27.4.14

California

I don't know if I mentioned this but I just returned from a road trip with DD, in a Mustang convertible, along the Pacific Coast Highway in California.

Here are some photos you may have missed, and a few links to posts you may have missed too.

lemon crisps
New favourite crisp flavour

Sea lions at pier 39, San Francisco
Sea lions at pier 39, San Francisco

Elephant seals
Elephant seals

My Little Pony - McDonalds
My Little Pony - McDonalds....it was late, I'm lazy at finding restaurants

Venice Beach
Venice Beach where I was chatted up a lot, thus proving the case for marijuana

Two Headed Turtle at the Freak Show
Two Headed Turtle at the Freak Show

freak show sign
Freaks
Venice Beach - a freak show, Wolf Boy Larry Gome
Also on Venice Beach - a freak show, Wolf Boy Larry Gomez, nice guy, hairy

venice beach
I haven't kidnapped a baby, she's the granddaughter of my Californian buddy

mustang beach selfie
Californian Buddy doing selfies in the convertible with DD - I'm busy being sensible and driving


motel pool
Swimming at the motel pool

fish Lunch at Neptune's Net
Lunch at Neptune's Net

ihop pancakes
Breakfast at iHop

driving the mustang
Driving



mustang

 And we are home. And it's raining. Already saving for our next trip.

Pop back to look at the travel blog posts I posted while I was there

The adventure Begins

Cruising along in my automobile

One Misty, Moisty Morning

San Francisco, fog, prison and sea lions

The one with lots of driving

Scream if you want to go faster in which our intrepid heroes visit Six Flags Magic Mountain

The wolf man - where we visit a freak show

We're gonna need a bigger boat - in which we go whale watching and see no whales

The happiest place on earth - Disney - where else!?

Some holiday snaps

23.4.14

The one where DD loses her coat and I stamp! but not my feet!

So, before we had the exciting holiday in California (you didn't think I was going to stop talking about it yet did you?) I had the fun parenting moment of


"Mum, where's my coat?"


Of course like a million mothers before me I replied "where ever you left it!"


But alas like a million children she had no clue where that was. We searched the house, we tidied her room (steady on! she's a teen this was a whole blog post on its own!) But no coat was found. We searched bags, cars, car boots (trunks for the American readers) and still nothing.


"Could it be at school?" I enquired?


So next day she promised to look but came home ominously coat-less. "No luck then?" I asked. "Did you check lost property?" and here she looked straight at me and said

"Well there was a coat like mine hung in the classroom, it was the same size as mine, it was on my peg, it had sweets in the pocket like mine, I just wasn't sure it was mine"

So after I banged my head against the wall for a while I politely suggested maybe it was hers! But it wasn't labelled, so she didn't want to take it in case it was someone elses! "Take it!" I yelled, "If it's still there tomorrow, take it!"

Of course it was her coat and as amazing serendipitous luck would have it that VERY DAY I was asked to review Stamptastic, a naming system involving no writing, no sewing, no ironing! How fortuitous.

The premise is pretty simple, Stamptastic create a personalised stamp on a rather nice transparent acrylic block, and send that along with special indelible ink on a pad and you stamp the name into the clothes!



I gave it a go, it's quick, clear, easy and actually pretty fun! Pretty soon I was stamping all her stuff, shoes, pants (you never know - she is a teen!) shirts, the lot. I nearly had to give up with her school jumper as it's navy and the only white space to stamp was the tiny label but I even managed to squeeze it onto that.



That's the only downside (and it's not really a big one) that you need a white (or pale) space to stamp. But it's so quick and such fun I imagine that you'll find yourself squabbling over who does it, I bet your kids would want a go!

Because it's not only good for clothes, you can stamp pens, pencils, rulers, pencil cases, lunch boxes...well even your child I guess! It's .. well it's Stamptastic!

 Photo credits - Stamptastic

Stamptastic sent me a stamp and ink set for the purpose of this review but the post is all my own!

17.4.14

The Happiest Place on Earth

After a day chilling, shopping and lazing about, we finished the day with a delicious dinner at Denny's, surprised me as much as you, I had the pot roast and it was delicious.

Then we went to bed early to prepare for a day at Disneyland.

We set off late-ish to miss the traffic around LA and arrived in time for an early lunch...brunch? So we popped into the Rainforest Cafe and had another lovely meal. M and I both had a chicken sandwich and DD had a burger, I sneaked in a Cheeta-Rita (margarita) as I wouldn't be driving for many many hours..hours of fun!



