Posted in Travel

My First Solo Trip With Trek America: Days 7 & 8, Las Vegas

Welcome back to my Trek America series! Check out my previous post if you haven’t already, which is all about my time at The Grand Canyon. Just to let you know, there are links in this post but none are affiliate. This series is just for fun and sadly is not associated with Trek America, or anything else that I’ve linked, in any way!

The day we were all waiting for was upon us – today we were Vegas bound! Of course, it wouldn’t be a Trek trip if there wasn’t a bonus stop off, or a few, on the way. So to start the day off, we headed to a stretch of the old Route 66, which, as a America fanatic growing up, was almost as exciting as heading to Vegas itself.

We pulled up in to Seligman and I was instantly in love. It looked as though time had frozen in the 1980s, when the original Route 66 was to be no more. Trek has a blog post all about it, which I think does it more justice than I can.

We stopped here for short while, did a spot of souvenir shopping and took LOTS of photos, before moving on to our next pit stop en route to Viva Las Vegas.

Another novelty to me at 20 years of age, was American fast food chains. So imagine the excitement for my first In-N-Out burger… yep, these are the kind of things 20 year old me got excited about… to be honest, even now at 28 I’d be pretty thrilled.

We had a relaxed lunch and even all got a hat, which I still actually have to this day. Everyone laughed at me for not liking salad in my burgers, and then we all moved on to our next stop… nope, still not Vegas!

Our last stop off before the final destination, was Hoover Dam. I have to be honest, I wasn’t all that interested in visiting here… until I saw it. You’d think a dam is just a dam and nothing really to look at but the scale was incredibly impressive! We didn’t stop for long though and we were all keen to get going.

There wasn’t a lot further to go and I’ll never forget the moment “C” drove us in to Vegas and played “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC. The excitement was unreal. I think it was a little too much for me though because by the time we arrived, I was feeling nauseous and therefore didn’t eat any of the BBQ dinner that the camp sat down to, outside our hotel which was actually more like an apartment complex. Let that be lesson number one on what NOT to do in Vegas.

Instead of dinner, I had a little nap and woke up feeling a little better so I got ready for the night out ahead of us. A party bus was on the way… yes, I was under 21 but I was told I could drink on the bus, so that I didn’t miss out. One of the other girls in the group went to the check out for me during one of our shopping trips and so I had my own bottle of vodka… can you see where this night is going yet?

On the way out the door, I had a Tums to keep my stomach settled, and a handful of Cheez-Its. I picked up my bottle of vodka, a bottle orange juice and my very own plastic red cup and we piled on to the party bus.

I don’t have any photos from the night, which is a shame but then again – maybe it didn’t need to be documented!

The bus was like a mini nightclub on wheels, with a pole slap bang in the middle. I poured myself a drink and then another, then another… I took a sip and thought it tasted a bit too strong, but in my mind at the time, I thought that if I carry on drinking it then I can top it up later with more orange juice. Rookie error.

The rest of the night is a blur.

I remember being SO excited, staring out the windows, driving through Las Vegas at night and seeing everything lit up. I remember the token male of the group, a 6 foot tall Danish guy, dancing on the pole to Pitbull’s “Don’t Stop The Party”. I vaguely remember getting off the bus in downtown Vegas, realising that two thirds of my vodka was gone, and being in awe of the people ziplining up above, whilst Bon Jovi played on the screens. I remember repeatedly telling everyone how I’d seen Bon Jovi live twice, therefore realising I must be quite drunk and so then repeatedly asking what time it was. I remember that it was 8.40pm.

The next thing I remember is going to find a toilet in a casino and being told to make sure I don’t seem drunk, because I was underage… so I walked really stiff. Apparently I passed out in the toilet cubicle and was unresponsive for some time, before finally re-emerging, determined that I was fine. I don’t remember that but I remember suddenly being outside the casino being told to eat some pizza but I was adamant I didn’t need it.

After that, I have a very vague memory of being sick, then carried back to my hotel room and that’s it. The next morning I was told that as soon as I got back on the bus, I was past the point of no return and they had to turn round to take me back to the hotel.

I woke up mortified and covered in bruises. My glasses were missing and so was the bottom half of my outfit, I was still wearing the same top as the night before. I’d never had a hangover before but that morning… I felt like my head was going to explode.

My new friends had looked after me and they were concerned at first, as I was completely out of it, but apparently someone sneezed and I half heartedly said “bless you”, which was the sign that I would be ok! “S” stayed with me for the rest of the night and everyone else went on their merry way… to this day I’m absolutely gutted that I didn’t get to enjoy the evening properly and have never got drunk on an empty stomach since. I have however, vowed to go back to Vegas and make the most of it one day – now that I’m a little older and wiser!

