North America, Australia and Oceania ·
65 Days ·
70 Moments ·
2 November 2017
Day 70 back to Wellington - shuttle to San Fran airport where there was no queuing either for checking in or security. Strange hearing kiwi voices again while waiting to board. Had our wine and crackers during wait then boarded to a full plane for our long trip home. Was uncomfortable with little sleep for the 12 and a half hour trip, tried watching movie but sound too hard to hear. Meal of chicken and orzo and then a nice fruit salad for brekkie. No queues getting through Auckland airport, we must have been first flight in at 5.30 am. Got our 3 bags, the plastic bag one had survived ok but had been opened at San Fran. Walked over to other terminal and checked in again, let Judy know that we had arrived. Unfortunately only 2 bags arrived in Wgtn so after finding baggage person was told Als bag hadn't made it onto any plane but we would get it later that day. Judy waiting for us, had made Anzac biscuits for us. Courier about 4 pm with bag. The end of a wonderful holiday.
30 October 2017
Day 69 San Franscisco our last day. A slower start and a god breakfast before we had to attack our packing and deciding what went into our third bag. Took it all over to office for storage while we walked down to station to get the Bart into city, 40 minute trip. First stop was at the Autodesk Gallery to look at amazing innovations but a bit over my head. Next was the Wells Fargo Museum, more for me and quite interesting. Wandered then up Market Street to where the shops are. We'd never been up this street before. Lots of lovely old buildings and a different crowd than at the weekends, all business people around. Went into Marshalls, bought some shoes then on to Marshalls and got a top and a jacket. Al didn't buy a single thing. Wandered back to waterfront and had our lunch. A muffin from breakfast. Next was a walk back into city to the art museum but had to pay to get in so flagged that. Wandered back down to the Bart station to motel and repacked suitcase before shuttle.
Day 68 San Franscisco a quieter day spent around motel and local shopping centre. Walked about 45 mins down main drag to mall with all the usual big shops. Bought a dress and Al bought a few tops and shorts. A long walk home and then went over to the spa for a soak. Back in room for a bit then I wandered across the road to get some stuff for dinner while Al stayed behind to have a sleep. Tried Trader Joes but no chicken there and a long queue then Waldegreens but hardly any food there. Then on to Safeway and got a salad and chicken. Away for a bit and Al asleep when I got back. Quiet night. No photos taken today.
28 October 2017
Day 66 San Franscisco - a day wandering around San Francisco waterfront and then back up through the town. Very busy with lots more people around on this visit. Checked out Pier 39, bought a couple of caps and Grahams Christmas present. Carried on further then stopped at Jacks for burger and tacos, then returned through a vibrant downtown area lots of cafes and interesting people, strolled through park across road from St Peters and Paul's Cnurch where wedding was on. arrived back to our motel tired . Caught the train which is about a 40 min ride. Beautiful day again but in places the fog was rolling in, and it was quite cool by time we arrived back. Stopped off at Safeway to buy salads and bread for dinner.
27 October 2017
Day 65 to San Franscisco sorted out our bags before we left in preparation for dropping off the car. Beautiful morning again and lovely drive out of the park. Traffic wasn't too bad for first half of the 4 hour trip over hills before we crossed into fruit and nut tree country and dry parched country. No stops and carried on to join up main freeways, at one stage 6 lanes going our way with drivers zig zagging in and out of lanes. Arrived safely just after 2 at our motel in Milbrae by airport and able to drop off bags before setting off to drop off the car. Reset google maps for next stage and luckily we found it well, no hassles after being concerned it would be very stressful driving today. We did well, no arguments. Got uber back, then had refreshing swim, cool but good. Crossed road and got Chinese for dinner. Here for next 3 nights
26 October 2017
Day 64 Yosemite. Slow start to the morning. Bought some bananas for breakfast then headed off on a walk through the valley floor. Cooler start but got very warm later. Stunning scenery from the mountains glistening white in the sun, to the beautiful autumn colours of the tres, including maple leaves. Meandered through different tracks and stopped after 2 and a half hours at El Capitan and looked at the rock climbers, couple of groups. Can take 4 days to climb to the top, not sure how they manage to sleep on the steep rock face. Amazing or just crazy. Wandered back a 5 hour walk, had a cuppa then showered and felt freshened up. Ate in the dining room again and had plate of good salads. Moved over to the lounge in front of the fire before retiring to our tent cabin. The
25 October 2017
Day 63 Yosemite. It too. As a. Ishtar although at one stage thought a bear was outside getting into our beat box! Ok shower and toilet in communal areas. Bought a pastry for breakfast then walked over to info centre a mile away to find out nothing ew of walk we should do, then got shuttle bus to start of our walk to Nevada Falls, 11 am by time shuttle got us to start of walk, whereas we could have walked from tent in 10 mins. Great walk, climbing through fall colours, only to go to Vernal Falls other route closed to Nevada. Tough climb down esp for Al on rugged steps so just as well we didn't go higher. Back about 3.30, cuppa and then shower and checking internet.
Day 62 to Yosemite. Not a long drive but spread it out as we can't check In Until 5. Before stopping at a lovely coffee place at Le Vining we walked down to Mono Lake then sat outside surrounded with coffee by pumpkins. Carried on to enter Yosemite Park with lots of stops over the Togia Pass with spectacular views all the way. Stopped at a lake and walked amongst the frozen snow. Beautiful autumn colours on the drive, also stopped for a walk to bridal falls. Able to book into our tent cabin at 4 and got ourselves settled in. Drink in our tent surrounded by 400 other tents and lots of school groups. Dinner at the dining room of a large pizza and able to bring half home for lunch tomorrow.
