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MIA-LAX on a 777

The journey gets going

sunny 32 °C

Saturday 3rd May 2014: Best Western Frontier Inn, Lone Pine, CA

It's roasting outside and we have escaped the mayhem of LA traffic, ending up for a night at the motel we last stayed at in 1981. It's the same as it was, even down to the dead wasps floating in the pool. It seems so familiar and after all that time. Amazing.

Anyway we were still in Miami when last we were with you, so it's a long way from there to here. Better get on with it whilst Bob is doing the laundry.... Why do I get all the rotten jobs?

Up before breakfast to join some American Airlines pilots in the shuttle bus to Miami airport. No, they are not flying us to Los Angeles. Simple check in and through security quite quickly with a full body scan, "arms up, face this way", for the first time. It even showed up John's hankie and passport which he was told in no certain terms should have gone through the scanner. For some reason Bob's boarding pass showed he was "TSA Prechecked" which meant he could have whisked through a special channel without checks. But he stuck with John so that we did not get separated.


Soon into the AA lounge wich was quite old and, as a result, very comfortable and cosy with big leather arm chairs. Food selection in domestic lounges is very restricted with a few pastries, nuts and cookies on offer. Unlimited coffee and soft drinks and one stronger drink if wished. Knowing we would get breakfast on the plane, we settled for a sticky pastry and coffee.


American Airlines (bankrupt) has recently merged with US Airways (not bankrupt) but the combined airlines will be called American and adopt the new livery. We like the old one with the polished metal!


Byebye Miami. We'll be back!


We'd already chosen our breakfast entrees (it gets madder). Bob the oatmeal which he said was delicious and John the salmon. Very nice but not much salmon. Bagel, cream cheese and jam all went down a treat.






The Mango Sorbet was absolutely yummy as can be seen.......


Soon aftern we left Miami the cloud thickened and we could see nothing of the terrible floods that had killed a number of people round Pensacola, Florida. However, it cleared after a while and the thrill of seeing nature at work started.


Bob has at last embraced some modern technology and was reading a book on his phone!


Before arrival, and to save us from starving, we were served a sugar or a chocolate chip cookie. We had one of each. Delicious too.......


One of the highlights of these trips is the flight across the interior of America. It always makes us wonder at the spirit of the pioneers who made it across so much of it which is so inhospitable and full of enormous barriers. We also think "we have to drive through that, somehow." Sometimes it does not seem that it could be possible.



We spotted some bright lights in the very distance. At first it looked as if they could be reflections but they went on too long for that. So it was etiher wildfires or UFOs. So much of the desert is given up to military testing and experiments that it was most likely the latter.


As we came in to land, another jet was taking off on a parallel runway, right by us. John managed to video it. It was somewhat odd to experience and quite exciting.

We then had to wait a while for a gate whilst another 777 pushed off, so there waa an opportunity to snap some planes for any friends who may be plane freaks, IanT!



There was some hassle collecting our car. John's name was not up on the board (first time this has happened) and we had to queue in the office. Then, despite booking it about 9 months ago, they did not have the car we had ordered. The problem is that we are going to drop if off in Montana and they do not want their own cars to not be returned to them. Which is daft as if all depots did that then no drop offs would be possible.

They eventually found an SUV with Colorado plates. A bit battered and not very clean but we took it rather than have to wait for an unknown time before something else came in. An Email has gone off to Hertz!

Actually it's not as bad as we thought and has a roaring V8 engine. Here is the beast, having arrived at the hotel car park. The beast not being the one with the checked shirt.


A nice cosy hotel, the Doubletree in Culver City, home of MGM, Columbia and now Sony pictures.

The hotel was full of delegates for a conference of members of the National Association of Post Office Supervisors. These were mostly elderly black ladies with grey hair from the Deep South who were absolutely wonderful. The place was full of laughter and Southern drawl. As Postal Supervisors we imagined them to be tough and bloody minded but charming with it. Which reminded us of someone else we know and love but could not quite put a finger on who that could be!


For dinner we took the easy option and drove the short distance to the Culver City Denny's which we knew from our previous visit. Getting used to driving in this place takes a while. It goes from initial terror to, after a couple of hours' driving to quite enjoying the battle to survive.

