A Travellerspoint blog

Another overdue blog post

This is so far overdue, woops!

2nd August
So this was our last day in portland, after super creepy guys we were well ready to leave. We checked out and since our flight wasnt actually til 12.30 in the night, we decided to head out again. We stopped at our favourite coffee shop coava coffee for an hour or so and read our purchases from Powells bookshop. Mine was a suggested LGBT classic called 'oranges are not the only fruit', was definitely and interesting read! wont spoil it for you though, you should definitely have a look for yourself! Then we headed to the weekly weekend markets by the river. They were pretty cool, similar to every market though, trinkets, jewellery t-shirts and the like. But im glad we saw it! We headed back to the hostel and showered, watched many an episode of greys anatomy to pass the time to our flight to chicago. I was pretty glad to have some down time though, i always forget how tiring travelling gets without down time! We got to the airport and on the flight no problems. It was the red-eye, so leaves at 12.30 and arrives at 6.30am, i must have fallen asleep because I dont remember anything from it and then we were there! I have to say the 8 hour bus rides from Melbourne to canberra have stood me super well as now i can sleep sitting up pretty easily!

3rd August
We caught the train to HI Hostel Chicago and dropped off our bags. We were allowed to get breakfast which was fantastic bc we were both starving! We planned to be able to do things on this day, but that truly didnt happen. We found couches and crashed pretty hard til 12.30. I have no idea what we looked like to other travelers but we were so tired we actually just didnt care! We headed out and go coffee and bagels from a cute cafe we passed when we were walking form the hostel from the train station that were pretty delicious, and before we knew it, it was 3pm and check in time! We made it to the front of the check in queue (with 500 beds in the hostel there was quite a queue!) and then christina arrived (she had been in austin while we were in portland, as she had already been to portland). We checked in then joined christina at the end of the queue again and she checked in. We got sorted then headed out to see the cloud gate, or 'the bean' as eleanor fondly calls it. It is basically a large metallic kidney bean shaped installation in Milenium park that was pretty cool. It was definitely cool, but at that point id found out i had an interview for a grad job so i was pretty distracted. There was also 2 water installations in millenium park that were cool, not sure of the point of them though, i felt like they had a message, but i have no idea what that message was! They were like two rectangular cubes that had faced projected onto them that changed, and water running down them and connecting them though like a little 'river' thing that was super shallow and kids played in. It was interesting. I think this was the day we tried deep dish pizza as well. We had been given the local knowledge that Gino's, the main chain, was not the place to go, and Lou Malati's was better. There was one just over a mile away so we headed there and waited in line for a table looking at the pizza's. We got the house speciality that was pretty much sausage and cheese (YUM) and waited to see what an earth would come out. It was like a pizza pie! It was like in a cake dish, dough pressed to the bottom and up the sides, then filled with tomato, cheese and sausage. It was pretty delicious!!! But very sickening at the same time. They also had free refills of soft drink. I feel like since everything is so sweet in america anyway i really struggle with extra sugar, cant drink a whole soft drink anymore, have stopped craving chocolate (WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO?!?!?) , and couldnt even manage a small mocha java chip frapachino from starbucks! (yes it was as sweet as it sounds). So thats been a bit weird for me to go off sugar, but not a bad thing by any stretch! We got back to the hostel that night at around 9 and were told in no uncertain terms that it was too early to be going to bed and we should go and get a drink. We asked where a close bar was and went to a really cute place with fairy lights! I got a glass of red wine and eleanor and christina got margaritas (christina informing us after she's ordered she actually doesnt like the alcohol in margarita's). We chatted and then headed back to the hostel! A red eye flight is NOT conducive to awake times the day after

4th august

Im pretty sure we headed to the art institute today, It was really cool! If im being honest, old european art does not overly interest me, so after walking through gallery after gallery i split off to have a look at the Asian, East Asian, African, Islamic, Central and Native American Art. That was actually interesting and i really enjoyed seeing it, especially central and native american art, as well as the Japanese! We have a lot of SE asian art in australia but not so much of the other stuff. Also, the sculpture room was cool with installations like a felled tree that had a mask taken of it, then it was recreated in Japan and put back together. It was pretty strange if im honest. Heaps of security guards too. The modern art was cool too, lots of geometry and patterns. I was exhausted on this day so i headed back to the hostel while eleanor and christina explored millenium park a bit more. I did a bit of uni admin and napped which was so flipping nice!

