#NKinNA16: Part 4 – National Park Mayhem

Previously on #NKinNA16…

I’m just kidding. You love me. You know what we’re up to.

So we left Keystone and Mount Rushmore behind, and we were on our way to Cody, Wyoming, which was our stop near Yellowstone National Park (not to be confused with Jellystone Park). On the way to Cody, we had a scenic tour through Bighorn National Forest, and we had a cute stop by a river. “Oh it’s just a short hike down,” they said, “you’ll enjoy it”, they said.

They lied. The hike down was terrible. The hike up was worse. No amount of beautiful creek streaming goodness was worth that hike. I will say no more on the matter.

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We reached our hotel in Cody, aptly named the Buffalo Bill Antler Inn. This hotel was quite charming in the fact that it had actual keys for the rooms. Like, the silver edgy key. What even.

Our first night had an included dinner of sorts, in that we were given $15 to spend on dinner, and given that most dinner options were more than $15, I didn’t understand. But yolo. The best part about this dinner place was that they had this kind of butcher’s paper for a tablecloth and encouraged us to graffiti it with crayons. My table, being the old children that we were, requested another tablecloth because we had filled ours quickly. Please enjoy my Picasso masterpiece below.

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Having been drained all day from hiking down and up that stupid hill, Angela and I called it a night while everyone else went out. Apparently we didn’t even miss a good night, so whatevs.

We were told to dress warm for Yellowstone National Park – and to also wear hiking appropriate clothing – neither of which I packed. So, I went to Yellowstone National Park in bloody cold weather dressed like this…

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We spent all day at Yellowstone – ALL day – and did not see a bloody bear. My sister and I are obsessed with bears and I was dying to see one, but it wasn’t meant to be. I mean, not like I was going to shoot it with a sleeping dart, bring it back to Australia with me, and adopt it as my own child…

If you’re a hiker, I’m sure you’ll enjoy Yellowstone National Park. Alas, I’m not a hiker, and I prefer the physical exercise of shopping, so I can’t honestly say I particularly enjoyed it. Also, the smell of fucking rotten egg sandwich sulphur that seemed to be on every possible hike you could do in Yellowstone National Park didn’t help either. I did manage to snap this really cute picture of me by the canyon though.

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The second night in Cody was also quite uneventful. We had dinner at a cute Italian restaurant that had a whopping size cheese pizza that even I, the infamous cheese pizza eating machine, could not finish; then we trotted on over to the laundromat to do our washing. Full of excitement, right?

Bags were to the coach at 7:45am as per usual and we were off to our next stop: Jackson (Hole), Wyoming. On the way to Jackson, we were blessed with probably the most beautiful view I have ever seen. The Teton Mountains (which is some other language for titties. There’s your fact for the day) provided us with postcard that-can’t-be-real views, and I snapped this really cute picture of myself in front of it.

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Jackson was probably one of my favourite stops due to the optional here (that pretty much everyone did): the Teton Trail Ride and Cookout. Basically, we were going on a horseback trail ride and getting fed “typical cookout” food. I had never ridden a horse before, so I was instructed not to wear the above outfit to sit on a horse, and it was recommended that I wear long pants. All my long pants were either A) dirty and needing to be washed or B) MIA, so I rode a horse in white jeans. And a Harley Quinn top.

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This was my favourite optional by far. My horse – his name was Kopenhagen and he was beautiful and he loved me – took me through this beautiful scenic trail (which got a bit narrow at times but yolo), and by the time Kopenhagen and I had to be separated, I began crying. #Kopenhagenikki 5eva.

The cookout dinner afterwards did the job, and we were also given a free beer for our troubles. Wait… scratch that… Ben was given my free beer for our troubles. After our cookout dinner, we were taken back to the ranch/farm/whatever you call it, and we were taught how to play some “traditional farm games”, like throwing an axe into a piece of wood, and properly using a lasso to rope up a fake bull made out of some metal. Because I’m iconic af, I managed to get the wrong end of the axe into the wood… oops.

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That night, my favourite underagers weren’t allowed into the bar, so I went with them back to the hotel and we opted to watch Sully at the movie theater across the road. Because I love Tom Hanks. Purse so heavy, gettin’ Oprah dollars.

The following day, we were off to Park City, Utah, which also included the obligatory “This is Mormon state, lemme tell you about dem Mormons” speech. We arrived to Park City in the evo (looks @ Genevieve Schwartz) with free time on our hands, so of course being the greatest f’in Grand Northern Contiki group ever, we opted to have a pool party – and we definitely did not have room parties along the way either. Nods head.

