By Jessie G.
I have attended Camp IHC for the past 8 summers. One thing about camp that I have always looked forward to is the Tribe West trip. In the summer between freshman and sophomore year of high school, the camp offers a 4 week trip out west known as Tribe West. The trip includes hiking, biking, camping, shopping, sightseeing, and many more awesome experiences. I went on the trip this past summer with 37 of my friends that I have known since I was 8 years old. We flew to Denver to start the journey and ended in San Francisco for our flight home. Out west, we traveled in vans from one location to the next. I kept a journal of the whole trip. In addition to our day to day activities, my journal includes my memories, laughs, feelings, and more. The whole trip was an unforgettable adventure. The following “segments” are taken directly from my journal, and I hope you enjoy reading about each day.
Day 1: Off to Denver from Newark Airport
Day 2: Off to Boulder to start the trip- We woke up at 4:45 AM for a sunrise hike up the Flatirons. The view throughout the whole hike was of the city with a beautiful sunrise in the background. We then checked out the University of Colorado/ Boulder. Unfortunately, the book store was closed because it was the 4th of July, but we still explored the campus.
We then headed to The Sink for lunch. You can write all over the walls and ceilings at this restaurant, which was especially cool because I got to see my brother’s name, who visited the restaurant last year. The restaurant has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives! The food was spectacular! To finish off the day, we headed to the Rockies vs. Giants game that night. After the game, there was an unbelievable fireworks show where my camp friends and I danced, sang along, and even made the Jumbotron! We stayed at the Boulder Marriott. The rooms had Netflix (always a plus), had great mountain views, and the lobby was gorgeous.
Day 3: Roadtrip! Boulder to Vail with a few pit stops on the road- A good road trip needs great music and a fun group of people to interact with, which is exactly what I had. On the road, we stopped at Estes Park, which gave us an awesome view of the Rocky Mountains. There was a farmers market at the park, so I feasted on free samples.
There was also a small cute town nearby with ice cream and souvenir shops. There were also fun shops like a sock shop and a beef jerky shop. To continue on our journey to Vail, we drove through the Rocky Mountains with stunning views and exciting moose sightings! We stopped for a few photos and then arrived at the Marriott in Vail. The hotel was perfect with an amazing morning buffet breakfast and a great central location in Vail Village. For dinner, we headed to a small bar and grill called Garfinkel’s. It was great!
Day 4: Day spent at the Aerial Park at Vail- We rode the gondola up and spent the day doing so many fun things at the park. We did a ropes course that included a belay or a repel, and there were different courses and levels of difficulty.
The park also included a fun alpine coaster that showed spectacular views of the mountains as you rode down. Also, there was a slide, bungee jumping, and more kid-friendly activities. There is also a lunch spot right at the top. We then headed to Vail Village, where we did some shopping. There were numerous souvenir shops, ice cream places, clothing stores, a candy shop, and plenty more! We then headed to Blue Moose Pizza for dinner that night. My table feasted on spinach artichoke dip, different pizzas, pasta, and more delicious Italian food.
Day 5: Headed out to the start of our 3-day rafting trip on the Colorado river- The company that took us was Holiday River Expeditions. They offer many different trips, some ranging from 2 days to even 5 days. The first day consisted of smooth riding down the calm river. We chatted with our tour guide, Nick, took in the breathtaking views of the canyons, mountains, exotic birds and animals, and relaxed. The tour guide steers and paddles the whole time, which allows the passengers to relax, tan, and take in the views. The guides also prepared all meals every day. Further, to cool off, there are several places where you can dip in the water and take a swim.
At the end of the first day, we unloaded the boats at a spot further down on the river and set up our camping gear. We slept in tents in the middle of the river with amazing mountains and canyons to wake up to. Unfortunately, there are no bathrooms, so you have to go to the bathroom in buckets (it’s a good memory). Before going to sleep, we went on a hike up a mountain at our campsite and took in the views.
