Across the Pond
I love America. There are no two ways about it; I simply love the USA.
So to be able to go, for 4 weeks, to my ultimate destination, to travel around taking landscape pictures for a University project, sounded like the dream situation. And it most certainly was.
I arrived in Los Angeles on April 11th, 2015, after having planned my trip over the previous six months. I’d been to this neck of the woods before so I wasn’t too taken aback by the culture difference here from the UK, but I will never fail to be in awe of LA. I spent the first week here with a friend who travelled with me from London, we did all the usual things people do when they come to LA: relax on the beach, take a stroll through the parks, drive into the hills and see Hollywood. We also managed to take a trip to Coachella, which was single-handedly the greatest musical experience of my life. The great music, paired with Californian sunshine and stunning surroundings all came together to create an astonishing atmosphere that is far different from anything we have in the UK. After Coachella had ended, we drove back to Los Angeles, and spent another night before I took my friend back to the airport to fly home to London. I then drove 450 miles north-east to Zion National Park, to start the most epic road trip of my life.
[Insider Tip for LA: If you find yourself in Calabasas like we did, make sure you visit the King’s Fish House and try the Mahi Mahi. You won’t regret it!]
Zion and Bryce Canyon were the first two American National Parks that I had visited ever since my first trip to the USA back in 2011 when I visited Death Valley, so I knew that I was in for a treat. As soon as I arrived, the one thing that struck me was the colour. The sun here is so bright that it brings out the colour in the rocks, the trees and the sky. I’ve never seen rocks that are redder than the ones in Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. It’s a photographer’s paradise. Once I had stopped gawking at the rocks in Zion, I drove the short distance north along the I-15 towards Salt Lake City. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I was only able to spend one night here, which meant I wasn’t able to experience this city in all its glory, but I will definitely come back. It seems like such a quaint city, with a remarkable history, and a glorious lake alongside it.
After Salt Lake City, I had my longest drive of the trip; 500 miles or so north to Glacier National Park. I took the scenic route through Idaho, along US-93 (following the Lewis and Clark Trail), crossing into Montana at the Lost Trail Pass, high in the Idahoan Rockies. I’d been told to see Lake McDonald when I arrived in Glacier so that was my first stop. Best decision I made on the whole trip. The water was so calm, that it reflected everything around it with a deep blue hue to it, and the trees were so still, that I could hear all the nature stirring around me. I’ll never forget Glacier.
[Insider Tip for Glacier: Visit during the summer, I visited here in late April and although the park was stunning and I had a great time, the park doesn’t technically open until mid-May so it meant not all the amenities and roads were open yet, which was a real shame!]
Following Glacier, I made a quick detour into Canada to see what is arguably the most recommended location to visit, Banff. I spent two days there, before crossing the border back into America to stay in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I feel like I am championing this place for everyone who lives there. It is one of the cleanest, friendliest, most welcoming cities I’ve visited, and it was so relaxed that it would definitely make sense to go there to get away from the big city.
Next up was Seattle, and I found myself falling in love all over again. My number one destination in the USA has always been Los Angeles, and in some ways it always will as it was the first place in the States that I visited 4 years ago, but Seattle is the right mix of West Coast lifestyle with East Coast values. I felt like I was in a smaller, West Coast version of New York City, which was odd. The oddest thing I found was that I actually felt at home in Seattle. There was just the right amount of London sophistication that I felt like I didn’t need to leave.
[Insider Tip for Seattle: Book your tickets for the Space Needle early in the morning for about 30 minutes before sunset that day and return at that time. You can watch the sun set from 560 feet above Seattle downtown.]