Denny's meals have improved enormously and are now good value and pretty darned delicious.


Bob had a Bourbon Chicken Skillet


and John the Seniors Chicken Fried Steak (for the over 55s). I'm not proud. A slightly smaller portion and cheaper too!


Right. Bob has finished the laundry and is doing a bit of ironing. This is small town America and places close early. We know that from bitter experience. So we'd better go eat....

The next Blog will be a gardeners' delight. hopefully.


Posted by Johnash 18:31 Archived in USA Tagged los_angeles hertz culver_city doubletree usa_roadtrip Comments (9)

Hunting for the Huntington

Magnificent gardens, terrible roads

sunny 27 °C

Saturday 3rd May: Best Western Frontier Inn, Lone Pince CA

Just back from a great Mexican meal and thought I'd try and catch up.

A great deal of yesterday was spent in traffic of which there is an awful lot in LA. First we went to Sony Studios and were allowed to park in their visitor car park while we went to the First Entertainment Credit Union. On our last trip, when we had a studio tour, we found that this, and other credit unions, do not charge to withdraw cash from their ATMs. So we got out some "free money" had a coffee "with the stars" and bought some hats and a T Shirt in the gift shop where this kind lady


after a bit of chatting up by John, gave us staff discounts and a free bag. Part of that was down to the fact she had just married a guy from Devon and I pointed out that my father was a Devonian.

We then drove out to Pasadena to visit the Huntington Library gardens. Freeways writhe their way around the urban sprawl that is known as Los Angeles. Most of them are in terrible condition as is a lot of the driving. Holdups occur at all times of day and night where freeways merge or separate or where people leave one to join another. For the most part, for sanity's sake, we avoid the freeways and stay on the Boulevards and Avenues. Often it's just as quick. Names are evocative. Santa Monica Blvd. Cienega Avenue. Sepulveda, and, of course, Sunset and Hollywood.

Anyway, we had to take the freeway to Pasadena or it would have taken the rest of our holiday to get there. Some nerve-wracking moments but we got there. Drove to the Huntington and it was not yet open. Never thought to check. So we drove back to Pasadena for a wander and coffee. A nice town, Pasadena. How does the song go?




Back to The Huntington. We had found this in a newspaper's (maybe New York Time?) top 10 things to do in Los Angeles. The house built by yet another railway tycoon, who no doubt made his fortune by treading on his rivals and, eventually got a conscience and started doing "good works" by setting up a foundation. The house and other buildings contain a stunning collection of Gainsboroughs, including the Blue Boy.



But it is for the gardens that people come here. We headed straight to the Desert Garden where we found a huge selection of plants (succulents & cacti) that will be familiar to those of us trying to garden in Spain. BUT, with a lot of water, yes water, (this stuff is given a lot of water once a week) and careful planting and landscaping, you too could have a garden that looks like this:-









And how is THIS for a yucca:-






We had the Desert Garden to ourselves as most folk seemed to be headed for the Japanese and Rose Gardens...


If ever you come to Los Angeles a visit to this place is well recommended.

We then drove back along the freeways to find the restaurant we had booked for dinner in Hollywood. Then drove by Graumann's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood, which was all but submerged under hoards of tourists. And we decided to stick to La Brea to get back to the hotel which flowed quite well apart from busy cross flows of traffic. It went from pretty shabby in Hollywood, smart and up & coming near Wilshire, then really down and out and dangerous as we got further south, ony becoming nice again in Culver City. One block can make the difference between smart and dangerous.

By the time we got back to the hotel we did not really want to face that drive back again so we reluctantly phoned the Dresden Rooms to cancel our reservation. Maybe next time!

After a rest at the hotel, where the Postal Supervisors were still making a lot of noise, we drove to the otherside of the San Diego Freeway to a mall we could see from our hotel room window. Bob bought a pack of nice white T-shirts ($26 but we had printed a J C Penney coupon which gave him $10 off) and a nice pinkish polo shirt reduced from $24 to $9.99 as a "Door Step Offer available only on Fridays and Saturday afternoons".

