Today is the day we are going to leave the USA and go home, but before it's time to fly, we still have a long day ahead of us.
We start by just driving around a bit through LA, Hollywood and Beverly Hills. We like doing that, just driving around a bit and watching whatever is outside the window. When the clock got closer to noon we headed to Burbank where we were going to meet up for lunch with Steve Weingart. For those who don't know him ... he's an amazing keyboard player that I met when he was touring with Steve Lukather, look him up on YouTube! The three of us had a good lunch and had lots of laughs.
He adviced us to drive uphill to Castaway and DeBell for the views so after lunch we did so and enjoyed a nice view over the city.
Since we had to go towards the beach anyway on our way to the airport we decided we just couldn't leave without riding a bike along Venice Beach so we drove there, rented 2 bikes and enjoyed a nice ride, it was a little bit cloudy but also some sunshine. Really enjoyable!
Now it was really time to hand over our rental car and go to the airport. Rooky mistake ... I put the rocks and crystals I bought during the trip in my carry on and when we had to check in ... yupz, my suitcase was picked out and they opened every single piece. Though annoying it was funny too to see the responses of the supervisor, he was impressed by the pieces and went oooh and aaah the same way I was when seeing all the beauty in the National Parks.
Finally it was time to fly ... it's a good thing we had dinner before the flight got all bumpy and wild. Even though we had a lot of turbulence both of us got a good couple of hours during of sleep during the flight. We landed in London and went to check in for our connecting flight. This time my rocks went through without a problem. The next surprise came though when boarding. A very kind (NOT!!!) lady of British Airways told us we had to check in our carry ons because the flight was very busy and not enough space. We refused and most people after us too, now maybe if she had ASKED instead of ORDER, more would've been inclined to do it. She got all cranky and threatening us that the captain wouldn't let us board or maybe let us in but we had to leave our suitcases in London ... we said we would happily talk to the captain ... eventually she let us through an we reached our seats without any problem, no body stopping us and there was plenty of room for our suitcases.
The last part of the flight went rather smooth and after a train and a taxi ride we arrived home at 10pm ... time to sleep!
Our amazing vacation has come to an end but we have lots of amazing memories and with an average of 15,000 steps a day, I think we can say it was a nice balance between an active and a lazy vacation. We met lots of wonderful people, some we knew through FB but also wonderful encounters with strangers along the way. I think it is safe to say we will do more travelling in the future!
Thanks to everyone that followed us and were so happy to share our adventures!
Today is our last full day in the USA and we wanted to spend it well.
We started by just driving around LA, looking and taking in the vibe of the city.
Serge showed me the building where the video of 'I'll Be Over You' by TOTO was filmed. After that we went to search for the Guess onsite store ... we expected a BIG store but it was SO small, we walked in and immediately out again.
From there we drove to Long Beach for a good shot of sea and beach. We had lunch at Gelsons, I LOOOVE their salad bar and we had a great view of the harbor from their deck at the 2nd floor.
Walked up and down the Huntington Beach pier watching the surfers trying to catch the waves, people fishing and hearing the waves break. Also of course walked through the street across the street with all the surfer shops and enjoyed the sun/sea/beach thing again.
When driving on we saw the Crystal Cathedral on the left of the road and that brought back memories to me. Used to watch the services. So we took the next exit and looked around. I had no idea it had been sold.
By now it was time to work our way back to LA but because I really wanted Serge to have his leather jacket, we stopped at Citadel Outlets and YES YES YES they had the right size and he can now show off all his handsomeness in it!
After dinner in LA and a short stop at the hotel, we drove up to Griffith Observatory to see the city by night. It did NOT disappoint. Gosh, that is one heck of a sight. All the lights and you could actually see the heat above the city (the movement of the air) and the moon showed it's pretty face too. It was VERY crowded, we were not the only ones hahaha.
Back at the hotel we made our suitcases ready for our trip back, everything fits!
For the last time this vacation I say:"Good Night USA!".
Today we planned our last National Park for this vacation, Joshua Tree. We entered the park from the south and the first part leads through Cottonwood. I must admit that at first I thought:"This is it???" ... it was a long road with lots of rocks, not bad but not what I expected from Joshua Tree National Park. But soon enough we got higher into the park and the scenery changed. A few cacti here and there, some more rocks that were different and I felt like there was something good on the way.