If you’re looking to do a Grand Northern, let me just mention that the hotel in Park City – should it not be changed between now and whenever you do it – is probably one of the nicer hotels on the tour. Enjoy it while you can.

Also, I had dinner at Denny’s. I fucking stan Denny’s so much.

After a quick but ovely stop at Park City, we were on our way to Kanab, Utah, which was the stop that was central to a couple of the national parks we would visit. Kanab, which is a very small town that didn’t have neither a club nor a bar, would actually be one of the most eventful stops of the trip… but more on that later.

On the way to Park City, we stopped by Bryce Canyon National Park. I’m sure it was beautiful. By that, I mean I didn’t actually see the canyon or the view of the canyon, because it was so damn foggy there that I could barely see what was in front of me.

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I was also lowkey worried that someone would fall down the canyon, survive the fall, resort to cannibalism, turn into a wendigo, and then I would be dragged by said wendigo while standing outside in my underwear yelling at my friends. If you didn’t understand any of that, I suggest you go out and play Until Dawn on PlayStation 4…

Oh. And look at this cute picture of me at Bryce Canyon.

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Our included dinner in Kanab was a cute kind of buffet style dinner, which didn’t offer much for me the vegetarian or Veegz the vegan. So they compensated for our loss with a single veggie pattie… not on a burger or anything, just a single veggie pattie. I appreciate the sentiment, I really do.

With absolutely nothing to do in Kanab at night time, the crew and I had some super ultra mega room parties – I mean, no we didn’t – and got to bond a bit more with the other Contikians on our trip. Over alcohol. Lots of it.

Anyway…

The next day, we were off to the Grand Canyon! Now, I won’t mention how, on the coach, I was irritated to the point of mental breakdown because a certain someone wouldn’t shut up and sounded like a broken damn record… but the short ride to the Canyon was tainted.

Having been to the south rim before, I kind of knew what I was in for, but I was still blown away by the beautiful views that nature had created here. Like, check out this beautiful view I had of the Canyon simply sitting on a deck chair.

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A few of us – Kate, Russell, Ange, Bree, Sasha, Jacko, Big Red and I – went exploring along the rim of the Canyon and took some awesome pictures along the way. Some of them decided to risk their damn lives for a few likes on Insty (looks @ Russell, Sasha and Jacko) but all-in-all, it was probably one of my favourite moments of the entire tour.

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We were treated with a pretty darn good lunch at the Canyon restaurant or whatever you want to call it, and soon we were back on the road back to Kanab.

Also, I just wanna chuck this cute family selfie in here because it’s amazing.

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This following scene is probably one of my most favourite moments of the entire tour. Philip in all of his handsome Bostonian glory planned a picnic slash sports day fun bonanza for us in a really beautiful park in Kanab, and Hayley and Mish decided to make it a dress-up picnic slash sports day fun bonanza. While most of us weren’t prepared for costuming, I pulled out my regular every day wardrobe and dressed up as Nikki Bella. You’re welcome.

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The evening had lots of food, drinks, laughter and fun, with the high point being a game of American football pitting Team Philip against Team Ray Ray Nikki. Under the wise tutelage of Ray Ray me, my team took the victory, undoubtedly because of my stellar defence skills. Just ask Hayden.

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After probably the most fun involving me playing sport ever, we went back to the hotel. Now this is where things got messy. How did they get messy, you ask? With an old fashioned room party intimate nightly gathering, of course.

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Drinks were flowing, beats were playing, bodies were swaying… and then chaos. Okay, so I can’t actually tell you what happened, but just picture me rolling around on the floor, screaming “things” while poor Kienan is trying to calm me down on the phone, and JJ is there trying to explain to Kienan why I am chucking a corridor tantrum in Kanab. And that’s not even the bulk of it.

Rule number one of this tour: we do not speak of Kanab.

Saved by the bell. This is where this portion of the travel blog ends. We have two more cities to go on this wonderful journey of mine, but being two of the biggest and most talked about US cities ever, you’ll understand why two cities needs its own post.

Stay tuned for the story of how one of the dancers from Thunder from Down Under thought it’d be okay to violently spank me in front of a crowd of horny ladies. It was definitely not okay.

– by The Black Widow

#NoahTakesAmerica2015 Part 2: Contiki Craziness V1

And this is where the fun REALLY begins.