We decided to eat in the food mall. A huge choice from Mongolian, Japanese, Italian, Korean, Vietnamese to perhaps one American cuisine. We chose the "Stone Oven" which was a bit of a strange mix. Bob had a Mediterranean Chicken Salad which was disappointing and John had the Santa Fe Hot Ham Sandwich which was quite good. However, we were put off by the grubby surroundings in the food mall. Bits of food on the tables and rubbish underneath. Uncharacteristic for Amerian catering starndards. It was not particularly cheap and a poor substitute for the Dresden Rooms!



Stop Press: Arrived safely in Nevada (Longstreet Inn & Casino) having spent the day wondering at Death Valley. More on all this soon. Time for a gamble.


Posted by Johnash 17:09 Archived in USA Tagged los_angeles pasadena usa_road_trip huntington_gardens Comments (8)

LA to Nowhere in Particular, to Back Of Beyond via..... WOW!

we go via the highest point in the USA to the lowest, in the space of 100 miles

semi-overcast 33 °C

Monday 5th May: Room 2205, Golden Nugget Las Vegas

We have 4 days here in "Vegas" so time to catch up, and slow down and win some money. At our stop last night (Back of Beyond) Bob won $30 without trying. A good omen, no doubt.

Leaving Culver City on a Saturday we thought the freeways out of LA would be clear. Wrong! But, there was only one holdup of about 5 minutes getting on to the Santa Monica Freeway. Then fairly easy driving out of the mayhem. It's all a bit like a theme park ride driving here. Close your eyes, hold on tight, and hope for the best.

At last we get onto our target, US Highway 395. It's now 395 all the way to Canada, with a couple of sidetrips on the way.


We do turn off the road for Ransburg "Ghost Town". So often there are specially created tourist traps but this was pretty genuine. A town fallen on hard times and trying to make a few bucks out of it. We liked it. We were going to stop for a soda but were beaten to it by a load of scramblers who had brought there bikes and trucks up to the desert for a bit of dust swallowin'. So we moseyed on...





Much of this high desert is given over to a Naval Weapons site, just the other side of dried-up Owens Lake.



From the high Mojave desert, we can now see on the left the Sierra Nevada. We learned from the LA Weatherman that the snow cover on the Sierras is nothing close to normal. They should have a thick covering of snow at this time of year, which is what we expected, but they only have a light dusting. They rely on snow melt in the Spring to provide a lot of water. Not going to happen this year.


We finally arrive at "Nowhere in Particular" aka Lone Pine. Now this place we visited in 1981. The Frontier Best Western motel is just as we remember it, and they still have not bought new towels.


We had a room that from the front, looked like a punishment cell,


but we had a view from the back of the room toward the Sierras as well as the bustling Lone Pine Airport. Each time the aircon came on we thought a plane was taking off, but we saw no movement whatsoever.



In town, we found a Mexican restaurant and gave it a try.


Inside we were greeted by a local lad who must have been on his first night waiting as his whole extended family were outide laughing at him in his nice new white shirt. Aaaah!

Bob had pork taquitos with beans, rice and SPICEY guacamole.


John had wet burritos. Although there is a picutre of this, we thought it too upsetting for anyone viewing this Blog who is of a delicate and nervous disposition.

Maybe this is why they have this notice on the pool?


Sunday we are up fairly early in time to cope with the motel "free" breakfast. Not something for the faint hearted either. Bloggers may remember John wrote up the hazards that exist in the modern hotel bedroom for the eldery and/or mentally confused.

In some ways, the modern motel breakfast holds has many pitfalls and hazards in store. Watch this space for a full description of the horrors involved. Meanwhile, take in this innocent picture which belies the horrors occurring within the breakfast room.


Soon we are packed and on the way to Death Valley. Somehow we have avoided visiting this national monument and are not quite sure why. We both had a fairly clear image in our head and maybe did not want this spoiled.

We leave behind the Sierra Nevadas...


and are soon back in the desert, climbing and descending, climbing and descending...



There we are, Death Valley, wow!


No, false alarm. We're not there yet....


Now we're getting closer, another 282 ft to go!


Made it, down Badwater Road, to the bed of the ancient sea that now forms Death Valley. Given it was a Sunday, we were pleasantly surprised at how few tourists there were. Bizarly, whether they came by car, van or motorbike, most of those that were there, seemed to be French-Canadians. Odd, very odd. There were also Japanese, Russians and the odd Brits (some might say, very odd Brits) and very few Americans.


