BRYCE Yourself – California & The Canyons

BRYCE Yourself – California & The Canyons

BRYCE yourself, because the trip is moving fast towards the end, yet there is still so much to do! Bryce Canyon took our breath away, both because of its spectacular views and also because of the major hike back up the canyon which was a challenge that each of us conquered! This was great practice for viewing something as Grand and wonderful as the Grand Canyon the very next day when we stopped over in Flagstaff, Arizona. The ‘Canyon’s’ portion of our trip did not disappoint our eyes, or our cardiovascular health.

With one more adventure lined up we headed towards Scottsdale Arizona and jumped in four Pink Jeep Tours, which drove us through, up, around, and down the rocks and rifts of the scenic Sedona Red Rocks.  We saw rocks that looked like mushrooms and princesses, we stood atop plateaus from which you could see nothing but mountains of glorious red stone, we jumped for the camera, and even did headstands. The beauty was more than we could have imagined, and our seatbelts were our true friends as we bumped through the rocks in our bright pink jeeps.

Although those jeeps held the last of our planned adventures, they were not the first or last of our memories. From day one we started forming a family, with all of the fun and frustration that comes alone with it. We leave each other after a day of relaxing by the pool, picking out the perfect banquet outfit and reminiscing about the highs of
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From Palm Trees to Tumble Weeds – California & The Canyons

From Palm Trees to Tumble Weeds – California & The Canyons

Hello all!

After leaving California and saying goodbye to our two week trip members as well as our staff Josh and Jordan, we have left the coast for the desert of the Southwest. We watched palm trees turn to tumble weeds as we approached the iconic sights of the Vegas strip. Our group settled in to the Monte Carlo and wasted no time making ourselves comfortable. There was a DJ playing music at the pool and we all enjoyed floating in the lazy river and playing in the wave pool as the tunes played! After an Italian dinner we walked the strip taking in sights such as the Bellagio water fountains and the Venetian shops. The following day was our adrenaline day of Las Vegas. We rode rollercoasters at both the New York New York Hotel as well as the Stratosphere where we started our rides at over 800 feet in the air! With plenty of time to walk around taking pictures, explore the shops, swim, and even enjoy a bit of a sleep-in morning, our time in Las Vegas left us refreshed for the end of the trip.

Next up was our final two nights of camping as we drove through Utah to Bryce Canyon. On the way we stopped by Zion Canyon for a short hike to stretch our legs under the red rock cliffs. It was a perfect introduction to the third state (or fourth when you consider our boat cruise in Lake Tahoe) of our trip. On our
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From the Bellagio Fountains to Massive Canyons! – The Adventurer

From the Bellagio Fountains to Massive Canyons! – The Adventurer

Hi again!

Whoever said you needed to be 21 to have fun in Las Vegas obviously never went on the Adventurer!

We arrived in this oasis in the desert and immediately went to the happening pool. Some of us enjoyed the lazy river and wave pool, while others, including Natasha and Dana soaked up the desert sun and enjoyed the people watching. That evening, we enjoyed an Italian feast at Buca di Bepo, with a delicious 3 course meal, with 2 different salads, a few different pastas, a chicken dish and the most delicious eggplant parmesan we have ever had. Oliver and Jacob left with very full bellies. We walked through the Bellagio and saw the amazing garden and flower themed ceilings and made our way to the light/water show. We found a nice spot for all 38 of us and watched the magical show. We couldn’t believe they run every 15 minutes – what a production.

The following day we went to the Stratosphere and made our way all the way up to the 112th floor to ride the “Big Shot”. We’re sure you were able to hear Kerri and Jill screaming all the way from home, while Zach kept his cool and enjoyed the view from way up there. We then had lunch at Caesar’s Palace (rumor has it a few of the boys used the famous “Hangover” quote and asked if the real Caesar lived there – we won’t name names). Ryan B, Alyssa, Sydney and Ryan M. were spotted
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Sandy San Diego! – California & The Canyons

Sandy San Diego! – California & The Canyons

San Diego brought us sunshine and surfing. Upon arrival in the beautiful city we headed straight to the beach and geared up to take on the waves. While one group was chowing down on our amazing boxed lunches on the beach, the other group was in the water learning how to catch some waves. Though the waters were pretty calm that day, we did see trip members gliding on the sea as if they had surfed a million times before.  After stretching our arms after paddling to catch some waves we headed to Seaport Village where we ate dinner by the ocean and visited shops solely for mugs, magnets, and stuffed animals before enjoying an ice cream cone or two.

