Wednesday, 22 October 2008

19/10/2008 - 09/11/2008 - San Francisco - San Diego

19/10/2008 -San Francisco. Well after a couple of days of some long drives, we finally made it to San Francisco. The RV Park we are staying in is about 5 miles from the city, so it's in a great location, however the way we drove in, the neighbourhood isn't exactly inviting and I don't think Mum will be venturing too far from the gates. One of the benefits of this Park is it has transport direct into the city and is just across the road from the 49ers stadium unfortunately for us there is no game on whilst we are in San Francicso.

20/10/2008 - We were all up early and ready for the 9:00 bus into the City. Our first stop was near Fisherman's Wharf Pier 39 were we headed straight to see the Sea Lions who have made themselves at home on several of the pontoons. We've booked ourselves into one of the Hop on Hop Off tours. We do find that these are really helpful to get the lay on the city and it gives us a good feel for what we would like to do with our time in the city.

Okay so after an exhausting morning, it's time for lunch, of course we head out to Fisherman's Wharf for some Clam Chowder, Seafood and a couple of glasses of wine. Lucky Mum and the Big Fella were with me because if they hadn't been, I would of settled in very nicely and probably spent most of the afternoon in the one restaurant. From here we just wandered around the Fisherman's Wharf area, before heading back to the RV Park.

21/10/2008 - Once again we were up and ready for the first bus. Dave and I spent the morning at Alcatraz, it was very eerie in some places especially the solitary confinement cells. They have a great Audio Tour which Dave and I both thoroughly enjoyed. So if you are in San Fran, I would say that Alcatraz is well worth the visit. Mum had spent the morning back on the Hop On Hop Off Bus so we met upwith her at 12:30 - yep just in time for some lunch. So once again we had another lovely feed of crabs and lobster on the Pier (not good for our Diets). After lunch The Big Fella and I caught the Bus over to the South Side of the Golden Gate, so we could walk over to the North Side and catch the Bus back. Wow, what spectacular views you can get looking back to San Fran from the city. Mum didn't join us (as we've heard a 100 times - she doesn't do walking unless it involves food or retail therapy) so we all met up again at Fisherman's Wharf. We had a small walk around and then off to the Cable Cars, this is obviously a huge Tourist Attraction has there was a line up that would take about 45 minutes, so we walked to the next stop and only had a 30 minute wait. Another thing off the list that Dave and I wanted to do in San Fran. We took the Cable Car to the top of Lombard St, which is known as being the crookedest / steepest Street in San Fran, but when you read the literature you find out that it is neither, but still a sight worthy of seeing. We jumped our first cable car with Mum getting inside and Dave and I rode the steps on the outside. (As you do...) So we were able to get Mum to walk down by telling her we were going for dinner. We stopped and asked a local for what Italian Restaurant he recommended (we were in the Italian District) and he gave us the name of one - so off we headed. When we first arrived at the Restaurant Mum and I headed straight for the Restrooms to freshen up. When we got back there was menus and water waiting for us. So of course after our lovely walk we were a bit thirsty - so we finished of the first bottle of water very quickly, the waitress (who was always hovering around, much to Dave's disgust) asked if we would like another bottle and of course I said yes (I didn't know that it was bottled still water (not the good old fashioned tap water) until Dave pointed it out to me - oh well how much can a bottle (not even a litre) cost. Well when we got the bill we found out $7.50 - I could of ordered a bottle of wine - last time I'm going to be good and order the water next time it's wine from the beginning. So after a lovely meal it was back onto the Cable Car to catch our bus home. I for one had a fantastic day and I realise that I could live in San Fran it has a spectacular harbour and great food.

22/10/2008 - Today we started our journey down the famous Highway 1, to the Santa Cruz area were we stayed the night in the State Park at Capitola on New Brighton State Beach. We arrived around 4:00pm so just in time for happy hour. So we've got ourselves all set-up, I've got my new bottle of wine out of the fridge, my glass and now Mum and I are trying to open the bottle - uh oh we broke the waiters friend (I normally have a spare (like any good drinker) - but this had got broken a few days earlier - and no not from overuse). So we have a dilemma - Mum to the rescue over to the next site with bottle of wine in hand. Of course she does the right thing and has a chat to the two gentlemen (who were both in wheelchairs) and comes back in about 10 minutes with an open bottle of wine - so after I stop hyperventilating, the glass is full. We are all sitting outside enjoying the park and the two gentlemen come wheeling over and introduce themselves (Russ and Nev and their dog Moby). Moby is a really lovely black Labrador, so I offer to take him for a walk. He his really powerful, I found out later that he frequently pulls Russ and Nev both at the one time in their wheelchairs. So being sociable we all have a few drinks, after about an hour Russ goes over and puts a chicken on for their dinner. So after about an hour after that we start cooking our meal as well (we do offer to cook dinner for them as well - but they insist they are going home soon to have their chicken) - well our dinner is all cooked and we are ready to eat, Mum just can't eat in front of them so gives them a small plate to share, well we've finished dinner and they still don't look like going back to their site for their chicken, so once again we offer to cook them something to eat and this time they say yes - by this time Russ and Nev have just about had as much as they can drink (apparently prior to coming over to us they had had several martinis) - so after a few subtle hints and Mum politely getting up and saying good night Russ and Nev still don't look like moving - so Dave and I say good night. It was a great night they were both very interesting men.

