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  1. #1

    Default Just back from a 2700 mile trip

    Not sure if this is the place to post, but I expect it can be moved if needed.

    Just returned from a trip to the States, start/finish was Las Vegas.

    Journal Report can be read starting here. (Previous host is now unavailable)


    Perhaps someone will find it handy, funny, annoying, whatever :)


    Editor's Note: Next time, try this new service from RTA for posting photos, journals and maps!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 10-12-2007 at 08:37 PM. Reason: navigation to new post

  2. Default

    A nice write up there, especially as i will be visiting many similar places!

    I guess the only alarming thing for me is i am going from Las Vegas all the way to Minneapolis and yet worked out similar mileage to your trip. I guess i haven't accounted for the amount of detours and general adventuring...!

    Interesting to learn about the quirks such as paying for petrol!

    Can i ask how much your trip was, including, flights and car hire (roughly)?

    Also, how much is that helicopter ride over the canyon? :)



  3. #3


    I dare not ask how much it was, the missus did all that, however I seem to remember the original holiday, was about 1000 quid (I could be wrong), for 2 people, flights, car hire and 2 nights hotel.

    As for the fuel thing, another thing to be aware of, the diesel pump is green, petrol is black (or red). So check you have the right pump. The car we hired ran fine on the cheapest petrol.
    We found drawing cash from ATMs each day was handy, most charge about 2 dollars for this (similar to UK) But do not use the ATM's in Casino's one we saw was charging 20 dollars for a withdrawl !!!

    The helecopter ride was about 170 dollars each, but worth every penny.

    We didn't buy a package holiday, we booked flights, car hire and 2 nights hotel using Expedia. After that we relied on luck to find motels on the route.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Nice photos and report

    Quote Originally Posted by RevJim View Post
    Just returned from a trip to the States, start/finish was Las Vegas.
    Nice report, thanks for sharing. We are very close to being able to offer a trip reporting program that will enable you to post images and text in a book-like format on this web site.

    I especially liked the wrap-up section of your report -- your observations about the high incidence of small dogs and the number of ways to cook an egg were pretty funny. And, of course, the last line in your missive: "....God bless America, crazy mixed up nation it is...."

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-26-2007 at 09:08 AM.

  5. #5

    Default Indeed...

    Quote Originally Posted by RevJim View Post
    As for the fuel thing, another thing to be aware of, the diesel pump is green, petrol is black (or red). So check you have the right pump.
    A friend of mine just got back from a 2,500 mile round trip out of JFK. They picked the car up from the airport and spent ten days in it just fine. They caught the qualifying day for the Champcar race in Toronto and then made their way back towards Watkins Glen for the race. They were on a tight schedule so roared into a gas station, filled up with gas and roared out again. Five miles down the road, doing 75 miles an hour, the car started shuddering and losing power. Alarmed, he looked in his mirror to see a thick cloud of white smoke! He spotted another gas station on the right and had to cut across four lanes of traffic, filled with drivers who were not prepared to give way, before he safely made it to the forecourt.

    The station manager couldn't help but volunteered a couple of locals to help. Between them they drained the tank and refilled it with gas. One of the locals then suggested putting some additives in the tank to clear out the system. They turned the key and.... phwham! Fire and smoke emitting from under the hood! Thankfully the fire was blown out in the explosion and the forecourt lived to see another day. Which was more than could be said for a) the engine of the car and b) their plans to get to the race in time. They had to wait for Dollar to send first a mechanic and secondly a replacement car and ended up driving through the night, finally arriving just after lunch in time to fall asleep in the grandstand!

    I'm not sure what the mora of the story is here - is it not to trust strangers when it comes to putting random chemicals in your car or is it to be more damn careful when filling up? Both, I suspect!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Nice

    I really enjoyed your write up and the pictures, too.
    And just think, you only explored a small percentage of the entire country!