Sleep was much needed for our group and our perfect beds provided just the right amount of rest before waking up to see the San Diego Zoo in the morning. We rode on the top level of the bus tour, which provided the right view for seeing the largest animals in the zoo, the elephants and giraffes. We were very lucky to have come at a time when all three of the polar bears were out cooling off in the pools, though we did not see any movement from the Koala bears who spend anywhere from 20-23 hours of each day sleeping.

The afternoon provided sunshine by the pool and preparation for the ultimate nighttime activity – LASER TAG! Although the high scorers of the night ended up coming from the staff,
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Dancing to the Finish – Costa Rica Community Service

Dancing to the Finish – Costa Rica Community Service

After our latin dance lesson, we can safely say that our group has reached optimal bondage.  Trip members danced salsa and merengue at Hotel la Rosa de America, performing dips and spins under the stars between the pool and the palms.  How’s that for Costa Rican nightlife?!  There were many laughs as trip members tackled new move after new move, until eventually each pair of dancers had enough of a repertoire to dance a 20 second showcase.  Everybody made their partner look good, which is the sign of a well-gelled group.

Many of us skipped our routine coffee at breakfast the following day to leave room for some of Costa Rica’s most famous gourmet java.  We ventured to a coffee farm and roasting facility called Café Britt.  Noah was selected as the honorary coffee taster for the tour; the tour guides taught him how to taste a coffee and why it must be slurped loudly (to give the coffee maximum oxygen for the full taste).  Noah’s good manners got in the way of his technique at first, but after a bit of coaxing (and coffee) he was slurping aggressively in no time.   Meanwhile, Hannah received a crash course on how to be a coffee bean picker… and how to look good doing it!

The following day, we made like Captain Jack Sparrow and set sail for the isle of Tortuga just off the west coast.  To get there we sailed between little islands, some of which looked a lot like giant
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Scenic Sedona & Final Farewells – The American Voyageur

Scenic Sedona & Final Farewells – The American Voyageur

Hello Everyone!

It is with a heavy heart that I update this blog for the last time. Since our last post we traveled to Sedona and Scottsdale. While in Sedona, we got to take a ride on the famous Pink Jeep Tours and see some of the beautiful rock formations of the area.  Arizona is really beautiful and has so much natural variety to look at.  We also got the opportunity to explore the little town and all its fun shops. Later that night, we travelled to Scottsdale and had dinner and playtime at Dave and Busters where some trip members acquired a record 2000 tickets playing different games. It was an awesome day.

It has been a wild 6 week ride, but it’s one none of us would trade for the world. Yesterday (our last full day), we all had a bit of a sleep in and then we got to have an awesome lunch at the CHEESECAKE FACTORY! We have all been waiting for this lunch the entire trip and the food, especially the dessert did not disappoint. We then hung out by the pool and it was especially nice because we were all together, maybe for the last time in a while.  Last night we had our final banquet with music, dancing, and a lot of warm fuzzy writing.  Warm fuzzies are when we write nice notes to one another to read later. We also watched a slideshow, expertly put together by Jon, of all the best photos from
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Starstruck in the City of Angels – California and the Canyons

Starstruck in the City of Angels – California and the Canyons

 

Los Angeles, the city of stars where all of our trip members were the stars of their Westcoast trip! The thrills began upon arrival when we headed right to Universal Studios where the entire group hopped onto the Studio Tour tram and saw the truth behind the many city scenes that have been filmed at Universal. Our tram took us through Jurassic Park, Fast and the Furious, Jaws, and Wisteria Lane of the tv show Desperate Housewives. After that it was back to the park where we spent the day running from ride to ride trying to soak it all in before heading to the City Walk for more exploring and a Rockin’ dinner at the Hard Rock Café.

