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Old 14 May 19, 03:34 PM  
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GandL
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Join Date: Feb 15
Mobile LJ turns 30 - West Coast Pre Trippy - Updated Aug 19

Hi All,

After an original Florida pre-trippy in 2015 and another pre-trippy for our Florida honeymoon in 2018 this time I have decided I am going to be better at this and try and do the whole shebang… is that how you spell it? It is now.

So it has been an absolute whirlwhind of life since our wedding day and we recently celebrated our first year anniversary. We made it! And if the rest of our years together are anything like the first then I can happily say I made a fantastic choice in picking Luke as a husband.





Sidenote, we spent a night at a place called 5 The Lawn in Hastings, see below pics… It was INSANE! A bit expensive but hey if you can’t splash out on your anniversary when can you? Highly recommended.






Back on track now to the actual plans for this year’s BIG holiday. (There are also a number of smaller holidays occurring because this is the first year in many that we do not have to save for a house or wedding anymore… and holidays are LIFE).

So in October, Luke is turning the big 3 0 and for aslong as I have known him his dream has always been to go to San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s never really been somewhere I had been that bothered about (ignorant AF) but since doing 6 months of daily research, dibb browsing and reading every travel blog under the sun, I think I am more excited than he is. Planning a holiday is pretty much what I was born to do, how I work in the insurance industry and not travel is pretty much ridiculous, but we are where we are now. So, my planning hat has been well and truly on and a West Coast road trip was the only option .



When?

So Luke turns 30 on 7th October, but does quite like being at home for it so we have gone with 19th September to 6th October.

We found a BA flydrive into San Francisco and out of Los Angeles to London, however picking up the car as we leave SF due to some fab advice about not needing the car, nor wanting to pay extortionate car parking fees. We’ve gone for a Group F (Ford Escape or similar) car, and by we I mean Luke has. I have no idea about anything car wise and am absolutely pooing my pants about sharing the driving whilst we are out there. Obvs going to do it and will probably love once doing it but the thought of a BIG AUTOMATIC is scary stuff considering I drive a manual Ford KA at home.

What route?

Thurs 19th Sep – LHR to SFO

Spend three nights in San Francisco at The Metro Hotel
I looked for such a long time for a hotel that wasn’t over £1k for 3 nights and a colleague mentioned this which is absolutely perfect, a little bit further out near Haight Ashbury but an absolute bargain in comparison to anything else and also number 7 out of 239 hotels in San Francisco on tripadvisor!

Pick up car on 22nd September and drive to Yosemite – staying at Yosemite Valley Lodge for two nights. Could not be more excited about this, we are hiking Mount Snowdon and Scafell Pike this year in preparation. Doing long walks, and especially up hills never used to be a bit of me whatsoever but its a clear sign I’m getting old and the views are just INSANE!

Drive to Monterey – stop at Santa Cruz for a mooch en route and stay at the Centrella Inn for one night

Drive down the Pacific coast highway – millions of stops for photos and eventually arrive at the Madonna Inn where we are staying for one night in the Daisy Mae room.
Currently Luke is point blank refusing to eat in the amazing pink dining room but I reckon if I keep going on about it and being a nagging nancy I will get my own way.



Drive to Santa Barbara and stay at the Franciscian Inn for two nights.
Hoping for a relaxing one here, bit of beach time and lay ins.

Drive to Los Angeles and stay at Gateway Santa Monica for 3 nights.
We had originally booked Hotel Celebrity but had read so many comments about it being dodge r us around the walk of fame area that I was completely put off. Ended up getting a decent price in Santa Monica so feeling a million times happier.

Drive to San Diego and stay at the Bahia Resort Hotel for two nights.

Drive back up the coast, stay in Huntington Beach for one night at Ocean Surf Inn and Suites before flying home from Los Angeles on 5th October ☹

I’m aware we have a few 1 night stays which people usually advise against but with only 15 nights to want to see all of these amazing places, I think we can just about do it. Will definitely have a few slower days and I think we both realise that this definitely isn’t going to be a relaxing holiday.
We originally wanted to go to Las Vegas aswell but unfortunately annual leave constraints and money meant that something needed to be dropped. We have been to Vegas before so decided it would have to be that.

