Thursday, 29 April 2010

Holiday (Part 2 - West Coast)

On April 7th, we left Las Vegas, and headed to Los Angeles. On the way we went to Calico Ghost town and had fun wandering round, and going down the old gold mines (and popping into the quilting shop where I chatted to a quilting cowboy!)At Los Angeles, we wanted to see the Hollywood sign, and so found our way to the Griffith Observatory, which had great views over the city too.
We got to Venice beach just in time for sunset, and found that our room had been upgraded to an apartment - which led out right onto the beach!We spent the morning of April 8th wandering round Venice beach, and enjoying the roof terrace of our hotel.Setting off up the coast.After staying for a night at San Simeon, we spent April 9th continuing our drive up the coast towards San Francisco. Scott knew of somewhere to stop off and see elephant seals. View from the roof terrace where we had lunch.
We stopped for a 'nice little walk', at one point along the coast. There was a route with 2 choices, and we planned on doing the shorter walk. We kept walking though, and never found a sign or anything to mark the end of the short route, so we just kept going... finished 3 hours later, with blisters, sunburn, and having climbed the equivalent height of Snowdon!The top at last! Fab views over the Pacific. And then the climb back down (we started at the sea!)
Having a well deserved rest on a couple of beaches, before driving to our retro 50's hotel in San Francisco. We spent 10th April in San Francisco (with Scott pushing me up hills for a fair bit of it.)Lombard Street! Scott was keen to drive down it the next day. We got the boat over to Alcatraz, and took the tour around - very interesting.
The view walking back to our hotel.11th April was our long drive day - we left San Francisco and stopped the night at Elko, Nevada.
It was also the day with the worst weather - perfect timing!We passed through some places with pretty deep snow around. More wonderful mountains.More big long old roads (and Scott and I playing the ABC game with naming American cities...) Started off April 12th with snow! Carried on our drive back to Utah.
Scott wanted to stop off and see the salt flats where they do land speed records. We drove down this cool road surrounded by salt that just ran out in the middle of nowhere!
We also visited Bingham mine (and was in time to see an explosion) before heading back to Salt Lake City, where we dropped off the car, went to Deseret book, had a meal, then spent the late evening in our hotel's swimming pool, sauna and hot tub!

Holiday (Part 3 - East Coast)

On 13th April, we got a shuttle bus from our hotel to SLC airport, and then met up with John and Hannah (after they had finished chatting to Elder Kieron in the airport lounge...) We got our flight to Newark NY fine, and I ended up with 3 seats in a row to myself, and read the whole way.
Scott had arranged for a limo to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel. For the 4 of us with luggage, it worked out not much more expensive than if we had all gone by public transport. When it arrived, we were well impressed, and also slightly embarrassed! Nice and spacious! Getting to our hotel in China town.After we got to the hotel, we went out and just walked around the city, seeing lots of places, like Wall Street, and Ground Zero.We walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, and got pizza in a crowded little Italian place called Grimaldi's. Were pretty tired by the time we got back to the hotel!
On 14th April we set off first to the Rockefeller centre and went to the top to see the view... pretty amazing! Here we are with Central park behind us.We then went to see if we could get tickets on Broadway to see Wicked, half an hour before a show, and we managed to get some very good seats - grabbed a quick lunch (which while we were sitting in the sun eating, I got chatting to a man who is the props manager for the show Jersey Boys) We then saw it, and it was FANTASTIC!! The two main actresses were just brilliant. We all really enjoyed it.
Scott and I went for a walk in Central Park then, while John and Hannah went off to meet one of Hannah's cousins. We had a wonderful time strolling around, listening to buskers, watching baseball, eating icecream, and just lying in the sun talking. We popped in to Grand Central Station after that, just to see it.
Wandered back to the hotel later on and met up with John & Hannah again.
On 15th April, the day before we were due to fly back, we got a coach to Washington DC. The trip took 5 hours (though we spent some of that at the road side because we got pulled over by the Police who was talking to our driver for quite a while!)
We met up with our friend Crystal, who used to be in our ward at church, but now lives in Washington DC. She is really knowledgeable about lots of things, including DC, and she gave us a brilliant tour - explaining about all kinds of stuff. We also met up with one of Hannah's cousins, Kathleen.
I was really excited to see a lot of the places in DC in real life, especially being a 'West Wing' fan! (I think that's the only reason I know anything about American politics at all!)
The White House. Scott and I with Crystal John, Hannah & Kathleen, and we, went our separate ways then for a bit, to explore some of the different Smithsonian museums. When people hear we are English, they like to tell us about their ancestry, and the man who served us at one on the tills was named Cromwell (descendant of THE Cromwell), and he told us all about his visit to Huntingdon etc!
In the Botanic Garden
We met up with John and Hannah again, then got our coach back to NY... that was a fun trip... we had a totally crazy, Chinese driver who was going very fast, and kept swearing and shouting, and tried to run another car off the road (3 times)!! Hannah and I were scared! Very relieved to get off that coach.