23 October 2017
Day 61 to Bridgeport. left Lone Pine, mountains looking beautiful, and drove not that great a distance but a good drive through smaller towns and lovely autumn colours, our main stop being at Bodie an old gold mining ghost town which was abandoned in the early 40s. Once had a population of 7000 and it was turned into a state park in the early 2000s. A really interesting walk around for nearly 3 hours then just a short drive to our stay tonight at Bridgeport which is another small town and staying on the outskirts of it before heading to Yosemite tomorrow
22 October 2017
Day 60 to Lone Pine, CA a real western Town and staying in John Wayne Dow Hotel. Even though this town wasn't far from where we were staying we took a few detours to get here, did a walk with a great vista of the zigzag road we had travelled through death Valley. This is where the USA airforce practice their flights, and then another detour to see more salt lakes. Stopped at visitors centre at Lone Pine then carried in to town and walked around there and had a good coffee and donut and free wifi before checking into hotel. Drove up to Mt Whitney highest US mountain, a great steep winding drive with fantastic views. Went higher than planned, we had been looking for Movie Drive where they've done lots of movie filming but somehow missed this on way up. Found it on way down and drove up it for couple miles. Pool at hotel closed for the season, I'm sure it would be warm enough for us.
Day 59 Vegas to Death Valley, surprising how quickly you hit the desert after leaving Vegas. Was nice to leave and get out into the quiet again. Good drive through the desert. Got delayed a bit after coming across a bad motor bike accident on completely flat straight road, it's a Mecca for motorbike riders on Harley Davison coming from Vegas for a days drive, 2 bikes, 3 victims, one women sounded bad. Detoured through Badwater and walked on the salt flats, really hot, could feel skin burning. Carried on through Death Valley and stopped also for walk in sand dunes. Arrived at Panminta Springs to stay in a pretty rundown motel, bed was okay though. Was an interesting drive again xxx
21 October 2017
Day 58 Vegas Another day around Las Vegas, day started off sunny but windy around the pool. Girls came over and we sat in shade but. Or warm so went and had lunch while Al stayed at pool. Coffee and a muffin for me. Went back for swim and found some sun. Beautiful in. Girls stayed on while I joined Al for a bit more wandering around resorts, the Venetian is beautiful and the shops in the Forum at Caesers, too expensive for me to even go in. Got back to room about 4 for bit of rest before heading out at 5 for dinner and Elton. Dinner at a lovely Mexican place, yummy meal of pork. Elton was amazing show, 2 hours non stop, visuals and his band were great and a great experience. Really engaged with the crowd. Afterwards stopped for a drink in a bar before saying goodbye to the girls.
20 October 2017
Day 57 Las Vegas woken to a beautiful morning. Down to the pool for a swim in warm pools. Went over to Bellagio to meet Lisa and Natalie and had a coffee and muffin there with them before going into their pool area for an hour or so. Left them at 1 ish then headed off to explore the strip. We walked and walked, in and out of hotels, all glitz and so many people. Walked as far as Mandalay Bay and then back the other side. Met up again with Lisa at 4 and walked back up to check out Cosmopolitan, newest hotel, very glitzy, then New York. Had a burger at Shock Shake, really enjoyed. Then back on other side checking out Paris before calling it a day, both exhausted by this stage. Girls carried on.
Day 56 to Las Vegas a long day again as we are back into Nevada time and have gained an hour. Left Zion for. 2 and a half hour drive. It took us all day. Started off on quieter road and the. On to main freeway but traffic was ok. Stopped at Mesquete for lunch from a supermarket then off main road to go via Hoover Dam which again as in 12 years ago is impressive. It this time with the addition of the really high bridge across the Dam, an engineering feat. Parked car and then walked across Dam with hundreds of others. Back to car to drive to the new bridge and the. Walked across that. So high. Drove past Park .. of Fire. It didn't look too impressive. Good drive into LV but took wrong turning into entrance of Caesars and ended up on freeway and having to go round the block for half hour. Frustrating. It eventually got it right. Caesees just as good as last time. Great to be here and a fantastic room, luxury.
17 October 2017
Day 55 Zion National Park where we've spent the day climbing up and around ginormous rocks, have come back to our cabin exhausted. Left early this morning and did a bit of a scenic drive through and realised we had missed the turning so headed back and then had to leave our car at the park entrance and catch a shuttle. Stayed on the bus right to the end and then went back to where our trail started at Grotto Point? Some serious climbing up switchbacks but we stopped at Angels Landing the part where you have to clamber up the cliffs holding on to chains with sheer drops either side deep down into the canyon. Wanted to come out alive! Carried on further into the west rim. Once we got down from that walk we Hopped on shuttle again to take us to the end and did another river valley walk later in the afternoon. finished up the evening with dinner of tuna burger and chips which was food at a local diner. Got out of dinner with the couple from Oregon next door.
16 October 2017
Day 53 to Zion National Park - a bit more of the same stuff today. We'd took a scenic route which Is rated in the top 10 USA drives on Route 14 past Cedar Breaks Monument Park to see the fall colours but we were a couple of weeks late, it would have been beautiful earlier. Did a walk through much the same stuff as yesterday to see the voodoos and stopped at a couple of smaller towns, one to stock up and at the other none of the shops were open yet, even though it was nearly 10 o'clock. Was freezing cold again this morning, had to scrape ice off car windows but turned out hot later. At stop in Cedar City we got bread roll for lunch and ate in car then carried on to Zion. Settled in, had a swim and spa while it is still hot. Will probably cool down overnight again.
