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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,740

    Default Wonders of the west. (LA to PNW and back)

    Introduction.

    Our latest western USA adventure took us on a journey of 3500 miles from Los Angeles to Olympic NP in the Pacific Northwest and back again. We were once again joined by our son and Daughter in law, which meant we were back in an RV for this trip, which we were excited about. Our trip will take us north on an inland route up the east side of the Sierra Nevada and on through the Cascades before heading across to Olympic NP and back down the Oregon and California coast. The reason for starting out in LA was really down to cost, we got a very good deal on direct flights from London Heathrow and the savings made it a 'no brainer' decision.

    Tuesday September 15th.

    Having realised the benefits of staying in an airport hotel the night before flying on our last trip, we decided to do the same again. Having packed our main luggage on Sunday, we put the rest of our paperwork and bits together after finishing work Tuesday and headed to the Mercure Hotel near Heathrow at 6:30pm. One of our other son's drove us to the hotel in our Nissan Elgrand which swallowed the five of us and the luggage with plenty of room to spare ! We arrived a little after 8pm and all sat down to an evening bar meal before waving Matt off as he headed for home. We relaxed with a couple of drinks before retiring to our clean and comfy hotel room.

    The Nissan Elgrand.



    September 16th

    Our Taxi arrived on time at 9:45am to take us to the airport for our 10am check in, it was a 10 min drive. We used a local cab company which was half the price of those advertising themselves as 'Airport cars', so keep that in mind when booking a ride near an airport. The hotel breakfasts were £14:95 per person so we skipped that and decided to have breakfast in the airport, not only was it cheaper but it also helped to pass the time. We was flying out with Delta airlines in partnership with Virgin and the information board informed us our flight was on schedule. We made our way down to the boarding gate only to be informed at the desk that the flight was delayed. By how much time they did not know, they were trying to locate a faulty part. Hmm, doesn't fill you with confidence ! They gave us each a £10 voucher to spend in the shops, we decided to top up with snacks that we could use on the flight if needed and would be handy to have in the RV. An hour later we were boarding, but then we sat on the plane for ages while they fuelled it up, they obviously wasn't confident of repairing it or else you would have thought it would have been done already ! Our confidence took another knock when having sat waiting for the fuel to go in, for what seemed to take forever, an announcement from the captain informed us we would be sitting on the runway with the engines revving to burn off 11000lbs of fuel to lose weight so we would be able to get off the ground, talk about wasting time and money, they had only just filled it !! As we edged forward to prepare for take off another announcement told us there would be a further delay as they were having trouble with the electronics on board. Another 5 minutes and we were told the electrician had re-booted the system and all should be fine. By this time I was beginning to wonder if I should get off, but some hour after boarding the plane and 2 hours late in total, we were in the air and on our way. The direct flight [without delays] would have shaved about 4-5 hours of our normal flight time, had we had a change to make, but boy almost 12 hours flying in one sitting is a long uncomfortable time. It helped a little as we flew over the States and enjoyed some good views from our window seat, flying over the Great Lakes area to just north of the Rockies and over southern Utah and the Mojave to LA.

    From the plane.



    Once at LAX we cleared customs in reasonable time and hopped on the shuttle bus to the car rental counter. We had booked a car through rentalcars.com as they always seem to offer good value, a Dodge Caravan 'Grand' to ensure it would seat us all and fit our luggage in comfortably, it did that all right ! We were spending the night on Venice Beach and the RV was located between Carson and Long beach airport, where we had arranged to drop the car off next day. This worked out cheaper than taking 2 cabs and was more convenient.

    After collecting the car we drove to the Venice beach Suites and hotel, located right on the beach and Boardwalk and there to greet us was Mark and Megan who had been waiting patiently for us after our 2 hour delay, it was just after 8pm. After dropping our cases off and parking the car we all walked to nearby Larry's bar where we had a bite to eat and shared a few cocktails while enjoying catching up with each other IRL. It was good food with a real friendly waiter and Mark and Megan's good company kept us afloat after our long journey. After our meal we strolled back to the Hotel where we sat in Mark and Megan's top floor suite overlooking the ocean and shared a bottle of wine and chatted some more. We arranged to meet up in the morning for a stroll and some breakfast before we departed to pick up the RV. I think it was around 1am when we finally got to bed, some 25 hours after starting out on our journey.

    Larry's bar.

    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 08-12-2017 at 01:51 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,740

    Default First day on the road.

    September 17th

    The Venice beach suites and Hotel was very cosy with comfortable beds, but despite this I was awake from around 6am and decided to go for a walk along the beach around 6:45am. It was a lovely warm morning with blue sky's and the morning joggers, skate boarders and keep fit fanatics, who were working out on Muscle beach, were already 'up and at it', plus there were a few surfers out catching the waves already. There are a few homeless people in the area but they seem to keep themselves to themselves and don't bother you at all. The beach was very clean with fine sands and volley ball nets, in the distance you could see Santa Monica Pier. The skate park walls and even the closest palm trees to it, did not escape the local 'artists' attention with the spray can, but it was all very colourful. Lots of fine 'wall art' on the local buildings as well.





    We all met up back at the hotel as arranged and went for a walk to Santa Monica pier, it's something we had wanted to do while in town. It was a couple of miles each way, but a very pleasant walk in the sunshine. When we arrived we were surprised to see how 'sleepy' everything felt, no one was in a hurry to get opened up for the day, despite it now being around 10am.





