June - July 1992
  • Day33

    Time to go home :(

    July 17, 1992 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Well, today we leave! Needed to sort out all the stuff in the bags as well as Pete's stuff. It took quite a while and I lacked the usual enthusiasm. Finally got it all done with not too much fuss and headed off for our usual breakfast haunt, although we had missed breakfast. The old lady wished us the best and hoped to see us again.

    We thought we'd go and have a look at the California Museum of Science and Technology. The first place we went through was the aviation section where we saw a variety of planes, satellites and so on. Next we went to the technology hall, after deciding to give the IMAX theatre a miss. The technology hall had lots of hands-on exhibits that the kids (and adults) had fun with. There were sections on energy, mathematics, magnetism, and a special section on earthquakes.

    After a drink at McDonalds, we went looking for the Brea Tar Pits which Pete & I had both heard about at some stage. These are lakes where oil just seeps out of the ground and forms tar. In the past it has caused many animals to become trapped and fossilised. The world's largest collection of ice age animals was found here.

    As well as the tar, you can see methane bubbling up to the surface. The musem was about to be closed so we didn't go in. Just saw a few exhibits in the foyer.

    We had planned then to go to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner since Nicole had missed out in San Francisco. We got there alright and no wait. Joel again quite taken by the place, but Nicole didn't like her turkey burger.

    Wandered around in the Beverly Centre for a while since we didn't need to be at the airport til about 8:20. A bit of a traffic jam to get there but we arrived in plenty of time only to find out we were in the wrong building and had to walk from Building 3 to Building 7.

    We took what seemed an eternity to check in, after being offered a special deal to postpone our flight, as it was very full.

    At gate 77 we discovered our flight had been delayed from 10:20 to 11:30 then 11:59pm and finally 12:15am. It's now 12:40 and we've finally taken off. The children are all very tired and I think we're in for a long flight.
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  • Day32

    Shopping & Relaxing in LA

    July 16, 1992 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Made no plans for doing anything except shop. Nicole still had money to spend on clothes. We stopped again at Carl's Jr and the old lady remembered us. We then found our way to Brea where we let our heads go in Egghead Software then Tower Records. Pete was unbelieving at the $2.99 on lots of classical CDs. We left both these shops several hundred dollars poorer, then found our way to Brea Mall where we parted with more dollars - clothes, perfume etc.

    We started to get peckish so found our way to the general eating area where everyone decided what they wanted from the vast array. I had a baked potato with crab, broccoli and cheese and found it rather filling. Then we proceeded to try and find a t-shirt factory which Pete had seen advertised on a billboard. However, we didn't know where the place or the billboard were, so we drove round for about 45 minutes looking for it.

    We actually found it and it was within walking distance of our hotel. We spent quite some time there as you could get 5 t-shirts for $1. Another job for Mastercard. Time to go home.

    We unpacked our wares and Joel & Sean were anxious for a dip. Nicole still not really in a suitable state for bathing so she just watched television. After sorting through all the the stuff I picked up a coffee and joined the boys at the poolside with my book. The light began to fade and the kids also jumped in the spa. I was finally persuaded to have a dip and Pete went looking for a takeaway pizza which we shared on his return.
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  • Day31

    Back in LA

    July 15, 1992 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Pete had a big wash to do this morning. We were all down to our last clothes. Actually found a Carl's Jr for breakfast, but it must have only just opened because the girl behind the till wasn't sure what was in the order. The kids were also gobsmacked by the men constructing the play equipment outside.

    Found our way to the freeway and stopped briefly at Pismo Beach, a supposedly wonderful surfing beach but covered in fog. Drove around for ages trying to return to the freeway. Drove south along 101 and pulled off to go to Solvang, a Danish style town, very neat with windmills, bakeries and ice cream shops. Needless to say we indulged. Kept on 101 and stopped briefly to look at the wide beaches and Mediterranean style of Santa Barbara.

    Further along we turned onto Highway 1 which went via the coast. Stopped at McDonalds in Oxnard for some lunch at about 3:30 and looked for some cream for Nicole's eye. Then headed off again. The beaches a lot nicer now with decent waves but a lot of seaweed. Saw some rather large birds dive bombing for fish. Headed for Malibu for a swim.

    This couldn't be Malibu! Famous for its beaches, surfboards etc. What a tip! Run down, decrepit, dirty, no waves. How disappointing. Went for a long walk along the beach. The housing was built right up and out over the sand. The kids found a spot to dig in and Pete & I went further along where we found a bit of surf, lots of pebbles and the average age of the surfers about 40.

