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Unread 1 Apr 18, 04:41 AM  
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#1
cornishfrogboy
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Join Date: Nov 10
Location: Falmouth
California N to South at Easter live,one thread,with pictures. SFO,LA and San Diego

California Dreaming (on a winters day).

Firstly, this is my very first attempt at a 'trip report' and It is prepared with the aim of assisting others in any decisions they make, rather than simply being a photo album of selfies and eats. Any comments, positive, negative or of indifference are much appreciated and will guide me in any subsequent USA trip reports! Any questions will be replied to.
A single thread with index approach (below) was adopted in order to free up space on this section of the forum.

We decided on an Easter California experience, aiming to avoid the following.
1. Excess cost in August, (we calculate an extra 25%).
2 Smog in LA.
3. Crowds.

The disadvantages of this were that we were limited to 14 Nights due to school break and Yosemite was ruled out due to the possibility of snow (and the 14 day limit). Our other snag, as we were much later to find out was the continued issue with the mud slide blocking the Pacific highway South of Big Sur. This is of course, now clear.

Plan as evolved.
Flights in to SFO and out of LA, 27/03/18 to 12/04/18... and plan our stops from this purchase app 8 months out.

We had clear ideas as to which bases we needed to tick and my report will cover these from arrival at SFO onwards. (I feel sure that a description of flights etc will benefit nobody). It was Virgin Atlantic, but purchased through Delta and in a Dreamliner. It was 575pp minus APD on that of my youngest.

Day 1. San Francisco arrival. Subway, Chinatown. Page 1.
Day 2 Embarcadero, Alcatraz, Fishermens Wharf, Trolley ride. Page 1.
Day 3 Dylan's famous tour, cycling , the bridge, page 1.Sausalito, Muir Woods. Cheesecake Factory.
Day 4. Hire car, bay bridge, Castle AFB, Monterey. Page 1.
Day 5. Whale watching and drive to Madonna Inn with review. Page1.
Day 6. Reagan Library (amazing) and arrival Valencia. Page 1.
Day 7. 6 Flags and arrival Annaheim. Page 1.
Day 8. California Adventure park. Page 2.
Day 9. Disneyland, Oceanside and arrival at Mission Beache. Page 2
Day 10. Sea world. Page 2.
Day 11 Balboa park, Zoo, Airspace, Natural History Museum meeting the English. Page 2
Day 12. Boat trip of Harbour, USS Midway, Topgun bar, Seaport. Page 3.
Day 13. Ponyland, Tijuana by sea (and through the fence),. Page 3.
Day 14. Scripps aquarium, Legoland, Queen Mary. Page 4.
Day 15. Santa Monica, Hollywood excursion, LAX. Page 4.
Day 16 Home to Cornwall and collapse from exhaustion. Page 4.
__________________
2005 Disney. 2009 Idrive. 2010 Idrive, 2011 LBV+ Duck Key. 2012 Gulf Coast+ Villa. 2013 LBV Resort.2015 NY+Washington+Villa+Tampa. 2017 Pensacola+Destin+Villa. 2018 California N to S. 2019 Boston+NY+Dayton OH+Villa+Naples.

Edited at 05:32 AM.
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Unread 1 Apr 18, 04:52 AM  
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#2
cornishfrogboy
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Join Date: Nov 10
Location: Falmouth
Day 1. 'Let's go to San Francisco'.😂

It was not nice as we departed Sub Tropical Penryn and we could only hope that things would get better in the days to come.

This was the view from my front door just a few days before we left!

