North America, Australia and Oceania · 49 Days · 34 Moments · October 2017

Sandra's and Kenny,s BIG Road Trip

1 December 2017

Well as the sun sets over Venice Beach, so does our big trip come to an end. What a journey, New Zealand, Cook Islands and California (God save America!) Hope everyone who has kept up to date on our travel blog has enjoyed sharing our news.

30 November 2017

30th November Venice Beach cont........ We could really get used to this life! Nobody seems to go to work, or school. Every morning the homeless get their coffee from the various bars, then proceed to tidy up their space, get a wash in the public rest rooms, put out their seats and face to the sun have their first joint of the day! The other Californians get up, have their breakfast at the local bars and start their wellness exercises, biking, skating,skateboarding, jogging swimming and using every sort of equipment imaginable right there on the beach for public use! Amazing. We got up, had our breakfast at a local bar, had a bit of a walk along the beach and faces to the sun generally relaxed. Stood and watched the local attractions,, which are on every corner, and wow the dudes at the skateboard piste, have they got talent!

29 November 2017

28th November Well....spent the night in Mariposa which is one of the gateways to Yosemite National Park This is a World heritage site!,It's truly amazing, passed over the Kit Carson pass from Lake Tahoe. We only had a couple of hours in the park, cos we had a six hour drive to Venice Beach but what a drive out of the park on minor roads, one of the best drive we have done over snow covered passes, but crap after Fresno, we have decided to spend our last three nights in Venice with all the dropouts, Sandra feels at home here 30th November Hell, just seen the weather forecast for the North East of England , snow storms! Have to make the most of today and tomorrow 25 degrees with sunshine here at Venice Beach!,

26 November 2017

26th November Left San Francisco and headed north past Sacremento and on up to Lake Tahoe. This is an incredibly big crystal blue lake in the Sierra Nevada on the border between California and Nevada, it's surrounded by mountains and beautiful fur trees. We woke up to snow! And it was incredibly cold. This is a big skiing area. 27th November Travelled up to Incline Village where the rich and famous have amazing houses on the lake side. And then on up over the state line and into Nevada. Now this is cowboy, Indian and bear country. We went to Truckee and had breakfast in an original "American diner" this place defo has an air of past wagon trains and Indian camps, with a railroad track that heads north into the mountains. Back to Tahoe Lake for the evenings stop off and, happy hour! Too many Margharita's! Off to the Yosemite National Park in the morning.

24 November 2017

24th 25th November San Francisco Left Monterey and travelled to San Francisco. What a city true to any films we've seen. Streetcars, hilly roads, amazing buildings and old piers. One minute you are in a very high-rise expensive area and the next street is a hippy 60's retro street, not to mention the. Broad walks and old piers. The San Francisco Bay is stunning. We took a boat trip around the bay, went under the Golden Gate Bridge and around the infamous Alcatraz island. Alcatraz started as a military base prison in 1934 and then it was commissioned as a USA federation state prison where gangsters (Al Capone) and murders ( bird man and machine gun massacre man) were incarcerated. This also true to films we have seen it in, a veritable rock in the centre of the bay.

23 November 2017

23rd November Pismo Beach to Monterey! Well Monterey is a natural Marine Wonderland. Famous Cannery row, which was the one time world centre of the sardine packaging industry. We visited the famous Monterey Bay aquarium with thousands of marine animal and plants underwater exhibits, it was very well done, but unnecessary as the outside bay is full of surprises, sea lions, pelicans,whales and sea otters just floating in the harbour sunbathing on floating kelp! And the noise, unbelievable. We went on a whale watching expedition out to sea, couldn't believe our eyes, evidentially it's the season of whale migration from Alaska to Mexico and there they were, hump backed whales breaching and diving, and most amazing blue whales, the largest mammals in the world right there in the sea at the side of the boat! Wow, Monterey and Carmel absolutely beautiful diverse parks and beaches.

21 November 2017

21st November Santa Monica to Pismo Beach Left Santa Monica today and travelled up to Pismo Beach We drove North up the Pacific Coast Highway which follows the Pacific Coast. Amazing seascapes and landscape views. Passed Malibu beach on the way and stopped for lunch! Arrived late at Pismo Beach so spent the night there ,this is a kind of late 50's type hippy town. 22nd November Next morning back on the PCH where we noticed a sign for an Elephant Seal Colony,so we investigated. Amazing, totally awesome 20 feet from the shore a huge colony of these seals just lying about on the sand. Females, pups and huge Alpha males see pics attached.