So after staying in a feral charming hotel in Los Angeles, California, it was time to head to my Contiki tour. I ordered an Uber to take me to the meeting place, and as I watched the driver pass me and then cancel my own trip on me, I started to wonder whether I was even going to make it onto the tour. Luckily, the second Uber driver didn’t drive passed me as if he didn’t see me and conveyed me to the meeting place.

Upon my nervous arrival, I was greeted by a beautiful blonde woman named Jodie from Sydney who would also be on my tour. I was also pleased to hear that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t attend the Kickstart meeting. She introduced me to her travelling companion Joey, and I instantly liked the duo. “Maybe this tour won’t be so bad,” I thought to myself.

After the awkward introductions had taken place, we loaded onto the coach and left LA for our first stop: Las Vegas, Nevada (yes, I flew from Vegas to LA just to go back to Vegas on a coach). It was on this coach that we were first introduced to our “day song” (literally a song you listen to first thing you step onto the coach every day): Beat of my Drum by Powers. The song was annoying. Little did I know I would grow to love it.

In my opinion, Vegas was Vegas: there were about 20 moving vehicles promoting hot babe escort services driving down the Strip, neon lights and batshit people lining the sidewalks, and you were allowed to casually drink alcohol on the streets. After having a look around with Jodie, Joey, Georgia (also now affectionately known as Nicole/Grobbies/Veronica), Feddo, James and Nathan (AKA Nate/Bae), it was time to go out for the night. After dinner and taking a sexy group picture at the famous Vegas sign, we went through the VIP line into Hakkasan’s, one of Vegas’ hottest and most jam packed nightclubs.

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I had prior notice that the first two nights in Vegas were the vital group bonding nights so I was expecting lots of drunk dancing, friendship making and family bonding. I was right. On day one, I knew that I loved my group. Every single one of them.

Day two in Vegas was relatively chill. A group of us went to a fancy ass mofo pool party (complete with hot foreign waitresses in bikinis and attractive people lying around in swimwear not actually getting wet) and despite the unusual cost for chair hire, it was actually really fun. After some free time exploring with Grobbies, it was time for our included limo ride down the strip with champagne (that tasted like donkey piss) and we were either dropped at the club for the night or back to the hotel. I opted for the latter because I was tired, and apparently I made a bad decision. People had fun. Without me. How rude.

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Vegas was officially over and we were headed to Grand Canyon, Arizona. We were promptly informed by our sexpot wonderful tour manager Serena that there was no nightlife in Grand Canyon and to use it as “rehab”. Fair enough. We got to take in the lovely view that was the Grand Canyon (trust me when I say pictures do not do this place justice) and have family dinner. It was also the lovely Sonja’s birthday so we also got to serenade her with the boganest version of Happy Birthday ever.

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The next day, we were invited to either: A) Take a helicopter ride over the Canyon, B) Take a bike ride around it or C) Hike it ourselves. Since I don’t like helicopters or bikes, hiking was the best option… even though I don’t like hiking either. It was up until this point that I had done well to conceal my “precious” traits. And then I went on a Canyon hike with a group of others, and the Princess qualities in me came spilling out. Whatevs.

I will say that it was an experience to be had, and once and once only will do me for a lifetime. I don’t hike. Like, I just don’t.

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That evening we went out for a family picnic on the rim of the Grand Canyon and it was here that I accomplished an amazing feat: I touched the edge of the Canyon (after much hand holding, prodding and cat crawling to the edge)! Those who know me are well aware I can’t stand heights, so this was a deadset achievement.

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After all the hard partying in Canyon had finished, we were off to our third stop: Durango, Colorado. Before we reached Colorado, we made a stop by Monument Valley in Utah AKA the place where Forrest Gump finishes his run because he’s decided he’s tired. We even recreated the running scene with handsome bearded Jarrod taking the role as Forrest.

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OMG how did my modelling portfolio shots get in there. My friends tell me I look like Mischa Barton. I so don’t.

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As soon as we had crossed the state border, Serena was quick to inform us that most people tend to enjoy the small town of Durango the most, and often get “Durango’d”; because of the high altitude and overall cheap price of alcohol, it was quick and easy to get drunk in Durango and go a bit too hard. Turns out she was right. Not only was my amazing roommate Alex completely off his face before dinner had even started, everyone was drunk and wild and ready to party as soon as we hit the local bar Moe’s.

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Drinking with the family in Durango was by far one of the biggest highlights of my trip, and I truly understand the meaning of getting Durango’d. It was this night that I really bonded with two guys that would become absolutely dear to me by the end of the tour, Tony and Mitch (otherwise known as the Enzo and Cass to my Carmella), despite the latter constantly accusing me of being high maintenance. Like, I’m so not.