5th August
I cant really remember what we did today in the day- will update you when i remember! However at night we decided to go out! Eleanor and Christina very generously offered to pay for my drink that night as a thank you for doing all the driving for yosemite, vegas and the grand canyon. So we met downstairs at the 'welcome mixer' the hostel hosts every wednesday and friday that serves free beers! Met a Danish girl and her mum that were lovely! Proceeded to down 4 beers on a relatively empty stomach, after the mixer ended people kept on coming in with 12 and 24 packs and offering them to us so that was nice! We went to the front desk and asked where to go on a wednesday and was told two places. We looked both up and decided to go to the closest and if we didnt like it. We stopped on the wy at a bar that was serving fries and ate a dinner of fries (yay health) and had very expensive drinks! It was fun though, they had good music and we were pretty tipsy. We moved onto the first club, I think it was called 'Underground'. We got let in for free because we are ladies (literally the best and one of the few benefits if being a lady!) It was pretty empty but we met this guy who was very chatty and started dancing with me (HA) but like old school waltz style dancing. I was having a great time though! the club slowly started filling up and when it did we realised how underdressed we were! We were all in jeans and flats, and were the only people who were. Every other girl was in a tiny dress with heels and dolled up to the nines! We would not have got in if we arrived later, thats for sure. I went to the bathroom at some point and there was a bathroom assistant there that had so many products. Literally shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, gum, toothbrush, toothpaste, make up, hairspray, literally everything a girl may ever need in her life. ever. im actually suprised she didnt have dresses in there for girls to buy when they got bored of their dress that night. it was crazy! Anyway, the club was interesting. There were girls on tables and things dancing, paid and unpaid, and i was not feeling it. We got asked to a table by a guy that had a bottle of Absolut, so we helped ourselves to that (once realising eleanor had passed us virgin drinks, there was caraffs of mixers and the bottle was next to it, so you could pour your own. weird!) No one was dancing besides people on podiums, it was clearly people worried about how cool they looked. So Eleanor and I decided to dance for all the girls that have to dance to get paid. We must have looked hilarious, actually moving our bodies to the music, how we wanted to, for the benefit of no one but our enjoyment. I just wanted people to lighten up there! Christina was dancing with the first guy and we decided to leave but couldnt find her. Looked all over the club, found the dude who had moved onto another lady, and freaked a bit that she had disappeared, however she was just outside, thank god! We decided to walk home, which in hindsight may not have been the safest idea, and stopped by mcdonalds. Eleanor decided christina was speaking in an english accent and wound her right up to the point she was drunkenly telling us to go away and that she hated us, we took plenty of snaps and had a great lol the next day. C also spoke to an Irish guy at the maccas, telling him ireland and england were pretty much the same thing, so our friendship with him was pretty much over before it even started. We got home safe and sound and crashed in a drunken sleep. Overall i would classify it as another eye-opening night out in the states, totally understand why people say they dont like conventional clubbing here, because if what wew experienced is the norm, neither do I! People need to smile and have fun, amen.

6th/7th August
I had to check out today and i spent majority of the day trying to nap on the couches again and not be hungover. I had a job interview with the informed solutions people and decided that I do not want to work for them, and we had deep dish pizza again. I was sad and a bit nervous to be leaving eleanor and christina and to be travelling in america alone. Not for the safety aspect but more for the social aspect. I headed to the bus terminal at 8ish and boarded the first of many legs on my 24 hour bus trip. fuuuuuun. but really it was okay. there were quite a few stops which was good, and again i managed to sleep a fair bit. We stopped in places like Jackson Mississippi which was cool bc now i can say ive at least been there! I arrived in New Orleans at around 9 and just decided to taxi to the hostel. New Orleans, alone, at night, with bags and as a woman? No thanks. They new the exact hostel i was at and it only cost $10 so i was pretty happy! Got to India House and it was so cool! The reception desk was right up the front, a lounge room right next to it and a tv room. A dining room and kitchen was at the back and then there were heaps of tables and chairs outside and a pool! It was super colourful and decorated and graffiti-ed and i really loved the vibe. I got some of the left over dinner they made that night that was 'dirty rice' pretty much rice, spices and mince. It was pretty good. I then went straight to bed. After 24 hours of travel!