23/10/2008 - 25/10/2008 - We are all about to head out down the track to the beach but before we go we wander over to say goodbye to Russ and Nev. Once again I get to take Moby for a run, this time we go to the beach. So after giving Moby back to them and we say our goodbyes again, Dave and I go for a long walk down to the other end of the beach. We pass an RV park which is situated right on the beach, so we go to enquire about vacancies (it is another State Park). The process is that they have a lottery for any vacant sites (normally you need to book 48 hours prior) you need to be there before 12:00 noon to receive a token and then at 12:30 they do a draw. To cut a long story short we ended up being able to book in for two nights. So once again we are sitting outside enjoying our spectacular view and we meet our neighbor (Peter), so being polite we all have a drink together. Peter is from Austria and has just received his green card. We find out that he is currently a baker and was previously a chef (along with a number of other trades). So as the evening progresses we start thinking about dinner. Peter has previously made a tomato based pasta sauce and says that he has enough for all of us. So after Mum and I prepare some salads and pasta we settle down to a lovely meal. After the meal Peter brings out his Schnapps, Dave being polite obliges with Peter and they both have a few Schnapps - of course then Dave brings out his Bundy and they have a few of those and to finish the night off they end up polishing a bottle of red off before going to bed. Peter also owns a lovely golden retriever named Mozart - so yet again I seem to be given the job of dog walker - which I love. It was great to meet Peter he lives in Denver, Colorado and has offered for Dave and I to go and visit whenever we want - fantastic. Peter has also booked in for two nights so the next afternoon we all get together and Peter has offered to cook us Beef Strogonoff (you beauty). Dave hadn't surfaced too much today and eventually makes an appearance with a can of Coke. So after a lot more subdued night we all head off to bed. Peter is going to meet up with his Mum and her husband in a couple of days time - so he has a night or two spare and has decided that he will head off with us down Highway 1 to the Hearst Castle. This has been a fantastic spot to settle in for a couple of nights. The wildlife etc out in the water just off the beach was just wonderful, we saw many harbour seals, dolphins and the morning we left I even got to see a whale migrating South.

We have been told by many friends the drive down Highway 1 is just spectacular. Unfortunately for us we picked a rather bad day to do this drive, the fog / cloud was really thick and you could not see the coastline except for a couple of small breaks in the cloud, it was more like flying in an airplane and looking down onto the clouds. Of course, Mum was in the back panicking she absolutely hates driving around cliffs etc, so when we parked the first thing Mum did when she got out of Stubbie was to kiss the ground. We spent the night in another State Park close to Hearst Castle - unfortunately we have been boon docking for a few nights and we have run out of water, our grey tank is full, our LP gas is low and our black tank is nearly full. Which means no showers - lucky Peter is travelling with us and has plenty.

26/10/2008 - This morning we wake up and say good-bye to Peter - I'm sure we will get to see him again, either on our travels or back into Australia. So we drive up to the visitor centre for the Hearst Castle and book ourselves into the next available tour. The Hearst Castle is really something to see. Hearst Castle is the palatial estate built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Invitations to Hearst Castle were highly coveted during its heyday in the 1920s and '30s. The Hollywood and political elite often visited, usually flying into the estate's airfield or taking a private Hearst-owned train car from Los Angeles. Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, the Marx Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Joan Crawford, Calvin Coolidge, William P. Clark, Franklin Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill were among Hearst's A-list guests. After visiting the Hearst Castle we drove a few miles back up Highway 1 to have lunch and to see all the Elephant Seals lining the beaches. So after lunch we start to our travels over to Las Vegas.