On arrival at SFO, nobody appeared to be directed to auto immigration booths and we all queued to do immigration over a counter in the old fashioned way. It seemed fast and efficient and despite being 120th or so out of the aircraft, we were through within 35 minutes.
Bags were already up and on the turntable. We were on the Bay Area Rapid Transport system (BART) very shortly afterwards. This was very similar to the London Underground, but cleaner, partly overground and partly under. Tickets are bought from a machine. Different stops fall into different prices and tickets could be bought using cash or card, very simple. The ticket barriers at both ends were very similar to those on the London Underground.
We were soon at our hotel, the Marriott Marquis on 4th and Market within 125 yds of the Powell St BART. It is worth knowing that there are 4 exits from the Powell St BART, so make sure you take the right one. We did not and this caused a few minutes of easily resolved confusion.
That evening and despite acute tiredness, we went on a walk to orientate ourselves with locations we intended later visiting while in SF. We walked down Powell from the Cable turnaround as far as Columbus, back up Columbus to Grant and then through Chinatown, arriving back at Market St.
Bed beckoned!


Image of entrance to Chinatown from Union Sq end and remarkably, Dan and Matt neither arguing or fighting each other. Tiredness does have benefits!
__________________
2005 Disney. 2009 Idrive. 2010 Idrive, 2011 LBV+ Duck Key. 2012 Gulf Coast+ Villa. 2013 LBV Resort.2015 NY+Washington+Villa+Tampa. 2017 Pensacola+Destin+Villa. 2018 California N to S. 2019 Boston+NY+Dayton OH+Villa+Naples.

Edited at 09:37 AM.
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Unread 1 Apr 18, 05:10 AM  
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#3
cornishfrogboy
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Join Date: Nov 10
Location: Falmouth
Day 2. Alcatraz... 'Jailhouse Rock' 😃

Alcatraz tickets are best bought 90 days out and on release, (as we had done). We were later to find on arrival at the ferry that the earliest tickets available on that day were 8th April, 11 days hence.
We walked from Hotel down Market St to Embarcadero, which is a flat level walk behind all the wharfs and round to pier 33 from where the Alcatraz ferry leaves. A nice walk that gave good views of bay bridge, the wharfs and coin tower as well as all the high rise.
You queue to enter the queue to get on the boat (self explanatory when you get there). It pays to do this as you then get on the boat early and pick your seat. We found top deck, port side outboard and towards the rear worked very well for photo opportunities.
On arrival, there is a compulsory presentation before you are allowed to roam. This does not start until everybody is off and therefore there is no advantage gained in rushing to be first.
Alcatraz, unusually, was absolutely everything that we expected and more. There is a timetable of events when you are there and if taking place, the presentation on the 1962 escape is not to be missed. The audio tour was simply the best that I have ever heard and covers every aspect of the history of the cell block.
A truly great start to our vacation.


Wishful thinkin! They wouldnt let us leave him there.

Wishful thinking! The view prisoners would have from the Prison.

Next it was fishermans wharf, a tourist trap, but not to be missed. Highlight for us was the sea lion colony close to pier 39.

Sealions at Fishermens Wharf
To get back to Market St we used the Powell cable car. The queues were quite long and we got on the 3rd tram after 45 minutes. Tickets are bought over the counter at a clearly marked booth very nearby. I reccomend standing on the running board for the journey. The tram drivers are a light hearted bunch of comics. The journey took around 20 minutes.
A full day and one more to go!


The expectant wait for the Powell cable car. The ticket office is immediately behind that olive green booth type thing.

Our car awaits loading!
__________________
2005 Disney. 2009 Idrive. 2010 Idrive, 2011 LBV+ Duck Key. 2012 Gulf Coast+ Villa. 2013 LBV Resort.2015 NY+Washington+Villa+Tampa. 2017 Pensacola+Destin+Villa. 2018 California N to S. 2019 Boston+NY+Dayton OH+Villa+Naples.

Edited at 05:32 AM.
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Unread 1 Apr 18, 05:23 AM  
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#4
cornishfrogboy
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Join Date: Nov 10
Location: Falmouth
Day3 Dylan's cycle tour. A 'Bridge over troubled water' 😫

Highly, highly reccomended. We picked up the bikes at 0800 after walking there, through Grant St Chinatown and onto Columbus where the shop is just past Washington Square. We promptly left the bikes in situ and walked to Lombard Street, approximately 300 yards away, but up a 30' hill. Hard work, but very worth it. We then returned and picked up the bikes, following the shop guys very concise and clear instructions.

