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California dreamin'

Posted on April 19, 2015 at 1:45 AM

G’day everyone, here we are in good ol’ U.S. of A. Been here about 18 days now.

So, the long and short of it as brief as I can.

Landed on the west coast, at Los Angeles. Our motel was in a mostly Hispanic area, (bit of a bad area from what we hear, but we had no trouble), we did have a lovely Mexican plaza close by though. Well one night, we had a chopper going round in circles above our motel. Obviously looking for someone who was hiding in or around the back of our hotel. The night before that, we had 3 fire engines arrived with sirens screaming and lights flashing, then stopped outside our kitchen window facing the road. Bob slept through of it til I woke him. (some great body guard I have…. On guard 24/7). He he.


We got use to sorting out the train and bus services in the first week as we found our way around California. We found Walmart, and bought up big on new camping equipment to use on some of the nights during our 3 months here crossing America. We even managed to buy a 12volt cooler to plug in to the cigarette lighter…. And yes, it works well.!! What we also noticed is these trees that seem to grow cotton. Big balls of it. Nothing we have ever heard of or seen before.

Naturally we did the usual tourist things, … checked out Hollywood boulevard, the walk of fame & stars, the red carpet where they go in for Oscar night, Beverly Hills, where we saw the Beverly Hillbillies mansion where the series was filmed. Rigby’s believe it or not had lots of good stuff, & as you would imagine, there are lots of strange and wonderful people around there.

 


At Long Beach we checked out the ship Queen Mary which is now moored there permanently as a museum; aside from looking in the engine rooms and all the decks, it also had a huge collection of memorabilia of Bob Hope.! In total contrast, we also went through a Russian submarine. You don’t often get to check out submarines, so this was a highlight for us.

 

Oh yeah.. another highlight was the Autry Western Museum. Not sure how many of you remember the singing cowboy, Gene Autry…. Well, this museum is about him, how the west was lived back in the day, and also how the movies and films helped make the west the way WE remember it. For those who remember the Lone Ranger and Tonto, the Pony Express, of-course John Wayne and many others, it shows their clothes, their saddles, boots, stories of the movies they made and a huge exhibit of guns and rifles and EVERYTHING to do with the old west as it was.


Bob even made a 2 minute movie while we were there. Oh yeah… my man the movie star.!! There he was sitting on the saddle in front of the green screen, then the movie starts and he becomes part of the cowboy chase, herding cattle, shooting at bad guys, (bang bang… his finger was lethal)!! But a good laugh though and something to bring home.

 

After a week, we picked up our hire car, a JEEP. Did I say Jeep, yes, we got a Jeep. Couldn’t leave California without checking out the talent at San Monica & Venice beach, (better known as Muscle beach). Venice beach is where you see everyone skating, riding or walking along the fore-shore. Actually it reminded me a lot of the royal show as you walk down the main esplanade seeing all sorts of ‘talent’ and things to buy. The usual T.shirts and bikini’s, a near naked dark guy pretending to handle snakes for photos, the old fashion ‘Freak show’ and even medicinal marihuana for $40-

 

Finally we got to leave the rat-race and head to the hills. (Lucky all our luggage AND camping gear all fitted in the car)!! Our first camping experience in America!

It was a lovely site right on the river, but the first night was full of people everywhere, the next 2 they were gone.

Our first stop was SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST. Here, the focus is on the HUGE Sequoia Trees. Here, you find the ‘Largest tree in the world’. Don’t get me wrong, it is easy to argue, BUT, it is not largest due to height, or width, … it is the ‘mass’ of timber that it produces,… so, in that regard… it wins hands down.!! The forest was also an amazing place to be, and when you were in among the groups of sequoias, you really did feel you were in the land of giants. No photo I took could actually capture the true size of these guys,.. but the scenery was also amazing. We did not expect to see ice on the mountain tops or on the sides of the roads, but as we travelled up to 6250 feet, it just kept getting more amazing.


Our big hope was to see the bears…. But alas, it was not to be.

 

Next we headed to YOSEMETI NATIONAL PARK. This park is more renowned for its sheer size of glacial/ granite rock formations. Have to admit, it was pretty awesome to be in amongst it all. The huge trees, the huge cliff walls, … we can understand why the Indians felt so at one with nature here.

On the wildlife front, there were lots of squirrels, (one who gave Bob a good nip on the finger), Mule Deer, and we are happy to say we saw our first coyote or Grey Fox, (we are not sure which one he is yet). As always, the ONE time I did not take my big camera out the car with me to have lunch, THAT is the time a critter a shows up. I was just lucky I had my small camera at hand and managed to get a reasonable shot of him.

Bears… well, no, they still eluded us. That is to say we did not ‘SEE’ one. BUT, on our night of sleeping IN the park, we got up at 2.30 in the morning to go the loo, then about 10 minutes after we were snug back in our sleeping bags, we could hear the obvious sounds of a bear on the scrounge. Moving from one camp site to the other trying to get into anything he could.,… then all of a sudden, he was clawing & ripping his way through ‘something’ in the next tent on from us.

I gingerly got out our tent & tried to see him, but it was far too dark, so went back in just to listen to him moving on to another site.

Actually, the park rangers are VERY STRICT about how you handle and store your food in the park. Right throughout the park there are ‘BEAR PROOF-FOOD STORAGE BINS’. Even If you go for a hike, you have to put your stuff in the special bin. At the campsites, each site has its own storage bin and you MUST put ALL your food, drinks, (opened and unopened), and even your toiletries or ANYTHING that has any kind of scent to it. It may not stay in your car or your tent…. And for very good reason. So, maybe next time we will see the bears…. Maybe in Yellowstone in May or June.


 

Leaving the park, we came across the Yosemite Mtn. Sugar Pine Railroad. It is an old steam train known as the Logger, as that was its job years ago. We arrived just as it was about to leave for an hour tour around the area that use to be logged. Was great to hear the great whistle blow & feel the rhythm of the train.

That was our last tourist thing we did in the state of California, (which by the way, is in the grip of a very bad drought).

Tonight we sleep in a motel just a couple of hours from crossing the state line into Nevada and spending 2 nights in Las Vegas. But that is the start of the next blog I write, where we visit the canyons of Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.

Oh yes, for those of you who are wondering. Bob is doing a excellent job driving our automatic SUV on the right side of the road with the steering wheel on the left of the car. We also bought a GPS who is our best friend this time, and the weather has been mostly quite warm, with some cold nights in the parks, hence zipping up our separate sleeping bags for the first time.

So, goodbye from California….. see ya all next time!!

 

 

 

Cheryl & Bob

 

Categories: AMERICA. California April - 2015

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