20 November 2017

Today we took a grand tour by mini bus to see all the "must see's" here in Los Angeles. We did Hollywood (of course) seen the famous sign, the Chinese theatre, where the Movie Stars put their footprints and handprints in cement, the Dolby Theatre home of the Oscars. Also walked the walk on Hollywoods greatest boulevard where over 2500 stars Walk of Fame are on the pavement. Finally on to Beverly Hills, Bell Air, and Sunset Strip. Didn't see any famous faces though. Although I'm sure I helped Joan Collins choose a sandwich in the farmers market! Really was amazing to see some of the buildings, and locations which have been in films. We are moving further up the coast tomorrow.

19 November 2017

Hi all second day in downtown Santa Monica. Yesterday spent the day cycling along the whole sea front all the way to Venice beach. What a place. Convinced there is no show like it anywhere. First of all I'm sure you could find anything and everything, and the people are amazing, honest the street shows that these guys put on for passer-byes are amazing, from breakdancing to acrobatics. Also the sports on the beach including roller skating, skateboarding by people of all ages, including old biddies nobody cares what they look like, the confidence is incredible (must be the sunshine) or the dope, which is legal by the way here
Goodby Cook Islands Just arrived n LA yesterday, picked p an SUV and drove to Santa Monica to the hotel California (honest that's the name of the hotel) the traffic was mindblowing, 6 - 8 lanes, bumper to bumper big change from the Cook's, where it was one small road around the island. Went for a walk along the Santa Monica pier at sun set, wow! Was watching some young dudes on the beach they were dong flips and tricks on slacklines (the act of walking or balancing along a suspended length of flat webbing that's suspended on high between two anchors) bloody amazing what they were managing to do. Just woke up to a beautiful sunshiney day and planning to go on a bus tour of LA (hope to see some celebs!) pics to follow.

14 November 2017

Well still In the Cook Islands the weather has been wonderful, but we have full on rain today. Only 2 days left, and then off to California. Let me tell you a little about the structure of the island. Goes without saying it's very "laid back" there is one road that goes all around the island and the bus takes about 50 mins to go all the way around. Yesterday we caught a procession which is in honour of the international commonwealth games, where a baton in honour of the queen is being passed around 70 commonwealth countries. Believe it or not I actually managed to hold t for a few seconds (being a pushy sort of person) see photo!

13 November 2017

Just been on a submergable, well it is a part submarine, a sort of glass bubble beneath the bows of a boat which allows you to see marine life beyond the reef. Some pretty big fish down there! See pics. At sunset we went to castaway beach which is on the west side of the island where beautiful sunsets are renowned. We ate at a beach hut called Wilson's, which is very significant to anyone who has seen the film "castaway" with Tom hanks, where his only friend is a baseball called Wilson! See pics!

11 November 2017

Still in the Cook Islands, island life is totally chillax sun,sea, coral, scuba diving. Tomorrow going sailing a local guy who has agreed to hire us his boat for a couple of hours I'll let you know how we get on! More photos attached. Massive local market today with an amazing atmosphere. One bus which travels both clockwise and anti clockwise around the island.,

9 November 2017

9th November Well here we are in the Cook Islands and what can I say, paradise on earth, here is a little taster more to follow. Sorry but the wifi is very poor here.

5 November 2017

Hahei beach and at last the sun has come out! Beautiful day and we have decided to spend the last two days in New Zealand here just chilling and drinking Campari!

4 November 2017

Rotorua and a foul day it's rained solid for 24 hours. Went to see a living Maori village called Te Puia Very interesting they are virtually living on the world famous Pohutu Geyser mud pools and hot springs (lots of steam about!) they cook and bath outside in the hot pools. Had some very nice corn on the cob straight from the geyser.