Then all of a sudden there was the Cholla Cactus garden ... can't call it pretty but surely fascinating and way different from anything I've ever seen. I loved the yellow color and the way that they survive in the dry and hot circumstances. We walked around a bit and enjoyed the serenity of the place. We stopped again at White Tank campground and started walking around between the rocks and climbing them. I love how from the road all the 'mountains' look like heaps of boulders that were thrown aside while doing road work or something. Just chaos piled up. There were some people camping and I couldn't quite grasp the fun in camping there but to each it's own.
We got out again at intersection rock and climbed some more. We were watching a couple of people that climbed a huge rock, like really rock climbing ... and we felt comfortable just strolling over a couple of small boulders LOL.
Then finally we reached the Joshua Trees and I loved them! The way they grow and have nuts and how new trees grow where older ones fell over. Very fascinating and interesting, so happy I saw that! When we left the park again we saw some cute old west style buildings right across the visitor centre and we took some pics, visited the store and the visitor centre. One thing that surprised me ... the park is full of bees, which I love, but I kinda expected the visitor centre or something would sell honey but didn't find it.
After the park we headed to LA where we will spend the last 2 days of our vacation. We had dinner at the Original Tommy's, checked in at the hotel and strolled around Hollywood Boulevard a bit, looking at souvenirs and watching the stars on the Walk of Fame. Lots of strange people out there!!!
Indeed ... no sightseeing today. When you are in the United States you also have to do some shopping!
In the first Target we went to I saw very pretty satin pyamas and I have been looking for a good one for a while now. They didn't have my size so I tried to forget about it. Didn't work. So after a few days we tried a different Target ... no luck ... next one ... no luck ... I thought:"OK, it's not meant to be.". But Phoenix has a lot of Targets so today we gave it another try ... first one we looked, at Tempe Marketplace ... BINGO!!! Yvi happy!
Old Navy had a big sale and we scored a very nice sweater for Serge ... GOSH it made him even MORE handsome than he already is!
Second stop was Phoenix Premium Outlets, I LOVE outlet stores!!! Main reason to go to this one was the presence of an Adidas Outlet Store. Serge brought me a pair of Original Adidas Superstars from Florida last year and I totally wore them out, wear them almost every day, they're good for a couple of more miles but I definitely wanted a back up pair. They are just so fitting for my feet! We already been to another Adidas Outlet but at that shop my size was sold out ... so here was to hoping this store had a pair my size ... well, what can I say ... they had 14!!! in my size LOL. Funny detail ... I have to shop at the kids department, yupz, small feet!
But here I saw the ones with pink stripes for the first time and immediately fell in love ... those weren't in my size though. DARN! We behaved otherwise, Serge bought just one more sweater for me and after that we left the Phoenix Premium Outlets.
Working our way back to LA we headed for Blythe to spend the night.
No National Parks today but a change of scenery. It's hard to escape from beautiful mountains and trees so we drove a scenic ride before we ended up in Sedona. Oh my gosh, again a lovely town. All the cute little shops, LOTS of rock shops and a Christmas shop that had my kinda tree! Completely filled with musical items. Even a miniature grand piano! We walked the main street, taking in the atmosphere. Totally a cool, cosy town.
Through yet another pretty route we drove to the Montezuma Castle National Monument. Such an interesting place! Isn't it amazing how they managed to build inside/against a mountain, how they lived there with about 35 people, climbing up 3 stairs to get inside and find coolness in summer and warmth in the winter sun. This place is truly inspiring.
Third on the list today was Jerome ... Serge really knows to find the good places. I LOVED the vibe in this town, the old buildings that still give you the feeling you're walking through a historic town with the bar where a band was playing and you heard it on the street, the sign of the Bordella and the old post office. I was SOLD!
We continued our way to Phoenix and my jaw dropped when we drove the I17 and saw ALL the cacti, what a sight!!! Cacti EVERYWHERE! NOW I got why there's a cactus on the Arizona license plate.
Arrived in Phoenix and checked in at our motel. Drove to Scottsdale for a meal and both of us were very impressed with Scottsdale, such a nice clean, open town, think I could live there!
