Los Angeles

Day 1

This morning we returned the RV and picked up a hire car. It was too early to book into our accommodation in West Hollywood so we went for lunch at a nearby bar/restaurant. The meals were huge and delicious, and the boys were given a complimentary 3 foot of fairy floss!! When we were booked in we were “upgraded” to a pool room. It’s kinda cool. We open the doors and take 3 steps and we’re in the pool. Well, the boys are. Terry and I are sitting just to the side of the pool, with a bottle of Californian sav. blanc. This afternoon we walked a few miles to see the stars at the Walk of Fame. We stopped in at Madame Tussaud’s (the photos will make you laugh) and then spent an hour or so in the nearby lolly shop (Sweets, formerly Lollywood). The boys made custom chocolate bars and played on the piano steps. We caught a cab back to the motel and the boys had room service (Terry and I were still full from lunch). They’re now fast asleep, charging their bodies for a big day at Universal Studios tomorrow.

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Day 2
What can I say? Universal Studios. Fun. Much. I hardly took any photos because I was having such a fat time! In the end I had to get some of Riley’s photos to post.

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Day 3

Today we had a sleep in and then piled into the minivan for a trip south to Santa Monica and Malibu. After morning tea on Malibu Beach we met Jomo (another one of Joan’s sons) and Indio (his son who we met when Joan visited last year) for lunch. From there we headed back to Hollywood in search of the prime location to photograph the Hollywood sign and then we went on a pilgrimage, via Beverley Hills, to the Diddy Reise cookies for more food that I didn’t need but felt that I had to eat. The evening was spent battling traffic back to our motel and packing for our flight to Hawaii tomorrow. We’re homeward bound.

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The last of the roadtrip

Day 14 (Virgin to Vegas – hehe!)

This morning we headed to Zion National Park and parked the RV. At this time of the year the park is only accessible by shuttle bus…which we soon discovered sucks. You can’t see anything as you’re driving, and the buses were really crowded. We stayed onboard until the end of the gorge and then travelled back, hopping off for a walk here and there. It wasn’t that spectacular, really, but some of the longer hikes would’ve been breathtaking. I think we’ve been gorged, canyoned and springed out. Interestingly we ran into some Aussies (which are reasonably rare over here) and, TERRY KNEW THE GIRL!! What a laugh. Terry said, ‘Hey’. And the girl said, ‘Terry!’. Too funny! From Zion we headed toward Vegas, stopping at a nature refuge for lunch and a quick look at Hoover Dam on the way. We’re now “camped” ON the Vegas strip, about to head out for a late father’s day dinner at Bubba Gump’s and then a 2.6 mile walk along the Vegas strip, stopping here and there to look at fountains, gold nuggets, massive aquariums and other Vegas-type stuff.

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Day 15
We had a nice dinner last night but the service was very slow so it was quite late by the time we started heading back to the RV. We could see the Belagio’s fountains from our table at dinner, but we stopped for a closer look on our way home. Unfortunately we missed the Mirage’s fountain show by a few minutes. The lights were amazing but we were exhausted by the time we got home and enjoyed a big sleep in this morning. Once on the road, we went hunting for the Silverton Casino as it was the one with the giant fish tank and we had failed to find it the night before. Ha! No wonder, it wasn’t anywhere near the strip! It was, however, connected to a massive Bass Pro store and, hours later, the Vallance family exited with several bags of goodies. Sorry Cabela’s, but Bass Pro kicks your butt!! We’re now on the road between Vegas and LA…booooring (except for the majorly cool Ivanpah Solar Power Facility)! Our camp tonight is at Long Beach and we swap the camper for a hire car in the morning.

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The Grand Canyon!…and polygamous Mormans.

 Day 13

Today we spent the morning and a good part of the afternoon exploring the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. Of the 5 million visitors that go to the Grand Canyon every year, only 10% go to the northern rim and it was surprisingly quiet (comparatively speaking). The canyon itself was…well, grand, but I’m starting to think we’re all canyon and gorged out. Needless to say, we’re camped tonight not far from Zion National Park (in a town called Virgin which is kinda ironic given we are in Utah…where pockets of polygamous Mormans still rule the world…apparently). We have to go on a shuttle bus to see the main part of the park tomorrow, private vehicles are not permitted. We drove through part of the park to get to our campsite and it included a $15 fee because our motor home was too big to fit through the access tunnel so they had to shut down the traffic from the other direction so we could drive in the middle of the lanes. Money well spent I say. Tomorrow we’ll have a look at Zion and then head to Vegas, via Hoover Dam. We’ve booked ourselves into an RV park right on the Vegas strip. We’re pretty sure it’s just a bitumen carpark but when in Rome…

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Last photos from the cruise

Cozumel

We had no hard and fast plans for our day in Cozumel, other than to sample the sights and smells of this very touristy coastal Mexican town. We headed past shop after shop of people trying to coax us inside with “free gifts”, and into the backstreets of the town. We looked through a food market with meat from a variety of animals hanging in the stalls. We managed to order ourselves some icecreams and home-made lemonade, despite the language barrier, and then eventually wound our back to the tourist strip. The boys got a henna tattoo each and, because they were so tough, had to get photos swigging beer, tattoos on show. We found a little traditional Mexican restaurant and had the yummiest platter of Mexican food before heading back to our cool room on the ship.