Very unusually, we both felt is was not far off how we had imagined it, though it was more downright gob-smackingly awesome than we could possibly imagine.


We then moved on to Zabriskie Point. It's something from the 60s that you could never imagine that you would visit one day. And here we are! The story of this National Park goes back to the mining of Borax. This mineral was dragged out of here by teams of 20 mules down 80 miles where it could be shipped out by rail. The owner realised that Borax mining had had its day and he persuaded Theo Roosevelt to make the area a National Park so he could then make money out of the tourists. And here we are! We did feel sorry for those poor mules. No animal rights then!




We then took our own 20 mule-power V8 GMC Yukon XL for a bit of off-road driving through 20-Mule Canyon. A bit hairy at times and we blessedly had it all to ourselves.



Finally we drive up to Dantes View, which is some 3,500' above Badwater where we had walked on the salt at the lowest point of the USA.


On the way out of the park we spot a disused Borax mine...


...and after an easy drive, we are at our stop for the night: Longstreet Inn & Casino, just over the border in Nevada.


This really is the back of beyond. Extremely odd, too. Probably the oddest place we have ever stayed at. Built in 1997 by a guy whose ambition was to own a gambling hall on the Nevada border. It was not an outstanding success. The place seemed to have only us and some French Canadians as guests and there was no one gambling in the casino. It had certainly seen better days but we liked it.

Here is the "dining room"


where we had a Swiss Mushroom Burger (John, his one burger a trip) and Bob the very good pork chop special at $7.95.


OK, now in Vegas, of course. An uneventful drive here (apart from TomTom suddenly stopping working at a critical point) but we made it via a really really good diner in a non-place called Pahrump, Nevada.




Amongst the customers, two officers of the Nevada Highway Patrol as well as a very well armed detective from the local Sheriff's Dept. Incidentally, we saw many posters for the forthcoming elections. Amonst them was Eric Marshall for Sheriff. Could cause confusion with the Marshall's Office. "High, this is Marshall the Sheriff. Could I speak to the Marshall, Sheriff". Not that Frank Sheriff was standing for Marshall, as far as we are aware.



Our ridiculous room in the Golden Nugget...


Now a little secret. I really should not be telling you this to save Arthur's blushes. He thought he was being clever when he heard we were coming to Death Valley, some 282' below sea level he packed his mask and snorkel. Ahem. Here we come, Vegas......


Posted by Johnash 17:15 Archived in USA Comments (10)

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas

Can't argue with that!

sunny 24 °C

Thursday 8th May 2014: Room 24218 Golden Nugget, Las Vegas, NV

Bob's packing. For the 2nd time in this hotel. We moved rooms on Tuesday when we found our nice room overlooking Fremont Street (aka Glitter Gulch) turned into a bass speaker when the bands and Fremont Street Experience started up, not finishing until 1.40am. Actually a nice bell boy helped us move and we ended up with double the number of hangers. Just hope we don't get charged.

24218 is a much better room on the 24th, 2nd from top, floor looking towards the Strip. Stunning views to go to sleep to and wake up to.

Exciting, tiring, frustrating Vegas. Like Marmite. Love it or hate it. There is no in-between for this city: 4 days and you'll soon start hating it anyway, till the next time! Some come from UK for two weeks. Stir craziness will certainly set in by the end of week 1!

The only sad thing to see has been the decline of Fremont Street. It always attracted the loonies but now it seems to have attracted ALL the loonies. And many of them wearing nothing but a G-string. Now, we are pretty broad minded as you will know, but there are limits. It is now downright sordid which sits ill with a hotel the quality of the Golden Nugget. And they have the gall to charge us $5.45 a day for the "Fremont Street Experience". We would be loth to do it, but we may look for somewhere on the Strip next time. Not that you have to go into Fremont Street at all whilst here. The valet parking for the "Rush Tower" where we are, is round the back anyway and the valet brings us our car to drive out of Downtown without seeing the sordid circus at all.

Anyways. here is a quick summary of our almost 4 days in Sin City.

