Back to L.A and then to Vegas Baby!

Trip Start Nov 06, 2009
Trip End Nov 30, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Friday, November 6, 2009

Virgin Atlantic airlines was a pleasant surprise, nice meals (well Fred liked them, I am still recovering from a lung infection and have no appetite, so will take his word for it) and lots of new release movies. Unfortunately not so pleasant was about 6 or 7 Australian people who got loudly and disruptively drunk and kept us (and probably a lot of other people) awake with their yahooing, clapping and even flash photography!! Poor Kate slept about 15 minutes in the whole flight!

After queuing up and waiting in long lines through security and customs, we finally made it out of LAX and caught the Hire car shuttle bus. We ended up upgrading to a 2009 Ford Explorer SUV which has only done 7000 miles, as the car that had reserved for us would only JUST fit our 3 suitcases! So once the car was sorted we loaded our stuff, got the laptop and GPS
set up, drove up into the parking lot....and then couldn't get the GPS to work....!! Finally after stops and starts we made it out of the parking lot, but the GPS kept missing the beat and was a bit of a disaster for my mental health considering I've been awake 24 hours + sick to boot – not to mention poor Fred driving on the wrong side of the road again! However after a quick pull off the interstate and a 50c cup of coffee each, we started seeing more clearly and finally
got things working right again. By this time both kids had flaked out in the back of the car and Kate slept thru a huge traffic jam going out of LA. Through this all, we were working up quite a sweat as it is a clear (except for L.A Smog City ick) hot autumn day with a incredible blue sky. Temperature was reading 81 degrees a few minutes ago.

We stopped at a kitschy roadside diner near the Ghost town 'Calico', called “Peggy Sue's 50's Diner' for lunch – of which the kids had their first grilled cheese sandwiches in America this trip. The Diner was pretty much a tourist trap, but fun, with lots of photos of Elvis/Marilyn etc and some big Dinosaur statue out the back according to Josh.

After lunch we drove up to Calico for some explorations. The sun was against us that afternoon, dressed as we all were in our winter clothes (thought it was going to be cold here! I didn't even pack a tee-shirt!) and we sweated our way up the reconstructed and restored old Silver mining town. Fred and Josh went in 500 metres to an old mining cave, while Kate and I looked through some of the craft/souvenir shops. Would have been a lot more interesting if we were better prepared, but still glad we went. On the deserted two way roads leading from Calico Fred was quite happily cruising along pointing things out to the kids...on the LEFT HAND SIDE!!! Luckily I looked up from fiddling with the laptop and yelled! And that there was nothing coming the other way!

One thing I found funny was this huge shopping centre with matching huge carpark where we stopped to use the restrooms – it was literally in the middle of nowhere and then 2 minutes drive down the interstate, and there was another one! The landscape in this part of California is dry, brown and barren, but the hills in the distance are strangly beautiful, especially when the light hits them a certain way.  Nevada certainly takes its' gamblin' serious, about a metre over the state line is a huge casino/theme park/shopping mall. Las vegas funnies – didn't catch all of it, but a huge casino with a flashing neon sign advertising 'Gospel something-or-other' on Sunday's – oh Puh-lease! Gospel and Casino in the same sign??? Stunning hazy pink and blue sunset clouding over the distant desert hills as we drive the last 10 miles towards Sin City on a endlessly straight 3 lane highway.

The hotel we stayed in was very nice, clean with really soft, comfortable beds. After a short rest, and letting Kate 'Skype' her friend Emma we went to Walmart. The kids were really excited about getting their Nintendo DSi's and we bought a few clothes too. By the time we finished shopping I was feeling decidedly strange and light-headed (probably from being sick and then
no sleep for 24 hours plus) so we just grabbed a quick bite to eat at the MacDonalds in the Walmart itself! Afterwards we decided to show the kids the neon of the Las Vegas Strrip again, but instead got hopelessly lost (yes, even with the GPS working properly!!) and eventually gave up and went back to the hotel to bed.

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