Mark Smith

RTW adventures

Mark Smith

Well this is it..... my ambition and dreams.

Breathe, breathe in the air, don't be afraid to care; leave but don't leave me. Look around and choose your own ground, for long you live and high you fly, and smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry. And all you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be.

Roger Waters & David Glimour



The countdown has begun.... next stop : Route 66


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North America » United States » California » Napa Valley April 13th 2014

With a week spent in Las Vegas, it was definitely time to move on away from all the bright lights, poolside bars and ringing casinos and get back to nature... but with a twist. Westward, you climb out of the valley through the Rainbow Mountains where, would you believe it, I actually got some flurries of snow... I couldn't believe it either!! The temperature dropped from 86F (27C) down to 42F (5C) in the space of 20 miles before rising again to nearly 90F (29C) as I came down the other side. Now if I thought it was dry and barren in Vegas then this was Mars! Sand and rock, as far as the eye could see, meant that I had entered Death Valley National Park. Death Valley is like nothing I've ever seen.... to most ... read more
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North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas April 4th 2014

Leaving behind all the wonders of the national parks, I'd organised with a friend that I had met in the hostel in Vancouver to meet up with her in Las Vegas... the only problem was that I was two days ahead of schedule. Not the end of the world... just didn't want to spend all my money hanging around the city of sin. Solution... I'd been told that just south of Flagstaff was a beautiful drive to a very picturesque town. What I failed to realise was that it meant coming down from the Colorado Plateau. Entering into Oak Creek Canyon, the road winds down over 5000 feet in just under 20 miles, but in doing so takes you through lovely gorges and serene groves of lush vegetation. The houses dotted along the sides seem to ... read more
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The land around southern Idaho and into Utah become increasing arid as you drive down the gap between two mountain ranges. It seems that if it's not above the snow line then it doesn't get much water in these parts with the vegetation becoming predominantly desert scrub... even though you're still up on the Colorado Plateau with altitudes varying between 4000-7000 feet above sea level. Because of this altitude, the scenery, although sparse, is striking with the differences between the flat arid valley floor and the snow capped mountains on each side. Salt Lake City is nestled at the base of some of these and was once again a venue for the Winter Olympics in 2002. The city itself is the base of the Church of the Later Day Saints, with Temple Square being the site ... read more
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North America » United States » Wyoming » Jackson March 19th 2014

Maths used to be one of my strongest subjects in school so you would think that I'd be fairly adept at judging distance and time equations... unfortunately it appears that I might have misjudged a little this time. Leaving Banff with a general idea (as per usual) of my travel plans, Leigh and I were on the highway heading east towards Calgary. I never actually realised how close Banff is to the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, and before long they were only a reminder of the good times in the rearview mirror. What really surprised me was the fact that I expected them to slowly get smaller as we descended onto the plains of Alberta, but in reality you could just about draw a line where the mountains end and the plain begins... no ... read more
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North America » Canada » Alberta » Banff March 15th 2014

On every trip, every where, every time, you always get hit with the same statement... "You have to go there... you can't miss it!!" and with the more travellers you meet, the list gets longer and longer until you simply can't see everything. I know I've been guilty of it... and I'm pretty sure that if everyone was under oath then they'd say the same. Luckily for me, my style of travelling with only a vague idea of my route and timeline is sympathetic to these kind of situations. At other times, some of the places mentioned were never going to be left off the itinerary. Banff was definitely one of the latter! Now that I had some time on the snow under my belt, I was itching to find some more... and as luck would ... read more
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North America » Canada » British Columbia » Whistler March 8th 2014

Most people expect getting into the US to be the most harrowing immigration experience on the planet. It immediately conjures images of small rooms and cavity searches. Let me tell you, after only getting 2 questions from the officer at LAX I thought that the Canadian border crossing would be a breeze... comrades under the Queen and all that. I have never been interrogated so much before entering a country in all my life!! From where I've been, to where I'm going and for how long, to "I notice you were in Fiji... How long were you there?". Of all the countries like Egypt, Russia and China that are in my passport and she picks Fiji? A country that has no guns and very, very few drugs? "Where are you flying out of?" I have no ... read more
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North America » United States March 2nd 2014

Having headed inland from the coast to visit Portland, it would be remiss of me to not use the opportunity further. This being said, it also allowed me to further quench my fixation for the great power that lays beneath our feet. Crossing the river that separates Oregon from Washington State, it was the first time I've truly spent a length of time on the Interstate. The major road system that links the entire country is a mammoth feat of engineering and dedication to the ease of transportation in the US and makes getting from A to B as accessible as possible to all. What it does mean is that you tend to bypass all the really beautiful sights as you hurtle down a 3 lane highway. By being in Washington it meant a few things... ... read more
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North America » United States » Oregon » Portland February 26th 2014

Weaving Through Oregon Crossing the border into Oregon, there are 3 things that I immediately noticed... The coast line becomes even more rugged (if that is even possible).... The speed limit lowers... and The roadside signs are suddenly both more prolific and blatant. In California all the roadside signs seemed to almost want to have a conversation with you... Watch Out For Deer Crossing or Caution - Heavy Congestion Ahead Once you hit Oregon they prefer to just beat you over the head with their messages like... ELK Sometimes words are even just too much hassle so you just see a picture and hope you never actually encounter the monsters that your imagination conjours out of them. Continuing up the 101 slowly winds you along the coast past dense forests and around jagged headlands that... read more
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North America February 21st 2014

The True American Spirit Shines Leaving San Francisco I had a plan... lunch in Santa Rosa with Dave and Merry Jo before heading back to the coast and continuing up Highway 1. "Fail to plan and you plan to fail"... that's what they always say. What they don't tell you is that sometimes plans fail just to show you who's boss. An invite to lunch with fellow travellers can never be refused... especially when it's from such well travelled people as Dave and Merry Jo. With a time limit due to Dave having to get back to work, we managed to squeeze in many a tale of our past, present and future travels in a beautiful environment filled with amazing food. I left with a further passion to see and experience the world as well as ... read more
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North America » United States » California » San Francisco February 17th 2014

What truly makes a holiday.... I've always lived by a motto when I travel... Tourists see sights.... Travellers experience culture Nothing upsets me more than seeing people pile off a bus to take photos of a landmark before jumping back on and heading to the next stop. How are they experiencing the country... the culture... the essence that makes a place hum and tick, when they never socialise with anyone other than their own group and never experience the local way of life. In my mind, this is the difference between a tourist and a traveller. Apon arriving in San Francisco and finding parking, hostel and all the mundane things, I met one of my roommates and hit it off. Ross, from Detroit, was a fellow traveller that's been working around the world for the last ... read more
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