Monthly Archives: July 2014

On the road

Spoiler alert: this is a long blog with a lot of pictures. Blame America.

The day we left San Francisco, the city was wet and grey so we we were glad to have done the cycling in the sun the day before. But as we got further north, and the sun came out we had a great day of road tripping. Highway 1 continued to wind around the coast, and the scenery was just as spectacular as the Big Sur. Surf beaches, mountains into the sea, cliff stacks and ridiculous views all day. We stopped for a picnic at one point, and once again saw a whale swimming by!

Big Sur NoCal style

Big Sur NorCal style

Not the worst looking picnic spot

Not the worst looking picnic spot

Bodega Bay was a cool little town to stop in, and we had some tasty chowder at The Birds Cafe, named after the fact that Alfred Hitchcock filmed some of the classic film there.

Spot the tourist

Spot the tourist

At the end of the day we stopped in Fort Bragg. It wasn’t the nicest motel in the world, or the prettiest of towns, and the weird smell of Indian food clashing with weed kept wafting into our room! But it was fine and cheap, and the free pastry in the morning was alright.

The American motel experience. Funky smell!

The American motel experience. Funky smell!

The following day was another load of epic driving, and through some more of the most stunning scenery. After another stretch of coast, we turned inland at the end of Highway 1 and into the Redwoods. These are some of the tallest trees in the world and the road felt endless as we cruised through the thick forests. After the coast, the sea of green that surrounded us so different. We drove through the kitchy Chandelier tree, that had a tunnel cut through the trunk for carriages back in the day, and tourists with $5 today!

Tough to keep your eyes on the road

Tough to keep your eyes on the road

She just squeezed thru

She just squeezed thru

After this we pulled off the highway, and took the scenic Avenue of Giants. This is a 30 mile stretch of road twisting through the huge trees. There were various groves to stop in, and we spent a lot of time wandering amongst the trees and craning our necks. It’s impossible to capture the scale of the Redwoods in pictures, but we tried!

Big wood

Big wood

Sum bleddy stump!

Sum bleddy stump!

They're this big

They’re this big

That night, we stayed at a campsite just outside Crescent City right in a Redwood forest. Drinking wine and having a picnic outside our cabin and seeing the sun set on the trees was a pretty good end to a couple of epic days of driving. From the craziness of LA to the coast and now these trees, via Yosemite, California has got a lot going for it!

Awesome name for road

Awesome name for a road

Glamping in the Redwoods

Glamping in the Redwoods

The next day, we hit the road early pushed on into Oregon. Since seeing an image of Crater Lake in a Reader’s Digest type book as kid, I’d always wanted to go there. We weren’t sure we’d fit it in as it was quite a detour from the coast, but we are so glad we did! The drive out there was awesome, as we slowly climbed through more redwoods and forests, passing by a river gorge and a lot of crazy looking Sasquatch chainsaw-made statues. Also, we learned the states have some different laws – so far no sales tax (awesome), and you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas here.

Laura didn't believe until she saw this evidence

Laura didn’t believe until she saw this evidence

However, as we got higher and closer to the park, the skies got greyer. Crater Lake is supposed to be an amazing sight – as the name suggests, the lake is at the top of a mountain in the crater formed when the volcano exploded thousands of years ago. It’s water is entirely made up of snowmelt and rain, and is some of the purest in the world. When we got there on the afternoon after our early start we saw… nothing.

Our first view of the lake

Our first view of the lake

The whole top of the mountain that the lake lies in was swamped in super thick fog! The scenic 30+ mile drive around the rim, which we started and then abandoned, had visibility of about 10 feet – it was crazy! So, after joining the crowds of slightly angry Americans in the visitor centre (”And you’re saying you’re not sure if the weather will clear!? Great thanks”. The poor park rangers got this and worse) we headed back to our cabin in the woods and drowned our sorrow with a huge meal in the diner across the road.

Fortunately, the next day was the complete opposite. We got up early, and the sun was out and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Our first proper sight of the lake from the rim was breathtaking. The water is so blue it’s hard to describe, and we stopped a few more times on the rim drive to take photos and just stare gormlessly from different angles. But, in the spirit of making the most our time in the area, I had found out what the highest mountain in the National Park was and made us climb it!

First proper view!

First proper view!