Day 6: 2nd-day rafting on the Colorado river- This day brought some rapids, some awesome swimming, some more tan lines, and of course, more terrific views. Sunscreen and water are necessities for the trip! The day started with calm waters, but then we came across rapids. Our guides instructed us to get out of the boats and swim the rapids. (We were at first super confused). However, swimming through the rapids was the highlight of the whole rafting trip. It was like a rollercoaster in the water! I must have done it over 10 times! We then finished up the day at a new location for camping, which also had magnificent canyon views. Rain headed our way for the night, but our tents kept us warm and comfortable!
Day 7: Final day on the Colorado river– both exciting, because we can soon shower, but upsetting as well. The 3rd day is the day filled with class 2 and 3 rapids and one class 4 rapid. We were given a safety talk and then took on the rapids! The rapids were awesome! I got drenched! There was one rapid where all the girls in my boat went to the front so that the boat actually went under the rapid instead of through it. It was nerve-racking but exciting! After that, we drifted and swam in calm waters to our finishing point where we sadly had to say our goodbyes to our tour guides which we had bonded with. We then drove to Moab, where we stayed at the Fairfield Inn. The hotel had an awesome pool with waterfalls and cool rock figures. We went into the town of Moab and to Pasta Jay’s for dinner. The pasta was amazing! We then headed back to the hotel, where I was happy to shower and sleep in a real bed!
Day 8: Day spent Mountain biking in Moab– my favorite day of Tribe West! The biking company was Rim Bike and Tours. They offered an advanced group and an intermediate group. I stuck with the challenge group. Once we split into groups and parted ways, we took on the trails. We had a guide who led us around. Everyone motivated one another, especially on the more challenging parts of the ride. We tackled the downhill, maneuvered around rocks, played around a bit, and saw terrific views. We even got to see Arches National Park from a distance. The whole ride was exhilarating and exciting. We then headed to the Moab Diner, where we sipped milkshakes and ate chicken fingers and fries. We then swam in the hotel’s fantastic pool and then went to The Laundry where we souvenir shopped and finally did our laundry. We then drove to a viewpoint 40 minutes away from our hotel. Unfortunately, it was raining when we got there. Fortunately, a rainbow appeared! For dinner, we went to the Broken Oar. I recommend trying their sweet potato fries!
Day 9: Another day spent exploring Moab- We woke up at 5:20 AM for a sunrise hike at Arches National Park. The whole hike afforded us great views of the arches and mountains in the distance. The hike is very manageable and short.
The town of Moab is tiny, so there are limited restaurant options. So we headed to the Moab Diner once again for lunch. We sipped on shakes and enjoyed omelets. We then spent the afternoon walking around town. Later, we headed out on a jet boat tour with Moab Jet company. It was so fun. We did spins, went under waves, and got soaked! We then had a chill night in the pool at our hotel.
Day 10: Roadtrip with a stop at the Four Corners- We headed from Moab to the Grand Canyon. We stopped at the Four Corners, where New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah all meet. It was cool because I was able to stand in 4 states at once. However, there were plenty of tourists, so we only got to take a few photos. Some shops line the outside of the Four Corners. Then, after a few more hours of driving, we arrived at our Grand Canyon camping site.
Day 11: Hiking and biking in the Grand Canyon- We started by going downhill on our hike. Although the view of the Grand Canyon is amazing, the view stays the same for the hike’s whole duration. Therefore, you don’t need to hike for miles; even a 10-minute hike can show you a great view. We hiked 3 miles down and 3 miles up. The hike was tiring but also awesome! We then treated ourselves to pizza and pasta at “We Cook Pizza and Pasta.” We then went biking. The whole ride was super cool because we biked on the edge of the Grand Canyon. We had a view of the canyon throughout the whole ride. There are many different trails you can take. We then headed back to the campsite, where we crashed after a long and tiring day!
Day 12: Another travel day– Grand Canyon to Sedona! We packed up our camping gear and hit the road. We stopped for lunch and arrived in Sedona late afternoon. When we arrived, we headed to the Pink Jeep Tour. A MUST-DO in Sedona! We were led through trails of dirt, up hills, around rocks, and on a thrilling ride. We saw great views of red rock and mountains the whole time. We then headed to Szechuan, an Asian Fusion restaurant, for dinner. The food was spectacular! We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express.
