© 2011 jemma

An update from me to you! #1

So I figured it was about time I updated all my dear readers about where we are and what we are doing. We are in the Unites States of America with Sarah and Andrew – Sandrew – and are driving down the California coast, across to Vegas and the Grand Canyon, then up through America to Toronto. Just a Sunday drive.

The End.

No…I wouldn’t leave you all hanging like that!!

So it began. Jess and I drove and drove and drove down to San Francisco to meet up with Sandrew. We left Edmonton and drove to Fernie where the next morning we were confronted with snow. On the way we drove though Crowsnest Pass and saw the deadliest landslide in North American History known as Franks Slide. Incredible.

The snow didn’t stop us, but it did worry us a little. Lucky we had the snow tyres on and were able to move through the snow with ease and brake in time to miss the 10 or so big horned sheep that came sliding down the mountain onto the road. Then it was onto the Canadian/US boarder.

It went smooth enough, I paid my six dollars and Jess went through for free as he is Canadian. Then it was through Idaho and onto Washington to Spokane for the night, where we encountered more snow! I think it was following us. From Spokane we drove to Chemult Oregon where we spent the night in the middle of nowhere and then went onto San Fran. I can’t think of anything exciting except that there was snow, long driving days, nice scenery and a lot of traffic coming into San Fran. I have never seen 20 toll booths and so much organised chaos in my life!

As we had already been to San Fran I spent my days walking around with Sandrew and the afternoons with everyone as we revisited many old haunts. On Monday night we were all sent to jail on Alcatraz which was amazing!! It is funny walking around with hundreds of other people all silently listening to the same walking tour but at different times and all heading in different directions. The jail was creepy though and we got to see underground in the old foundations and the hospital which is pretty mouldy! All the bullet and shell holes are still there from the hostage situation too. Jess was sad that Sean Connery wasn’t there though.

In Sonoma I revisited the mission with Sandrew and General Vallejo’s house which was beautiful inside. Everyone then went wine tasting but as only Andrew and I like wine it was down to us to drink all the wine for the team. We got all our tastings for free and we didn’t even buy a bottle! Delicious wine though, and at one place even the guy working there started drinking with us – apparently we were there for over an hour…whoops sorry Sarah and Jess.

Off to Yosemite we go and unlike before, this time we stayed in the park which thankfully wasn’t as busy as before! We stayed in the tents at Curry village – we got a heated one thank god – and it was amazing. Jess and I knew what to expect when we drove in in the dark, but it was nice to see the look on Andrew and Sarah’s faces the next day when they woke to blue skies and massive granite cliffs. I also finally got to see the bottom of Yosemite falls, and we all hiked to mirror lake, which by this time of the year was more like it’s usual river. A coyote walked past us too and we actually saw deer! Amazing what animals you see when millions of people aren’t around. It made hiking through Mariposa Grove and the giant sequoias more enjoyable too and a lot more peaceful.

From Yosemite we headed to Giant Sequoia National Park. To get there we drove though orange grove after orange grove and up a very steep mountain and through snow. Lucky we drove up the day we did because the next day the road we had come in on was closed due to the massive amount of snow that fell that day. We woke up to snow and we fell asleep to snow and we hiked for four hours through the most amazing forest I have ever seen, in the snow. We saw the tallest tree in the world – General Sherman – and a lot more giant trees including ones that you could fit four adults inside, ones that settlers had made houses from, ones with giant arches and tunnels in the middle of them and my favourite the chimney tree. AMAZING!!!! On the way down from the mountain and out of the park – after we were finally able to take the chains off the car – we even saw four black bears in the valley below. A nice end to an incredible experience!

Then it was off to the coast to San Simeon where we had stayed before. We revisited the elephant seals which at this time of the year were both male and female with the males fighting for dominance. There were many fights on the beaches and massive males lying about. One poor little seal was always getting chased by a giant one and it made the worst noises! Poor little thing. We spent our days walking on the beaches – it was warm! – and around Cambria and driving up and down the coast to see the views and even a sunset or two.

Then in was Thanksgiving. Someone, somewhere was helping us out when we were able to get an apartment with a full kitchen close to the beach in Santa Barbara the day before Thanksgiving. We bought a whole turkey, veggies, pumpkin pie and alcohol, all that you need for a Thanksgiving feast! It was delicious, especially the cranberry sauce that came out of a can. Mmmmmmmmm! Oh and the wasabi mash, Jess’ new favourite dish to make. We had a blast, and enjoyed the sunshine and high temps. We even made time to go shopping on Black Friday when we hit the shops in down town Santa Barbara! Makes a change from freezing temps and snow. I really do love Santa Barbara!

Onto LA now and our brief split from Sandrew. As we had done the whole Hollywood thing, Jess and I decided to hang out in Manhattan Beach while Sarah and Andrew went and stayed in the bright lights of Hollywood. It was 30 deg both days we were there and we rather enjoyed walking along the beach in the sunshine, seeing the animals in the marine research lab and having a long lunch. It was very relaxing, although as Jess said to live on Manhattan beach you need to look like a movie star. When we were leaving we picked up Sandrew and went up to Griffith Observatory to see once again the Hollywood sign, and then it was onto the LA freeway to get stuck in traffic. Ahhhh 10 lanes of stopped traffic, only in LA!

The Volvo hummed down the highway to the other end of California now, San Diego. Yup that’s right we were off to the zoo. Although almost on par with Taronga Zoo, San Diego Zoo just does things that little bit better. It is a lot bigger, has more animals, looks modern and set out right and the animals look right at home – except the polar bears. Oh and it has PANDA’S!! A very cute baby panda in fact who treated us to a show of climbing up trees and becoming interested in all of us spectators. Thank you baby panda!

In San Diego we also checked out the harbour with its giant aircraft carrier and a giant wartime statue of a solider and a nurse kissing. Much to the amusement of onlookers, we each took turns replicating it. We also went to old San Diego or The birthplace of California! Was fun walking around like back in the day, checking out the shops, parks, gardens and especially the delicious chicken fajitas for lunch! Mmmm mmmmm!!!

Last but not least – well in this update anyway – was DISNEYLAND!!!!!! All our childhood fantasies came alive when we walked through those gates and saw all those Disney VHS’ of our childhood. Ahh kids these days just don’t know the joy of a good old video. We stayed in that park from before 9am – we were just soooooooooo excited – till 8pm and saw everything: the parade, fireworks, space mountain, splash mountain, the matterhorn, new Orleans and all the other hundreds of other attractions and rides. I think our favourite was the Indiana Jones ride where you are thrown around an Indiana Jones set in the back of a jeep…CRAZY! Photos were also taken with Goofy and Cinderella, with Andrew offending Aurora – sleeping beauty – by not knowing her name, silly boy! We had so much fun and were well and truly pooped by the end of the day. Thankfully we had IHOP for dinner!!

Well that is all of my update for now. Look out for my next update – Las Vegas to Toronto – coming soon to a computer near you!! 🙂