After exploring the town of Durango the morning after, our fourth stop on day six was Albuquerque, New Mexico. Known to some pop culture addicts as the location for Breaking Bad, it was also a stop with laundry (one does not know how glorious laundry is until one is running out of clean underwear). After a long night at Durango, everyone used this as another rehab stop, so with that in mind, I organised a pool party for everyone to attend at the hotel. Although I stand by my original statement that Genevieve was the one who wanted to turn it into a Sexy Pool Party Orgy Extravaganza…

Besides the wild orgy rather tame pool party and doing a load of laundry, not much else was done in Albuquerque since I point blank refused to get on a hot air balloon.

It was on the way to our next stop that one of the running gags of the tour would form. We made a quick stop by Santa Fe, New Mexico for a quick bite to eat and a quick look around. Being my first time in Santa Fe, I wasn’t aware of its shopping status, so stepping off the coach with the most innocent expression on my face, I casually asked Serena: “Is there a Tiffany’s here?”

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And thus, #Tiffanys was born, and from then on, I would ask if there was a Tiffany’s present at every stop we made, whether it be at a big city, or a servo in the middle of nowhere.

By the way, there isn’t a Tiffany’s in Santa Fe. Just FYI.

It was now that I realised my entire Contiki travels would not fit into one post, so stay tuned for the second half of my wild Contiki adventure with the friends that quickly became my family.

– by The Black Widow

#NoahTakesAmerica2015 Part 1: Family Bonding

To my subscribers/loyal followers/social stalkers, you may be wondering why I haven’t posted in a while. Well for the past five weeks I have been travelling the good ole US of A and have been absolutely loving it! You may also notice that I am using my given Christian name and not the Black Widow moniker, and that’s because I left the Black Widow at home as I (Noah) went on a much needed vacation.

I made it a point to not blog about my travels while travelling, because how are you supposed to enjoy your travels if you’ve set yourself a deadline for that night? So now, regrettably, I am home in bed and am now going to write down every thought and memory I have of my five weeks abroad and why they qualify to be the greatest times of my life.

My online travel diary will be separated into three parts: Family BondingContiki Craziness and Black Widow Mourning, as my travel was separated. For the first portion of my holiday, I travelled with my two sisters (Toni and Stacie) and my maternal cousin Tayla.

If you weren’t already aware, this was my first time travelling outside of Australia, and going into this holiday, I was absolutely frightened of flying. Combine that with my younge naïvety, general gullibility in life and dough-eyed expression, and you have yourself a very new, inexperienced traveller. Luckily, Toni and Stacie were expert travellers and they basically hand-held me through flying, customs and all of that jazz.

After experiencing the WORST flight of my life from Sydney direct to LA, more waiting around and a pretty breezy flight, we were in San Francisco, California. I had very limited knowledge of San Fran: it was one of the gay capitals of USA, was home to Alcatraz and the Halliwell Manor from Charmed, and reminded me of the film The Sweetest Thing starring Cameron Diaz. Other than that, I was open to surprise. I was still blown away by the fact that I was standing in a different country.

Tayla went off and did her own thing as the siblings went on a guided tour with a bunch of old people who were very hard to please. We saw a few of the sights that San Francisco had to offer, one being the Golden Gate Bridge, of course, which was breathtaking (and also reminded me of that X-Men film). The tour guide was very wise in his old age, and his voice was soothing (so much that I fell asleep on the bus). He gave us some great insider points of what to do and how to do it.

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Later that day, we got to tour Alcatraz, which admittedly I wasn’t too impressed with. Like, it’s a prison on an island. It can’t be that great, right? WRONG. Alcatraz was probably the highest point in San Fran for me. It had so much history and darkness on the one island and the helpful audio tour clearly illustrated the stories for me as it felt like I was witnessing them first hand. It might be a bit dorky to say, but I like learning about different things in different places.

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Another exciting part of the San Francisco experience (other than their giant Victoria’s Secret which had me frothing) was the cool cable car that we got to ride. You know those cool ones you see in the movies where people are standing up, kind of awkwardly hanging outside, holding onto a pole as they grind their crotch into a stranger’s face? Yes. That one. Minus the crotch grinding.

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Oh, and it was like Fleet Week or something in San Fran at the time as well, so there were lots of different kinds of officers in town and their ship thingies were darting around the sky. (I’m aware ship thingy isn’t the technical term for it, but bear with me). It was exciting to watch. Hella loud, but still exciting.

