An update from the U.S. Explorer
It saddens me to say that we have arrived at our final stop on this amazing 40-day journey. There have been so many memories, and they are shown through the thousands of photos, dozens of ridiculous videos, and souvenirs we have picked up along the way!
As we left beautiful Lake Tahoe we geared up for our last three days of adventure in the City by the Bay! We pulled up at the Westin Hotel, and after some free time at the pool and gym, we made our way to the classic establishment, Mel’s Diner. We experienced a throwback meal with a technological twist as the waiters took orders on iPads. To end off the night we headed to a nearby dance club, where we had the building booked for us for a couple of hours. En route to the club, Justin L and Brandon, now commonly known as DJ Brando had a blast choosing the music to get the group pumped for dancing! After some classic top 40 hits, we arrived at the club and took the dance floor by storm. Everybody formed a massive circle and trip members took their turn showing off their moves in the middle of the circle. After some interesting performances by some of the trip members including Reuben ripping his shirt in the middle of the room, we left the dance club and returned to the hotel for some free time in the pool. Everyone soothed their sore dancing feet in the hot tub or the refreshing pool. It was nice to dive into the pillows and soft hotel beds after our night of dancing.
The next morning we woke up for an exciting day in San Francisco along with visiting the infamous Island home to Alcatraz. Our first stop was at Pier 33 where we boarded the boat to Alcatraz. After we docked and took a short steep hike up to the prison cells, we were handed audio players that gave us a self-guided tour around the grounds and within the jail cells. It was fascinating hearing the voices of old guards narrating the tour and informing us of the danger and tragedies involved in the jails history. We witnessed historic images and listened to amazing lore of the island’s past. This eye opening experience was amazing.
We continued our day we went down the boardwalk to Pier 39 where all the trip members had lunch. Many enjoyed some fresh clam chowder, and other soups placed in a delicious bread bowl. The trip members had the opportunity to walk around the pier and explore shops and stop to take pictures of the passing sailboats and more importantly the numerous seals splashing in and out of the water by the docks. Some people bought some small souvenirs and Carly shared all her popcorn she purchased with everyone! We then walked past the piers and stopped at the mouth-watering Ghirardelli Square. This was the perfect time to get our sweet tooth fill for the day, and all of us purchased some form of chocolate goodness. Britt, Sam and Kerri bought refreshing milk chocolate ice coffees. Matt J and Josh tried the hot side of chocolate and devoured their famous hot chocolate. Our last stop for the day was journeying on the street trolleys down the winding roads to China Town. Once we arrived everyone marveled at the crowded streets and interesting selections within the stores. We split into 4 groups and the trip members’ objective was to take the funniest photo wearing native gear or posing with strangers. After some fun wandering the streets, we sat down for a family style feast at the Oriental Pearl. It was our first time on the trip eating at a restaurant with a lazy susan where everyone passed the food in the circle. We ended off night 2 with another pool party, and the boys showed off more of their wacky moves jumping into the pool.
We woke up on our last full day and our first stop was in Sausalito, where the trip members enjoyed some free time in this quaint artisan village. Max and Perry visited a delectable burger joint that cooked fresh burgers in front of the windows for everyone to see! Our second stop was at one of the most notable bridges in the North America, the Golden Gate Bridge. We all experienced the breathtaking lookout and walk along the side of the bridge. The last officially planned stop of our 40-day excursion was at the famous Lombard Street, the curviest street in the world, where we all walked up the steep inclines and down the windy roads.
The emotionally challenging part at the end of the day was knowing we were returning to the hotel for the last time which only meant packing and avoiding the inevitable goodbyes. Everyone took brief naps to conserve some energy for the late night before heading down to the lobby to kick-off Banquet.
I am currently sitting in the middle of the Banquet Hall with Cary Rae Jepsen blaring “Call Me Maybe” behind me as I conclude this blog. We enjoyed a touching slideshow filled with the videos we captured throughout the summer, and shared our hopes and fears of this trip as we made a web of string between the trip members and staff. As I sign off, I cannot express how amazing this summer has been, and the memories we will all share for many years to come. Excuse me, but I must go join everyone and dance the night away!
FEELIN’ FINE ON TRIP 9!
The Westcoast Blogger