OK, actually today has nothing to do with the song but everything with my passion for stones and minerals. I told Serge about the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert and without hesitation he wanted to take me there. This place is nothing less than amazing. The process that turns a normal tree in one totally made out of stone is so fascinating. How trees are buried in sediment and over time groundwater rich in dissolved solids flows through the sediment, replacing the original plant material with silica, calcite, etc. On some pieces you can see a perfect crystal structure but most pieces are rich in color and ask to be admired. No piece is the same and the colors all exist through whatever is mixed with the groundwater. We walked around and I just took in everything.
We saw the Crystal Forest, Blue Mesa with the bluish color, Newspaper rock where you can see old drawings of the people living there thousands of years ago and Puerco Pueblo, the remains of an old settlement. We saw the Studebaker from 1932 a route 66 monument in the Painted Desert and walked around in the Painted Desert Inn, a lodge opened in 1940 when a Coke was still $0,10, a plane ice cream $0,15 and a Banana Split $0,30! Oh those were the days!
From here we drove to Winslow, took a pic of the Post Office in Holbrook and of course in Winslow. A block from the Post Office in Winslow we were standin' at the corner ...
"Well I'm a standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see
It's a girl my lord in a flatbed
Ford slowin' down to take a look at me
Come on baby" (Eagles)
Another eventful day is coming to an end, I am so grateful to be experiencing all of this with the man I love!
Sleep tight everybody!
Finally ... there it is ... the Grand Canyon! We went early, or at least we thought so, but when we arrived there cars were already lining up big time in front of the gate and man ... people can be sooooo slow, I really don't know why some take so long to get past the gate. I mean, hand over your money (or pass and ID), get your map and possible change and drive. NO idea why some manage minutes to get through.
We arrived at the South rim, drove from viewpoint to viewpoint and once again all the views were so beautiful. All the different colors, the depths and widths, the bare mountains and the green trees, I am really starting to run out of words to describe everything I see. Luckily there are people that have been there before that know to describe it very poetic:"Gaze at magnificent vistas of earth and sky. Colors blend and change as the sun rises and passes toward the west. Listen to the wind and canyon creatures. The dark Night sky allows stars to slowly emerge." (Although listening to the wind and canyon creatures was often made impossible by screaming and crying kids.)
At the end of the road we reached the Desert View Watchtower. An impressive construction where cultures meet. I loved to see the native artwork and of course the views from way up hight were breathtaking!
While watching the sunset at the end of the day the words I read earlier that day came to mind.
Please allow me to quote John Muir:"In the supreme flaming glory of sunset the whole canyon is transfigured as if the life and light of centuries of sunshine store up in the rocks was now being poured forth as from one glorious fountain, flooding both earth and sky."
After the sunset we went back into town and wanted to have dinner at Sizzler ... we went inside, checked the menu, looked at eachother and said:"TEXAS ROADHOUSE!" so byebye Sizzler and HELLOOOOO Texas Roadhouse! The food is just perfect and so is the Hurricane Margarita!
While in the neighborhood, one cannot leave without visiting Monument Valley. Once again it is hard not to repeat myself but this also was so beautiful. How the mountains stand out from the desert, tall and red, like castles. One think I did wonder though ... what is it that makes these three so special when there are a couple of other. just as beautiful mountains, right there with them. It is cool to see where Stagecoach was filmed and with a little bit of information you can see what it must've looked like in those days.
We crossed the road to see Goulding's Lodge, the shops that go with it and of course ... John Wayne's Cabin. You are tempted to think this was actually a cabin and in the movie you see John Wayne go inside ... truth is though that it was just the exterior with an added sign and chair. The interior you think there was ... really was just a potato cellar. Yupz ... we get fooled by movie makers. LOL
On our way to our motel in Flagstaff we passed through Tuba city ... didn't see any tuba's! Shortly after we drove through a nice little sandstorm and after a stop at the Cameron Trading Post we arrived in Flagstaff.
Right across the street of our motel was a restaurant called Texas Roadhouse ... it looked nice so we decided to eat there ... well, let me tell you, they have new fans! The staff was very friendly, they were great about my food allergies and the food was very good. We had no idea this place was so well known and so many on Facebook replied with their own experience! I think they might see DoubleDutch more often!