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Old 8 Sep 23, 01:46 PM  
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ROAD TRIP! California & Arizona 2023 - 1 thread - Day 18 Yuma, the eccentrics and home COMPLETE!

Pre-Trip is here https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho...7#post15985137

I'm earmarking posts for each day so it's easier to navigate.


DAY 1 - Travel to Heathrow and Overnight stay


Best laid plans and all that ….! The idea for today was to take Pepper to the cattery at 10am and then come home to pack, leaving around 4pm for the hotel at Heathrow.

We were just going to visit my Mum in her nursing home on Saturday afternoon when Gary from the cattery phones to say would it be ok to bring Pepper at 5.45pm next day. I’d not even considered that as it was a Sunday the hours would be different, so a late trip to the cattery and straight to Heathrow instead. We were just worried about freaking Pepper out during the day as she ALWAYS KNOWS when she’s off in the carrier somewhere.


We did our packing and sorted the house out. We got her in the carrier ok and I went out into the garden to feed the birds. Suddenly she’d escaped the carrier and was heading down the garden with Will shouting after her! Nooo! I dived at her and managed to grab her by the scruff and pick her up just as she was about to disappear into the bushes! She wasn’t impressed. Phew. I don’t know what we’d have done if she’d got over the fence and away.

Off to the cattery and settled her in. She’s gone there for all of her 12 years, so they know each other well. Then a good trip up to the Premier Inn on Bath Road. We only live 75 minutes away, so a straightforward journey with little traffic. I think it being a Sunday evening helped.

We checked in and were upgraded to the posher Premier Inn rooms top floor – thank you! I paid our £15 to park for the night so that we didn’t have to bother about if next day.
We had dinner in the Thyme restaurant and it was lovely. I had Butter Chicken and Will went for Gammon, Eggs and Chips. Also a bottle of Jack Rabbit rose to help the sleeping!

We watched a bit of TV before getting a good sleep in the very comfortable Hypnos bed. We’d always stayed at the Travelodge on Bath Road before and parked at Purple Parking. This was a BCP deal including meet and greet parking, for £166 for 19 days and less than Purple Parking alone. I’d definitely choose Premier Inn in the future – great building and atmosphere, lovely room and meal.
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Index to all trip reports here https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho...3#post15913083
Seattle to San Francisco Road Trip 2016
Road Trip Florida 2017
New England Road Trip 2019
Florida Road Trip 2022
Canada/Pacific NW Road Trip 2022
Cyprus Chill week May 2023
Road Trip California & Arizona 2023

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Old 8 Sep 23, 01:46 PM  
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Day 2 - Travel Day

Our flight was with BA from Terminal 5 at 1.50pm, so no huge rush to get up so we lazed until 9.00 am 😊 We had some coffee and decided to get something to eat at the airport, rather than the hotel. I’m not a big breakfast person so we had turned down the meal deal offer the night before.

We drove to level 4 of T5 Short Stay easily and handed the car over to BCP. All very smooth and straight into the terminal to drop the cases off. I had booked WT on the way over and WT+ on the way home. I’d also pre-booked our seats each way.

Heathrow was very busy, maybe because of a Monday morning business travellers? The only place that looked remotely peaceful was Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant. I do love Gordon Ramsey (we’re big USA Masterchef fans) so were happy to eat there. Great service for coffee and pastries. Then we found ourselves some seats around the gate and waited whilst reading etc.

When I booked the seats we had a free seat next to us and still had this at online checkin. Of course someone came and sat in it. Really don’t mind apart from maybe having to ask them to get up occasionally and hoping they aren’t annoying! He was fine 😊

The food on the flight was probably the best we’ve ever had on a plane. We both had Piri Piri Chicken with rice, peas and sweetcorn. It came with this …… guess what it is.
Quinoa and beetroot with soured cream. So many people thought it was a cheesecake haha! A lovely chocolate and salted caramel pot for desert then cheese and biscuits, and bread. Plus 2 white wines for Will and a vodka and diet Coke and a wine for me. A few hours later we were treated to a pot of Jude’s vanilla ice cream. Yummy.

I wasn’t sure what we would be served later, but it turned out to be another full meal – not just a wrap or savoury pastry. Equally as good as the first one. We opted for chicken again – roasted breast this time and the desert was a Tangy Lemon pot.

I watched live Little Mermaid – I really enjoyed it and thought Melissa McCarthy was great as Ursula (one of my favourite characters). Then I re-watched Hocus Pocus for the umpteenth time, read and snoozed. I also spent a good few hours just looking out of the window!

The flight was good with little turbulence and we flew over some great scenery including the Grand Canyon
and Lake Havasu City, where we would be staying later. I could pick out London Bridge, which now resides there.


The approach to San Diego was less scary than I expected and we landed half an hour early. I had heard tales of people waving from tall buildings as the plane flew between them but it was fine. San Diego has only one runway and is very close to the city. The buildings are limited in height to 500 feet because of the airport proximity.

We were through immigration quickly with a friendly border officer but had to wait a while for our baggage. We weren't picking up the car until we left San Diego so we decided to get a cab if the free hotel shuttle wasn’t there. It runs every 30 minutes, so it was a gamble if we would see it. I know there’s a local bus which would stop very near the hotel and only cost $2 but with our cases and being tired we didn’t fancy it. It was now approaching 2am to us. Ended up that we got a cab to the door.

The Wyndham San Diego Bayside hotel is right on the waterfront. It was $961 for 4 nights. I booked months ago (as all the hotels with a bit of tweaking and most already paid for) and the price had severely risen in the intervening time. Check in was easy and we got an upgrade to an ocean view corner room with balcony on the 11th floor – thank you again!
The view was incredible. We could see all the way along the bay from USS Midway to the airport and beyond and were right opposite the beautiful sailing ships. We saw the sunset!

