Winging round the West Coast

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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Thursday, October 11, 2012

Alright so we guess we'll tell you about Vegas, just a little bit (haha probably not, got your hopes up for a short blog aye :-p). We splashed out in Vegas and stayed at a hotel just off the strip, why?! We think our van was cleaner than this hotel, plus we had yummy weetbix for breakfast in our van but at this hotel, their 'continental’ breakfast was one of those small boxes of sugary cereal, stale bought danish and yucky yoghurt, it was disappointing to say the least. We had a list of all the free shows to do in Vegas so made our way through the list for the next 4 days. It could have easily been done in two but with the amount of shopping we did, it was necessary to stretch it to four. On the Friday night we did splurge and paid for a murder mystery dinner. It was so fun, the food was excellent and the characters hilarious! Liz managed to work out who the murderer was oh yeah! Alex enjoyed her dinner :-p.

We gambled away the grand sum of $4 in pokie machines, we had no idea what to do anywhere else and even the pokie machines we could not understand! The free shows were 5-10minute displays at the casino’s to entice you in with their music and bright lights. The one awesome show was the musical fountains outside the Bellagio we stayed to watch a few of them as the music changes for each show. It’s pretty spectacular, we fulfilled our Ocean’s Eleven dream J Las Vegas is beautiful at night time, we really enjoyed walking the streets looking at all the bright lights, even the McDonalds M was glitzy. It is also a lot smaller than we thought, a very flat and compact city, the only skyrises were the casinos along the strip.

We had originally anticipated 2 nights but as previously mentioned it turned into 4. Also previously mentioned, our hotel was less than desirable and we decided we would rather sleep the next two nights in the van. Thus on Saturday night we headed to Walmart to park up. We had a few concerns as it was right by the airport and our concerns held true, the van rock’n’rolled all night as the planes landed. The following evening we decided to head to another Walmart further away, only to be rudely awoken at 4.30am by a screechy security lady "You can’t sleep here." Even though when we first parked up 11.30pm the security saw us and didn’t care, don’t know why mean new lady decided at 4.30 that it was no longer acceptable. So we had to take down the blinds and drive back to the airport Walmart for a couple more hours sleep.

After Vegas we drove through Death Valley, aptly named as it really is just desert and we nearly died of heat exhaustion. We then headed up to Yosemite. Yosemite was pretty cool but we were a bit tired so didn’t do too many walks. One walk was particularly disappointing as the Lake didn’t exist at this time as it had all dried up, crazy! We also didn’t see any mountain lions, much to Alex’s dismay. The Sequoia grove was pretty cool though with it’s giant trunks. Alex wanted to see a particular tree which Liz did not, so Liz headed back to the van to cook dinner. It was dark by this time and a bit later arrives a puffing Alex who had sprinted back on an uneven track with thoughts of Mountain Lions pursuing her, being lost in the forest on their confusing trails with no form of light, it was dark people! Her heartbeat slowly returned to normal once she saw the cherry face of Liz and no mountain lion in sight hehe (clearly Alex wrote this).

From Yosemite we headed to the Golden city of San Francisco where all Walmarts hate us. The first Walmart gave us permission to stay there and just as we were snuggled down under the blankets there was a knock at our door, oh no. There was construction occurring that night in the car park and thus all overnighters had to leave, the man told us there was another Walmart just down the road which we could stay at. So once again we took down the blinds and headed over there. This time it was 1.35am when we heard a knock on our door nooooooooooooooooooo. “You can’t sleep here.” But we have permission we told him. “Oh no, this is Westgate ma’am.” This was a phrase he repeated often. What on earth is Westgate!!!! But we gave up trying and left, oh vey, Liz was getting good at half a sleep midnight drives. We went to a truck stop Alex had earlier looked up, it looked rather dodgy and was in a very dodgy part of town so we kept driving to find a nice suburb to sleep in. Nice suburbs didn’t exist in this area, so we ended up on the nicest of the awful looking streets that didn’t have to many cars on the side of the road, but every house had big metal gates surrounding it and turns out was near the airport. With a bit of prayer we fell asleep and woke up the next morning with a lady peering out her window suspiciously at us, so we packed up fast and left.

San Francisco is a bit of a skungy city, very hilly and windy like Wellington but not was pretty. We were a little disappointed as we thought it would be a really funky city. A highlight though was going on a tour through Alcatraz and hearing stories of the famous prisoners held there. We were also told that they got to shower twice a week, gee that’s better than us! We did a bit of a driving tour of the city to see the key sights. We also went to get our make-up done, and it was here that Alex was given a lighter shade than Liz and told this was because clearly Liz was more brown than her, what the?!?! Liz still hasn’t finished talking about it, oh yeah, Liz was called brown that’s right people. We were quite happy to leave San Francisco and begin our journey north. We drove up Highway 1 which runs right up the coast, it was pretty! We stopped just on the Californian border with Oregon to cook tea, it was freezing! After having a pot of water on the gas for 20minutes it still hadn’t boiled, we gave up and went to McDonalds J. During dinner a massive thunder, lightning and hailstorm occurred and by the time we went to head out the ground was several inches thick with hail, it was a cautious drive to the rest area for the night.

We drove for two days solid north along the 101 and are very used to driving on the right, we are a little worried about driving back home! We are not used to the 4-way stop signs of America though. We were told to give way to your right but we have found NO consistent rule at all! Everytime we just prayed and inched our way into the intersection. After our 2 day trip (via Oregon the magical land of no tax and yummy donuts) we made it to Port Angeles to meet back up with DJ from Alaska. We got to stay in his Mum’s RV, it was awesome, a double bed each! It was great fun hanging out with him again, we went for a cool hike around a lake and also to some beautiful waterfalls. It rained the whole way up to PA, but this one day we went hiking the weather was clear, awesome! After 2 nights in Port Angeles we headed off to Canada.

We were very excited to see the ‘thinKMetric’ sign at the border but it was a little embarrassing talking to immigration. We were asked how long we were staying for, just a few hours we reply, sorry. It was a cold, wet miserable day but we managed to get out in Stanley Park which was pretty cool, Alex went for a run in the rain like a sucker, but Liz was more silly and walked in the rain, we were rather wet by the time we got back to the car, but we saw racoons! It was so cool, they were adorable, they followed us a little. We also looked around Granville Island, a funky market island. That night (Saturday) we headed back to the USA where Liz, a little too comfortable with KM’s started wondering why she was being overtaken when doing 25…ohhhh were back to miles…! We headed straight to Audrey and Rex’s yay! Home sweet home. It was so nice to get back there and have our own bedroom. We spent 2 nights with Audrey. On Sunday we went to church then went for a hike with Audrey, her son and grandson to a pretty lake up a hill somewhere outside of Bellingham then that evening we made Shepherd’s pie and another Pavlova and Afghan biscuits yum yum.

Monday morning was a whirlwind of packing and cleaning up. We cut it as fine as possible, having 1 minute to spare before bag check in closed. The lady reminded us of this fact. We were then rushed to the front of the queue to make it through security before our plane left. LA here we come. 
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