    Quote Originally Posted by RevJim View Post
    As for the fuel thing, another thing to be aware of, the diesel pump is green, petrol is black (or red). So check you have the right pump.
    At one point, the diesel spigot was larger than that of the gasoline (petrol) pump, to keep people from putting diesel in their gasoline powered vehicles. The only place I see that now is at larger fueling stations, such as truck stops.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default The green really needs to still be bigger

    Quote Originally Posted by Mass Tim View Post
    At one point, the diesel spigot was larger than that of the gasoline (petrol) pump, to keep people from putting diesel in their gasoline powered vehicles. The only place I see that now is at larger fueling stations, such as truck stops.
    I was on a carabug with other New Beetle owners. When we hit Idaho, we stopped to refuel. A friend of mine was just about ready to start pumping diesel into her turbo gas Bug. I think three of us spotted it at the same time and yelled "Ester!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOO". You see, she lives in Oregon where state law doesn't allow you to pump your own gas. It had been so long since she had done so, that she didn't have a clue. If the spigot had been one of those big, older ones, she wouldn't have gotten so close to near catastrophe.

    Oh, and I loved the write-up, too. I'm chuckling about the little dogs in bags in San Francisco. Where I live, you never see anything like that. It's not an American thing, I can assure you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Little Dogs in Handbags

    I'm pretty sure that's illegal in Louisiana. :)

    Great trip report and beautiful pictures.

    I've got to say, though, that with your screen name I was already giggling when I opened your posts. That episode of Taxi where Reverend Jim is trying to pass his drivers license test starting running through my brain.


  9. #9


    [Editor's Note: This post was originally posted off-site, but was moved here]

    I'll paste it here:-

    Day 1
    Landed in Las Vegas at 7:30pm local time. Got the bags and went outside to the hire car shuttle, this took us to a huge building a couple of minutes from the airport. Every major car-hire company housed in one place, went to talk to the hire care people and decided to upgrade the car from a small car to an SUV due to the mileage and heights we were going to do. Went to collect the SUV and had a choice of about 6 different types! We chose a Jeep Cherokee 3.7 litre V6 auto (in truth all were about the same spec). After a quick fiddle with the controls, I set off for the hotel, the Sahara Hotel and Casino at the north end of the strip. Las Vegas traffic early evening was a little mad, but we got to the hotel without getting lost or hitting anything. Checked in and went to the room, 7th floor so the view was ok. After all the travelling we went to sleep.
    Woke up about 3am and went out to find some food, Vegas is 24hr generally, but the food places in the hotel were closed, we walked down the strip a little, in 90 degree heat at 3am! and had a McDonalds (bloody awful food). Went back to the hotel and slept again.

    Day 2
    We rose early and went to explore Vegas, grabbed the handy monorail and went to the south end of the strip. Visited a bunch of casinos, mostly very impressive buildings and all connected with walkways. The navigation of the casinos internally was bit of a nightmare as they are designed to keep people in, they don't like you to leave. Smoking is permitted, provided you are sat playing a slot machine, so it cost us $5 for a ciggie unless we were outside in the 100 plus heat. The Luxor was very impressive inside, they even had an Egyptian museum, we paid our $20 entrance fee... What a pile of poo-poo! the only thing in the so-called museum that wasn't made of plastic was a small unremarkable piece of sandstone from the valley of the kings, donated by an Egyptian museum. For me that summed up Vegas, all plastic, artificial, disposable side-show, with everyone out to squeeze that last dollar from you any way possible, from the slots to the many many "Exhibits" and "Shows" being hawked everywhere.
    We walked miles and the best entertainment was a musical duo playing for free in a covered shopping precinct, we sat and had a cold drink while watching the crowds of punters wandering about.
    We returned to the hotel, after a shower I decided to check out the Star-Trek experience, leaving Christine resting in the hotel, I wandered down to the monorail and investigated this possible amusement. Again 20 dollars to enter, and after looking at the prices for food in "Quarks Bar" decided this was another crap way of getting money. So after a little wander about, returned to the hotel and got ready for an evening on the town.
    We left the hotel, and took the monorail to the Belaggio, got a nice spot and waited for the show. Very good show, and free (although I had the feeling if they could charge they would). The show was over and we decided to check out the Freemont experience. Hop on a bus and went the fair distance north to the Freemont area, Again a brilliant show, and the distances in Freemont were more pedestrian friendly. After a coffee and sit down, we left and went to bed.