8th August
So i was totally unaware when I organised this that today was an event called the 'red dress run' where everyone, guys, girls get in a red dress and run through the city for charity. It was cool! I headed out a bit later after breakfast in the 'outback' kitchen of bacon, onion, tomato and cheese sandwich and a hashbrown, caught an uber with 2 more guys from the hostel to the city. I was planning to actually avoid the city, bc although the event sounded fun, it was hot and humid and i was not in the mood for crowds! however it was pretty okay people wise and i explored the french quarter a lot. It was really beautiful and unlike anywhere else in america i had been. It was kind of similar to the fitzroy/brunswick feel, cool architecture and interesting shops. Eventually i had enough of people in red dresses drinking in the streets (totally legal here) and decided to head to the garden district. Unfortunately the street cars werent running sue to maintenance so i just caught a bus there. I visited the cemetery there which was cool, but i was so hot and sweaty, it was truly indescribable. 40 degrees and humidity of like 70%+. Headed back to the hostel and met the other girls in my dorm. they were 3 girls from england and invited me to go out with them, which was great because there was no way i was going to go alone. We went to a great restaurant that apparently sold the best Gumbo in New Orleans. We got Gumbo which was like thick french onion soup and shrimp, then beans, jambalaya and prawn curry. The latter two were good but the beans were a bit boring and i was filling up! I also got turnip greens which were like pickled pak choy, not delicious. I got praline ice cream for desert which was delicious! it was a big meal and Im so glad i tried everything!!! then We headed out to bourbon street, tried a hurricane drink and a hand grenade, both horrendous colours and veerrryyy strong. We saw the cutest old couple dancing together and the old guy was such a good dancer! It was hilarious and super cute. It started pouring with rain and got a bit windy at one point. One of the english girls started freaking out a bit about hurricanes... there would have definitely been warnings it was just a tropical storm! We went to another club thing where there was a live band that was cool however the waitresses were so puchy with drinks! We literally walkng in and this chick cam up to us with test tubes in her mouth and grabbed our arms trying to pour them in. It was gross however later on one of the ladies succeeded and we discovered each test tube was $3. thats $3 per 10ml, which was shit! however it was a funny experience. We decided to head back relatively early, it was not my vibe really again, in that the music wasnt great and no one was dancing.

9th August
Today i went to the Presbytere musuem which had exhibits about hurricane katrina and mardi gras. They were super interesting coming from a place where we definitely heard about it but in a very removed way. I really enjoyed it, the science they tried to present was done simply and great for kids. Mardi Gras exhibit was cool with costumes and explanations of how it started and people of colours involvement and therefore its evolution. I really enjoyed it. I got back to the hostel and found out about a Hare Krishna place fairly close but i didnt want to walk alone and didnt know anyone else at the hostel :( a great reason to go back because ive heard its pretty good!

10th August
Today I had to change rooms which i was not happy about because it was hot and i had a booking for a 6 bed girls dorm and was moved into a 12 bed mixed, with no price change! I decided i had to get out of the city because by that time i was just getting frustrated by how hot it was, and the fact i didnt know anyone. I decided to go on a plantation tour which was quite a decision because it cost $80!! It was definitely an adventure. The first bus didnt have air con, the second bus broke down on a bridge and the state troopers were called because we could get off without the bus moving into the traffic to open the doors, and then we got on the first bus again because the driver just didnt know how to work the air con! it was a comedy of errors. Also, met a super grumpy american lady who was sitting up the front so had a fan blowing on her, called all of us at the back selfish for wanting air con and we should expect NOLA to be hot, so i asked her to swap seats with me. needless to say she declined. And also met a racist englishman who wants england to get out of the EU because he does not like immigration and people taking the english jobs. Met a super sweet couple two, where the husband was deaf and the wife translated the entire tour for him. I really liked them, they had a good vibe and radiated happy and peace feels. When we finally made it to the first plantation it was called Laura and it was an old creole plantation. We saw around the house and got a tour based on the memoirs of a girl called laura who grew up there, i think 3rd generation. It was interesting, however learning about the rich people was not my aim and i had hoped to hear more about the slaves. There was a bit outside where we saw their houses and learnt a tiny bit about the emancipation after the civil war, however in no where enough detail to be satisfied. There is definitely a hole in the tour business there! We moved onto the second plantation called Oak Alley which was a beautiful, more european house, rather then french creole. Again we heard about the rich owners, but the entrance was lined by stunning 300+ year old oaks, really really beautiful. Overall it was okay, and im glad i did something that day because my feelings towards NOLA were getting frayed in the heat with nothing to do! That evening I met 4 other aussies and an english guy and just hung out with them and chatted which was really nice. Headed to bed because I had a 9am bus and there is no way on earth i will ever take a bus hungover having had a terrible experience in England!