    By the time we got back to the car, we thought we'd better head straight for Buena Park where we checked in and then didn't want to go out again so we ate in Denny's. Sean wouldn't sleep in the other room so he joined Pete & I in ours.
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  • Day30

    San Francisco to San Luis Obispo

    July 14, 1992 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Time to leave San Fran. Pete was again up early to go and book his ticket for Seattle after we leave. Found another Burger King for breakfast with Joel & Sean grumbling about it. Took 1010 south and then I-7 and made for Santa Cruz. Kids excited to see a roller coaster. Parked the car and found quite a fair. Went on several rides and had lunch before heading off again down the coast. No European accents around. Took the coast road and stopped briefly in Carmel for a look at the Mission. Had some nice views along the coast - hills beside the beach with mist hanging around most of the time. Saw a colony of well over 100 sea lions on a beach. Quite a long drive down the coast alongside the Santa Lucia range. All similar countryside. In places it reminded us of the road to Hana. The mist was fascinating. It was everywhere and we wondered if it was like this all the time.

    Stopped in San Simeon to photograph the William Hearst Castle perched up on a hill. Couldn't get close because gates closed. Drove on and finally arrived in San Luis Obispo. It was about 8pm. Thought we'd need to eat fairly soon, and the Monterey Cafe attached to the motel seemed reasonable. We had fun trying to answer questions from the trivia cards on the table. Nicole's appetite still not quite back, although she at least felt like ordering something. Her face looks really nasty today. Must have about 30 spots on her face, and she's been wearing dad's tracksuit pants and shirt today. Even woke up this morning with a pus-filled eye.

    The people at the next table were Spanish and asking the waiter what was in each of the dishes. He patiently explained everything. At one stage I thought these people must surely starve before the end of their holiday! Read for a while then went to sleep.
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  • Day29

    San Francisco

    July 13, 1992 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    I was nervous again and didn't sleep well. Nicole was also very restless, so we were a bit slow to get moving. Pete was up early as usual and went to get us day passes on the buses and had to wait a little while til they opened. We finally got going and went to find a bus that would take us to the cable cars. We had to wait in a queue while a bloke sang awful music.

    Lots of derelicts around and also lots of people with cups begging outright. The cable car was packed but we managed a seat. We got out at Fisherman's Wharf and started to cruise the shops. A few people performing for tips. We made it to Pier 39 and kept wandering around. Also watched the sea lions for a while and took a photo of Sean outside a left-handed shop.

    After watching a man performing on stilts we headed back for a bus to Coit Tower, but not before buying a plethora of souvenirs including a bag to put them in. Good view from Coit Tower but I was a bit nervous and didn't have much of a look. $11 for just a few minutes wasn't really worth it.

    Needed to catch 2 buses to get back to the hotel by which time Nicole was too tired to eat, so she went to bed while the rest of us went to the Hard Rock Cafe, much earlier today so we didn't have to wait. We actually had time in the evening to relax, read and watch junk TV. Played rummy with Sean for a while.
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  • Day28

    Yosemite to San Francisco

    July 12, 1992 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    After a restless night we took some time to get going and I put paxyl all over Nicole as we'd run out of calomine. Headed off and decided we'd wait until Merced for breakfast. A pretty dead place on a Sunday but we pulled up at Wendys. I was determined we'd all start eating a little healthier, but some misinterpretation of the menu meant we ate a worse meal than usual. Next time it'll have to be salads all round. Back on the road we took 99 north. We were now driving through a lot more populated areas, but highly rural. Lots of crops, cows and so on. There seemed to be an enormous amount of yellow dead looking grass around. Countryside very flat and reminded Pete of Windsor a bit.

    Followed 99 northwest to Modesto then 132 west. Still very rural, lots of crops. This one road just went for miles without turning. Finally got onto I-560. We planned to follow it right up to Oakland, then go up and around through San Rafael, across San Rafael bridge and come into San Francisco from the north across Golden Gate.

    As we were going along 450 around Livermore, we came across hundreds of windmills. They were just in rows and rows on hills, still very yellow and dry and looked quite bizarre. Obviously a wind generated power system. I'm sure I'd seen it on Beyond 2000.

    The kids were getting restless so we pulled off at Sausalito and got out, had a walk around and an ice cream. Had a nice view of the city and Alcatraz. Went to drive across the bridge and got caught in a gigantic traffic jam. Well it was Sunday afternoon, but there had also been an accident on the bridge. Stopped at the other side to photograph the bridge. Also stopped at Fort Point where we walked onto the bridge almost up to the first pylon. The suspension cables looked like pipes and there was a sample for us to look at. 27,000 wires in each cable. After a quick look in the gift shop we hopped back in the car to look for the Hotel Lombard in Geary Street.

