David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Thursday, November 08, 2012

On Vacation in America's Golden West

Start of a Great Holiday
Apologies to my regular readers for my absence from blogging for a few weeks. I have just returned from a fabulous tour of Nevada and California.

Upon arrival in Las Vegas the weather was not particularly kind to us. We experienced flash-flooding the likes of which had not been seen in Vegas for 45 years !  Dodging the heavy showers we managed to see all the sights and particularly enjoyed Caesars Palace and the Fremont Street lazer show. Also enjoyable was the visit to Hotel Rio where we had a super buffet followed by a tribute act show entitled "The Rat Pack is Back".  The next day we caught a flight from Boulder City to the Grand Canyon National Park.  Whilst our first stop at a viewing area was fine, the weather once again closed in and we encountered the first snow of winter at our next viewing area !  A great experience just the same with lots of lovely memories of our time at the Grand Canyon.

On Day 4 we departed Las Vegas and drove through the Mojave Desert to the playground of the stars, Palm Springs, California, where the weather was, thankfully, very warm and sunny. Whilst in this Desert Oasis we toured the homes of the stars and enjoyed a wildlife adventure in the Living Desert. We also opted to take an aerial cable car tram ride to the summit of San Jacinto Mountain to view a refreshingly different alpine view of the Coachella Valley.

On Day 6 we departed from Palm Springs for the drive to the sprawling mega-city of Los Angeles staying in the rather quiet suburb of Sherman Oaks, which is conveniently away from the congested downtown area. 

En route to L.A. we visited the Pacific Beach Resort of Long Beach and enjoyed a visit  aboard the original Queen Mary cruise liner which is now permanently moored in the port in her semi retirement. The ship is now a floating hotel with restaurants, shops, bars, conference facilities, etc. At the time of our visit  the Queen Mary was hosting an exhibition of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, memorabilia including many of her fabulous and famous dresses.

In L.A. we visited the Hollywood Bowl, trod the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard and saw the Dolby Theatre where the annual Oscars ceremony takes place. We travelled through Sunset Boulevard and Beverly Hills before pausing for lunch at The Farmers Market.  In the afternoon we spent several hours at Universal Studios looking at some of the movie sets and stunts that have made this city legendary.

On Day 8 we left L.A. for the drive along the Pacific coastline on famous Highway 1, through Malibu to the affluent Mediterranean-style community of Santa Barbara, famous for its chic shady streets lined with bistros and shops. We then continued on to San Luis Obispo for an overnight stay. The following day we moved north to the small artistic and fishing communities of Carmel and Monterey where we experienced a drive along the famous '17 Mile Drive' with its scenic vistas of the Pacific Ocean, rocky pine-clad cliffs and oceanic wildlife. 

Next stop was California's city of hills, San Francisco. We enjoyed a first night banquet at Fishermans Wharf and travelled across the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island to take a look back at the vibrant multi-cultural city with all the lights on. Spectacular ! The following day we enjoyed a guided tour of the city including going over the Golden Gate Bridge. In the afternoon we took a cruise around San Francisco Bay and viewed Alcatraz Penitentiary on Rock Island which formerly housed some of America's most notorious gangsters including Al "Scarface" Capone, George "Machine Gun" Kelly and Robert "Birdman" Stroud.

The highlight of my visit to San Fran was taking the cable car up and down the hills of this amazing city through China Town to Ocean Square. I travelled on the footplate throughout holding onto the safety rail with one hand and video camera in the other. I was in my tourist element ! I had vivid pictures in my mind of Steve McQueen driving his sports car at breakneck speed  over the San Fran hills in the film Bullet.


After some further relaxation in San Fran including a visit to The Crookedest Street in the World, it was time to fly back to London with a treasure trove of happy memories which will stay with us for ever.

Thank you very much America for your customary warm and friendly welcome.  We'll sure be back again some day soon!

                  The Crookedest Street in the World

Special thanks to Nalani O'Brien our dedicated and very professional tour guide who ensured the success of this wonderful Travelsphere holiday.