11th
Spent the entire day travelling from NOLA to Austin and was picked up by Ashley who was my couchsurfing host! Super lovely girl, living with two other people called Caroline and Erin and 3 dogs! Got to her house and met 2 of the dogs, the other was being neutered, and was covered in sloppy kisses by Toby and Mika. We chatted til like 1.30am but i was exhausted and when im tired i find it SO hard to be social.. however i did teach them about Muesli!

12th
Today I had to go into UT for the first time to get TB tested and meet with an academic advisor. Got my blood taken and explored the campus and city a bit inbetween the two jobs i had. I get a good feel from austin. Im excited to be here and studying, i think its gonna be a fun semester. I found out some of the subjects i thought were full i probably can do, so that was good too! I got back to the house and there was no one home, which was fine as i had a key, however Mika, who was the main culprit of kisses the night before decided she was not happy with me in the house and started barking and growling at me. It was actually quite scary! I stood by the front door for 15 minutes wondering what an earth to do and she eventually went and sat in Ashleys room. She came out again though and was definitely guarding me sitting on the couch, no sudden moves allowed! That evening I went to a thing called Blues on the Green with my hosts which is held every other wednesday for the summer, but this was the last one! It was so muggy though because there had been a downpour that again i really struggled. I feel i did not do myself justice these two days with my hosts, they were so great and was just struggling with sleepiness and the heat! We were quite far back because we arrived late and couldnt hear much, we got icecream and just hung out til someone called it and we headed home. We chatted for a bit again then went to bed.

13th
Went to a local restaurant with Erin, her sister and Caroline and tried Queso! Its like thick cheese soup that you eat with tortillas and its delicious! Also had 2 breakfast tacos that were so filling i didnt eat again til dinner time! and a black coffee with cinnamon and star anise. what i would give for a good soy latte though oh my god. Headed into uni again for another info sesh which was good,i met a few more exchange students who were great! Got home and Caroline got to experience Mikas aggressiveness towards me and after that she was locked in a room which was a relief! Toby was super cute though and would come up to me and kind of guard me from Mika. So at least I was like its the dog, not me! We went to trivia that night which was super fun, however im bad at pop culture at the best of times, let alone american pop culture! So the only answer i got was where in SE Asia is the sultane of Brunei's kingdom? drank quite a lot of beer but headed home and Ashley had to be up super early for work so we went to bed at like 11.

14th TODAY!
Was meant to go into uni for another orientation however Mika was not put away this morning so I woke up at 6.50 and skyped my friend and was too scared to go back in the house to get changed/shower! By the time the others were up it was a bit late anyway and I had to move houses to a friend of a friends who lives in Austin. I just decided I wasnt gonna go, too hard basket for sure! So just hung out with Caroline and Erin and then Caroline dropped me at the cutest coffee shop (Bennu Coffee) were i am now sitting writing this waiting for Lauren to pick me up. Had a weird spiced coffee thing that was nice, just unexpected. More caffeine needed now after writing this though!

I just want to say, Ashley, Caroline and Erin, if you read this, thank you so much for your hospitality, you guys are super cool, and really lovely. I definitely appreciated the couch and the places you took me. Im so sorry if I came across as quite quiet, im really not, im not used to the heat, and have taken a bunch of loooong bus rides that are exhausting! I look forward to the silver party and hanging out when im here!!!

Posted by alexD 11:58 Comments (0)

11 days in - first entry

LA, San Fran, Yosemite and Vegas

Los Angeles
15th July
After a super long flight we arrived in LAX and took a good 2 hours to get through customs and another hour and a half to get to the hostel. We arrived at USA hostels in Hollywood and entered there gate to a sea of faces, was super intimidating - later we were to work out that it was pretty much the same people lying on the couches drunk and high, not dangerous just boring haha. We headed to In and Out Burger for dinner and had a great burger with chips then just headed straight to bed we were so tired!!