I managed to get myself up and in to the shower, “C” came to check on me but I was too embarrassed to face him, so I stayed in the bathroom and “S” let him know I’d woken up and was ok.

Once I was dressed, I needed to find my glasses. Someone had taken them off my when I started being sick, not realising how badly I need them… “S” didn’t know who actually had them and I didn’t have a spare pair with me, so I was quite worried! Luckily, one of the other girls had kept hold of them for me – when she saw me up and about, she threw her arms around me and said how glad she that was I was alive! I must have been in a bad way the nigh before so I asked everyone how much I had embarrassed myself last night, did I say anything inappropriate etc… but what happens in Vegas, really does stay in Vegas and they all swore that there was nothing to tell me, and I shouldn’t worry. I couldn’t have been with a kinder group of people!

We all headed off together for a late breakfast, at Hooters hotel of all places.

Curly fries and fried chicken with blue cheese sauce… apparently not quite the hangover cure I had hoped it would be. There’s a hilarious photo of me, struggling to smile whilst eating that meal, which sums up just how bad I felt but unfortunately I can’t find it anymore, so you’ll have to just imagine!

The larger group split up after breakfast, so myself, “S” and another girl went off for an explore along the strip in the daylight. I was very slow and steady and to be honest, there’s not much to report of the day. It’s safe to say that my antics from the night before meant that I really didn’t make the most of the short time I had in Vegas. We’d initially planned to do all sorts, and the possibilities are endless so another Trek Travel Tip for you: don’t get too drunk on night one!

We popped in and out of different hotels to be nosey, had a wander round the very large and impressive Hard Rock Cafe and I also searched high and low for a tattoo shop. I went through a phase of collecting tattoos from different locations, and I couldn’t miss out Vegas.

Weirdly though, there didn’t seem to be many tattoo places on the actual strip itself but I’d noticed that in the Hooters hotel there was one tucked away by the pool – as you do! The two girls were gracious enough to accompany me for the evening so that I didn’t have to go alone. I picked out a desert scene with an 8 ball from the flash art and although the experience was generally a little shady, I went for it.

By the time we left, it was around 9pm and we were starving. The three of us decided to go back to the hotel and order a pizza, rather than do anything else too extravagant! Here’s a funny story though… without paying too much attention to the measurements on the menu, we thought we would just go for the biggest option, as it was for 3 of us to share. The size of the thing that turned up was hilarious and I’ve never seen a bigger pizza since!

As I said, there is SO much to do in Las Vegas, and when we first arrived the group of us had talked about doing all sorts, but alas… We called it an early night so all in all, you can see why I said this is what NOT to do in Vegas… although it has been a funny story to tell in the years since.

I went to bed that night with a mixture of emotions. It would be Christmas Eve the next morning and my first Christmas away from home, but in all honesty I didn’t actually mind at all. In fact, I never wanted the trip to end. We had just two days left and I started to feel really sad that it was nearly over… but not over yet so I’d have to make sure to enjoy the rest of the time as much as possible!

Stay tuned for my final instalment which covers Death Valley, Christmas Day in LA and saying goodbye…

Posted in Music, Travel

Top 10 Road Trip Songs

There is nothing that completes a road trip more than a good playlist. The music you have on during a long journey can really either make or break trip.

Of course, everyone has different tastes and therefore different opinions on what constitutes an awesome playlist, but these are my personal top tracks and the reasons behind them.

In no particular order:

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody

Okay, come on, we ALL know the words to this one right?! This song is totally infectious and an undeniable classic. One of my favourite road trip moments was driving through the Lake District with a car full of friends – after a VERY long day sat in Bank Holiday traffic. We were having a bit of Queen run on the playlist and this came on, we turned it up full blast and all belted it out word for word, all the while passing by the beautiful scenary, head banging away. It was pure brilliance.

Maroon 5 – Moves Like Jagger

This song brings back memories for me of a family trip to San Francisco, rather than an actual road trip, but it’s a great song and so I thought I’d still include it. The trip was around the time that this first came out and I was totally obsessed. My mum and I were stood in a tacky souvenir shop when it came on over the speakers, I danced along without a care in the world and from then on my mum always tells me how it’s my song. It makes us both think of each other now, which I think is sweet so when I am on a trip away from home listening to it… I’m reminded of family.

