West Coast

Los Angeles, 01/18/2017

21st September

Today we have the final tour with the bus crowd a quick tour of LA followed by the optional trip to Universal Studios which I decided to do so we could see the Walking Dead Exhibit and the Water world show.

We drove around LA taking in some sites, and stopped at a swanky arcade called The Grove, which reeked of wealth, completely at odds with the homeless people just down the road a bit. Lunch was at the Farmers market, a fairly large daily market with heaps of interesting food stalls and the like.

On to the Hollywood walk of fame and a visit to one of the theatres that shows Hollywood premiers, they were putting the red carpet out when we arrived, not for us though lol.

Spent the afternoon in Universal with Mick and one of the other guys from the tour, I enjoyed their company.

The Water world show was amazing and it was fun doing some of the rides we had done at the start of the tour. Traffic in LA is crazy I would hate to drive here.

22nd September

We got up pretty early today to head out to Santa Monica to join the day in LA tour. Free drinks and snacks waiting for us which was a nice touch. We popped on our bus and headed off to Venice Beach, loads of junky stores and a giant skateboard park along with the muscle beach and board work that is so famous.

I am impressed by the amazing white sand beaches and California sunshine, coincidentally our lunch stop was surprise the Farmer’s Market, ha ha feel like a regular.

Griffith Observatory was amazing, this is the one place in LA I would come back to. The next stop on the tour was the Walk of Fame, we decided to cut short thr rest of the tour as the bus was super-hot and it saved us having to find our way back from Sante Monica.

Spent the time instead exploring the waxworks and having lunch at Hooters and watching the crazies go by. The people dressed up as Spiderman eyc demanding money for photos with people are fascinating to watch in action.

23rd September

We checked out of the hotel and headed down to Union Train Station, the train station itself was nice, because we had business class tickets we got to go in the business class lounge area, free food and coffee.

Train rider to San Diego was great with views of the ocean on our right. The Spanish influence on the buildings down this way is obvious as we roll through various seaside townships.

We arrived at Santé Fe station, San Diego around lunchtime, asked the lady at the information booth where we could drop off our bags, she said they don’t do that here anymore, so asked the ticket booth people just 5 meters away and they say sure you can leave the bags here.

First stopUSS Midway, explored the ship, the second aircraft carrier of the trip, I like this one better, we didn’t get time to do the bridge though as it closes a bit earlier than I expected.

Then we caught the tram out to the bus exchange at Old Town and from there caught the bus out to the hotel, there was a crazy woman on the bus who was shouting at herself. We arrived at our stop and made the short walk to the hotel and checked in.

I had dinner in the bar, and listened to some Americans debate the merits of various football teams.

24th September

Matt talked me into my first Uber ride, and I have to say it was fantastic I loved it the guy was so accommodating; I tipped him extra as it became obvious he was going to be in a long line getting out of the air force base.

The airshow was hot very glad of the tent, however it wasn’t everything I had hoped the show itself was not a patch on the New Zealand and Australian ones, yes they have more hardware but they just don’t know how to put on a show.

The Blue Knights and the Harrier were for me the highlights of the show and I loved the Jet Truck, one thing I will give them is they let you up close and personal with the static displays; some families camped under them as the day got hotter.

The food and drink they put on were good but even so it was extremely hot and I wasnt enjoying it as much as some of the airshows back in NZ.

We decided not to come back for Day 2 despite having paid for the tickets and having free beer.

It was such a bloody mission getting off the base to call an Uber, we walked for ages getting bum directions from various people before finding our way off base albeit on the completely wrong side, at least we were in Uber range.

25th September

Visited Balboa Park today thanks to my new friend Uber, what a lovely park filled with interesting things to do, first stop the aerospace museum, where they had a fantastic Leonardo DE Vinci display where they had built models of his blueprints, some cunning designs, later we took a look at a huge model railway display, one of the guys invited us backstage and we were honoured to get a behind the scenes look at it, great bloke ex-Navy Engineer had spent the last 13 years working on the display.

Later in the day we revisited USS Midway and got to take the Bridge tour, they were great they let us in for nothing as we hadn’t finished our tour last time, it was funny one of the young guys on the tour had a Navy Seals shirt on and the tour guide who was ex-military gave him a bit of stick about it pointing out he was in seal country, turned out his granddad served on the ship so he was ok after that.

We had dinner at seaport village overlooking the harbour, I enjoyed the scenery both the sunset and the people and wildlife watching, some seals were playing off the pier.

26th September

Breakfast down by the seaside at Hazelwood’s on the Bay, then walk down to Flagship for our harbour cruise.

The boat was excellent, not overcrowded but there was a large group of Asian tourists on board, they got very loud and it was impossible to hear the commentary.