So that is the skeleton plan for the big trip which is now coming around pretty quickly considering that we booked in September 18.

Full itinerary to come…..

GJJ x

Edited at 11:17 AM. Reason: update
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Old 18 Jun 19, 07:15 PM  
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smithlane
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Wow sounds like a brilliant holiday you have planned! Like you, holiday planning is in my DNA so have LOVED researching everything I can find for our upcoming trip to California next month. It's so overwhelming when you begin isn't it?
Looking forward to reading all about it
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Old 20 Jun 19, 06:26 PM  
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KarenG
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It sounds brilliant (if a little exhausting). California is a wonderful holiday destination, we far prefer it to Florida now.

Have you decided what your must dos are in each location?
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Old 26 Jun 19, 12:38 PM  
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GandL
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Originally Posted by smithlane View Post
Wow sounds like a brilliant holiday you have planned! Like you, holiday planning is in my DNA so have LOVED researching everything I can find for our upcoming trip to California next month. It's so overwhelming when you begin isn't it?
Looking forward to reading all about it
I absolutely loved reading your pre trip report too! Got me so excited.

You must be buzzing to be going so soon now! Love the build up just as much as going on the actual holiday.

Cannot wait to see your report! x
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Old 26 Jun 19, 12:39 PM  
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GandL
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Originally Posted by KarenG View Post
It sounds brilliant (if a little exhausting). California is a wonderful holiday destination, we far prefer it to Florida now.

Have you decided what your must dos are in each location?
Haha definitely exhausting, but its likely to be once in a lifetime for us so got to be done!

I've got a rough list, but definitely need to get going with a serious itinerary and will update as I go along x
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Old 28 Jun 19, 12:48 PM  
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GandL
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Update June 2019

So our trip of a lifetime is coming around quick as you like now and I’ve been seriously slacking in the planning lately. However finally have found some inspiration as we went to Wales this weekend with some friends to climb Mount Snowdon. We had such an amazing trip albeit I absolutely hated the camping. Too loud, too bright, too cold just not a bit of me whatsoever. There was sheep BAA’ing from 3am which was less than ideal as we was getting up at 5am. I am glad we gave it a go, but next time it’s a b&b for sure.
The walk up the mountain was above average difficulty I would say but then again ive never climbed a mountain before so not too sure what I am basing this on. I only managed to throw 1 tantrum the entire way up which I think is completely respectable and luckily enough my friends and Luke helped me through it. Climbing mountains is completely out of my comfort zone, but getting to the top was an incredible achievement and I was so proud of myself. Luke absolutely breezed it, for someone that doesn’t do a lot of exercise except playing football on the weekends, he just has a natural ability when it comes to all things sport like (totes annoying).





We are off to the Lake District in a couple of weeks for my birthday present from Luke and planning to climb Scafell Pike whilst there. Its safe to say ive caught the hiking bug.

Anyway, the whole point of me going on about this is that it really got me thinking about Yosemite and how excited I am to go there… especially now I think im a hiking pro (NOT). Wales was absolutely beautiful so I can only imagine just how insane the views are going to be in Yosemite…. I’ll probs cry!

So I am straight back on it now, planning hat is back on and the addiction to all things California is back. Therefore draft plan initiated……

Pre Travel Day

Luke and I will both be working unfortunately as we travel on a Thursday and are both very precious about our annual leave, the more you save, the more holidays you can take haha. Basically unless I am on some kind of holiday I am against taking days off. We both work in London so will get home around 6.30pm back to sunny Essex, have a standard pre holiday takeaway, potentially a Dominoes which I am obsessed with lately and then finish the final packing bits.
However, I am still considering booking a hotel for the night before and driving there in the evening so that there is less stress on travel day, seriously need to look into. Normally it wouldn’t bother me at all as we are only an hour away from Gatwick but have just remembered we are flying from Heathrow this time which is FOREVER away and don’t know if I fancy the thought of getting stuck in traffic. Note to self, research and discuss with Luke.

