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Old 24 Jul 23, 08:08 PM  
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babbymint
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Join Date: May 11
Location: Sunny South Coast
Babbymint goes west - up to 10 Aug

And weíre off!

The cast
Babby, DH Chas and DS2 Tom, 17.
Freddie is nearly 19, staying at home to feed the cats!

The plot
Today - travel to Gatwick
25 July fly to LA then connect to Las Vegas
30 July- South Rim
31 July - 4 Aug San Francisco
4-6 Aug - Pacific Grove nr Monterey
6-7 Aug - San Luis Obispo
7-11 Aug - Los Angeles
11-17 Aug - San Diego

Going to copy CFB and do a page for each stay.
Will also add spends - we will not be doing high end eating.

Edited at 06:48 AM.
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Old 24 Jul 23, 08:09 PM  
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Join Date: May 11
Location: Sunny South Coast
Travel day

Day 1 fly day

Well we did not have the best of starts!
We like to fly from Gatwick as we only live about a 45 minute direct train ride away.
We had traveled about 5 miles when the train stopped. It turns out a group of girls, about 13/14 yrs old had pulled the door handle- this lead to us being stuck for nearly an hour, doors being reset and police arriving. The girls were running through the train effing and blinding, verbally abusing the guard. My son was on a train at the weekend and said a kid had put his head out of the top window and the guard had to speak to them. Iím very glad railway workers stuck to their guns about needing guards on trains - goodness knows what would have happened - Chas was livid - as a teacher I just said welcome to my world 😂😂

Anyway the rest of the journey went ok, just a 45 minute delay. Stayed at the north terminal premier inn - £92 for the three of us, literally outside the airport so handy - I told Tom to pretend he was 15Ö
Had quite a restful night and made our way to the terminal around 7am, easy check in with Norse.
Then the obligatory breakfast In Wetherspoons- a small breakfast and two breakfast sandwiches plus an orange and two bottomless hot drinks £34. Job done.
Norse flight to LA went without hitch. We took our own meals (thanks Boots meal deals) and it looked like most did the same thing. Itís an odd thing though, it means the cabin crew are constantly serving. Watched a few films including the Lost King which I quite enjoyed.

There was a long queue in immigration but it moved quickly.
We then collected cases and made our way to our Las Vegas flight. We walked round from terminal B? To terminal 6 where our Alaskan airlines flight to Las Vegas departed. Super quick 45 minute flight


and a 15 minute taxi and we are at the Jockey club suites, from where I write this now after popping out for a bottle of wine (or two).
The jockey club is a timeshare set up - we paid just over £100 per night and I squealed when I saw our view

Itís a very comfortable one bed and one sofa bed setup with full kitchen.

So itís 945pm here and weíve been up now for nearly 24 hours so bed for me!

Edited at 05:48 AM.
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Old 24 Jul 23, 08:10 PM  
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Join Date: May 11
Location: Sunny South Coast
26 July

Las Vegas

I discovered two things today:

1. Adjusting to an eight hour time difference is quite hard!
2. Las Vegas is uncomfortably hot!

We had a leisurely start and cereal in the apartment.
We have GoCity passes and do Iíve got a rough itinerary to work around encompassing the hotels and places to visit on our passes.
We visited Paris, the Horseshoe and Sahara. Made use of the monorail and then a bus to Freemont. Itís quite windy and feels like your being blown by a hair dryer on a high heat setting!
We headed north to the Freemont area - it feels a little bit seedy but I imagine itís very different at night time when there is a music vibe. I tried to persuade Tom to be superman on the zip wire thing but he wasnít having it!


We had a late lunch at good old Dennys- a plate of loaded nachos for me, a bourbon burger for Chas, and banana pancakes with sausage,egg and bacon for Tom plus cokes came to $62 inc tip.
Then we headed to the Mob museum. We passed a couple of hours there, quite a bit to read but learned quite a bit about the history of Vegas.

