From Boston to Vancouver Island
Last year I went on a two-month trip across the United States of America and parts of Canada. Most of it, I traveled all by myself. Only a short span of my trip I traveled with a guided group and two weeks I traveled with one of my best friends.
It was a great experience, one I will never forget and which has influenced me in many ways. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Of course it has challenged me in some ways and it has taught me a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy good company while on a trip, but I love travelling solo too.
It all started in Boston in the middle of May 2016. Boston is awesome! I loved walking the streets of this city, enjoying its architecture, and meeting the nicest and most welcoming people. I even visited Harvard University and Wellesley College; 2 places I wanted to see for a very long time.
After a few days, it was time to leave and I drove down to Cape Cod, from where I took day trips to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. I was charmed by both Islands and explored them mostly by bicycle. The Ginger Bread Houses on Martha’s Vineyard really were a sight to see. I spent some days on Cape Cod before I drove down to the Hamptons, where I stayed for two nights right by the Atlantic Ocean. Waking up to the rush of the waves, going for sunrise runs and hanging out at the beach all day, was exactly what I needed.
After enjoying the peaceful and quiet island life, I was off to Washington DC right in time for Memorial Day weekend. I had fun visiting all the interesting, mostly free museums and strolled through the city with new friends I made. We even went to Arlington Cemetery in Virginia and we all were deeply moved by the history it beholds. I still get goosebumps thinking how I watched the guards change at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is a tomb that represents all the American soldiers who died at war and never were found.
For four days, I was lucky to explore the USA’s capital and then I travelled to New York City by train. Being in the Big Apple was an incredible experience. It sure was the busiest place I visited on this trip and it was awesome. I stayed at a hotel just around the corner from Times Square. One day, I walked through Central Park from one end to another. I strolled over the Brooklyn Bridge, visited the 9/11 Memorial, took a boat trip to Liberty Island, enjoyed the view from the top of the Rockefeller Center and saw the musical “Finding Neverland.”
All too soon, I had to leave NYC and take a plane to Chicago. After staying in the bustling city that New York is, I was glad to arrive in Chicago. Although still a big city, it’s much more relaxed and quiet. Chicago instantly became one of my favorite places. Every morning I went for a run by the shore of Lake Michigan. I met new friends at the youth hostel I stayed at. I was impressed by the architecture and even took a boat tour one evening to see the city from a different perspective. I really fell in love with Chicago, the so-called “Windy City”.
Though I loved my stay in Chicago, I was so happy about flying out to Phoenix a few days later. It was quite the shock, going from freezing in Chicago to diving in to the desert heat of Arizona. After arriving in Phoenix, I drove straight to Sedona, a place I got to know and love on a previous trip. It felt so good to be there again. Maybe you know what I mean when I say I’ve found my Happy Place there. My Happy Place is a place that feels like home to me, where I can feel peace and comfort. I’m still stunned by the beauty of the red rocks mixed with the green of the trees and the blue of the sky.
From Sedona, I drove to Flagstaff. After staying there overnight, I visited the mighty Grand Canyon. I was blown away by the wild landscape. I can’t find words to describe the grandeur of this place. Arizona and Utah have so much beautiful and wild nature to offer and the red rocks are ever-present. I visited Zion National Park, Horse Shoe Bend and was lucky enough to wake up at sunrise, looking right at the famous rock formation of the Monument Valley from my hotel room. All too soon, I had to drive back to Phoenix and leave. I have to admit, I felt sad to go, but little did I know where it would lead me next.
I arrived in Denver to meet my guided tour group, organized by Intrepid Travel. We had an amazing time touring through Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Idaho. Probably the most impressive thing to see on this tour was Yellow Stone National Park. We saw many of the hot springs and went hiking and on a wolf tracking tour in the wee hours one day. We had so much fun and I was happy to see new places and being provided with information I might not have gotten without a tour guide.
Next stop was L.A.; I flew out from Jackson Hole. After spending a few days in Newport Beach, I drove down to San Diego one day and visited the beautiful Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes the next day. Soon it was time to meet with my best friend, who came to visit me and we drove up the West Coast from L.A. to Vancouver. I was so glad she was there to share this adventure with me. We arrived in San Francisco just in time to dive in to the celebrations of 4th of July. Albeit, we were freezing the entire time we were there and stayed at a horrible Airbnb, we still managed to have the time of our lives. We explored San Francisco by bicycle and drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, capturing this amazing architectural wonder from the Marin Headlands through thick fog. We had dinner in Sausalito and watched a gorgeous sunset on a sail boat tour one evening.
We made our way up to Vancouver with stops at Oregon Dunes, Canon Beach and Forks, where we enjoyed the peace and beauty of the forest that surrounded the lodge we stayed at. We drove up to Seattle and arrived in Vancouver after a few days on the road. We spent our time there, marveling at the green mountains and blue ocean and as we enjoyed each other’s company. It was not long before I had to part ways with my best friend, as she flew back home and I carried on to spend a few more days in Canada.
I took the ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay and couldn’t keep myself from being amazed about all the pretty green islands the ferry passed. Though I got to Vancouver Island very exhausted, I enjoyed the last days of my trip. I stayed a few days in Victoria, ate some delicious fish and chips from Red Fish Blue Fish. The chips were the best! I soaked up the sun while hanging out on the cliffs and visited Butchart Gardens. I drove up to Tofino to spend a few nights there. I saw some nice beaches there and in Ucluelet, watched a bear on the side of the road, while sitting safe in my car. The next day I went whale watching and got a little sea sick. Time passed way too fast as I was approaching the end of my trip. I drove back to Vancouver to spend one last night there before I had to fly home.
I feel so much gratitude for all I’ve seen, for all the people I’ve met, the new friendships I’ve made and for all the memories that will be forever embedded in my mind and heart. I felt sad leaving. Goodbyes really are bittersweet!