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 Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas

This stop was purely for dumb-arse tourists to work on their skin cancers and the last chance for the cruise line to fleece as much money from us as possible. The island is owned by the cruise company so there’s not much on it. Not to say it wasn’t beautiful. We left the crowds of roasters on the beach and hiked to the other end of the island to the lighthouse. We saw black iguanas and these cute little green and yellow dragons. It was a really hot day so, after the lighthouse, we headed back to the beach and found some space in the total crystal clear water. Despite the people, it was gorgeous. Then the boys spent an hour or two sliding down the massive blow up water slide before we headed back to the ship for an afternoon cocktail and swim.

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Onboard photos

These are just a selection of photos taken while on the ship.

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More of the roadshow!

Day 10

What a magic day. The morning was spent at The Arches National Park, and then we drove the short distance and explored Canyonlands National Park. While both parks are amazing, Canyonlands is breathtaking. My legs are telling me we walked as far as we drove today. We waited until later in the day to walk to Aztec Butte, where ancestral Puebloens, clad in their yukka sandals, stored their grain and seed in stone structures sealed with mud. Waaay cool. It was a huge climb but definitely worth it. I have 156 photos to wade through from today and I know NONE of them will do this bit of country justice but it’s all I have to offer. Tomorrow we’re in for a big drive to Bryce Canyon. The days are ticking away!!

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Day 11
Although it was a long drive today, we passed through such an amazing variety of landscapes that every bend and crest revealed something new. From just outside Canyonlands NP, we headed out to the freeway (where I saw, what I presume were, dozens of prairie dogs (no mobile service to check)) and then south until we had just passed Blanding. From there we travelled along the scenic drive, which took us beside White Canyon, and then through Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Capitol Reef National Park, Dixie National Forest, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and to Cannonville, just south-east of Bryce Canyon National Park. The change in the scenery was dramatic and breathtaking and, once again, my photos barely touch on its magnitude, colour, shapes and features. The views from our campsite are amazing but a storm sent us inside early. Tomorrow is Bryce Canyon and then we’ll head to the northern rim of the Grand Canyon.

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Day 12
We had thunderstorms all through the night and into the morning but, by about 8ish it had settled down to regular rain. Being dinky-di North Queenslanders, we were not daunted by the need for flippers, and merrily hit the road on our way to Bryce Canyon National Park. We drove through the park, stopping at lookouts, waiting for the cloud to lift so we could get a glimpse of the view below. The landscape we did see was spectacular and the hoodoos at Inspiration Point were my clear favourite. We also stopped to watch prairie dogs in meadow. They are so cool. After a quick treat of lunch at a diner, we were on the road towards the Grand Canyon, first passing through the beautiful Red Canyon. We’re camped at Jacob Lake, about 40 miles from the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. We’ve had a full range of temperatures today and tonight looks like being a cold one.

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Day 9 – Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Utah

Today was a driving day but we tried to break it up as often as we could, without compromising the miles we needed to do. From Rock Springs we drove through the beautiful Flaming Gorge. We stopped along the way at a roadside turnout to grab some fruit from the kitchen for lunch and decided to do the short walk that we accidently discovered. Talk about magic! The kokanee salmon were thick and travelling upstream. Some were starting to spawn and we watched females defending their male and nests from other females, and both species of fish climbing up the riffles. After that we just drove. The landscape was stunning and my photos don’t do it justice (even the dirty windscreen does nothing to enhance them). We had hoped to get in at The Arches National Park but the campground was full so we’re just down the road of Moab. We’ve planned our Arches NP walks for tomorrow and will camp at Canyon Lands National Park tomorrow night.

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Day 8 – Goodbye Grand Teton

When we woke up this morning the clouds had disappeared and we had clear views of the Grand Teton (or Grand Ping-Pong as Finn calls them). We packed up and headed off on a moose-hunt. We stopped to look at the Teton and lakes from a few vantage points, while scouring the landscape. To no avail. The only moose we saw was the town of Moose. So we left the Teton, shopped at Jackson Hole, and headed towards Utah. We saw a squashed porcupine on the road and lots of pronghorn antelope. The landscape was dry but, as we travelled further south-east, amazing striped hills and other formations appeared. Tonight we’re in a town called Rock Springs and tomorrow we will head down the west side of the Flaming Gorge, towards The Arches in Utah.

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