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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Surfing, Canyoning, Playing, and More! – California and the Canyons

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Once we arrived in San Diego from Los Angeles, we went straight to the zoo. As we exited the bus and joined the many exhibits nestled among the zoo’s scenic grounds, we met koalas, elephants and rhinos, among so many others! We left the zoo with one of its wildest creatures (a life-sized giraffe stuffed animal) as our newest trip mascot. After checking into the hotel and spending a few relaxing hours at the pool, we made our way to dinner and had a night of competitive laser tag. With the purple and orange teams taking the lead, we definitely had some laser tag all-stars in our midst.

las vegas california canyons blog 3 photo 1Moonlight Beach in San Diego is just as beautiful as the name suggests. Cliff coastlines border the shimmering Pacific Ocean, which makes it a surfer’s paradise. At the surf school, we took our athleticism to the next level by learning balancing and paddling techniques in and out of the water. By the first, second or third try, almost everyone had ridden a wave, even if just for a few seconds. Afterwards, we left the sandy beach for the quaint area of Seaport Village. Walking through local, tourist shops and eating a gourmet dinner overlooking the water was a welcome change from our surfing adventure.

The next day took us on the road to (Viva) Las Vegas! Checking into the luxurious Luxor hotel, and making our way to the many outdoor pools, put us in the perfect mindset to take on the city! From the Luxor, we made our way to the red carpets of Vegas, taking in the sights and sounds in and around the famous Bellagio fountain. To top off the night, we stopped by the world’s largest chocolate fountain, which we wished we could’ve taken on the bus with us.

Our last day in Vegas began with a thrilling ride off of the city’s tallest building, the Stratosphere. The spectacular views were no match for the excitement that came from the rides 108 stories above Las Vegas Boulevard. After safely making our way back onto land, we explored Caesar’s Palace, where we “dined and shopped like the Romans.” Our afternoon was spent lounging by the pool among the Luxor’s Egyptian paradise. For dinner, we ended up in New York-New York, a feat of time travel!

las vegas california canyons blog 3 photo 2Following our time in Las Vegas, we crossed the border into Utah. Driving into Zion National Park, we couldn’t stop looking out the windows at the towering red rocks and blue skies. We got off our bus and went on our first canyon hike, through massive cliffs and cascading waterfalls. For dinner, we line danced our way to Jake’s Chaparral, where we enjoyed an authentic taste of western living. Our family-style meal included the finest comfort food, and we all got dolled up to learn a few iconic line dances as well.

We danced our way into the next day, where we kicked off Color War, with the trip being split into red and blue teams. Decked out in our team colors and face paint, we took on Bryce Canyon. Surrounded by massive rock sculptures and indescribable views, we felt more than accomplished with our hard work on the hike.  We returned to our campsite to continue our Color War competition. We shaved balloons, made human sculptures, and created our own chants, only to have the red team take home the win!

We would all have to agree that the following day was pretty “grand.” After a scenic drive through the Red Canyon, we crossed into the Arizona border and went straight to the Grand Canyon. Even the word “grand” should be considered an understatement when it comes to the vast canyon views and surrounding wildlife, including the many deer and moose we encountered all around us. Watching the sunset at the Grand Canyon was undoubtedly one of the best experiences we’ve had on the trip! Leaving our canyon views behind, we made our way to Flagstaff.

The views continued as we continued on to the Pink Jeep Tours in Sedona. In a matter of seconds, we went from a charter bus on the highway to a bright pink jeep bouncing through steep drops and climbing its way to picturesque sights.

After 21 days of sightseeing, camping, hiking, making new friends, and relishing in each new experience, it’s hard to believe that our time together has come to an end. Our Trip family has grown closer and closer with each passing day and with each new adventure that has come our way. As we go our separate ways, we’ll all leave with a piece of each other and beautiful memories of our wonderful adventure together.

The Westcoast Blogger

Interested in learning more about Westcoast Connection’s California & the Canyons tour? Check out our 21-day middle school and 21-day high school tours for students!