3 November 2017

3rd November 2017 After a beach front free site Which I have to say was a fantastic location in front of an amazing beach, we left for Kerosene Creek which, we had been told was a natural hot spring and waterfall amid a lush,dense semi tropical forest, where you can swim and relax, actually the Kiwi,s insist you can find your inner spirit....yea that's for me. However on the way we came across the Craters of the Moon, this is a thermal area of geothermal activity cost 8$ each, but honestly looked a bit like the moors of Rothbury on a wet foggy soggy cold and just a bit more about Kerosene Creek, it was raining, Sandy put on her wet weather gear, Barbour Poncho, over trousers etc, the full Monty to walk the muddy track of 50 yards....everybody else were in there bikini,s shorts etc...anyway wet all day, and 15 deg, this is suppose to be semi tropical but I had a great time in the thermal waterfalls, even if I was the oldest person there! Six

2 November 2017

2nd November, 2017 After the crossing, spent the night 70 mile north of Wellington at Foxton Beach, where we saw tsunami Warning notices. Up early the next morning and travelled to Napier on the East coast,which is a cool Art Deco town on the East Coast, it was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake. This city is full of Art Deco buildings, and is the Jewel of the North Island,From entering the city along huge Palm Tree boulevards,it's like entering an old movie set, our pictures say it all....good weather

28 October 2017

Today we left The south island for the north island. We sailed from Picton to Wellington across the Cook Strait's. Luckily it was a smooth passage as locals said the crossing can be very rough as winds come straight up from the Antarctic. We saw dolphins and albatross's, amazing, but sorry no pictures as my companion again didn't get the camera out! We are now heading for Kerosene Creek to try out the hot springs. More news tomorrow.

27 October 2017

27th October O M G!! what a day we managed to get on a helicopter flight which was the best experience imaginable. flying for a full hour. up to the Fox glacier on to the Franz Joseph glacier and finished with a tour around Mount Cook which is the highest mountain in New Zealand. We landed at 10.0000 feet on a snowy plateaux where we all got out. I had the best seat on the helicopter, right at the front next to the pilot (very nice young man) . Look at all the pictures! Kenn is the one in the back, I think he was scared.....
More helicopter shots!

26 October 2017

26th October We went to visit the Moeraki Boulders, these are an unexplained geological phenomenon they are big black completely round boulders which seem like they have simply landed on the beach.beautiful day by the way. Left Moeraki and on to Oamaru,this is a very English looking town and is practically the only town we have seen with proper buildings, very Edwardian, Dickens like. We seen the Steam Punk" which is ancient rubbish made into strange objects, then around a corner and down a street we found an array of Edwardian shops including clothes, ancient books, a museum dedicated to Shackleton and his trip to the Antarctic, fascinating. Now heading inland to Lake Tekapo and hopefully a helicopter flight over Mount Cook, New Zealand' highest mountain.

25 October 2017

25th October Moeraki evening We made it to Fleur's Restaurant.... And oh what an evening the fish was amazing, evidently the fishermen bring the catch in every day and it's gutted by the fishermen and cleaned in the sea, so wow so fresh! We had an excellent bottle of wine , the place was really quirky. Highly recommend it to everyone coming to New ZeLand. Yum yum ...Sandy paid the bill, cos I found the penquins for her (if I didn't we wouldn't have gone to the nice restaurant! )Sxx

24 October 2017

Evening 25 October Well it's dusk and after chasing penguin sites about we are finally going to see some! We are at Moeraki village and have booked into a lovely,little site overlooking the bay which is filled with local fishing boats. I can also see Fleurs Restaurant on the horizon so I have high hopes. The lady at the campsite gave indication that we would find the yellow eyed penguins up at the lighthouse bay, a really remote site that evidently was not on the tourist trail, so off we go................WOW after waiting about the yellow eyed penguins began to come up the cove, I couldn't believe it, only one landed at the time, apparently these penguins are very shy. They are almost extinct, I also have to mention that the evening was very wet, windy, and extremely cold. I have to say I really felt quite emotional. However one blip, after taking loads of shots of this wonder, my companion managed to cut the penguin's head off what would have been the best shot of the lot!