15 October 2017
Day 52 Bryce Canyon - walk through fairyland today and it was awesome, absolutely stunning, the best walk so far. We'd visited 12 years ago but hadn't had the chance to really explore down within the "voodoos". Started our at minus 13 but was sunny and. It too bad. There was still small puddles of ice on the track when we were coming back. Was a 5 and a half hour walk but a good trail even though there were plenty of steep up and down bits. Did the peek a boo trail then extended this as far as sunset trail and then back again. Not as bad coming back up the canyons as I'd expected. Checked out a few other viewing overlooks but nothing compared to the walk. Stopped to buy dinner, sweet and sour chicken for me, meat pie and spuds for Al, both microwaves. Not too bad. Washed our dusty clothes. Should sleep well tonight
14 October 2017
Day 51 Moab to Bryce Canyon - an approx 240 mile drive through a variety of scenery, was a great drive on a scenic route. We initially had wondered if it would be ok to go this way after reading reviews of it, people talked about huge drops both sides with no guard rails on side of road but it was fine. We've done worse! After an hour on busy main highway with trucks and strong wind we turned off to quieter road. Stopped at Hickman Natural Bridge outside of Capitol Reef Nat Park and did an hours walk up to the arch. Being pushed for time we decided not to go into the Park but carried on with the spectacular scenery on route 12 to Bryce. Surprisingly still the number of vehicles and camper vans using this route. Arrived about 4 at our nice comfortable lodge with own bathroom again for next 2 nights.
13 October 2017
Day 50 Moab. Been a day of more walks and exploring, this time Canyonlands Nat Park. Felt at times we were on top of the world looking down on earth with its huge canyons and at one stop a huge crater, apparently caused by a meteorite thousands of years ago. This place surprisingly had fewer tourists which was good. Been a warm and beautiful sunny day. Microwaved lasagne for Al and mango chicken and rice for me for dinner. Not too bad. Canyonlands was exceptional place again.
12 October 2017
Day 49 Moab and The Arches, a day walking through the Arches Nat Park with a couple of strenuous walks but well worth it. Like Al says, more rocks but with holes in them! Went straight to the end of the road through magnificent red rock formations and started our 3 and a half hour walk to 6 different arches, some challenging to get to. Then back into car with quick stops to view other spots and then our nearly last destination was the Delicate Arch, 3 mile trip but it was tough climb as I was already tired. Walked around the perimeter to get to the actual Arch. It was real windy at. Top so I stayed back while Al went right to it. Our last stop was a quick stop at the Balanced Rock and then stop at supermarket for dinner stuff. Both worn out tonight and had to shower as soon as we got back to get rid of the wind blown sand from the exposed tops. Should sleep well xxx
11 October 2017
Day 47 to Moab. Had a few unexpected stops today, first at Gooseneck Canyon where the river meanders around huge formations similar to Horseshoe Bend but without the crowds. Next was at Bluff visiting the museum where we got talked into trying on old outfits, a bit of fun. Women volunteer at the craft centre doing quilting and projects to sell in the shop. Impressive museum, with wooden cabins on the perimeter all furnished with old stuff donated by families and acknowledged to that family in each cabin. From there we took scenic route over the hills near Canyonlands Nat Park, a good drive with scenic views. Final stop before Moab was at Wilson Arches which we climbed up under the arch, a taste for our visit to The Arches National Park tomorrow. A good day. Highlight being visit to the museum.
10 October 2017
Day 46 Page to Monument Valley - spent the day exploring Monument Valley but didn't run into Forrest! The rock formations again are spectacular. Did a 17 mile drive on a dirt/sand track which was pretty rugged at times and that took us about 3 hours with all the stops, but it was worth it. Don't think you could do this route last time we were here. At one stop Al, the white man, had to help a couple of the locals who were trying to haul an old tree stump up through the sand so they could use it for tourists to stand on for a photo and earn cupla dollars. Tonight in San Juan a small place above the river and surrounded by huge red rock formations. Dinner at the restaurant attached to the motel, fry bread and beans for me and beef stew and fry bread form Al. Not too bad but a huge plateful. Highlight was the 17 mile drive.
9 October 2017
Day 45 Page. Today's highlight was going down into narrow but very deep Lower Antelope Canyon and seeing the fantastic rock formations and colours like we've never seen before from deep below. A long wait before we eventually got into the canyon, so many people and not that great an organisation. The Asians get to be quite a pain! Don't know what it would be like in the high season. Earlier we checked out Horseshoe Bend in the river from way above and again hordes of tourists. Looking down to the river was great and being able to stand on edges of rocks to get great shots was worth it. Are back to motel and had lunch and then visited the Glen Canyon park by the dam overlook and again impressive photo material. Stopped off for dinner supplies (orzo salad for me, pies for Al). Invaded at motel again by Asians arriving later with their rolling suitcases!
8 October 2017
Day 44 to Page, Arizona. Back on the road again heading north. Was a great drive through Arizona to Page with all its different rock structures and colours. made few more final stops in the Grand Canyon on our way out checking out the outlooks we hadn't seen. Page isn't too big a place on Lake Powell so it was nice to see some water again. Hot day here, we have a pool at the motel but think water is very cold so prob won't be going for a dip. Amazing colours of all the rocks and hills, with Native American Indian villages scattered between, all looking very poor but with loads of vehicles parked outside each house. They don't seem a very happy people but guess they've had a hard time. Highlight was the amazing red against the vivid blue skies. Couldn't get into ,our motel, 20 mins early! So went to Walmart and got dinner supplies. Pool too cold for swimming.
7 October 2017
Day 43 Grand Canyon. A lazier start to the day and set out for our walk around the rim but in different direction today. Started off with few people but as we got further on there were hoarders of tourists all posing and doing selfies. Annoying! A good walk to Visitors Centre where we watched a movie about the Canyon and then returned, both feeling tired by this stage. Rested for a bit on our return, stopped and checked internet then drinks time and then time to head down to rim for sunset. No real red skies. Stopped for pizza on way back which was yummy. Be an early night again.
6 October 2017
Day 42 Grand Canyon A good nights sleep and woken to a beautiful morning. A walk today of 8 miles around the rim of the Canyon. Got the bus to Hermits Rest and walked back. Again it was spectacular, everywhere you looked it was stunning and there weren't even many people walking it, although there are crowds here at the park. Got back after 3 and had coffee and a muffin in our lodge and then caught up with photos and movie while Al went to check out the sunset but I'm afraid I couldn't work up the energy to walk from our lodge to check it out. A fantastic walk and great day. Dinner of bread and salads again.