Travel Day

So depending on what happens on pre travel day will clearly influence today. Our flight is at 11.20 from Heathrow Terminal 5 arriving at San Francisco at 14.25 in San Francisco, flight time 11 hours (YAWN!) I’ve never flown from Heathrow before so I guess that’s a bit exciting (exciting if you’re a saddo like me and absolutely loves the airport)
Airport plan remains the same on every holiday that we go on and this trip will be no different. Wetherspoons... always wetherspoons. Tbh if you aren’t going to Wetherspoons at the airport, you aren’t doing it right. Cheap and cheerful and they do a great gin called a “Ginting”. If you haven’t had one before, I strongly suggest you do. Small mooch around the shops, maybe a new makeup item for me… (not maybe.. definitely).

Then time to get excited about the flight. We have never flown long haul with British Airways before, always Virgin, so I must confess I am slightly concerned, but I’m going in with low expectations and hope to be pleasantly surprised. Aslong as they feed and water me and there’s a few films I want to watch then all should be fabulous! I am one of those strange people who likes the food on the plane and pretty much eat anything so I cant imagine too much going wrong!

We will finally arrive in SFO at 14.25, all being well and need to work out how we are getting from the airport to our hotel. Doing this update is making me realise how many things I still have to work out! Be grateful of some ideas of what others have done… can we just get an uber? Further research to do I think.

So I assume we are going to be quite exhausted after our long day of travelling and therefore won’t be doing much apart from a yummy dinner (casual) and trying to stay awake in order to beat the jet lag. Potentially just a wander around and maybe a cocktail or two? Always time for a cocktail even if exhausted…surely?

Day One – San Francisco

Planning on starting the day at IHOP for breakfast. Im aware there are so many other amazing places that are recommended, but to me and Luke nothing beats an IHOP. Panckes in my mouth yes please.

I am going to book Dylan’s famous tour plus Muir Woods, I feel like we are not in San Francisco for a really long time and therefore want to see everything we can. After much dibbing, many people agree that this tour cannot be beaten and I really feel that it will give us a really good flavour of the city!

Then thinking of going back to hotel to freshen up and out for a nice dinner and a few drinks. I am leaving it down to Luke to choose where he would like to go whilst vigourously researching all potentials. House of prime rib definitely looks like a bit of me, has anyone else been?

Post dinner drinks at one of the quirky bars ive seen throughout my research… Tonga room and hurricane bar/Pagan idol/Smugglers cove … thoughts welcomed!

Day Two – San Francisco

Going to start off our day doing the Crissy Field park run. I set myself a challenge at the beginning of this year to complete 26 park runs within the space of a year and so far have just about stayed on track. I am not a natural runner and still currently struggling to get around the whole 5k without stopping to walk for a little bit, but I am extremely determined that I will get there by the end of the year. Also I have managed to knock almost 4 minutes off of my PB since starting so hopefully will continue to improve. I was a bit concerned that many holidays, late nights and hangovers would prevent be from achieving my 26 park runs goal, so managing to do one whilst on our road trip has made me incredibly happy. Nevermind the fact that the Golden Gate Bridge will be in view… living the dream! Now football season is over, Luke has said he is going to start joining me so we will definitely both do this one on our holiday, albeit Luke will finish around 10 minutes before me as he is incredibly fit haha. But on a serious note, really looking forward to starting this day with a run, and who knows maybe a PB?

Have a bit of brekkie, then back to the hotel for showers after what I can only imagine will be a hot and sweaty betty run. Then this day will be pretty fluid although a definite soup in a bowl at Boudins! We had something similar when we was in Iceland in February and it was absolutely delish! I think we will revisit our fave places from the tour and generally mooch.

Going to book Alcatraz for either late afternoon or the night tour, unsure which at the moment, further research required and plan on visiting In N Out burger for a cheap and cheerful calorific dinner! (GET IN MY BELLY).

Further days to be added...
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Old 8 Jul 19, 01:43 PM  
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GandL
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Having Dinner with Goofy
 
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Update July 2019

Hi all,

So since the previous update, I am bang on it now with more research and getting bits booked.

