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Farewell Readers

rain 13 °C
View Trek 2008 on smilers2's travel map.

Had a couple of days in Los Angeles. Drove Las Vegas to Ontario and stayed at the Holiday Inn at Ontario. The only reason was so we could spend 5 mins driving to the Shopping Outlet - Ontario Mills. This is the largest indoor shopping outlet mall in California. Tried to break the bank - but the bargains just weren't really there.

The Holiday Inn was great value. Nice modern room - pool and spa pool. Rate included Breakfast. However, one thing on the breakfast menu had us curious - biscuits and gravy. The biscuits were really scones, and the gravy was a mushroom soup in colour and you poured it over the biscuit (scone) and hello - tasted just like a gravy - oooh yuk. We also had cinnamon buns, various cereals, coffee, omelette, toast, scrambled eggs, pastries, juices. Great selection - and probably the nicest staff of any place we visited.

Also visited the Citidel Shopping outlet mall in Commerce (heading towards Lax airport). Quite disappointed as Geoffrey Beene store (Sarah's fav) had closed down. Brittany kept the locals going for another few days with her buys. Simon also helped out - came away with new whisk, lemon zestor, and measuring spoons.

Stayed back at the Hacienda in the South Tower this time. However, ended up with a room change due to a leaking toilet. Poor Brittany went to get some ice and ended up knocking on the next door neighbour's room (so many room numbers to remember). Thankfully they were out - but came back just as she realised she was knocking on the wrong door!

Had our last trip to Costco to get our supplies: mayonnaise, smuckers jam, chocolate raisins, cashew nuts, coffee (3 tins). Had a farewell hot dog with mustard, onions, sauce and a 20oz soda (refillable) for only $1.50 plus tax - Simon tried to do 2 just for Scott!

Spent an afternoon by the pool - to grab the last of the sunshine (and tan before the wintery spring of Auckland).

Tried to upgrade on the way home ... but not happening. Only 2 spare seats in Business and 13 commercial upgrades. Full flight - but thanks to another Air NZ buddy (thanks Theresa) we were three together in the front section of economy. Its never what you know - its always who you know.

Arrived back to 13 degrees????? what is that about? Mountains of washing. We left Auckland with a 21kg bag and a 23 kg bag. (brittany probably only had about 15kgs in 2 bags). We arrived back in Auckland with 6 bags and 115kgs! not bad going.

Only one more flight - Simon went to Taupo Thursday 9th October to pick up Charlie dog. (Ended up with two of his friends as well - that needed a bed for the night - Oscar and Dobbin - both Cavoodles too - although Dobbin only 4 months old! Full flight to Taupo - but Simon got on. Empty coming home (no chance of an upgrade!).


Sure beats work. Poor Simon back on Saturday - Sarah back on Monday, Brittany back on Monday.

Best Hotel: Palm Springs Caliente Tropics.

Best Radio Station: 93.1 Jack FM in LA (we also listened to The Heat - in Palm Springs, The Mountain in the Grand Canyon area, and Virgin - soon to be Absolute - in UK).

Best Bed: Palm Springs Caliente Tropics.

Best Food: Paris.

Most Expensive City: Paris

Best church bells that rang through the night - Carmona, Spain

Disappointing moment - only that we never saw a proper cactus in Arizona - although Brittany would say she wishes she saw a cougar.

We have really enjoyed sharing this with you all - and it saves you all having to listen to us ramble on about the holiday. Its way easier to update this at home though. Odd times you just aren't as close to a computer as you'd like - and sometimes (eg Spain) when you have to navigate through foreign languages its hard to put photos on. We've been amazed at the number of views each page has had - anything up to 275 hits! wow!

Thanks to Lily and Owen Young for the inspiration to start the blog.

Challange now - is to keep it going with you all - whenever you next travel, and our turn to sit back and read it.


Posted by smilers2 20:26 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Last of the Photos

USA in pictorial splendour!

semi-overcast 28 °C
View Trek 2008 on smilers2's travel map.


What a wonderful time spent in this pool, by this pool, in this pool and in this pool! (get the idea!?).
Even the sky tells how wonderful the weather is - and this would have been around 9am in the morning!


Brittany enjoyed walking past any spray things she could find - only mad dogs and englishmen (and the odd kiwi) around in the middle of the day!


Probably stopped at the most expensive place to buy petrol - but it was on Route 66. Petrol around $1.63 per us gallon. The cheapest we found it was at Costco petrol pump - for $1.49 per gallon (long live costco!).


Simon even bought the T-Shirt - the Red Garter hotel (not the hotel we stayed at!). Probably the oldest building in Williams (certainly the oldest profession worked out of there).


Downtown Williams in the wild wild west.


Brittany kept wanting to go out on ledges and have a photo taken right on the edge. Brittany's mother would have preferred she looked from the safety of the car in the carpark! Where is OSH when you need it. Can't believe how you can look from railings but also look from just the rocks themselves - with no protection.


Having seen the IMAX movie of the Grand Canyon - Brittany was ok if she came face to face with a cougar (mountain lion) - she said she would just grab the ears and wrestle it. However she said she'd freak if she saw a rattlesnake or scorpion? Kids are just not right in the head!


Originally called the Boulder Dam (renamed whenever) - you have to drive through to get from Grand Canyon to Las Vegas. It was how nearby Boulder city got its name when they built the town to accommodate all the workers for Dam.


Picture of New York New York hotel - only in America - really speaks for itself. The whole place is just fake. Nothing is real there!


Stunning fountain at Bellagio hotel. Plays about every half hour during the day and every 15 minutes at night - in time to music. Music varies - we heard Star Spangled Banner, Singing in the Rain, Time to Say Goodbye (Andrea Boccelli), to name a few.

