Wednesday 10 Jul, 2013

Checking one off the bucket list: Grand Canyon trip

Email Marketing Coordinator Ashley B. got to put a big check mark on her bucket list when she traveled with one of our tours to the Grand Canyon. I had the chance to chat with her about her experience in the American West.

Ashley B. got to join one of our tour groups for a Grand Canyon adventure!

Why did you pick the Grand Canyon tour?

I’ve always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, but I knew I would probably not make it there on my own. EF helped me check another destination off my list. The trip really inspired me to want to visit more of our National Parks.

Tell me a little about the group you were traveling with.

The Alaskan travelers pose with the group’s bus driver Steve.

The tour was made of groups from three states: Nebraska, Texas and Alaska. So in addition to getting to learn a lot about the Grand Canyon and the area we were visiting, all the groups got to learn from each other about the places their tour mates were from. The group from Alaska was especially interesting. They were from a small Eskimo village. Even little things were a learning experience…like how students from the different regions reacted to the heat of the Grand Canyon. The students from Texas didn’t seem to mind. The Alaskan students had packed sweatshirts (which they obviously didn’t need!) And as a Bostonian, I was surprised by the heat, too. I mean, it’s the Grand Canyon, you know it’s going to be hot, but it’s a very different kind of heat than coastal city heat.

A few travelers from every state–Texas, Nebraska, Alaska and Massachusetts (since Ashley is taking the photo) represented!

How was it traveling with the students?

Exhausting and inspiring.

It was an extremely eye opening experience for me and I know the students felt the same. Some of them had never traveled before, so it was great to watch them experience the tour and each other. (At first everyone stuck to their own group, but after a few days everyone felt like one big happy group.)

What did you think of the trip as a whole?

I never really traveled before I started working at EF. I’ve worked here for 5 years now and I have EF to thank for my sparked interest in international travel and cultures. This trip made me realize how much I was missing right here in the US.  There’s a lot of fascinating culture and history here. The trip also made me realize how little I’ve experienced and how much more I have to see.

Along a trail at Zion National Park

What was your favorite place?
ZION. Zion National Park in Utah was so beautiful and peaceful. It was also very family friendly and you didn’t have to be a hardcore hiker to enjoy it. (I was worried about that, but all the places we visited were great. You didn’t have to feel like you were an uber-outdoors person to enjoy it.) I am definitely going back to Zion. We had about 4 hours and we saw a lot, but there was definitely much more to see. They had these beautiful natural pools. I also enjoyed watching the many friendly squirrels around the park.

You were really taken with all the natural beauty.

YES! I was amazed by all of the natural art. As an art history minor and someone who loves to paint/create art during free time, I always make it a point to head to the local art museums when I am visiting a city. The Grand Canyon and the other places I visited on the trip were unbelievable. The experience was much more powerful than any painting or man-made piece of artwork I have ever experienced or seen. The sculptures, figures and natural “paintings” were amazing.

What did the students seem to like the most?

I think the students also enjoyed Zion the most. They had the most freedom there and were able to walk around on their own (in groups). A lot them also took a horseback ride through the trail, which was a first for many of them. It was also interesting to see how many of them love social media, constantly tweeting and posting pictures on Instagram.

When you think back on this trip in 10 years, what will be the first thing that comes to mind?

This is a tough one. But I really think I will remember this as my first big U.S. trip. I was able to go to a lot places for the first time in roughly two weeks. Before the Grand Canyon tour, I visited a few friends in other cities. I went from Austin – >Vegas ->Utah (Bryce/Zion->Grand Canyon). I also think I’ll look back at this as a huge part of my EF experience.

If you made me pick only one thing, it would be the view of the Grand Canyon.