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The second stop on my family holiday was Orlando, Florida: the home of Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando. Admittedly, I’m not that much of a ride person because heights will be the death of me and I get motion sickness easily, so one can wonder why on earth did I choose to go to Orlando over New York, but I actually thoroughly enjoyed Orlando.

We spent two days at Universal Studios, which was easy to get to as the resort we were staying at (Cabana Bay Beach Resort, definitely recommend) is a Universal resort and provides free shuttles to and from. Universal is magical: from Harry Potter World to Simpsons Land and then Marvel Land, the place was phenomenal. Motion sickness got the better of me on day one but by day two, I was ready to take it. We had fast passes to the rides so I had no real choice but to go on them whether I wanted to or not and, with my eyes shut on most of them, I can say I enjoyed them. The highlight of Universal, for me, was definitely Simpsons Land.

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See? How can you not love that?

Three of our Orlando days were spent at Disney World, hopping between the four parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and… Epcot. I don’t understand what an epcot is but whatever. To each their own. In my opinion, Universal had an edge over Disney World because the latter is obviously tailored to the children in attendance, so there’s me eyeing toddlers jealously as the hippy turtle from Finding Nemo has a conversation with them and not me.

The rides in Disney World were largely entertaining although I found a heap of them, especially in Epcot, to be educational. Like, I’m all for learning about new things and experiences, but probably not when I’m sitting on a ride expecting to be thrilled.

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My favourite park of the four was definitely Animal Kingdom, mainly because I’m an animal lover. The highlight for me in Disney World was seeing a beautiful, proud lioness sitting on her perch just overlooking everyone and everything. Seeing her for the three seconds that I had was magical. Lionesses are some of my favourite animals because they are the epitome of a boss ass bitch. Did you know that contrary to popular belief, lionesses are the ones that hunt while their male counterparts just sit there and wait for their women to do all the work? Bitch you better work.

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Oh, and I dragged everyone to the Frozen sing-a-long show and knew every word to every song, along with all the other four year old boys and girls. Unfortunately I did not get a photo with Elsa or Anna or Kristof or even Olaf. Let the tears flow.

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The third stop on our family trip was Salt Lake City, Utah. This wouldn’t be a stop on our trip if our grandfather didn’t live there, but he does, so we spent a few days here. There’s nothing really to do in Salt Lake so it acted as a rest stop after the madness that is Orlando.

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So, get this right, I get off the shuttle from my Orlando resort to the airport and I look down and… hey! My bag is still in the van! Long story short, he brought it back an hour later and I missed my flight. But it was a blessing in disguise, as it taught me how to navigate the horror of an airport by myself. Something I so sorely needed later in my holiday.

What Salt Lake lacked in fun, it had in family. It was great to see my handsome grandfather again and to catch up with uncles, aunts and cousins.

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I also attended my first college football game, which was definitely an experience. Australian sport is very different to American sport in that the latter is very stop-start. I’ve watched some NFL games before (GO THE PATS!) so I knew that what SHOULD take like two hours usually goes for six, but to sit there and actually witness it was some next level shit. I mean, some girl casually won a car in a first quarter break. No, not even during halftime, just a random break in the first quarter.

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Not only was I reunited with my family but I was also reunited with my long distance BFFL! He spent the whole day taking me around to different malls so I could find my Julian Edelman jersey (which I did). He also took me to some other places that I care not to mention, but spending time with him was present enough for me.

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Our final stop was Las Vegas, Nevada, which was for one night, but I was going to be there again like a day later so it didn’t bother me. Tayla and I got to sample the nightlife in Vegas which was AMAZING: we went to the ice bar which was fun had there been more people there, played a few rounds of Blackjack where I lost $40, drank drank drank and then went to the Coyote Ugly Bar and Saloon which was fun. But it was a Tuesday. Lots of places were shut, so our night ended early unfortunately.

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So after almost three weeks travelling with the family, it was time for them to fly back home and for me to continue by myself. We flew back to LA and I bid farewell as I made my way to my hotel in downtown LA which was hella povvo to be honest, but it had to do.

My Contiki journey was about to start, and I was really excited for it.

Let’s not talk about the hundreds and hundreds of dollars I spent in this first portion of my trip due to the bad influence of my sisters and Brandon. Such terrible, terrible influences they are.

Part 2 of my travel journey will be posted quicker than you can say “Brutus is just as cute as Caesar.”

Until then.

– by The Black Widow