Place where we stayed. Spent about half an hour in the queue to check in to this hotel - and when we left it had risen to about 45 min wait. Only 5 check in staff on (sound familiar?). Very tired looking - probably an original hotel. Caters to children - with carnival type exhibits on the mezanine floor. Down the far end of the strip - but the bus was only $2.00 one way to the other end of the strip - or a $5.00 day pass.

Brittany keen to go up this - hello said Simon - you've been up the real thing - this one is a fake.

Posted by smilers2 20:10 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Las Vegas

The last of the big gamblers

sunny 34 °C
View Trek 2008 on smilers2's travel map.

The drive from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas is only about 4 hours. We stopped off at the Hoover dam on the way in to Las Vegas. Quite an amazing structure - built about 70 years ago - and for its time quite an achievement.

The road travel was even more boring than the previous one. Although we feel there are some road workers with a good sense of humour as we spotted a sign - watch out for animals next 20 miles. Well - if there were ever animals out there they've long gone. We kept a fierce watch out - but nothing. We came across another sign that said the same but for the next 10 miles. We put a bounty out there $5.00 if you spot one. By the time we saw the third sign - we were ready for even a dead animal - nothing. Brittany dreamt that night that she spotted a mountain goat - it wasn't enough to get her the $5.00 bounty.

Las Vegas is about as unreal as you can get. We stayed at Circus Circus and Brittany was rapt with the carnival type attractions that she could waste her money on - trying to win a stuffed toy that you wouldn't pay money for. She had another go at the grab thing (jo and Fiona!) that you use an arm to try and grab a toy at - hello in all the times in France she tried and didn't get anything you'd have thought she would have learned! apparently not.

We gambled $1.00 each and simon hit the jackpot - came away with $5.00 - Sarah didn't do so well and spent another $1.00 - mind you we were playing the 1c machine! if you picked it - we're not really gamblers.

Loved looking at all the hotels - Bellagio fountain was our favouite, and the MGM grand with the lions. We also watched a new tv series (jingles - a reality show where teams created jingles and pitched them) - and got some free stuff - but really there is nothing free in Las Vegas - buy one get one free sort of thing. We left the hotel at 9am and got back at 10pm that night - so wished i had my pedometer! it would have gone off the scale for sure. Certainly lots to see and do - and very family orientated if you need it.

Posted by smilers2 10:41 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Williams, Grand Canyon

Wild wild west

View Trek 2008 on smilers2's travel map.

Took about 6 1/2 hours to drive from Palm Springs to Williams. The roads are straight, long, straight, very few bends and long and they go on forever - straight and long. Its pretty boring driving as a driver and its real boring being a navigator you only get to say - look bend about every 3/4 of an hour. Bugger all vegetation - looks a bit like injuns in them thar hills.

Williams is a very small town - very very western and has made a revival as the last town to be bypassed off Route 66. Heaps of Route 66 memorabilia as well as many 50s style diners. We had originally thought about staying at the oldest hotel (which is called the red garter and used to be the local bordello) but simon wasn't allowed. The cost was about 130.00 and simon thought that may be because it offered other services! Where we did stay was very very average - but not too much to choose from.

We chose Williams because it was about 3/4 hour drive from the Grand Canyon. Before we arrived at the entrance gate we stopped in at the Imax theatre and watched a short film on the Grand Canyon - more a history of it. Very very interesting and highly recommended - awesome screen. We had a 10 percent discount but even then it was about 34.00 usd.

Entrance fee to the Grand Canyon for us was 25.00 (for a carload and included passengers!). We toured the southern side of the canyon by car - to the end and then winded our way back - stopping at every point we could - just breathtaking views and a camera can never do justice to it.

Brittany was a bit excited because we came across a road sign - a picture of a cougar - watch out for 20 miles. Well... can you imagine it - we're looking for cougars and surprise surprise we didn't come across a single one. We did however see a couple of squirrels and then on the way back through the park we saw some chipmunks on the side of the road.

Lots of big biker groups - with Harleys etc do the Route 66 thing. We saw a big group from as far away as Quebec! It isn't compulsory to wear helmets on motorbikes in the states!

We were very lucky with the weather - just stunning - although a little cooler when we woke up in Williams. Its about 6000ft above sea level.

Posted by smilers2 10:32 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Palm Springs

The New Fiji

sunny 38 °C

It takes about 2 1/2 or 3 hours to drive from Los Angeles (airport area) to Palm Springs. Very easy driving.
Weather - around 38 degrees but a dry heat. No chance of rain (unlike Fiji), beautiful swimming pool (like fiji), the best beds in the whole world - thoroughly recommend them (like sleeping on clouds), shops only 20 mins away for outlet mall with 130 shops (unlike fiji), or the other way about 20 mins for normal mall type shops or even rodeo drive type shops (unlike fiji), and a costco about 20 mins away too! The costco is unusual in that many of the people offering sample foods in the store for you to eat/try/buy are all old! (there's no other way to say it) - i guess its the demographics. I'm soooo loving having a costco card (thank you so much Aunty Fi.... you're the best). Our buy of the century at costco (of course) was 20 bottles of 1ltr water for $4.79! its still keeping us going. Restaurants are awesome too - and only a few minutes down the road - Patrice (italian) highly recommended, Ruby's diner also a winner and had to do a Del Taco to try out the fast food. Accommodation prices at Caliente Tropics were cheaper than Hacienda at Lax - between 62.00 and 68.00 each night. We stayed four nights - and spent a bit of each day shopping to avoid the heat of the day - but love the weather. The pool was just awesome.

Worth coming to Palm Springs for a holiday - where you can rely on the weather, the shopping and the lovely comfy bed!

Posted by smilers2 10:07 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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