We felt that we should try to stay awake until at least 9pm, so walked up to Little Italy around 7pm. We opted for the Bar One – a sports bar and hardly Italian – and had a couple of beers and shared 3 sliders. We weren’t really hungry after the plane food but thought we should have something. The sliders were really good. We walked back to the hotel about 8.15pm and were in the massive bed at 9pm.

Tomorrow would be the hop-on hop-off Old Town trolley first, which was part of our Go San Diego ticket, and left from opposite the hotel.
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Index to all trip reports here https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho...3#post15913083
Seattle to San Francisco Road Trip 2016
Road Trip Florida 2017
New England Road Trip 2019
Florida Road Trip 2022
Canada/Pacific NW Road Trip 2022
Cyprus Chill week May 2023
Road Trip California & Arizona 2023

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Old 8 Sep 23, 01:47 PM  
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Day 3 - San Diego Trolley Tour, Harbour Cruise & Seaport Village

Don’t you just love waking up at silly o’clock on your first morning and looking outside to see what’s going on and how light it is? The whole holiday in front of you 😊 Having done this, I went back to bed for a while!

Today’s plan was to do the Old Town Trolley and then to go on the Harbour cruise in the afternoon. The Trolley started at 9am from Old Town and we were the next stop on the route. This was from the Maritime Museum right opposite the hotel.

We were on floor 11. There were 3 lifts to summon – one of which was an outside glass elevator! This one arrived and at first I didn’t like it but soon got used to it as it seemed to arrive the most 😊

First port of call was the Portside Café, again opposite the hotel. They freshly make your food and you pick it up from the next window. We ate in the domed covered seating area overlooking the sea, which was dead calm. Will had a breakfast bap of egg, sausage etc and I went for a lovely apple Danish, washed down by some coffee.

At 9am we walked down to the Trolley stop. Old Town was quite a distance away so it arrived about 10 minutes later. Not many people on it at all. We’d got our Go San Diego Explorer tickets through Viator and Quidco and had 4 things to do – tour, cruise, zoo and USS Midway. It was £246 for both of us. This saved us $$s and I’d definitely recommend it.

The whole tour is 2 hours and covers 25 miles of San Diego, including across the bridge to Coronado Island. The guide was really informative, funny and clearly loved his job – he also spoke in a real Disney type voice.


We went along to Seaport Village, over the bridge (longer than Golden Gate Bridge due to the big curls at either end) to the beach and Coronado Hotel, Gaslamp area, Petco arena, Balboa Park, Little Italy and then to Old Town, which was the terminus. We had to get off here and get on another Trolley to return to the hotel.


We had a short look round Old Town (we were returning next day) and had a drink. The next driver was very different, much louder in all respects, and he told us a lot about the airport as we drove past it and along the waterfront. Definitely a good tour to go on to get the lie of the land and very comfortable – certainly more than the rickety Vancouver one last year.

There were the sailing ships associated with the Maritime Museum near our hotel and also a massive super-yacht. This was being cleaned and they were polishing the silver eagle on the prow. Very nice! The galleon was used in Pirates of the Caribbean.


We popped back to the room and freshened up before heading down to the Embarcadero and the Harbour Cruise. They scanned our QR code and we were onto The Hornblower 😊 We sat on the top deck in the sun. It was a bit windy going along!
There are two 1-hour cruises – one which looks at the sealions and houses and the other which looks at all the military goings on. The idea was that we did one, stayed aboard and then did the other.,

First up were the sealions and pelicans. The sealions were making a lot of noise – I love their barking!
On the far side of the bay were 3 aircraft carriers lined up – this is unusual apparently.
We had two cocktails and snacks, which had to be ordered via QR code rather than going to the bar, and at $17 each drink they were a total rip-off. Very small and weak. ☹

We returned to the dock, some people got off and more got on, then we were off again to the other side of the bay. The boat goes from right next door to the USS Midway aircraft carrier and when you’re on the sea next to it you appreciate the sheer size of the thing.
We went off round the military areas, under the Coronado Bridge and learned about all the ships and aircraft.


There was a strange looking aircraft, which is new apparently and we were very lucky to see in the air,
and a really cool trimaran warship that goes 45mph on the water.
We returned along the Seaport Village area and completed our cruise.
Definitely worth doing on the Go City but keep away from the cocktails!

After this we walked down to the Seaport Village area and had a look around the shops. The Village was designed by Disney imagineers. They were getting ready for Halloween.
We brought some cold drinks from a shop and sat under the trees. It was about 74 degrees, so just right!
Some people had elaborate kites flying.


We walked back along the waterfront to the hotel and got back around 4.30pm. I had a table booked at 7pm at the Old Spaghetti Factory in the Gaslamp area. We’d been to one of these last year on Vancouver Island and enjoyed it.

This was the view from the other end of our balcony - over a lovely park and play area.


We took the Green Line tram to get there from Santa Fe Depot, about 5 minutes walk from the hotel. We got off at the Gaslamp Quarter Station.
At the Old Spaghetti Factory you order your mains but also have soup or salad, their beautiful fresh bread and also ice cream too in the price! Will ordered Spaghetti with Rich Meat Sauce and I had Spinach and Cheese Ravioli. Very good but of course we’d eaten too much of the lovely bread and butter to start with, plus the salads.

The choice for desert was either Vanilla Ice cream or Spumoni. This is a blend of chocolate, cherry and pistachio ice cream. We were just given Spumoni without asking and one spoon each was enough – vile! We both hate marzipan and the cherry and pistachios really made it taste like this. The server kindly brought us vanilla instead 😊 Sorry, no photos.

