Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Spent an awesome day at Disneyland today. So much fun, especially with kids! All 8 of us bombing around the park, maxed out with things to do. Having the 'arguments' about who was gonna ride with who! Such a top day! Loved it!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Santa Barbara

On our way down the coast we stopped in Santa Barbara - what a pleasant surprise! The end of such a lovely sunny day anyway we pulled into the Carpinteria State Park. The campsite was really close to the beach, and the beach is sandy and a mile long. Watched the sunset and just as the sun disappeared we then saw dolphins playing about 200 feet offshore! and then saw a seal and lots of dive-bombing pelicans - so cool! Spent a lovely lazy evening enjoying a BBQ and campfire.

Monday, October 23, 2006

San Francisco

We got to San Francisco area last night, and spent the night camped out in a Walmart carpark (a little different to the 5 star hotels my mother is used to!!!!). Today we drove into the city. Went over to Sausalito for breakfast and then Mum, Chris & I went over on the ferry to Alcatraz. Such a cool place (actually my third visit! - and would have been Dad's 5th or 6th hence he opted out and rode the cable cars all morning!) Did the audio tour, lasting about 45 mins round the cell block - narrated by old residents - be it prison wardens or inmates. Went to a ranger talk on the 'famous' inmates - Al Capone, Robert Stroud 'the birdman' and others, and finally watech a discovery video about the island. Time flew by - we spent about 3 hours in all and such great views of the city, the bay and the Golden Gate bridge from the ferry.

Dad is pretty familiar with the city so it was great have a knowledgable driver. Went up to Coit Tower where we got some great views of the city from 'up high', drove down Lombard Street (the wiggliest street!), went to the cable car museum and engine house, and generally cruised around a bit! Chris and I had been recommended a great curry house by a Pakistani guy who worked in a gas station up the coast, and we then found the listing in our Rough Guide so we headed there. In 22 months we definately haven't had as good a chicken tikka masala as this! (well apart from our 3 weeks back in the UK earlier this year!!). Great dive called Shalimar - by the looks of it you would SO walk past! But isn't that the way with great authentic food!? The guys in there barely understood what we were ordering - that's how Indian they were!, and the food was great.

For sunset we drove out to Lincoln Park where we walked along the cliff path with a great view back east into the bay and the bridge lit up 'golden' by the setting sun, then when that light faded there were great sunset colours with just the right amount of clouds in the sky to make it really pretty.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Political opinion!!

Not ours.......As seen on a car bumper in the state capital - Sacramento!!

Monday, October 16, 2006

525 miles later...

Just got back from a 2-day, 500 mile ride on the bike up the coast and back. Didn't want to miss out on the US Coastal route 1, we rode from north San Francisco as far as Rockport where the road turns inland. Lots of great scenery, although pretty misty and overcast yesterday - although it all adds to the rugged coastal charm! The earlier part of the day along the Sonoma coast was particularly lovely - quite undeveloped, and some FAB fish n' chips in a crummy looking cafe in Bodega Bay that turned out to be quite a find! (love it when that happens)

Spent the night in Fort Bragg. Walked to Glass Beach - which is a beach full of glass....It was used as the town dump until the 60's. Was cleaned up, but never so well that a lot of glass was left there. Over the years the waves have crashed and ground it all up and now all that remains is a very pretty beach of tiny smooth glass pieces - had to do some beachcombing here! Had an awesome meal out last night in the Mendo Bistro.

Today we drove through the Chandelier Tree in Leggett - well it had to be done - rude to have driven on by even if it costs $3 to drive a 1/4 mile loop road!! Ahhh - the things we do for a photo op! Drove back south via Highway 101 which stayed inland. Ultimately ending up in Calistoga and the Napa Valley - such a lovely day out, but we resisted the temptation to stop at the wineries - will do all that once my Mum & Dad arrive.....TOMORROW!!!!!

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Time has rushed by. We've spent most of the last week in Yosemite National Park. We didn't actually camp in the park itself - most campgrounds were closed for the season and bizarrely the 2 open were both full! (somethings wrong there!!) Stayed just 5 miles outside the west gate in one of our membership parks so it was free!! It did mean we had to travel in each day which was about 30 miles to the valley (which is where lots of the attractions and hikes are or start from). Thankfully we have the motorbike (the roads were so hilly I'm glad we didn't have to do the journey in the RV - much of the time on the bike we got stuck behind RV's like us with their brakes stinking from over-use!)

We did travel to the south of the park and Mariposa Grove which is the largest of Yosemites groves of the Giant Sequoia trees. These big old fellas are the largest living things on the planet and grow up to 30 feet in diameter and 300 feet tall. They can also love about 3000 years! Pretty amazing stuff. There's the California tree which has a pedestrian tunnel through it (and the tree is still alive and growing), and the Grizzly Giant which is the largest in the grove. Also the Fallen tunnel tree which fell in the winter of 1968-69 but before that did have cars driving through it! So we hiked around alot and came back through the park at sunset (which was nice but very, very cold on the bike!)