It is actually steeper than it looks!



It was down to Fishermans and then along the shore to the Golden gate, over it and down to Sausalito. Part cycling and part walking along safe, uncrowded cycleways.




The drop off point for the bikes was easy to find. We then had an hour and a half in Sausalito where we pigged out on Lapperts Ice Cream, truly awesome and worth the queue.
The minibus trip to Muir woods was aided by a very fine, informative commentary by Adam, the driver as he took us through Marin to reach the woods. The Redwood trees top out at 280 feet and the walk would have been wheelchair friendly, given that it was all wide Boardwalk.
We were later dropped at Chinatown in SF , following a further, informative commentary from Adam.


The Redwoods of Muir Woods.

I cannot reccomend this tour highly enough. It ticked numerous objectives and was great value.
That night, it was a visit to the very busy Cheesecake Factory, situated on the 8th floor of Macy's in Union Square. Great views and exactly the same menu as in Orlando.
__________________
2005 Disney. 2009 Idrive. 2010 Idrive, 2011 LBV+ Duck Key. 2012 Gulf Coast+ Villa. 2013 LBV Resort.2015 NY+Washington+Villa+Tampa. 2017 Pensacola+Destin+Villa. 2018 California N to S. 2019 Boston+NY+Dayton OH+Villa+Naples.

Edited at 05:33 AM.
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Unread 1 Apr 18, 05:29 AM  
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#5
cornishfrogboy
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Join Date: Nov 10
Location: Falmouth
Day 4. Commencing the long drive South... ''Do you know the way to Monterey' 🤣(yes I know it should be San Jose).

We had carefully chosen our hire car company, Budget at 821 Howard St. This was a 5 minute walk with suitcases from the Marriott Marquis and very close to the entry lane onto the Bay Bridge. 272 for 11 days hire and dropping off at LAX (minus A 20 cashback, so 252). We were given a lovely Toyota RAV4 with 2700 miles on it. This worked very well as I had no intention of driving in SF and in any case, parking fees are eye watering.

And so we leave! Bottom, outbound deck of the magnificent Bay Bridge.

A Convair B36 Peacemaker (Strange name for a Strategic Nuclear Bomber that had no other purpose than nuclear annihilation . 10 Engines)


We drove 2hr20 to Castle Air Force Base (I am a lifelong Aircraft nut). A great collection, all in the open air and easily researched on google. We then drove a further 2hrs 20 to Monterey where we checked in to the Monterey Bay Inn, expensive, but brilliantly located on Cannery Row. After a stroll and dinner at Bubba Gumps, it was wine o'clock.


Matt's feet are not really that big and he doesnt really have a suitcase or box of chocolates (assorted).
__________________
2005 Disney. 2009 Idrive. 2010 Idrive, 2011 LBV+ Duck Key. 2012 Gulf Coast+ Villa. 2013 LBV Resort.2015 NY+Washington+Villa+Tampa. 2017 Pensacola+Destin+Villa. 2018 California N to S. 2019 Boston+NY+Dayton OH+Villa+Naples.

Edited at 08:09 AM.
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Unread 1 Apr 18, 07:39 AM  
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#6
nursetina
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Sounds amazing, looking forward to the rest of your adventure. Have a fabulous trip.
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Unread 3 Apr 18, 05:54 AM  
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#7
cornishfrogboy
Thread Starter
Imagineer
 
Join Date: Nov 10
Location: Falmouth
Day 5. Monterey bay whale watch. 'Pacific Coast Highway'

We left from Fishermens wharf at 0900 for a 4 hour trip. Be sure that you pick the right Wharf , of two. Fishermens is by 250yds the further to the North of Cannery Row. (We initially got it wrong) The ship was 'Blackfin' and the Marine Biologist, 'Will'. Before we had even left the harbour, we had seen Sea otters and Sealions. Within 25 minutes we were seeing numerous spouts and were very close to Humpback whales. The commentary was informative and very helpful.

Mandie came prepared for a hurricane.. and we did not.