After the meal we had a bit of a walk and went to Bar 207, which is actually the Hard Rock Hotel and had some beers. By this time our busy day and time difference were catching up with us and we called it a day, getting the tram back and arriving back at the hotel at 10pm
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Index to all trip reports here https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho...3#post15913083
Seattle to San Francisco Road Trip 2016
Road Trip Florida 2017
New England Road Trip 2019
Florida Road Trip 2022
Canada/Pacific NW Road Trip 2022
Cyprus Chill week May 2023
Road Trip California & Arizona 2023

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Old 8 Sep 23, 01:47 PM  
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Day 4 - San Diego - USS Midway, Old Town & Whaley House Ghost Tour

I know I’ve spoken before about how it seems celebrities die and major World things happen while we are away … poor David McCallum didn’t last until we were through immigration this time! Tina Turner had passed while we were in Cyprus in May and last year the Queen died.

Also last September our daughter, Fern, called to say Mum had tested positive for Coronavirus in her care home but had no symptoms. This morning she called in tears while we were still in bed to say Mum had had a stroke! OMG! Because of the time difference, she had already been to see her and she was doing ok but not communicating very well. I called the home right away and they assured me we should not return and she was responding well. We are lucky that she’s in a full care nursing home and they have all the staff to look after her properly. In fact within a couple of days she was back to 95% fine. Fern really stepped up and kept us fully informed and when we visited her on our return you’d never have known. Lucky, tough 93 year old!

So, with that on our minds, we set off out for the day. First visit was to the USS Midway, 5 minutes walk away. This is such an immense ship and we were there for 4 hours in total. We looked all round the lower decks – I can’t believe how many people/meals/living arrangements were on the ship. Really interesting, even for me! Will just loved it and only banged his head once on the low ceilings.

We had some coffee and cookies in the café and sat at a table on the deck to eat them. Then Will went full Top Gun and tried out some of the planes.
He bought some postcards for his friends and a fridge magnet. I was very impressed with the Midway and it’s a definite ‘must see’ for San Diego.

After the Midway we went back to the hotel and Will had 30 minutes of swimming in the pool, which he said was a great temperature.

Tram to Old Town next from Santa Fe station. We wandered around the shops and exhibits for a few hours.
They were getting ready for the Dia de Los Muertos in the Mexican area.


I bought a Tree of Life pendant, which I have yet to buy a proper chain for!


We visited the old cemetery, which we had seen from the Trolley tour, and looked at the gravestones. I love old cemeteries and the weird things on some gravestones.


We had some 8oz craft beers in the Societe Bar. I has The Madam (!) and Will ordered Fest Bier. They were both good but I preferred mine as it was a bit lighter. $10.70 inc tip, so not bad. The barman asked our plans and we told him we were going to Café Coyote. He said we had to have their signature Margarita as it was the best around!

Café Coyote is huge with lots of areas and I’m glad we’d booked as it was very busy.
The Margaritas were huge and the best we’ve had 😊
Of course we ate too many chips and salsa to begin with too. Will had Carne Asada Plate and I had Surf & Turf Quesadilla. This was cut into 4 and far too big. I ended up having 2 boxed for later. Both came with rice and refried beans and all the trimmings. Total was $72 plus tip.


There was a Mariachi band going round singing for tables. Will asked for La Bamba. They duly obliged and earned their tip!


At 8pm we had a booking at the Whaley House. Photo taken from the Trolley the day before.


This is reputed to be the most haunted house in the whole of the USA. Our guide was very good and told the tales of the house well. I took a lot of phots but nothing unexpected showed up (unlike St Augustine!).
It was fun tour though but nothing scary. You can go on proper investigations there, which I guess would be more productive.

Back on the Green Line to Santa Fe and a quick walk back to the hotel. We were back by 10 again and quickly into bed. I didn’t sleep well that night, despite the comfortable bed, as I was thinking about my Mum. Up early for the Zoo tomorrow!
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Index to all trip reports here https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho...3#post15913083
Seattle to San Francisco Road Trip 2016
Road Trip Florida 2017
New England Road Trip 2019
Florida Road Trip 2022
Canada/Pacific NW Road Trip 2022
Cyprus Chill week May 2023
Road Trip California & Arizona 2023

Edited at 04:36 PM.
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Old 8 Sep 23, 01:47 PM  
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Day 5 - San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park

Today was what I’d been most looking forward to in San Diego – the San Diego Zoo. I used to work at Marwell Zoo a long time ago and San Diego was always THE zoo in their eyes to live up to. I can now see why and all zoos will be rubbish in comparison!

First, a call home to check Mum was ok. We decided to get a Lyft to the Zoo, which opened at 9am. We could have got the bus but Lyft would be far quicker. We also decided to get some food once we’d got there. We called from the door of the hotel and the car was with us within a couple of minutes, really fast.

Christopher, the driver was 6’5” and had his seat far back, so Will sat in the front and they chatted about fighter jets. Christopher always wanted to be a pilot but grew too tall to fly one! He knew SO much about planes and obviously relished talking about them. His grandfather had been a fighter pilot.

We arrived at the door to the Zoo at 9.08am, the ride having cost $8.93 and we gave a cash tip. Straight in with our Go ticket and bypassed the line.
We grabbed a map and the first stop was already earmarked for the Hummingbird Habitat. I’m mad about these little birds and the Habitat was near to the entrance.


We saw a ‘wild’ hummingbird just outside, but inside there were hardly any! Lots of different birds but few hummingbirds, so I was a bit disappointed. We did, however, see many of them around the zoo throughout the day and more in the afternoon when we re-visited the Habitat.