Alcatraz and Dylans tour now booked for San Francisco aswell as House of Prime Rib for our fancier dinner night. I have also decided that we will definitely be visiting either Mr Holmes Bakehouse or Bobs donuts at some point whilst we are there (see below pics for reason as to why)





Now moving onto a few more days that now have a bit more structure to them…


Day Three – San Francisco to Yosemite

We will get up at a decent time to go and get a nice breakfast near hotel before picking up our car from Avis Union Sq at 10am.

Then it’s time for the first big journey to Yosemite! As prev mentioned I am a bit concerned about driving but I think that’s just nerves and will be fine once we start. I’ll let Luke begin getting us out of San Francisco and then hopefully once we’re on some big straight roads I will feel confident enough to take over. I am SO excited about this part of the trip, the views look UNREAL and I cannot wait to see it all.



I booked our accommodation at Yosemite Valley Lodge, forever ago as I know it gets booked up really quickly and for pure convenience wanted to be in the park. Its clearly expensive for what it is but it seemed worth it for our purposes.

We will drive via Merced as I have seen many comments that there is a good place to stop and get some supermarket bits ready for our stay. Google maps at the moment is advising just over 4 hours so with a stop or two hopefully we will be there around 3-4pm.

We will have a casual evening this night and try to get our bearings but don’t want to plan too much as will likely be exhausted from the long drive. Will play this one by ear and get something easy from the food court for dins.

Day Four – Yosemite

Now this is the day that I am absolutely buzzing for. Due to not having lots and lots of time in the park, I was really trying to work out how we could see a lot, still feel like we did a good hike and not be entirely dying by the end of the day. Therefore I have booked a one way Glacier Point tour which starts at 8.30am. This will take us up to Glacier Point for #VIEWS and then we will hike back to the valley floor via the Panoramic trail
Its going to be a tough one but I think by doing it downhill and all of the amazing scenery around us, it will be absolutely worth it! Plan on taking a fair bit of food and will put together a little picnic together of the food we buy at the supermarket on the way.

After our Snowdon hike, and Scaffel Pike (which is next week… GULP) we should feel confident enough to do this hike and have accumulated some walking boots, hiking trousers that zip off into shorts (Luke) proper water bottles and backpacks. You could say… all the gear NO IDEA haha.

Luke is literally begging to see a bear, I don’t think he realises just how scary they are and is picturing maybe Paddington in his head… men eh .



Evening will consist of recovering, lots of food and generally soaking up the day and what we have managed to achieve. Note to self, buy a bottle of wine at the supermarket to celebrate that evening in the lodge.

Day Five – Yosemite to Monterey

Even by writing this trip report, I am already sad at the thought of leaving Yosemite. I think we could have easily stayed here much longer but with only 15 nights to explore everything this will have to do… for now.
We will drive to Tunnel view on the way out and plan on leaving at a decent time to get on the road. I’m aware many people are thinking I mean around 6/7am but this is me we are talking about and I think 8 will be sufficient. I am the world’s biggest grump in the mornings, especially when tired but hoping that all the exercise on previous day will knock me out to sleep early so I’m ready and chirpy for this day (v unlikely).

We are going to drive to Santa Cruz before heading to Monterey and will visit the funfair etc. I think a lot of the trip reports I have read have said it is quite tacky here and to miss it but Luke and I definitely want to visit as its iconic to us. Plus, whats wrong with a bit of tack? I doubt we will stay here for long, but definitely long enough for a few pictures, some lunch and maybe an ice cream. Have heard a lot of good things about Pizza My Heart, so potentially check this out.



From here, will drive to Monterey, another place that I am buzzing for. Just yesterday I started Big Little Lies season 2 and Luke has recently watched the latest golf at Pebble beach and its somewhere we both want to visit. Only the one night stop over here but will hopefully arrive by around 3/4pm so we can go for a wander around and just soak up being in this beaut town.

Have had a look at Schooners for dinner but still on the research at the moment for other options, unsure why but not 100% sold. Also would like to visit lovers point to watch the sunset if timings work out because how cute/cringe is that!
I absolutely love a sunset, and watching it over the ocean is serious goals .

Day Six – Highway 1, Big Sur Etc

So our Monterey accommodation looks absolutely adorable and apparently they do a really lovely breakfast in the morning so that will be a perfect start to the day. They also have complimentary cheese and wine early evening so hopefully we might be able to indulge a little in that the previous day!



