West Coast USA Trip Blog - CTC Kingshurst Academy

West Coast USA
May 17, 2011

This is the amazing account of teacher James as his group from the CTC Kingshurst Academy embark on an amazing school trip to explore the US West Coast.


After an 11 hour flight with we arrived in San Francisco about UK time 1:30am/US time 4:30pm. I think Miss Norris broke the record by watching 4 in flight movies and even managed to do some marking! We then had a coach tour with our guide Hugo around the city. We visited the 'Twin Peaks' hills where you can see the amazing view of San Francisco including the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz island. We also drove by Little Italy and China Town. At about 8pm we went to Fisherman's Wharf and had a bite to eat. The teachers sampled the local delights such as Clam Chowder in a bread bowl and the students went to, you guessed it, McDonalds!!! We then arrived at our hotel, checked in and after being awake for over 24 hours, we slept! Mr Walton's tip of the day: 'Never sew your patches on upside down'


We checked out at just after 8am and we went for our tour of Alcatraz and unfortunately it was very cold and wet. By the time we crossed the Bay the sun was shining and and we arrived on the island to a sign that read 'INDIANS WELCOME - UNITED STATES PENITENTIARY'. The tour lasted for just over an our and we were given headphones that provided us with the history and famous prison that housed Al Capone. Once the tour was over we arrived back onto the main land, we stopped for lunch, had some retail therapy, visited the Apple Store and attempted to buy an iPad 2 (unfortunately they sold out within 1 hour) and some of us even had time to hop on a cable car and run down the hilly streets of San Francisco. We then left San Francisco for our 4 hour journey to Oakhurst. We arrived at our hotel around 7pm and tried their local cuisine and arrived back to the hotel about 9pm. The majority went to bed and some of the lads decided to go into the jacuzzi.


This morning we set off on a 2 hour journey to Yosemite National Park. En route to the park we were 6000 ft above see level and in some parts the snow was almost 2 metres deep. We saw many amazing sights and so many waterfalls. The main attraction was Yosemite Falls, the highest waterfall in North America, almost 2500 ft high. We also saw a Coyote thanks to the eagle eye Adams. After a stop for lunch we started the 4 hour journey to Bakersfield. Once we arrived at the hotel, the group had a relax in the hotel and some even had a dip in the pool, we all went for dinner.


We left Bakersfield heading towards Las Vegas, the journey taken 11 grueling hours and we travelled via Mojave Desert and Death Valley. As went through Death Valley the temperature was about 34 degrees and we all started to feel the heat. We reached the lowest part in Death Valley that is 282 ft below sea level. Upon leaving Death Valley we passed the notorious Area 51, which is believed to contain the remains of a UFO and is the most top-secret military base in the US, we also saw a Drone taking off from Indian Springs air force base. We arrived finally completed our journey to the bright lights of Las Vegas to the cheers of 47 very excited students and even teachers joined in. Mr Adam's tip of the day: 'You can never have too much cream cheese on your bagel'


The morning started with an early shopping spree with Ashleigh and Leah for an iPad 2, we visited The Forum shopping mall in the Caesars Palace and also the Fashion Show shopping mall. Unfortunately these are in very short supply and sell out within minutes. Our group then split into two and the majority went shopping, again, and the more adventurous five students and two staff went to the Stratosphere Tower where there is a theme park on top of the tower and rode some of the most scary rides over 1000 ft above Las Vegas. The entire group then met up again and had the tour of Las Vegas. We visited Caesars Palace, Mirage and also the Venetian, which is the largest and one of the newest on the strip, which has and indoor canal with gondolas, the Bridge of Sighs and a replica of St Mark's Square. Our next stop was the Treasure Island hotel for a meal and then we went to see the Cirque du Soleil show, Mystere and yet another adventurous group went to the Stratosphere because they had heard how awesome it was and they returned suitably impressed! Once the show was over we had an epic crowded walk down the strip to watch the world famous Bellagio water fountains. Mr Howell's tip of the day: 'It is really OK to scream when you are scared'


Our time in Vegas is over. We were ready to leave our hotel and on the coach on when we realised that someone had left their iPod in their room. Finally, we left the hotel and we were facing a 6 hour journey to LA. Enroute we stopped at Barstow for lunch and the students found another McDonalds and the majority ate there. Two individuals consumed 80 Chicken McNuggetts between them, nice!!! Before we left we also had time for a little shopping. We arrived in LA about 5pm and spent some time in the pool. We went for dinner about 8pm and tried the local variety of food available, some students splashed out on a steak resturant and the teachers went to Bubba Gump, a sea food restaurant and was also quizzed on Forest Gump, Mr Walton won. We met up at 10pm and all the students had a very enjoyable evening. Mr Walton's tip of the day: 'Portion control really does work!!'


We headed for downtown LA and spent the whole day at Universal Studios. Some of the main rides were The Mummy, Jurrasic Park and the 4D attractions included Terminator 2, Shrek and The Simpsons. There was also the Water World show that was very impressive and got very wet, we had a 'back lot' tour of the studios and is home to the Earthquake, War of the Worlds, Wisteria Lane and the new King Kong that was enjoyed by all. The one that will probably stay in everyone memory is The House of Horrors and this certainly does live up to it's name as Miss Sutton screamed like a girl all the way through, as did most of us. We also found time for some more shopping on Universal City Walk and the majority of our group ended up in Abercrombie & Fitch, at one point there were 23 of us in the famous store. At 6pm we headed to top of the City Walk and had a meal at Hard Rock Cafe. Here we also met up with Rachel (Hannah's moms friend) who moved from Chelmsley Wood to LA and she spent the evening with us and met Hannah for the first time. Mr Adam's tip of the day: 'You can never have too many plam trees'


Dave the Driver has picked us up at 8:30am and drove us to Disney. When we arrived we then scattered to breakfast and inevitable sugar rush. The queues we ridiculously long and Mr Walton and Mr Howell went on the Big Thunder Mountain and Mr Adams sampled It's A Small World. By 3:30pm the queues we too much for us and we decided to go back to the hotel for a chill out by the pool. At 6:30pm we headed back to Downtown Disney for our meal at ESPN Zone. After the meal the students 'needed' to do some more shopping and then we headed back to the hotel for our last night.


We left the hotel about 9am and was heading to Downtown LA for a tour of the city. We seen many sights and many students thought they had seen Naomi Campbell. We followed in Julia Roberts' foot steps from the Pretty Woman movie and visited Rodeo Drive and a few of us also popped into the Beverly Wilshire hotel. We had seen the Hollywood sign in the distance and visited the Hollywood walk of fame, Grauman's Chinese theatre and home to the Academy Awards, the Kodak Theatre. Once the tour of LA was over we headed to the airport for our final epic journey home.

Trip Summary: During the 10 days we spent in the West Coast USA, 47 students and 5 staff visited 5 cities including San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. During our stay we travelled over 1000 miles and had an amazing time and seen so much. Thanks to everyone who made this trip of a lifetime so enjoyable!

You can view all of their photos on their website here