27/10/2008 - 30/10/2008. We spend the next few nights heading towards Las Vegas, doing a bit of shopping at the Outlet Stores on the way. Stopping for a few hours in Santa Barbara having some lunch, and a look around. Mum and I decided to spoil ourselves and shout ourselves a Manicure and Pedicure. After two hours and we pay the bill (I think we were ripped off - it was advertised as $45.00 for both, but then anything extra - like your legs being massaged - cost about $5.00 each (I thought the leg massage was included in the Pedicure) - oh well our nails are looking a lot better.

We also spend one night in the carpark at the first Casino in Nevada just over the California border, which is just like Heaven (for Mum and I anway) it has an Outlet Centre, a total of 3 Casinos and a Food Court.

30/10/2008 - 06/11/2008 . We have arrived in Las Vegas and I'm sure this will be a surprise to everyone, but our first night we don't even go out to gamble. The RV park we are staying at is at the back of Circus Circus. With a bus stop just outside where a bus goes up and down the Strip 24 hours a day. We catch up with Rob, Handbag, Narls and Macca for dinner on the 2nd November. Narls and Macca casually mention that the have a couple of friends who will be joining us for dinner - they have just got married and are on their honeymoon - their names Brownie and Kylie. Anyway as we are waiting just outside the restaurant for them to arrive Narls and Macca see them coming, I look at Brownie and think geez I've seen his face before (probably from Wynnum) and then we get introduced to them as Jonathon and Kylie - and the penny drops Jonathon Brown from the Brisbane Lions. It turned into a really great night with lots of laughs and a few drinks - a few too many for some. The rest of the week was spent shopping, drinking, eating and gambling. Dave and I went to see Zumanity an X rated Cirque De Sol performance - it was a great performance - not quiet as good as the other shows we have seen - but Dave and I had a great night - we tried to catch-up again with the crew but we didn't get to Treasurer Island until after 1:00 and we couldn't find them anywhere. We did have a couple of attempts to catch up with Handbag etc. but unfortunately we didn't get to see them again. From the last time we were in Las Vegas until now the Strip has really grown - Dave and I both agreed that it seems to be getting too big and losing some of its character. However, that doesn't mean that we all didn't have a good time. Leaving Las Vegas is rather sad as I know from here we are making our way to Los Angeles for Mum to catch her flight home - it's not going to be pretty at the airport. We did spend our first night out of Las Vegas in the same spot we stopped at on the way in - it's free and we are allowed to boondock and put our slides and jacks down - it has 3 casinos, shopping and food court - but we didn't get a chance to use any of these facilities this time.

07/11/2008 - Los Angeles - Well the day has finally arrived when Mum leaves us. I know that she is really looking forward to getting home to see Bob and all the family, but I also know that it is going to be really hard to say goodbye. We arrive into Los Angeles and set up Stubbie in a State Park the RV site is only about 3 miles away from the airport and right on the beach front - what a great find. The RV park has approx 50 sites and we were lucky enough to get the last site. Well we thought we were going to have a peaceful couple of days for about 5 minutes and then we heard all the jumbo jets flying over - I don't think Las Angeles airport ever closes down. We order a Taxi to take Mum to the airport (nearly everytime Mum and I have looked at each other today we nearly burst into tears) - it's not going to be pretty. We finally say goodbye to Mum - it really was very hard to say goodbye - and yes it was like the flood gates had opened up. The next day Dave and I decided to make use of the 90 mile bike path right on the beach. We decide that we will ride to Venice Beach - which is about 10 miles away (that's far enough for us). We stop at Venice Beach for a bite to eat and to watch the crowds. Venice Beach doesn't seem to have changed since last time we were here. The crowds are still the same - basically anything and anyone goes - so after a few laughs we decide to make the trek back home. We are riding along at great speed (well we think so) we have just got out of the main area and BANG Dave's bike chain breaks - we are about 8 miles from home - and even though Dave is a great handyman, without any tools it just can't be fixed. So we start our very slow journey back home pushing and walking. We eventually work out (the bike path has widened) that Dave can hold onto my shoulder and I can cycle - well after a couple of miles and a few comments from some of the Male Cyclists - Dave decides that it's his turn to cycle with me hanging onto him - I knew that sham would eventually get to him.

09/11/2008 - 11/11/2008. Today we headed to San Diego - to try and get things sorted out for our trek to Mexico. We need to get insurance, vehicle permits, visas etc as well as doing some small repairs on Stubbie and a bit of shopping etc. Well Tim the Toolman (I know him as Dave) starts on fixing the TV - well we now need to go a do a bit more shopping for a few parts.
Look out Mexico here we come...

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