So today is the big long drive down the coast but also meant to be one of the best drives in the world so absolutely buzzing!

We are going to start the day with the 17 mile drive entering at Pacific Grove gate and exiting at Carmel gate. Really looking forward to seeing the lone cypress, it just looks too cute. Luke is really excited to see Pebble Beach golf course as he is a big golf fan. I’ve had to tell him sorry but no playing due to time and $$$$$$.

From here we will continue our drive down Highway 1 to all of the amazing stops and look out points en route. Absolute must do’s are:

- Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and China Cove
- Bixby Bridge
- Pfeiffer Beach
- Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park for McWay Falls
- Elephant Seal Viewing point San Simeon

I feel like Bixby bridge and McWay falls don’t seem real, like are so one of those things you see on tv only. Seeing them in real life is going to be a dream come true for me

I’m sure this drive is going to take us a fair amount of time but I don’t want to put time scale on it, just take the day as it comes and really try to enjoy it.

We are finishing up at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo where we have the Daisy Mae room for the night (TOO CUTE) this trip is mainly for Luke as it is his 30th but this hotel is all for meeeee! Literally couldn’t think of a more cute instagrammy place! Still haven’t convinced Luke about the pink restaurant and currently he is point blank refusing. I’ll just book it anyway?

Will then have a couple of drinks in the evening and soak up the amazing day we have had!

TBC...
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Old 29 Aug 19, 11:16 AM  
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GandL
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Update August 2019

Day 7 – Check out of Madonna Inn and head to Santa Barbara

So sadly it is just a one night stay at the Madonna Inn. Our plan is to get up at a decent time for breakfast and note that there is a Denny’s nearby. Loved it in Florida and looking forward to going back for some more deliciousness. Then back to the Madonna Inn as check out isn’t until 12pm (result). Will spend some time around the pool which looks sooo nice



Before heading on our way to our next stop… Santa Barbara

We have 2 nights in Santa Barbara and plan on using this stop as our chill out time from the busy schedule. We have booked the most adorable accommodation called Franciscian Inn and look forward to doing some serious relaxing.

For the rest of this day we plan to pop to the beach and then get a yummy dinner (venue tbc)

Day 8 – Santa Barbara

Once again, not too much planned for the day, hopefully a lovely lay in continued by lazing around the pool or heading to the beach. The only thing I really would like to do is go and do some wine tasting. Luke is not a fan of wine in the slightest but I’ve found a place called Corks and Crowns which has wine and beer tasting. Therefore an absolute winner for both of us.



Dinner again not yet planned, but I think as much as it pains me to say this as I am a serial planner, it is nice to sometimes just see what takes your fancy that day.

I’m really hoping that this time at Santa Barbara will provide a well deserved rest so that we are ready to be incredibly busy and active once again for the final part of our trip.

Day 9 – Santa Barbara to Los Angeles

The plan for today is to head to Los Angeles. There is a coffee place called the Butcher the Baker and the Cappuchino Maker which my friend went to when she did the trip and ever since seeing her pics, I have been dying to go



How cool is that! So on our way into LA, it will be a stop off there for a caffeine boost.

For the rest of the day we will do the typical tourist stuff of Walk of Fame, Chinese Theatre, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills and a stop off at the angel wings wall, for the perfect for the ‘gram pic… yep I really said that.

Dinner will potentially be at Mel’s Drive in.



After some nicer sit down dinners in Santa Barbara, its time to get back to dirty burgers and Luke is actually obsessed with strawberry milkshakes. (I think they are vile and then he has stinky milkshake mouth) chocolate always for me.

Day 10 – Los angeles

Firstly today we are going to do a hike around Runyon Canyon. It would appear from my research that there are differing lengths of route. Will plan on the 2.65 mile trip which shouldn’t be overly strenuous but still a good bit of exercise and also some amazing views.



Then we will head back to our hotel and leave the car as today is all about exploring Santa Monica and Venice. Will leave this day to be quite fluid but would like to do/see:
Muscle beach
Santa monica pier
Ride a bike from Santa Monica to Venice
Venice canals
Chilling on the beach time

Dinner tonight will be somewhere in Santa Monica, will be nice to just walk to somewhere and have a couple of drinks. Will probably just see what takes our fancy rather than have a firm plan!