5 October 2017
Day 41 to Grand Canyon. Awake early with sore back. Drove into Holbrook for look round, not much just old routes 66 town very tired. Next stop was at Winslow, great old Route 66 town where we wandered round took plenty of photos and soaked up atmosphere. Coffee at old time cafe then went to famous old hotel which was very impressive with its old Spanish style rooms, paintings of American presidents wives and impressive tiled basins in the toilets. Drove on to Walnut Canyon just outside Flagstaff and walked down into canyon viewing the old pueablian houses in the cliffs. Steep climb back up. Stocked up on groceries at Flagstaff before making way into Grand Canyon National Park. First impressions are that it's just as good as last time, stunning when you see it for the first time, it is so vast compared to other canyons we've seen. So not disappointed. Seems to be more people and more buildings. Massive Lodge accommodation great.
4 October 2017
Day 40 to Holbrook Tonight after a long day we're in Holbrook in a wigwam, admittedly it's done out with good bed and bathroom, but something different. Started the day going through Canyon de Chelly (de shay) and that was magnificent. Once we left there we were on a dirt rutted road for an hour and we weren't sure if we were on right road or not. I was driving and it was hard going avoiding the deep ruts. No sign of any life for an hour and in thick forest but we finally made it back to tarseal. Next stops were at the Painted Desert with its varying layers of different colours and onto the Petrified Forest, with old bits of petrified wood scattered around. Both of these were great too but highlight was Canyon de Chelly.
3 October 2017
Day 39 to Chinle. Away fairly early and first stop was to drive through Mesa Verde up long 26mile road to see Pueblican ruins dating from 700 AD to 1200 AD. Great views down to the dry valley, ruins were a little disappointing. Then a drive stopping for petrol before driving to four corners, where Utah, Arizona, Colarado and New Mexico meet and getting a few shots. Bit of a money making venture for the Indians. Next part of our drive was spectacular going into the red barren Arizona country with high mountain shapes appearing all over the place. Stopped and walked up a few small rises for photos at a fantastic spot. Best yet. A small drive through Indian territory with its houses scattered everywhere then on to Chinle in Native Indian country.
2 October 2017
Day 38 Durango. An horrific day in American history with the killings in Vegas. Today was our steam train trip to Silverton and celebrating Als 65th and it was a great way to spend it. Train left at 8.45 this morning and we didn't get back until 6.30. We slowly steamed our way through a mountain valley following a river, at times at river level and at others meandering high above the river. The autumn colours were beautiful with the yellow aspens against the dark green conifers. Had a 2 hour stop at Silverton a western town for the tourists and skiers. Tonight we went to a famous western hotel in town here and had a lovely dinner accompanied by pianist playing old time western music. Both tired after a long day.
1 October 2017
Day 37 Ouray to Durango, first call was into Box Canyon with its huge waterfall into the canyon where we had walked yesterday and then another magnificent drive over the Million Dollar Highway to Durango with some spectacular scenery, I'm glad I wasn't driving, just taking photos! The road didn't have guard rails at side of these humungus drops into canyons. Beautiful colours, orange from Red Mountain because of the iron, to autumn colours everywhere. We got to over 11,000ft, nearly as high as Mt Aorangi/Cook and the mountains were still soaring above us. Explored Durango this arvo and it is a lovely town surrounded by mountains again, checked out the steam train museum, sat on balcony for wine before dinner.
30 September 2017
Day 35 Ouray today was a 6 hour walk doing the perimeter walk of Ouray which was spectacular but we were exhausted by the time we'd finished. Had a bit of drizzle to start with but at least it kept it a bit cooler, tough going up some of the climbs and you couldn't do it if you were no good with heights! Not many people around but at one stage we came across a group doing a mountain race. Walk involved plenty of ups and downs, along mountain ledges, waterfalls,a tunnel and being surrounded by the mountains. Fantastic walk. I'd thought initially we would be walking at base level but I had thought wrong! Anyway it was one of best walks and we are back safely. Looked for a place for a tea or coffee but no luck, hungry and thirsty, but instead bought our dinner for tonight and a bottle of wine with a screw top.
29 September 2017
Day 34 grand Junction to Ouray, Colarado, which is called the Switzerland of America. Was a cool easy drive and we had an unplanned stop at Black Canyon National Park which is a hidden secret of Colarado with not many people around. The depth of the canyon was amazing and we stopped at lots of different viewing spots. Hard to do it justice in the photos. Next stop was a small touristy town Ridgeway where a weekly market is held but it wasn't much but town was cool. Then to Ouray where we stay for next couple of nights. We are surrounded by majestic snow capped mountains and lodge is good, clean and modern. Thunderstorms for a bit but sun came out again. Bought dinner and breakfast supplies.
28 September 2017
Day 33 to Grand Junction. Colorado. A fairly long drive through a range of scenery, starting with mountain passes, then open country and a few stops at little towns and then over a long mountainous climb into Colarado, passing mesa country then onto a fairly large country town called Loma not too far from where we are staying tonight. Thought this place would be small but it seems a big city in the middle of nowhere. Raining when we got here and all day there hasn't been a great deal of sun. Stocked up on a few essentials at a one dollar shop in a small town. Had to turn back as we missed a turning and at one stage we thought we may run short in petrol but luckily came into town we thought we'd already passed. Got a bit lost coming into Grand Junction, I thought I'd take a short cut but that didn't work out! Nice comfy room again tonight xxx
27 September 2017
Day 32 Salt Lake Had a great day looking around downtown Salt Lake City and around the State Capitol building, amazing how few people were around. Obviously not in session, although this also applied to the whole general downtown area, a surprising lack of people around. Also visited Morman temples and Tabernacle where we listened to a half hour organ recital which was very uplifting with amazing acoustics in the tabernacle. Also toured through the conference centre holding 21000. Visited a pioneer museum which had incredible stuff, could have spent hours there. Also called into the family history building and had a brief introduction on family research but again could have spent hours there. SLC has been a surprise for us, much better than we thought, the city itself is so clean, everything laid out so well and maintained, beautiful trees and gardens. Pool was padlocked this evening so no swim. Too cold for everyone else. Another great day.
