Trip Start Jul 27, 2003
45Trip End Jul 26, 2004
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Back for another installment!!
Monday 25th August - continued
We picked up our car at 4pm and headed North to The Napa Valley. It was weird to be driving again after so long. We had planned roughly to head North to Calistoga at the top of the Napa Valley and check it out. If it was nice we would find somewhere to stay when we arrived. Within an hourand a half we were there. Calistoga was a lovely town, just a main street lined with shops and a few motels. It is a hot springs town so there are lots of spa's offering mud baths and hot tubs and mineral treatments. We called into a couple to get a general idea of cost, They were all coming back at about $100 (60 pounds) We then got to one that looked pretty nice and they said that they had a sister company that ran some holiday cottages and they knew they had a spare one so at this time of day we would probably get it quite cheap. We headed just off the main street to the place called Hideaway Cottages and they were lovely
We then walked the 300 yards down to the main street to find some food. We found an Italian so we had a pizza and some pasta and planned what we could fit in the next day.
Tuesday 26th August
We had a packed full day today, it is so nice to have a car. It is already looking like I live in it!!
We first headed to The Petrified Forest, which hosts the worlds largest Petrified trees. 3 million years ago a volcano erupted 7 miles north from where we stood. It was caused by a bad earthquake which of course is a real threat out here, it was even part of our hotel orientation in San Francisco, we were told to sleep with our shoes next to the bed (so not to damage your feet on broken glass) and if an earthquake woke us then we were to crawl under the desk (provided!!) or stand within an open door way. Anyway, I digress. The molten lava coursed down the valley where now lies the Petrified Forest. Water laden with silicates in the ash seeped down into the gaps left behind by the decomposing tree fibres
We left The Petrified Forest and headed a few miles north to Californias Old Faithful Geyser. I didn't realise there was more than one Old Faithful in the world but apparently there are a few including, Wyoming, Nevada, Iceland, New Zealand and Russia. Obviously California believes their Old Faithful erupts more continuously and more predictably than the others!! We paid the $8 each to get in to an area of bare grass ground with a little pond which had a pile of rocks in the middle. This Old Faithful erupted every 16 minutes and it wasn't ond before the steam started to appear from the rocks in the pond, then suddenly a jet of water (smelling slightly of egg!!) jetted 60 feet into the air at 350 degrees F. It lasted about 3 minutes and then slowly died down to nothing again. It was a bit like being at The Bellagio without Frank Sinatra. It was quite impressive, we stayed for another two outbursts to get our $8 worth and then headed off.
It was now lunchtime so we headed back to Calistoga and stopped at a little place called Hydro Grill
We headed further down the valley which is just a fantastic drive. We got to Napa where we thought we would try and find a motel but we left as quickly as we arrived. It seemed quite a big sprawling place and we were enjoying being in the country after having spent so much time in cities recently. We headed west and stopped at Sonoma as our DK guide gave it a good write up as a small place
Wednesday 27th August - oh no only 11 months left!!
We got up and headed up to Santa Rosa to see some more sights. We drove though a place called kenwood which had some truly amazing Wineries. They had caves dug out of the hillside for cellars and many had awards for their wines. We got up to Santa Rosa which was just a big town, we stopped at a Wallmart to get our films developed but they couldn't do them in an hour only an overnighter so its their fault I still have no photos to post up. We headed down Route 101 towards San Francisco. We decided to stop our hotel in Oakland to save carrying our bags from the rental place. The hotel was just a sleeping stop as our Amtrak left Oakland at 10am the next morning
Thursday 28th August
Our hotel offered a complimentary of coffee, juice, muffins and doughnuts. So we had a feed and took some muffins for the journey and headed next door to catch our train to Los Angeles. This will be our last Amtrak. We get the train (6 hours) to Bakersfield and then an Amtrak bus to downtown LA (2 hours). I am really excited about going to the Cook Islands on Sunday (its like I am going on holiday not like I am already!!) We have hired a car while we are in LA as it covers more than 460 square miles and I would imagine that some neighbourhoods are none to friendly. In fact our DK guide almost insists upon a car, with doors locked at all times and windows firmly rolled up!! We have booked two more nights on priceline for downtown and we will be staying at The Hyatt Regency, which is quite cool because we started our Priceline/US experience at The Hyatt Regency in washington and we are ending it some 4000 miles later at The Hyatt Regency in LA.
The train journey was uneventful an we got into Bakersfield and transferred to our bus and then got dropped off in downtown LA but I will leave it their and post up our LA stories soon. It will probably be from The Cook Islands before we are back again unless I get the photos developed today which if so I will pop in and post them up tomorrow.
Hope you are all still well - keep up your emails.
Take care and we will speak soon
Lots of Love as always
Simon and Liz xxxxxx