Great room, and as it's mid week, at least a quarter the cost of weekends. Probably the nicest room on our trip but probably nearly the cheapest. The cost is made up in gambling losses, of course.



We were given a room on one of the "Club" floors where you have to insert your keycard to get the elevator to stop at your floor. On the elevator lobby we found this. It's rather odd that Arthur spent a lot of time going up and down in the lift, though no one knew what he was talking about when he said lift which is something you put in your shoe.


Tuesday morning we drove down to Orleans, a nice hotel/Casino South of town and off the Strip. A gentle place for a nice breakfast...


John thought he was ordering the healthy option of a "Yogurt, Berry & Granola Parfait" but it looked like this.


Under the squirty cream, it was a lot healthier than Bob's choice of eggs, over easy, ham steak and hashbrowns with white toast (choice of wheat, sourdough, rye, pumpernickle)


Arthur came up with an alternative to the Golden Nugget for next time, but we don't think Stan would approve:


For Tuesday evening, not having a show we wanted to see, we'd made a reservation at our favourite and most expensive restaurant, the Top of the World in the revolving platform at the Stratosphere. We think the thing has slowed down with age as we did not make one revolution in the two hours we managed to stretch our meal out to...


Bob chose to start with "Market Greens",


and we both chose the "Filet steak", John had mashed potatoes with something or other in and Bob a very posh looking baked potato (from Idaho, of course, don't ask)


We reserved our table for 7.15, timed for dusk so we could watch all the lights come on. The best view in town!



Arthur has now decided he wants to buy one of these. Though not clear in the picture, it seemed to be based on a fire engine. In the back, where the blue lights are, we spotted 3 "ladies" pole dancing as it drove off. Stan would most certainly not let Arthur buy one of those!


Another day, another breakfast. No visit here is complete without a visit to the Denny's at the top of The Strip. Probably the busiest Denny's in the land. Here's Bob's eggs over easy, bacon, hashbrowns and hotcakes (aka pancakes). John's was much healthier than that!


Served by the delightful Cesar who were not quite sure was Hispanic or Indian, or both. The trick of the American server, and this is all but universal, is to make you feel you are important and that they are they to meet your every need (almost).


Arthur claims he had parked his bike outside... what's that on the helmet...


...Stan's frowning again. Sorry, Stan!


We're now ready for our visit to Boot Barn.


Bobs gets some new Wrangler jeans, half the price of Spain or UK. John needed a new wallet and we both got some great T shirts from their "work clothes" department.


We wanted to visit some new hotel/casinos that have opened. Around 2006-7, before the crisis, a huge boom started. Old casinos were demolished leaving vast building plots on the Strip. All of these came to a sticky end and most are still "black holes" on the otherwise glittering Boulevard. However, they have managed to open 3 new resorts, all squeezed between Bellagio and the Monte Carlo. We parked in the Cosmopolitan and from there were able to visit Aria and Vdara (the latter being only a hotel). Another tower next door is going to have to be demolished as it had been found to be dangerous.

Here's a tiny part of the Cosmopolitan Casino. Full of crystals and chandeliers but we fear, having run out of money they had to use plastic, at least that's what it looked like.


They had managed to acquire one of Liberace's cars, covered, of course, in rhinestones. Arthur does NOT want one of those....


and, here's a chandelier for our friend Paul,


and, if there's room, another...


Always over the top, in this town. Clothes shop? Lets have a theme...


...just a few sewing machines in the window!



On to Aria..


..we have to walk through a shopping parade where we could not even afford to look in the windows



and judging by the emptiness of the shops, neither could anyone else.



We preferred Aria to Cosmopolitan. Stylish and fun:-




We were impressed with the Valet pickup. Very well organised and even a lounge to wait in


whilst your car is delivered outside...


This morning we wake to a fine morning


and decide to drive up to Mount Charleston, just below the fresh snow, where there is an "Alpine" lodge. We make it with 10 minutes to spare for breakfast. It must be pointed out at this stage that our breakfast lasts us all day until late evening when we can manage a light dinner.



I have to say, Bob's "Country Fried Steak with gravy 'n biscuit 'n gravy" was one of the larger breakfasts either of us has had...


