I vividly remember the first time I set foot on American soil. I was 22 years old, had just left university and was looking for adventure. I had enough money to last me several months thanks to a lucrative summer job back in the UK, and nothing to do but spend it. The sun was shining in New York when my plane landed, and as I walked out of the terminal and got into a yellow cab, the possibilities for fun seemed endless. And I was right – those four months were some of the best of my life.
Since then I have often thought of what I would do if I could have my youth again. I made a list on my first transatlantic flight of things I wanted to do, and I managed about half of them, but some I wasn’t able to, mainly due to the cost. One day though….
Harley Davidson Road Trip
At the age I was over there, the cost of insurance for this would have wiped me out, but I think it might have been worth it. This is probably one of the most iconic American images there is – straddling a gigantic hog and powering down the highways. The ride of choice for the Hell’s Angels, the most stylish form of travelling on two wheels, the ultimate symbol of American independence. You can hire one and take off on your own, or join an organised tour that covers some incredible territory. I had my bike license, but I did worry that I wouldn’t have been able to handle the sheer brute strength of a Harley D. Nowadays – I’d love to give it a try.
Is this the most famous road in the world? It’s certainly one of the most ingrained in popular culture. It ran from Chicago to California, almost the entire length of the states from east to west, and it gained notoriety as one of the main routes people took during the Great Depression, as they headed for salvation on the west coast. Nowadays it’s a popular tourist trail, getting your picture taken at a roadside sign, stopping for food in a semi-ghost town, but it retains it’s majesty. If I could have taken my Harley and ridden Route 66, I would have been a happy man.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail
Although there are literally thousands upon thousands of great hiking routes throughout the USA, the Appalachian Trail must surely be the most legendary. Traversing 14 eastern states, over 2000+ miles, this is an epic trek you can either do all in one go over months, or in small sections. I didn’t have any hiking gear with me unfortunately and didn’t fancy buying expensive kit when I would only have had time to do a few miles, but I did hike the New York stretch a few years ago. The Appalachian is for serious hikers – you can run into poison ivy, bears and snakes along the way.
Dog Sledding in Alaska
This looks like a lot of fun, I’m told it’s actually very hard work though. Essentially you load up a sledge with essentials – your tent, food and water, survival equipment, and then control a team of dogs as they pull you through the snow. Maybe control is the wrong word, the dogs will know the route a lot better than most of their passengers. I love the thought of swooshing through the snow, navigating the pristine environments of Alaska, and spending my evenings hanging out with a load of big dogs.
I think of all of these adventure holidays USA, surfing is the only one that would now prove beyond me. Doing it even half-well requires an incredible amount of skill, strength and stamina. I tried surfing once in Cornwall,. didn’t do very well. The prospect of tackling some of the giant waves in Hawaii though is, at my age, terrifying. Still I think it would be nice to sit on the beach, under a palm tree, watching other people do it as I relax with a margarita. I may try that instead.
Biog: Rob hasn’t been back to the United States since his youth except for business trips, but hopes to visit with his son some time in the next few years.