    Day 3
    Happy to leave Vegas behind we headed for the Hoover dam and Kingman. Once out of Vegas the traffic vaporized and we had an open road. The road went over the dam once through a checkpoint for weight. They are building a new bridge over that part of the valley and soon the dam will be closed to vehicle travel. The water was quite low and we got our first glimpse of the severe water shortage in the southwest. Stopped for breakfast at a tiny truck stop on the road to Kingman, food was good and cheap. Returned to the drive, at Flagstaff we headed for Sedona, pausing at the top of the steep road for a rest we took in some beautiful scenery, down the steep winding road to Sedona, we parked up and went in search of a shop selling drinks and ciggies, had a hell of a time finding one. Almost every shop in Sedona was a tourist/trinket shop had to go round the back streets to find an ordinary shop. there were plenty of hotels in this area, quite cheap too. But we decided to press on, Sedona was way too touristy for us.
    Back to Flagstaff then the 180 to Valle and on to the Grand Canyon.
    As Christine said there are no words to describe just how awesome the Grand Canyon is in reality, we have all seen pictures and TV but the size of the thing is huge. From the south rim, it's about 13 miles to the other side and a mile deep to the river. After a few piccies and a wander about, we went to find a hotel, easier said than done. Tusayan was full, the place was overrun by Dutch for some reason and all of the many motels were full. Off we went south towards Flagstaff and found a motel in Valle. It was late so we slept and pondered the coming day.

    Day 4
    Up early we loaded the car and went to find breakfast. The motel had a diner and we were first in, talking to the desk clerk we were lucky to get a room, just after we checked in a load of Dutch and Germans booked the rest of the free rooms, some were turned away. We got fuel and as I was figuring out how to pay for fuel, a guy pulled into the forecourt for fuel in the most beaten up pickup I've ever seen, looked like the thing had been rolled in a pretty severe accident, but it ran and the guy driving got fuel and left. Paying for fuel is a bit odd, most pumps have a card slot, but they wouldn't take out credit cards, so we had a choice, leave the card at the till, then fill up, return and sign the slip, or leave cash and return for change. I chose the latter, as leaving a credit card with a stranger seemed wrong to me, too easy for them to defraud the card.
    All fuelled up we went back to the Grand Canyon, pulling in at the airport and booking a helicopter flight over the canyon. We only had a short wait luckily, as we walked to the waiting area, the place filled up with Dutch and Germans (a trend we had many times). The helicopter ride was a well oiled operation, the music through the headphones, the spiel from the pilot etc. That aside, the trip was worth it, we got to experience better views and gain a perspective on the canyon only a helicopter can give. Bloody awesome! (rather than the Star Wars music, I would have preferred Ride of the Valkyrie as we went over the rim, but that's just me). We got a good view of the river and I saw some rafters, the large inflatable rafts full of people, they were tiny specs, the river doesn't look that big, but it's so far down only that gave me the scale of the thing, the Grand Canyon is one bloody big hole!
    Once we landed, we got the photo and DVD, then drove east along the rim, stopping many times. We stopped at the Indian ruins and this made an impression on me personally, as a Brit I was sad that we destroyed a whole culture and turned this beautiful landscape into a tourist attraction. Leaving the Grand Canyon behind, we went to Cameron, Tuba City, Tonalea and arrived in Kayenta as the sun was low. We had a small detour to the Navajo National Monument, again this made me realise just how much damage the "white man" has done.
    The hotels in Kayenta were full (or really expensive) but the Best Western had one room on hold, but they hadn't arrived to claim it we were told to call back shortly and if it was still vacant we could have it. Drove into Kayenta for food, it's a rough area, the town is in the Navajo reservation, and you can see the area is depressed and poor. We got the room and were having a ciggie on the balcony watching the stray dogs wander about, then the stray horses. I kid you not, stray horses wandering about the car park and down the main roads, traffic was slow and with good reason. The hotel had net access and Christine posted on the boards.

