Into the big cities of Los Angeles & San Francisco

Trip Start Jun 02, 2010
Trip End Oct 08, 2010

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Where I stayed
Various motels

Flag of United States  , California
Monday, July 19, 2010

Needles, what an apt name! The extreme temperature - close on 120 degrees Fahrenheit = 50 Deg Centigrade - we experienced here in the middle of the desert near Mohave, made you prickle all over. Wow, what a blast! We had just entered California from Arizona and stopped the night at the Desert Mirage motel in Needles - the half way point between the Grand Canyon and Anaheim in Los Angeles. Thankfully, only for one night, and the motel had AC which went all night!  Even when we ventured out for a meal, at 9.30pm, it was over 100 degrees!
We need a RANT! Having spent 3 days in Los Angeles (LA), we are very glad to be moving on! The traffic here is absolute madness - virtually all the roads we have been on are between 3 to 8 lane freeways! Our Genie on our Garmin GPS, Beauty, has been very unhelpful with comments like:- in order of worst first:- "re-calculating" where she recuses herself for making a mistake like asking us to make a U turn on an 8 lane freeway, saying nothing after telling us to turn left at the next turnoff and then saying "re-calculating"! This is happening whilst we are forced to drive at 65 mph minimum on an 8 lane highway just to keep up with the traffic - whoopsy, we have to get over to the right lane immediately whilst traveling in the left hand lane off an 8 lane highway!.
( Barbie: I need to add here--our GPS has been very useful!!. Sometimes,it is the driver turns left, instead of just veering left!!, or feels the GPS must be  wrong and we need to go in the opposite direction!.  We have caused her to "re-calculate" often!!  I am very happy when traveling at 20 miles per hour, rather than 75miles and trying to overtake every vehicle that dares to get in front of us!!!)  We understand that LA is 120 miles long by 80 miles wide and there are supposed to be 25 million people living here, well, let me tell you, there are at least 25 million cars & trucks on the roads at any one time and 'Gridlock" is normal! It took us +- 21/2 hours to do 20 miles on an 8 lane freeway and we had to take into account that Beauty took us virtually right into the Downtown district of LA when we could easily have by-passed it by taking the Vermont turnoff which we passed on the way to Downtown. This district is a mass of flyovers with signs all over the place! Our navigator, Barbie, was even more drained from this than the driver, who was himself knackered! Due to the very ineffective side mirrors, Barbie has to twist & turn to look for vehicles to both the left & right before I move over a lane and at the same time co-navigate with Beauty to make sure we are heading in the right direction - talk about multi-tasking! (and he needs to know where exactly on the map we are!!)
Tuesday, we spent the whole day in Disneyland - need we say anymore?? When I say we, I mean Barbie & I and 50000 people, of which 50% were children - that is an experience!  We arrived at 10.00am and left at 9.00pm having exhausted ourselves queueing for 3 rides for hours (which lasted 5 minutes at the most!) It was tiring but we felt we had to see as much of Adventureland as possible and see what it is all about - as far as I am concerned it is a matter of 'Seen that and got the tee shirt, now lets move on' We enjoyed going to our second childhood, though. We asked if we could get a "seniors" discount. We got one!! A whole $4 off the entrance fee of $72 (R560)!!  It was a fun experience, but one day was enough. Many years since we have been on a roller-coaster ride.!!
The next day, en route to downtown LA, we visited The Queen Mary - now a floating hotel at Long Beach. Very interesting wandering around with audio phones and hearing about the ship's involvement with troops in the war years.. Reminded me a lot of the old Union Castle Lines. Again due to roads being blocked--I think because of dignatories--our GPS took us all over, in her effort to get us to the ship.So saw more than we intended of Long Beach!
We spent a night in Vermont Avenue, east Hollywood, so that we could bus or tube to Hollywood Boulevard. A disappointment! Nothing glamorous at all--if anything, run down.We walked the" Walk of Fame", saw where the Oscars are held, visited the oldest Hollywood pub,The Frolic, which has been featured in many films and that was about it!
Our drive to Malibu, we went via the Sunset Strip-renowned for it's night life, through Beverly Hills and it's many beautiful homes and Rodeo Drive--the elite shopping area. Saw a really larney sports car, that people were photographing, and would loved to have stopped and joined the crowds to see who would come out to claim it!! (Guess you realize I am writing this and not Nick!!) I would have loved to walk Rodeo Drive, and do a tour of film star's homes in Beverly Hills, but time didn't allow.