John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads

“Almost heaven, West Virginia…”

The lyrics and mellow beat to this song really make me reflect on days on the road, and how bloody lucky I am to have seen some of the places that I have. It’s almost a sad song really I think, but I have so many treasured memories that this conjures up, that it’s impossible not to belt it out! West Virginia is definitely one of my favourites and oh the memories from there… including moonshine tasting, which is mentioned in the song! If you’d like to hear more about my West Virginia stories then well, you’ll need to follow my blog.

Whitesnake – Here I Go Again

The ultimate solo travel song! Listening to this now makes me feel like I’m gazing out of an aeroplane window, off on another adventure, all alone. I might now know what’s to come, but I sure know where I’ve been! Plus, it’s an absolute classic tune, so what could be better? Sing it with me… “Like a drifter I was born to walk alone.” If you’re ever travelling alone and feeling a little lost, like you’ve made a terrible decision to go it alone, or just generally a bit lonely (let’s not pretend it doesn’t happen) this is the song for you. You’ve got this.

Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way

This song gives me similar vibes to “Here I Go Again”. Sometimes you just need a reminder that you’re on the right path and sometimes that can mean leaving people behind too. This song to me always felt like letting those people go, knowing I’ll be just fine, but also a reminder to yourself to go your own damn way. Another “you’ve got this” tune. It’s got me through some tough times for sure but it’s also an absolute jam for a road trip.

Frank Sinatra – Theme From New York, New York

I’ve been lucky enough to visit New York City not once, but twice. There really is no city like it. You know how it is in the movies? It’s literally like that, you really do feel like you could be in a movie whilst walking the streets there (or maybe it’s just me and my overactive imagination). Frank Sinatra describes the feeling to a tee in this classic tune. The first time I was there, I’d been staying in Newark and got the train in, where the station exit then takes you right in to Times Square. It was a Saturday night, so you can imagine the hustle and bustle, I felt like I should be in my own video montage, with this song blaring in the background. It was an increcible feeling and I’ve never felt like that arriving in to any other city.

Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run

I’m sure this song has featured on many road trip playlists, as it is yet another classic. The words “born to run” really hone in on the feeling of wanderlust, like you are literally born to be on the move and always exploring. For a long time this song really resonated with me, as I felt I’d never be able to settle and nowhere ever really felt like home… this has changed for me now, but it’s still a good jam!

AC/DC – Highway To Hell

AC/DC are the absolute best band, and I dare you to try and fight me on that! No kind of playlist is complete without at least one of their tracks. Our tour guide played this to us as we entered Las Vegas and it was one of those awesome moments of togetherness, and sheer excitement to be somewhere so special… before the carnage ensued! Hell of course is a good place in this context, no one wants to feel like they’re in actual Hell when on a road trip.

Rusted Root – Send Me On My Way

One of the purest and most memorable moments while travelling in New Zealand for me wasn’t any kind of adventurous activity, in fact I don’t even remember where I was when it happened. I was on a hop on/off tour bus and this song started playing. The whole bus, or at least everyone in my vicinity, lit up and sang and danced along. It was such a moment of joy for me and it’s really stayed with me, it really summed up travelling and meeting new friends, just feeling carefree – it’s a memory and feeling that I’ll definitely treasure.

Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes – Time Of My Life

To be honest, I think this one goes without saying. There’s no specific reason behind this other than I’ve had the absolute time of my life on many road trips and hopefully many more to come! Plus, I think you’d be lying if you say you don’t know all the words… Forget wanderlust, this could be love!

Bonus Tracks! Sorry, there’s just too many good songs… let me know in the comments if I should do another post like this!

SIX60 – White Lines

I’ll forgive you if you don’t know this one, but I would urge you to listen to SIX60 on repeat as soon as you’ve finished reading this post. I was introduced to SIX60 a few days before New Year’s Eve whilst travelling the South Island in New Zealand. There was a lot of talk about how to spend New Years and where the best place to be was. I was due to be in Wanaka and had NO idea what to do, to the point that I considered rearranging and heading to Queenstown. I felt like it needed to be epic so when I was told there was a music festival near Wanaka, I was quite interested. There’s this Kiwi band ringing in the new year, you should definitely check it out, I was told. It wasn’t pricey at all and so a few of us that had met along the way went for it – there’s a whole other story to this but I will say, it was SO worth it and I’m glad I didn’t change my plans. The midnight fireworks went off, we did the countdown (yep, the wrong way round) and then this song played. Now I’m always reminded of the amazing times I had in New Zealand and to be honest, I can’t do any journey without giving it a listen!

The Bellamy Brothers – Let Your Love Flow

I don’t have a story behind this song really, it’s just a pure feel good song that I wanted to end the post with!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my picks for the ultimate road trip playlist, you can listen to all the tracks below. See you again soon, happy travels! xo