    Day 5
    Up before dawn, a coffee and off to Monument Valley to watch the sunrise. Brilliant! Got some nice shots, although photos don't do the colours justice. Don't ask what time it was, we had lost track, there was Pacific time, Mountain time and Navajo time. Once the sun was up we moved on. Got to Mexican Hat and stopped for breakfast, great little place, nice diner, a selection of little motels and a river. Got a nice shot of the humming bird feeding outside the diner. Left the town and looked at the Mexican Hat, an unusual rock just outside town. Continued on towards Bluff but got sidetracked onto the 261 past the valley of the gods. This road heads towards a cliff, although the cliff got bigger, we couldn't figure out where the road went, left or right. Wrong! it went up the cliff! the Mokee Dugway...
    An 1100 ft cliff, the top 2/3rds of the switch back road is unpaved, recommended speed is 5 mph, if you go faster the car starts juddering and you lose control, RV's not recommended. From the top of Moki Dugway you can see Valley of the gods and Monument Valley in the distance.
    After a rest at the top, we continued on to the Natural Bridges National Monument (there are a lot of National Monuments at 20 dollars a time we should have bought an annual pass). This small park has a loop road that allows you to view the various naturally formed bridges over a little river. Got some piccies and moved on. Through Fry canyon and into Glen canyon area. Fantastic scenery round here, at one viewpoint we saw what looked like a concrete airstrip, but were informed this was actually the boat launch ramp, it was so long because the water has almost gone from this lake. The size of the water problem here is huge, the lake used to be so big it had it's own local weather system, now it's a 10th the size and vanishing fast. Carried on to Hanksville (gotta love that name), then Torrey and had a coffee, pondering our next destination. Decided to drive down 12 (voted No.3 in Americas most scenic roads).
    To be honest the first 1/3rd was like driving at home, green fields, cows etc. Then it got better. Through Escalante and along "The Hogs Back" a road high along a ridge, with a steep drop off both sides, Christine had her eyes closed for this bit hehe. Arrived in Cannonville as the sun was low, decided to stay here tonight. Nice clean motel, very quiet area and mostly Mormons so no bar or rowdy behaviour round here, suited us fine. Again the motel had net access, result! and the owner was quite chatty too (despite carrying the Mormon bible everywhere). Utah has alcohol, but only beer is allowed to be sold in shops, anything stronger you have to go to a state controlled outlet. Had a reasonable night despite the noisy bugger a few rooms down, he was a big fella and had a big snoring problem.