Malibu was a bit of a disappointment as we could not see much, being on the busy Route 1 Pacific Coast highway, and there being mountains on the one side and a whole series of back to back houses on the sea side. We then drove directly north of Malibu to Calabasas, some 30 miles away through the mountains. The road was under re-construction and it took ages to get through, trailing behind a string of cars at a maximum of 5 to 10 mph. Calabasas is very upmarket and there were a lot of "koegels" (hope this spelling is correct) who carried on in loud voices at a lovely seafood restaurant we had supper at. Nevertheless, we didn't allow this to prevent ourselves enjoying the meal.
In Calabasas, we stayed at the Country Inn & Suites, a hotel that we got through i.e. empty rooms that good hotels haven't managed to let out, and at a much cheaper rate!! As a result have booked our next week through the same web site (thank you Shirley, for that!)
We are looking forward to meandering up the coast of San Franscisco. Must admit the last few days have been stressful and very tiring. Haven't always got to see what we had hoped to see. Went on a few "wrong" roads today, but always heading in the right direction, so I wasn't  too phased!! (Driver wasn't too happy!) Lovely hotel and cold beers at the end! Since hitting Los Angeles, the evening weather is definitely cooler than we have experienced earlier in our trip, which is a pleasant change--a jersey is needed at times. The days are lovely and warm and not too hot and at San Luis Obispo, the start of the coastal drive up to the Monterey peninsula and where the fabulous Palm Beach golf course beckons, we were, at last, able to start relaxing from the hustle & bustle of Los Angeles.
This coast drive was very pleasant and we stopped at various points along the way. One was at Hearst Castle where the original newspaper magnate built a very stately home - we were unable to gain entrance to the castle/home as there were hundreds of other tourists there standing in queues awaiting their chance to tour - we did not have the time to enter the queue.
Along the way, further up the coast, we came across Elephant Seals lounging on a beach of dark sands doing their honking and play fighting with their enormous prehensile lips. The views along this coast are tremendous as you travel on a highway cut into the sides of mountains, much like Chapman's Peak in places.
On arriving at the Monterey Peninsula, we entered Carmel, a beautiful little town with quaint and busy streets - here we got lost due to our navigator trying to read a map taken from our Rough Guide of the USA (but it was an interesting trip passes all the pretty gardens and quaint houses!). We eventually found the entrance to the 17 mile scenic drive which took us around the peninsula where we stopped in at the Pebble Beach golf course where the US Open was played in June. I still reckon that Erinvale is better and cheaper - a round costs $500 and does not include a cart or caddie! A few pics later, including the Canadian Geese population, we moved on to Marina, a small town north of the Monterey Peninsula where we spent the night in  the Quality Inn motel - this was very expensive compared to what we have been used to - double the average price, and only a 2star! We found out the reason why - the International Moto GP motor cycle race is to be held at Laguna Seca raceway some 20 miles away. The whole motor cycling community of the USA were in town looking out for Valentino Rossi! So prices were hiked up big time!!
Time to move on to San Francisco - we hope you enjoy this blog.
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Jan and Judy on

Great to hear about all your exciting adventures Mickey Mouse et al.
You two must be pretty fit or is it one day out and the next rest?
Can't believe you have been away for almost 2 months already.
Stay strong love Jan and Judy

amber on

I was in hysterics imagining you two on highways in LA!!! I could just picture the scene ;) xxxx

Ewan on

Hope you taking it easy on my mother,dad!!! mom, just remember to head north and you'll be alright..... seems to me that you guys need some wide open spaces!!! toooo many cities!!!! roll on Canada.....

Rollo & Anne on

You've managed to cure us of any desire to see L.A. or its freeways! That'll shorten our world tour a little....tho my plan is still to sail around in our old yacht.
Keep on truckn!

Rusty on

I can imagine and empathise with your frustration on LA freeways they are mindblowing, looks like you need to get to some open space and smaller towns, look forward to the next blog

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