Happier with this weather

Happier with this weather

The Phantom Ship

The Phantom Ship

Mount Scott is just under 9000 feet, but it wasn’t too difficult a hike. After an hour of switchbacks and sweating, we were at the top. The views were incredible. The lake is obviously the big draw and dominates the western view, but staring in all directions was awesome. We could see some of the Cascade Mountains, tipped in snow, and all around were endless green forests and no sign of civilisation. Incredible and so worth it. Plus, because it’s a hike and not too easily accessible, there were hardly any people up there!

Not for everyone first thing in the morning

Not for everyone first thing in the morning

To the top, past snow!

To the top, past snow!

Leading the way

Leading the way

Worth the hike

Worth the hike

Amazing

Amazing

After climbing to the highest point in the park, we did the next obvious thing and got to the lowest. The lake itself is only reachable by one trail because the sides of the crater are so steep and unstable. Boat tours are available but expensive, so there were quite a few people trekking down to the small dock at the base of the trail. But just beyond the dock, the path moves on to the most natural cliff jump spot I’ve ever seen. Yeah, you can climb down to dip your toes in the safe way, but really when else are you going to get to jump into the crater at the top of a volcano, into the deepest and purest lake in America?

Hoping it's deep enough

Hoping it’s deep enough

Hell of swimming pool

Hell of a swimming pool

Surprisingly it wasn’t that cold, and I was quite happy swimming around peering into the stunning blue depths. After drying off and hiking back to the top, we found a quiet spot on the rim for one of our most scenic picnics yet! Crater Lake, like Yosemite and some parts of New Zealand and the rest of this trip, is one of those wow places that we’ll never forget.

Crater Lake...

Crater Lake…

Another decent lunch spot

Another decent lunch spot

Epic

Epic

But that wasn’t all our fun for the day. After leaving the lake we had the small matter of a 200 mile drive back west to the coast to deal with. Continuing Oregon’s trend of being really damn good looking, the drive was amazing. The entire way wound down through the trees, along rivers and gorges and was just stunning. When we finally hit the coast, the pretty continued. First the huge sand dunes, then rough and rugged coast with forests right down the cliffs into the sea and picturesque lighthouses. After a bite to eat in Florence, we watched the sunset into the Pacific and finally made it to our motel in Yachats in the dark.

Back to the coast

Back to the coast

Risking RSI from too many selfies

Risking RSI from too many selfies

In these four days we racked up a lot of miles, and could have hit Portland, our next stop, in a much more direct route. But this section of the road trip was just incredible. Long driving, windswept and wild coastline, the tallest trees on earth, huge American portions of food and unique natural wonders. The best zigzagging detour ever.

Sunset from Cook's Chasm, Oregon

Sunset from Cook’s Chasm, Oregon

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If you’re going, to San Francisco…

After leaving Yosemite we headed back to the coast to soak up some NorCal vibes and some of the general entertaining weirdness in sunny Santa Cruz, on our way to San Francisco.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

It’s a really cool little town, with a pier, a boardwalk and an old school funfair, where I let Sam kick my ass at air hockey.

A tightly fought match

A tightly fought match

I got my revenge by taking him for an American diner experience in a couldn’t-tell-from-the-outside-but-actually-completely-veggie restaurant. Fortunately it was a completely authentic American experience, because we ordered two things from the appetisers menu and this ginormous feast arrived…

Veggie food is healthy so this is acceptable

Veggie food is healthy so this is acceptable

We won’t be going hungry again!

We then had a lovely walk around the West Cliff to watch the expert surfers and sea otters surfing so close to the cliffs. Beautiful, but scary!

Santa Cruz surfers

Santa Cruz surfers

Santa Cruz lighthouse and surf museum

Santa Cruz lighthouse and surf museum

The next day we drove up some more of Highway One’s beautiful coast on our way to San Francisco, stopping for lots of pictures along the way.

Shark Tooth Bay

Shark Tooth Bay

We stayed in a nice and cheap Airbnb in a suburb of SF and spent our first night eating clam chowder on Fisherman’s Wharf out of a sourdough bread bowl (I am definitely going to try this at home when we get back) and visiting the late night Exploratorium, a very cool science museum full of weird and wonderful hands on experiments. Thursday night is adults only and costs just $15 and I think the alcohol only enhanced our scientific understanding.

Mmmmmm chowder

Mmmmmm chowder

The Bionic Sam

The Bionic Sam

I have no idea what I was supposed to learn from this

I have no idea what I was supposed to learn from this

We then had a full day of exploring the city, visiting City Hall (where my cousin got married last year), the really crooked Lombard Street, Jack Keruac Alley, the Beat Museum and Chinatown. And eating some really good Vietnamese sandwiches as recommended by the Lonely Planet. If there is a queue of cool looking people, you know it’ll be good food.