16th July
We went to the Getty Museum today. I had never heard of it but Eleanor said it should be good and it was amazing! We took a bus to get there and was told we should take another one, however we decided we should walk the last leg. We got SO LOST and hot and a lil burnt, and eventually ended up taking that second bus. When we finally made it we saw heaps of art work, went on an architecture tour that explained how and why the construction of the museum was undertaken. The gardens were beautiful as well. I had a really lovely day. When we were getting on the bus we saw a girl that we had taken the second bus with and got chatting. Her name was Natalie and she was an actor from New York who was in LA for a wedding. She was cool and we ended up going for drinks later at a bar called Cantina that was another longish walk from the hostel. But it was a lot of fun because we stopped at a liquor store and bought some travellers. At Cantina we had beers (2 for 1!) and shared a huge margarita bowl. A guy walked in at one point that, kid you not, looked like jesus. Everyone crowded round and it was really funny! At about 1 the bar lady came up and told us the bar was closing and that we had to skull the drink in 10 seconds and she actually counted down to get us to drink, that would never happen in Australia. We found another bar that was a bit pokey according to Natalie but it had a mechanical bull. We got another beer and watched many people fail and 1 guy fully win at it, but I think he was staff. We got our first Uber back to the hostel with Natalie and all in all had a great night!

17th
Today we went to Warner Brothers Studios with another girl from our hostel! It was really cool to see Central Perk, where Pretty Little Liars and other TV shows/movies were filmed. I really enjoyed it, more than I expected I think. We took like an open air bus around the sets which consisted of buildings as well as hangers where inside shots are usually filmed. After the bus tour, we went to an exhibit building where Eleanor got be be an extra in a fake Friends scene, and we just saw more TV/movie stuff.

18th LA --> San Fran
Today we woke up super early and took a bus to San Fran. We found the address of the bus station but it was literally in front of an abandoned lot and we were the only ones there. We decided to trust ourselves and I sat on my bag on the ground waiting. A guy got dropped off down the road and started walking towards us and we were cheering for safety in numbers. Turns out he initially thought we were homeless people, probably because I was sitting on the floor haha.
We arrived at San Fran and walked to our Green Tortoise hostel and got some pizza for dinner. One of Eleanors friends was in San Fran with her family and she was turning 21 and had heard about a toga party. We got to their house that they had from AirBnb and dressed up. We headed out and were refused at the first bar because it was only 11pm and were told that in America you are actually not meant to be allowed in clubs until the actual day of your birthday, not the night of. So we thought shit but we had no choice so we headed to the toga party. Luckily the people there were totally fine with us coming in, however it may have been because we were maybe 3 of 7 people dressed in togas. At a toga party. So that was funny. We had a good night but ended up leaving and walking home. I reckon it took us like an hour and it felt pretty dangerous. But we got the greatest pizza ive ever eaten and i had a little nap while we were waiting for it so that was nice!

19th
Today I woke up feeling pretty okay! Which is a super nice change, because as everyone who knows me knows, I have deadly hangovers. I went to a thai place for brunch while Eleanor slept and had a delicious larb salad. We decided that we should walk to the Golden Gate Bridge after everyone told us we should cycle. We soon found out why everyone cycles to the bridge because it was the longest walk ever. Like truly ever. We just kept going and going and going and never got there. Well, eventually we got there but after 4 hours or so. We took some photos, walked onto the bridge and then waited an hour for a bus home. We were absolutely exhausted!!

20th
Walking tour, went to the dive bar called the Saloon with Lucie and Emma - met while cooking communal dinner with a crazy italian man as the head chef. got free beer and spirits for helping! and todd -el met in breakfast line , freaked out about money

21st
Opened a bank account,, met lucie, emma, el, and todd at a cafe in mission where they had an egg muffin. I got a coffee then lucie el and i went walking through Haight Ashbury while emma and todd went to a strings quartet performance. We walked past beautiful houses and got lost, and up buena vista hill then on the main touristy street It was interesting and a bit cliche. Met up with the others at 3 and went to mexican and had delicous nachos. headed back on the bus to the hostel to nap. Lucie and Emma went off to have pizza bc they werent very hungry. We went to Moes buger joint. El and i shared a burger and salad that was delicious, Also met christina today! Everyone went out for beers but i was exhausted so i headed back to the hostel pretty quick.

22nd
Today we picked up the car from San Fran international airport. Before this we were just chilling in the hostel til Todd's washing was done, because he offered to give us a lift in his enormous Ute/truck. We said goodbye to Emma and Lucie which was sad because I was enjoying their company. At the airport we picked up a little Hyundai! I completly forgot you dont use your left foot in Autos so was super jumpy on the brakes right at the beginning but when i worked it out it was much smoother. Interesting with positioning on the road being left hand drive and driving on the right side though! We managed to do circles in the airport while we were working out how to use the GPS but eventually got on the road to Yosemite. We stopped in a place called Dublin to buy a tent and sleeping bag and stuff from target as well as food. We decided 1 tent, obviously, but then we decided we should just get 1 queen blow up mattress and 1 sleeping bag between 3 of us. Shouldnt be too cold in America in the summer time right? Ha. so blooming wrong. Anyway, we managed to get enough food to keep up alive but potentially give us scurvy/some other vitamin deficiency disease if it became a long term diet. Weiners, tinned ravioli and spaghetti and meatballs, peanut butter cups, chips, biscuits, cereal, bread and peanut butter. As I said, healthy. We got back on the road and eventually arrived at our campsite at 10pm. We had booked the firs night because we did not want to risk arriving and having no where to sleep. We quickly put up our tent and chucked our food, toiletries and make up into the bear box and promptly fell into what would be the first of 3 very cold nights sleeps.

