Santa Monica Pier

Day 21

On our last day, we packed up then drove to Santa Monica Pier. It was a beautiful day. We wandered around the Pier, had some lunch then wandered down to dip a toe in the Pacific Ocean. We can now say we have been in both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Then it was off the LAX to spend the last of our US$$$ and await our flight home. We left on Thursday night but didn’t arrive until Saturday morning.

We all agree we had an amazing experience and enjoyed our holiday. Our favourite things were biking across the Golden Gate Bridge and around Golden Gate Park, skiing, driving Route 66 and through Arizona, the shows/exhibition (especially ‘Ka’) and zip-line in Vegas, theme parks and touching the Pacific. Now, where to go next…!!!?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Universal Studios

Day 20

More rides today. We all enjoyed the studio tour and were fascinated by how they change one street for a variety of movies and TV shows. We knew they did it but seeing it makes you realise how much TV and movies rely on the viewer believing what they see because they expect it. It was much less crowded than Disneyland and there were fewer rides so we managed to do them all. Many were simulations which were good, but we all agreed the proper roller coasters were better. Grace was in her element in the ‘Wizarding World of Harry Potter’. Both the rides in that part were great. Then it was off to LAX so Uncle Daryl and Auntie Andrena could fly home.

Disneyland and Hollywood Boulevard

Day 19

Mum was very excited today – we hit Disneyland. Our first ride was the cup and saucers, the ride Mum had seen on TV as a child. Even though it was winter and only a quarter of the carpark was open, it was busy. We have never seen so many adults in Disney merchandise – it is amazing the variety of Mickey Mouse ears that are available.

Part way through the day, we decided to take a break from queuing and head to Hollywood Boulevard to see the ‘Walk of Fame’, the Chinese theatre, Dolby theatre and Hollywood sign. None of us realised just how many stars there were. It ran for more than 7 blocks on both sides of the street and down some side streets. The Chinese theatre is where the stars leave their hand and footprints. Mum thought this was very cool. We looked in the door of the Dolby theatre, where they hold the Academy Awards. It looked just like it does on TV, without the red carpet, reporters and rich people.

USS Midway, San Diego

Day 18

Today we gathered our bearings. After having an amazing breakfast prepared by our generous hostess, Debbi (she truly spoiled us and made us feel like part of the family), we took the 45min drive to San Diego. Here we boarded the USS Midway. The Midway is a decommissioned aircraft carrier that has been turned into a museum. It was fascinating. Alongside there is a statue paying tribute to freedom based on a famous photo taken at the end of WW2.

There is also a cool series of sculpture dedicated to Bob Hope. He is standing performing a stand-up routine to the troops. There is a recording of his act playing. It was cool.IMG_2171

Grand Canyon to Oceanside, Los Angeles

Day 17

Today was a day of driving. We drove to Flagstaff so Dad could finally do some shopping, then drove through Arizona to Oceanside, keeping off the Interstate as much as we could. We were very taken by the towns of Sedona and Jerome. Sedona had a statue of Sacagawea even though she didn’t actually visit there. Jerome was a small town that was built by copper miners. It went up the side of a hill and had a stunning view overlooking the valley. We were amazed by the sparse and isolated beauty of Arizona.

 

Grand Canyon

Day 16

Today we got up early to see the sunrise, which was really cool as the rock of the canyon changed from grey to red. Then we walked down a track partway into the canyon, to the equivalent of 56 flights of stairs. I thought it was pretty cool to be able to look back up at the rim of the canyon. It was rather disappointing though, as the track sign said that there were two tunnels on the ttack, but they were actually just arches across the track. Mum, Emelia and I walked back up to the rim of the canyon, while Dad continued down the track towards the bottom of the canyon. When we got back up to the rim of the canyon, Mum, Emelia and I explored the area around a place called Bright Angel Lodge. We found a building called the Kolb Studio and then further down the track the Lookout Studio, which was designed by a Miss. Mary Colbert for the Frank Harvey company to compete with the Kolb Studio. Miss Colbert was very amazing for the time period she was working in, as she was employed as an architect and interior decorator when those sorts of jobs were considered to be mens jobs, in 1902. She also did lots of research about the architecture and art of the Native American communities around the Grand Canyon, choosing to imitate their style of architecture instead of the European architecture like most other architects around her. This means her buildings fit the landscape and look even older than they actually are.

Las Vegas to Grand Canyon

Day 15

Today we picked up our rental car (a Jeep Grand Cherokee) and headed to the Grand Canyon. On the way, we stopped a had a look at the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake in North America.  Yes,  we were “..standing on the edge of the Hoover Dam”, just like the song ‘Hoover Dam’ by Sugar.

On leaving there, we took Route 66 to the Grand Canyon. It was pretty cool and good to get off the interstate. The countryside was beautiful and Grace got some beautiful shots of the sunset…from the car!

Las Vegas

Day 14

Today we explored more casinos and decided the most impressive was Caesar’s Palace. There were only a few that carried a theme throughout – Caesar’s, Paris and the Venetian were the most detailed. The photo below is the shopping centre with buildings styled like a Roman street. It is indoors. There were also many magnificent indoor fountains featuring huge statues of Roman Gods.

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In the afternoon, we went to Mac King Comedy Magic Show. It was great. He was both clever and funny.

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Later that night, Uncle Daryl shouted us all a ‘flight’ on the Slotzilla – a superman style zip-line that runs the length of Fremont Street. It was exhilarating. Mum was pretty nervous and Uncle Daryl doesn’t like heights but they both managed it and really enjoyed it.

Vegas, Baby

Day 13

An early start today as we headed to Salt Lake City to fly to Las Vegas. Once we arrived we left our luggage at our hotel and went to explore the Strip. The casinos were very grand and most didn’t really have a strong theme. We found the Luxor Casino and went to the Bodies and Titanic exhibitions. My favourite exhibit was the Bodies one as it was really cool to look at and read about all the functions and diseases in different parts of the body. You were able to see how they effect the organs. The Titanic exhibition was pretty good as the way they presented the exhibit was very engaging and made the exhibit very interesting. Emelia preferred this exhibit to the Bodies one. She liked the history aspect of it. When we entered, we were all given a boarding pass for one of the passengers that sailed on this ship. This made it more interesting as you could follow the experience your person might have had. All of our people died.

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In the evening, we went to a Cirque de Soleil show – Ka. It was awesome. The photos don’t do it justice.

Then we walked along the Strip to see it at night – much more spectacular, but no one got any photos!

 

Park City

Day 11

More skiing. Today was better than yesterday as the snow wasn’t as icy. Lucky Mum got to stay home and do laundry – she says it’s one of the joys of not being a skiier!

Day 12

Today we left Canyons for Park City village intending to take some Nordic skiing lessons. Unfortunately, we had to pull the pin as the weather was yuck. Instead, we had hot chocolate in this cool place called Atticus Coffee and Book Shop – very funky. We then explored the rustic town of Park City before lunch at Taco Bell then heading to the Outlet stores one last time. Guess we just can’t get enough pairs of shoes! Then we went to the Utah Olympic Park. We were hoping to see some ski jumping, in the style of Eddy the Eagle only better. However, the poor weather meant that the day’s training had been cancelled. We did get close to a bob-sled though. Not quite ‘Cool Runnings’!IMG_2048IMG_2052