November 20, 2010 GMT
Week 35 - 37

October 30th – dropped campervan off early, and got the Metro to the Airport. We reckon we’ve done another 1970 miles in the last 9 days on our second visit to Oz.

Today was an inordinately long day, crossing through time-zones willy-nilly. We set off from Sydney at 13:30 and landed in Fiji 4 hours later for a transfer. It was 19:00 local time when we got there, and the next flight wasn’t expected until 22:20, but there was a security alert (some bombs had been found at East Midlands airport bound for the U.S.) and so we were delayed an hour and a bit, whilst they re-checked everyone’s hand luggage, and had a pat down. The flight was overnight for 9 and a half hours, and we eventually got into Los Angeles at 12:15 dinnertime, still on the 30th. Bizarre.

South America has been dropped from our route altogether. We won’t have enough money to do it properly, so it’s off the agenda sadly.

October 31st – Bit of a walk to the local “mall”, get some local colour, get our bearings, and find some LA maps. Also sent off some emails to find out where the bikes are.

November 3rd – Caught a bus and Metro train to Hollywood. Walked along Hollywood Boulevard (the Walk of Fame) which was quite interesting, and snapped the famous Hollywood sign. Wasn’t quite as busy or as tacky as I had expected I must admit. They were shooting a mini-series while we were there and had one of the cross-roads cordoned off. Interesting to watch and listen.

November 6th – another day out, to the Griffith Observatory near Hollywood. Some exc ellent views of the Hollywood area, and brilliant displays and shows to see, about the Creation of the Universe, and the planets. And as an added bonus on the way home on the train, Spiderman went up the escalator as we were going down. An adult in a full Spiderman costume pulling a shopping trolley - and nobody batted an eyelid.


Los Angeles

November 9th – After much emailing and discussions, we can finally pick up the bikes today from a packing company near LA Airport. We didn’t know what state they would be in as we weren’t there when they were originally packed in Sydney. But it took a while to put them back together again, and then we had to walk to the nearest petrol station as both had been emptied of fuel. Thankfully both bikes started OK, but by the time we hit the road, LA’s ‘rush hour’ was in full swing. Bit of a nightmare, but we got back to the motel after a couple of wrong turns onto freeways going in the wrong direction.

November 10th – Set off from Los Angeles, heading north. I’ve never seen so many Porsches. We pulled in at a rest area, and got talking to a lovely couple, Tom and Debbie. They recommended a motel to us further north, told us to swap onto the Coastal Highway 1, and told us about the motel discount coupons that loads of people use. Later on, as we’d just decided to stop for the day, we realised we were near the motel that they’d recommended, so we stopped there. And met up with them again when they pulled up and saw the bikes parked there.

November 11th – Tom and Debbie treated us to breakfast, and a couple of hours of their charming company. They gave us some more recommendations of places to visit in California, including a colony of elephant seals a couple of miles up the road. The scenery is again spectacular – crashing Pacific surf on one side and redwood forests on the other.

We also fitted in a trip to Laguna Seca Raceway (another GP circuit), and almost decided to camp there, although we worked out it’s just as cheap to stay in a motel. Carried on through Monterey to Santa Cruz instead.


Pacific views from Coastal Highway.

November 12th – To San Francisco and its attractions Alcatraz, Lombard St (the crookedest street in the world) and Golden Gate Bridge. Then we headed towards Yosemite National Park. While at a petrol station a bloke told us that it’s been snowing there and the main road is closed, so we’ll have to work out where our next route is.


Lombard St, San Fransisco

November 13th – The weather forecasts are all snow and rain in the north and middle of the country, so we decided to amend our plans, and head to the Mojave Desert and Death Valley. Scenery has gone to scrubland and rocky desert, but at least it was warm enough to camp. The roads are full of enormous RV’s, about the size of coaches, and almost all dragging a family-sized car behind.

November 14th – Nevada is just like I expected – incredible mountains and desert, but alas no three-pronged cactuses yet. Beautiful colours though, and the roads are good although busy. Petrol is really cheap – we’re paying for a gallon what we would pay for a litre at home; and the motels are cheap as well. Lots of people come up and talk to us as soon as they see the number plates, and we’ve had our picture taken by almost everyone that stops to chat.

November 15th – Decided to have a couple of days in Las Vegas, to see what all the fuss is about. It’s not as horrendous as I thought it would be – the glitz and lights are stunning, and the “Strip” is actually quite an interesting place to be. There are free ‘shows’ in places with dancers, and dancing fountains outside one of the hotels, and a pair of lionesses in one of the casinos (MGM unsurprisingly given its trademark). Very pleasant really although I couldn’t see myself having a fortnight holiday here.

November 16th – To Hoover Dam and then to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. ‘Nuff said.


Grand Canyon, Arizona

November 17th – To Albuquerque in New Mexico. Lots of desert scrubland again, and some beautiful colours in the surrounding mountains. We’ve gone through Apache and Navajo country today. At one point they were advertising Cactus Moccasins, but I think they were missing a comma somewhere.

November 18th – Further investigation of the weather shows we need to continue going south. Snow has fallen in lots of the north and in the middle near Kansas. We’ve had to miss out Bonneville Salt Flats, and Mount Rushmore, which were on our original route. Fortunately we’re fairly fluid, and we’d rather still be moving than snowed-in in a motel somewhere. Internet access is usually pretty good, so at least we’re contactable more often as well as being able to check on weather/road conditions.

Posted by Sheila Oldfield at November 20, 2010 11:57 PM GMT

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