I complained to the bar lady she said it was an common issue and unknown to me Matt went over and told them to keep it down, good man, the Americans on board were less than impressed. The tour itself was pretty good got to see a lot of Navy vessels.

We still had some time left so we went down and looked at the Maritime museum, it was great to go aboard a Soviet submarine that was involved in an incident that could have started nuclear war back in the 80’s but for one brave Soviet officer who may have saved the world that day.

After that we went to the train station and boarded our train to Anaheim. I enjoyed the train ride, we got a nice package of food for the return trip.

The Anaheim station was pretty amazing looking. We caught a cab to the hotel, only because they were there waiting and I felt guilty about calling an Uber, I will never again the cab ride was awful.

We pretty much hung around the hotel and relaxed in the afternoon, it was very warm, went for a swim in the hotel pool.

27th September

Today we went to Disneyland, after availing ourselves of the free breakfast at the hotel. Eventually found the entrance we walked past it on the first go.

We spent the entire day at Disneyland enjoying all the various rides we did all the classics, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean even the Yellow Subs and of course Star Tours which is still one of my favourites along with Space Mountain we went on both of these multiple times. The crowds were reasonable except on the Autopia ride where because of the fast pass people the line took forever.

Back to the hotel for a couple of hours then we went back for more mostly Star Tours and Space Mountain this time got some Star Wars merchandise for myself and Joes boys.

We spent a solid 11 hours exploring Disneyland so I was pretty tired when we hit the hotel around 9PM

28 September

Today we went out to Huntington Beach, used my new friend Uber instead of the Bus so we were able to sleep in instead of getting up early for the bus.

At Huntington we went out on the pier and had a look, where Matt kept using the term “Party” to describe the number of people waiting for the wave.

We then went for a swim, the water wasn’t too bad and there were a few other people swimming and the water was fine.

Sat in the sun for a bit, then grabbed something to eat at Duke’s Bar, they has some amazing pictures of the local surf carnival which attracts huge crowds.

Left Matt enjoying the beach while I went hunting for a place to get a haircut. Found the Main Street Hair Company.

Had a great conversation with the locals, they were excited to meet someone from New Zealand and very keen to tell me about the excellent holiday spot up north that they all go to for camping. I kept thinking have you looked around this place is awesome whay would you want to go on holiday lol.

Back down to the beach found Matt and we decided to Look for a Gap at the local shopping Plaza on main street so he could replace the shirts he had brought in New York and he had lost in Chicago.

On to Long Beach, where we sat on the pier and looked at the Queen Mary for a while then wandered up and looked for one of the pubs the Uber driver had recommended for Dinner.

We had dinner at the Rock-bottom, not a bad place plenty of good music going on, laughed and thought of the lads back in New Zealand when they started playing Kiss.

29 September

Our Second day at Disney we walked over from the hotel at about 9AM after availing ourselves of the free breakfast at the Hotel, again didn’t find a place to sit inside so ate outside in the heat again.

We went to Disney California Adventure Park first and one of the first rides we went on was Soaring, which was a ride which took you to various spots in the world as if you were flying there.

We also went on California Screaming roller coaster and the Grizzly River Run. Back to the Hotel at lunchtime we were both a bit over the crowds so decided to just go back and do some of our favourite rides later in the afternoon, Matt went for a swim while I relaxed in the hotel room for a bit.

Back to Disneyland for some more Space Mountain and Star Tours. Dinner at one of the Downtown Disney restaurants which had a Southern Theme with Cajun food. I ordered a Mojito Jason would be pleased.

30 September

Last day of the trip, I have enjoyed Matt's enthusiasm for some things and overall he is a good travel companion but even so I am looking forward to going home, it’s been a great trip but being cooped up with someone for over a month is trying under any circumstances.

A fitting way to end the trip went to Knott’s Berry Farm, which was the highlight of my 1980’s trip to the US.

We were there in time for park opening, despite the Uber getting a bit lost and it was interesting to watch the Americans while the National Anthem was played on opening.

We had a great day on the many coasters, Boomerang, Jaguar, Ghost Rider, Silver Bullet, Sidewinder, Pony Express and of course the Xcelerator.

Xcelerator is just crazy and we went on it 4 or 5 times, to the point I was starting to feel a bit nauseous from the adrenaline rush.

Some old guy had been on it 7 times in a row, we figured he may be trying suicide by roller coaster. The wooden roller coaster was also awesome.

After a final days adventure at the park we went back to the hotel picked up the bags and headed to the airport.

The shuttle took ages to get to LAX but we were soon in the Air New Zealand lounge enjoying a shower and change of clothes for the long trip home.

Good bye USA sees you again soon.


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