    It was an old building but nicely furnished and spacious for us. We were in 2 adjoining rooms. The boards of the floor were quite uneven and creaky below the carpet, probably the result of weathering the odd earthquake or two. We had to pay for valet parking, and decided to catch public transport the next day. We couldn't all go up in the lift together as he told us it was a bit old!

    Unpacked and changed for dinner. We just walked up to Van Ness Avenue, knowing there was a Hard Rock Cafe along it. We passed several other eateries, but decided against the one hour wait at the HRC and settled for the Tumbleweed Cafe. Food quite nice.
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  • Day27

    Yosemite NP

    July 11, 1992 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Went back to Carl's Jr for breakfast as well! Discovered that now Nicole was breaking out all over with with chicken pox. We had suspected it the night before and the morning confirmed it. We covered her in calomine where it wouldn't show and paxyl the rest. Also gave her some panadol. Was nearly 11 before heading off for Yosemite. Just as well it wasn't too far. Had to go northwest along 395 as far as Lee Vining, with a couple of lakes and old craters to see along the way.

    From Lee Vining turned southwest toward the park and had to go up through Tioga Pass, elevation 9941 ft, the highest in the US. It was quite chilly and I had packed our sweaters separately in anticipation. The countryside was very pretty. Large pine trees alongside peaceful lakes. Lots of boulders around - mostly granite - the whole of Yosemite is basically igneous plutonic rock. A couple of inviting walks to on but we had to keep pushing on. We were hardly in the park.

    We stopped at several picturesque viewpoints, some with large forests of pine, some with waterfalls, some with deep valleys. Went past a small glacier but only patches of snow visible from the car. Also stopped at one point and saw a very tame couple of marmots, and everywhere lots of jumpy squirrels. We also took time to pull off and look at a grove of giant sequoia trees, including one that you can drive through. However the road was only one way and we had to go about 20 miles out of our way. It was a very pretty detour though and I was glad we took it.

    By the time we actually got to Yosemite Valley it was quite late in the day and raining we took some hasty photos of El Capitan and Bridal Veil falls. By the time we got to the village a thunderstorm was upon us, and we took refuge in a cafe before getting to the visitor centre for a quick look. We decided there was no point in hanging around so we headed off for our lodge in El Portal. Quite nice it was too, with a little kitchenette, coffee maker and fridge. Quaint wooden carvings of bears around the place.

    The boys headed off for the pool while Nicole had a sleep, then we tidied up for dinner in the 50s style diner. A young fellow took our order then came back after 10-15 minutes with the news that everything in the kitchen was stuffed up and we would be waiting a while. He told us someone else would be waiting on the table. After a while we surmised that he in fact was the problem and had been demoted. We asked a waitress to take our order and were soon served. Needless to say we didn't leave a tip. I patted Nicole down with calomine before going to bed.
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  • Day26

    Las Vegas to Bishop CA, via Death Valley

    July 10, 1992 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 37 °C

    Got a reasonably early start but a long way to drive today. Found a nearby Carl's Jr and found it nearly empty, then headed off from Las Vegas in a north-westerly direction, neither Pete nor I interested in returning. The lights are pretty, but they disguise a sick society.

    At Beattie we turned in toward Death Valley after having a "rest" in the restrooms and a visit to the visitor's centre. We stopped at one point to view the valley and found it surprisingly cool (well not too hot, anyway). We proceeded and found ourselves at elevation 0 where we stopped for a photo. Here it was quite hot. We drove on through the Valley to Stovepipe Wells where we topped up with petrol, saw a number of ravens and what looked like an old drive-in theatre. We wondered why anyone would want to live there.

    We then started to climb out of the valley on the other side and drove through Towne Pass into Panamint Valley which was an old dried up lake. There were typical cracked dry mud patterns. From there we could see the Sierra Nevada mountains in the background and they got closer as we approached Lone Pine. We stopped there for an ice cream and photographed Mt Whitney as close as we would get. Whitney is the highest peak in the contiguous United States.

    Toward the end of the afternoon we finally arrived in Bishop. After a swim we walked the strip and chose Carl's Jr for dinner, walked some more then watched a little TV before bed.
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  • Day25

    Zion National Park, Las Vegas NV

    July 9, 1992 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    I felt much better in the morning. Pete did some washing and we were away early. Back to the donut shop for breakfast. Headed off for Zion National Park. Not a very long drive. Very rocky again with steep sided cliffs and arches. Just before the very long tunnel we had to drive through we went for a short walk to the Canyon Overlook, about a mile round trip. Quite a pretty one through bushes and overhangs and beside a steep canyon.