26 September 2017
Day 31 Salt Lake City. Discovered a bit of the city by driving out to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake about an hours drive way on busy motorway with cars speeding by. Drive over a 7. Ile causeway to get there. Was superb with amazing views of the plains. Mountains and the Great Salt Lake which is huge. Also visited a ranch museum which was interesting. Had planned to visit Temple Square but ran out of time and instead had a swim at the hotel, warm in. It a bit chilly out.
Day 30 to Salt Lake City and another spectacular drive starting with snow, then dense fog for half an hour making driving extremely difficult. Then it was over snow covered mountain pass with fantastic views and then on to open cattle ranches and finally into SLC with its busy highway with very fast cars and trucks and at this stage I gave up the driving. Had a lunch stop at Evanston a cute little old town, with a quilt shop. Stopped at info centre off highway and stocked up on maps. Arrival at our hotel was surprising, it's very flash and with a swimming pool. Had a rest up and then a walk to check out the city before heading back for a swim in the heated pool and it was 7 pm. Dinner was at Tacotime. Highlight was drive over the pass. We crossed between Wyoming and Utah today.
25 September 2017
Day 29 to Salt Lake City. Woke again to overnight snow. On our way to SLC through snow covered mountains, then struck dense fog which got even thicker so I could hardly see driving and it lasted for about 30 mins, hard driving. Then cleared up as we passed over a high mountain road with stunning views of Wyoming which seemed to be cattle ranch country. Stopped at Everston for bite of lunch and walked round good old country town. Country opened up again and we were soon on main highway with speeding cars and trucks all doing 80 mph so after a stop at an info centre rest area I'd had enough of driving and Al took over. Found way to our hotel no problems and again surprised at the lovely room in a flash hotel, with a warm swimming pool which we tried out and was lovely. Had a walk round the block to get our bearings. Tacos for dinner. Highlight was driving over the pass with fantastic view of snow covered mountains.
24 September 2017
Day 28 to Grand Tetons and Jackson. Fantastic drive through mountainous country similar to South Island, majestic mountains all around us and luckily not too many hordes around us. Stopped at Jackson Lake Lodge and got wifi first in 4 Days. Beautiful views through panoramic windows at the lodge where there were hordes of tourists. Plenty of stopping areas to park up for photos of the Tetons which rise up steeply from ground level. Stopped to check out Morman Row with the old style barns and cottages. Stopped in Jackson town, similar to Queenstown with ritzy shops around the town square. Pleasantly surprised at accommodation tonight, a flash cabin with own bathroom, luxury.
23 September 2017
Day 27 Yellowstone. A long day discovering more of wonderful Yellowstone and its scenery from thermal hot pools, geysers and today's more mountainous pine covered in snow like a wonderland, plenty more bison and even a bear. Canyon and Mammoth Springs were the highlights. A steep walk in Canyon down to the waterfall and the huge canyon, they compare this to the Grand Canyon. Saw it from both rims and it was spectacular. A further drive over high snow covered country to 8800ft took us to the splendour of the springs with its layered terraces of beautiful white rock and hot springs Looked as though it could have been manmade. So perfect with the water cascading over. Another great day
22 September 2017
Day 26 Yellowstone. Woke to thick snow everywhere and still snowing. Ur surprisingly not too cold. Trudged through snow and sludge to toilets and shower. Checked at office and we don't have to move, can stay in same cabin next 2 nights, yay. Waited until weather cleared a bit then had cup of tea in the lodge chatting to English couple from Birmingham while Al went for walk. Later drove up to Norris, with lots of stops to check out geysers, hot pools, bison and fantastic landscapes, all the more beautiful with the snow. Bit tricky walking along pathways because of icy conditions. Ran into mob of bison trudging along Highway, massive beasts some with huge horns but all focussed on moving to newer pastures. At couple of stops we were mobbed by hordes old Asians who aren't aware of anyone else but focussed on getting their photos and not moving out of way. Annoying! Highlight was seeing the bison or Buffalo. Another great day.
21 September 2017
Day 25 Yellowstone all day. Woke to snow cover everywhere looking so pretty. Surprisingly not too cold but still snowing. After showering, Walked over to lodge for a coffee chatting to English couple then watched Old Faithful and went on walk around all other geysers. Stopped to check Old Faithful Inn, such magnificent huge old wooden structure full of huge beams supporting it and full of tourists. Meandered through the stores and gift shops and checked out Snow Lodge. Back to cabin for rest while showers came down. Later on did another walk around geyser area, saw bison grazing and lots of different geysers. Fairly wet by time we returned, ready to get out of wet gear and time for drinks. Rain then snow continued. Highlight was the impressive Inn.
20 September 2017
Day 24 Cody to Yellowstone Park. Stopped at tourist office but no clearer on whether we'd get through but decided to try. Stopped at Walmart to get provisions then on our way. First stop was Buffalo Bill Dam, really impressive. So high with narrow deep chasm. Back on road through high mountainous country to East Gate which was closed. After talking to ranger they couldn't give any indication apart from theyd know more info in1-2 hours. Sat in car waiting, while snow fell intermittently with stacks of other vehicles. Al wandered round chatting to others. Finally after 2 and half hour wait road opened and on our way through spectacular snow covered pine trees and mountains. At top of pass we were briefly in whiteout, was scarey but improved from then onwards with intermittent showers and snow. Drive very impressive, more scenic with snow around. Stopped and walked round geyser area before arriving at OFI and watched geyser before settling into our cabin which is great.
