Universal studios, Hollywood to home.

December 9th, we checked into our new and improved hotel in Universal studios before 9am and headed to the theme park for another full day of movies, 4D experiences, rides and characters.

The next day was spent leisurely brunching before spending the afternoon at LAX airport for our 8pm flight home. Isabella spent about 5hours in the play area having a great time. We arrived home around lunch time yesterday to gifts from our house sitters, a table full of mail and were all in bed by 7pm.

Today we have done our washing, unpacked and repackage our bags, hung up a shade sail for Griffin, gave him a bath, cooked some gingerbread for the neighbours, and bug sprayed the house for summer. Tomorrow we will be heading to the airport around 11:30am.

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Disneyland

After stopping by the park, we boarded the Pacific Surfliner train to view the beautiful coastline from San Diego to Anaheim. We were pretty exhausted from our big day so we got delivery for dinner.

Our day in Disney Adventure Park was just as could be expected…with 4D movies, musicals, rollecoasters, spinning rides, dancing cars and meeting characters. The next day however… we went to the otherwise… Disneyland, for more of the above, a lunch with comedians, Christmas parades and rides, until Isabella decided she wanted to go on another boat ride so we waited and waited for over 30minutes in line and she fell asleep just before boarding, no matter how much we tried to keep her awake! (6pm). We went back to Adventure Park to see the water fountain light show and back to Disneyland but they canceled the fireworks and sprayed everything with pumpkin spice scented soap foam (they call it snow).

Thenext day we went back to see the other half of Disneyland before catching an Uber to Los Angeles.

We had amazing Mexican food for dinner and watched the smoke clouds of the LA fires. We had a terrible night in the bed and breakfast hostel with super high ratings so we left early the next morning to a new hotel.

San Diego

By Friday, the magnitude of the ancient Grand Canyon had dried out our skin and we had grown weary of the extra fees and expenses of the tourist trap corporate run village we had called home for five nights, and happy to be heading towards humidity. We saw lots of mules, mule deer, birds and elk within 5 metres while at the Grand Canyon, catching the train back to Williams for some Mexican food and rough night sleep before heading to the airport for Saturday’s flying day.

I nearly lost my phone en route to the airport, but thankfully Flagstaff airport Staff let Kieran use the phone and managed to track down the driver who was on her way back anyway!

We arrived in San Diego in time for a hotel dinner and finally a good night sleep for all.

Sunday was spent at the San Diego Zoo after a bit of an unplanned hike to get there. First up were the pink flamingos, then onto a tour bus around the zoo. Elephants, tigers, polar bears, topir, gazelles and monkeys… it took all day to walk around most of it but we still didn’t get to see it all, even with the cable car to get from one side to the other. We ended the day with a dip in the cold pool of the hotel and some ice cream before bed.

Monday, we bussed downtown and walked around the harbour along the water’s edge, went on a cruise, walked some more to have lunch in Seaport Village…finally found the only decent coffee here outside of Starbucks, even if it came in a polystyrene cup, very exciting! We ended the day with more trolley/tram and bus rides back to a game of chess and delicious hotel dinner!

Tomorrow we catch the surf liner train to Anaheim. We hope everyone is well. Our fingers are crossed for Melbourne’s rain, Bali, and it’s volcano.

 

Grand Canyon week

We were lucky enough to be in Williams for there one big event in November, the Saturday night Christmas parade, craft market and tree lighting evening. This involved the local radio, volunteer organisations and the usual candy-throwing crowds.

The following morning we packed again and headed off to a Wild West show before boarding “the train”.

We are slowing down this week, returning to Williams by train tomorrow afternoon, Friday. We will be hanging around the Grand Canyon Village, doing more little walks and possibly attending more ranger talks or documentaries. It’s been relaxing catching the free shuttle busses around and enjoying the grandeur of the location.

 

Vegas, baby… not so good.

Thursday, November 22, We left the Wild West to venture into the adult playground of North America, aka Vegas. After dropping our bags at the advertised “family friendly” hotel/casino, the Westgate, previously the Hilton where Elvis got hitched, we dropped the RV off and said goodbye to our longest holiday accommodation booking for this trip.

We caught a taxi with an old Greek driver who gave us the low down on what’s what. We were accosted back at the hotel by marketing people for their timeshare program and agreed to sit through the sales talk for free tickets to the Tournament of kings the following night as well as free lunch in the old star trek enterprise themed nightclub. We walked the strip and saw Nathan Burton’s magic show which was pretty amazing, two of the Bellagio fountain shows, we walked through the different places including mini Paris, Planet Hollywood, New York New York, the MGM Grand…and more. The streets were full of smog and the homelessness was disheartening. We ventured a few blocks off the main strip to a laundromat which highlighted the inhabitable state of the desert city for any alternative life outside the strip.

Although the shows were worth seeing and we had to be at the airport for our 6:25am Saturday morning departure flight to Flagstaff via Phoenix, we were glad to be leave the smoggy city of desperation and disparities.

The french cafe at Phoenix airport had the best customer service we have ever received in an airport, ever. That’s the place we needed after a 3am wake up! We took a cab to Williams from Flagstaff… and that’s where I will start the next update.

Sending love and wishes for a big happy birthday to Tim, and Tom!! Missing you all!

Canyoning.

Lake Powell is one o& the two largest man-made dam/lakes in th USA. We took a tour of the Antelope slot canyons and the Lake Powell water canyons.

It was nice to have 2 nights in one spot, so we had an evening spa and went to see the famous horseshoe bend in the morning before driving to the town of Hurricane, Utah.

We camped the next, and our final RV night in The Valley of Fire, Nevada. The rock formations like honeycomb and so strangely confined to a small footprint, this was an awesome place to stay.

Driving through Arizona

We took a drive to the California-Arizona border next, hoping to see the old London Bridge. We drove over the bridge and camped at Crazy Horse Campgrounds on a little island, a terribly overpriced campground, the expensive laundry was out of service, the WiFi wasn’t working, toilets were 800m away and every second RV had a generator running all night… but we survived by heading into town to do some washing and hitting up some free wifi.
In the morning we checked out the famous bridge and did some grocery shopping at Safeway and set off north-east.

Stopping off at Kingston, we had a look at the Route 66 museum and the electric car museum, which were both very interesting, and reminders of the power of big corporations. Friday night,we camped at the base of Humphreys Peak in the National Park forest near sunset crater monument, above 7000 feet. 9deg when we arrived so we had a pit fire, -6degrees when we woke up… so we had a hot breakfast before heading back into Flagstaff for some ‘visitor information’ and a drink at a diner cafe to decide on a plan.

We set off for Monument Valley, for.a monemtn in the state of Utah on the Navajo reservation. A very scenic drive as the colours and layers of the rocks and landscapes changed, showing how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of time. Monument Valley was hosting a marathon so we got in for free but couldn’t access any hiking trails, which didn’t bother us too greatly. We then back tracked a bit to head up to Lake Powell, near Page, Arizona.