01.09.2006 - 17.09.2006 25 °C
Well I'm nearly right at the end of September and nearly finished my first month of travelling. Ben has been haranguing me to start my blog and Sarah W has started hers so thought I should eventually get round to it.
Anyway, the Green Tortoise trip was totally 'AWESOME'...http://www.greentortoise.com/national.parks.loop.html see been here a month and already picking up the lingo! Had a v bad night's sleep on the first night...i was sleeping on a table, feet first (Clare will understand what that means) and it took me a while to realise why all the blood was going to my head (we were gaining about 8,000ft in altitude or elevation as they say here!). Anyway, the pain in my head was all worth it the next morning when we woke up to see the sunrise over the Nevada desert and herds of wilderbeast sweeping magestically (Des!)...well actually two Antelopes running past as as we had breakfast. After breakfast we dived into some local hot springs and if you've never relaxed in hot springs with naked hippies overlooking a bleak desert landscape then I suggest you try now...
My second night sleeping on the bus was probably not that much more successful than the first. I got up in the middle of the night to err 'use the facilities' at a truck stop. For the benefit of those who don't already know, the bus has no onboard toilet so you have to wait until a designated 'pee stop' which can range from truck stops, supermarkets or the side of the road. The best ones are when you walk into truck stops in the middle of the night in your pyjamas and flip flops and the assistants still wish you a 'nice day'! Anyway, I basically wanted to say I'd set foot in Idaho as there is obviously nothing in Idaho worth stopping for according to our itinerary at least. (Ad - really just wanted to make you jealous by saying I'd been in Napolean Dynamite country!) Unfortunately only two of us got off (it was 3 in the morning) and we realised as we were faffing about that neither of us had let the driver know we were getting off. In the meantime, the bus was in the middle of driving off without us - we were only saved by the fact that I had dramatically banged my head only minutes before. I screamed so loudly with the sheer shock of it all, then realised almost immediately that as it hadn't actually hurt, my bloodcurdling cry was probably not warranted that I ended up laughing hysterically. But at least I woke EVERYONE around me so thankfully they noticed I was missing!
We spent the following day hiking up to Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Mountains in Nevada and now I've realised that the Idaho incident must have happened the following night - oh well days all blend into one on the GT particularly if you're like me and don't bother to write a journal. We had our first GT night out in the redneck town of Elko where we nearly got involved in proper saloon bar style brawl with some old hick who didn't like the look of the Polish bloke that we were with. After that we managed to get kicked out of the same bar because the barmaid decided midway through our drinks that passports were not good enough ID and that only state driving licences would do- I guess we were among the 92% of Americans who don't own passports.
So I forgot the country make-up of the the bus: 9 Americans, 5 English, 3 Scots, 3 Aussies, 2 Poles, 2 New Zealanders, and then 1 Italian, Israeli, Indian, Dutch, Canadian, German, Slovakian, Swiss - what a mix!
The following day we made our way to the stunningly situated town of Jackson Hole up in the Grand Tetons mountains (if you don't know what that means in French look it up - thanks Ad!)I finally worked up the courage to go whitewater rafting...I was actually ridiculously scared - everyone knew - which somehow translated into me having to be the one to sit right at the front with my feet dangling over the edge of the vessel (never show weakness!) Well no one got thrown out so it was all very civilised and uneventful but i did get to see my first Mormon family (at least they were from Utah so there's a 90% chance they would have been!) Finally we had our first night of camping and listening to an Aussie guy strumming away with everyone singing around the campfire..sigh..
Spent a really brilliant day hiking in the Grand Tetons with an Israeli guy, an Indian/American guy, an Italian girl and a girl from New Zealand. The views were just spectacular and my hiking abilities had actually dramatically improved compared to last year - must have been all that hiking in NI! The following day we headed to Yellowstone to check out Old Faithful and about a million and one other geysers. The next day in Yellowstone must have been coming up to 9/11 because we met a group of people from Utah who were telling us how worried they were about an attack on Utah!! and I had to cope with one of the guys from the trip taking photos of me about every 3 seconds - I think it was his poor flirting technique!
The bus then took about 5 hours to do 40 miles after being delayed by the local wildlife (Martin - you would have been so impressed!) The first of the huge traffic jams was caused by Buffalo wandering down the road at a leisurely pace totally unperturbed by the miles of tailbacks building up behind them. The roads were then totally clogged by everyone jumping out of their cars and checking out the black bears up some trees by the side of the road. We then spent about half an hour following some startled Bighorn sheep who seemed to think they could outrun the bus. Our last night camping in Yellowstone was pretty eventful..this aussie girl managed to drink nearly an entire bottle of Vodka in 2 hours and then dramatically managed to disappear from the campsite near to a local river and a 70 mile an hour highway...it took 20 of us half an hour to discover her collapsed by the riverbanks! and one of our drivers (female) got it on with one of the two guys on our trip from Bolton!
We then spent the most amazingly relaxing day at the Chico Hot Springs in Montana. Sadly Montana has been fairly devastated by forest fires this year and the state was so dark with smoke that the sun was just a dull red glow behind the thick smog. Then it was on to Bozeman, Montana which we totally expected to be a great place for spotting cowboys but which actually turned out to be really artsy, college town. The following day we made our way down to Great Salt Lake in Utah and floated in the very salty water!! The final night of the first week was spent in the Mystic Hot Springs and if you've never relaxed in nice Sulphur-smelling hot springs by moonlight, I suggest you start now..