    Day 6
    Lazy start, after coffee and toast we moved on. Seems that the only "proper" bread is usually toasted, and burger buns and hotdog rolls are that chemical bread with no real taste. We liked sourdough bread though. Through Tropic and stopped at Rubys Inn at Bryce Canyon. Looked in the tourist shops, one was full of fossils, sadly most from abroad, including a nice one from Scarborough! another example of someone out to make a buck selling fossils that make you think they are local. After a couple of photo's we hired some quad bikes (or ATV's) and went on a tour of the area, to the canyon rim and took more piccies. The guy running this was a jolly nice fellow and only too happy to chat. The canyon was soft sandstone and the erosion was dramatic, a small stream had cut a very deep chasm into the rock in a surprisingly short time, took a pic of a collapsed bridge that spanned the gap a few years ago and you could see how fast it was eroding. Left Bryce behind and headed west to Cedar City and then Newcastle, Uvada and Caliente, here we stopped for food, a small railroad town. Watched a very long train pass by, 3 engines and more trucks than I could count, took a while to pass, horn blowing and the noise of the tracks made this a memorable encounter. The food was good too, although I suffered a lot of heartburn in the US for some reason. Refreshed we continued on. got to the start of 375, the Extraterrestrial Highway. This is one long road very long straights followed by a short twisty section though the distant hills to more long straights. Stopped in Rachel at the Little A'Le'Inn for a drink and look around. This is the closest main road to Area 51, and so has the reputation for many strange UFO sightings, probably because Groom Lake is the USAF aircraft testing ground. The only alien we saw was the young lady at the diner, she never stopped talking, she was on drugs or hardly sees anyone. There were no rooms at the inn so we moved on. Stopped at Warm Springs for a bathroom break, a deserted small town, one of many we saw on out travels. Gives the impression most Americans are gypsys at heart, stop at a place, build a wooden house to live in, then move on leaving the house to decay and the 3 pickups in the yard slowly rot away (no rust here though, too dry). Got to Tonopah, a run down mining town, and found a Best Western motel, with net access. We discovered that Tonopah is one of the best places to go stargazing, due to it's remote location and clear skies. After showering and stuff we hopped in the car and drove a few miles out of town, pulled down a dirt road, parked and got out, we looked up... The stars were so clear it was hard to pick out the constellations we all know, the plough, orion etc. there were so many stars, the Milky Way so vivid, amazing sight. Yet another surprise on our journey, we didn't expect.

    Day 7
    Left early and got fuel, headed west to Lee Vinning on Lake Mono, due to it's proximity to Yosemite Park, it was quite touristy and we didn't stop, continued into Yosemite via Tioga pass, one of the few roads over the Sierras. Fantastic road with lots of scenery to take in, and it climbs to about 11000 feet, the altitude was noticeable, the air was thin. Once over the pass, we went to Yosemite Village in the heart of the park. The place was very busy, but considering it was Sunday this was no surprise really. Queued for food and ate yet another burger type meal, watching the squirrels and chipmunks beg for scraps. Really picturesque place, despite the crowds. We left Yosemite via the 140, had to detour due to a rock fall that took out the road. Glad nobody was under that lot. The going was slow, and at Mariposa decided to head north on the old route 49, one section of this road was so twisty it made my arms ache with all the wheel turning, a slow section of road. We got to Coulterville and had another very pleasant surprise, The Jeffery Hotel. This hotel was one of the oldest in California, and had the oldest constantly operating saloon in the state, opened around 1851 and still going. The woman running the hotel had put in a lot of work to restore the hotel to as close to original as possible, and it showed, the place was great, our room had an old fashioned tin frame bed, even the door hinges were original. We dumped the bags and went to the saloon, had a few drinks and some food, ate in the beer garden and played with the hotel cats, a really nice hotel in a nice little town, suited us perfectly. The local sheriff turned up and Christine got her wish of a photo with the bewildered sheriff. We retired to bed happy.

    Day 8
    We got up and had coffee, then explored the small town, it's parade of shops and of course the local diner for breakfast. Nice place Coulterville, we were sad to move on, but San Francisco was not too far away. Continued along the 49 north to Plymouth then turned west towards Sacramento, got on the interstates and on to San Francisco. soon the Golden Gate bridge came into view, and the city skyline. The city was hellish busy after the meandering 49, we stopped in the city after a search for parking (limited to 2 hrs) we got a coffee and Christine argued with the starbucks staff, one of the coffee's was nothing but froth! apparently this is how it's supposed to be, but they had to make us fresh ones, with some liquid in there. Watching the folks walk by we saw some very odd people, and a lot of tiny dogs in handbags carried by both men and women (i think). There are some pretty funny people in 'Frisco. We also had to get another 1gb camera card, we filled the first one. We grabbed some food and went back to the car, deciding that we didn't want to stay in San Francisco, too busy and a nightmare to park, there were plenty of hotels, but most didn't have parking. We followed the signs for the bridge, and another ambition archived, driving over the Golden Gate bridge. Stopping in the parking area we got a chance to take more pics and see the bay, including Alcatraz island. Looking at our options we figured that taking the coast road south we would find a motel easy along the coast road, route 1. We got to Carmel and looked for a motel, all full and very very expensive here. It was getting late, not too much of the day left we carried on. Pulling in at a state beach to watch the sunset. we rested and after the sun had vanished we continued on, expecting this part of the coast to be full of small hamlets with a motel... Wrong, at about 11pm we got to San Simeon and lights, indicating motels. There we got a room at another Best Western motel, cost quite high but we were upgraded to a $300 room for the price of a standard room. Wow what a room, full wet bar, wood burning fireplace, huge bath and french windows that opened onto our patio and a view of the ocean. We slept well. Looking at the map it seems we drove along one of the most scenic coastal routes in the states at night! we contemplated going back to see what we missed, but maybe further south there would be opportunities to see more of the coast.

