Saturday, 18 June 2016

Lost day

The dateline between New Zealand and the USA meant that we arrived in the US at the beginning of our holiday earlier than we left NZ.

We had gone from being 19 hours ahead of the US, to being 19 hours behind NZ. So it was inevitable that the "time travel" to return home would have some catches.

For us that meant we lost an entire day. We left LA on Thursday night, flew for 12 hours and arrived in New Zealand on Saturday morning. No Friday for us at all. It is quite an odd experience.

The flight was okay, I slept more than I had thought I would and was feeling not as rubbish as I thought I might. Still pretty rubbish, but mostly tired. We had a straightforward process at customs and were soon outside in the chilly damp winter air. Brrr.

Once we got to the car we piled in the luggage and set off for home. Initially the car did not want to co-operate about starting. Two weeks of sitting in the outside air were obviously not appreciated. However, it did eventually start with no added intervention. 


And because I have this extra post which sort of covers two days depending on which hemisphere you are in, I thought it was the best place to finally share the pics of the kitties from Best Friends who we spent a quiet afternoon with a week or so ago.

Almost over

When I woke up Thursday morning I felt SO much better. It was great !

We returned the rental car and then decided to do the Hop On Hop Off bus tour so that we could get a bit of a look around LA and Hollywood. Jackie came with us which was fun. The HOHO in LA offers several different routes and you can transfer between them at no added cost. Bonus.

We caught the Yellow route from Santa Monica to near Beverly Hills and then transferred to the Red route which goes through Hollywood.

My cold or whatever it was had transformed itself again by now and I had begun to think it was more like an allergy reaction. So frustrating !

We hopped off the bus in Hollywood near the Chinese Theatre and had lunch before wandering along the walk of fame for a bit, and then completed the loop back to transfer onto the bus back to Santa Monica. 

Another visit to the drugstore and hopefully the right cure. There was just time to squeeze last minute things into our cases, and enjoy our last meal with Jackie and David. Then off to the airport, to find traffic chaos !!

Goodbyes and thank yous were said and we made our way to check in. They were pretty slow, particularly at security. It is such a pain, but I'd much rather go through all of that and know that everything possible to ensure my safety has been done.

As it turned out by the time we were finished at security it was almost boarding time. So some rushed purchases were made, and we made it to the gate. I was starting to feel a little better as well - and hoping that I would make it through the flight okay.

The thought of my own bed kept me going.

Big Sur and our last big drive

On Wednesday we left Monterey and headed south on Highway 1. We stopped quickly at Carmel to have a look in daylight at the cute little town we had seen at sunset the night before.

Our plan was to drive down the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) through Big Sur. There were a few things we had thought we would try to see on the way, but slower traffic, less passing lanes, windy roads and roadworks put paid to a lot of that.

Plus I was sick. I got a scratchy throat from somewhere on our way from Salt Lake City to Carson City. I had taken a some medication for it and it seemed to have been on the mend. However by the time we reached Monterey I had developed a horrid cough. So another visit to the drugstore for cough medicine and things seemed like they were going well - except that I had woken up on Wednesday with no voice at all !

 Bixby Bridge built in 1932

Anyways, it was a nice drive, with great views in places. Big Sur was a surprise. I did not expect to find a redwood forest there. We saw signs about sea otter and elephant seals, but had decided we'd give them a miss since we have seals too - and we'd see them all the time driving from Blenheim to Christchurch. But when we came around a corner and were greeted with what looked like a carpet of seals sunbaking on the beach in front of us, we had to stop and get a photo of them as it was so different to anything we had seen before.

The Pacific Coast Highway is a lot longer and slower than the inland routes and that meant we were suddenly pushed for time at the end of the day. We phoned the rental company and confirmed we could return the car the following morning.

Once we were out of the car and had had a coffee back in Santa Monica I began to feel a bit more human, and my cough seemed to be responding to the treatment. Yay. I was tired though and really looking forward to bed.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Monterey & Carmel by the Sea

We decided to try to and do a few last minute things this morning in San Francisco before leaving town. But all that happened was that we got frustrated with one way streets and the car decided it couldn't cope with the hills and wanted us to stop and wait 10 minutes as the transmission was overheated !!

So, farewell San Francisco - hello next place.