We spotted some of the local wildlife..



before driving back to the roadworks that delayed us on the way up.. We have to wait here for a pilot car which escorts our convoy safely through the works. Each time, John had to lead the convoy. Eeek...


Next on to a surprising hit.


To greet us (and who remembers what show this robot was in? Tonight's quiz question. Prizes for the first correct answer)...




The early excitement over the Atomic Era led to some surprising products...



We learned a lot about the history of atomic and nuclear testing and the industry in general.


Unsurprisingly, we found no reference to all the damage that was done to the early observers' and testers' health, who were subjected to horrific levels of radiation. At some stage a camp of some 6,000 service men were located near a test and they were told to clean each other off afterwards with brooms.

On that cheery note, we set out tomorrow to drive back through Death Valley to rejoin Highway 395 exactly at the point that we left it.

Meanwhile, off now to lose some more money (John) or win some more money (Bob and his lucky Stetson!).

Night night.


Posted by Johnash 18:49 Archived in USA Comments (8)

Back On Course - US Highway 395

OMG this is stunning

snow 4 °C

This track has been following us around, so to get you back into the "on the road" mood, here it is (not by Avicii who happens to be appearing at Wynns):

What is spooky about that is that is exactly the desert scenery we've been driving through!

Oh, and Louise wins the prize for guessing "Lost in Space", the TV programme that robot was in. They actually used it for several programmes/films but no others that we knew. The robot was the best actor in Lost in Space, and why did Will Robertson never get any older?

Your Golden Nugget pen, Louise, we will give to your Mum & Dad when we meet up with them in Benidorm in October. Remind us!!

Friday, May 9th 2014: Room 36, Lakeview Lodge, Lee Vining, California

Amazingly, we are possibly in the same room of the same motel we came to in 1981. We were not sure this was the old Best Western when we booked it and we were not sure when we got here, but the geek from the Simpsons behind the desk confirmed it used to be the Best Western. So we found both of our old motels on Highway 395.

The room is much the same as it was though then it would have been quite new and really luxurious for the time. I remember being impressed by the rack of towels in the bathroom. Back in 1981, we were joined in the rather posh restaurant by Sheriff Mono. Now it's just another motel room, I'm afraid, but with conotations!

On our last night (Friday) in Vegas we went to Fashion Show Mall, somwhere we'd not been to before. Right on The Strip, we'd assumed it was full of designer shops. But it's just another Mall and past its prime. But we were on the trail of a new suitcase. We'd bought one last time, a hard Delsey, for less than half the price in UK or Spain. We had checked out several stores and all the new cases have zips. Ours just has clips.

No one had any except Macy's in Culver City who had a bright blue one. We left it for later. The other Macy's in Vegas we tried had none, neither did any of the other stores. So we were pleased to find the exact same case as ours in the Macy's here. It was "half price" and what's more, sales tax is a lot lower than in LA. So the young male assistant was pleased to have such an easy sale. He gave us a further 10% "visitors' discount" so we ended up paying $147, less than £88 for a case we've seen going for over €270 in Corte Ingles.

Over the road from The Mall was this monument to Mr Donald Trumps' vanity.


After dinner in a very pleasant 4 Queens restaurant where we sat next to a long table of Brits who, we worked out, were over for a wedding, and all ordered the "Rib Aah", then a bit of therapeutic video poker, when we both finished UP for a change, even John, we went back to the Golden Nugget to prepare for the resumption of our journey.

Spotted in Vegas before our departure. Arthur did not have time to go:-


Out of Las Vegas on US95, we soon leave the swirling traffic behind and are once again out in the arid Nevada desert.



We stop for refreshments at one of those towns on a crossroads which exist just to provide for the travellers on the roads they sit on. This time it's Beatty, Nevada.



Our route back to Highway 395 takes us back into California and across Death Valley and the even more dramatic Panamint Valley, in this direction at least. Though some of the journey was on the same road, it was totally different in the other direction, as were the weather and the light.



Before we knew it the Sierra Nevada was back in view and we spotted some wild horses.


Then US395 exactly where we left it and back through Lone Pine and on northwards with the snowy peaks our constant companion on the left.


Bob did a lot of the driving as it was one of our longest drives. We really wanted to make it to our old stomping ground of Lee Vining.