The world's crookedest street

The world’s crookedest street

City Hall

City Hall

One of the biggest tourist attractions in the city is Alcatraz, the former high security prison on an island in the bay, which housed some famous inmates including Al Capone. The tours seem to sell out weeks in advance, but Sam managed to get us some tickets. The boat trip out to the island is pretty cool, with lovely views of the city and bridges.

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

On the island itself we took the really fascinating audio tour of the cell block, narrated by former guards and inmates. The notorious prison closed it’s doors in 1963, but was a really eerie place to be. Apparently it was voted in the Top 25 Scariest Places in the World. The tour definitely had some interesting stories of failed escape attempts, riots and prison life.

An Alcatraz Cell

An Alcatraz Cell

The cell block just 1.25 miles across the water from the city

The cell block just 1.25 miles across the water from the city

Back in the city we decided that, even though San Francisco is famous for being incredibly hilly, we would hire bikes for the day. And also, there was a voucher on Groupon. We cycled round to Golden Gate Park and across the famous bridge itself, around to a cute little town called Sausillito. It was a really fun way to explore these areas, but some of the hills were pretty tiring on the legs!

Golden Gate Selfie

Golden Gate Selfie

That night, we had a final dinner in San Francisco in a local style Mexican restaurant, complete with Mexican soap operas and a Spanish language fist fight between the owners and some disgruntled patrons!

Bueno!

Bueno!

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Yosemite in two days

After Monterey, our next destination was a 3 hour detour from our coastal roadtrip inland, to the Yosemite National Park. When we were planning our trip we weren’t sure if we would have the time, but wow, we are so glad we managed to fit it in!

We arrived at the Yosemite Bug Youth Hostel on Sunday evening, which is about 30 miles from the park itself (and so about half the price), and in a beautiful spot in the woods. Monterey had been a bit chilly, so when we stepped out of the car into the 32 degree heat, it really hit us!

The Yosemite Bug Hostel

The Yosemite Bug Hostel

We hadn’t made any firm plans for what we wanted to see, but Sam kept mentioning an awesome 15 mile hike he had read about. I really wasn’t convinced until I read some of the reviews on the yosemitehikes website, and I had to agree that it sounded brilliant. One guy described it as ‘after you do the Panorama Trail your life will be broken into two parts; before the hike and after it’.

So, we made up our minds to do it straight away and got up at 5am the next day to try and avoid some of the heat.

We're going up where?

We’re going up where?

The first part was a trail called ‘The Four Mile Trail‘ which is actually nearly 5 miles and is all uphill. Starting at the valley floor, we walked steadily for about 3 hours, through beech and then alpine forests, on switchback after switchback. Once we got into the rhythm of it, it felt really good, and we only saw one other group of people the whole way up.

Keep on walking

Keep on walking

As we got higher and higher new vistas would appear around the corner, like Sentinal Dome and El Capitan, and our first look at the famous Half Dome was just incredible.

Sentinel Dome

Sentinel Dome

The views kept getting better and better

The views kept getting better and better

We turned the corner, and POW! Half Dome!

We turned the corner, and POW! Half Dome!

Half Dome and Yosemite Valley

Half Dome and Yosemite Valley

The end of our first trail was at the top of the peak, at Glacier Point, one of the famous look outs that you can also drive to. After stocking up on Gatorade and gummy bears at the shop, we looked at more spectacular views of the whole valley. The walk was definitely worth the payoff!

We made it tot the top selfie!

We made it tot the top selfie!

We then started on the next Trail, The Panorama Trail, which took us down to Illouette Falls and then up a ridge which had a detour to a fantastic view point of the valley, but no railings and a terrifyingly sheer drop, so I couldn’t spend too long there.

Sam gets too close to the edge at Panorama Point

Sam gets too close to the edge at Panorama Point

Getting up close to the wildlife on the Panorama Trail

Getting up close to the wildlife on the Panorama Trail

We climbed some more before dropping down to Nevada Falls for some sausage sandwiches and a paddle in the stream to cool off.

Nevada Falls

Nevada Falls

The Trail then took us down a really steep path on the Mist Trail to descend a seemingly endless steep stone staircase right next to the Vernal Falls, before finally, we hit the valley floor again.

Going down

Going down

I think the whole walk was about 15 miles and took us about 8 hours. We were pretty hot and sweaty by the end, but it was such a brilliant introduction to the park. We celebrated with a pint and a chicken burrito back at our hostel.

