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  1. #81
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Time to go.

    October 3.

    Today was the day we fly back home to the UK, it's always a strange feeling, the disappointment in knowing the trip is at an end, running alongside the pleasure of soon getting to see everyone back home. We enjoyed an early breakfast outside, to a glorious sunrise over the Ocean, before packing the rest of our gear away and clearing out the RV. We always offer our 'left overs' to a neighbouring camper so I went and tapped on the RV next door loaded up with Firewood, lighters, loo rolls, milk and a bottle of wine etc and asked if these would be of use to them. The chap was a little taken back and the look on his face suggested he thought I might be trying to sell him stuff. Before he could say anything I explained the situation and he was most pleased, they were a family of 3 from Switzerland and they had only just picked their RV up the night before and hadn't stocked up yet. A few minutes later there was a knock on our door and we were given a couple of bars of lovely Swiss chocolate, Yum !

    Sunrise over Malibu beach.

    The RV had to be returned by 11am so we were soon on the road and driving past Santa Monica Pier where we had walked with Mark and Megan at the start of our trip, some 3500 miles ago ! Before dropping the RV off in Carson we had arranged to collect a car rental from Long Beach airport so that's where we were headed. The traffic wasn't too bad. We parked in a side road near the airport and Simon and I walked to the rental site while Lezli and Louise had a final brush up and wipe down inside the RV. We walked across the car park towards the office and I noticed a lovely black Suburban in the lot, I jokingly said to Simon, "that would do nicely". Our timing wasn't great in one respect, a flight had just landed and there was a queue at the desk so we waited in line. On the other hand our timing was perfect, as we got to the desk we discovered there wasn't a people carrier left available, so after having a quick chat with her supervisor we were informed we would have an upgrade, yep we got the Suburban. Nice !

    We then returned the RV and took care of all the paperwork, the chap serving us done a double take when checking the mileage and then looked a little worried about telling us how much that would cost, he looked relieved when I told him I already knew what to expect. [Apparently a lot of renters do not read the extra's that will be due.] I informed them of the incident on the Golden Gate bridge fearing that they would keep my deposit until resolved, but on inspecting the RV they said they wouldn't be holding it and not to worry. They seemed a lot less bothered by it than I had been.

    By this time we had about 3 hours or so to kill before our check in at LAX for the evening flight home. We thought about heading towards Hollywood/Beverley Hills but thought it could become a headache with traffic so instead we took my plan 'B' and headed just down the road to Long Beach for a look at the famous Ocean liner, the Queen Mary which sailed from Southampton England to her new home here at Long Beach in 1967.

    Queen Mary.

    We arrived to find that the parking was a minimum of $18 which we thought a bit steep for an hour or so but we were here so what the heck. Once we had parked up we were hoping to stroll along the Quayside and have a coffee and some lunch and enjoy the area, but that wasn't to be. It was like being on a boarding dock and if you wanted anything to eat or drink you had to pay to board the ship first which we didn't really want to do. The views of the boat were obscured by huge advertising hoardings and covered gangways so it was a bit of a let down. We strolled into an area with a closed up Fairground for a look around where a few other people had gone, only for us to be shouted at by an angry security guard telling us we were not allowed here. His anger didn't subside when I suggested he do a better job of securing it then ! We were at a bit of a loose end as to what to do when Lezli read the parking ticket small print that informed us we could park for up to 30 mins FOC, we had left the car 28 minutes ago !! We ran for it and just managed to get out without paying.

    We drove to Long Beach and had a stroll along the sandy beach and found a spot to have lunch, Alfredo's. The food was OK but I hadn't seen anything like the nearby public toilets, the cubicles, in both men and ladies, had no doors and the walls dividing them were less than 4 feet high. I am so glad no one was using the cubicle during my brief visit. EWW !!

    Long beach.

    We wondered what the little Islands were just off shore, Hotels or privately owned by the rich and famous. I discovered that's the look they were going for to the tourists eye, but in fact they are oil wells masked by tropical landscaping, architectural features and fake high-rise "buildings".

    It was a glorious sunny day but it was time to drag ourselves away and face reality, it's time to go home ! We dropped the car back to the rental desk at LAX and checked in for our flight. We flew back with Virgin airways and the flight was very pleasant, the plane itself had only been in service a few months and still smelt new. With the time difference it was 2pm [UK] the next day when we finally touched down at Heathrow airport, where my son was waiting to take us home, exhausted !!

    I will try and put some facts and figures together soon but that's it for now, until next time !! ;-)


    Todays mileage 85. Total 3557.

  2. #82
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Know the feeling well.

    ... it's always a strange feeling, the disappointment in knowing the trip is at an end, running alongside the pleasure of soon getting to see everyone back home.
    Made even worse when there is family in both places.

    Loved the trip, travelled so much with you.... and made notes for future trips. Thanks.


  3. #83
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    Thanks Lifey. It looks as though we won't be trippin in the US this year, so I will look forward to following your 2016 Field report adventures !