    As we made our way back we found a nice looking diner for breakfast with tables outside by the beach, so we decided to stop there. There was a woman standing at the counter with a closed sign right above her head, she looked as welcoming as a bear with a mouthful of wasps ! We all stood and studied the menu board while she continued to ignore us. I took the brave decision to approach with caution and ask if they were actually open, she managed a small movement of the head that suggested they were. We ordered from the menu and ordered drinks for us all. The food and drinks arrived in due course and in fairness it was all very nice. One drink was missing so Simon [son] went back to the counter and said we had ordered a pineapple juice but hadn't got it. She replied "We don't do pineapple juice but I didn't charge you for it anyway". We had to laugh, it was just a shame she didn't inform us at the time of ordering and gave us another option.

    I am not sure why Lezli chose this spot for a group photo !



    After breakfast we started making our way back to the hotel and having spent some quality time with Mark and Megan, it was time to say goodbye and hit the road. With our cases in the car we made our way to the Cruise America depot in Carson to collect the RV. By the time we had completed the paper work, loaded the RV and dropped the car rental back at Long beach airport, we were quite a bit behind schedule. It was around 2:30pm before leaving Long beach airport and the traffic out of the LA basin, all the way through to Cajon junction, was stop start and slow moving most of the way. Once on the 395 we were moving along much better as we made our way towards Lone Pine and the Alabama hills, our destination for the night. We stopped in Johannesburg to top up with gas and some basic supplies for an evening meal, we only had a half tank of gas when we had picked up the RV.

    Sign on 395 Johannesburg.
    DSCF0076

    We arrived in Lone Pine after dark and took the Whitney Portal road to Movie Flats road into the Alabama Hills. It was pitch black as we made our way along the road and we had no idea of our immediate surroundings. We passed up a couple of suitable spots in which to Boondock and continued further. We then found quite a level area just off the road and decided that would make a nice spot to stop and then we would see exactly where we were in the morning. It was around 8pm. After getting the RV as level as possible and getting some of our things packed away and the dinner on the go, I took a little walk in the dark, I just could not believe how amazing the night sky was, there were millions of stars and the Milky way seemed to stretch from one horizon to another. Throw in a couple of shooting stars and this was a real stand out moment. The more you adjusted to the dark the more stars appeared, I have not witnessed anything quite like it ! I didn't have a tripod and I was both to tired and to intrigued by it to try and set something up, I just wanted to enjoy the moment. I took a blurry shot 'just because'. An incredible sight !



    After dinner we were all ready to 'hit the pillows', while looking forward to actually seeing our surroundings in the morning. It felt as though we were the only people there.

    Today's mileage. 250
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 07-01-2016 at 01:44 AM. Reason: typo

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,537

    Default

    I love reading this - I had been looking forward to it since your teaser post a few weeks back!

    For others reading this: It was around 2:30pm before leaving Long beach airport and the traffic out of the LA basin, all the way through to Cajun junction, was stop start and slow moving most of the way. , it should be Cajon Pass and the Cajon Junction. Just a matter of spelling.


    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,740

    Default Got here eventually.

    Thanks Donna, starting to find a bit of free time after a rather hectic return to the real life ! And thanks for correcting my typo.

    Dave.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,935

    Default Designed to lift my spirits.

    Thanks Dave. In a very selfish way, I need this. Not having been anywhere this year.

    I too have stumbled upon street art/ wall murals as I was driving through the LA area. Rarely though have I been able to stop long enough to take a pic.

    Glad you liked Venus Beach. That was my first day in the US, and the only place where I could get a cheese and vegemite sandwiich in 2001 - from a place along the boardwalk. It is also where the lady in the library drew my attention to the reciprocal arrangement between automobile clubs in different countries. She had only just come back from a visit to Melbourne, and used it there as well.

    So where was it that you were parked on that first night in the RV. Did your grand daughter come as well?

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,056

    Default Freaks R Us

    Yes, if is funny how many "freaks" you can find in the USA.

    Looking forward to the rest of your report.

    Mark

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,740

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    So where was it that you were parked on that first night in the RV. Did your grand daughter come as well?

    Lifey
    We were parked in the Alabama hills, we were just unsure whether we were down the road far enough to be surrounded by the rock formations I had seen in photo's, we won't find out until the morning. ;-)

    Not a Grand daughter, that's the Daughter-in-law. She's a littl'un. lol.

    Dave.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,740

    Default As it turned out...............

    We picked a great spot in the darkness and were greeted by some amazing views as we stepped out of the RV at sun up.

    First glimpse.



    I decided to have a walk before breakfast.





    Looking towards Mt Whitney.


    I was already in love with this place and we hadn't really got started yet. I had mentioned to Megan that I was a little concerned about finding a spot to park arriving late in the day as it was commonly used for 'Boondocking'. Megan thought we would be OK and she was right, we were the only people around ! It was time for breakfast so we sat down and ate before we continued further down the road in search of the Mobus Arch trailhead.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,349

    Default Thanks

    Those of us who live (albeit reluctantly) in the American Southwest often take our wide open surroundings for granted. It often takes the eyes of a visitor to reawaken in us the wonder of seeing the landscape afresh. And for that I than you. Time to get my own family, especially the grandsons, back out into that nature.

    AZBuck

  10. Default Great Campsite!

    WOW...Great campsite! We've always wanted to do the Alabama Hills, but never got around to it. Now it's tops on my list of places to go.

    Looking forward to the rest of the report.

    Utahtea

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