We eventually ended up around 14 miles offshore and in a pod of 200 plus Risso's Dolphins. On return, we were just about bang on time to reach the jetty at 1300, when two Gray Whales were sited and investigated, resulting in a 25 minute overrun. This reflected the enthusiasm of Captain and crew to provide just that little bit extra, which was obviously gratefully received.
A highly reccomended trip that yielded sightings of 10x Humpbacks, 2 x Grays, 200 plus Risso's, Sealions, 2 x Albatross and Sea Otters.


A humpback whale, unfortunately not in a posing mood.


The pier from which we sailed.. as opposed to the wrong one we initially visited.


Straight off the boat and it was onwards for 3 hours towards the Madonna Inn at San Louis Obispo. We had to divert around the back of the Pacific highway from Monterey, due to the mudslide. We rejoined the highway 100 miles south and cut back up north to the San Simeon Elephant Seal Rookery with the Hearst Castle on a hill behind it. The Rookery could fairly be described as disappointing. Had we been passing it in the normal way, then fine. Diverting to see it was a waste of time.

We then carried on to the Madonna Inn, a unique, kitsch and totally over the top Hotel with a long history and very long list of previous guests including John Wayne and Ronald Reagan. Think designed by Barbara Cartland whilst on an Acid trip. Our room was themed as a China flower room and was a site to behold, very spacious and 'unique'. A black forest cake/birthday cake was waiting for us in the room (wife's birthday).. Food in the restaurant was good, decently priced and in a themed setting. The Male washroom was not to be missed. A really brilliant day.

The wonderfully restrained and subdued Madonna Inn.


Even the 'heads' (urinals) had a certain unrestrained class about them.
__________________
2005 Disney. 2009 Idrive. 2010 Idrive, 2011 LBV+ Duck Key. 2012 Gulf Coast+ Villa. 2013 LBV Resort.2015 NY+Washington+Villa+Tampa. 2017 Pensacola+Destin+Villa. 2018 California N to S. 2019 Boston+NY+Dayton OH+Villa+Naples.

Edited at 05:41 AM.
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Unread 3 Apr 18, 06:10 AM  
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#8
cornishfrogboy
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Join Date: Nov 10
Location: Falmouth
Day 6 The R Reagan library... ( I couldn't find an appropriate song for this one)

It .was cloudy and the temperature had dropped off from 81 the day before to 58 degrees (rising to 68 by mid afternoon. This was clearly not what I had paid for!

We headed straight to the coast at a Pismo beach, stopping 10 minutes for a 'looksee' and then down the Pacific Highway, past Vandenburg AFB before eventually cutting inland to the Simi Valley in order to see the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The Highway had started off unspoilt and rural and remained so until around 20 miles before Simi Valley, when it became rather busy.

What followed was very much a pilgrimage for me! I joined the Army in 1977 and therefore President Reagan is very relevant to my life.
The Reagan Library is situated on the top of a hill with glorious views all around. It can only be described as a huge and fitting tribute to 'The Gipper'. $80 for the four of us sounds a lot, but actually represented very good value. The Library charted the life of the Ron and Nancy from childhood until death with literally hundreds of important artifacts and explanatory boards. There were numerous interactive displays and short loop films as well as a large number of very helpful volunteer guides. Highlights included a large glass fronted and triple floored hangar containing his cavalcade, presidential helicopter and Air Force One with full access to both Aircraft. A poignant ending to the tour was the Grave of Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
To me, this was the highlight of our vacation, thus far.

A shamelessly borrowed image of Nancy Reagan at the grave of the great man. She has of course, now joined him there. R.I.P Ron and Nancy.


A view of the atrium that contains Cavalcade, Presidential jet and Presidential helicopter.


Following the Reagan visit, it was onwards again for an hour of extremely heavy traffic before arrival at the Hilton Gardens at Valencia. A noisy location, close to the I5, but also only 0.9 miles from Magic Mountain 6 Flags.
Dinner was at the Red Lobster across the road, (very good) and now, its wine o'clock (again).

Edited at 05:49 AM.
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