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Southwest USA Trip 2015

Students in Years 10, 11, 12 and 13 have embarked on a road trip across the Southwestern United States during October half term. The trip includes visits to San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, where students have learnt about the opportunities and challenges of building a city in a desert, the magnificent geology of the area and global tourism. This has aided their understanding of the GCSE units, Tourism and Water on the Land, and the IB units, Extreme Environments and Freshwater.

Newsletter article by Cameron Chamberlain, Year 11:

On Friday the 23rd of October, a group of 30 DGS students, Mr Attwell, Mr Kimber and Miss Tyler began our voyage to San Francisco and eventually Las Vegas. The journey started with a 6:15 meet at the Beckets sports hall where the students dragged their suitcases and slumped themselves onto the coach, many immediately falling to sleep. And before long we arrived at the airport where we swiftly checked in and found our seats on the plane.

After the long trans-Atlantic flight we gathered our stuff off the plane and took our first steps in the US. The wait for coach was long, but everyone was eager to arrive at our first stop and the excitement flooded throughout the group. On arrival at the hotel, we quickly made ourselves at to eat at the San Francisco port, and then collapsed in our beds.

The next day began with an early traditional American style breakfast and then a tour around San Fran where we were able to experience the different views and scenery that the city had to offer. Next, we ventured on a short trip to the San Francisco town hall, and the golden gate bridge, one of the monumental highlights of the trip.  We were soon to leave San Francisco, but couldn’t let our experience finish without seeing the city as a whole by climbing our way up the twin peaks. Here we were able to see exactly where our trip had started and marvel at the beautiful city as a whole. On our way to the next overnight stay we stopped at the San Francisco University of Science where we grabbed lunch and wandered around the exhibitions. This walk about time was to prepare us for the long journey we were to face next.

After an overnight stay in Bakersfield, we began the day with an early trip through the overwhelming Yosemite national park. The scenery and wildlife were breath-taking, and the views those that would be found in the UK. We began to venture to our next overnight stop, and with exiting Yosemite, an urge of excitement was spread throughout the bus. Everyone knew that after tonight, Vegas was our next big stop.  

Our journey to Vegas began with the longest coach ride yet, a 5-6 hour trip through Death Valley, a place of beauty created by nothing. We stopped off at several places along the way in order to top up with water and nutrients, a necessity when travelling through an area this hot and arid.

Excitement started to climax and a strong awareness and buzz was given off by the entirety of the coach. With Vegas just a speckle in the distance of our sandy surroundings, camera’s and phones were franticly retrieved and as we constantly ventured closer, the magnificence of the city exposed itself. Miraculous golden structures dominated the skyline and familiar architectural features provoked a sense of amazement. Our hotel, not too far from the strip gave excellent views and representations of what Vegas was really about. Everyone hurried themselves to their rooms were they got ready in a matter of minutes hoping to receive as much time as possible exploring the nightlife of the strip.  

After the short walk to the strip we stationed our self outside the Bellagio hotel, marvelling at the extravagant, exciting and vibrant scenery that surrounded us. The atmosphere of the whole of Vegas tingled the senses constantly, but soon this was calmed when the show started. The water show was, as many put it, magnificent, something very many had seen and would be able to see again.
At the end of the show, we were allowed some free time to explore the urban jungle, and experience just some of the night life Vegas had to offer.

After an early start off of a late night, we started our journey to the Grand Canyon, with just a backpack with us. On arrival at the Grand Canyon, expectations were high, but not quite on the level that the Canyon provided. Pictures weren’t able to portray the true landscape that was present and the depth and width of the Canyon was one that only the eye could capture. We went to a different part of the Canyon, where more and more pictures were snapped, and the more our eyes were able to adjust to the wonder. After enough time was spent, we started a short travel to the hotel where we spent our penultimate night. A after a long days travel, many were content with sleeping and saving our energy for our last night, Vegas.

However, on our return to Vegas, we stopped at the Hoover Dam, this was one of the more educational, but still unbelievable stops to the trip. We spent a few hours at the Hoover Dam, taking even more pictures and exploring the architectural feats and engineering expertise that went in to produce something of this scale. The dam, for many, was bigger than expected, and the views produced something of a distraction from the urban life we had experienced just a few hours before. Then, our last stretch started.

We settled back into the hotel rapidly, and began our final night with a group meal at the hard rock café, and as soon as we feasted through this, rushed back onto the strip. Many went different ways, some spent more time shopping, others marvelling while the rest were exploring. Each and everyone’s experience in Vegas was different to another’s, although the vibe given was always fairly similar. Buzzing

Our last day began with a tour around the city, and our knowledge and experiences of the city stretched beyond the strip. But it was quite clearly gathered that Vegas was a city that strived with the night. After our tour, we went onto our final stop, the Vegas outlets. Everyone was eager to spend the remaining money that they didn’t spend, or that many saved, and presents, gifts and souvenirs were purchased. However, with the problem of luggage capacity solved, we made our depressing journey to the airport, and tiresome faces settled to sleep immediately on the plane.

Just like that, the once in a lifetime trip was over.