    After a drink we drove on through the tunnel and down along the Virgin River but with many miles to go today, didn't stop much. We drove to the end - the temple of Sinawava and thought how nice it would be to go on the walk if we had more time.

    Drove back to the visitor centre. Looked at the books in the shop and the museum. Bought a few things, munched on a donut and then headed off out of Zion through the south entrance. Met some roadwork which held us up for some time, then began to fly south along the I-15.

    We arrived in Las Vegas with plenty of daylight left and surprisingly found our way to the Quality Inn without much trouble, as Flamingo Road was marked on the small Vegas map we had. We stopped to check in and Pete had a fax from Edna McKelvy waiting for him. The receptionist was quite different from any others. She was frowning all the time and everything seemed to be a bother to her. A characteristic of the fact that we were back in the city. We found all the country people very friendly, quick with a smile and chatty. Our rooms were comfortable but not as clean as previous accommodation, and Pete got some gum on his jeans when he sat on the bed. However, it was quite adequate. It was on the first floor - the Americans call it the second.

    The boys were dying to have a dip, so quickly changed. Nicole wasn't feeling too well, so she had a lie down and watched TV. I went down and watched the boys for a while before taking the plunge myself. We required our key to get in and out of the pool. Pete joined us after a while. He had been trying to book accommodation in Lone Pine without success, so booked rooms in Bishop instead. That meant quite a long drive tomorrow (260 miles).

    Back at the room, Nicole was feeling better after a glass of alka seltzer and we freshened up to hit the town of Vegas. Deciding against the shuttle bus which came every hour, we drove down to The Strip - Las Vegas Boulevard. At this time of day, not all the lights were on, but there was still a lot of dazzle. We turned into the Strip at the Oasis and were going past gigantic resorts and casinos. There were lots of people around.

    We pulled into Denny's carpark and walked back to Harrah's which was boasting a buffet dinner. We had to walk past many slot machines and gaming tables - people playing a wide variety of games, from poker to roulette and so on. The place was full of frenzied activity and very crowded. There was a very long queue for the buffet so we walked back to Denny's and ate. From there we could see across the road to the Mirage which was fronted by a huge fountain and every 15 minutes fire and colour spurted from it in a huge display.

    By now all the lights were ablaze and we started walking to see what we could see. We passed a number of souvenir shops but the stuff didn't appeal to us. The lights were indeed dazzling, flashing and blazing. After walking a way we decided that it would be best explored by car as we were getting tired, so we picked the car and cruised. There were far more than we realised, including the classic ones on television.

    It was quite late now and we headed back. An accident with an upturned car must have occurred minutes after we had passed. It was straight to bed when we got back to the hotel.
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  • Day24

    Bryce Canyon, Kanab UT

    July 8, 1992 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    We didn't sleep too well. It was a bit warm in the second bedroom, a car alarm went off a couple of times, Sean slept in with me and kept kneeing me in the groin, and the people above us were up at about 5:30.

    Amazingly enough we were packed up by 9:30 and had breakfast a block down the road at a bakery that also had breakfast cereal available. Cereal, milk and a donut for $1. Then we headed off for Bryce Canyon. The day wasn't looking too bright. Rain was threatening. Stopped at Red Canyon for a photo, then pulled up at the Bryce Canyon visitor's centre for a look around, watched the slide show, the headed off for the Canyon.

    Pulled up first at Sunset Point in wet, cold conditions. Pretty rock formations in the red sandstones. We started walking down into the canyon along the Navajo trail - a steep walk down and at the bottom walked past the river course. The walk upwards was strenuous and Sean complained for most of the way.

    The elevation here was quite high (8100 ft) and together with the rain we were all freezing. We went looking for food when we got back and settled for a help yourself affair at the general store. Then we drove down the canyon, stopping at a few places on the way back. Stopped at some Western-looking shops before heading back to Kanab.

    Not sure whether it was the chilli I'd had for lunch, but I was feeling queasy when we arrived in Kanab. First we checked into the Treasure Trail motel, as the Aiken Lodge was booked out for the night. Our new room was rather large with 3 double beds. All I wanted to do was crawl into bed, so Pete went out and got a pizza for dinner. I declined. Another funny night's sleep. Pete was the only one who slept well which he made obvious by his snoring.
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