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Unread 29 Jul 19, 02:10 PM  
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Getting Excited
Join Date: Jan 15

Originally Posted by speedmum View Post
Sat 27 July - Day 1: Yosemite

Word of the day was definitely Wow!

So after our very late night I still woke at 4am but managed to snooze until 6am when others started stirring.

First impressions of the Ahwahnee hotel are that its quite old fashioned but quirky. Its definitely not cheap and is our most expensive holiday of the trip but we knew we werent in a Yosemite for long and didnt want to drive in every day. We were all in one room with the girls sharing a fairly small creaky sofabed. The shower was great, plenty of hot water & really powerful!
At 7.00 we headed to breakfast which is in the amazing dining room- daughters thought it looked like something from Harry Potter! The breakfast buffet was great with loads of choice and unlimited coffee and juice. At $29 dollars its not cheap but the service was great.

After this it was time to actually get out into the park.

My original plan had been to do the valley tour on the Friday and then spend Saturday doing more exploring but obviously our delay scuppered that and when I checked there was no availability for a Saturday tour. (Word to the wise - book ahead!) So instead we walked from the hotel down a trail towards the Yosemite falls. Now I have to confess that earlier in the week I had twisted my ankle walking the dogs so we didnt walk as much as I had pictured when we planned the trip but what we saw was still amazing and it took forever to get anywhere as we kept stopping to take photos! The beginning of the trail was really quiet but as we got to the falls it got really busy! There were people everywhere- on the rocks, climbing up the edges and even in the water. However they were still amazing. I think we were lucky that the snow had been late this year so they hadnt dried up so early. The rest of them climbed up the sides to get a closer look and I sat at the bottom soaking in the atmosphere!

After this we headed down to the visitor centre and museum and looked around snd watched an interesting film about the history of the park.

By now it was 1.30 and people were getting hungry (as usual eldest daughter!) so we stopped at Degnans Kitchen for some food. The girls and I shared a couple of pizzas & hubbie had a sub. These were all freshly made to order and about $9 each...

By now it was about 38 and we were flagging so we wandered slowly back to the hotel for a rest. Our intention after this was to walk the 45mins the opposite direction from the hotel to Mirror Lake but in honesty jetlag was catching up with us snd we just wandered the grounds of the hotel and had a cold drink.

One thing I have been impressed with so far is the opportunity for filling water bottles. We all brought water bottles from home and the airport, hotel, restaurant and other public places have all had water points for refilling. The taste of the water does vary but its obviously better (& cheaper) than keep buying plastic bottles...

We had dinner booked at 7 in the hotel. Hubbie & eldest had calamari, I had onion soup & youngest had lentil soup. This was followed by swordfish with some kind of garlicky broad beans - very yummy! Hubbie & I both had this, eldest had pasta & youngest had chicken. We then shared a lemon meringue pie between us. By now it was 9pm and we were all shattered so off to bed before our long drive to Vegas tomorrow...

We concluded Yosemite had been an amazing start to the trip and though we were disappointed we hadnt had longer we were grateful wed made it and seen some fantastic sights!
Sounds like a hideous start for you all!
So glad you have managed to get some time in Yosemite.
Thank you for the trip report it's great to read. We leave for our trip on Friday (can't lie I'm hoping for a better start!) And it's lovely to hear the falls are still flowing.
Enjoy the rest of your trip.
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Unread 30 Jul 19, 11:56 PM  
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Earning My Ears
Join Date: Jan 18
Location: UK

Sun 28 July - Day 2: Tioga Pass & Death Valley

So today was our big drive from Yosemite to Las Vegas via Tioga Pass and Death Valley. Scheduled to take us about 8 hours. Id been watching the internet at home as Tioga didnt open fully until the end of June which is later than usual.

Despite setting our alarms for 7am, once again we were all awake early (well except youngest who loves her sleep!) and so by 6am we were packed, checked out and ready to leave.

