Location: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Leaving New Orleans we experienced some flight problems to Mexico. Our flight from Dallas was cancelled completely, and we went back over NO to Miami. After more than 9 hours we finally landed, and fortunately our luggage awaiting us.
Having thought we had accommodation all organised, we directed our TD to the hotel in Playa Del Carmen, and were informed they were booked out. Our astute booking company decided to inform us that our accomm had fallen through whilst we were on the plane.
After getting over that hurdle we settled into a small room with a very basic set-up. Was perfect for the place.
Playa DC is located 60kms from Cancun airport, and is basically a small town with a main street (5th Ave) that is fast suffering the increase in tourism.
The climate is tropical, with similar temps day and night, perfect for our open air accommodation.
We spent days lounging on the beach, relaxing reading and ending the day with drinks and good food.
We spent one day on Cozumel, a small island 20km off the Mexican East coast, accessible by ferry from Playa DC. There we found excellent clear water for snorkelling. Awesome fun.
With the afternoon spare, we hired a scooter and rode around the island on the one road. Found some waves on the east coast to bodysurf, and lie and do a little more relaxing.
Enjoyed my birthday over there, a great day that meant for a not so great next day! No regrets though.
From Mexico we are off to Washington DC to meet with Georgie's cousins nd soak in the nations capital.
Location: New Orleans, USA
Back in the USA we headed to New Orleans...with no idea what we were stepping in to...MARDI GRAS!
New Orleans holds one of the biggest Mardi Gras in the world and we happened to have our tickets booked for that very weekend. People come from all over the country just to attend. Therefore the atmosphere was buzzing.
Every day and night there are different parades alond the main streets where people literally camp out for days just to reserve their spots to see the floats.
The floats are all very colourful and the people riding the floats throw beaded necklaces to those in the crowds to catch. By the end of the night you end up with around 50 necklaces. If you are thrown a necklace and catch it, it is "blessed" so you put it on, however if you drop the necklace everyone leaves it on the ground as it is unlucky. Hence the mess in the street after a parade is incredible...beads everywhere.
While we were here we also visited one of the old sugar cane plantations, Oak Alley. There are several plantations to visit who all have their own history with the owners and slaves they bought. Oak Alley you will see in the photo as 28 Oak trees lining the walkway to the house (14 on each side) which are 300 years old. The walkway leads right from the house to the Mississippi river.
There is still alot in the city and surrounding areas that are not fixed from the hurricane. The city's population is only a third of what is used to be. Whoever you talk to in the city, the conversation inevitably ends up dicussing something about Katrina.
Location: Vancouver/Whistler, Canada
Seing we were so far north we decided to jump over the border to Canada and visit Vancouver as well as Whistler for some skiing.
Vancouver is a very pretty city. Only spent 2 days here but got to visit the main hightlights in the city as well as Stanley Park, Lyons Gate Bridge and Grouse Mountain.
Then on to Whistler.
Whistler...a highlight of our trip so far. We set off early in the morning to maximise our time on the mountain. Stayed for 3 nights in total. I started off with a lesson as I had not skied before. Did quite well, no falls on my first day!! Andrew being more experienced took the board and explored the mountain.
Being at different levels I stayed in my area of little runs which I conquered by the trips end while Andrew managed to explore most of the mountain and even did some runs on Blackcomb too. When we met for a drink at the end of the day you couldn't wipe the smile off his face from all the adreneline.
The mountain is beautiful, nothing like I have ever seen. We were lucky to also be there at a time when it snowed and dumped another 20-50cms.
Al good things must come to and end though and it was off to New Orleans.
Location: Seattle/Tacoma, USA
Been a long time since our last update!
After Portland we made our way up to Washington state to Seattle. Here we were able to catch up with my family who live in the area. Was great to see their faces and have a catch up together. Jen and Tulsi took us out for a beautiful dinner along the waterfront where we were able to devour some long awaited fish. Also had the chance to meet two of Kayta's three boys, Andrew and Gabriel...beautiful boys.
While in Seattle we took the "Underground Tour". Very interesting. After the great fire that burnt Seattle to the ground the city was rebuilt above its previously foundation. This was due to the original setting being below sea level, therefore causing constant flooding. This tour allows you to literally go underground and see old shop fronts etc that was once the city.
Also took a walk through Pike Place market. Andrew satisfied his craving for a chilli dog while I wandered through the arts and crafts.
Then on to the Space Needle. The building allows you to take a lift up to the top observation deck that has a 360 degree view of the city. Andrew enjoyed reading about the buildings construction. I took his word for it that it was difficult!
Location: Yosemite, Napa Valley&Portland, USA
Been slack but just a short update.
From San Fran we drove to a spot just outside Yosemite Park and drove through the next day. Photos tell the story but sensational scenery. No bears were cited unfortunately.
Took our time in the Valley however most of the other roads were closed in the Winter months and we were restricted to this area. Would be awesome in Summer although the watrfalls etc would not be flowing.
Pushed onto Calfornia's capital Sacremento. Not much happening here. just a pit stop.
The following day we drove through the Napa Valley, a wine district with 100's of wineries over a 40 mile stretch. It wasn't the grape season but a very nice area. Did a bit of tasting but nothing compared to the Aussies fine produce.
Stayed in Ukiah that night, bit of a dive but just recharged the batteries.
Back on the coastal road we went through logging areas where the redwood trees line the roads (and sometime encroaches onto them), and stand 70+ metres high.
Shorter day and stayed in Tsunami territory at Cresent City. Kicked Georgie's arse at 10 pin bowling..........Oh Yes....Treated the locals to a few Bundy's and did they enjoy it.......