After faffing about with monorails and buses we just grabbed an Uber back - much easier and cheaper! Chas commented to our Uber driver about all the roadworks and itís because Vegas is hosting a Grand Prix in November- Paris is apparently charging $40000 for the week (not for me!).
Back in the room and the plan was a pit stop change and sit down, closed my eyes for a minute and suddenly it was 11pm. My body clock is all over the place. The boys have just eaten snacks we picked up last night so a cheap eveningÖ

Edited at 08:20 AM.
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Old 24 Jul 23, 08:10 PM  
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Join Date: May 11
Location: Sunny South Coast
27 July

Las Vegas

Today we walked down the strip.
We saw New York New York, the Excalibur, Luxor. We found it quite difficult simply going down the strip, what looked like a 10 minute walk certainly wasnt, it feels like Las vegas was not made for pedestrians. The hotels are impressive but seen one casino seen them all.

We did the King Tut exhibit at the Luxor which was ok,
and then say back through Excalibur had a Cinnabon each with drinks which came to $32 but very yummy.

We went back to the apartment and cooled down/ freshened up. Our uber driver yesterday had suggested PF Chang so we were planning on that.
On our way our went via the Bellagio and they have an exotic garden theme in the conservatory which reminded Tom and I of Avatar's Pandora. Rather lovely.

Then a quick trip up the Eiffel tower before changs, which there was an hour wait for, so we had a cocktail while waiting - maybe it's me but it seemed very strong!
Dinner was lovely - I forgot photos, but one of their signatures is lettuce wraps.
Definitely an idea I will steal for home, simple but tasty. We also had spicy shrimp, pad thai, honey chicken and miso salmon. Plus a couple of drinks. The bill came in at just over $200.
After that we rolled home as we were so full, via a quick bellagio fountain watch.

Edited at 08:18 AM.
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Old 24 Jul 23, 08:11 PM  
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Join Date: May 11
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28 July Hoover Dam

Hoover dam

Today we set out fairly early on a Hoover dam trip. We picked up the coach from the Horseshoe. It was a fairly short journey, but took an hour due to traffic in vegas itself. They did a quick stop at a vantage point over Lake Mead
then dropped us off in the parking lot at the dam.
It is an amazing feat of engineering - we walked over the dam and back

the went to the visitor centre which was not included in the go city pass and was $10 a head. The temperature hit 46į here today
and I must say I did start to feel a little queasy at one point!
We then got the coach back which took ages - the traffic was chronic in the city, I assume worse as it's Friday and the driver tried to take a shortcut up the strip via New York hotel, but there was an ambulance blocking it, so had to double back round. Anyhow, when we finally got back to the horseshoe it was gone 3pm, Tom was ravenous so we had an early dinner from Nathans of beef and chicken steak sandwiches with drinks which came to $100 with tip which seemed high but was devoured!
We then used our go city passed to visit the Real Bodies exhibit at the Horseshoe which I quite enjoyed, fascinating.
Then we used the go city again to go up the High Roller wheel by the Linq. Another impressive bit of engineering and some great views of the city and beyond.

It was gone 5 by then and still in the mid 40s so we ditched plans to look at the Venetian and made our way back for a rest and swim. The latter never happened as we all fell asleep instead and woke up around 10pm - whoops, jet lag not quite sorted yet...

Edited at 08:46 AM.
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Old 24 Jul 23, 08:11 PM  
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Join Date: May 11
Location: Sunny South Coast
29 July - au revoir Las Vegas

Last day in Las Vegas, Chaz and Tom went to the atomic museum, I didnít fancy that as it used to be a big fear of mine as a teenager. I took the couple of hours of freedom to do our washing and ironing, so we were all clean to leave tomorrow. I know how to roll.
I then went to Ross dress for less, to buy something warm, my friend, in San Francisco says itís 17į and sheís wearing a coat at the minute, and I have brought nothing of any substance in the warmer wardrobe stakes.
In the afternoon, we had another wander down the strip, I have enjoyed watching the Bellaggio fountains and we did a bit of souvenir shopping. Then for our last night, we had dinner at Bubba Gumps, one of our favourites and I had Shrimpers heaven.
Also had a couple of Hurricane Jennys meaning the bill came to over $200 with tip.
We then watched the fountains to Viva Las Vegas and Your Song - a fitting end to our stay.