The Zoo is just massive. We ended up being there over 6 hours and only saw 75% of it and didn’t go on any of the tours.
After the hummingbirds we looked at everything in that area and by that time it was 10am and the cafes were open. We sat and had some coffees and cookies before heading for the cable car. This takes you to the other side of the zoo, which is also uphill. The views were good but it was a bit cloudy today.


The enclosures of the animals were huge and everywhere was so clean and tidy. Every pool of water was clean and clear. I know zoos aren’t everyone’s thing but they so serve vitally important conservation and repopulation functions. I saw no signs of distress anywhere at all. The aviaries were just beautiful with so many birds flying around you. It did remind me of Animal Kingdom too, the signage being similar too, and I’m sure AK must be modelled around it.

We had an ice cream and paid an extortionate $17 for two small wafer cones of soft ice cream. A shared hot dog combo and a big bag of crisps later were only $11.89, so a comparative bargain.

There were many non-animal displays and information – I was amazed to find that dire wolves were actually real in the past and not just Game of Thrones wolves!

Here are some photos – I did take a lot of videos too.

The penguins looked like they were having a meeting with one in charge! They were actually all standing in the shade 😊


If you’ve ever seen an elephant having a wee, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s never-ending deluge!

We reluctantly left around 3.30pm as we wanted to go to Balboa Park too. The clouds had gone by then and it was very hot. Will rated the zoo up there as the best thing we did, even higher than USS Midway – which is praise indeed!

There are 22 museums in Balboa Park – so three a day would take you a week! I would have loved to go to some of them – like the Natural History or Comic Con museums - but there just wasn't time. We walked through the Spanish Village and down into the central area of the park.

The architecture is amazing and, again, everywhere was pristine. We did a lot of walking and looking, went on the little tram that takes you round and had drinks and snacks. We left about 6pm.
The San Diego squirrels are friendly and yellowish in colour.

The bus was the transport home and we asked directions to the stop. All straightforward until the bus got to Broadway and said it was the end of the line! We walked from here back to the hotel (as we’d obviously not done enough walking already! ), via Santa Fe station, so we knew we were only a few minutes from the hotel and the lovely back door entrance, right near the lifts!


I’d booked a table that night at the hotel’s Claim Jumper Restaurant as I knew we’d be tired – definitely the right move. The Wyndham actually has 3 associated restaurants and a little inside café/Starbucks too.

The Claim Jumper meal was just wonderful and my Shrimp Fresca pasta was one of my favourite meals. I also managed to finish it! Will had Country Fried Steak and we had a bottle of Pinot to wash it down. Total $76 plus tip. A lovely end to a fabulous day.


Tomorrow we collect the car and start our road trip! 😊 😊
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Index to all trip reports here https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho...3#post15913083
Seattle to San Francisco Road Trip 2016
Road Trip Florida 2017
New England Road Trip 2019
Florida Road Trip 2022
Canada/Pacific NW Road Trip 2022
Cyprus Chill week May 2023
Road Trip California & Arizona 2023

Edited at 04:32 PM.
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Old 8 Sep 23, 01:48 PM  
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Day 6 - San Diego to San Clemente - road trip time!

Time to get the car and head out into the unknown (apart from Palm Springs, which we’d visited before). Checkout wasn’t until 11, so we didn’t need to rush to pack and headed over to Portside Café for breakfast again. We both agreed that San Diego had been wonderful and we would definitely return, given the chance.


Our car collection was booked for 10.30am at Avis (via BA) at the airport. We checked out and called Lyft again. We waited outside and the car appeared immediately – I swear he was just round the corner! Again he had the seat pushed right back, not because of his height but because generally he was an absolute giant of a man in all directions and called Jose. He wasn’t as chatty but helped us with our bags and wished us a good journey. $10.99 plus tip. We could have got the hotel shuttle but that would have taken us to the terminal instead of the car rental centre, which you then had to get a bus to.

We headed to Avis preferred, only to find BA hadn’t linked us. No worries as the lovely Avis person found our booking on the system easily enough. She asked if we’d like a Chevvy Tahoe – no thanks as too big for just us 2. So we had a lovely Honda CRV 4 with sunroof, just right for us with loads of luggage space and a pull over cover for security.

I’d downloaded Google maps and we set off for Mission Beach. We parked up in the car park and had a short walk on the beach. It was busy considering it was a Friday morning. For some reason we have no photos.

We decided to press on as I wanted to go to La Jolla Cove to see the caves and sealions. We could have spent longer at Mission Beach as La Jolla was an absolute nightmare. So many cars all looking for a space to park! It would have taken hours and a lot of luck, so we eventually gave up and I found a shortcut back to the main road. La Jolla was not to be and I dread to think what it’s like on a summer weekend.

We passed a pumpkin field. I was surprised that pumpkins seemed to be generally more expensive in supermarkets there than here – what would be £3 here this year was $6.99!


We carried on and stopped at Starbucks at Del Mar Heights for lunch. Somehow the order got mixed up and we ended up with two Ham & Cheese Baguettes instead of just one, plus a Ham & Cheese croissant and drinks. Total $30 with tip! The baguettes were lovely and we saved one for later.

Next stop was a quaintly named mall at Carlsbad called The Shoppes at Carlsbad. This was the only place I could find that had both Bath & Body Works and American Eagle in the same place! I headed straight for Bath & Body works and browsed for quite a while, leaving Will to go to Macy’s. $65 later I left the shop.

By the time I found him he was wearing a new jacket to show me and had been waiting for a rather long time! The staff thought it was funny. I paid for the jacket as it was his birthday the next day 😊

We then headed to American Eagle for the jeans he loves. He tried on the jeans, which fitted perfectly, and decided to grab a pack of 5 boxers on the way to the till. Again I paid and didn’t really look at the amount until we’d left the shop and I checked the receipt as it did seem a bit much at $124 after tax. The boxers were $65 plus tax! And more than the jeans! It’s now a standing joke that things only cost a third of the pants etc. He’d never have got them if he’d realised. Happy Birthday!