    Day 9
    Woke and opened the french windows, awesome sight! the pacific breakers rolling in, the rugged coastline in the distance. We walked along the beach watching the pelicans and seals before reluctantly packing the bags and looking at the map. South along route 1 towards LA. A mix of freeway and smaller roads along the coast we stopped at Ventura beach for coffee, from the TV you get the impression Ventura Beach is a nice place, but we found it a little run down and frayed at the edges despite the great views, think Bognor with better weather. After seeing how busy SF was, we headed inland and avoided LA, too big and the map shows nothing but a mess of roads. Started to get a little late we found a place to eat at Pine Mountain Club, odd name but a nice place, got a proper meal this time avoiding the burgers. The motel was closed and the map didn't show this area too well we fired up the satnav and told it to find the nearest motel, it took us onto interstate 5 and north, for a weekday night the road was very busy, a lot of trucks. The road was also surprisingly steep for an interstate, you could hear the tortured engines of the trucks on the downgrades as they used them to keep the speed down, brakes would get too hot as the slope went on for miles. off the interstate and west on 166 to Maricopa. A very long straight boring road ending at a small tatty town, Maricopa. There was a motel here and we needed to sleep, the motel was cheap and it showed, what a fleapit, hot and stuffy room, no facilities and the only coffee was in the gas station across the road. Dismal place but a bed is a bed.

    Day 10
    Rose early after a bad night's sleep, the trucks never stopped. In daylight we could see this is a truck stop town and lots of trucks passing through. Tried to head northeast, but got a little lost on the many roads in the area, avoided the interstate and got to a road heading the right way, 65 north towards Sequoia. Central California is a crap hole, heavily industrial, Taft is an oil town, lots of nodding donkey oil wells round here. As we progressed north this gave way to orchards, miles of them, a lot of fruit here, and Mexicans everywhere, even the signs were in Spanish, cheap labour I expect. Stopped in Porterville for food. Unremarkable town, but very clean and tidy. Had a stroll to stretch the legs, got fuel and left, north towards 198 which goes through Sequoia National Park, another 20 dollars to enter and as we climbed into the sierra the trees got bigger. At the visitor centre we looked in awe at the largest living things on the planet, Giant Sequioa trees. Just as you cannot capture the size of the Grand Canyon, you can't grasp the size of these trees. Some over 3000 years old and reach close to 400ft in height, but its the girth of the trunks that's impressive. Absolutely immense boles, a typical full grown Sequoia weighs in the same as 2 fully loaded jumbo jets. We took the giant trees walk, a gentle circular stroll among these ancient trees. Fantastic place. There are no facilities for food and drink in the park, this is to cut down the risk of fires, we saw plenty of signs warning of the high danger of wildfires, so no smoking in the park, no litter to spark a fire either, very sensible. Leaving the park behind and continuing up 198 we entered Kings Canyon and headed to Cedar Park. Stopping at a place they did food, we rested and ate. Inquiring about lodgings we were told we could rent a cabin in the woods for the night, oh wow, there was no stopping Christine, we rented the one furthest away and went to investigate.
    Over here the cabin would be called a garden shed. Gaps in the walls, no heating inside and a couple of bunks, this was gonna be interesting. Outside we had a wood burning stove and as the temperature dropped we go the fire going, welcome heat as the temps really dropped once the sun goes down. Despite the idyllic surroundings, we didn't sleep brilliantly, it was cold and the sounds of the forest kept waking us up.