19 September 2017
Day 23 Cody. Wandered through town on way to Buffalo Bill Centre of West Museum spending 4 very interesting hours checking out history of Bill, his Wild West Days shows throughout USA, Europe and England, great artwork, gun museum, raptors show. Called into tourist office and found out Yellowstone park road was closed with snow so after looking at alternatives we cancelled the next 5 nights accommodation. Later learnt that access had reopened so tried rebooking but were told cabin had been rebooked to someone else. After many emails and phone calls Al finally sweet talked our way back in but will cost us extra and will have to change rooms couple of times. Weather is still doubtful but we will wait and see what happens overnight and will decide in morning. Will be very disappointing if we can't get there. Wandered back through town and dinner again at Wendy's. Very cold, looks like snow might come overnight. Highlight was the museum.
18 September 2017
Day 22 Billings to Cody. Off this morning still in Montana and through to Red Lodge, small touristy town before driving on the Beartooth Mountain highway zigzagging up to 9000 feet. Road was great and plenty of snow although it wasn't too cold. Awesome sights. Had to stop at Rock Creek Vista as road was closed from there on because of snow and rockfall on Wyoming side. Meant us taking the road back down again but that worked out ok as we took another lesser road through some really interesting places - An old coal mining site and also a deserted town called Bear Creek with its amazing array of classic cars in someone's front yard and old shop buildings, something out of a cowboy movie. Countryside wound through wheat fields and then wide open spaces of nothing but mountain views. Tonight in Cody watched the gunfight show. highlight was the Beartooth Mountain Highway.
17 September 2017
Day 21 Helena to Billings. Through Montana wide open spaces and big skies. Explored downtown old area of Helena which was really nice area the. Headed off on a lesser road with hardly any traffic and great view of snow covered mountains and bit fields of wheat and then just scrub and pine trees. Good drive again. Stopped at a ghost town Harlowton mid way for lunch which was a great stop, wandering round the desolated buildings with plenty of bars, hardly anyone around apart from vehicles driving around. On the road again through more open fields until we got to Billings a fairly modern looking city, looks like it's down in a basin. Bought our dinner supplies again at Walmart. Highlight must have been walking around Harlowtown.
16 September 2017
Day 20 Great Falls to Helena. A great drive, one pf the best so far. First started with checking out the Falls and dams on the Missouri River in Great Falls and the drive there was also impressive through wide open yellow wheat fields. Next part was drive off the main freeway on a lesser 91 road which ran beside the freeway most of way with no traffic and through beautiful country following the river with people out fishing on it at different spots. Also surrounded by mountains all around with snow on them. Stopped at a lake with few fishing then on into Helena the state capital of Montana. Warmer and sunny by time we got here so once settled in motel walked to see the State Capitol Building and the Catholic Cathedral of St Helena both beautiful buildings. Found supermarket for chicken and sal for dinner. Highlight was the drive today as it was unexpected, thought we'd be driving on freeway all way.
15 September 2017
Day 19 East Glacier to Great Falls. Woken this morning to snow falling and very cold. Left our little cabin and on road in rain. Straight roads whole way, passing by bison grazing, Al got out for photos. Flat countryside most of way with wide open spaces of dry ground. Would have looked stunning if we had the blue skies. Stopped at a few places along the way but being wet and cold wasn't very pleasant. Stopped for a coffee at a small town but nothing going so arrived on, stopped at choteau to have some water and last nights leftover pizza. Carried on into Great Falls which looks a nice city. Checked into motel and it is a big improvement on last nights cabin. Only one device for free wifi though so no video making today. Drove to Walmart for dinner and stock up supplies. Then stopped and wandered up and down Main Street but very quiet. Lovely shops but no one around.
14 September 2017
Day 18 Missoula to East Glacier. First stops this morning were Hobby Lobby then Glacier Quilts, both fantastic. HL was huge with great selection of every craft stuff you could imagine so stocked up there. GQ had beautiful selection of fabric, all good quality stuff. From there we carried on the 93 until the 2 which was straightforward with scenery being mainly pine forests and spruce? Trees changing colour. Stopped at West Glacier which is a small village similar to National Park and then drove up to the lake as far as we could because of the fires. Freezing cold there. Bought our National Pass entry ticket. From there further driving through pine forest, very very pretty with high mountains either side of us. If only we could have got to Going to the Sun Road! Arrived at destination East Glacier another similar size small village. Staying in a cabin like motel. Had late burger lunch at a diner.
13 September 2017
Day 17 Missoula to Kilaspell Another warm day started by exploring Missoula but not much happening there. A local tourism guy on his bike stopped and told us where to go. Wandered down to Caris Park, but the famous carousel was closed so headed back to car over river to a top bakery where I had a coffee and biscuit which was pretty good. A university town, sister city of Palmerston North. Drove back on 93N through pine trees then on to views of magnificent mountains and stopped at small lodge and explored. Next stop was at Polson town on bottom of big lake and happened to stop right outside a quilt shop and I was in there over half hour hearing about owners tour of NZ. Didn't buy anything but said I'd be back. Next drive was beside the lake but very smokey so wasn't at it's best. Drove through big fruit orchards. Detoured through Big Fort through an exclusive housing area spotting deer and squirrel. Drive opened up again in wheat country before Kilaspell. So much smoke.
12 September 2017
Day 16 Spokane to Missoula. More relaxing and shorter driver on at times 80 mph highways. Walked around Spokane before leaving about 10.30 and with. No trouble getting on to the highway we were on our way. Two lane whole way through pine plantations and at times fairly steep ascents and descents, with few big trucks at times and then at times with road to ourselves. Crossed into Idaho for short while. Stopped at a small old town called Wallace which proved a surprise as didn't know what to expect. Looks like it is reviving itself with lots of pubs, cafes and antique shops and petunia baskets on sidewalks again making town more attractive. Checked out one shop selling old guns, rifles, deer antlers, stuff animals. Jewellery etc and then another garage/cafe full of old stuff. From there country opened up to flatter Montana again and on to Missoula another fairly big city. Very hot and muggy and smoke around.
