America!

So I’m only a few days away from my trip to the United States of America. A trip that will see me travel from London to New York and then onwards across the country to San Francisco.

This trip will be one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ deals. I’m going across the States with Great Rail Journeys who organise trips by rail all over the world.

I started thinking about a trip not long after my Mum died. I’d been planning to go to New York when she was alive; something she wasn’t keen on. I put that trip on hold when it became clear that there was something afoot with the status of my job.

When Mum died, my thinking went a bit haywire; as I’m sure it does for anyone who loses a loved one. I applied to leave my job on voluntary redundancy basis and spent money a little more liberally than I should have, not big amounts, I learned that lesson the hard way about 10 years ago!

So with my application for redundancy in, I started thinking what I would/could do if I was successful. The first thing was a world tour, that was scaled back to driving across the states, then flying around the states, to my ultimate decision which was to go with a tour company.

I’ve not traveled before and the thought of doing it on my own freaked me out a bit. Of course people do it; in the past few days looking for things to do in various cities, I came across a blog by a 25 year old female Mancunian who has been traveling the world solo for three years. I’m not quite that brave.

On Sunday I depart from Heathrow for three weeks in America, beginning as I said in New York, it may sound odd but it still hasn’t sunk in that I’ll be in the city I’ve watched in films and TV for twenty plus years. Then I have to get my mind around that I’m then going across one of the largest continents on Earth.

In all I’ll be visiting:

New York
Washington DC
Chicago
Denver
The Rockies
Silverton & Durango
Monument Valley
Flagstaff
Grand Canyon
Los Angeles
San Francisco

Here’s a map of where I’m going:

In most places there are guided tours of the hotspots, including Alcatraz when we get to San Francisco.

For the past few days I’ve been trying to work out where I’m going to visit during the free time on the tour. I’m going ahead of the main group, so I get another two days in New York. On. My. Own!

Several times I’ve just closed down whichever window I was looking at on the internet when the size and scale of New York overwhelmed me!

Currently my ‘I’d like to see’ places looks like this:

In New York I want to see as much as I possibly can, an obvious statement I guess. I’d like to take in a show of some kind, there’s a new musical about Chaplin that’s at the top of my short list. I want to see the sights in Central Park, as many film locations as possible, the view from the Empire State Building & Top of the Rock and maybe have a go on the Big Piano in FAO Schwarz. I know I’m going to spend a fair amount of time just looking up & around at everything. On a more solemn note I’ve booked my visitor pass for the 9/11 memorial. I’ll be there just 5 days before the 11th anniversary.

I want to eat a NY hot dog, NY Pizza and NY Cheesecake! Perhaps even pastrami on rye which seems to be a popular sandwich in NY set films.

When I finally get my head around the scale of New York, I then remember I’m going to Washington DC. Where I want to see the grave of JFK (I was a JFK conspiracy nut in my much younger years), the US Marine Corps Memorial (the one where they are raising the flag), the Exorcist steps, the Lincoln Memorial, The White House and all the other stuff in the Memorial Mall that we’ve all seen in Forrest Gump 🙂 before ending up in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

I’ve done less research for Chicago and the other cities I’ll be visiting as it all seems too far away, I know it’s not, but I’ll have time to work out those as I’m traveling towards them. In Chicago I will be going up the two high vantage points on offer; The Hancock Observatory and the Willis Tower. The latter offers a SkyDeck where you can stand in a clear box 1,300 feet up in the air which protrudes out 4 feet from the side of the building.

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Click for more pictures.

I may venture up to The Weiner Circle, which is a hotdog stand famous for the foul language and abuse shared by both the staff and the clientele. I will have to work up the courage to visit though.

From Chicago, it’s Denver with the US Mint, 16th Street Mall & Historic District, then the vistas of The Rockies, before heading towards Route 66 and the Grand Canyon…..I can’t take it all in 🙂

I know where I’m staying and most places have WiFi so I’m hoping to update the blog as I go (I’ve said that before, so don’t hold me to it). It’s going to be an amazing trip and experience, I cant wait!