My top 5 memories of travelling with Trek
Regular readers will know I’ve been a bit of a cheerleader for Trek America, a small group US tour company aimed at 18-38 year old solo travellers which I credit with changing my life by quashing my fears and doubts of travelling alone, instilling my love of small group tours and adventure travel in general and leading to me forming many lifelong friendships. So it was with great sadness that I met the news that the company had been disbanded, another casualty of the effects of Covid on the Worldwide travel industry. Trek America wasn’t a baby in the World of escorted touring having started offering its unique adventures across the Americas all the way back in 1972, but global travel restrictions along with the logistics of how to operate group tours which essentially consist of up to 15 individuals crammed together on a minibus for much of the time in a World of social distancing, eventually made the business unviable.
At the grand old age of 34, I took the plunge and booked myself onto the 3-week Trek America Southern BLT tour, my first foray into solo travel and group tours and I loved it so much that I returned to the States just a few months later to join the company’s 3-week Northern BLT Trek. Since then, I have travelled with them through Alaska and introduced my sister-in-law the joys of small group travel when I won 2 places on their Deep South Tour. While I’m now more likely to plan my own self-driven road trips with some of the many friends I made on Trek and the news of the company’s demise came *just* as I was too old to join onto any more of their tours anyway, I still felt a huge loss at hearing its fate and especially thinking of all those who now won’t get to go through the experience of touring with them.
So to celebrate its existence rather than mourn its loss, here are my top 5 memories from the 4 tours I took with Trek America!
5. Partying in Vegas
Just three days into a 3 week trip, our stop in Vegas is mainly memorable because, unusually, it wasn’t how I’d ever spent my time in Vegas before.
Playing drinking games in the hotel followed by piling onto a ‘party bus’ on which we spent our time on board hooking up our own ipod and singing and dancing along to the cheesiest of cheesy pop tunes. Then catching the last 2 shows at the Bellagio dancing fountains before karaoke at an off-Strip dive bar until the early hours.
And yet we were still up reasonably early the next day to make the most of everything else Vegas has to offer. Only on Trek.
4. Learning about Civil Rights in Memphis
At completely the other end of the spectrum to the time I spent in Vegas on the Southern BLT but equally unforgettable was the afternoon I spent in Memphis on the Deep South BLT at the National Civil Rights Museum.
Compelling, humbling and thought-provoking, the museum took us on a journey through the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the US and Worldwide including a deeply moving look at the events leading up to the assassination of Martin Luther King before seeing the room where he died. A sobering experience.
Who knew Trek could be educational.
3. Monument Valley in the snow
A magical visit to Monument Valley a week into the Southern BLT. After an unexpected snow storm suddenly hit as we visited the Grand Canyon, it was on to Utah where we found the snow getting deeper and deeper.
Despite the weather making it impossible to do the complete tour of the Navajo Tribal Park site, the snow made the visit even more special bringing a serene calm over the area. And underneath a clear blue sky with the sun shining on it, the famous red rocks poking up from the valley floor looked even more beautiful covered in the heavy, white snow.
Still the moment from the tour we talk about the most.
2. Seeing Mount Denali in Alaska
Not strictly a Trek America memory as although I booked the tour of Alaska with them, I was transferred onto a tour with their sister company Grand American Adventures, but it still felt very much like Trek so I’m going to count it!
The highlight of a trip full of highlights, this expensive tour extra was worth every penny as we flew in a light aircraft over Denali National Park and finally caught sight of the until then elusive Mount Denali.
Only 30% of visitors to Denali National Park get to see Mount Denali and the weather had not been on our side while touring the park so having it suddenly come into view as we flew over the park was an amazing surprise and a strangely emotional experience.
Even without the appearance of Mount Denali, the scenic flight over glaciers and the Alaskan Range, followed by a glacial landing, was a wonderful, once in a lifetime, experience.
1. Wyoming & Yellowstone National Park
Despite it being a very National Park heavy tour, nothing could have prepared me for sheer beauty and spectacle of Yellowstone National Park. From bison and bear sightings to colourful canyons and of course, the famous geysers and geothermal activity, never has my jaw dropped so may time in such a short amount of times.
If it looks amazing in the photos, they don’t do it even the slightest justice. The park has to be seen to be believed. And as if that wasn’t enough, we continued from the park through its home state of Wyoming visiting the neighbouring Grand Teton National Park where we were met by more breath-taking scenery before spending the rest of our time in old west-style town of Jackson horse riding in the mountains and rafting through the rapids of Snake River. The one state on the tour I couldn’t wait to return to!
There are hundreds of other memories I could have mentioned from my Trek America trips – line dancing the night away in Nashville, listening to a jazz band play as we floated down the Mississippi on a New Orleans paddle boat, spending the day exploring the valley at Yosemite National Park, watching the sunset over Lake Tahoe, hiking in the amazing US National Parks, visiting the studios Elvis recorded at in Memphis… not to mention all the amazing food we ate, fun nights out we had and all the interesting places we stayed in.
Thanks for all the memories Trek America, you will be missed.
Find links to read about my adventures travelling across America with Trek here.