Day 13: Living it up in Sedona- Started off the day at Slide Rock State Park. The park has natural water slides that are made out of rock. The water was cold but still super fun. We slid down rocks, jumped off rocks, and tried to stay warm. It was very crowded but still enjoyable! We then headed to the town of Sedona, one of the cutest towns I have ever seen. There were several cafes, souvenir shops, ice cream shops, and more. A few of my friends and I decided to do something fun and headed to Sedona Old Time Photos. We dressed up in ridiculous outfits and took photos that resembled photographs from the 1800s. It was an awesome experience! We went to a local movie theater that night and saw Ant-Man 2.
Day 14: Road Trip from Sedona to Page– After a 2 and a half-hour drive, we arrived at the Holiday Inn Express in Page. The hotel was nice and suited our needs. They had complimentary cookies. We went to Horseshoe Bend late in the afternoon. It is about a 10-minute walk up; I wouldn’t even call it a hike. It was one of the best views I have ever seen. 11/10 recommend! Then, we headed to Dam’s Bar and Grill for dinner. The food was fine, but the service was slow. We then went to bed early to get ready for our day on Lake Powell.
Day 15: Day spent on Lake Powell– one of the best days of the trip. We drove about 10 mins to where a gorgeous blue lake was awaiting us. Our group rented out one big party boat and 6 little ones. On the little boats, we enjoyed the clear blue waters by tubing and speeding.
On the big boat, we rode down a slide attached to our boat, jumped off the top, barbecued, and looked out to the beautiful crystal lake. I even did a flip off the top of the boat. The whole day was so relaxing and calm. We then headed to Mexican that night, where we were greeted with sombreros to wear, and we feasted on quesadillas, tacos, and fajitas.
Day 16: Travel day from Page to Bryce Canyon-Music, run-ins with friends, and snacks made up our 3-hour drive to Bryce. We then arrived at the Best Western. The hotel was big and had nice rooms. It also was within walking distance from the places we went to in Bryce. At night, we went to Ebenezer’s Barn and Grill. The Bryce Rangers played country music for us as we ate a “southern meal.” I feasted on mashed potatoes, cornbread, chicken, beans, and more. The whole night we sang and danced to the music.
Day 17: Haaaaaaaay- Horseback riding and off to Zion. We went to Ruby’s, a horseback riding place right next to our hotel. My horse’s name was Rangles. Guides led us on trails, providing some awesome views of the mountains. Our horses took us up hills, across rivers, and through the woods of Bryce. We then continued to explore Bryce’s town. It was only one street long with a general store across the street. But, we ate ice cream and bought souvenirs. We then drove to Zion, where we arrived in the middle of a storm. We stayed inside the vans and our tents for comfort and protection.
Day 18: Long hike today– Our original plan was to hike Angels Landing and The Narrows. However, a week before we were supposed to arrive in Zion, a huge storm shifted rocks, making the trail too dangerous. Therefore, we ended up sticking with a different long 8-mile hike. We took the shuttle from our campground and split into two groups- one hiking 8 miles and one hiking 3.5. I parted with the 8-mile hike group. Most of the trail was narrow, so we had to walk single file. There were some parts of the hike where we walked around rocks in caves, which was cool. The view at the top was spectacular, and the walk down was quick and enjoyable! The hike took us about 4 hours in total. We then headed to a town in the park. There were several ice cream shops and souvenir shops. We then finished off the night with nice weather and a good night’s sleep in our tents!
Day 19: Off to Vegas, baby! After a 3.5 hour drive from Zion with a stop at Panera Bread for lunch, we arrived at the Springfield Inn and Suites. Although not in the center of the strip, it was one of the trip’s nicest hotels. The rooms were extremely spacious, and the hotel was in a pretty ideal location. (I visited Vegas 2 years ago and recommend the Palazzo as a hotel).
