We made it this far up to the Hollywood sign but had to stop after a sign threatening a 103$ fine for hiking it to the top
Hi Vegas and bye Vegas …
After a fun evening making s’mores and singing cowboy songs around the campfire with cowboy dave at the Ranch in Arizona we spent the night in our own personal log cabin…. It was very rustic. See our cowboy hats hanging from the longhorn.
Soon after we arrived and got settled on our front porch with a cold beer the rest of the party arrived - welcome Ian, Gill and Sarah, Matt’s dad, mum and sister. Exhausted from the travelling they went to bed and we headed to the camp fire.
Next day we made our way to the Indian reservation on the grand canyon west rim and explored, compared and contrasted it with the south rim we visited the day earlier .. We decided the South Rim is better, not least because they actually have safety barriers which are alarmingly absent at the West Rim. Owned by the native Indians they can do whatever they like. And it seems they like watching white folks dicing with death a few inches from the edge of a 5000 foot fall.
After a few hours and an incident were I (Matt) slipped off a dirt rock and ripped my shorts on the back and front we decided we’d had enough of the 111 degree heat and took to the cars for some air conditioned comfort and a 3 hour drive to Las Vegas via the awesome Hoover Dam.
My (Sarah) first time in Vegas, I was kinda excited as we arrived at 5pm. Our hotel, the Stratosphere, was at the very start of the strip so we didn’t pass much in the car as we arrived. One thing we’ve noticed in the US is that everything is bigger, and Vegas is no exception. The car park is the size of a football field and several stories high. The hotel has over 4000 rooms and has 24 floors. So the trek to the check in desk was fairly epic taking us through the casino where it’s hard to know where to look there’s so much going on.
After settling in, we hit the strip at 6:30. In over 100 degree heat sharing the pavement (or should I say sidewalk?) with literally millions of others it took us 2 hours to stagger 1 mile to dinner. But it was the best buffet in Vegas with Maine lobster and King Crab legs amongst the choices. And wine included. Hurrah!!
After dinner we got a taxi back to the hotel. The others went to bed while me and Matt checked out the casino. Let’s just say it was a successful visit. So we headed up to the sky bar 178 feet above ground - the highest bar in the world! With similar high prices :( but fantastic views of Sin City at night. After our beer we went out to the balcony and watched the thrill rides at the top of the tallest hotel in Vegas. There’s even a crazy one where people jump off the building on a bungee and get lowered to the ground. They looked absolutely terrified getting hooked up and standing on the ledge. I felt terrified just watching!
And that brings us up to date. As I type this we’re in convoy headed to LA where the end of our awesome Route 66 journey awaits us in Santa Monica. We crossed the state line a few minutes ago but, as in the last week or so, we’ve driven into another storm! Apparently it’s monsoon season - who knew?! Never mind, after a few minutes of rain drops the size of Big Macs it turns back to blazing sunshine and scorching heat.
Roll on California-dreaming!!
SM and MM
After a fun day exploring the grand canyon we sit around a campfire listening to the musical abilities of a local cowboy
Back to the music
Peace and love
Since Albequerque we’ve been slowly making our way towards the Grand Canyon,
and on our way we decided to swing by the Painted Desert and Petrified
Forest National Park. It was 28 miles of absolutely beautiful scenery and
artefacts - we saw thousands of petrified (fossilised) trees, multicoloured
deserts and 2000 year old cave etchings. It was wicked!!
Arizona in general has some awesome scenery, a few small canyons and
mountains with Ponderosa pines (the name of a very popular buffet restaurant
I went to in Florida). It is a bit dated - last night the Pizza Hut was like
the restaurant time forgot. Good pizza though. :)
We’re in Albequerque, New Mexico, but to be honest it might as well be real Mexico. As I imagine it, anyway. For example, we went to the supermarket and the mother in front of us asked her toddler ‘You want a pickle? Go get yourself a pickle!’ and the child picked up a massive gherkin in vinegar looking very pleased with himself. Not America. Definately not America. In contrast, when we were at the breakfast bar in Springfield, IL, there was a family with 2 small children. One pointed at the sultana bran cereal and asked ‘does this cereal have chocolate in it?’ and the other, when given the choices of drinks… orange juice, water, milk, asked ‘chocolate milk?’. He was so little and sleepy it was really cute but we’re still laughing about it several hundred miles on. So you see - no American child would eat a huge vinegary pickle!! If it doesn’t have chocolate on or in it they won’t eat it!