23rd
Woke up super early, partly because of the cold but also partly to try and get a campsite at camp 4 which i had researched was the best non reservation campsite but we just left eleanor in line (we were going to pack up our stuff, that we actually didnt end up packing til much later) and was told later that everyone has to be there in order to get a campsite, so that was annoying! Christina and I went back to pick her up then went to the Campsite reservations and was told there would probably be space at Bridleveil Creek Campsite. We drove 40 minutes with me hoping and praying there would be and there was! So we dropped El off again and drove back to Upper Pines to pack up our stuff and get fire wood. 3 hours later and another drive back from where I had just came from, we were setting up in Bridleveil Creek! We chilled out a bit then went to Glacier Point. It was pretty amazing, we took a lot of photos and selfies. That night for dinner we cooked our 'weiners' on the campfire, (lit with borrowed matched because our new lighter ran out after literally 10 clicks), and doused in tomato sauce in bread they actually tasted pretty good! We headed to bed and hoped for a warmer night.

24th
We had another freezing night despite wearing a bunch of clothes. I woke up at 6.30 and decided to get up because i was cold and it was getting light. I hopped in the car and put the heating on, seeing that it was actually on 37 degrees F, which is like below freezing. I decided to make a fire to warm up and walked around trying to find kindling. This warmed me up slightly but getting the fire going eventually was soo very nice. I read a bit and then decided I wanted a hot breakfast so warmed up one of the spaghetti and meatball cans. I jusst peeled back the top half way and put the can in the coals and kept stirring it. I made a piece of toast as well and it turned out pretty okay! I didnt trust the meatballs part of the tinned food though and ended up leaving all of them. At 10 I decided that the others should get up. By 11 we were on the way to the walk for Vernon/Nevada falls. The brochure said strenuous but on 3-4 hours so definitely seemed doable. After going round in circles and getting quite lost we eventually realised we had to take a bus to the entrance of the walk because the roads were closed to cars. We started on the walk and definitely soon realised that we did not have enough water. Eleanor felt quite sick and faint so decided to wait pretty close to the bottom for us. Christina and I continued on the walk but eventually Christina stopped too. I continued to the top of Vernon Falls which was an amazing view but had to turn round to pick up everyone else. This was okay though because it was definitely hot and as i mentioned we really did not have enough water. It felt so good to excesise again though! That night we had more of the tins, but the campsite opposite up let us use their fire as they went star gazing! This was great because I truly could not be bothered to make a fire again. The Ravioli was much better than the spaghetti and meatballs which was good! We also put the bananas I had bought in san fran in the fire with peanut butter cups which made a delicious desert!

25th
Woke up 5.30 too cold again, Arrived Vegas 4 pm, stopped at an old western diner and got a turkey sandwich. the place had actually been rated on trip advisor but it was literally in the middle of no where. Vegas was a crazy place, went to Noodle Asia for dinner. Got drinks to drink in our amazing room. Chatted for ages. went out, couldnt find a club with young people, danced with old people. got into a club bought tequila shots $8.50 each! Went to a strip club, hated it and came home

26th
Spent today chilling out writing this and by the pool. nice day. Went to noodle Asia again for dinner.

27th
Left to get to the Grand Canyon! Another long day of driving, 6 hours! We found our campsite in ten-x campground but because it had taken us so long to get there we only bought one nights worth of camping (it costs everywhere to camp unless you know where to go, but id pay for the security and eleanors only rule for camping was not to poo in a hole haha). We set up then headed to the canyon to see the sunset. When we got there it was seriously unreal. Like WOW. it was huge and colourful and canyon-y. it was absolutely spectacular. We found a good vantage point then waited an hour and a half for sunset as the crowds grew. It was spectacular. We headed back to our campsite after this and had another night of ravioli over hot coals. The ravioli was actually quite nice compared to the spaghetti and meatballs though so there was no complaint from me!