Thought my eyes were playing tricks when I spotted this rainbow on the clouds

We found our way south - though not on the road we wanted to be on because the GPS that came with the rental is a bit anal and drives us nuts. Still, we found our way and by just after lunch had arrived at Monterey. Still crazy wind blowing in off the Pacific, so not too warm. But much more relaxed. We found somewhere for lunch - an ENGLISH PUB no less, playing Euro2016 on the big screen.

Then we found our hotel, did the washing, sorted out our cases and went back into Monterey too have a look at the Farmers Market, have a walk on the beach. That filled our shoes up with sand and wasn't much fun in the wind. Then we found some dinner and decided to go for a drive to Carmel by the Sea. 

The cute town where Clint Eastwood was once Mayor. We watched the sunset as we went and snapped a few photos to share as well. Then back to the hotel for the night.
Pohutukawa everywhere in California - and Eucalyptus in flower too 

Tomorrow is the last day of our roadtrip as we head from Monterey back to Santa Monica.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

So, San Francisco...

Today's lyric is from Shania Twain - "That don't impress me much"

It was actually yesterday but I ran out of time to blog because of unforeseen events which shall be detailed later.

We got up early and set out to find breakfast as we had been led to believe the food scene was pretty amazing in San Francisco. But no, pastries, pastries, pastries or other greasy options. Blurgh. So coffee it was.

Then having decided we would do the Hop On Hop Off bus to see the sights, we found a stop and waited for the bus to arrive. We saw a few sights, wandered around Haight Ashbury and did a spot of shopping, then back on another bus for the trip over the Golden Gate Bridge and back to the stop closest to out motel for a little breather. We also had a short walkabout part of Pacific Heights. Our motel (right next door to an IHOP on Lombard St) was ostensibly in the Marina District, but actually was almost on the border of Pacific Heights - but at the bottom of the hill.

By this time, we were felling a bit deflated about San Francisco. Everyone had told us we would love it, but we didn't find it that easy to navigate, or very personable or even any different to many other places. Plus, despite being warned that it is often cold, we were completely unprepared for the freezing cold wind all day and only 14 or 15 degrees. We could have stayed in Wellington or Auckland to experience that. 

We had decided by now that we didn't want to stay another day. We have cities with harbours, and bridges, and earthquake surviving structures, and hills too - there just didn't seem to be anything that grabbed us and said STAY. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the difficulty in finding good food to eat. Who would have thought we would have found such amazing food in Utah - then nothing to compare in such a destination city ?

We caught another HOHO bus back into Downtown and wandered about a bit more trying to find shops and thongs to photograph that we had missed from the bus because inconsiderate vehicles obstructed the scene. Giving up in despair we caught another HOHO to Fishermans Wharf where we had hoped to find some food before doing the night tour. It was extremely cold too, but we decided to sit inside and just jump out to get photos when we could.

So we have photos. Afterward we caught a cab to a diner near the motel where we thought we might get some thing to eat, since nowhere else had had anything enticing on offer.

...oh, and the unforeseen even which stopped me doing this last night ? We got to the diner and then found I had left my phone on the cab ! Thank goodness for iphones !! We were able to track it and find the cab driver - and get it back. But that kind of messed up the rest of the evening.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Going to California

There is another song to get inside your head. (Led Zeppelin in case you didn't know)

This morning we got up, packed the car and had breakfast and were on our way again. Carson City has a few places worth having a better look, so maybe they might make it on the list for another time.

We had decided (or I had) to drive around Lake Tahoe to Truckee and then on to Sacramento. The GPS had different ideas though which caused a bit of a meltdown and ended up on some narrow backroads for a bit. But we were soon back on track. 

It is very lovely - and very popular which made our trip a lot slower than planned, with  a lot of roadworks thrown in for good measure. However, we made it to Sacramento to meet a new cousin and have a chat for a while before we made the last part of our journey to San Francisco.

The last 98km from Sacramento to San Francisco took close to 2 1/2 or 3 hours ! All of those people who had been out of town for the weekend, returning home. The bonus about slow traffic is that it gives you more time to concentrate and understand what the GPS is trying to tell you.

We've made it to the motel, found dinner and have some plans for tomorrow. Hopefully the June Gloom will stay away for us.