Call me self-centered but it seems as though President Obama, the Republicans and the Democrats are doing their utmost to ruin my honeymoon road trip in the United States.
Without getting into the politics of the thing – except to point out that it’s rather ironic that the country supposedly bringing democracy to the Middle East has been hamstrung by its own political system – this is how the great US government shut-down of 2013 has affected my honeymoon so far…
As the US Federal government enters the second week of its self-imposed shutdown, with all non-essential services such as national parks closed down, the conspiracy against Nic and Si’s honeymoon is almost complete.
The first we heard of any kind of disruption to our travel plans, we were in Las Vegas. I literally woke up to the news.
“Simon,” said Nicola. “I’ve got some bad news.”
I didn’t even open my eyes. “Go on,” I said.
“We’re not going to be able to go to the Grand Canyon tomorrow. It’s closed.”
Eyes wide open now. “How the hell can they close the Grand Canyon? It’s a giant hole in the ground!”
Apparently they can close the Grand Canyon. With no federal budget to fund the national park’s rangers and other amenities, it’s just one of America’s many great landmarks and tourist attractions that are currently closed to tourists and locals alike.
Our accommodation at Grand Canyon’s south rim cancelled our reservation; thus we had to stay another night in Vegas (there are worse fates than being stuck in Sin City for an extra night).
We figured the whole thing would blow over in a day or two. In the meantime, we decided to book a tour of the Grand Canyon by air. It wouldn’t quite be as remarkable as actually seeing the canyon from the rim, but we weren’t going to let a petty political squabble in Washington ruin our chance to see one of America’s greatest landmarks.
But they weren’t through ruining our plans yet. We were supposed to visit Death Valley next, and then spend one night in Bishop, before heading north to Yosemite National Park.
We couldn’t go to either Death Valley or Yosemite, and it was pointless visiting Bishop because, well, we only wanted to go there in the first place because it was conveniently located between both national parks.
As a result, we flagged both destinations and headed north on a seven-odd hour drive to Lake Tahoe, on the border between California and Nevada, where we stayed for two nights.
We loved it. Was it as good as Yosemite or Death Valley? Who cares? There’s no point crying over spilt milk – or, in this case, a stupid political stalemate in Washington.
As I write this, I’m sipping on a glass of cabernet sauvignon in California’s Napa Valley, where we’ve had to stay two nights instead of one. The horror!
Friends and family back home have been asking us about the effects of the federal shutdown on our travel plans, and this is our response. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there worse affected than us.
Tomorrow we head to San Francisco for a couple of nights, before starting our journey down the Pacific Coast Highway and back to Los Angeles. Here’s hoping the political situation sorts itself out soon and we won’t have to make any more last-minute changes to our US road trip itinerary.