We had to join the freeway again here and this continued until our turnoff at San Clemente and the Calafia Inn. I’d booked this months ago for £340 for 2 nights. It’s newly remodelled, surfing themed and looked really nice. Since discovering that the Ohana Festival was on while we were there, the price went up to over $300 per night at that time, so I made sure it was already paid for!

We checked in and asked advice from the owners. We wanted to go to Catalina Island the next day but the Festival was between us and the Ferry at Dana Point, in fact it was in the park right by the marina. I was worried about parking and getting out again, especially when the ferry returned as it would have started and would be so busy. They advised an Uber, which was $40 each way, so I reverted to my original plan without the car of going by local bus at 7.33am for the 9.30am ferry!

The Killers were on that night (we’d seen them here in Southampton last summer) and the Foo Fighters on the Sunday, after we’d left. Nobody we really fancied were on for Saturday and at $165 for a day each it would have been a waste.

Our room was bright and clean. The bed was one of the most comfortable you could wish for. We were also given a stack of small size samples at the desk – hand sanitiser, Degree (Sure) deodorant, sunscreen for adults and children, mints and toothpaste. Very thoughtful.


In the evening we drove down to San Clemente pier and beach. It’s such a gorgeous little town and the pier area was very popular. We parked in the car park and paid $3.50. There were lots of people surfing.
There was a celebration going on beachside.


I really enjoy walking down piers and watching everyone fishing. Fishing seems a real community thing on piers.

The sunset was very disappointing as the sun seemed to go down without showing itself at all!


After this we walked back down the pier just as a train was going along the track by the beach. This was the train to LA, the Pacific Surfliner, which had also stopped at San Diego.


We had dinner in a restaurant at the land end of the pier called The Fisherman’s Restaurant. There’s an oyster bar on one side of the pier and the restaurant on the other side. We had soft drinks as we had the car with us – diet Pepsi and orange juice. Crab Cakes for me and Roasted Half Chicken for Will. Very good and total $66 plus tip.

We had quite an early night after watching a bit of tv as we were up early next day to go to Catalina Island 😊
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Index to all trip reports here https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho...3#post15913083
Seattle to San Francisco Road Trip 2016
Road Trip Florida 2017
New England Road Trip 2019
Florida Road Trip 2022
Canada/Pacific NW Road Trip 2022
Cyprus Chill week May 2023
Road Trip California & Arizona 2023

Edited at 12:43 PM.
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Old 8 Sep 23, 01:48 PM  
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Day 7 - Catalina Island day

Today was Will’s birthday! He opened the cards I’d brought from home and a new Ramones T shirt from me (other presents to follow, as well as his new clothes) and we chatted to the children on the phone. We’d got up very early as the bus was at 7.33am, but with the 8 hour time difference it was fine.

The bus stop was literally 2 minutes from our door. The bus arrived on time and Will put his $2 into the slot. I’d put $1 in when the driver said we could have a ‘senior’ day ticket each for just $1! Result 😊 The journey to Dana Point and the ferry would take about 20 minutes.

The Ohana Festival had started yesterday with The Killers and this was in the big park right by the ferry. This is why we decided to get the bus as we were worried about parking and being able to leave at 6.30pm when we returned with everyone arriving.

The weather forecast that day wasn’t too great and it was definitely cloudy. Despite me knowing exactly where to get off (by the footbridge over the road) we still managed to miss the stop and pull the cord in panic for the next stop! This was up a big hill and I was glad we only had to walk down it! Not that far though and we cut across towards the marina and could see the festival behind fencing, all quiet at the moment.

I’d pre-purchased our ferry tickets as I know there were a limited number of places and the ferry left at 9.30am, us having to be there 30 minutes beforehand.

We did have some trouble finding the ferry office to get a physical ticket as it was really tucked away and we had to ask several people the way. The office was small and there were a lot of people but it was easy to get our ticket. There was also a weird parking arrangement whereby you parked in a random place somewhere, went to the office, got your parking ticket and then were directed to the proper place to park, some distance away. We then got some coffee, having decided on brunch on the island, and sat and waited to embark.

The ferry was smaller than I thought it was going to be. We went joined the line in good time and watched the boats and birds. We went upstairs and sat by the window. The windows were really high up and not great for a short person like me! We left on time and passed an old boat with lots of seabirds and sealions on it.


The journey took 90 minutes and was very calm, much to Will’s relief. No whales The main town on Catalina is called Avalon and the harbour is beautiful. Lots of boats, a pier and the standout building of the round Casino. This isn’t a casino in the gambling sense – the word actually means ‘meeting place’ and that’s what it is used for originally – theatre, dances films, celebrations. It was built in 1929, so getting on for 100

The first thing we did was check out our tour for the afternoon and they told us where to go and when. All good. Next thing was food as it was gone 11 by then! We walked along the waterfront and up one of the streets. Here we found The Original Jack’s Country Kitchen – a big and extremely popular diner. I ordered Portuguese French Toast with strawberries and Will had bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, toast etc with orange juice. $40 plus tip and I’ve just noticed they didn’t charge me for my coffee! Excellent brunch in a fabulous diner.


We then explored the little town. There are very few cars here as everyone has a golf cart instead. We went all along to the Casino – it’s really beautiful inside and is the world’s largest circular ballroom without supporting pillars. The murals were stunning.

There was a diving club diving outside. Near the shore in the very clear water round the rocks were lots of orange fish which are Garibaldi fish and the symbol of the island. Like big round goldfish.


