California 2020 dreams
As part of my MA course, we are required to plan and undertake a trip of our choosing, with the aim of getting commissioned to write about it.
Initially, I was going to visit the Cairngorms in Scotland as it's been on my list for a while. However, when I started planning it became clear that it wasn't going to be straightforward. I struggled to find return flights from Bristol to Aberdeen for less than £270. As well as this, all of the RSPB reserves in that area are remote, with most being at least 2 miles from the nearest bus stop. I don't drive so this was not a practical option.
Just then, that cheeky little voice in the back of my head piped up, 'what about Monterey Bay in California? It's great for cetaceans, they're your favourite'. I scoffed, as if I could get to California without spending thousands! But my curiosity was bubbling away. So I went on to a cheap flights website and almost fainted.
Return flights to San Fransisco from the UK... less than £350... what on earth!? I was expecting at least three times the price.
From then on it became hard to dismiss this idea. I began further research. Whales? Check. Birds? Check. Otters? Check. The list of pros far outweighed the cons. But then I hit a bump.
Despite hours of searching, I couldn't find any accommodation for cheaper than £500 within a sensible distance of the wharf. The whole plan is currently in jeopardy...
To help me out, I've started a gofundme page, it's not ideal, but the money I had planned to use for my self -organised trip went on vet bills in the summer. I'd really appreciate you checking it out, donating if you can and then sharing with your friends. You can find the link below.
To be continued...
UPDATE - 9TH JANUARY:
Unbelievably, the flights have got even cheaper. They're now mainly below £300. I'm at about £250 now, with £35 of that coming from gofundme. I've sent some letters to grant making charities, which will hopefully come to pass!
UPDATE - 18TH JANUARY
Go fund me is up to £80 now! But, more importantly, one of my good friends has put me in touch with Kate Spencer in Monterey. She runs her own boat tour company and has a lot of influence. This could be just what I needed to sort the trip out!
UPDATE - 2ND FEBRUARY
Flights still getting cheaper, most are around the £275-£280 mark now. Nothing has come of the grants I looked into. Go fund me up to £100. Still waiting to hear back from Kate about accommodation. Bursting with anticipation!
BIG UPDATE 10TH APRIL:
It is unlikely to have escaped you that the world is currently facing an unprecedented crisis in the form of Coronavirus/COVID-19. Daily life has been turned on its head, everything we know has changed.
Of course, travel is a major no no at this time. Therefore the trip has been cancelled. Well, I'm hoping technically postponed. The company I booked my flights with should be issuing a credit voucher for the value of my flights and the hotel have said they'll be refunding my booking costs.
So hopefully, should this crisis ease soon, I will be off to California later in the year, probably in September. I am expecting additional payments as the costs of flights and accommodation change throughout the year. Because of this, I am not taking down my gofundme page just yet; in case anyone else wishes to contribute.
This delay is also having an impact on my MA course. The trip was supposed to form the basis of two-thirds of the assignments for one module. My tutor is currently liaising with the university to see what can be done, but it is looking unlikely that I'll be graduating in February 2021 as planned.
Thanks all for your continued support
See you around (or not as the case may be!)
UPDATE 24th November:
I still really want to go on this trip, but it is not looking likely in the near future due to the continuing pandemic. April 2022, maybe? Let's keep our fingers crossed.
I managed to complete the relevant assignments for this trip, albeit in a slightly different format. However, I still won't be graduating in February 2021 as my health has taken a dip over the last few months and I've been unable to complete my final portfolio.
I hope to have it completed in the next few weeks, which will leave me more time and energy for regular writing for you lovely folk.
Thanks for reading.