The park was busy of course but I had a disabled 'return later' pass (due to my Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease) so we didn't have to actually wait in the line, we could save the spot and return later. We started with Space Mountain and Ms screams and the look on her face in the ride photo were hilarious. We rode lots of fun rides, saw parades, looked around, I was genuinely happy...

Seeing so many happy little kids, girls and boys dressed as their favourite characters, princesses, pirates and a couple of big bearded guys with their My Little Pony themed clothing and toys....

I bought some Maleficent styled Mouse Ears and later bought a Minnie Mouse hoodie with ears...I think they put something in the water that makes you want to dress up...oh no, that's just me!

We took lots of pictures but they are all on my camera so I'll upload some later. We even went on the Small World ride again and I took a bit of video.

We ate pasta for dinner in the park, then went on Space Mountain again, did a bit more shopping and then left at about 11pm for a two hour drive on the freeway to the hotel. Finally in bed at about 1.15am. A long happy day.

15.4.14

We're gonna need a bigger boat...

So we went whale watching. Up at 5.30am for an early start, 8am at the dock. We took M who has lived here 27 years and never been because she was scared it would be horrible. I have been whale watching before, out of Boston, so I knew what to expect.

The morning was cool but clear and we set off on an 85foot boat. (Many shark jokes were made) The harbour was calm as a mill pond of course, but even past the harbour wall there was hardly any movement on the sea. We had all taken seasickness pills just in case anyway. So when we smelled Chef Paul start to cook bacon .. BACON. ,... We were straight into the galley! I had a BLT with Mayo and it was delicious, I washed it down with a cup of coffee (no lid on the cup, and I wandered the deck with no spills!) M had bacon and fried potato and a Bloody Mary! We watched the pelicans, and the sun sparkling on the water, it was beautiful.



Then we were joined by pods of common dolphins. They are so lovely with their attractive markings and the way they leap and play. They swam with the boat, sometimes leaping right out of the water, playing in the bow wave just because it was fun. No wonder fishermen imagine dolphins are the souls of dead seamen, it would be a fine place for your soul to reside.

 


We didn't see any whales on our three hour trip. (In news that cheered DD we didn't see any sharks either) But the bacon and the dolphins ensured it was a relaxing and fun trip. M was pleased she came, she thinks she might even do it again, earlier next year, and take her sister.



We came back and went for lunch at Taco Bell, then we chilled, lazed about Ms house, watched TV and later went out for pizza. Early night as we were tired from our early start.

13.4.14

The wolf man

So the day dawned cool and overcast, yes really, in california, don't they know who I am!

DD and I showered and dressed, preparing for a trip to Venice Beach. Last time we visited was in 2009 and when we passed the Freak Show on venice beach it was closed, I love a freak show! So I was really sad to miss it. For the last five years I've been dreaming of visiting. This year I checked the times (it only opens at weekends, and only from 12pm - 6pm) and the price ($5) and I told M and DD that we were going to have to visit. 

We drove along highway 1 again, and by the time we left if was sunny and hot, we took the roof down on the car.


We parked right by the beach and the freakshow, and I couldn't pay fast enough! I was not disappointed. We saw oddities such as various conjoined animals, some stuffed or wet preserved but many alive! I have never seen so many two headed turtles! (And I'm fairly sure I never will again!) a two headed snake, and the cutest little five legged dog, Rocky.

There was a show, of fire eating, sword swallowing and some pretty gruesome "hooks through the face" stuff, a guy that let you staple money to his bare skin with an industrial staple gun (ouch), a girl that sat in an "electric chair" and lit bulbs in her hands, and even used a spark from her finger to like a gasoline soaked rag!

We saw the bearded lady, a pierced guy that had no skin un pierced! He was virtually a human pin cushion, several "little people" and my favourite...Larry, the wolf boy. (Well you know how I like a beard)


The whole of Venice Beach is full of freaks though, they are not all in a freak show! We wandered along the boardwalk looking at the shops, the skate boarders, the buskers, the stalls, the sun bathers, the people mediating, and all is pervaded by the strong smell of the "medical" marijuana that is on sale at every corner.



We even went for a quick paddle in the sea before returning to the car and driving to Cronies Sports Bar for curly fries and beer.

What will we do on Sunday? Fish and chips by the ocean is planned, maybe squirrel fishing, and some shopping.

12.4.14

Scream if you want to go faster...

