Wonders of the West Coast

It’s almost 8 years on and we still all talk about our decision to take a month off work and explore what the west coast of America has to offer.. At first we said we could do this on a budget & looked into staying at hostels & cheap motels, but then we thought are we ever going to be able to take a carefree month off work again, so we thought we should up the budget just a little…

The day seemed to take forever to arrive (6th June 2008) & when it finally did arrive I was nervous to be away from home for so long, but we packed up and headed off to Heathrow for the start of our adventure! As we were trying to keep the costs down we decided to start our trip in San Diego, then head into the Grand Canyon, on to Vegas from there, up to Yosemite, across to San Francisco and then finally on to LA.. Of course stopping at a few weird and wonderful places in-between.

First though we had a long flight ahead of us.. We were flying with United into Los Angeles and then taking a short internal flight down to San Diego for the start of our trip!! As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am not the best flyer in the world, so the sight of our propeller plane for our short flight down to San Diego did not thrill me with joy, but as we were flying so low,  I was amazed by the views from my single seat on the plane..

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We arrived in San Diego and had no idea what to do with ourselves, we were extremely tired, but managed to stumble across the Gaslamp Quarter & surprise surprise that woke us up, we spent the evening in an Irish bar (I am quarter Irish, so it had to be done) & then taxied back to our hotel and crashed. Our time in San Diego wasn’t particularly long, but from the Gaslamp Quarter, the port of San Diego & on to the beach, San Diego has so much to offer.

We had an early drive from San Diego to the Grand Canyon, which from what I remember took us about 8 hours.. You really don’t know people until you travel with them & I was fortunate to travel with two great friends of mine, so we had an 8 hour drive full of laughs & giggles.

We decided to spend a couple of nights in the Grand Canyon at http://grandcanyonwesternranch.com in a cabin. We arrived on a dusty road to what I can only describe as silence. There isn’t many places in the world where you can feel this, but staying in the Canyon was very surreal. The views were breathtaking & the ranch allowed us to help with the horses, sing around a camp fire (or mime) & then take a horseback ride up into the hills to watch the sunset. Who needs wifi or phones with great company & a pack of cards!

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From our relaxing days in the Canyon it was on to Vegas.. None of us had ever been to Vegas before, so we just went on advice of others. We decided to stay off the strip slightly at http://www.theplatinumhotel.com (trying to keep the budget down). The Platinum Hotel was luxury, it was like having your own apartment & having amazing staff & facilities we knew we were on to a winner. We of course did all the normal Vegas things to do, saw the amazing fountains, took in a show etc. We sampled some amazing food, amazing cocktails and some amazing memories.

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From Vegas it was again a long drive to Yosemite National Park & probably one of the strangest drives. We were driving from 100 degree heat and along the way we witnessed wind, rain & snow, only to arrive in Yosemite to 100 degree heat again. Once again the views in Yosemite were breathtaking, we hiked, rode bikes, canoed to take in as much as we could. We decided to stay in a Yurt (tent on stilts) & for someone that had never been camping before it was certainly an experience! I don”t think I slept for 3 days, as I was convinced a bear was going to pay us a visit! Looking back now though it was one of the best parts of my trip.

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San Francisco was next for us, we arrived there in shorts & t shirts & wondered why everyone was in rain jackets (considering the sun was out) & we quickly learnt that this part of California was not all that warm. We were staying on Fishermans Wharf at http://www.sheratonatthewharf.com again sticking to our “medium” budget we couldn’t have asked for a better location. We were only shocked when we found out that it was $50 + tax per night to park the car there, we all said we should have done some more research! Other than that little mistake though we enjoyed the sites of a bike ride over the Golden Gate bridge & then a visit to Alcatraz at night, which was pretty spooky if you ask me! We were locked in solitary confinement (SHU) for 5 minutes to see how bad the prisoners would have had it if they misbehaved. You could not see a thing, even after a while when you thought your eyes would adjust, they didn’t.. We spent 5 minutes in there, but we heard stories of people who had spent months in there!

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After our fantastic stay in San Fran, we were off to our final stop of Los Angeles. At the time Mr Beckham was out there playing for LA Galaxy, so even before leaving England, we made sure we had tickets for a game! For this part of the trip we certainly didn’t stick to our budget! We rented a house on Venice Beach, which was steps to the golden sand. I love the beach and you really couldn’t beat this house. We booked through www.vrbo.com and the listing is 692068. We did so much in LA, hiking towards the Hollywood sign, learning to surf, soccer game, basketball game & a quick trip to Universal Studios. Apart from home of course LA has to be one of my favourite cities out there, it has everything you could want.

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As I said earlier we are now 8 years on, we all still talk about what a month this was! The US has almost become a second home to me after taking this trip & it certainly was an experience the three of us will never forget. It certainly was a trip of a lifetime!

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Till next time, Travel EZ the ladies from EZPZ