Day 11 – Los angeles

After a busy day, we will take a drive to Malibu for some chill time on the beach and a little explore of that fancypants area in the AM. Im hoping for a chill on the beach, dip toes in the sea kind of thing and just soak up the general LA vibe.



Head back to our hotel around lunch to get changed and head out to the original farmers market and the grove for a mooch around and some food before heading to the Griffith Observatory to watch the sunset go down over LA. Again, this is something my friend did on her trip and said is an absolute must do!

Bit of a relaxing day to say goodbye to LA but I feel that after our mammoth itinerary, it is well deserved.

Post sunset we will head to get some dinner and drinks in a place which it TBC…. Luke has meant to be presenting me with some ideas but as of yet, zero. (this is why I am the planner)


Day 12 – San Diego

Today we will head down to San Diego which is looking like a 3 hour trip. Hopefully arrive by lunchtime and check into our hotel, we are right on the coast at the Bahia so will take full advantage of spending some time on the beach before heading out to dinner.



Now Luke and I absolultely love a chain restaurant especially those that remind us of Florida and therefore the first night is going to be Red Lobster! I know there is probably loads of amazing independents, but I’ve been craving Red Lobster since we first visited in Florida in 2015! Plan for the evening is to check out Belmont Park which is right by our hotel and looks so cute and fun.

Day 13 – San Diego

Today is a BUSY day, but I am fine with this because it’s a busy trip and we have managed to squeeze in a fair few beach days/down time. For breakfast we are going to take a walk along Pacific Beach to Ihop which should take around 45 mins, hopefully by then we will have built up an appetite for their massive portions! From there potentially get in an uber to Balboa park and have a wander around before visiting the Old Town for a mooch and maybe a quick taco!



From here we are going to head to USS Midway Museum which Luke really fancies and I must admit does look pretty cool whilst also popping to the Freeport area and seeing the Freedom statue. Should there by some miracle be some further time, I would really like to visit Conorado too but will assess the day as it goes along.

Dinner tonight, another fave chain for us… currently stuck between Applebees or Olive Garden, will decide on the night. (Cannot wait to be 5 stone heavier than when I go, but hey it’s all worth it for the pure deliciousness).


Day 14 – Carlsbad Premium outlets and LA Beach

Hopefully we will get up at a decent time today and spend a little bit of time out by the pool/beach before setting off back to Los Angeles, but on the way we are going to spend the day at the Carlsbad Premium Outlets. The plan is to see how much money we have left from our trip and hopefully will be enough for a big spend up.

Is usually better for Luke as he loves Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger so will do a big bulk shop and I really want some new asics for netball and running aswell as many other purchases, money dependent. We will then continue our trip back up the coast to Huntington Beach where we are staying for one night at Ocean Surf Inn and Suites. Now this was a ridiculous cheap and cheerful as we will literally be resting our heads before we head back home the next day so I’m not expecting much. Hopefully will be able to fit in a final sunset over the ocean though which is the only way to spend our final evening!



Day 15 – LA Beach and hometime

Our final day (cry cry cry). We will spend the morning at the beach trying to make the most of the final bit of sun before heading back to most probably cold rainy England. Luckily Ive asked the hotel for a late check out and they have said we don’t need to vacate until 2.30pm and therefore we can have a shower and feel fresh after the beach before having to get our flight later on.

Then Luke wants to go to the Lakers official shop to get a top and also visit the stadium. Sky started showing the NBA over the last year or so and we have been sporadically supporting the Lakers. So gutted to be back in the US again without being able to see a game. We always end up in the wrong part of the year for basketball, but hey there is always next time.
Hopefully we can stop by the Walt Disney Concert Hall too whilst we are there for a quick pic!

Our flight isn’t until 21.35 but we will return the car around 18.30 and then holiday is over  but hopefully with some amazing memories made and lots of photos to remember it all by
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Old 29 Aug 19, 05:15 PM  
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KayLouise
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Sounds amazing!
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