With the 90 day limit of our tourist visas all but up - we sadly departed the US taking with us the greatest memories and friendships which we will treasure for a life time.
Our rather epic journey began in the densely populated but very exciting east coast with NYC, DC and Boston. We then ventured north to the mighty Niagara Falls and nipped across the border for a weekend in Canada. Next it was off south to Dallas where we purchased the car and took a quick trip to Nashville, dropping in on Elvis on the way home. With the practice road trip done we returned to Dallas to then hit the road for our two month venture. Heading north we visited the super rock creations of Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse, the incredible wildlife of Yellowstone National Park and the unique sound of Willie Nelson live in Montana. We continued westward and hit up the mighty Redwoods then it was back inland to visit a Ranch in northern California and then south to Yosemite National Park. It was then back to the coast for a few misty days in San Fran, driving the coastal highway and enjoying the sunshine of Santa Barbara. Next was the not so bright lights of Hollywood, a day at Disneyland and a few days to recoup at an OC beach. Feeling recharged we headed for the wonderful tack of Vegas, stopped in for a few days camping at the Grand Canyon and then continued north to southern Colorado for some frolicking in the snow. Completing our loop we headed home to Dallas via Albuquerque. Before we knew it the three months had flown by. We had driven 8,600 miles (~14,000 km) and covered 22 of the 52 states.
We have nothing better to say about our travels and experiences in the US, and would recommend to anyone to add it to their lists of places to visit. At home both the people and the country itself can sometimes get a bad rep often from preconceived ideas and notions feed to us by the media. Stories that represent the minority are often amplified and generalisations made, which cannot be broken until one experiences or sees different for themselves. We have certainly had our eyes opened as a result if this trip and although the US has so much to offer a traveller we are even more proud to call NZ home.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to travelling across the US is the variety of experiences you can have simply by moving between states. The natural environment, climate, food, culture, laws, and accents of the locals can change remarkably within miles of crossing the border. We often felt we were travelling between different countries as in Europe.
All of the people we met were just incredible. From the random strangers through to the people who opened their homes to us (many who know our family but had never met us), we could not say anything more positive about the kindness and generosity displayed by everyone we met.
The food was quite different from home - and this we had expected. We found that we had to go out of our way to buy unprocessed foods and constantly read food labels to ensure low sugar (or corn starch) content. Everything was very highly packaged and we found it difficult to purchase good fresh produce with the exception of California. As noted, we did however love the Mexican and southern cooking, this is hard to beat and it would be fair to say that our waist lines reflect this. During our trip we were also fortunate to try new foods including huckleberries (we even picked them), elk, buffalo and halibut. All very delicious.
As one chapter ends a new begins. South America here we come.