A well earned pint and burrito

A well earned pint and burrito

The next day my legs were a bit like jelly so we had a bit more of a leisurely start, before heading into the park via the south entrance in order to visit the giant sequoia trees.

The Grisly Giant Sequoia Tree

The Grisly Giant Sequoia Tree

A big ol tree

A big ol tree

The Mariposa Grove is home to some of the largest and oldest trees in the world and they are so gorgeous to walk around in. We did a nice loop around the grove to see some of the star attractions and after a few miles it got nice and crowd-free, and the Forest became wonderfully peaceful.

Peace and quiet in the trees

Peace and quiet in the trees

On the drive back to the valley we stopped at the tunnel viewpoint for some more pictures (I think we managed nearly 300 in two days here!) and then the Bridalveil Falls, which, along with Yosemite Falls, aren’t at their best in the summer as they are nearly completely dry. Never mind, we’ll just have to come back in the spring when the snow melt makes them a spectacular sight.

The vista from Tunnelview

The vista from Tunnelview

Bridalveil Falls, almost completely dry because it's summer

Bridalveil Falls, almost completely dry because it’s summer

After visiting the museum and gift shop in the village we headed out of the park, via a completely isolated bit of the river for a swim!

Cooling off in the river

Cooling off in the river

Yosemite has been one of our absolutely top favourite things we have done this year. And it’s been a pretty awesome year! It is so stunning, and even with the summer-time crowds we could easily get away into the seeming wilderness with a few lovely walks. I’d definitely love to visit Yosemite again.

I LOVE YOSEMITE!!

I LOVE YOSEMITE!!

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West Coast – the best coast?

When we were in Beijing, way back at the start of this trip, a guy from San Francisco told us this when we were talking about travel plans. Almost a year later, and the west coast road trip has begun!

Road trip face

Road trip face

Malibu Laura

Malibu Laura

With LA in the rear view mirror, we started cruising up the Pacific Coast. We didn’t get far before stopping in Malibu, strolling out along the pier and although we didn’t see any celebrity beach houses (we think), you can see why they’d live here. From there we pushed on north, the road winding around the coast making for some pretty special views, just an a few miles into the trip.

Straight into the pretty

Straight into the pretty

After a couple of hours we were in Santa Barbara and we decided to stop for lunch. Resisting the temptation for burgers and pizzas, and after wandering around the town for a while, we had a picnic on the beach before grabbing a nice ice cream on the pier. A small scoop is pretty big in America apparently.

Santa Barbara picnic

Santa Barbara picnic

Small scoops

Small scoops

Another day, another pier

Another day, another pier

From Santa Barbara we left the coast for a bit and drove into Solvang, a bizarrely quaint little town. It was originally a Danish settlement, and retains a very Scandinavian feel, right down to the windmills and Christmas shop! We didn’t stay long though because our final destination for that night, San Luis Obispo, had a farmer’s market on in the evening. I think it’s the reason Law chose SLO for us to stay.

Law finally takes the wheel

Law finally takes the wheel

Solvang - are windmills Danish?

Solvang – are windmills Danish?

They'm no Barnies maid

They’m no Barnies maid

It actually was a really nice town, and it was a good night to be there with the market on. About 4 or 5 blocks of the Main Street were totally full of people and stalls, with so much food to chose from! We ended up going with a burrito, and again what we thought was a small turned out to be huge. It was a good choice, but a tough call as we also saw, of all things, a stall selling pasties, albeit with a California twist. It wouldn’t have been right to try them, so we washed our burrito down with some cake and hit the sack.

Mmm...

Mmm…

We didn’t cover much ground the next day, but did pack a lot in. In the morning we went back to the coast and to Morro Bay, a cool little fishing town with a massive granite island / rock on the edge of the harbour. Watching the sailing boats and seals go by, we had some fish tacos and amazing garlic fries, and realised that America may not be the best place for healthy eating. After Morro, we went to Cambria, a really cool little town just off the coast where we’d be staying the night. We weren’t done for the day though, as we’d booked tickets for a look around Hearst Castle about 10 miles away.

Morro Babe

Morro Babe

A queue? Must be some good garlic fries

A queue? Must be some good garlic fries

It was mental. Insanely over the top opulence, with a bizarre mash of different styles and periods thrown together on top of a mountain. It was built by William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper magnate throughout the first half of the 20th century, the Murdoch of the day. The place was his west coast retreat, a ’ranch’ to entertain in and relax in. It took almost 30 years to build and was just nuts. From the road you can see what looks like palm tree ringed white palace, and once up the hill it just gets better. The front looks like a 14th century Spanish cathedral, with a mix of statues and bits of art decorating the building from all over the world and all over history.