After a trip to Walmart (something DD has been dreaming of, don't ask!) where I had the exciting
experience of having my credit card declined (the bank said I shopped too much so it looked suspicious! Ha!) we went to Six Flags Magic Mountain.

We rode on loads of fun rides, and used a flash pass so we didn't have to wait at all (yes we were those people you hate that walk to the front of the line and take your spot) The flash pass also allowed us to ride twice without getting off the ride, so mostly that's what we did. 



The rapids were DDs favourite ride I think, she rode them 4 times! I only went 3 times after. A huge wave went right over my head and soaked me to my underwear! So glad it was hot and we could dry off fast in the sun!

rapids theme park ride California six flags


wet feet after a water ride at a theme park

We also rode Goliath, a 255ft high drop with speeds of 85mph. Excellent fun. We tried the Ninja too, a suspended coaster that is really smooth, DD liked that enough to ride it 3 times.

roller coaster at six flags california

roller coaster six flags

The Apocolypse was a rickety fast ride past burning cars (so close you felt the heat from the flames) and great fun, though the Tidal Wave wasn't as scary as we thought it would be.

theme park water ride six flags california

As we both love roller coasters we had a fun day trying them all out. A nice snack lunch in the park of chicken and fries, a souvenir cup full of raspberry tea (which DD was surprised to find she liked) and then after a day full of brain rattling amusement I drove to Camarillo, to our next motel and to meet up with my online friend M.

She popped round to the motel and we lay on the beds chatting and laughing and eating candy until late. DD was asleep almost before M said goodbye.

Saturdays plans include the beach....Venice Beach, and the freak show...


The one with lots of driving

After San Francisco we had the long drive down interstate 5 ....oh poet and didn't know it...anyway, we had the long drive down interstate 5 to the next bit of fun which was Six Flags Magic Mountain, a roller coaster theme park that DD had wanted to visit on our last trip five years ago but we hadn't had time.

The drive was long, straight and easy. I had imagined it would be boring too but as the farming is so different and the views so lovely it wasn't boring at all. We stopped at a viewpoint to admire the vista and take pictures, including pictures of us by the car. I am going to miss my car when I go home!



On the journey we saw tumble weed, huge dairy herds (really huge, thousands and thousands of cows) sheep, vineyards, nut trees (almonds, pecans, walnuts) and mountains.

The drive was uneventful, though later we read about a horrendous accident that happened further north on the I5.

We checked in at our hotel, DD went for a swim and I watched this athletic activity from the hot tub.

I might* have locked us out of the hotel room at one point and had to request another room key, much to DDs embarrassment. 


*did

10.4.14

San Francisco, fog, prison, and sealions


So Wednesday was San Francisco. The morning dawned cool and misty, in fact it was trying to rain.

We took a trip in the morning to Alcatraz. Sadly the Golden Gate Bridge was shrouded in mist/fog so no great photos of the view. But Alcatraz was all I hoped. The "rock" is actually a pretty place, but the cell block, even when full of tourists, is cold, and eery. We saw the cells where famous prisoners were held, and where some escaped from. To stand in a tiny cell knowing people lived in that bleak space for years...part of me thought how it would put you off doing time ever again, but part of me thought that when you were there for year after year after year it would destroy you, and leave you feeling hopeless or violent with no real care as to what happened next. There was a library though, and book privileges, ... very noticeable that the rules and daily routine were spookily similar to the rules and schedule we have for DD ...how she laughed

Blogger Bear (on loan from Bigfashionista) dressed the part...he's not sure if he looks cool, cute or silly. 


We stopped for lunch after the trip, sitting on pier 39 admiring the sea lions as they squabbled and basked. Looking black and sleek when wet but cuddly furry and brown when dry.


We walked along the wharf, and after spotting the simply enormous queue for the cable car ride we decided to take pictures only, and walk up to Lombard street...

We spent some time first listening to the cable, discussing how the cable cars work, no engines or motors, with the cable always moving in the street etc, so all very informative and educational, and then the stroll..

It's one five blocks, how steep can it be? ... Very! I thought I might die, but we made it, took more photos then walked back to the car to leave for the next hotel...

Unfortunately hitting "rush" hour...so that was fun, we took the top down in the car and just patiently crawled out of the city over the Bay Bridge. 

Two hours later we were at the hotel, grabbing a McD to eat in bed and watching crime shows on tv. 

Next, the long drive south down I5.


9.4.14

One misty, moisty morning


Woke early again today, darn time zones, even DD was awake by 6am, so we were up, showered, packed and ready to go before 8am.

