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Old 16 Apr 17, 04:46 PM  
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#1
fillmore
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Join Date: Mar 16
From Chicago to LA, via train and car

So after 3 years of wistfully reading everyone else's trip reports, it's time to do mine!

We (me, dh and ds aged 7) are off to the west coast via Chicago to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. We were married in Vegas and honeymooned in Hawaii. DH wanted to return to Hawaii but I couldn't face the journey with a fidgety boy so that will have to wait.

Originally this was going to be a WDW plus week touring Florida holiday but after many variations this is the itinerary:

Chicago (2 nights), overnight Amtrak to Flagstaff on the Southwest Chief, 3 nights in Flagstaff, 1 night Grand Canyon North Rim, 3 nights in Zion, 2 nights in Vegas, 2 nights in Anaheim and 5 nights in Newport Beach.

When ds was younger his favourite film was Cars and he loves the idea of travelling on Route 66. So we'll see the beginning and the end and travel from Flagstaff to Kingman as a day trip from Flagstaff. I am looking forward the most to the overnight train journey...we did the overnight journey from Paris to Berlin years back and loved it ...although what 30 hours on a train with a 7 year old will be like is anyone's guess!

I can't actually believe after all the planning and waiting it is finally going to happen! I'll put more details for each place over the next few weeks. Thanks for reading.
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Old 19 Apr 17, 09:50 PM  
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jengibbo
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Sounds amazing.
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Old 22 Apr 17, 06:58 PM  
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JanetA
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Looks like a good trip, look forward to more details

Jan x
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Old 22 Apr 17, 07:31 PM  
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margyloveswdw
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Sounds like a great trip!
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Old 23 Apr 17, 05:20 PM  
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fillmore
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Join Date: Mar 16
Chicago

Travel day
We are staying at the Radisson at Manchester airport the night before we fly so hopefully we'll have a relatively stress free morning.I've pretty much convinced myself to buy lounge access as terminal 3 isn't supposed to be that good and we don't have breakfast included in our room rate.

Our American airlines flight direct to Chicago leaves around noon and we'll be in the air for approx 8 hours. I think it's a pretty basic flight with no seatback screens so need to sort out some films for the tablet. I'm hoping ds will be ok on the flight...he's flown to Spain a couple of times with no problem but 8 hours is a long time for a fidget!

Once we are through immigration we'll get the El to our hotel in the loop and head out to see the Bean and Cloud Gate to give ds a run around. Then depending on how tired we are we'll either have a wander round or find some food and drink before heading back to the hotel.

Excited about: being back in the US after 10 years
Slightly nervous about: long lines at immigration...ds doesn't wait well... and neither do we after an 8 hour flight!

Day 1
Architecture river tour and Chicago Tribune building followed by afternoon at Lincoln park zoo.

Day 2
Either Sears tower or John Hancock tower in the morning, haven't decided which one yet, followed by finding the start of Route 66 sign then off to Union Station to catch the Southwest chief.

Excited about: ds very excited about Dylan's candy store, I'll be in CVS straight away...how sad is that! Also need to recreate a classic ER style walking down the stairs from the El station shot! In fact I'd better start rewatching ER...only got 14 weeks to go

Slightly nervous about: walking up stupidly early with jet lag
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Old 1 May 17, 08:04 AM  
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fillmore
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All aboard...the Southwest Chief

Day 2 - 3

This is the part of the holiday I'm most looking forward to. We board in the afternoon at Union Station. We have seriously splurged on a family bedroom but as today will be our 10 year wedding anniversary that's the justification for it . 30 hours later we'll be in Flagstaff. The train crosses the Mississippi then heads down towards New Mexico before crossing into Arizona. There are longer stops at Kansas City and Alberqueque to stretch the legs. As first-class passengers our meals are all included. Im hoping it will be a brilliant way to see the country and talk to fellow passengers.

Once we arrive in Flagstaff around 9pm it will be a taxi ride to our hotel, Sonesta ES suites.

We've been on the train from New York to Boston and a sleeper from Paris to Berlin but never been on Amtrak overnight. Has anyone got any tips or experiences to share?

Excited about: crossing the Mississippi and taking it all in
Slightly nervous about : arriving into Flagstaff late and having to sort out a taxi to the hotel with tired ds
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Old 1 May 17, 09:48 AM  
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Melbatb
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Your first few days sound wonderful. The train trip will be an experience to remember.
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Old 7 May 17, 06:13 PM  
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fillmore
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Flagstaff to Zion

Thanks for all the replies everyone

Our first morning in Flagstaff will mainly be taken up with picking up the hire car from Flagstaff airport. We'll then either explore Flagstaff itself or drive somewhere within an hour - loads of places to go: Sedona, Sunset Crater, Walnut Canyon etc. That night we're hoping to go to Lowell Observatory. The next day we will be hitting Route 66 up to Kingman. I know DS will be very excited about this.

