19 November 2011 0 Comments

My trip to the USA

In June, it was time for Ciera to go back to the USA, as her working holiday visa was expiring. This was a pretty convenient time for me, as I was on my winter break from university which meant I could go with her. This was the first time I had been out of Australia so it was all pretty exciting.

Anaheim – Disneyland, Medieval Times

The first stop on this trip was in Anaheim California. During our time here, we stayed at the Carousel Inn. It was in a great location, right across the street from Disneyland and California Adventures. The hotel had a rooftop pool which was great at night when the fireworks in Disneyland were going off. You could also see all the key parts of both parks from there. Ciera’s friend Luci and her boyfriend Sterling were also in Anaheim at the same time as us. They were staying at a different hotel for a few days, but joined us and stayed at the same hotel as us a little later on the trip, on the days we visited the Disney parks.

Going to Disneyland and California Adventure (which is right next door) was one of the main things we did while in Anaheim. This was one of the best bits of the whole USA trip. We got a 3-day park hopper pass which allowed us to go to both parks for three consecutive days. There were lots of really fun rides at both parks. Normally I’m someone that doesn’t like most “scary” rides, but I really enjoyed the rides at Disneyland and California Adventure. Having said that, I wasn’t brave enough to ride on the Tower of Terror, which is one of the most popular rides at California Adventures. Ciera didn’t ride it either. Maybe one day we’ll be brave enough to ride it, but not now :P.

While in Anaheim, we also visited a beach, and went to Medieval Times. Medieval Times is a “dinner and show”; you eat food while watching medieval-style games like jousting and sword fighting. The knight whose section we sat in ended up winning!

This was my first time to Disneyland (obviously), so it was a really amazing experience for me. We’re both a child at heart, so thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Our feet hurt after walking for three days, but it was worth it. I’d definitely go again!

Lewiston / Clarkston

We spent around half of our time in Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington. They are border towns located in a valley, and form one little community even though they are in different states. A lot of Ciera’s family and friends live in the area which was the reason we decided to stay here. For most of our time in the area, we stayed with two of Ciera’s friends (Craig and Sassy). They’re pretty lucky and own their own house. We’re both really grateful they let us stay with them!

On the 4th July, we had a small party with some of Ciera’s friends. This gave me a chance to meet some of her close friends, and spend time with some new people. It went pretty well, and I got to meet some pretty cool people. The day after, we finalised our Australian residency visa application and submitted it (speaking of which, it was granted two weeks ago).

One thing I noticed in Lewiston that I found a little odd – There were Pepsi logos everywhere. Supermarket? Pepsi logo. Gas station? Pepsi logo. School? Pepsi logo. Now, I’m not sure if this is due to a lot of places getting paid by Pepsi to do so, or if everyone just really loves Pepsi. Maybe they’re very boldly proclaiming that Pepsi is better than Coke (which is true, by the way). But it was something I didn’t see in any other place we went in the USA.

Portland

After staying in Lewiston for a while, we decided that we’d visit Ciera’s dad in Portland. We drove there (road trip!) from Lewiston. Ciera’s mum drove us half way, and her dad drove us the rest of the way. He has a very nice house and lives in a pretty nice area. Portland was the only area we stayed in that had reasonable public transport. This came in handy and helped us get around without a car.

Portland was a really interesting area, reminding me a little of Melbourne. There was a place called OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) which is somewhat like a Portland version of Melbourne’s Scienceworks (which we’ve been to before). The Game On 2.0 exhibition was on display while were there, which was cool as I had been to the previous Game On exhibition in Melbourne. OMSI also has a really massive IMAX cinema, the Omnimax, which has a dome screen. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the time to go there. Maybe next time we’re in the USA we can go!

Another awesome place we went to in Portland was Powell’s Book Store. This book store is massive, it’s the largest independent book store in the world. It’s so big that it occupies a full city block! I was impressed, as I’ve never seen a book store anywhere near this big before. It was pretty cool looking around and seeing the massive range of books they stock.

We also went to the Portland Saturday Market. Despite the name, the market is open on both Saturdays and Sundays. It was very similar to the Queen Victoria Market.

After our stay in Portland, we went back to Lewiston for a bit, before I had to leave. To get back, we took a Greyhound bus. We had heard a lot of stories about… “interesting” people on these busses, but it wasn’t that interesting for us! The ride was long and relatively boring.

General Thoughts / The End

It was a really interesting experience for me. I had never been out of Australia, so going to a totally new country was pretty cool. There was a lot of similarity between the USA and Australia, but a lot of things were different. Food was insanely cheap, I couldn’t believe it! And portion sizes were incredible, way too big for people that aren’t used to it. I could barely finish small meals a lot of the time, haha. Also, 7-Eleven sells a lot more things. I bought a hat there!

The saddest part came at the end of the trip when I had to go home. Unfortunately I didn’t really have a choice, I needed to go back to Australia as I had university classes starting again. I left USA on 30 July, and got back to Australia on the 2nd August (in time to get ready for classes starting the 8th August). I really enjoyed my time there, and wish I could have stayed longer.

After being with Ciera for 13 consecutive months, it was time for us to part. This was extremely hard for both of us. However, knowing that we had applied for a partner visa helped, since I knew I’d be able to see her again. Now that Ciera has a residency visa, she can come back to Australia and stay for as long as she likes :D! More info on that front will be coming soon.

Until next time,
— Daniel (and Ciera!)