Nowhere for breakfast so we set off coffee-less along the highway to see the elephant seals. There was some mist over the sea, it was early, we were almost alone with the seals, just a litter picking guy in the car park ...

We watched their amazing wobbling wallows up the beach, their grunts and bellows, their play fighting (they were mostly juveniles) and the occasional swim. DD said it was the best bit of the trip so far, we hung around for a while just watching, videoing and being amused by the seals. We then carried on driving, looking for a cafe

We were not disappointed as we discovered a lovely coffee shop, gas station and mini mart at Ragged Point, the coffee shop guy was really friendly, we had apple pie (and DAMN it was fine pie) for breakfast. Then we used the restroom and bought some snacks and on we went.

The highway along the coast is gorgeous, nice to drive, almost empty. Our views were sometimes obscured by the mist rolling in, but even that was beautiful. Sadly some of the larger bridges were totally in mist.

We saw buzzards and loads of turkey vultures too, dd was nervous they would eat us!
We took the top down on the car again, despite the mist making it cool, and despite, my *ahem* sun kissed arm, we drove for over an hour with the top down and heater on! Haha



Long story short....we made it to San Francisco.

8.4.14

Cruising along in my automobile...

So, how's my trip going? It's 3am and I can't sleep, so I'm blogging for a bit, hoping to nap again at 4!

The flight was great. DD has only eve flown with budget airlines before so she was delighted to discover that Virgin Atlantic provide personal TVs , with movies, tv shows and games, and also that all drinks are free, and food and snacks, including ice creams, are provided at regular intervals, very regular, I felt like I gained ten pounds on the flight! There was a good choice of movie too, I watched Twelve Years a Slave, terrible subject but an amazing film with great acting. I also watched Enders Game, I found it actually pretty good, and as I knew the ending I was quite moved by what happened in places. Then I watched Gravity, not my sort of thing at all, I found that of course the special effects were great but the movie just didn't grab me, I felt very "meh" watching it, didn't care if characters survived or not and was bored by the end, very glad I didn't pay money to see it!

We arrived safely in LA and despite me not having filled a form in correctly we were allowed onto US soil. DD enjoyed watching a beagle working at the airport, keenly searching everyone's carry on luggage with his nose.

We picked up our car and I was excited to find we'd been given a Mustang. It's a convertible, silver and very nice. Driving through LA in the dark in an unfamiliar car, chanting "drive on the right" was a fun experience, but we made it safe to the Hollywood Historic Hotel, a gorgeous hotel, full of gilt and wood and red carpets and faded glamour of the Hollywood of yesteryear. We took photos of the Hollywood sign from the street ( a standing joke with DD and I, last time we visited we seemed to never be able to find a spot to see the sign and this year we picked a hotel with views of it for our first night)


On Monday we set off to drive up the coast, the gps that I paid extra for has a dodgy connection and won't charge! There was swearing .... We moved on to our paper map, put the top down on the car, put the driving cd on LOUD and drove with DD map reading and both of us singing at the top of our voices. 

The weather is beautiful, sunny and hot, so of course I'm slightly sun kissed (even though dd warned me to wear sun cream .... I forgot)

After filling up with "gas" we have made it to San Simeon, I've downloaded a free US sat nav to my galaxy tablet and with the power of that and DD's map reading skills we'll be setting off for San Francisco in the morning...well, later in the morning.....

And this time we have head scarves and sun screen at the ready.



5.4.14

The adventure begins

Well. It's zero minus 24 hours. Soon DD and I will be jetting off to California, economy class don't get too excited, and starting the driving and the fun.

I'm still nervous of disaster but DD is being amazingly calm and we have discussed that if things go wrong we will laugh and call it a "tale to tell".

I've done all the stuff I need to do except the online check in, can't do that until another few hours have passed apparently. Disney tickets have been bought and printed out though.

Blogger Bear (via @bigfashionista's blog) arrived at lunchtime. I had almost forgotten about him! DD was very excited to get him to try on some new clothes and have is photo taken for his passport. There is currently a Bear Passport Office in operation in her bedroom, scissors, glue and appear all over the place. BB seems happy but bemused. I hope he likes the trip and isn't airsick.

I've recorded a CD for the car. It's not great but better than nothing. LMFAO feature, as do the Monkees, and Katy Perry, there might be an Eagles track...

Poor Mr TM, who is not coming as he doesn't like that sort of thing, has managed to get a cold! So now he can't even drive us to the airport. He will lay at home snivelling and coughing while we get a taxi.

More news as it happens.