    Day 11
    Woke early and got the fire going, we needed heat. After a breakfast of Hershey and cola, we checked out and looked at the weather forecast... snow was due, so we headed out of the park and made the run south down I99 to Bakersfield, another industrial area, we could see the smog long before we got there. At Bakersfield we turned east onto 178, away from Bakersfield we felt happier and stopped at Lake Isabella for food, again a small town diner provided the best food we have eaten on the trip, huge portions and tasty too. Refreshed and warm (80 plus here) we headed to Mojave and on to Barstow. The interstate I15 passes through the Mojave desert and it has a beauty of its own. We pulled off the interstate just after Barstow and visited Calico, a real ghost town. Sadly the place is more sideshow than history, but buried in a couple of the fake buildings are a few glimpses of the old ghost town, the last residents story was interesting and sad. We didn't take the 'railway' tour (think kids miniature railway and fairground ghost ride combined). We did however, have our piccie taken dressed in old western garb, oh the embarrassment! I'm sure the pic will surface sooner rather than later. Leaving Calico behind we made the run to Vegas. The road was long and quite busy, but it's the only road between LA and Vegas. As we approached the Nevada state line, we could see a glow, and as we got closer realised that someone had built a big casino complex just over the state line, yep, welcome to Nevada folks. Onwards to Vegas. We decided not to stay on the strip and looked for a motel closer to the airport, eventually found one on the approach road. Booked in and went to the room, deja-vu, this was a motel very very similar to the fleapit we stayed in back in Maricopa, further investigation revealed it was a motel of the same group, so a word of advice, avoid at all costs Motel 8 chain and any motel that's a part of this group. The TV didn't work and after Christine lambasted the desk a few times we were given a better room, well at least the TV worked in this one. After the biggest distance we covered this day, we flopped into bed.

    Day 12
    Final morning. We packed, showered and prepared for the flights home. Drove to the hire-car drop-off, just as well oiled as the pick-up place, we made sure the car was empty of all the little bits of stuff we had collected on our travels, the sequoia pine cone, (we left the huge sugar pine cone behind, too fragile and big to bring home), all the leaflets and receipts, all the trash of empty drinks and stuff. Once returned we took the shuttle bus to the airport and made it through to the departures lounge, plenty of time for a meal and drinks before we had to board the flight to Philly. Decent meal inside us as the food on the flights was bordering on inedible. Finally got on the plane, both of us had window seats for some odd reason, and once the plane filled up, we swapped seats with other travellers and got adjoining seats. Had a Brit in the seat next to us and chatted on the flight so made it a little shorter. However the flight was delayed so we had to almost run the full length of the airport at Philly to make the connection with the flight to Manchester. So much for a coffee and a pee in Philly.
    Once seated there was a delay while the bags were loaded, and then more delays as we missed out takeoff slot and were now 12 in the queue. Finally we got off the ground and the long flight home.
    Landed in Manchester about 8:45am tired but glad to be off the aircraft, not much sleep on the plane unless you're a contortionist. Michelle collected us, which was nice, and drove us home. We stayed awake as long as possible to try and minimise the jet lag, finally hitting the sack about 9pm

    Observations of a cynic Brit.
    America is a very big place. It's got some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, and if someone can figure out a way to charge for it, they will. Everyone is out to make a buck, including the government.

