Reflecting on the amazing experiences we’ve shared in the last few days, what an adventure it’s been! Starting with the cruise, we spent five days on a Carnival cruise ship, swimming and relaxing on the top deck, challenging each other to mini golf and arcade games, and enjoying all-you-can-eat soft serve ice cream. Perhaps the best part of the cruise was that we shared the experience altogether!!
Our first stop was the city of Avalon on Catalina Island, a little tropical island about a hundred miles off the coast of Long Beach. The island is known for having no cars so instead people get around on foot, bicycle, or golf cart. While we were there we snorkeled and went kayaking on the pristine blue water. The snorkelers even saw an octopus! Then we boarded the boat to head to Enseñada, Mexico. When we docked in Enseñada, the group walked around town and checked out the tiny little boutique stores that carried everything from Aztec blankets to artisan jewelry. That night, Emilia, Courtney, Jesse and Alex won a photo competition on the cruise and got copies of their professional photos as a prize! On the fourth day of the cruise, we had a full day at sea which was a fantastic opportunity for everybody to relax a little and renew our energy for the last two weeks of the trip.
After leaving the cruise in Long Beach, we drove straight to Moonlight Beach in San Diego to learn how to surf. The instructors told us we had the warmest water of the whole summer and, under perfect blue skies, I got to watch every single one of the trip members get up on a board!
For our second day in San Diego, we went to the San Diego Zoo where we saw the unique species that live there, and learned about some of the fantastic research happening on site. Then, we made our way to the ice rink and watched Bradley show off his incredible skating skills, as the Canadians helped teach the Americans how to skate. To wrap up our visit to San Diego we had dinner at Liberty Station, a market that offers just about every kind of cuisine you can imagine. A delicious sensory overload!
The next morning, we woke up early to hit the road towards Las Vegas! When we pulled up at the Luxor, a pyramid-shaped hotel, the excitement in the bus was palpable. Our first stop was the buffet at the Luxor, where most of our group loaded up on BBQ, pizza, and seafood and of course, there was an elaborate dessert bar which was quite the hit! Then we walked around Las Vegas, taking in the sights including the world’s biggest chocolate fountain, the conservatory (a room decorated entirely of flowers), the new T-Mobile stadium, and the Bellagio Fountain.
The following day, we headed to the Stratosphere – a small amusement park at the top of a building. Imagine riding a roller coaster 112 stories in the air! Suffice to say the views were incredible. Our next stop was the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, the “most visited tourist attraction in Vegas!” We followed that up with our own little pool party at the Luxor pool, and a visit to the New York New York Hotel for dinner.
From Vegas, we went straight to Zion National Park where we got our first taste of the incredible canyons portion of the trip. Our bus driver told us that the big difference between Zion and Bryce Canyon is that you hike Zion from the bottom up, and Bryce from the top down, and we got to do just that! Then we headed to a small country-themed restaurant for dinner, where we all learned line dancing.
The next morning we hiked Bryce Canyon, which looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. The hoodoos are every shade of orange, yellow and pink, and the hiking trail is windy and curvy all the way down. Fortunately, we had perfect weather to enjoy this adventure!
Back at the campsite that afternoon, our group split into four teams for some fun competitions, including a relay race and a recital of the teams’ “alma maters” songs they rewrote to reflect the inside jokes and memories of the trip!
We finished our National Park adventures with a stop at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes and of course the Grand Canyon. We can only imagine these last few days will be incredible, and we’ll be heading home to see you soon!
The Westcoast Blogger
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