At 1pm we joined our tour of the island for 2 hours through Adventure Tours. There were 9 of us in the van with Arban, our guide. He was lovely and very knowledgeable. What made me laugh was that when he was going his patter he spoke just like Ross when he was the Holiday Armadillo in Friends! Otherwise he was perfectly normal 😊 He said that we didn’t need to put on seatbelts as there weren’t any cars to crash into other than other tours! Hmmm

Off we went and our turn round point was to be the Airport in the Sky, right up on the mountain top. We stopped to look at the view of Avalon – on a bend on the wrong side of the road! The road was very windy indeed in parts with steep drops. Anxious glances were exchanged.

We kept stopping at viewpoints and eventually entered the Conservancy. This is a protected area where only tours are allowed, no golf carts or other cars.

The higher we got, the more cloudy, then actual cloud, then rain. There were some other tours in open jeeps. Everyone had ponchos on and looked miserable!

In the Conservancy there are bison. These were brought over in around 1935 for a movie to be made and then just left behind! They’ve thrived though and have a healthy population now. We did see a couple in the distance, lying down.

We reached the Airport in the Sky – which should have been the Airport in the Cloudy Rain! You couldn’t see hardly anything. There was a gift shop with some lovely items and a café. Also a big log fire burning! Arban had recommended the cookies – he was right! Freshly made and very big. I still regret not buying a T shirt I liked from the shop though …

The Island has a unique breed of fox, which is extremely small. Sadly, we didn't see any but this sign was at the cafe. I absolutely would have fed one, and tried to take it home

Back down to Avalon. I was surprised to see how green a lot of the island was – I guess the clouds provide constant moisture.
We thanked Arban for a great tour and set off to walk along the pier, aptly named The Green Pier. The brought some ice creams and sat watching people taking out pedalos – some handled them better than others! The sun had come out by now too 😊 Avalon is so pretty, especially the houses in the side streets.


The boat left at 5.00pm and we watched the Garibaldi fish while we lined up. This time we sat on the normal deck and the view was much better and more comfortable too. Still no whales As we approached Dana Point we could hear the music and see the lights and people in the grandstands they’d built. We walked back to the main road, about 10 minutes, past all the people going in and masses of cars. We were glad we were getting the bus.


The bus runs once an hour. It was delayed by 20 minutes (Google kept us informed!) but that was fine and we listened to the music while we waited. The sky was also getting blacker by the minute here. We did the journey back and eventually we were the only people on the bus! Within a few minutes of us getting inside just before 8pm, the rain just fell down for about half an hour.

We decided not to venture out again and ate yesterday’s extra baguette, plus supermarket food we’d bought and the remains of the large cookies from earlier. We know how to live!

We decided to celebrate Will’s birthday with a nice meal in Palm Springs tomorrow. 😊 We’d loved the day and I’d definitely recommend a trip to Catalina Island.
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Index to all trip reports here https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho...3#post15913083
Seattle to San Francisco Road Trip 2016
Road Trip Florida 2017
New England Road Trip 2019
Florida Road Trip 2022
Canada/Pacific NW Road Trip 2022
Cyprus Chill week May 2023
Road Trip California & Arizona 2023

Edited at 03:45 PM.
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Old 8 Sep 23, 01:49 PM  
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Day 8 – San Clemente to Palm Springs via San Juan Capistrano Mission & Dinosaurs

Today we were moving on and I checked out the route to Palm Springs. I had intended to go up over the mountains on route 74 and stop at a really great looking restaurant for lunch with amazing views, but the road was closed due to roadworks. That meant we’d have to revise our route somewhat and use more interstate than I’d wanted to – always go by the road least travelled!

We packed and loaded up the car, dropped our keycards into the box and went next door for breakfast to the Rose’s Sugar Shack café.
This was a typical little café run by two lovely older ladies, who were a lot of fun. Will had a ‘full American’ and I just had some toast with Smuckers, juice and coffees, plus refills of course. $40 including tip.

Five people came in from our motel and they’d obviously been in the day before too and to the Festival. They started telling jokes with Christina, Rose’s partner, and were all laughing. When we got the bill I told her my favourite silly joke – What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot! She fell about laughing and told the other table that she had a British joke for them and then proceeded to totally mess it up! Much laughter 😊

We set off on the I5 and made the short trip to the San Juan Capistrano Mission. This was absolutely beautiful and we spent a good 90 minutes there, taking it all in. There’s a story that one of the monks saw a man removing mud swallow nests from his eaves as they annoyed him. He said the swallows were welcome to nest at the Mission. The swallows did actually all moved to the Mission and return every year on the same day.
There’s a big festival in the town to celebrate each year.

Sections were very old indeed and are still standing in places.
Others are more modern but still so atmospheric. The gardens were stunning and there were huge Koi Carp in the ponds which came up say hello.
A very peaceful place.

I know we stopped for drinks and snacks at a Services somewhere along the way, I bought this new flavour Coke Zero – Y3000 Futuristic Flavour, It was good, so hopefully will come over here. There was another one too but we didn’t see them again. Wish I’d got both now.
There were diversion signs all along and the diversion was absolutely massive and must have been such an inconvenience to people travelling that way regularly.

Our next stop was at Cabazon, home of the ‘World’s Biggest Dinosaurs’. They certainly were big! We didn’t pay to go in though but it would be great for children.

We still had some time to kill, so went to have a look at where Elvis and Priscilla has their honeymoon in Palm Springs 😊 This is called ‘The House of Tomorrow’ and situated in a smart residential area in the south of the town. Very nice.


Our hotel for the next two nights was the Avance Hotel in Palm Springs. This is a small, gated hotel with only 9 rooms, all around the pool and is adults only. It’s on a quiet street, more residential than touristy. For£287 for 2 nights including breakfast it was an excellent price for Palm Springs and I’d paid beforehand with free cancellation.