I donít think Iíll return to this adults playground but I can see the appeal and had a little tear in my eye saying goodbye.
Up early tomorrow to leave for the Grand CanyonÖ

Edited at 06:11 AM.
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Old 24 Jul 23, 08:12 PM  
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Join Date: May 11
Location: Sunny South Coast
30 July Grand Canyon

Today we ubered to the airport to pick up our hire car, we had booked an intermediate suv and selected a Ford edge from a long line of suvs.

We left the airport about 10 am and stopped in Kingman at Mr Díz diner. Cool little place


A Turkey club sandwich, a Mr Díz breakfast and a pile of pancakes later, we were back on the road. I had bought the Grand Canyon park ticket online earlier so we went straight in.
In total it took just over 5 hours including our lunch stop.
We had a night booked at the Yavapai lodge, a simple but decent room. We dumped our cases and then went straight out to the south rim.
Wow just wow.

We walked around the rim for a couple of miles and dropped back down a trail to the lodge.
It was surprisingly cool here - actually had some rain on the journey and it felt like being at home - some difference from the searing heat of vegas.
When the Sun had gone down we had a quick bite in the tavern- Tom tried an elk sandwich. A quick trip to the store for a mooch around and a couple of beers then went for an early night, very tiredÖ

Edited at 04:57 AM.
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Old 24 Jul 23, 08:12 PM  
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Join Date: May 11
Location: Sunny South Coast
31 july-1 Aug

Grand Canyon to San Francisco

Today, we made our way back to Las Vegas airport, a very straightforward journey, but very hazy, we think due to the wild fire at York.
Everything was going swimmingly well, took back the hire car, went to check-in only to find we had a delay of 3+ hours! Very frustrating, and no obvious reason why, they said bad weather but we couldnít see any evidence of that in San Francisco or Las Vegas and most other flights seemed fine.
Not really a major problem, but it meant that instead of arriving to my friends house before 9 pm, it was nearly 1 am, so they had to wait up for us, and of course by the time we had done the obligatory. ďLetís catch up on the last seven yearsĒ, it was 4 in the morning .
It meant that the next day was something of a washout, we were all very tired, so we just did some more catching up and just explored the local area and beach near where they live in West San Francisco.
I have to say, though, just sitting around drinking tea, chatting and reminiscing about the good old days (we went to university together in the 80s) was just lovely, and it was nice for Chaz and Tom to get to know them all too. A more exciting day planned tomorrow!

Edited at 12:22 AM.
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Old 24 Jul 23, 08:13 PM  
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2 Aug San Francisco

San Francisco

Today we ubered into San Francisco as I had pre booked an Alcatraz tour. Our driver was great and told us all sorts of interesting things about the area as we drove.
It was the main thing I wanted to do and it didnít disappoint. Itís an uphill walk to the buildings when you get to the island but Iím not very fit and managed it ok. When you arrive at the cell block you get an audio headset which is included in the ticket price. The cells are tiny - about the size of a bathroom! After the cell blocks we wanders around the rest of the island buildings and then got the boat back.

Where my friend lives in Sunset it was overcast and gloomy, but in the city it was bright and Sunny.
We stopped for lunch at Fishermanís Wharf- we went to Boudins and Chas and I had a soup bowl - very filling and reasonably priced I thought at $12.

We had a wander around the wharf and saw just a few sea lions on the pier as most migrate in the summer.
Then we walked to have a go on a cable car but there was a really long queue and so we just took some pictures.

In the evening, we got a takeaway for our friends from an Islamic Chinese restaurant which was very good.

Edited at 06:20 AM.
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Old 24 Jul 23, 08:13 PM  
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Join Date: May 11
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3 Aug San Francisco

San Francisco
Today we spent time in Golden Gate park - I really wanted to see the Japanese gardens. It was quite hard to park but we managed it eventually and walked a mile or so. The gardens are really lovely - my friend went with us and has spent 20 years in Japan and said they are very authentic.


We had a quick snack there of Udon noodles which were tasty but not particularly filling - forgot to takes photos.

Then we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge but it was so foggy that we couldnít even see the top of it! This is apparently the norm for San Francisco.

Itís so weird though, more or less as soon as you get over the bridge the weather changes to lovely sunshine. Sausalito is a lovely little seaside resort, we had a wander around, bought some souvenirs and had an ice cream. Really lovely.

Edited at 06:38 AM.
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