Roadtrip: Los Angeles

It’s really happened! This is my last post of our roadtrip, only 16 months after the event. Shocking. Oh well, a beautiful baby girl has been added to our family since then and life’s been busy — that’s the way it is sometimes.

About halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles Ben has some cousins. At that time Karl and Laura had just become engaged. Since then, they’ve married and had their first child. Sheesh.

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We had a nice lunch with them, a short stroll on the beach, and then we were off again to the last stop on our roadtrip: Los Angeles. This was our nicest (paid for) accommodation on the trip — a nice big room with lots of space to redistribute luggage into suitcases that don’t weigh a ton, and a very comfortable bed which was fantastic, especially after our epic 13-hours-at-Disneyland day. The breakfasts and pool were rather good too.

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We arrived in LA on Friday after a long day of driving,

The world's most uncomfortable-looking position for sleeping

and spent all day Saturday at Disneyland. Yes, we knew Saturdays in the summer holidays were the worst time to go, but next day was Sunday and we wanted to attend church then, and we flew out again on the Monday.

I have SO many photos to share, I’ll do the gallery thing again, so if you want to see any of the photos larger, just click on it.

We were such tourists, ooh-ing and aah-ing over silly things like road signs for Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard, or seeing some famous companies like Capitol Records.

Like I said, Saturday was Disneyland Day. We arrived there shortly after 8am, and left after 9pm. It was a loooong day, but a fantastic one. I must admit I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it — more like a fun day for the kids. But surprise! It was actually a really neat experience. I’d go again!

The grounds were so lovely, and I liked how different sections of the park had different styles like old times small town America, or New Orleans’ French Quarter among some. The rides were of course a big highlight. The lines and waiting times, not so much.

Dumbo

Pooh Bear

It’s a Small World

Tarzan

We had many options for Sunday church, but we decided to go to Grace Community Church where John MacArthur is the pastor. He was on holiday, but we still had an excellent sermon and service. We really enjoyed the music — it was tastefully done without being showy and really added to the congregation’s worship. I took some photos before and after church.

I don’t exactly recall the circumstances anymore, but I think we were worried about LA traffic and didn’t want to risk getting to the airport late, which resulted in us being there 4 hours early. We hung around in the normal waiting area for a little while

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and then we splashed out one last time on our holiday and paid to wait in the Air New Zealand Koru Lounge, where there was a kids’ playroom, free wifi, free dinner and drinks and comfy seats.  And then… back to New Zealand! We got a very warm welcome from friends and family, and came home to a nice clean house with much of our furniture and things already moved back in, plus some nice new furniture for the kids — thanks Mamma and Pappa!

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We came from summer into cold and wet winter

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but somehow that’s not so bad if you can still bake, right?

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I hope to get around to posting some photos of our lives here, especially for the benefit of our relatives and friends in the US. Just don’t wait with bated breath because you might just faint.

Roadtrip: San Francisco

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We only had one day in San Francisco for sight-seeing, so naturally we didn’t see everything on the list, but we still saw a whole bunch of things!

We saw Alcatraz in the distance:

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We rode the cable cars:

(Click on the picture if you want to see it larger.)

We had a look around the waterfront and walked down The Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf.

Our brother-in-law, Jeremy, got us in touch with a friend from college when she and her husband came to New Zealand for their honeymoon. Valerie and Gabe parked their campervan in our driveway in 2009, and 3 years later we looked them up in Stanford where Gabe’s been studying law. The drive down there through Silicone Valley was interesting, with all the geek billboards.

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There’s money down here…

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Valerie showed us around the Stanford campus — what beautiful buildings and grounds.

In one of the courtyards there are these sculptures by Rodin:

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Proof we were really there. :-)

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Gabe and Valerie kindly hosted us for a delicious dinner before we returned to our motel.

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That motel was the only dud on our whole roadtrip — in a not-so-good part of town, a tiny and very run-down room, weird people all around, not entire sure we were/felt safe… but we were fine in the end!

Next post will be the last one of the roadtrip: Los Angeles. Then after that I’ll try and update you a bit on the last year and a bit since we’ve been back in NZ. Hey, good things take time, right?

Yosemite!

