Post 1: Why, what and how
Hi, Rob here. The trip came about because of some Masters study I was pursuing on the events of 9/11 and God’s place in the aftermath of that horrible day. I didn’t want to study it abstractly. I had to go to the sites and experience it for myself. Also, I was keen to do another event with John Eldredge and the Ransomed Heart team in Colorado. I voiced these ideas to David and just like that the trip became an adventure that we would share together. Awesome!
As we started to share ideas it became clear that adventure and beauty were key components to the trip. So trips to Yosemite and Grand Canyon National Parks were planned. Connection was another component. We’ve made some good Facebook friends from the USA over the last few years and catching up with a few seemed necessary to making the trip more worthwhile. So with those elements in place we formed an itinerary. It was full but it proved to be excellent. The trip was all that we hoped it might be and more.
Last minute changes arose when the Boot Camp with Ransomed Heart got postponed but we went onto Colorado anyway and were deeply rewarded for that decision. It was a real highlight. So, below is our itinerary and a few brief comments.
Day 1, August 14. Flew from Auckland, NZ to San Francisco, USA. Arrived at 12.30 p.m, grabbed a car and got to our hotel mid-afternoon. Spent the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring the city. We grabbed a cable car, got on a boat to Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, ate and returned to the hotel.
Day 2, August 15. We spent the morning doing a bit of shopping, sorting phones out etc and then headed to Yosemite National Park via Golden Gate Bridge. It added some time but it was well worth it. We got to Yosemite a few hours later than planned but still saw some amazing views and a night sky from your dreams.
Day 3, August 16. We climbed Glacier Peak; a 7500 foot climb (approx.) which gave us great views of Half Dome and much of the Park. The views were stunning and the climb was enjoyable (yes you can drive up there but, really!). We saw a few other sights including giant Sequioas at Mariposa Grove and then headed to Anaheim, LA. Again we got there a bit later than planned which meant putting off seeing Santa Monica and Hollywood Boulevards.
Day 4, August 17. We joined with Jon, a Facebook friend, for a day at Disneyland and California Adventure Park. It was a great day and far exceeded my expectations.
Day 5, August 18. This was our big driving day as we headed to Williams, AZ via Palm Springs area, Joshua Tree National Park and Route 66. Stunning scenery, especially after Palm Springs and the traffic disappeared. We turned north at Twentynine Palms to join Route 66 and that was a fun drive.
Day 6, August 19. The Grand Canyon. We’ll write a lot more about this day but, put simply, we were blown away. If you can go, then go. We headed to Flagstaff for the night afterwards and it’s a classy looking little city.
Day 7, August 20. This was a fun day. We went to Winslow, Arizona to stand on a corner as in the Eagles song, ‘Take it Easy.’ It was a fun corner! They’ve made the most of it. Then we went to the Meteor Crater, which was cool, if a little overpriced and overhyped. Then we were headed to Vegas. We paused at Kingman for a bit more Route 66 shopping. From there the drive to Vegas takes you through the Black Rock Canyons to the Hoover Dam. It’s a great drive and the dam is worth stopping for. We got to Vegas and enjoyed a good meal, the Bellagio fountains, looking around Caesar’s Palace, a street act or two then crashed. Crazy city!
Day 8, August 21. We flew to Denver, Colorado, grabbed a car and headed south to Colorado Springs. Took the opportunity to do very little!
Day 9, August 22. We explored Manitou Springs on the outskirts of Colorado Springs. Our plan was to drive up Pike’s Peak but decided that we’d try Cog Railway instead. Excellent choice! This was a fantastic way to see the mountain.
Day 10, August 23. We met up with Alex from Ransomed Heart and enjoyed a sweet morning with a couple of the team and an ally from Texas. We did a rock climb (my first ever!) in Garden of the Gods (beautiful place) and then enjoyed a tour of their Outpost and a great meal together. We then drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park (another great drive), hired some camping gear and camped the night in the park. Awesome!
Day 11, August 24. Found a sweet little trek to a mountain lake in the morning. Then we headed off to Denver to fly to Washington DC.
Day 12, August 25. We hired a car and headed out to the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, PA. It was very well done and, again, a very enjoyable drive. We explored a bit of DC that evening.
Day 13, August 26. I went out to the Pentagon memorial and David explored around the White House. We met up for a Segway tour – highly recommended – and then explored some more afterwards.
Day 14, August 27. Caught the bus to New York City. Walked some of the High Line in Chelsea. Very cool but very busy.
Days 15, 16, 17 and 18. New York City: 2 Broadway shows, 9/11 memorial and museum, Times Square, Staten Island Ferry, Central Park, Museum of Natural History, New York Public Library, shopping, church services, Wall St and more.
Phew! Time for home. There’s not much we would change. God was good and we recommend a similar itinerary if you want to see a lot in a short space of time.