I’m home. No more traveling. No more late nights on the bus. No more sink showers. No more falling asleep under the stars. No more climbing canyons and scaling mountains. No more city exploring.
These past two weeks have been incredible. Our time on the Green Tortoise was beyond compare, and though it feels amazing to be back in my own bed and have a shower every day, I miss it a ton. And it’s literally been less than 48 hours since we said goodbye.
The last days of the trip were relatively uneventful as we basically just cruised down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco back to LA. We said goodbye (for real this time) to all of our friends still at the SF hostel early in the morning and set off for a day of exploring Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay. We were only at Santa Cruz for a short while, just long enough to walk down the boardwalk a few times, grab a bite to eat, and ride the Giant Dipper, the fifth oldest roller-coaster in the US (opened May 1924!) which was pretty cool. In Monterey, we coughed up $35 to spend the afternoon in the aquarium which admittedly was really awesome. Much bigger than the one in Boston. We watched the penguin feeding and walked around all the exhibits and sat in on a presentation on the great white shark. It was fascinating to learn about all the different things the aquarium was doing in terms of marine research. For some reason, even though I’ve never liked biology or had any interest in science whatsoever, I kept thinking how awesome that career path would be.
Once everyone was back on the bus, we drove for hours to our campsite under the redwoods of Big Sur. After a delicious dinner, we sat around the fire and ate s’mores and talked. This group was an older bunch and while Zoe was over the worst of her cold, I was feeling pretty sick with a sore throat and cough. Luckily one of our friends from the previous trip was on the bus as well as our roommate from the hostel so we stuck close with our little group and then called it an early night.
The next day was the most uneventful. We drove down to San Simeon State Park near Hearst Castle where we basically just laid out on the beach for a few hours relaxing. A few people went sea kayaking but it was actually not that warm and I didn’t want to risk getting sicker. The day warmed up, and the sun definitely did me some good. I’m a big believer in the healing powers of Vitamin D. By the time we got back on the bus, I was feeling considerably better (though my voice was still completely shot). After that, we just drove and drove until we reached our campsite at Pt. Mugu state park just north of Malibu. After dinner, we joined the group around the fire for a bit and then just stayed up talking on the bus until we fell asleep.
We arrived in Los Angeles in the morning, stopping by Santa Monica for a quick drop-off and then heading to Hollywood for the afternoon. My aunt picked me up at the hostel so I could have time to shower and get organized before my red-eye home that night. Zoe was staying with the bus for the rest of the day and staying in Santa Monica before her flight back to San Francisco the next day. After a sad goodbye and a promise that we would begin planning our next trip soon, I left.
This was an amazing trip. We made friends from all over the world, visited so many incredible places, and explored the west coast in a way we couldn’t have done otherwise. Major shout-out to our trip guides for the first and third leg, Kevin and Tess, and our guides for the Yosemite trip, Charles, Betsy, and Kati. I would recommend Green Tortoise to anyone looking for adventure, lifelong friends, and unforgettable memories.
Green Tortoise is what traveling is all about. Learning new things, immersing yourself in different cultures (without ever leaving your own country!), stepping way outside your comfort zone, rolling with the punches, sleeping wherever and whenever you can, surviving on caffeine, making friends all around the world, sharing experiences with people you might never see again yet will miss every day… It is everything I love about traveling and I hope one day soon I can do another trip or at the very least, bring everything I have learned to my next adventure.
When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… Grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.
Where will we go next?