    The number of "Historic site" places was bordering on ridiculous, every few miles another sign would point to a site of historical interest, apparently anything over 50 years old is classed as historic. That makes us relics.
    America seems a nation that is very insecure, despite being the most powerful nation on the planet, they cling to anything that has any history attached. Every tiny hamlet we passed through had an 'Antiques' store, some were selling old Polaroid cameras as antiques.
    America is a young nation, so it's understandable they label anything over 50 as historic, but it irks me that they have already a history, far older than ours. The native American history, to me this should be preserved and built upon, rather than try to create new history.

    Vegas is a place to see, a monument to consumerism, the pinnacle of the disposable society. A few things that bothered me were small things, everything comes cellophane wrapped, sugar isn't lose in a bowl with a spoon, its in paper packets, everything is disposable, plastic cutlery, all the condiments in small packets, having a meal means as well as a leaving a plate, knife and fork (usually plastic) you also create a veritable pile of trash, all the empty paper packets, the cellophane the cutlery was wrapped in, the plastic sauce packets. To me this is too much, imagine the savings by removing all that pre-packaging, that alone would help reduce global warming.

    The fruit production in California uses a hell of a lot of water, and I wonder if all the dried up lakes and dams in the state are, in part, due to this. Next door to a fruit orchard would be a piece of land untouched, and it was scrub desert, the fruit trees aren't natural to the area, industrial level fruit farming using up resources at a rate that outstrips natures ability to replenish them. The amount of missing water beggars belief, look at the pic of the Hoover dam, that is low, not to mention the excuse for Lake Powell.

    The number of deserted buildings, obviously once homes, was staggering. Just left to rot and every one had at least one broken down vehicle in the yard. Gypsys on a huge level, move in, use it up, move on, leaving a mess behind.

    Indians are generally very poor, but they have a dignity, and an identity to be proud of, yet I get the feeling most 'white' Americans still see them as thieving natives. In California the numbers of Mexicans is immense, but the level of labour needed to provide cheap produce means this influx is the result along with the bad feeling between 'white' and 'Hispanic', it kinda makes a joke of all the 'historical' sites, like someone is trying to claim ownership.

    The smog as we approached LA, it was making my eyes water, literally!

    I used to take the piss out of Americans and their big gas guzzling cars, but having driven there, I now understand why so many need a big over engineered motor. Reliability and the size to handle the abuse they get, extremes of the weather, the huge distances flat-out and the many dirt roads. Still, I'll take the piss when someone drives one of these vehicles to the shops and back.

    Most Americans we met were helpful, friendly (even the guy who chewed me out for blocking a gas pump came around once he realised I was English), and eager to please. If people were dogs, the yanks would be spaniel puppies, full of life and energy, eager to play. Us Brits would be an old grouchy bulldog, watching the world go by, and grumbling most of the time, but occasionally running to fetch sticks when the mood takes us.

    Patriotism. The Americans are an incredibly patriotic bunch, every other house has a stars and stripes flying, this is bordering on fanaticism to me, however, it's a generally a good thing. Shame we can't be more patriotic over here, but we aren't allowed to fly the Union Jack from houses, it may offend our ethnic communities. (I hold the opinion our ethnic communities should be more patriotic, they chose to live here after all).

    What is it with the small dogs in bags? they were everywhere, bloody odd to see a big burly bloke carrying a tiny yorkie round. Although a lot of pickups had a hound in the back hehe.

    Why so many ways to cook an egg, yet only one way to cook bacon?

    Well all said and done we had a fantastic time, and would happily do it again, but avoiding Motel 8 chain. Although next time we would take an RV (caravanette to us Brits) so we could stop where we wished, there were a lot more RV parks than motels.

    God bless America, crazy mixed up nation it is.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 10-06-2007 at 09:44 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Lol

    Quote Originally Posted by lhuff View Post
    I'm pretty sure that's illegal in Louisiana. :)

    Great trip report and beautiful pictures.

    I've got to say, though, that with your screen name I was already giggling when I opened your posts. That episode of Taxi where Reverend Jim is trying to pass his drivers license test starting running through my brain.

    S...l..o...www d...o...w...nnnnnn

    That was the first thing that popped into my head, too!

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