We’d received an email with instructions on opening the keysafe to get the key to the gate and to our room.

Everything worked easily and we had room 7 – a stunning room with a full kitchen, table and chairs, lovely bathroom, sofa and the highest bed I’ve ever seen.
We unpacked and sorted ourselves out, then Will went in the pool for a dip while I wrote the postcards.

Later we walked down to Palm Springs main area – about 20 minutes. We had a good walk around and finally settled on having a meal at Sol Agave Mexican restaurant. This was a very smart place they were very attentive.

We both had Chef Specials and celebrated Will’s birthday yesterday! I had Chile Verde – slow cooked pork in tomatillo and onion sauce with rice and tortillas. Will had similar – Our ‘Famous’ Carnitas, which was braised Mexican pork, refried beans, rice, salsa, guacamole, sour cream and tortillas. Of course, there were tortillas put on the table straight away too”. Both meals were enormous – mine was big lumps of the most tender meat. We both had our leftovers boxed up as we couldn’t finish them. Will had a lovely spiced mango Margarita and I went for a big glass of wine! $93 + tip.

We walked back to the hotel – it seemed a lot further on the way back and I wished we’d taken the car! The bed was, as expected, a mountain to climb and Will had a good laugh at me trying to launch myself onto it 😊

Tomorrow we were visiting canyons and going up the Aerial Tramway 😊
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Index to all trip reports here https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho...3#post15913083
Seattle to San Francisco Road Trip 2016
Road Trip Florida 2017
New England Road Trip 2019
Florida Road Trip 2022
Canada/Pacific NW Road Trip 2022
Cyprus Chill week May 2023
Road Trip California & Arizona 2023

Edited at 07:12 PM.
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Old 8 Sep 23, 01:49 PM  
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Day 9 - Palm Springs - Canyons, Cable Car and Curry

We slept really well in the big bed and woke to a hot, sunny day with hummingbirds flying outside 😊 Breakfast was provided and was cereal, muffins, different bagels, bread, bars, juice, fruit and yogurts. There was coffee but we also had a coffee machine in the room with Starbucks pods. There was a granola which Will couldn’t get enough of! We sat on our patio by the pool to eat 😊


Today we were going to some canyons and also the Aerial Tramway up Mount Jacinto. We drove to Indian Canyons, on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, south of Palm Springs. This is a group of canyons with walking trails. We paid $14 to enter.

Our first stop was at Palm Canyon. We went to the furthest point first and had to drive under a big rock leaning over the road. It’s called The Rock Drive-Thru.
Then the road wound round and up to the car park and the Trading Post shop/café.

Palm Canyon is down steep steps and track and is aptly named with loads of palm trees down in the valley and a stream at times.
We had a look at it from the top and right by the building were two hummingbird nectar feeders with LOTS of hummers flying round and feeding.

You could get really close to them and they still kept drinking and tweeting at each other. . I could have sat there all day! It took a lot of videos and photos.


Will went down into the canyon and I stayed and watched. Will took these down in the canyon. He’d walked part of the way along the trail.


I tore myself away from the feeders long enough to buy a t shirt, fridge magnet and a drink!
Eventually we had to leave and stopped along the way to view the leaning rock from the other side.

Next was the Andreas Canyon Trail – still within Indian Canyons. This is a mile long and follows a stream for much of the way. It wasn’t the easiest but it was fun, and hot!
After we got back to the car we decided to go back to the hotel for lunch and a swim.

We heated up the remains of last night’s dinners and this was plenty, along with some muffins which we’d kept from breakfast. We had this on our back patio as the sun was there then.

After lunch we had a swim. This was when I found that I’d only brought the top half of my costume! Shock horror! As we were the only people around I decided to just wear some black underwear and nobody would be any the wiser! Of course some other people did get in after while … I didn’t hear them screaming their eyes hurt though haha!

After showers we drove off to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to go up Mount San Jacinto. This is 4.5 miles off the main road and uphill all the way. The car park is on a steep slope and Will decided to park at the bottom for a reason best known to himself. By the time we’d got to the desk I was finding my breath really affected by the altitude, which surprised me.

I’d got the tickets the day before online and we skipped the non-existent line. There’s a museum to look at if you have to wait for the cable car – we only had a few minutes in the holding area. I can see it being a lot longer at peak summer times. The journey takes 10 minutes for the ascent/decent of 6000 feet. The cable car holds about 30 people and rotates 360 degrees so that everyone gets a good look at the spectacular views down to the valley, Palm Springs and the San Andreas Faultline.


There’s a café, restaurant and bar at the top. You can trek the many paths or just chill out and admire the views. We walked around for a bit and watched the chipmunks.
Last time we were here, with the kids, there were raccoons and one tried to steal my bag off the seat in the carpark – none today sadly.

We had a drink from the bottle of water and then Will went up to the top part by himself while I sat on a bench, still wearing the rucksack, and watched the titmice.
When I got up from the bench I felt my jeans were wet. I looked back and there was an actual puddle on the bench! Turns out the lid wasn’t on the bottle properly and had soaked everything! The water was even dripping out of the rucksack on my back and everything was soaked – my coat, my purse with folding money and the info to get our car back! I had to go into the restroom and strip off my jeans and dry them and part of the bag under the drier, which wasn’t the strongest. Luckily they were black jeans and I wore them as I thought it would be a lot colder than it was at the top of the mountain. We laid out all the wet paper when we got back and it was fine. My coat and the rucksack took a bit longer in the sun!

We aimed to be here for sunset and were going to eat in the café as I’d see they served our favourite sidewinder fries online. When we got there they’d changed the menu, so no sidewinders. How very dare they! We decided to eat back in Palm Springs instead.