22 October 2017

25th October Well we have been on the road for days. We travelled from Haast to Wanaka and spent the night there, spent a great day at Queenstown and met Mark aka Willy and his family (an ex employee from Wildtrak) but sorry no photos as we forgot to get some. Mark was in mountain bike race and the place was crowded with young athletic beautiful people, we were the oldest people on the course, well Sandra was,Never mind the sun was out for a few hours at last! Quick look at Queenstown and then on to Milford Sound where we took an amazing trip on this stunning fjord There were bottle nosed Dolphins racing alongside the boat On the port side bow....Off to Dunedin today to see the penguin and seal colonies, and hopefully to have dinner at the renowned seafood restaurant in Moeraki ,that will be great as I'm fed up cooking in the camper van. K X

21 October 2017

More pics

20 October 2017

20th Oct 2017. Time for the driver to speak... Am driving Merc Sprinter automatic with 9k on the clock,not a bad little van (see pics).... Anyway left Franz Josef Glacier and hit the road again, we had tried to book a helicopter trip up to the Glacier, but the cloud was down to about 500 feet, so nowt was after various stop offs to look at waterfalls, deserted beaches, and mountains covered in clouds off we sped again...driving a long straight road I spotted a lone cyclist up in the distance, as we approached closer and closer I recognised his cycling style, it was my old mate Steve Cav from Rothbury, Steve and myself have been Cycle Touring together for the last 12 years and have done most of Europe, he was on his way to a small town called Haast, we agreed to meet him there...Steve pitched his tent next to our Camper and Sandy cooked a stunning meal, which I can,t remember cos the beer and wine flowed all night, Then it started to rain all night. K x
21 October Haast to Wanaka After a wet evening in Haast, drove through cloud all day over the Haast pass. We seen Steve on the road again,God he looked wet. Stopped at the Blue rock pools, and did a long walk through the rain forest crossing several suspension bridges which were only capable of taking 1 person at a time. See pics attached. The cloud cleared in the afternoon and we finally made it to Wanaka which is a beautiful clear water lake surrounded by snow capped mountains. So we stocked up on beer and wine and spent a pleasant late afternoon looking at the scenery and taking in the sun. It's great to be retired! Xxx

19 October 2017

19th October Visiting Hokitika this morning at first glance it looks like a hic town but evidently it has a very colourful history. At the height of the gold rushes in the 1860's it hosted 102 hotels, three opera houses and a whole lot of gold miners and it must have been a rip-roaring town.

18 October 2017

20th October Stayed at the rain forest retreat last night, really beautiful, very restful its on the Franz Josef Glacier in the heart of the south west mountain range. Could be taking a helicopter ride up to the top today weather permitting. More later.

17 October 2017

18th October Picked up the camper van in Christchurch and we travelled over Arthur's Pass towards the west coast and the Tasman sea. Wow the scenery was awesome climbing onto the pass between the ravines and the mountains. Encountered a friendly Kea which is a large species of parrot found on the South Island of Newzealand Finally dropped down to the coast, which is bathed by the Tasman sea this coast line really seems like something from the Jurassic park, really didnot fancy a swim! Stayed the night in Hokitika which we will visit in more detail tomorrow nite nite.....

15 October 2017

Sunday 15th to Tuesday 17th Spent Sunday looking around Marina del Rey and Venice beach in LA (niiiice) get an idea from attached photo's just a taster more about USA on the return Journi. What ever happened to Monday? We crossed the time zone line and lost it! Arrived in Auckland this morning after another 12 hour flight, now flying straight down to Christchurch, and looking more like a Serbian refugee than a cool traveller! Wow Christchurch is truly beautiful. It is very "old England" in a way, colonial buildings and wooden trams, but with chic bars and restaurants. The area is very flora and fauna with ancient beautiful trees and an air of tranquility (very restful for the jet lag) Picking up the camper van tomorrow and the road trip begins. Xxxx

13 October 2017

Well we left the uk yesterday and took a New Zealand flight from Heathrow Terminal 2 to LAX international . After a 10.5 hour flight, which was pretty good except that I was in the middle seat and a little worried that I wouldn't get enough food. Kenn was in the window seat and I have to say the vista was quite amazing at times, especially as we were crossing Over Greenland, sun was out and icebergs were visible. Arrival at Lax international quite an experience, it took about 3 hours to actually get into the USA ( even though this was just a one night stop over) there were about 4 jumbo jets arrived more or less at the same time so you can imagine the amount of people backed up in queues and the officers (with guns) took the fingerprints of everyone one at a time! Anyway we had a good nights sleep and were ready for the next leg with a 11 hour flight tonight into Auckland. See you there!