The next day we will be packing up to head off to the Grand Canyon North Rim. This will be a 4 hour drive so one of the longest of the trip. We will have to stop off at Jacob Lake as that is DS's name so he'll be in his element to be in a town named the same as he is! We have a cabin booked at the North Rim and dinner reservations for 8pm. We have been to the South Rim before but DS wanted to see the Grand Canyon so that's why we decided to come to the North Rim. The next morning we'll hopefully do some trails and get DS to take part in the Junior Ranger programme.

After lunch we'll head out to Zion National Park, probably stopping at Kanab on the way. Our travel agent convinced us to stay at the Lodge instead of Springdale so we'll see how that goes! I'm trying to convince DH to walk part of the Narrows and we'll do a day trip to Bryce Canyon whilst we are there. We have 3 nights in Zion, so time to relax a bit as well as enjoy the scenery. Hoping to hire bikes to ride around Zion too. Again, we'll make sure DS has time to do the ranger programme.

If anyone has been to Flagstaff, North Rim or Zion any tips or suggestions much appreciated!

Excited about: Route 66 and Zion
Slightly nervous about: nothing actually in this section!
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Old 30 May 17, 09:58 PM  
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fillmore
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Las Vegas and Disneyland

I managed to get most of DS holiday clothes sorted today...it's slowly starting to become more real! Travel insurance bought and have decided against Lounge access at Manchester Terminal 3 as I don't think we'll get our money's worth...which can be put against other things whilst on holiday (I'm sure I'll change my mind back and forth before we leave!)

I also realised that we could link our avios account to our BA flights so that has accrued a good amount. I didn't think we'd be able to as we hadn't booked direct with BA.

On to the next part of the plan...

We'll set off from Zion around 11 ish and head to Vegas. We are booked for Cirque du Soleil's Love in the evening so it will be a quick freshen up in the hotel (Jockey Suites), bit of a wander, early dinner and then off to the show. Depending on how tired DS is after the show (and how lively it is on the streets!) we'll do a bit of exploring mid-strip. The next day is open to suggestions. We might drive to Hoover Dam as we have never been there before or just explore the hotels and have a relaxing day. Don't know where we'll go foodwise either!

The following morning we'll check out and head to Disneyland! I'll be convincing DH and DS to leave as early as possible but knowing them we'll end up leaving around 10. We might stop off at Barstow for lunch as it's on Route 66. We will check in to HoJo and then off to Disney. By this point I will be beyond excited but I'll be dragging DS away from the pool at the HoJo no doubt. The plans for the first evening will depend on what time we get there. If we get there before dusk we'll hotfoot it to California Adventure to see the Radiator Springs lights switch on. If the traffic is our friend from Vegas we'll be able to go to Disneyland first. Again, we'll just go with the flow and get back reasonably early so we can get up at the crack of dawn for Radiator Springs Racers! I'm assuming at 7 years DS will be too young for single rider? Once we've made it on to RSR I can then relax I am incredibly tempted by World of Colour dessert party. If we don't eat anything else in the day we may be able to justify it!

The next morning will be loading the car up and checking out of the Hojo and heading back to the parks, hopefully doing a character breakfast somewhere before leaving around 4 or 5pm to head off to our final stop at Newport Beach.

Excited about: Love (me and DS big Beatles fans) Cars Land (so many of our memories of DS as a toddler are linked to Lightening McQueen and Mater) the Disney experience (first time for all of us at any Disney Park)
Slightly nervous about: Jockey Suites (really not sure about this choice but can't get anything else for the bargain price we've paid) and whether DH will 'get' Disneyland.
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Old 1 Jul 17, 08:03 AM  
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fillmore
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Join Date: Mar 16
Newport Beach

So the final part of the holiday will be 5 days in Newport Beach. We'll be staying at the Hyatt Regency. Plans here are quite vague! Definitely time at the beach. I'd love to give stand up paddle boarding a go and it would be great to see DS attempt surfing. Kayaking would be good too. We will be driving down to Legoland on one of the days. The day before we leave we'll go to see the end of Route 66 at Santa Monica. I was wondering about a boat trip to Catalina Island but don't know how DS friendly that will be. Whale watching is another activity we'll try to do.

If anyone has been to Newport Beach let me know some tips!

Thanks for reading
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