We caught the cable car back down at about 6.30pm. The sun was setting on the descent.
On the way up they give you lots of information, on the way down they play music. First up was Stayin’ Alive … is this really a good idea for 10 minutes over 5 stanchions in a cable car?!

I’d seen that there was a Greek Restaurant near our hotel with good reviews so we drove there – unfortunately it had just shut at 7pm! Bit early! A few doors down was an Indian called Monsoon, which looked busy – always a good sign. Turned out it had 17 awards on the wall and was a great find. 😊

I had Chicken Tikka Masala and Will just had a plain Chicken Curry. He had a Taj beer and I just ordered a Diet Coke as I was driving – I do all the night driving. A big bowl of rice came automatically with the curry, no need to order separately. They didn’t have any poppadoms though. $52 and we could both have had more boxed up again but declined as we were moving on next day.

We’d really enjoyed today – loved the canyons and hummingbirds and were grateful of the cooler weather on San Jacinto. We watched TV for a while – Golden Girls – before turning in for the night. Tomorrow we were moving to Twentynine Palms and the Joshua Tree National Park 😊
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Index to all trip reports here https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho...3#post15913083
Seattle to San Francisco Road Trip 2016
Road Trip Florida 2017
New England Road Trip 2019
Florida Road Trip 2022
Canada/Pacific NW Road Trip 2022
Cyprus Chill week May 2023
Road Trip California & Arizona 2023

Edited at 04:02 PM.
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Old 8 Sep 23, 01:49 PM  
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Day 10 - Palm Springs to Twentynine Palms


We were in no rush to get up and pack as checkout wasn’t until 11am. We had another great breakfast, saving some for later, packed and checked out about 10.30am. The instructions were to leave the keys on the bed and the curtains open. In all the time we’d been there we’d only caught sight of the cleaning lady, who did the rooms each day, and nobody on the desk at all. So we did as instructed and left through the gate. I’d definitely recommend the Avance Hotel. Slightly far from the action but walkable and such a great place.


Not too far away from the hotel was a place called Robolights. This belongs to an artist called Kenny Irwin and is basically his junk sculptures in a huge backyard – practically an entire block. You can’t go in without calling him for an appointment but can see plenty from the street. Apparently it’s amazing at Christmas! Must have taken him years as there’s stuff everywhere!




We drove into Palm Springs to find a bank and to see the Marilyn Monroe statue, which we’d missed the other night. We used the ATM, saw the Sony Bono statue and the huge Marilyn statue.

We also saw a Roadrunner – in the car park! It was definitely living up to the name as it didn’t appreciate me stalking it for a photo. I did get a good one though eventually.

Will fancied himself with Palm Springs PD!


By now it was snack time and we came across a wonderful place called Sherman’s Deli & Bakery. Drawn in by the amazing cakes on display, we waited a few minutes for a table. It was extremely busy and obviously popular for both takeouts and the diner. We had coffees and cookies – choc chip and oatmeal & raisin - $20.75 – and wished we’d not had breakfast earlier or could stay for dinner.

Time to leave Palm Springs and we headed out towards Twentynine Palms.

First stop was at the Big Morongo Canyon Reserve. There are a few trails to choose from and we did the Desert Willow Trail. This was partly a boardwalk and about 1.5 miles. Some of the trails were closed as they were still trying to recover from the flooding earlier in the year, which had also cut off Palm Springs for a while. You could see how the trees and vegetation had suffered. It was a lovely walk but very hot of course.

On to Yucca Valley and we found an Aldi to go in. They also have the ‘aisle of wonder’ like we do! We got a pack of bottled water, snacks and Will’s favourite watermelon gum.

We drove some very straight roads today!


Soon after 3pm we arrived at 29 Palms Inn. This was the place I’d been looking forward to staying at the most – we were in a 1934 Adobe house! The Inn itself has a farm (fresh produce served daily), an oasis pond and lovely pool and restaurant.

They were just lovely when we checked in and gave us a map to our house, Chinch Weed. This is a ground covering plant with little yellow daisy-like flowers.

It was just wonderful – wooden ceiling, terracotta tile floors, a log burner, metal bedstead, enclosed yard with loungers, table and chairs – really atmospheric.

We got settled in and then went to the pool. We ordered some drinks from the bar and then Will went for a swim. It took his breath away as it was SO cold! Despite the scorching temperatures it was freezing and he didn’t stay in long. A definite no from me! We read and chilled for a while.


We were staying Tuesday and Wednesday nights and the restaurant was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, which I knew. I booked a table for the following night. I also ordered two packed lunches for the next day. There is no water or food in Joshua Tree park at all. Tonight was to be Denny’s – another holiday rule that must be obeyed. This was up on the main road, about 5 minutes away.

We were seated straight away, even though it was busy, into a booth by the window. A good seat apart from little girl behind me who had a scream you could hear in space! She used this to great advantage in getting what she wanted, it appeared. Her mum had a baby too and was quite frazzled with the both of them. Will ordered the Country fried steak dinner and I had the Salmon dinner, which I ordered off the seniors menu as I knew it would be smaller! We only had Coke Zero and orange juice tonight. Food was fine and $47 plus tip.

After we got back to our house we went outside and looked up at the stars – so many of them as there was very little light pollution here as it was away from the main street. We watched some TV – American Office last ever episode, strangely followed by the first ever episode – before turning in. A very quiet and comfortable night.

Joshua Tree Park tomorrow
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Index to all trip reports here https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho...3#post15913083
Seattle to San Francisco Road Trip 2016
Road Trip Florida 2017
New England Road Trip 2019
Florida Road Trip 2022
Canada/Pacific NW Road Trip 2022
Cyprus Chill week May 2023
Road Trip California & Arizona 2023

Edited at 03:32 PM.
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