The first couple of hours out of the park was so peaceful and we saw loads of deer but no bears! Watching the sunrise over the hills was beautiful and we kept pulling off the road for photos! Up in the hills at 10,000ft it was chilly - 52 so we needed our jumpers! There were lots of cars heading into the park but not many leaving.
At around 8am we reached the Tioga Gas Mart which sold the most expensive petrol wed ever seen at $5 a gallon! But we topped up to ensure we had enough for the day. This was also our breakfast stop at the Whoa Nellie Deli inside the garage building. We nearly missed it as its not signposted outside. 3 breakfast burritos and a pancakes were all around $9 each and very tasty and filling.

We then headed on our way to our next stop at Furnace Creek Visitor Center.

It was fascinating watching the landscape change as we headed down towards Death Valley and the temperature started rising. It was also really interesting driving through the little towns that looked like they hadnt changed in 100 years!

We did stop quite a few times for more photo opportunities- including an obligatory one with a cactus!

We did play a game of guess how high the temperature will get in the car but we all underestimated it and it hit 120! We did have to turn the aircon off sometimes to get up some of the hills as the car was clearly struggling..

When we reached Furnace Creek Visitor Center the temperature on their big thermometer showed 125f which is almost 52c!
We had a look around the displays, filled our water bottles and checked whether we were dehydrated based on the notices in the restrooms! (Fortunately we were not! )

Finally it was time for the last couple of hours trek towards Vegas!

Now hubbie & I have been to Vegas before but Ive always flown in so it was odd to see it appearing through the mountains and to see the real Vegas where people live rather than just the strip.

We were staying at Bellagio and it was very busy at check in at 4pm on Sunday afternoon. Eventually we were given our room keys to our fountain view room and we headed up to collapse! After watching the fountain show from our window we decided we were all starving as wed eaten nothing since our breakfast burritos.

We headed next door to the food court at Caesars and all agreed we wanted Smash Burger. The burgers are freshly made to order and the milkshakes are to die for with scoops of hagen das ice cream in them! 2 bacon cheeseburgers, chicken & avocado burger, chicken tenders, 2 fries and 4 milkshakes came to $84 inc tax...

We then wandered into the forum to watch the Atlantis show and see the curved escalators! By now we were flagging & eldest was feeling unwell so wandered to walgreens for cold & flu tablets, pots of cereal and milk and then headed back to the room to collapse!

Following advice from other dibbers wed brought a travel kettle so we could make tea in the room. But we then discovered there were no mugs so hubbie was dispatched to purchase a couple from the shop! Proper cup of tea drunk & we all fell asleep by 8.30. A long day & jetlag catching up with us!

Apologies for a long rambling post - well done for sticking with me!
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Unread 31 Jul 19, 05:56 PM  
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Earning My Ears
Join Date: Jan 18
Location: UK

Mon 29 July - Day 3: las Vegas

We slept well but still woke at 5am... checked emails & wrote some more of the trip report until a more respectable getting up time!

We then hit the Caesars buffet for breakfast. This is seriously the biggest buffet I have ever seen, so much choice and everything I tried tasted fantastic! Sadly eldest was suffering with her cold & couldnt do it justice. She also wasnt sure she had the energy for much activity until shopping was mentioned! Then she perked right up!

First we headed to the factory outlets at the north. It felt just like being in Orlando but even hotter and a different layout! The girls made purchases in Pacsun and American Eagle. We then all got ourselves a bargain in Michael Kors! Everything was 70% off (not sure who would ever pay full price!) After a couple of hours in the heat we were flagging so headed back towards the strip. We persuaded hubbie to stop at the Fashion Show mall for a bit more retail therapy in an air conditioned environment! After another couple of hours of trying stuff on the girls made some purchases in Abercrombie (helped by a 30% discount code!)

We then had a Starbucks to recover! We love their Strawberry Acai drink that they do in America but you cant get at home...

The girls had a rest in the room (& watched Love Island) while hubbie & I wandered round the casino and had a little gamble!

