And honestly, it feels like I never left. I don’t quite feel “at home,” which makes sense since I’m currently in Dallas/Fort Worth after visiting Los Angeles, Flagstaff, and Las Vegas – all places I’ve never been before.
But really, I’ve had an incredible couple of weeks back in the US. Our friend Sam (RPCV, Ethiopia) picked us up at LAX on November 9th and we had an intense couple of days trying to readjust…to the amount of sugar put in packaged bread, the giant portions at restaurants, and the faster pace of life here.
Some things were realized…I can no longer eat donuts, Chandler & I have to split one menu item per meal, and I should probably get a job instead of continuing to chop my money.
But other, more fun things, happened as well. We went grocery shopping…a lot. Which meant we were able to cook…a lot. Two things we had missed an insane amount – three months of eating every meal out isn’t as great as it may sound.
Sam also took us to the Santa Monica Pier. Even though I’ve spent the last two and a half years traveling, I had never seen the ocean from American soil. (So thank you, Sam!)
And after three days in LA, we began our road trip to the Grand Canyon, with our first stop in Flagstaff, AZ. The first thought that ran through my mind when we stepped into our room at the Super 8 Hotel was, “Man, American hotel rooms are NICE!” I had definitely forgotten how comfortable a bed could be – Sam was kind enough to blow up an air mattress for us, but nowhere I had been in the last two and a half years had a bed that could compare to Super 8’s.
The next morning it was up and at ’em as we made our way to the Grand Canyon – none of us particularly dressed for the occasion. Sam had forgotten to pack pants and Chandler and I were seriously lacking in warm clothing as well.
Luckily, my boyfriend had an (albeit dirty) fleece that he let me wear along with a hat and scarf I had bought in Bangkok. That was another thing I hadn’t fully grasped about the US – how cold I would feel here. I got the shivers in LA – when it was 65 degrees. Which meant the Grand Canyon – at a less reasonable 45 degrees – felt downright freezing.
But we soon forgot the cold as we took in the spectacular sights all around us. We only had the morning at the Grand Canyon, but it definitely filled me with a desire to return. Next time, I plan on making more out of my trip by spending a few days camping on the canyon’s base – I’ve even convinced my boyfriend to join me : )
As our time ran out at the Grand Canyon, we lamented having to leave, but were also excited about the next stage of our trip – Las Vegas. And more exciting than the city itself was the fact that once there, we were going to be meeting up with two more of our fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, Morgan and Ashley.
On the drive, we passed the turn-off for the Hoover Dam and thought, why not? Shouldn’t we see this? So we made a quick detour to check out another national site. It was actually pretty hilarious cruising around the dam – it was about to close for the day and we wanted to wander around before the daylight completely left us – which meant a lot of fast driving and fast walking.
After that, it was back on the road and into Las Vegas…
We couldn’t have been more excited for a weekend in Sin City, hanging out with friends. To be fair, we probably didn’t experience the city “correctly,” there was no gambling or excessive drinking, but we did find our way to a Cirque du Soleil show (Zarkana at the Aria). And had a pretty good time at that – minus the clowns!
I have to be honest, Vegas is a pretty sad city off the strip…or in the light of day haha but we had a great time catching up with each other in the Marriott’s Springhill Suites, grabbing bites to eat all over the city, and sampling Ol’ Jack Pumpkin Ale at Big Dog’s Brewery.
All-in-all, it was sad to say goodbye to everyone, but Chandler and I were still excited to continue our trip on to DFW. It may not be my home, but it is his. And for my next stop…MINNESOTA!