Making our way through middle America by bus
27.11.2011 9 °C
We left big, bad Vegas at 6 in the morning and made the 6-hour Greyhound journey to Flagstaff, Arizona. The small town had a nice country feel with old fashioned buildings and little streets, which we walked through to get to our Motel just outside the centre. We were shattered from the bus ride (and from the fun in Sin City) so we spent the rest of the day chilling out in front of the TV.
The main reason for visiting Flagstaff was its closeness to the Grand Canyon, so the next day we got a 2-hour shuttle bus from the town's visitor centre to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. As its one of the 7 natural wonders of the world we were very excited, and from the moment we stepped up to the edge of the huge gorge it took our breathe away!
The park had a number of walking treks along the rim, we decided to go for Hermits Route for about 5 miles, taking in the magnificent views the whole time. After having a bite to eat at Hermits Rest we hopped on the free shuttle back to the park centre before checking out other Routes.
By the afternoon the weather had gone from clear blue skies to windy with luming dark clouds, and on the shuttle bus back to Flagstaff the heavens opened with hail, rain and lightning. Little did we know though that overnight the weather would change again, to snow! Whoop!
We got a foot of lovely white snow, which made the small town even more picturesque, so we spent our last couple of days in Flagstaff exploring the local area and playing in the snow. It was certainly a surprise for us as we expected nothing but sun in Arizona!
On Monday 7th November we caught the local bus to the town centre before catching a 6-hour Greyhound bus to Albuquerque, New Mexico. The journey went pretty quick, we actually met some nice guys on this trip which made a change from the strange characters who we have come across on the Greyhound so far!
A short taxi ride from the station and we had arrived at our motel. We had just 1 full day here so the next morning we were up early, ready to see what the largest city in the state had to offer.
If we are honest there wasn't a great deal at all to see, but we did enjoy a fantastic lunch at the classic Route 66 Diner. We ordered a milkshake each, which were the biggest milkshakes you have ever seen and they tasted soooo good. We shared some fiesta fries at the same time, and it was all we needed as there was plenty to eat.
The next day we were packed and at the bus station ready to continue travelling east. Our next destination was Amarillo, Texas, purely for the novelty of saying we'd been (plus we wanted to walk round singing the Tony Christie song lol).
It took 5 hours to get there, and as our Motel wasn't far from the bus station we decided to walk it to save some money. However after half an hour it had gotten dark and we realised we were in a pretty rough-looking neighbourhood, of course sticking out like hell with our massive backpacks. We went into a gas station where the clerk found it rather amusing 2 english people were in Amarillo, and she ordered us a taxi. Lesson learned!
Amarillo was a quick stopover on our trip, as the place didn't have much going on. The most notable part of being there was the fact it was our 10-year anniversary on 10th November. :-) Unfortunately we couldn't find any good restaurants nearby, so we decided to save a celebration for our next stop, Oklahoma City.
A relatively short 5-hour bus trip got us to OKC, the journey went quite quick as a woman sitting near us asked us to help her with her 1-year old son who was getting restless. She passed him to us and he calmed down, funnily enough she made the most of not taking him back straight away!
Once we arrived in the city it took an easy bus ride to get to our Motel on the outskirts of town. We were staying at America's Best Value Inn, which included a free continental breakfast, so we were up early for that the next day. We headed back into the city on the bus and went exploring, starting with the National Memorial of the 1995 bombing.
The memorial site was where the original building used to stand, and it included a garden with chairs symbolising each of the 168 people killed in the explosion. There was also a reflective pool and heartfelt messages from family members on the fence outside.
Later on we took a bus to Stockyards City, an old western-style part of town with cowboy shops, restaurants and the worlds largest cattle market. It was here we decided to dine at the famous Cattlemen's Steakhouse, featured on one of our favourite shows, Man Vs Food.
The restaurant opened in 1910 and is known for serving some of the tastiest steaks in the US. The biggest of these is the Presidential T-Bone steak, named by George Bush Snr when he visited Oklahoma. Phil decided to go for it (when in Rome!) while Kayleigh went for a fillet steak wrapped in bacon. The steaks were absolutely gorgeous, and along with the fries, salad and bread to go with them we were stuffed by the end. Good times!
For the remaining time in OKC we relaxed at our Motel, whilst planning our journey onwards over a Domino's pizza (tut tut tut!) In the end we made the decision to carry onto Memphis, Tennessee.
A longer bus journey of 8 hours got us to the city of Memphis, the home of the king of rock n roll. The first day we decided to take a trip to the legendary Sun Studios, where Elvis was first discovered along with countless other artists like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.
We were taken on a 45 minute tour of the recording studio, hearing stories and classic recordings from the past 60 years. It was great fun!
While in Memphis we had heard that the city was famous for its BBQ'd food as much as its music, so we headed Downtown to check it out. We ended up at Superior Bar & Grill on Beale Street where Kayleigh feasted on Smoked BBQ Ribs (fit!) and Phil had a jumbo BBQ Beef Sandwich (yum!), all while sipping beers and listening to the live blues singer on stage.
Originally we had planned only to stay in Memphis for a few days, but with Thanksgiving fast-approaching travelling during the holidays was ill advised. So instead we booked ourselves into a motel for a week, which was good as we still had some sights in Memphis we wanted to see like the Mississippi River.
As well as sightseeing we took the time to relax and make the most of not travelling, as we've done quite a few bus journeys in the US. On one day we took the Memphis Trolley (tram) to Midtown where we watched Twilight : Breaking Dawn at the cinema. Kayleigh did not want to miss it! It was fantastic.
Its hard to believe but we're now down to the last 2 weeks of our trip! We'll try and keep you updated on our whereabouts, we're getting excited to see everyone back home for Christmas. :-)
Loads of love,
Kayleigh & Phil