  4. #84
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Just like a disaster film!

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Here's another shot from the road of the 'Tsunami cloud'. At times it really did look like a wave to the eye. [Glad it wasn't!]

    YEAH, that would have been lights-out for you, if that had been a wave of sea water!


  5. #85
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default The summary.

    So here is a summary of our trip from the UK including costs.


    Having repeatedly checked costs on-line over a few weeks to familiarise myself with average flight costs, I recognised a good deal when it came up. It was just a case of whether or not it was genuine. Having chased a few false leads that advertised cheap flights, only then to follow a link that said they were no longer available, I noticed that Travelbag , a company that we had booked flights with before, and found to be good and reliable, had a special offer. I clicked on the link and after a phone call to our travel companions, we were booked on a direct flight to LA, it offered the best price available at that time, by far. The booking and ticket system was very simple and straight forward. We flew out with Delta and back with Virgin. Even though we had a 2 hour delay on departure, both flights were comfortable as could be expected with pleasant staff and the Virgin plane in particular was very good.

    Flight cost. £560 per person/ $ $873. Total for 4 £2240 / $3492.


    Mercure Hotel, Heathrow. The Mercure hotel was located 5 minutes away from our terminal. Although an added expense we find that it makes a far more relaxed travel day with the long journey ahead. All the last minute 'panics' were taken care of when we left home the night before. We didn't have to face the notorious M25 traffic in the morning or have to allow plenty of time for the journey in fear of delays. Instead we had a relaxing breakfast and a quick cab ride to the airport.

    Cost. £152 / $236 for 2 double rooms.

    Hotel, Venice beach suites. Lovely location on Venice beach and an easy drive from the airport on arrival.
    £248 / $387 for 2 double rooms.

    Total. £400 / $624

    Car rentals .
    As we had to pick up and drop off the RV at Carson City, it was actually cheaper to rent a car at either end of our trip then it was to use cabs, plus it was far more convenient. always offer good rates for overseas visitors and after comparing prices we used them again. Good straightforward service and the cars we chose were from National. We found them to be friendly and efficient and the vehicles were very good. On arrival the Grand caravan was spacious and comfortable for 4 of us and our luggage. The Suburban [a free upgrade] was excellent.
    Total. £80 / $ 127

    RV rental.
    After researching we chose Cruise America at the Carson City branch having had a successful experience with the Denver branch. After working out all the charges we still found them to be the most competitive. After much consideration we went with the 'Intermediate' 27ft RV, having done 2 previous trips in a 30ft. The body was more streamlined offering a quieter ride and supposedly better mpg, although we didn't witness any real change here. It was also slightly narrower which was handy on the narrow mountain roads, the type of roads where we spend a majority of our time. It was slightly smaller inside but didn't make a noticeable difference. The vehicle we were given was not great, in the fact that it had been well used. With 100,000 miles on the clock and scrapes and bumps all around it, it didn't fill me with joy when I clapped eyes on it. In side we inspected it only to find there were a couple of broken hinges and the doors were about to fall off, so we waited an extra 20 mins while they bodged it with bigger screws. Once on the road it was mechanically sound and clean inside so it wasn't a big deal to us, but others may have had a different opinion. The one bonus was that I could of scraped it just about anywhere and it would have been over a scrape already accounted for !! The LA branch were OK but their customer service skills were not a patch on the Denver crew, other than the guy who done the orientation with us that is.

    OK for first time RV renters, take note it is not something to do as a budget friendly option !

    RV costs.
    Initial rental. $944
    kitchen kit. $100
    Personal kits. $220
    mileage charges. $1205 [34c per mile]
    Generator. $3.50
    State tax. $222

    Total RV cost £1740 / $2694.5 or $168 per night for 4.

    Wait though, there is more ! We have to pay campground fees and fuel costs are higher than a car, so do your homework as we did.

    Campground fees.
    £26 / $40 per night average. [One night free]
    Cheapest: Manzanita lake. Lassen @ £11.50 / $18 Dearest: Malibu beach @ £52:50 / $82.

    16 nights total = £416 / $651

    Fuel costs.
    374 gallons at an average of $2.97 per gallon. Total. £720 / $1110
    Fuel consumption was around 9.5mpg.

    Other costs.
    National parks pass. £50 / $80
    Food/entertainment. £1500 / $2350 [Estimate]

    Total trip cost for 4 adults. £7,146 / $11,128

    If you are interested in exploring the West you might find our other trip reports helpful.

    San Francisco loop Yosemite, Grand canyon, Vegas, southern Utah.

    Denver loop. The Rockies, Arches, Canyonlands and New Mexico.

    Highways of happiness. Las Vegas through Great Basin to Glacier, Yellowstone, Utah and Grand canyon north rim.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 04-09-2016 at 07:28 AM.

  6. #86
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Shelton Connecticut USA


    Really amazing! I really enjoy a lot by reading your post about the wonder of the west. Thanks for sharing

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