We then scrubbed up for dinner at The Palm restaurant in Caesars forum. This is one if hubbies favourite restaurants and so was a splash out compared to the food courts!
He & I had lobster bisque to start which was gorgeous and eldest ordered calamari which was HUGE and would have fed us all for a main... we then shared a steak, mash & green beans...

Afterwards we were all stuffed and our intentions of seeing the lights gave way to another early night. We are all definitely struggling with the jetlag here - its so much harder to deal with than when we go to Florida...

Early start tomorrow for the Grand Canyon.

Thanks for sticking with me!
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Unread 31 Jul 19, 10:21 PM  
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slightly serious Dibber
Join Date: Sep 15
Location: Northern Ireland

Sounds like your trip is improving since your nightmare start! Enjoy 😁
Still quietly saving so we can return to see Star Wars land...
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California, knows how to party!
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Unread 1 Aug 19, 10:23 AM  
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Join Date: Aug 08
Sounds like you're having a great time 😊
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A long wait for our SoCal Adventure
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Unread 1 Aug 19, 02:03 PM  
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Earning My Ears
Join Date: Jan 18
Location: UK

Tues 30 July - Day 4: Grand Canyon

So today we were driving to the Grand Canyon for the day. Id booked the skywalk at the West Rim. When I was researching online I discovered that people had quite strong opinions regarding the West Rim. However we only had a day to drive there and back and noone was keen to do a helicopter to the South Rim...

We left the hotel about 6.30 after munching our pots of cereal. ( it was a bit tricky eating it without a spoon!)
We stopped at McDonalds in Boulder for coffee to keep us going. By 8am we had reached the Hoover Dam. We passed through security (confirming we werent carrying firearms!) and parked in the car park for the new bridge. Walking across the bridge it was so windy we could hardly stand up! But we got a great view if the dam. We then returned to the car & drove over the dam into Arizona. I hadnt realised that the road was a dead end so we then had to turn around and go back over the dam and onto the bridge!

We continued on our way to the west rim and arrived in the car park around 10.15. Because we already had our tickets we headed straight to the bus queue. We got on the second bus and the first stop was the skywalk centre. After admiring the view we headed straight in, put everything in lockers, put on the shoe covers snd joined the queue. Since you cant take photos on the skywalk we decided to have some of the official photos taken. Our photographer was great and took about 15 shots of us all in different poses at different points on the horseshoe. He also took a couple of pics of just the girls together & then hubbie & I. To be fair all the photos came out well and we ended up paying the $60 dollars for a memory stick of them all!

After this we got the bus to Guano Point. The views of the canyon were much better from here and I had also read the food was better! It was time for an early lunch so we had a piece of chicken or pulled beef, with sweetcorn, mash, gravy, a roll, a side salad, a cookie & a bottle of water. I had paid the extra $10 for food included with the ticket so not sure how much it would be otherwise... it all tasted good and we found a table in the shade to eat & admire the view.
After taking a few more photos, melting in the heat and watching people get perilously close to the edge, we waited for the bus. We decided not to get off at the final stop which was a mock Indian village and looked very fake. Instead we headed back to the car park, which was now heaving - we counted 20 coaches alone! As we returned to Vegas there was a constant stream of cars heading towards the Canyon so we were pleased wed got up and out!

When we got back we treated ourselves to a scoop of ice cream and had a rest!

Feeling suitably refreshed we set off down the strip through Aria, Cosmopolitan and into Park where we looked at the Lady Gaga exhibition of costumes & props. We then continued down to New York New York where the girls & I braved the rollercoaster (hubbie didnt want to hurt his back!) it was a real boneshaker but there were some great views from the top before we were thrown upside down!

By now hunger was setting in so we grabbed some food at an Italian inside the casino. Four mains with tap water - nothing extravagant!
Once we came out it was dark and looked so pretty. We crossed to MGM and got the monorail up to Ballys and managed to get back to Bellagio to see the fountains!

By now it was 9.30 and our beds were calling!

A mug of tea in bed & I was asleep within minutes...