28th
Today we woke up fairly early and decided we wanted to do a walk into the canyon. We got to the visitors centre and found a short walk to do. However it was SO HOT. We had water and sandwiches but after walking for about 45 minutes in the scorching heat with little protection from the sun we decided we were beat and to turn around. Good thing too! On our way up there were a number of rangers suggesting people only walk down to the very first view point then turn back, because it was just too hot. So we made the right decision! It was so beautiful though. Its super hard to describe unless youve been though. Facebook will have photos! Anyway, we got back to the car at about 1 and just decided to drive as far as we could to vegas, so the drive the next day to drop the car back would be shorter. After about 2 hours of endless driving (Nevada and Arizona, not impressed by the general scenery!) we stopped at a gas station because i finally understood what a microsleep was. It was SO hard to stay awake! so we drank coke, i got jerky to chew on and the fresh (but HOT) air definitely woke me up a little. We got back into the car and put on a cd we'dbeen saving for this part of the trip, high school musical! So that chewed up about half an hour of time with eleanor and christina singing along, and me cringing a bit but loving it too. SIDE NOTE: in LA we went to Amoeba records which is a HUGE record shop and picked out 2 cds that we wanted and 2 at random to play in the car. total cost $4.50, so not bad! We got high school musical, a soundtrack to an old romcom eleanors knows, one called wampire (??) and another that was just so boring upon playing it isnt worth mentioning (and truthfully ive forgotten).

I had looked up campsites near vegas the night before and we decided to stay at lake mead. which was actually an amazing choice because it was this huge lake in the middle of the desert and it was absolutely stunning! We managed to make friends this night, 2 german guys and a perth girl. they all used our fire to warm up tins (everyone has the same ideas it seems!) and we sat around having a great talk about politics in all our countries and other weird things that happen. I was exhausted but it was really fun!

29th
Today we woke up pretty early because of the heat! Camping right in the desert meant that our last night was literally the only night i did not get cold. It was amazing. We packed up pretty quick. Donated our mattress, sleeping bag and torch to the germans who were even less prepared for camping than we were, and placed the tent by a bin with a free sign on it. We got going and found a car wash were we tried to make the car look like it hadnt just travelled through the desert and then as we were pulling out, BAM, nearly had an accident. Had literally been so good this whole time, making sure that I was properly in my lane and not drifting left, turning tight on the right and loose on the left to make sure i stayed on the right side of the road. Then just outside vegas a car that looks like its turning into the gas station decides to uturn instead. Ive pulled out because it appears there is plenty of space then all of a sudden im slamming on my brakes as i see the car out of the corner of my eye. Literally the scariest thing ive EVER done driving, but we got out totally unscathed thank god! The rest of the drive was uneventful. there were signs to the car rental return everywhere which was so helpful, we got our stuff out of the car, a guy went around it looking for scratches and that was it! We took the shuttle to the airport where we waited with christina til her flight to Austin, ate totally overpriced food then headed to our terminal for our flight to portland. We were at the airport from 10am til our flight at 8 so it was a fairly long day of not much, but it went pretty fast and I enjoyed chilling out not driving! We boarded our flight and i slept pretty much the whole way. We arrived at 10pmish and took the light rail and bus to our hostel, typed in the codes for the doors i got earlier in the day, had the greatest shower of my life then crashed fast asleep. It was amazing!

30th - Today was a lazy day. we slept in, then went to harlow for a delicious vegan meal! I had the best green smoothie with coconut oil, pineapple, spinich and other delicious things, then had a bowl of salad, that was just fantastic. Currents, hazelnuts, beetroot, carrot, greens, YUM! Well needed after our terrible diet of the past week. We walked up and down Hawthorne street which is where our hostel is and it was so cool. Heaps of vintage second hand shops, a smaller version of Powells book store, totally engaging. I bought a pair of shorts and two tops that i LOVE, infact i think im going back to the vintage store today because it was enormous and theres no way you would ever see everything! We got back at around 4 and chilled out til 5.30 when we headed to the 'last thursday alberta street market' with people ffrom the hostel. This is held on the last thursday of the month for june july and august. We met two canadians that were also staying at the hostel and hung out with them most of the night. Ive never seen so many dreads and tats everywhere and on every corner there was a musician playing a different instrument in a different style. It was pretty cool. We went to salt and straw ice cream which is famous in portland and i tried an olive oil flavour that was foul and ended up getting strawberry and rhubarb pie flavour that was nice but sweet! I also bought a cup of fruit, trying to fix my vitamin deficiencies haha and a corn that had far two much chili on it and i ended up setting my lips and tongue on fire! at the end i got a beef brisket taco just to satiate my appetite completely. It was a super cool little festival though. I really enjoyed it. When we got home we played cards against humanity with the canadians and another smerican called Ash. It was hilarious and totally inappropriate.

