Trip Start Nov 18, 2002
157Trip End Ongoing
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So our flight from San Jose to LA was 5 hours 48 minutes and not too bumpy either. We were greeted at the airport by a fellow traveller Debbie who we met on our first trip with her husband Chris in Fiji. Chris was already in bed (as it was the middle of the night) as he is a teacher in one of LA's biggest schools (more of that later) and needed to have his quoter of sleep for the hundereds of little darlings he has to deal with!!!
Debbie whisked us off to their apartment some 40 minutes away. It was nice being in a home environment after so long and we were soon acquainted with their cat Jack who insisted on sleeping on Martin's stomach that first night.
Our excellent hosts spent the next week showing us the sights and sounds of the real LA not the usual tourist one that everybody goes to see.
We ate delicious meals of Laos, Thai and Mexican food prepared by them and reminisced about our travels, sharing photos and good times we all have had.
Chris invited us to his school, Long Beach Polytechnic one lunchtime to chat to the kids about travelling. With over 5000 pupils this was a huge school and one of a rear few with no metal detectors at the school gates. The school had a really good feel about it with Camron Diaz and Snoop Doggy Dog being a couple of it's famous graduates.
One Saturday we walked down to Long Beach and witnessed the Guinness World Record for the most kites flying in the sky at one time. There was over 687 which was the last record. They, the organizers were still counting when we left!
That evening we were invited for cocktails at Chris's parents house. Wow what a pad right on the cliff top with fantastic views of Rendondo Beach area. Thank you Sally and Pete for making us feel so welcome.
Then if that wasn't enough we were then invited to C&D's friends house warming party. Again another fabulous house where Leslie and Byron and their friends made us so welcome.
We also went to an amazing mind blowing exhibition which is currently on a world tour and was once shown in London. Body Worlds, it was called and to spare you the gory details just go to www.bodyworlds.com. Basically this German guy had developed a way of preserving bodies in a plastic solution for us to learn by. Amazing stuff, check the web site out for yourself.
A BIG thank you has to go to our dear friends Chris and Debbie for giving us a place to sleep, for introducing us to their family and friends, for giving us the opportunity of experiencing LA like no other tourist, for the beautiful sunset we shared on your roof top, the evening drinks in the Irish bar watching the Boston Red Sox win the world series, just for everything you guys did and more we thank you and owe you big time!!!!
Next we headed off to the Avis car hire shop and booked some wheels for what turned out to be the next 9 days.
We headed north up the 101 and took 2 days to get to our chosen destination of San Fransico. Here we stayed near Fishermans Wharf and met up with another fellow traveller, Susan who we first met up with in northern Thailalnd and continued to travel with in Laos.
Susan was throwing a dinner party and we got to meet some of her friends. She also had a friend staying with her who she first met in Vietman so it was all travellers together.
Because we had been to SF twice before this time we took the advice of Chris and Debbie and headed just north of the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headland area. The views from the cliff tops back to SF city and it's famous bridge were breathtaking. Then we made our way further north to Muir Woods.
This was a complete change of environment compared to the open headlands. We were now in thick forest with very tall Redwood trees and fern ground cover. Together with Koen, Susan's traveller friend from Holland, we walked one of the trails and on our return back to the car park I swear that a film star passed us on the trail. This grey haired man walking towards us was avoiding eye contact with me until the very last second of us passing. I thought his grey hair looked very familiar at the time and then his eyes met mine and it was Richard Geer!! It was really him! I saw a film star! A real shame I'm "Ugly Woman!"
All the while during our stay Halloween was hotting up everyday. Americans go into this BIG time. Loads of houses have their gardens, balconies, garages, whatever decorated up with ghosts and witches and tomb stones etc. Susan had invited us to her workplace party. What is so special about that? we hear you ask. Well she works for the computer search engine "Google."
So the 3 of us went for a jolly at the 'Googleween' party. Well the moment we arrived in the reception area it was in full flow. The receptionist was dressed in a Whiches outfit with green painted hands and face, nice!
We get signed in and proudly wear our visitor sticker and Susan proceeds to take us on a jaw dropping tour of the Google Empire. "Wow was this place cool?" Sorry it had to be said it is American after all.
So lets start with the staff perks..........3 free meals a day or basically as much as you can eat when you like! Yes, kitchens on every office level stocked full of good and bad food, juices, power drinks, mineral water etc to just help yourself........free onsite laundry, just take a timer to remind you when it's done!.......2 gyms........onsite swimming pool being built......volleyball court outside in the sunshine........electric scooters to whiz around different offices on..........bring your dog to work! (we saw them)..........and they are working on an onsite creche/nursery for all employees for FREE.
Google want their employees to spend 80% of their work time on work and the other 20% to develop any ideas/projects you may have for the future of Google! They have and want the best of the best people of the computer world and Susan's job is to recruit those from the universities of America.
If that wasn't enough then the Googleween party began............This particular site employs over 2000 people and most of them metamorphasized into either horror, movie,TV or children characters. A huge buffet was laid on and a competition took place hosted by a celebrity woman from a daytime TV talk show.
We had a FAB time, took tonnes of photos and learnt so much about all the things that Google do, thanks to 'the lovely Susan'. Then it was farewell until we meet again in Africa in 2006, right Susan?
We headed south again until we reached Carmel where Clint Eastwood was mayor some 17 years ago! This was a very pretty, very expensive village type town. With a sandy beach front offering all types of water sports. Watching a new kite surfer try to do a beach start was really amusing!!!
We continued driving down Scenic Highway 1 affording incredible views of the coastline until we reached Solvang. A little Danish oasis in America. The main reason for being here was to visit 'Flag is up Farm' owned by the real horse whisperer himself Monty Roberts. Here is a man who teaches and trains in natural horsemanship. Not all of you will be familiar with this man so I will spare you all the details but this man can train horses to do whatever without the need of breaking the horses spirit, which is literally what "breaking in" means. He developed the language of Equis and teaches this way worldwide. I (Caroline) was fortunate enough to see one of his workshops in England a few years ago and will never forget it. Unfortunately Monty was touring in the UK when we went to his farm but we met his wife Pat and were allowed to walk freely around his amazing farm, and watch some of his trainers do their work etc. We also saw 'Shy Boy' his Mustang that he joined up with from the wild. The English programme QED ran a documentary about this incredible journey. I would have loved to have attended one of his clinics but missed it by a week! Another time perhaps?
Over the next couple of days we continued south stopping in Santa Barbra where we posted a huge box of stuff home including all those fleeces and warm clothes we will not be needing for the rest of our trip!
Eventually we arrived back in LA where we gave our car back we caught up with our dear friends Debbie and Chris for the last time before flying off to Auckland New Zealand.
A special thank you goes to Chris, Debbie and Susan for making our time in California such a great on -we owe you guys xxx