we could hike down. Iain and I hiked down for about 40 minutes before turning round and returning to the top, by which point I was absolutely knackered! Mike then took us to yet another part of the Canyon where the view was incredible. We were definitely getting our money's worth out of this tour! After another short hike out onto a ledge where we got our best view yet of the Canyon, we headed to our final stop, a slightly smaller Canyon located at an old Indian reserve - pretty cool. After that we finally headed back to the hostel and got back at around 9pm. After a bit of dinner and a few drinks in a pub we headed to bed. A very exhausting day but definitely one of the best of the trip so far.
Phew! All that typing has made me feel almost as knackered as I was hiking back up that Canyon. Hope you all enjoy the photographs and I'll try and type up the next installment tomorrow.