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.
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.