The Castle on the hill

The Castle on the hill

Hell of a front door

Hell of a front door

"Hearst was a man of the people"

“Hearst was a man of the people”

We had a tour of the ground floor, led by a guy who loved his job (and Mr Hearst), who passionately talked about his life and the building. The insides are massive, stately rooms, filled with a range of historical and purpose made fixtures. Huge tapestries and paintings cover the walls, ancient church choir seats “saved” are throughout, the ceilings are hundreds of years old and dining room looked like Hogwarts. Outside, tennis courts, guest houses bigger than normal houses, palm trees and a huge ’Neptune’ pool are surrounded by panoramic views of the mountains and sea. It was amazing, like being in a medieval episode of Cribs. Possibly more money than he knew what to do with, but a really fun place to visit.

Don't think he got the dining room from IKEA

Don’t think he got the dining room from IKEA

The smaller, indoor pool

The smaller, indoor pool

After Cambria, we spent the day doing one of the most famous stretches of road in the country, the Big Sur. The road from Hearst Castle up to Monterey is about 100 miles, winding around the sides of mountains that drop into the sea, past beaches that are beautiful, wild and barren at the same time rarely out of sight of the Pacific. Rocks and cliffs jut out of the sea with waves crashing, and around the next bend a colony of sea lions basks on a beach. We spent the whole day on the drive, stopping to take photos and just enjoy the views.

Big Sur begins

Big Sur begins

It's a seal's life

It’s a seal’s life

Constantly amazing views

Constantly amazing views

The road ranged from busy to fairly quiet, and for some stretches we were on our own. At other points, crowds can stop at the same place but it’s for good reason. At Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, cars are stopped all along the road, and by hopping the fence and walking a short track you see why. A pristine cove, naturally sheltered, with a waterfall dropping right down onto the sand. Just out to sea, a whale was swimming past, blowing and diving away. Amazing. And later, we just pulled off the road and made lunch, just us and the view.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns beach

Julia Pfeiffer Burns beach

Thar she blows! Same whale as in Kaikoura?

Thar she blows! Same whale as in Kaikoura?

Bixby Bridge

Bixby Bridge

By the time we reached the famous Bixby Bridge, which spans a creek and is ridiculously photogenic, we had almost filled a memory card with images that will never do it justice. We did find the time and energy to explore the über-quaint town of Carmel, which was very pleasant if a little too posh for backpackers! Considering Clint Eastwood used to be the Mayor, the lack of Western/Dirty Harry memorabilia was disappointing!

From there we finished up in Monterey, and spent the evening wandering around the town. Deciding to avoid the pricier food on the wharf, we ended up with massive burgers in a sports bar instead. For our final day (for a little while) on the coast, we spent the morning around Cannery Row and in the Monterey Bay Aquarium. There are some amazing exhibits there, and the fact we got discounted entry tickets from the AirBnB host we stayed with helped us enjoy it even more. The giant fish tanks were awesome, the sea otters very cute, but the highlight was eerily lit jellyfish tanks. Very cool.

Steinbeck street

Steinbeck street

A bit Bond villain maybe

A bit Bond villain maybe

Hammer time!

Hammer time!

Only a tiny bit of the route covered, but so far, the west coast is living up to the billing it got all those months ago.

Viewtastic

Viewtastic

Categories: USA | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US(L)A

America, f@#k yeah!

America, f@#k yeah!

So, we are in America! The last landmass, last but one country, and last month and a bit of our gap yah. Back in the northern hemisphere, and into the summer and a land where the sun doesn’t set at 5.45pm! The change of pace from our last couple of months in NZ and Fiji, where we took things easy and took our time travelling, has been extreme. We’ve been doing different things every day and in just our first week have done so much. The blog feels a bit behind, so we’re now trying to catch up a bit.

