LOREN TAKES AMERICA



America. Land of the free, home of the brave. But also my favourite place to escape to when things aren't particularly going my way. After hitting the age of 24, I started having a bit of a quarter-life crisis. I needed to do something crazy and a bit out of my comfort zone. So what better way than to book a plane ticket for one heading straight to Las Vegas! A few weeks later I stepped off the plane and there I was, Sin City. Completely on my own, and if anything was to go wrong my family and friends were 5226 miles away. People told me Vegas was huge but my god they weren't joking. Even now I couldn't put into words how big it really was. Anyone who knows me will know that I am a city girl by heart, so I was in my absolute element here. After a quick explore it was time to head to bed so I was ready to start my big adventure in the morning. 


7 am the next morning I was standing in the hotel lobby waiting to meet my tour leader and fellow explorers. A hot american guy walks in, introduced himself and told me he was going to be my leader for the trip (definitely a fist pump moment). We placed our suitcases into the trailer and we were off to our first destination, Zion National Park. The Vegas city lights and buildings soon disappeared and we were travelling through the vast Nevada, Arizona and Utah desert. After making a quick pit stop to pick up some of my favourite American food which you can only buy fake versions at home (Cheetos and Mountain Due) we arrived at Zion. We were told we were going to embark The Angel Landing Trail, a trail that was only for the most adventurous and bravest people. A 5 hour hike across narrow sandstone ridges which had dizzy drop-offs reaching thousands of feet on either side. 



Trekking through Zion National Park



This trek was without a doubt one of the scariest things I've ever done, and something I would never forget. I've never been scared of heights and always loved climbing as a kid, but this did make my legs shake in fear. Trying to look graceful and elegant in front of my hot tour leader had gone straight out of the window. Every time I looked down to take a step I would think "Yep, if my foot just slipped a tiny bit I would easily fall to my death." But I was determined to make it to the top. Even though my tiny body made it bit more difficult when pulling myself up onto rock faces and uneven boulders, I could rely on my dancer muscles to complete each arduous move. After climbing just under 6000 feet high, we made it to the top of Angels Landing, and wow what a view it was. I was so proud of my little self making it to the top, and it shows you can achieve anything if you are determined enough.



The view from the top of Angels Landing


When we trekked back down and made it to even and non-dangerous land, we hopped back into the trailer and headed to our next destination called Bryce Canyon. As we spent most of our day trekking through Zion National Park, there wasn't a lot of daylight left in the day. Therefore we decided to watch the sunset over Bryce Canyon before grabbing some food and getting a bit of an early night. The reason for the early night was because we could watch the sunrise in the morning if we left by 5.30 am. Thankfully my body clock was still slightly in English time so it wasn't too much of a challenge (as I am definitely not a morning person). 5.30 am the next morning, my tour leader was already in the van waiting for us and we set off back to Bryce Canyon. Watching the sunrise was beautiful, just like watching the sunset the night before. Suddenly I had an epiphany, it made me realise that being upset over my heartbreak was completely pointless when there is all this beauty and wonderful things to do and see in the world. In a second my problems had been solved, I was happy independent Loren again and I couldn't be happier. 

Sunrise over Bryce Canyon

An early morning hike was next on the itinerary and this time it wasn't death defying. This hike was more for exploring rather than strenuous climbing. As it got lighter, it was amazing the see the colour of the rock change as the sunlight hit onto it. Walking past all the hoodoos and natural amphitheaters, I could easily say it was something I had never experienced before. After completing another hike, we had to jump into the van and head to our next destination of Monument Valley. We couldn't stay too late as we had a lot to pack in for the rest of the day, but that was fine by me as Monument Valley was one of the places I was most excited to visit. 

Hiking through Bryce Canyon


It was located on the Utah/Arizona boarder and I couldn't wait to get there. This is because I knew all my childhood dreams were about to come true. Firstly, since I can remember I have watched the Back To The Future trilogy a million times. Back To The Future 3 was filmed at Monument Valley so it was amazing to be at the actual place I had grown up watching. I never thought one day I would be standing where Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd were filming. The place was as beautiful as it was in the film, it was a real pinch myself moment. 

Monument Valley

This wasn't the only dream to come true that day. When I was a kid I wanted to be one person and one person only, Pocahontas. The Navajo Native American Indian Tribe lived there and for the day I got to be one of them. While travelling through Monument Valley learning about their history, I was honored with the opportunity to be able to enter one of their homes. A lovely lady who lived in the hogan did my hair in which it is traditionally done when one gets married. Then we trekked more deeper into the valley and was served a traditional Navajo meal while the Navajo Indians sung, danced, played music and told traditional Navajo stories. I really felt like I was Pocahontas. Knowing the film inside out, everything clicked and made sense and it couldn't be more true to the film. 

Navajo Indian Tribe


After that breath-taking day, it was the next morning and we were heading back into Arizona. Next on the agenda was to spend the day at Grand Canyon. No wonder they call it 'Grand' Canyon, it was huge! Nearly 300 miles wide to be precise, and today was the day to do another thing I hadn't done before. A helicopter flight. We spent the morning embarking on another small trek, only a small one as it would take days to walk all the way to the bottom and back up again. Then the moment arrived, the helicopter trip. I was pretty apprehensive how it would feel flying on a helicopter. I love flying but I knew it would be different compared to a plane. However much to my surprised, I didn't actually feel anything as it was so smooth and controlled. It was amazing being able to fly so close to the canyon edges and seeing what the different aspects Grand Canyon had to offer. After landing back on solid ground, my tour leader took us back to the trekking areas so we could watch the sunset. 



The Pilot and I after my first helicopter flight


The next morning we drove back to Grand Canyon so we could watch the sunrise, and then it was back to van so we could head to the next place. Before reaching Hoover Dam, our tour leader took us down the world famous Route 66. In all honesty it was just a road so there wasn't much to see besides small towns that run along side it perfect for tourists as it was full of souvenirs shops. After having a quick shop in one of the towns it was back on the van and time to get on the move again. We reached Hoover Dam and we firstly walked across the bridge over-looking it. Some of the guys on the tour were scared of heights so it was down to me to take pictures for them. We soon went back down to drive across the dam and had time to take some photos in true tourist style.

Get your kicks at Route 66

Next stop it was back to Vegas! Even though I'm so glad I had experienced all these new and different things, I was so excited to see all the city lights once again. The rest of the people on the tour had already spent some time in Vegas, where I hadn't. While chatting to my hot tour leader, I told him I hadn't had much chance to see the city yet nor the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign. After dropping most of the guys off back at the hotel he kindly offered to take me on a cruise down the strip and to see the sign. It would take days to walk it so it was amazing to able to see it all.  A couple of the guys decided to join us but it was so lovely of him to do it just for me. I got my picture by the sign and got to travel from one end of the strip, all the way to downtown Vegas and back again. 


Viva Las Vegas!

We drove up to the entrance of our hotel and I was devastated it was all over. I gave my tour leader a hug goodbye and I walked into the hotel to check in. As I got to my hotel room, guess who was standing there ... my tour leader! If that wasn't a nice surprise enough, he then asked me out on a date! We ended up going for a few drinks and danced the night away on a rooftop club over-looking Caesar's Palace. Afterwards we were running through the casinos, wondering past hotels seeing what they had to offer before making it back to our hotel. It was just like a film, nothing can ever top that night. The perfect way to end the perfect trip. The next afternoon I had to sadly say goodbye to my tour leader and head back to McCarran International Airport. So it was goodbye America, and time to start planning my next trip back!


Date night!