By Patamaporn Hirunlap
During the summer break, I had a chance to travel to six states within eleven days—from California, Nevada, Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Utah. My friend, Fang, and I bought a tour from a Chinese agency because we cannot drive. On the bus, all of us were Chinese except the two of us and three Americans, but that wasn’t a problem as the tour guide spoke both Chinese and English. It was a good time to practice Chinese after studying the language for the past eight months. We were so proud of our language skills when the Chinese people on board understood what we were saying.
We were scheduled to travel to San Francisco three days before the tour started. Mostly, we relied on Google Maps and a San Francisco paper map. I had a list of places in mind from my searches on the Internet. The first day, we decided to go to Twin Peaks as we wanted to start from the farthest place, but Google Maps could not find the exact location. Therefore, we took a subway to a place close to the destination. We thought we could find a bus from there that would take us to the top of the hill. Well, after waiting for twenty minutes, we did not see a single bus. We thought to ourselves, how does everyone who doesn’t have a car go up this hill? Then we saw an older man walking on the trail. We asked him how to get there, and he smiled and told us he was going up the hill too and asked if we wanted to walk with him. We thought, well, why not. We are young and should have no problem walking uphill. If this older man can, we sure can! So, we decided to walk with him. We learned that this year he turned seventy-five-years-old, and he always walks up and down the hill to go to the market or downtown. His home is on the hill. As we walked with him, we grew more confident. We didn’t walk on the street but through a forest. He said he knew a shortcut that would help us arrive at the destination quicker. So, we kept going through the jungle, hoping to get there soon.
After we climbed up two steep hills, Fang and I started to look at each other. We were so tired. Our legs started shaking. We could not walk anymore. It was so windy, and we were feeling cold. It was time to say goodbye to the older man—damn he was tough. Below is the picture of the highest point that we could get up to.
After wasting our time and energy walking and finding places to go on the first day—mostly because of our bad planning—we searched online, gathered all the details about the places we wanted to see, and ended up having a very nice trip in the city. We visited a lot of popular places in San Francisco, such as Alcatraz Island, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Palace of Fine Art, Lombard Street, and the Golden Gate Bridge. At the bridge, however, it was so foggy that we barely captured it in this photo.
Clam chowder bread bowl is considered one of the most well-known dishes at Fisherman’s Wharf. It was so creamy and tasty. We loved it very much but still wanted some spicy food, so we went to a Thai restaurant afterwards.
On the fourth day, the tour began! The tour brought us to Yosemite National Park, Arches National Park, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Grand Canyon West Rim, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City.
In Las Vegas, we went to eat at Gordon Ramsay BurGR, which is one of the most popular restaurants in Las Vegas. We were so lucky that there was a very short line on that day. Everything was so yummy. The restaurant also had a lot of great desserts—sticky toffee pudding push pops.
At Arches National Park, we visited only one attraction, which was Landscape Arch. Unluckily, the tour did not give us enough time to hike to Delicate Arch, which is the symbol of Utah and a landmark in Arches National Park.
The most interesting place to me was Yellowstone National Park. Places such as Old Faithful Geyser, Grand Prismatic Springs, and Fountain Pain Pot were really awesome. Old Faithful is a cone geyser located in Wyoming. Old Faithful was named in 1870 during the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition and was the first geyser in the park to receive a name. It is also known as one of the most predictable geographical features on Earth, erupting almost every ninety-one minutes and lasting only four minutes.
Summer break is probably the best time to enjoy travelling to Yellowstone National Park, but if you plan to take a long trip and visit many areas, it is smart to pack clothing for various kinds of weather. You cannot expect every place to be warm or hot during summer. For example, the weather in Yellowstone was constantly changing. It can be rainy, snowy, and sunny all in one day.
Taking a tour is a best option if you want to see many places in limited time. However, the tradeoffs are waking up early every day and limited time to spend at each location.