Driving here is scary for all kinds of reasons

Driving here is scary for all kinds of reasons

Our flight out of Fiji left at 9.30pm on the 6th July, and after some uncomfortable sleep and the massively disappointing Anchorman 2, we landed 11 or so hours later in LA. It was about 1.30pm on the 6th July, a hell of long day. Dateline crossed, we kept our wits at the border control counter – “What exactly is the nature of your relationship?”, got our bags and then encountered the first big challenge…

We had booked a car for the first three and bit weeks here, which is all good in theory but when you’re a bit dazed and confused the 6 lane freeways and driving on the right side of the road can be a bit scary. I was pretty pleased when we made it off the freeway and into Santa Monica and found the apartment we were staying in. Tensest 10 miles ever. The place we were staying was great, and the friendly owner drove us off down toward her place at Venice Beach that evening. Coming from the peace and quiet of our last few months, the crowds, traffic and heat were a bit intense. We were loving it pretty soon though, it just feels and looks so iconically American. The pier and boardwalk, the flags, the Baywatch style lifeguard huts and the Stars and Stripes. Awesome.

Hasselhoff was ere

Hasselhoff was ere

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Only in America

Only in America

After a fairly epic sleep, we drove into the city and found the way to Hollywood. Cheesey and crowded, the walk of fame, Chinese Theatre and all the textbook sights were so cool to actually see. Laura was disappointed that I only took photos of obscure stars, but Gene Roddenberry is a legend. The driving was a bit scary still though, so we ended up haggling a discount for an open top tour ride around all the sights. Very touristy, but totally worth the $25. Mullholland Drive, the Hollywood sign, Beverley Hills, Rodeo Drive, Sunset Blvd and various celebrity homes – surprisingly good fun.

90210 baby!

90210 baby!

The drama degree finally pays off

The drama degree finally pays off

Iconic... And slightly hazy

Iconic… And slightly hazy

Hef's front gate

Hef’s front gate

One of the big questions for our time here had to be answered – Disneyland or Universal Studios? I’ve never been to any kind of Disney, but we could get to the one in Paris easier than a return to LA so Universal won out, and we had an amazing day there. We got in reasonably early, and went straight to the lower lot where the big rides are. At this point the queues were quite short and first up we went for Transformers. It blew our minds! Even the queue was entertaining, designed like a military bunker with various videos being shown. The ride itself is a really intense simulator, and it totally felt like we were in an Autobot / Decepticon smack down.

Best. Day. Ever!

Best. Day. Ever!

Roll out!

Roll out!

The Jurassic Park ride was awesomely old school, animatronic dinosaurs and a massive water slide with a soaking ending. The Mummy ride was also great, a roller coaster / house of horrors hybrid. The Studio Tour was a real highlight, going through various famous sets like the Bates Motel, western, Mexican and European towns, the neighbourhood with the crashed 747 from War of the Worlds and the street from The Burbs (Desperate Housewives made it slightly more famous I guess). Amity, complete with Jaws attack and the King Kong simulator were also great fun.

Jurassic Park gets you...

Jurassic Park gets you…

... Wet!

… Wet!

SHARK!!!

SHARK!!!

Waterworld. Better than the film

Waterworld. Better than the film

The whole day was awesome, all the rides great and we definitely got our money’s worth. I think we saw everything on the park map, even the kids’ rides. The next day we capped off our time in the City of Angels / mental roads, with two quintessentially LA experiences. We spent the morning and early afternoon wandering around Santa Monica and Venice, checking out the fair on the pier, Muscle Beach (not many people working out), the boardwalks and the general slightly freaky atmosphere. In the evening, we went and watch a sitcom being taped and became immortalised as part of the “live studio audience”.

Workin it

Workin it

It’s free to go and see things taped, so we checked what was on and booked a few weeks ago. Slim pickings, so we ended up watching a show called The Exes being shot. It stars Donald Faison (Turk from Scrubs), Wayne Knight (Seinfeld) and Kristen Johnson (3rd Rock), and whilst it probably won’t make it onto our box set list, it was a great night. A stand up comic keeps the audience warmed up all night, before and during shooting, and ensures that you laugh at the right moments. It must be a hell of a job, especially on the 3rd or 4th take when we’d all heard the jokes a few times! It was the comedian’s birthday as well, so we got treated to a singalong as Turk jumped into the audience and sang Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday – surreally cool! No cameras allowed though 😦

As well as these celebs, our first genuine star spot came the day before. After touring Hollywood and Beverly Hills, the first proper famous person we saw was Eddie Marsan, a British actor, coming out of the supermarket. I said “big fan, sorry”, and he went “hello”. So LA.

LA wasn’t really one of the main places we wanted to visit in the states, but we had such a good time there. The size and traffic and heat were all intense, but there is so much to do and we’d love to go back there one day. But manifest destiny and go west young man and all that, so after 4 great days the road trip began properly, and we hit the Pacific Coast Highway.

Bye LA, thanks!

Bye LA, thanks!

Categories: USA | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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