Our time spent in LA was diverse and gave us so many opportunities for thought, reflection, and fun. This was true of our visit to the Museum of Tolerance where we learned about injustices of the past, and those still happening today. Students learned so much from their guide and one group even got the chance to meet a Holocaust survivor and hear about her story.

A fulfilling morning was followed by a full afternoon as we headed to Rodeo where Trip Director JP met a former Liverpool soccer player and current LA Galaxy star, Stephen Girard and a group of Trip members met an actress from Entourage. All of this before getting a 20% discount at Roots California store because our very own Trip Leader Danny has been featured on the Roots
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Cities and Sights Galore!

Hello Everyone!

It has been a while since we had an update from our trip! Things have been so crazy in the past week so there is lots to report!

We last left off in San Diego where we had the most incredible jam-packed day complete with the San Diego Zoo and a whole afternoon of surfing! The zoo was so much fun! We got to see a panda bear birthday party (complete with cake) and went on a tour of all the exhibits on a big double decker bus.  Most of us had never seen a zoo that big before and we all remarked that there is a reason it’s so famous. Surfing was definitely a highlight for everyone on the trip.  We had an authentically Californian afternoon hanging out at the beach and surfing (HANG TEN DUDES!!).  We all got wetsuits and a personalized lesson and then we hit the waves.  Most of us had never been on a surfboard before and I am so proud of everyone for how they fared in the ocean. Everyone got up on the board at one point or another and some people were actually able to catch some waves without the instructors by the end of the day. You couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces the whole time – it was so nice to be out splashing around in the ocean with all of our trip family.

The next day we headed out to VEGAS BABY!  Vegas was unlike anything most of us
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Friendship and Fun in our Final Days

Dear family and friends of the American Voyageur,

We just had the most amazing last few days here in Arizona!

After traveling from Flagstaff to Sedona, we headed to the Pink Jeep Tours that gave us a look at the natural rock formations that make Arizona so beautiful. It was a bumpy ride, but such a thrilling adventure. We also enjoyed eating lunch and exploring the town of Sedona. We then drove to Scottsdale and headed to Dave and Buster’s for dinner. After dinner we hit the arcade where Will F. wowed us all by winning over 7,000 tickets and Matty traded in his tickets for 23 bouncy balls.

We started Day 39 off at the Cheesecake Factory where we had a fun group lunch reminiscing about our last six weeks. After enjoying the yummy cheesecake we headed back to the hotel for some final fun in the sun at the pool. After the pool, all the trip members took some time to get ready for our final banquet where we all got together for one last meal as well as for some dancing and celebrating. The night finished off with the handing out of paper plate awards, watching a video montage and writing each other goodbye notes to read on the plane.

The last 40 days have been filled with fun, laughter, new friendships and even more memories! We are all sad to see the summer end but hope to keep in touch with our new friends.

Thank you so much for giving us
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A Final Farewell from Our Family

Hello for a final time from Trip 9,

We don’t even know how to begin this because it feels unreal that our trip has come to an end. To end in San Francisco has been surreal! We’ve visited Alcatraz, Pier 39, Ghirardelli Square, Chinatown, Lombard Street, the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito.

To the family and friends of all of our trip members, thank you. Thank you for allowing us to travel the country with them. We know it must’ve been hard not having them around for 40 days, but the memories we’ve shared together will last a lifetime. We started in New York as 26 strangers, but we are leaving California as a family. We couldn’t have asked for a better group of trip members, and we know that each of them had the time of their lives. We’ve been asked multiple times by some trip members if we can start the trip over – how they would do anything to start the Day 1 icebreaker games over. We’ve seen a lot, visited a lot, and participated in a lot of activities. We’ve gotten to know each other inside out, and we know leaving will be extremely hard. But, we also know that having something to miss means that you had the time of your life.

The staff on Trip 9 would like each of you to know that your trip members are some of the greatest teenagers out there. It’s been an absolute pleasure being their staff, and we hope that
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