11 September 2017
Day 15 Seattle to Spokane. Got away bit earlier as it was a longer drive today, motored through lovely water areas north of Seattle before turning off to quieter motorway through the CAscade Ranges, impressive and in winter would be snow covered. But today green, and fairly steep up and down grades. Quite a few stops for roadworks. I took over my first lot of driving and after a couple of hairy moments for Al drove rest of day ok. Stopped at Touristy Leavenworth, a Bavarian town With streets full of beautiful hanging petunia baskets. From there headed drove through apple orchards and then turned into wide open wheat country which had just been cut so fields of amazing colours and contours. Was a great drive. Arrived to find Spokane a bigger and more modern town than expected. Highlights were the wheat fields.
10 September 2017
Day 14 Seattle all day. Sunny warm day when we walked out of hotel to walk to the space needle then through park where a market was being set up along to the waterfront sculpture park and the Gum Wall, before hitting Pike Market. And what a great place this was, full of beautiful flowers, fruit and vegas, fish, meat and all sorts of specialities plus hordes of people who were all very polite and happy. Strolled around there for couple hours then headed back along waterfront and watched the ferries and Ferris wheel and the crowds. Banana and peach for lunch then back into the city and the old downtown Rea and Pioneer Square which was very interesting with lots of things going on, then back to the main downtown area, stopping at see Hammer Man, Ross and a glassworks. A very vibrant city, lots of art work and activities everywhere plus beautiful trees, nicer than San franscisco. Highlights were strolling through market and the range of quality goods.
9 September 2017
Day 13 - Seattle tour of the Boeing Factory. After a good breakfast at hotel and chatting to English couple, we found our way out to Boeing Factory 25 mls away. 50 on tour and were taken on bus to different buildings to see 4 different Boeings being built. Amazing place, 35000 work there and they are putting out about 20 x 787s a week plus other ones as well. They looked small inside but they took up 4 high levels and when they bring out finished they have to expand the roadway so they can fit through they are so huge. Al standing beside a tail only came up a fraction of the height of the tail. Also explored around the museum part so it was a really interesting tour. Got a bit tricky leaving and we drove for half hour not knowing where we were. After getting wifi at maccas we got back on track and smooth run back to Seattle. A lazy remainder of day spent in hotel, we had called into supermarket to pick up dinner. Tour as the highlight.
8 September 2017
Day 12 Portland to Seattle. Bit of trouble negotiating our way out of Portland but once we were on the main I5 north we were ok. As we came across signs for the Washington State Fair we decided to go there instead of making the trek out on Sunday. Parked car and got on the Fair bus which was much easier. A very full afternoon of interesting sights, all sorts of people, fat and very fat, cowboys, so many people on motorised scooters and we wandered around for about 5 hours. Had a scone for lunch and not much else all day. There was a huge array of sideshows, rides, animals, agricultural, displays, quilting and crafts, collections, shopping and shows. Luckily it wasn't too busy so easy to get around lo see everything. Had a bit of trouble finding our way back on to route to Seattle but not too bad and apart from turning into a one way street and being alerted by some tooting at us, found our way to our city hotel. Looks like it will be a nice city. Highlights were the people.
7 September 2017
Day 11 Portland!: all day. Nice to take it slower before heading into old town area which was very old with lots of homeless on the streets. Nothing much to see there so walked up to Washington Park, many miles, and discovered the worlds best rose gardens where they trial out new varieties. Were magnificent and well worth the walk. Stopped at McDonald's for a cool drink and then found timbers sports stadium, largest book shop Powells and had browse through there. Next it was over the steel bridge through drug litter etc on bridge steps and across bridge that both cars and trams use with trains on lower level. Found our way then to the Lloyd Centre shopping plaza and needed cuppa tea to keep going before browsing through Marshalls, Sears and Ross. I didn't buy anything. Al got a t shirt. Looking for deli for dinner supplies but nothing around so ended up at deli by our motel. Exhausted. Highlight was the rose gardens and beautiful leafy areas with magnificent homes.
6 September 2017
day 10 - Lincoln city to Portland. Awoke to sea fog and smoke haze this morning so no nice views of beach but did walk along beach before heading away from coast to Portland. Changing scenery with more pastoral and flat country but still plenty of traffic. To fill in time stopped first at Lincoln city outlet shops, disappointing, then at Mcminville for lunch, great coffee and lovely little town. Stopped right outside quilt shop so of course had to buy something. Next stop there was at an outlook mall but no purchases. Carried on to Portland on busy roads with plenty of lanes but negotiated our way to hotel with no problems. Walked downtown passed so many homeless people to find a music festival starting with Hawaiian swing band so watched awhile until thirst and motel beckoned. Stopped to get beautiful baguette then at local deli for salad so scrumptious tea. Highlight today was McMinnville town and the changing scenery a with big wine and walnut and hazelnut growing area.
5 September 2017
Day 9 - Coos bay to Lincoln city. After our free brekkie of waffles headed off on 101 stopping at umpqua lighthouse then info centre to get info on sand dunes. Stopped at two spots and walked up the dunes and along the wide open beautiful sandy beaches with freezing water temps. No one in swimming. Spotted big crabs. Lunch stop was at sea lion caves on leftovers. beautiful bridges to enter each town along this coast - Florence, Yachats, Northport, Yaquina, Depoe Bay (smallest harbour) - towns are lengthily spread and all look a little tired, need a few gardens and trees, but this maybe because its end of summer and cos of the haze and dull light all day. Thousands of people around still in the seaside holiday spots and we've noticed that people have got bigger the further north we've come. Stopped at devils churn where water was rushing into a chasm, not very impressive. Tonight at Lincoln city right on beach. Red sun with the smoke haze again.
