This is the last part of this adventure, and apologies from the Bearer that it’s taken so long. He’s one of those people who has a job!
The American Adventure – The Rest of It.
When we last left each other, I had just escaped from a flash flood in Death Valley. A flood that would be been very useful for my next destination, which was Yosemite Park. Some of you may be aware that last year Yosemite Park was ravaged by a huge fire. A fire on a scale that we cannot comprehend – to box round it I had to take a 150 mile detour. What didn’t come across for me on the news was the sense of community spirit and the vulnerability of the locals. Outside nearly every house I passed there was homemade signs praising the firefighters and offering their thanks. To us it was a few minutes on the news, for the locals it was a serious threat to their lives.
I arrived late at night at Yosemite Park, so didn’t have time to revel in its beauty; the next morning however I had time…lots of time…
It was astoundingly beautiful. My friend kept driving, missing a place to pull over and admire the beauty, swearing, driving on and then finding an even more beautiful spot just 500m further down the road. At times we both genuinely gasped when coming round a corner and seeing the World open up before us. Wonderful. We passed our time by driving, stopping, looking, taking hikes, it was so nice to be a bear lost in the trees, back in my real habitat. I was really hoping to see some bear-friends, but unfortunately none of them emerged from the woods. I can guess what they might have been doing.
We did however manage to see lots of other wildlife, which made a nice change to the hubbub of the cities I had been in recently. That evening we drove up to one of the peaks to overlook Yosemite Park, or parts of it at least. Watching the sunset was one of the most moving moments of the trip; we could not hear another soul.
Sunset gazed upon and awed over, we drove rapidly to our hotel for the night, a wonderful lodge with individual cottages set amongst the trees, it was really rather splendid. The next morning we drove on through more of the park and did some exploring, noting in the process the battle damage the car had taken through the trip so far.
Just after that photo was taken we saw an exciting mountain rescue; some unfortunately climber had fallen and hurt themselves. Luckily their injuries were no more severe than a cut head and a few bruises.
The next part of the trip consisted of a very quick drive back to San Francisco where we had a flight to catch. I must admit, I was not overjoyed at the prospect of flying San Francisco to Los Angeles to Miami to San Juan to Miami to Los Angeles to Honolulu to Hilo in the space of 36 hours. I thought it would be brutal. I was not wrong…Luckily however there was a short stop overnight in San Juan, which although was a place that I really did not gel with, and neither did my bear carrier, it was somewhere that I could appreciate others may enjoy.
(Ed: It should be noted that the side-trip to San Juan was conducted solely to acquire additional airline Frequent Flyer benefits, and should not be regarded as “normal” behaviour under any circumstances.)
Hawaii was somewhere I had not really thought of going to, it certainly didn’t fit my preconceptions of just being a beach resort, it’s so much more! We stayed in Hilo, which is on the Big Island, which is where the volcano is (more on that later). It’s an interesting island as the large part of it isn’t set up for tourism, you feel like you are visiting where people actually live and work. Because of that I found it to be a much more genuine place than the falsehood that America can so often drift towards – they even accepted me as a bear. First up for me and my bearer was the National Volcano Park, a large area which really cool lava flows (solidified now) and some really pretty natural flowers.
Part of the attraction is a large steam vent which looks impressive during the day and just plain eerie at night!
The next day saw us visiting a farmers market to try and track down some HONEY! Unbearably (sorry, couldn’t resist that) there was none, however it’s a great place to visit, with reams of local produce, including interesting jewellery, clothing, art and yummy treats to eat. But no honey…
Following the farmers market I made my way towards the airport via some more stunning scenery.
Why are our intrepid explorers heading to the airport you say? Well…we had a very special helicopter ride coming up! A ride with no doors, so we could peer unhindered over the lava flows and the landscape. Unfortunately I had to hear all about it from my bearer, as because the helicopter had no doors and no bear harness I was not deemed safe to fly. What is wrong with these people? We bears on the Holidays4Heroes Team are brave and intelligent, and most of us have done an operational tour of duty in Afghanistan. Oh, well, I obey orders.
The next and penultimate day was time to explore a bit further afield, we went to Mauna Kea to start with. A 13,800ft mountain with stunning views, a road to the top and 7 nations’ observatories. It was beautiful.
After a few minutes up top my bearer started to suffer with altitude sickness (it could have been a hangover, of course) and so we had to descend pretty quickly. This time we headed further away from Hilo and towards Kona beach, a more touristy area with a whole range of luxury hotels and delicious beaches. We arrived at the beach just in time to grab a pizza and relax on the sand, I won’t go into detail about the sunset, I’ll just let the photos do the talking…
And so it was time to leave Hawaii, a place that I will return to! My final destination was Boston, a city I had wanted to visit for many years. A city steeped in history. A city flowing with beer. What’s not to like? Hurrah, let’s get cracking! Walking around the city of Boston I was astonished, it felt like an American England, and I felt strangely at home (despite being a Canadian, oh what an International Bear I am). Boston is a city I wish I had more time to walk around, it had so much history, so much character and the people are just a blast! The first day was spent walking around the Freedom Trail, which takes you past many of the key historical sites and is well worth doing.
That evening consisted of a feast. A lobster feast. Now it’s well known that Bears are partial to Salmon, but Lobster is an acceptable alternative, I assure you! It was divine but I got a lot of lobster stuck in my fur!
The next day involved more walking and a lot of relaxation, it had been a long and tiring trip, so I was taking it somewhat easier in Boston – I did however get to go on the Sam Adams tour, which was good for a free tour, but not as informative as I was hoping. You do get free beer though! Speaking of free beer, the final night was going to be one to remember…free beer…at Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox! I was so excited. I had also chosen an important game to attend, a game where the Red Sox could win the title; I was a lucky bear! It was an evening of beer, food and celebration; making many new friends in the process.
My American adventure had drawn to a close, I felt happy at the prospect of going home, yet sad to be leaving a varied country where I feel very much at home. Farewell for now. I think I need a rest after all that! (Ed: You will, Amy … that will be the next News & Updates item, in a week or so!)
My trip looked roughly like this … over 25,000 miles by the time I’d finished. Not quite as impressive as Sgt Braille’s, but not a bad effort for the smallest Bear on the Team.