Last full day in Vegas tomorrow x
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Unread 2 Aug 19, 07:16 PM  
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Earning My Ears
Join Date: Jan 18
Location: UK
Weds 31 July - Day 5: Las Vegas

Today we had no specific plans except to see the rest of the strip and watch the show LOVE.

We were awake about 5.30 so our bodies are starting to move more to local time!

We had a ham & cheese croissant and a coffee from the Bellagio coffee shop for breakfast.

We decided that before moving on we really ought to get some laundry done to ensure we had enough clean underwear! After doing some googling to try & find the laundrette that had been recommended we decided to use W Flamingo Fluff & Fold. It was about 15 mins drive from Bellagio. The cost for a service wash (a fluff & fold) was $2 per lb weight. We had two squashy sacks that my daughter used for DofE which we filled and the weight was 16lb so a final cost of $32. We dropped it off at about 10am and were promised itd be ready at 5pm. They did say they offered a collection service if we didnt have a car...

Back on the strip we spent the next few hours heading up the strip from Miracle Mile shops to Wynn via the Flamingos and Grand Canal Shoppes. Crossing over the strip to Treasure Island and we got wet! It was raining! This was actually quite pleasant in the heat and cooled us down as we headed back down the strip towards Bellagio. By the time we got back it was about 4pm and our feet were aching! We stopped at the snack bar and shared a portion of nuggets between us. Then we headed off to collect our laundry.
The laundry was waiting for us in a big bag all neatly folded. Carrying it back to our room was a bit of a pain but it was a very efficient service.

After a quick rest & change of clothes it was time to head back up the strip to The Mirage for LOVE. There are so many Cirque de Soleil shows to choose from and this Beetles themed one didnt disappoint. I was suprised how many empty seats there were. It started at 7 and finished about 8.30 and the time flew by.
Afterwards we shared some pizza and pasta at the California Pizza Kitchen within Mirage, before heading back to Bellagio and Bed!

Wed managed 26,000 steps / 11 miles just wandering around!

Edited at 07:59 PM.
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Unread 2 Aug 19, 08:46 PM  
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Earning My Ears
Join Date: Jan 18
Location: UK

Thurs 1 Aug - Day 6: Travel to Indian Wells

Today we were leaving the chaos of Vegas and heading to Indian Wells near Palm
Springs for a bit of down time..

We packed and headed into the Bellagio buffet for breakfast at about 9am. This wasnt anything like as good as the Caesars one and it felt like they were coming to the end of the service as the pastries had almost all gone. However we found enough to eat to fill us up for the day!

Youngest daughter wanted to pop into Harley Davidson shop at Caesars so we did that whilst hubbie checked us out snd loaded cases into the car.

We finally left Bellagio at about 11.45. We drove down the strip and had intended to stop at the welcome to Vegas sign until we saw the queue! Instead we kept heading south until we got to Primm where we stopped for gas and Starbucks! 2 coffees, a Strawberry Acai and a Pink Drink to go and we were on our way...

We turned off the main I15 and headed down through Mojave National Preserve, Kelso and 29 Palms on the edge of the Joshua Tree National Park. We stopped at Burger King here for restrooms and 10 chicken nuggets for $1.49!

On the outskirts of Palm Springs we passed a massive wind farm. Finally at about 5pm we arrived at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells - our home for 2 nights. It was still 42 when we got out the car.
First impressions were a little disappointing. We had booked 2 rooms via our Amex card over 6 months earlier and they hadnt told us some of the pool area was closed for building new slides & water rides. One of the pools was closed (presumably due to an accident from one of the many small children!) The aircon in our room wasnt working so we were moved to another room next to the building site.
None of these were major issues on their own but we were tired and hot and all together they made us grumpy!

However we chilled by the pool for an hour and then changed for dinner in the hotel restaurant. The girls both had the meatball & sourdough toast starter as a main which was a sensible decision as the portions were so big!

After this we headed to bed, looking forward to a slow start in the morning!

Thanks for keeping reading - hope its helpful x
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