Anyway, enough of that. We scheduled a whole day to enjoy and explore Albequerque, New Mexico, so we set off this morning for the gun range, of course. At first we looked like rabbits in headlights while Greg, our friendly tutor, picked out the easiest firearm with the least kick-back and placed what looked like a toy in front of us. A toy it was not. He got us kitted out with ear and eye protection, we chose our targets and through the air lock we went. Past the second door, in the range, it seemed quite peaceful as it looked like there was nobody else in there. Then we experienced our first gun shot up close. Let’s just say we leaped out of our skins. BOOM!!! SO loud, and you feel it right through your body, and the shock wave makes your hair blow around. UNBELIEVABLE!! So after the shock of that, and several more very loud bangs, we began to get used to it. Greg talked us through everything - loading the gun, holding it, aiming and firing, but didn’t actually fire it, so we had no idea as to the kick-back or the noise. Shaking a little, I stepped up. Getting the thumbs up through every step I finally got to the instruction ‘just squeeze the trigger slowly’. BANG!! A big orange flash and I’d fired my first shot! After that there was no stopping me. In my next few goes I got 9 out of 10 on target! Matt did really well too but he did manage to hold it incorrectly one time (after Greg told us not to hold it like this or we’d hurt ourselves) and it cut his thumb. Ouch. We made our way through a whole box of ammo then staggered out into the sunshine feeling rather exhilarated.
As a side note, I must just point out that not all gun shots are the same. As we were shooting some young lads were having a go on some enormous weapon with automatic capability. They only shot a few on it and I was very glad because they were right next to us and the noise and everything else was out of this world! It’s hard to describe but it was something like all the air and light in the room gets compressed and then whacks you in the face and all over your body in a split second. Really cool :)
In the afternoon we learnt about Ancient American art and history at a museum and finished the day off with an authentic Mexican feast at the Frontier Restaurant.
Currently there’s a huge rain and electrical storm with a river running through the car park but last night we sat outside in 90 degree heat as we ate at a Cajun restaurant called ‘Ragin Shrimp’. It’s unbelievably hot during the day - we managed an hour walk around Lake Santa Rosa yesterday but other than the odd few hours outside we’re mostly in the air conditioned car or air conditioned restaurants or hotel rooms so we don’t get to experience the heat that much. In the car we’ve cracked it with 2 polystyrene coolers which we fill each day with ice and drinks, and we have a back seat full of snacks to see us through the long journeys.
So we’re all set for a 266 mile drive tomorrow which will take us out of New Mexico and into Arizona! The scenery here is awesome but Arizona promises to be even more threatening and dramatic - I can’t wait!! And to congratulate ourselves on getting that far we’re staying in a Wigwam!
Speak soon, Amigos!!
Well howdy, ma’am. What can I do for you?
These are the words my new cowboy said to me on emerging from the Western apparel shop. In addition to picking up a new and improved model boyfriend I found some bargain Wranglers too! I could have bought the whole shop it was seriously cool. Think I must be part Texan at heart. Loved Texas!!
Now we’re in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. The landscape’s changed quite dramatically and we were nearly blown away by a dust storm that just rolled on up the road and crossed over right in front of us! Secretly wishing for a tornado but know I would be scared to death!!
Anyway it’s very flat with big canyons and hills and tiny scraggly bushes and hardly any civilisation. There’s tonnes of abandoned vehicles and buildings and not many old Route 66 signage along the way like there has been in the other states, except the main strip in Santa rosa which is full of them.
We’re off to fill our bellies once more. Mind you we only ate breakfast today so we’re due a meal. We ate at the big Texan again and their breakfast was every bit as wonderful as their steak last nite. YUM!
See you when I’m twice the size,
Thought I would upload a vid of our fighting beer boots. Each hold two pints believe it or not !
The music is truly livening up with an awesome rendition of men at work’s “land down under”
Happy sleeping y’all as its currently 345am uk time but rocking 945pm here is Amarillo….
Yes we know the way to Amarillo
We’re in Texas! There’s cowboys, steak ranches an yee-haws a plenty… it’s AMAZING!! And by amazing I mean stupendously cool. OMG I couldn’t have dreamed it wd be this fun! Well I hoped, but my dreams came true!