We then went shopping in the Miracle Mile Shops. There is a fake sky on the ceiling, which is similar to the Venetian sky, which is supposed to resemble Italy. We then headed out to a magic show. Mat Franco, the winner of America’s Got Talent, was performing. It was a magical night with unbelievable tricks and hilarious jokes!
Day 20: Day spent doing touristy things in Vegas-We started the day at the Slotzilla, the famous zipline in Downtown Vegas. You fly on your stomach like Superman as you zip over the people below. We then headed to a mall right outside of the strip. It was less touristy; in fact, there were not a lot of souvenir shops. We then headed back and got ready for our fancy night. We were greeted by limos at our hotel.
We blasted music and sipped on apple cider. We pulled up to the Las Vegas sign and took some awesome photos. Then, we stopped at the Mirage, where we saw a cool fire and volcano show in the fountain. We next headed to the Bellagio Buffet. The buffet had seafood, salads, meats, yummy bread, and numerous desserts. It is the biggest buffet I have ever been to! I stuffed my face with all different variations of food. I even tried caviar! (I am not a fan).
Day 21: Longest drive of the trip from Las Vegas to San Diego. We had our first taste of California when we stopped at In-N-Out for lunch. I stuck with a traditional meal of a burger, fries, and a shake. We then arrived at Ultrazone laser tag. There were multiple levels and objectives. The game was awesome. I shot targets, hid, and defended bases. Don’t ask what any of that means. We then headed to a Mexican Fiesta. There were dancers performing and fun shops within the area. We were given a pre-set menu, which consisted of tacos, fajitas, and more. We then headed to our hotel- the Courtyard Marriott. The hotel met our needs.
Day 22: Fun day at the beach. We headed to the beach, where we started off the day with surf preparation. We were given a safety talk and learned how to stand. We got in our wetsuits and hit the waves. Although I could not hit the 10 footers, surfing was one of my favorite activities of the whole trip. It is such a thrilling sport. We then went into town, where we ate acai bowls for lunch, popped into some cute boutiques, and enjoyed local ice cream. We then went swimming and jumped in the waves. The waves were the biggest waves I have ever seen. We had to organize a buddy system because the waves were so big. We jumped, dove, swam, got saltwater in our eyes, and still had a blast. We then headed to Stacked for dinner. You can customize hamburgers, mac and cheese, salads, milkshakes, and plenty more at Stacked. I got an awesome hamburger on a pretzel roll with pulled pork, mac and cheese, avocado, and tomatoes.
Day 23: Day spent at the San Diego Zoo- We headed to the San Diego Zoo, where so many different animals awaited us. Once we arrived, we all got our faces painted as different animals ($19 wow). I was painted as a dragon. We checked out some monkeys, tigers, birds, zebras, and plenty more animals. We stopped in souvenir shops throughout the day and even treated ourselves to some soft serve. The zoo was fun, but I am not a fan of zoos, so I did not love it. We then headed to Tavern + Bowl (since closed) for dinner and to bowl. They fed us wings, flatbreads, salads, and more. Bowling was a blast!
Day 24: Travel day from San Diego to Santa Clarita-We stopped at lunch in Whole Foods and then arrived at The Courtyard Marriott. There was Netflix at the hotel, which was a plus, and the accommodations were fine. We then headed to the Westfield Mall, where we shopped and looked around before heading to the movies. We saw Mission Impossible. The theater was massive.
Day 25: Riding roller coasters at Magic Mountain- There were several huge roller coasters with different features. One of the coasters, X2, spins while you are on it. After we recovered, we headed to an ice cream place where 3 friends and I ordered a $14.00 mega milkshake (It was worth it). On the Riddler’s Revenge roller coaster, you stand up while you ride. We went on plenty of roller coasters and fun rides throughout the day. We then spent the night relaxing at the pool with pizza for dinner.
Day 26: Day spent in LA-Our original plan was to head to Yosemite next. However, because of forest fires, our trip to Yosemite got canceled. So, we headed to LA for the day. We hiked about a mile up to the Griffith Observatory. Inside the observatory, there are countless fascinating science attractions, including a table of elements with all physical elements. At the top of the observatory, I saw some of Los Angeles’ greatest views, including the Hollywood sign.