4 September 2017
Day 8 - brookings to coos bay Oregon. A cruisy day waking to a bright red sun because of the haze. Laundromat was first call then stopped at Harris beach in Brookings then another coastal walk then on to port Orford and to gold beach and Cape blanco lighthouse where it was cold and glad to get away from back into the heat. Next stop was Bandon, a quaint small town with lots of tourists. Bought some fudge and then got freebies at next shop of popcorn and choc. Good drive with not much traffic and arrived at coos bay finding fred Myers supermarket for dinner stuff. Took walk around town and boardwalk but not much to see. Took drive to Walmart and checked that out buying chiller bag.
3 September 2017
Day 7 - ferndale to Brookings, Oregon. Walked through ferndale before leaving. We had a great breakfast of cereal, waffles, fresh fruit, blueberries, strawberries and strawberries, sausages and banana cake, a bit of a strange mixture But beautiful. Headed out to route 101 stopping at eureka a big town and checking out Carson mansion then drove on stopping at another redwood park where we did a lovely walk. Carried on up to prairie, Newtown drury walk and checked out more redwoods and walks. Both walks we did today were very impressive. Only problem today was the very thick smoke haze from the Oregon bush fires which have been concerning to the locals. Seemed strange walking through forests being surrounded by the haze and able to smell smoke. Found a great supermarket in Brookings, the best with so much selection for tonight's dinner.
2 September 2017
Day six - fort Bragg to ferndale. After a free breakfast at the motel a long day again but not too far distance wise. Highlights were driving through the redwood trees then on to the avenue of redwoods which stretched over 32 miles with stops along the way to check out the trees and do a bit of tree hugging. Stopped at info centre and did a walk through the trees which are magnificent and very impressive. Surprisingly the roads were narrow, hilly and windy. Our destination at 3.30 was at ferndale a very quaint town with numerous beautiful gothic homes and buildings and our stay at shaw house caps off another great day. Wandered around the town, drinks on the lawn at shaw house b&b and then to the county fair in evening. A hot day again.
1 September 2017
Day 5 - Santa Rosa to fort Bragg. Off about 10 and on our way up the coast, first stop being bodega, where Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds was filmed, a dry small place with couple craft shops, a fire station and the old school house and church . From there we drove to bodega bay but not worth stopping, then continued on over windy and very dry hilly country with not many towns, but obviously places for holiday homes for people to come to get away from it all. Coast isn't suitable for swimming but seemed to be lots of caravans in the parks alongside rivers so not sure what people do. We made our final stop at fort Bragg about 4 ish and stopped at Safeway supermarket to stock up on few things. Motel not up to the previous nights standards but is ok. Walked to glass beach where people used to dump all their rubbish but know what is left is bits of smooth green, amber and white glass, an obvious tourist attraction. We continued and had a nice walk before heading back for drink.
31 August 2017
Day 4 - to Santa Rosa. After delay starting cos I had put incorrect code into safe and locked it, we finally left to pick up rental about 10.15 in uber. Picked up other passenger an American musician Shambhu who gave us his card. Easy pick up for rental and we were on our way through busy sf roads and over the gateway bridge. Very dry hills and hilly, driving through sanoma valley wine country with first stop at sanoma for walk around and a yummy baguette for lunch in the park. Beautiful town and gardens. Next stop was at st Francis winery where for $15 I did wine tasting of 5 wines, good stuff. Then on to Santa Rosa, which seems very busy and a bigger town/city. Room wasn't ready so we tried walking to supermarket but with temp hitting 107 or 41 degrees we didn't make it and had to call into maccas for cold drinks and wifi. Found a deli close and picked up bread, turkey and potato salad. Motel great, new and great bed and shower.
30 August 2017
Day 3 - after another lie we walked down to waterfront to pick up our bikes for ride across Golden Gate Bridge along with hundreds of tourists, Asian, South American etc. cloudy but sun was out again after lunch. A great ride, stopping for coffee and muffin at the warming hut, then on to Sausalito a lovely town across Bridge. Strolled around there before heading uphill for ride back. Called in to palace of fine arts, which was new old roman style buildings, very impressive. After dropping off bikes it was a long hilly walk back to hotel, stopping at trader joes (supermarket) for supplies for dinner. Cheap. Both feeling very weary, it. Great day instead. Sf a great city, lots of cafes, hills, beautiful buildings and wooden Spanish like homes and people very friendly and helpful.
29 August 2017
Day 2 San Francisco a day of walking - visits to grace cathedral, Chinatown, through main streets down to piers looking through markets, pier 39 with sea lions, onto to fishermans wharf, a navy boat and submarine, a quick call into Ross shop, then a lunch stop at jacks (burger and taco shared $8 75) filling a hole. Back walking again via Lombard street, steepest street, with hordes of tourists, then through streets back to our hotel, stopping at a deli for wine, beer, bread and salad for dinner. Disaster when found wine had a corkscrew but disaster averted by borrowing a corkscrew from the restaurant. Plenty of tourists in city, Europeans and South Americans, everyone helpful and traffic very polite when crossing roads. Let's hope it stays that way! Beautiful old and new buildings with lots of steep streets to walk. Temps could have been warmer, had to keep jumper on all day, with a cooler wind in exposed places, much like Wellington.
28 August 2017
Day 1 - After a 12 hour flight when I managed to get a bit of shut eye and enjoy a meal and glass of wine, we arrived about 1 pm local time in San Francisco. A full flight and after queuing to land then after 1 and a half hours we were finally through Immigration. Reminded me a bit of Wellington with the surrounding hills and especially the drive to our hotel in a uber cab. Tried to make conversation with the driver but he was Brazilian and didn't speak much English.
Hotel Majestic lives up to its name. It's like a lot of the buildings here in San Fran, large and tall wooden buildings with interesting paintwork, lattice and turrets. Our room has two very high single beds with lovely drapery over the beds and windows.
Settled in then went to supermarket before walking down to union square for look around. A snack dinner for tonight.