Next up to Portland where we are about to leave. Stayed here to enjoy the superbowl. Happy Hour all day and backed to Colts to an easy victory. Another win to Wal over Georgie......
Moving on with a dry mouth and headache into Volcano country.
Location: San Francisco, USA
Spent four nights in San Francisco. Matty McBriar surprised us and came to stay for two nights. Great to see him and have a few drinks on the town. Wal was pleased to finally have someone to drink Bundy with.
While in San Francisco we took a wander along the Fisherman's Wharf. Lots of buzz and action around here. Andrew was keen to have Clam Chowder, so found a great little spot along the Wharf. Also visited the "postcard houses" as they are called...really the houses from Full House, Mrs Doubtfire etc.
Also made the trek out to Alcatraz. Very interesting to learn about the history of the prison. Great audio tour which lets you hear from the real guards and prisoners that served there.
Also took a drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, up to Twin Peaks which gives you a great view of the entire bay area and then headed down to Half Moon Bay where Mavericks surf break is. The boys particularly enjoyed this.
Andrew and I both really liked this city. Very liveable with great people and great architecture. Although I did struggle with the hills. Andrew had to do all the driving here. I almost shat myself at times going up and down the hills...I thought the car would roll backwards. You seriously feel as if you are on a roller coaster at times.
Location: Santa Barbara & San Simeon, USA
Stayed in Pasedena just for a night before starting our journey along Highway 1 up the coast. Heading up the coast passing Malibu, we stopped our run at Santa Barbara. Great coastal town, very liveable.
Along the way stopped at a small town called Solvang all built with a Danish influence. We thought it appropriate to then try the Danish sausage and meatballs for lunch.
After one night we tracked further along to a small town with a grand population of about 400...San Simeon. Stayed here to visit the famous Hearst Castle and the surrounding Sea Lion colony.
Good mild weather and some pumping surf pounding the coast. After my venture in at San Diego I gave it a miss.....and of course the seals make good chow for the sharks....
Come Australia Day we started the final journey up to San Francisco.
Location: Las Vegas, USA
This truly is the city of lights. The days tend to all mould in to one here. There are literally no clocks anywhere except for your hotel room so it is easy to get lost in the hype of the city.
We stayed three nights here. In this time we managed to win and lose some money - Wal preferred the comfort of the Rapid Roulette tables. Thankfully no real damage done and we are still able to afford the rest of our trip. Although I do not think Wal will be having another screwdriver anytime soon. Let's just say after a big tilt on the booze I woke up to find Wal had not made it up to our hotel room. When I went to find him downstairs, he was a littel surprised when I told him it was 9:30 AM...as I said no clocks in Vegas!!!
We did also manage to see Cirque de Soleil which was great and took a trip up the Eiffel Tower for a great view of the city.
By this stage we had done Vegas...or Vegas had done us so it was time to move on to see Lake Mead and Hoover Dam.
Location: San Diego, USA
Great to get to San Diego. Pretty town located around a harbour. Stayed here two nights where we visited the city centre and the old Gaslamp Quarters. Here we settled in for the night to a true Sports Bar, watching basketball and sinking Bud Lites. Wal managed to take a dip in the Pacific and showed the Yanks how the real Ironmen do it......
Short stay as Vegas was beckoning.
Location: LA / San Diego, USA
Left for San Diego this afternoon. BUt before we left we took a drive up to the Hollywood sign and did a tour of the Kodak THeatre where the Oscars are held.
So peaceful up in the hills where the sign is. You get a view back out onto Downtown LA which is quite amazing looking out to a city that is so chaotic from a point that is so peaceful.
The Kodak tour was fun and interesting to hear all the inside secrets. I can now say I have stood on the same stage as the likes Jack Nicholson, Hilary Swank and Julia Roberts.....
On the drive down to San Diego we went through Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. I preferred these to the notorious Venice Beach. Very picturesque and a lot like our holiday beaches.
Location: Los Angeles, USA
Took a drive down to Santa Monica and Venice Beach today. Being Winter the atmosphere was not quite the same as it would be in Summer but you can definately imagine the buzz.The beaches are quite amazing with the mountains so close in the background.
LISA - this one is for you.
In the afternoon we took another drive through Beverly Hills etc and while stopped at a traffic light in Santa Monica who did I see getting into her car - JESSICA SIMPSON! Unfortunately didn't have time to get the photo.....
Location: Los Angeles, USA
After all my childhood years of yearning I finally made it to Disneyland today. Teal you will be very pleased I took a photo of me in the Teacups just for you!
Even at our age we had a ball. I shat myself going down Splash Mountain ans have the photo to prove it.
And yes - I did get Wally on the kiddy rides which included a tour of Mickey's house and a flight with Peter Pan over Never Never Land!
Location: Los Angeles, USA
HI everyone! Wal and I have made it to the big land of the USA. The goodbyes at the airport were a little hard - Tanya tells me Mum only cried twice more on the way home!
After the 14 hour flight we landed in LA. It is very strange being the one with the strange accent....and I am still getting a grasp on this whole tipping thing.
Our first afternoon we jumped on a tour bus to see the stars' homes - must be done. Saw the houses of Robbie Williams, Dr Phil, J.Lo and saw the paparazzi outside Tome Cruise's place. The Golden Golbes were on the night we arrived so there were a lot of people in town, but alas I did not spot one on the night.
Also went for a walk down Rodeo Dr which is stunning. Tey have done this part of town very well. Unfortunately girls I did not make a purchase! Had dinner at a great little pizza place called Cheebos, I like the restaurant - Wally liked Steph the waitress!