So to put you in context, we started this morning in Oklahoma City after watching a local game of baseball last nite which was SO fun! Front row no less - amazing experience. So we set off this morning with a fresh bag of ice in the cooler and 250 miles ahead of us. So far 200 is the most we’d driven in a day and that has felt just about enough but with a couple of stops and plenty of snacks we made it across the border and to the Big Texan Steak Ranch by 5:30!! Our room looks just like a log cabin and there’s a swimming pool in the shape of Texas state.
Which brings us to the current situation… After an incredible 18oz steak (which we shared) and a personal serenade of Johnny Cash’s Ring Of Fire by the local entertainment (Ahhhh!!! So cool!!) we’re sitting in the beer garden enjoying some Bud ice out of our boot-shaped beer glasses listening to the stylings of some local group playing Sting, Bob Marley to the guns N roses. Needless to say I’m in something close to heaven. And I think that can apply to Matt too.
Well goodnight, y’all! See ta not too soon xxxx
Game on !!!!
We have just found our seats at the baseball…. Good eh!
Our day was spent looking at the cowboy and ancient american history… The museum was Dope!
After a large lunch and a quick change we await the first pitch of this series ending game between the Oklahoma city redhalks and the the new Orleans zephyrs!
Got our beers in and now for the game!
Love love !
Yep it’s another thing we’ve been eating/ drinking. This is an Icee. Matt’s snack at the cinema in Oklahoma city. Not that we need a snack, we weren’t even hungry for dinner this evening after having our first Arby’s at lunch time while on the road. Imagine a joint of beef cooked to perfection, sliced thinly and layered in a footlong with 3 types of cheese. Yum!!
So all this food is helping us navigate the often quite frustrating American road systems. And along the way we’re trying to soak up the essence of each state. It’s fun!!
Anyway tomorrow we’ve got a day to snoop around this lovely city then we’re going to a baseball game. Time for me to fulfil my ambition to be like Homer. Woo hoo!!
Here’s our current footwear in Miami (pronounced my-am-uh). Yes we’re at a cute little 50’s style bowling alley frustrating the locals with our apparently alien accent and lack of understanding of USA shoe sizes.
This is the beautiful Jefferson Memorial Gateway Arch in St Louis. It’s made of steel and it’s the tallest building there. There’s a viewing platform at the very top so we had to go up there. The journey is in a tram car like a miniature (I really mean miniature - it was 4 foot high) London Eye pod that got pulled all the way to the top while gradually rotating so you don’t end up on your head. 4 minutes up and 3 minutes down. And at the top - we were pretty keen to get down again. It’s small, completely enclosed of course but it’s really slopey and the viewing window is set over a sort of step so you basically have to lean right over and lay on the windowsill so you can look out. I don’t know if they did it on purpose but it’s extremely uncomfortable for anyone with even a slight fear or heights. 2 please!
After filling our veins full of adrenaline up the arch we enjoyed a guided tour of the museum and a lovely trip up and down the Mississippi.
In the evening we went to a huge shopping mall where i bought my lovely Fossil bag and we ate at the Cheesecake Factory in honour of our love of The Big Bang Theory. Seriously, they just want you to eat your own body weight. More this? More that? Free re-fills… etc. This is a crazy place. Crazy but very fun for a holiday :)
So by now we have passed through the Gateway to the West and find ourselves in Springfield Missouri…..
Missouri is also very pretty, just like Illinois, but with less crop farmland and more forest land with a few cattle thrown in.
Also we noticed that locals seem to use the Mother Road a bit more in MO, unlike in IL where we could go for half an hour at a time without seeing another car. Of course I mean another car on the Route 66, because there were plenty of cars travelling along the I44 which runs right by our route most of the time.
So it’s quite baffling why they decided to build it. And it’s quite sad seeing all the rusting billboards and neon signs left over from that golden age. The buildings are much less visible, i suppose either pulled down or re-vamped into the newer motels.
So after a 200 mile drive today from St Louis we’re sitting in bed with a mountain of Taco Bell and a Six pack of Miller lite… turns out i like lite American lager quite a lot.
Tomorrow we’re having a nose around Springfield, MO, then driving into Oklahoma for a stopover in Miami. Probably not too many bikini-clad beauties or million dollar yachts in this Miami, though. We’ll let you know tomorrow.
Love you all,