31st - Today was a total accident with how good it was. We headed out in the morning to the rose gardens. 2 buses later and they were pretty nice. Roses of all different colours in beds. I think they test different species and people can come and find the ones they like? Honestly im not sure of the point of them, but there doesnt always need to be a point! On the way back we stopped off in downtown to try the food trucks. There were so many! they framed a whole block and ranged from thai, to greek, to lebanese, to Hawaiian! I got a pad thai that was delicious and $6! We discovered the original Powells book store was quite close by and went and visited! It was amazing!!! Its a whole block, has every book you can imagine, a map room and a coffee shop. We spent about an hour browsing and i bought two books, one of which ive nearly finished. It was cool. Anyway, after powells again we discovered Deschutes Brewery was close by. This brewery was suggested to us as a really good one so we made our way there and each got a beer tasting tray that consisted of 6 different beers. They were cool! The ones that stood out to me were the chocolate one and the off apple juice tasting ones. The others were obviously more normal, and i think i preferred them definitely. We sat reading our purchases from Powells drinking beer and must have looked a right sight! WIth a lil alcohol in me and after reading a passage about visiting family after a long time away i decided it would be a great idea to call my parents! This was funny and i was glad to hear they had had a big one the night before as well so i didnt feel so bad talking to them tipsy ha. We headed back to the hostel after this and had some down time. Eleanor thought she had lost her sunnies and was a bit annoyed so she slept that off! I had heard there was a funk soul night at a bar called goodfoot so we got ready and headed to that. It was so much fun! Not so much funk/soul as old school but still had a great dance. A guy from the hostel met us there, and i had bad vibes but eleanor didnt. He bought us a couple of drinks then did end up getting a bit creepy which was a disappointment! I had a fun night ;) but then couldnt find eleanor and freaked out a bit. All i could imagine was a headline reading 'aussie goes missing' and it would totally be my fault! I eventually found her upstairs in the pool tables area eating disco fries which were fries, onion, and some kind of sauce. Eleanor loved them, i didnt vibe but i was starving so it was okay. We walked home - i may have hugged and kissed a tree and then vomited on it - and slept off the alcohol.

1st - I woke up feeling okay! We decided to try a food truck near the hostel called 'Fried egg im in love' and i got a sriracha sandwich thing that was delicious! Also had a super milky coffee that did not sit quite right. We headed back and i wrote a cover letter for a grad position i would love for 2016. Decided to go to Canteen for lunch that was another vegan restaurant near by. Had a curried cashew and quinoa salad that was quite nice healthy at least, and a berry and ginger smoothie that was delicious. We wanted a relaxed day so we walked to a nearby park that was beautiful. truly stunning. We walked by a little quartet playing music, and stumbled across a shakepeare in the park production of Much Ado About Nothing. While it was interesting I have to say that I had no idea that was going on until the end when two of the characters that get married in the play actually got engaged! All of a sudden the guy stopped speaking like he was in shakespeare, got down on one knee and pulled out a ring. I was actually so so amazing. Eleanor and I looked at each other like did that actaully happen, and it did! After the bows, all the cast was crying and a lot of the audience as well. It was amazing. We walked back and saw what looked like an orchestra setting up. We asked what was going on and found out a symphony was playing that night! So we planted ourselves down in the park and read our books til it started. There were so many people in the park having a lovely time, it was pretty cool and the music was great too! We walked back and stumbled on more food trucks. I got a cheese plate and eleanor got a hot dog (YUM). We got back to the hostel and played a few games of 500 (cards). We were interupted by a gross american who was drunk and high and totally just a sexist pig talking about what he had saw that day. We avoided him, and later he was taken downstairs by the manager with another guest because it appears they got in a fight. I really really didnt like the guy. We headed to bed, just as other people were heading out to goodfoot again. Part of me really wanted to go, but i really really needed a good nights sleep! And that leads us to today - we are heading to chicago on the red eye where we will meet up with christina again. I think we are going to markets today which should be good, but who knows what today will bring. Every location and portland especially has sprung surprise incredible days on us that we dont plan and end up loving.

America so far - 10 out of 10.

Posted by alexD 09:12 Comments (0)

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