On the way we stopped for coffee at a gas station and spotted this wizened old guy going back to his pickup. Nothin' odd about that? Except he was wearing a dress, and not the sort you'd wear to a drag ball. Looked more like his wife's castoffs. Could not get the camera out in time to catch this but here he is driving off..



Approaching Lee Vining, the Sierra is as stunning as ever and, judging by the jet trails, this is a major flightpath, probably into San Francisco etc.



Settled into our motel and yes, it was, or used to be the Best Western we stayed at in 1981. No longer a Best Western as they probably don't meet their latest standards, but fine for us.

It was down to 40 degrees F and so, for the first time, we needed a fleece or sweater to walk down to the only restaurant in town:-


OK, OK, this was the special and I'm starting 7 days of salads only:-


Finally for this day, Stan banned Arthur from putting this picture in but somehow it has crept in, without any comment. But will Judge W***** be calling Marshal Sheriff and Sheriff Marshal?


Room 920, Harrahs, South Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Never finished the Blog last night. It was a long drive and we were both very tired.

It is snowing heavily outside. As we are down at lakeside, it is not settling but it must be increasing the snow on the already snowcapped mountains that surround this huge lake, which is mostly in California but, where we are, also Nevada, where there are casinos and resort hotels.

The drive today made us realise something we had not quite really appreciated before. First, how big Callifornia is. (Tomorrow we spend the whole day driving the Northern part just to reach Oregon). Then the massive variety within the state. The sandy wastes of Death Valley, the giant high deserts with their yuccas and Joshua trees, and then the massive snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the giant pine woods we have been driving through today. Yes, this is our 13th trip but we can still be amazed at this country.

Cannot see the lake now from our massive bedroom window the snow is coming down so thickly. Good job we have a 4x4!

Today was a multiple "OMG" day. Nearly every pass we climbed, every corner we turned, every town we passed through, we realised Highway 395 has been a great choice. Way beyond our expectations already.

As there were few towns on the map until we crossed back into Nevada, headed for Virginia City, we stopped at the next but one town after leaving Lee Vining for breakfast. As mentioned this sets us up for the day and we won't be eating (salad) again until this evening.



We found a nice family diner full of locals enjoying a Saturday breakfast. Starting the healthy eating week off with a bang, John chose "oatmeal" or porridge (sorry McNorma), with almonds and raisins. Bob had the "world famous" hot biscuits 'n gravy. He said they were light an' fluffy an' delicious.


Back on 395, which is now just a 2-lane road, busy in places as people head for Yosemite for the weekend,


but mostly pretty peaceful and seemingly leaving the Sierra behind.


This is Topaz lake (lake in California, town in Nevada).


Near Carson City, capital of Nevada, we divert from US395 to climb through old mining towns up to Virginia City. This, and its neighbour, Silver City, once had a population of 25,000, all hoping to make a fortune from the rich gold and silver ores found in the Comstock Lode.

We last visited Virginia City NV (up in the hills behind Tahoe and Carson) in 1990 where John bought a T Shirt in the Bucket of Blood saloon. We were a bit shocked to find a "special event" going on. A "Chilli Cookout" with the main street full of stalls offering chilli. Despite that, we managed to park and found the town much as we left it. All of the buildings are in good and original condition with the boardwalks just as they were. We managed to grab a drink at the Bucket of Blood bar. A nice town, well run.

It started to snow as we arrived!


A long descent from Virginia City took us back to Carson, then another climb into the mountains that envelope Lake Tahoe, where we reach the snow line. Then a steady descent with glimpses of the lake, through the various skiing resorts, now closed for the season of course. But judging by the snow that is still coming down thickly outside, they could be re-opening!


The resort casino/hotels, owned by the big Vegas corporations, are beginning to show their age but, as a result of being mature, this one is at least, is very comfortable. We are at Harrahs and all the rooms have two bathrooms. The room is even more ridiculous than our one in the Golden Nugget. I am getting exercise just walking to (my) bathroom.


Tonight we will try and increase our winnings Bob is still holding from our last night in Vegas. Night night.

STOP PRESS: From our window now... large_IMG_0280_640x480.jpg

Posted by Johnash 17:58 Archived in USA Comments (10)

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