Yo’s Mite. That’s how I always thought you pronounced Yosemite (having only ever seen it written). Now I know better. Just think Yo’s Cemetery without the ‘r’ and you’re set.  :-)

One of the many things I love about the States is how varied the scenery is. Yosemite is beautiful. But so is Arches. And the Smoky Mountains. And the Adirondacks. And… I could go on. :-)

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One morning we went for a short hike to Mirror Lake.  One of the first things we saw on the hike was this bear trap. We’re not used to seeing things like that!

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The hike was a bit of a wild goose chase, because we somehow went way too far. It turned out that the little pond we passed at one point was actually the lake, so we backtracked, walked through a beautiful meadow,

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And beheld the pond. I mean, lake.

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The girls enjoyed the water (it was a hot day), nevertheless, and it was actually quite nice for them that it was so shallow!

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There was another part to the lake — apparently it was a very dry year, hence the low water levels — where there were quite a few more people.

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A little bit off topic, but I saw this car in the park and couldn’t help thinking, “What a long way to drive!” About 3120 miles, if they’re from Anchorage.

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There were so many very tall trees. We didn’t make it down to the giant sequoia forest (hey cool, the word ‘sequoia’ has all 5 vowels in it!), but still saw some big ones.

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Did I mention that we were glamping? When  I was booking our accommodation in advance for our roadtrip, the dates that we wanted to be in Yosemite were all booked out (except for the really expensive hotels) inside the park, so I found a campsite just outside the park where you could camp using all their gear and facilities. It was great! Tent already set up, beds made with nice warm sleeping bags and comfortable mattresses, hot showers, hammocks, a big fire pit, a pool, a playground, a little shop and restaurant, even little trollies for your luggage! All for the price of a nice hotel anywhere else in the country.

We had our own food, but couldn’t cook there because it attracts bears. We were warned not to leave any of our food in our tents because bears come after it, and the campsite provided bear-proof boxes for food that were away from the tents a bit. Well, the first night we slept without any problems, but on the second night we woke up to the sounds of a bear banging on the nearby food boxes and rubbish bin. It turns out some clever person left some food out on top of the bins and that attracted the bear. We then lay there in the tent petrified, hearing the bear move around the campsite. The scary thing was that not so long before I had gone out to the car to get some medicine for Esther who was getting sick — sticky, sweet tylenol syrup. All Ben could think was that the bear would smell that and try to get into our tent! All I could think about was had I gone out a bit later I would have met the creature out there in the dark! In the end the bear moved off and we went back to sleep — a very light kind of sleep.

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At our campsite, there were big tall trees with lots of cool-looking moss or lichen growing on them. This next photo makes me feel dizzy.

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Between a couple of these mossy trees there was this cool swing, which we all enjoyed.

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On our last morning, the morning after the Night Of The Bear, we went on a little walk (“We’re going on a Bear Hunt“) before our drive to San Francisco. There was a brave “we’re not scared” veneer over some distinct nervousness over meeting a bear! And no, the bear of  the previous night was nowhere to be seen. Thankfully.

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Roadtrip: Mono Lake

I’m determined to finish the posts of our roadtrip, despite it now being almost exactly a year since we’ve been back in New Zealand.

After our stop in Lone Pine, we drove north to Yosemite National Park. Just near the entrance to the park is Mono Lake, where we stopped for a couple of hours before going on to Yosemite.

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Mono Lake is a very saline lake with no outlet to the ocean, making it more than two times saltier than the sea.

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On the edge of the water there’s a strip of about half a meter that’s black and buzzing. Alkali flies!

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I thought the little flies were a bit gross buzzing around your feet, but the birds liked them, and apparently the early Native Americans in the area ate the fly larvae. Bleh.

All those little black dots in the photo below are the little flies. If I recall correctly they’re only about half a centimeter long.

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An interesting feature of Mono Lake is its Tufa formations. They’re made of limestone, and they’re fun to photograph.

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Ben and Marica had a swim.  Ben said it almost felt difficult to swim because he felt like he was bobbing on the water!

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My very own James Bond. Only better, and without the freaky blue speedo. :-)

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Afterwards when they had air-dried, the two of them were left with salt streaks on their legs. I think Marica licked it and confirmed that it was indeed salty!

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The lake is too salty for fish, but is famous for the Mono Lake brine shrimp, only found in Mono Lake. The kids had fun catching them with little pitchers provided by the park rangers.

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Next time, Yosemite!