We then dined on traditional California cuisine for lunch once again: In N Out. We then headed to 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. The street was filled with musicians, cheese stores, and awesome clothing stores like Bloomingdales. There were also some cute restaurants and ice cream shops. We then finished off the night at the Santa Monica Pier. We rode the ferris wheel, souvenir shopped, and watched the sunset.
Day 27: Road Trip from Santa Clarita to Monterey. The trip was unbelievable because a large chunk of the drive featured Big Sur (California’s coast). I purposely wore my Big Sur shirt on that day. The beautiful coast was present throughout our drive with a beautiful blue sky and sun above. We stopped and took photos on the road and enjoyed the great views the drive offered. For dinner, we headed to Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey. We went to Crabby Jim’s where I ate mahi-mahi for dinner. The meal was the best meal I had on the whole trip! We then arrived at the Marriott– our nicest hotel. The rooms were extremely spacious, the lobby was gorgeous, and the breakfast buffet was spectacular.
Day 28: Day spent at the Monterey aquarium- I love aquariums (way better than zoos), so I was thrilled to be heading to the Monterey Aquarium. I saw many different aquatic animals, including jellyfish, penguins, otters, plankton, fish, and more. The aquarium was huge and was one of the best aquariums I have ever visited. We headed to Whole Foods for lunch and then got on the road to San Francisco. We then arrived at the Holiday Inn. The hotel was small and was the worst hotel of the trip. Our showers and phones did not work when we arrived. We then headed to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner, where I feasted on chicken wraps and, of course, a piece of salted caramel cheesecake.
Day 29: Busy day in San Francisco-Started off the day at the Exploratorium (a science museum). I played with electricity, attempted all sorts of games, made my own stop motion movie, built things, and enjoyed myself. The whole museum is so interactive and kid-friendly.
We then headed to Haight Ashbury, a street containing countless thrift and hipster shops. We all decided to do a fun Secret Santa thing to buy a hilarious outfit from a thrift shop for someone who would have to wear it to dinner that night. We popped into plenty of thrift shops to find the perfect outfit for our gift recipient. I ate tacos for lunch at a cute place on the street. The whole street was filled with super cool shops and people. We popped into stores like Dolls Kill and Buffalo Exchange. We then headed to Urban Putt, an indoor mini-golf place. It was fascinating because there were so many cool techno attractions involved in the game. Mini golf was awesome. We then headed out to dinner at BJs in our ridiculous outfits and made the most out of it!
Day 30: Last day of activities on the trip- We started the day at Alcatraz. We waited on the dock for 15 minutes and then loaded onto the ferry. It was about a 12-minute ferry trip to Alcatraz. Once we arrived, we were given headsets to guide us on tour. We saw jail cells, learned escape stories, and saw aspects of the prisoners’ everyday lives.
We then headed to Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch and shopping. I ate clam chowder and popcorn shrimp for lunch at Chowders and did some last-minute souvenir shopping. We then headed to Ghiradelli Square, where I sipped on a steaming salted caramel hot chocolate, sampled my friends’ ice creams, and ate loads of chocolate. We then headed to the Golden Gate Bridge to take photos. Lucky us- we got mostly a clear blue sky. We took plenty of photos and were happy to have a blue sky in the background. We then headed down Lombard Street, a zig-zag street that provides an unbelievable San Francisco view. The drive down was beautiful. We then had our last dinner at Hard Rock Cafe.
Day 31: Back to Newark and camp from the San Francisco airport– The whole trip was phenomenal. How could it not be? I spent 31 days traveling with my 37 brothers and sisters and my twin brother too. The entire trip was an endless adventure with new experiences. The hikes, bikes, camping nights, shops, hotels, restaurants, and drives will forever be fondly remembered. I am beyond grateful for the experience that I will cherish forever. Thanks, IHC, for providing us with this opportunity, and an even bigger thanks to my parents for allowing me to continue my IHC journey and go on this trip.