Spent a couple of days in the valley. Most of the waterfalls are dried up at the moment - well perhaps trickles of water if you squint and look very closely! We walked around the meadows which are changing colour at the moment and smell lovely! Did a small hike out to Nevada Falls which did actually have some water, but were'nt very 'in the hiking mood' of late. It's been fun to just amble around... Did sign up for an excellent and informative Photography Walk. It's run by the Ansel Adams Gallery in the park and runs 3 times a week for free!! Such a good deal - you spend 2 hours with a professional photographer just strolling around the valley picking up tips and techniques - our subject matter was 'light' - so good!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

More Lake Tahoe

It's great to have Chris back!! (No more driving hills for me for a while - think I've done my fair share!!) Have had a wonderful couple of days relaxing at Lake Tahoe. What a beautiful place. And it's so autumnal!! (although on the downside it does also mean it's quite chilly - and to think less than a week ago I was on meltdown in Death Valley!).

Today we rode the 72 miles round the lake on the bike. I have a lovely new comfy seat which Chris brought back from New Mexico with him - so it was just great! Stopped for lunch at a great little cafe, and numerous other times at scenic viewpoints taking photos and admiring the views. A local small town was having it's Oktoberfest celebrations so we stopped for a while to wander round the craft stalls, listen to some awful German-style music, smell the bratwurst and consider the beers....

Had a great campfire tonight - was mad for it - so much so we paid $9 for a bundle of firewood - yes you really did read $9 - NINE dollars for a few logs of wood! Still worth it. Such a great end to a lovely, lovely day at the lake.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lake Tahoe

Having left Death Valley I drove north. About 200 miles on Sunday, then another 140 Monday to get to Reno, NV. Nice enough place - it's got shops and lots of people and being by myself that's nice to be around! And shop I did (serves my husband right for 'abandoning me for 10 days!!).

Now staying on the shores of Lake Tahoe. Gorgeous place. And it's autumn!! (we've been in such hot places lately I hadn't seen the signs of autumn until I was driving here) It's great - smells great! Woodsmoke, dampness, falling leaves - FAB! Season here is definately well and truly over. Lots of places are shut - including campgrounds and tourist atrractions in the state parks etc. Spent last night in a great park that was open - went for a walk down to the lake this morning - all a bit spooky though walking through the woods - it's bear country again and I'm just not used to hiking alone - I don't make enough noise with no-one to talk to! (had to whistle and clap lots - got a couple of really weird looks from a couple of fellow hikers!)

Now back in a small lakeshore town, will stay here tonight and hopefully tomorrow Chris will come back!! Can't wait :-)

Death Valley

Boy - was it hot!! I arrived in the park around noon. About mid-90's - I can do that! However when I went into the visitor centre and chatted to a ranger I found out the hottest part of the day is around 4pm - and was expected to get to 106 degrees - Oh boy! Camped out in the park service campground in Furnace Creek area - no hookups so I found the closest thing to shade and flaked out. Went out for a sunset walk up a shaded canyon which was nice, although in places the heat did seem so, er, hot! Had trouble getting to sleep that night. At 11.30pm it was still 95 degrees.

Next morning got up before sunrise (gotta beat that heat somehow) Finally it was cool - bliss! Went to Zabriskie Point to take photos - quite the little party of early risers there - wicked colours of gullied land and Manly Point catching the early morning light, with views of the distant mountains. (I actually wore a cardigan this morning!!) Next stop was Badwater Basin. At 282 feet BELOW sea level it is the lowest point in the western hemisphere (apparently - doesn't an east/west divide of the 'hemisphere' rather depend on where you are at the time?) Some of the hottest temps ever have been recorded here - 134 degrees - meltdown!! Things were hotting up for me by now too....drove 25 miles up t'road to Stovepipe Wells - who had RV hookups - hoorah! Booked in late morning, plugged in the electric, shut the curtains and turned up the aircon high (nothing like 'expericing these wonderful national parks au naturel eh?!) And basically hid for the rest of the day. To be honest limited somewhat by a) where I can get to in the RV b) where I'm prepared to wander off to by myself c) the heat!

This morning got up early again to wander 2 miles out to the middle of the sand dunes - reaching up to 100 ft high - kinda cool - a good workout trudging across the dunes. Met an 'interesting' couple near the highest of the dunes. They'd been taking 'artistic nude' pictures of each other until I turned up - think I rather pissed on their parade!! They did ask me to take some photos of them - thankfully with their clothes on (though they did debate whether or not to?!?!!?!?!?!)

Had the time of my life (NOT) driving out of Death Valley. Sea Level to 5000 ft in about 18 miles - so the engine hovered dangerously close to the overheating point. Then having gone uphill I enevitably had to come back down again - so then the brakes started overheating - great. Much of todays driving followed much the same vein... Lots of stopping in lay-bys chilling out waiting for either the brakes or the engine to cool down...