A Travellerspoint blog

November 2010

San Francisco, Yosemite National Park

storm 6 °C
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Ok, so i'm writing this from some wierd hostel in Santa Cruz. I say "wierd" because there's no alcohol allowed, an 11pm curfew and we're not actually allowed to be here between 11 and 5 during the day. Which wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't freezing cold, windy and pouring with rain outside. I didn't think they had rain in California? Starting to thunder now, great. Anyway, we caught the Greyhound out of San Fran this morning after spending just under 2 weeks there. Stayed in a great hostel in the centre of town and a short distance from Fishermans Wharf. On our first day there we went and had a look around Fishermans Wharf. Nice place, great view of Alcatraz and we found the Sea Lions at Pier 39.
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Again, the homeless population in San Francisco is pretty large but not as bad as in San Diego. The next couple of days we just spent hanging around the hostel or out getting food. Our second favorite Burrito place "Chipotle" was only a block or two away which was handy. That weekend we decided to go to Yosemite National Park, which was a pain to get to as we had to get two buses and wait for 3 hours in the shady town of Merced. It was all worth it though as Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places you're ever likely to see, especially in Autumn (or Fall as they like to say here).
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Our first day there we did two small hikes, the first one took us to the Lower Yosemite Waterfall which was pretty cool, the second took us to Mirror Lake which was nice too. On the bus on the way back home from the park we were able to get a great view of "El Capitan" which is a fantastic mountain with an almost vertical face. Unfortunetly I didn't take a photo of it so if you wanna see what it looks like you'll have to google it.
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Whilst in Yosemite we stayed at the Yosemite Bug Resort which was really good. Every night we just ended up in the club house with a cold bud and a nice meal sat next to a fire. Good times! Our second day in the park we hiked the Mist Trail which was slightly more strenuous than we'd anticipated. An hour and a half later and 1400 ft higher we arrived at the top of The Vernal Waterfall and what a view! One of the best things I've ever done. Once at the top we ate some lunch whilst looking over the entire valley of Yosemite. Awesome!
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Due to how much hassle and the expense it took to get to Yosemite we were not sure wether it would be worth it, but the 3 days we spent there were some of the best days of the trip so far. So after getting a bus then a train and then another bus back to San Fran we spent another 4 nights there. On the wednesday we took the ferry over to Alcatraz. Great trip and for only $26 I thought it was pretty cheap too.
We got a free audio tour there which talked about the prisoners who were kept there and some of the escape attempts all of which was really interesting.
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Also whilst in San Francisco we checked out the Golden Gate Bridge and went on a pub crawl with the hostel, all good fun. 3 nights in Santa Cruz for us now, then heading down the coast for Thanksgiving in Monterey. Hopefully the weather will have improved by then.
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Posted by ElliotWebb 20:20 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Pheonix, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, San Diego

semi-overcast 21 °C
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Hello, Elliot has allowed me to write this blog entry, however he doesn't trust me to do a good job and is watching over my shoulder while I write it.
So we left Houston on my birthday, and got a flight to Pheonix, Arizona to meet up with my parents. They are in America doing their own mini roadtrip for my Dad's 50th birthday. We all went to watch the Arizona Cardinals Vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an American football match. Arizona are known for being a bit rubbish and they lived up to that image! They lost after throwing a last minute interception. Before the game I wanted to buy an Arizona jersey, but after they lost i decided i would support a better team, with better team colours- go New Orleans Saints!
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The next day we headed off to Las Vegas!! We made a pitstop at the Hoover Dam, which was very impressive to say the least! More impressive still was the brand new bridge they have just built opposite the Dam. It opened a matter of days before we got there, so we were lucky enough to be some of the first people on it! It is the first time ever that you can get a view of the Dam without having to go over the Dam itself.
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We arrived in Vegas later that day, and hit the strip! The hotels there are unbelievable. 'New York, New York' being one of the most impressive, the outside is a giant montage of all the famous sights of New York, with a roller coaster on top as an added bonus! Elliot and I hit the Bellagio to gamble away what little money we have. We lost it all.
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After gambling away all our money we went outside the Bellagio to watch the famous fountain show, which was brilliant! The fountain looks like it's dancing to the classical music that is being played from speakers all around the fountain. Elliot later discovered the Volcano fountain outside the Mirage Hotel, which was even better, the water was made to look like lava, and there were fireballs and all sorts! Amazing.
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On our third and final night, we spent the evening checking out as many of the hotels and casinos as we could, including Ceasars and The Venetian. We could have spent twice as long in Vegas and still not seen it all. One of my favourite places on the trip so far.

After Vegas we headed to the Grand Canyon for two nights. It was my Dad's 50th birthday so we all went out for a meal on the first night to a restaurant right on the rim of the canyon- not that we realised as it was pitch black. Someone needs to light up that bad boy! The next morning we were all up early for a day of driving, hiking, and amazing views. We stayed until the sun set, which was one of the most incredible sights you could ever see.
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The next day it was another early start for the long drive to San Diego. This was where we said our goodbyes to my parents. We enjoyed San Deigo, however the amount of homeless people gets you down after a while. San Diego was a cool town, with a nice Park and Seafront (yes- we've now made it coast to coast!). We were staying in the Gaslamp district which was full of bars, restaurants and shops.

Arrived in San Francisco this morning, and that brings you bang up to date on our travels so far!...

Posted by ElliotWebb 19:32 Archived in USA Comments (5)

Austin, Houston, San Antonio

sunny 28 °C
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So writing this in our hotel room in Grand Canyon Village. Its been a while since my last update so i'm gonna make this a double blog! We spent 4 nights in Austin, Texas staying in the HI hostel. It was located right on a lake downtown about a half hour bus journey away from 6th Street. Had a couple of good nights out there and managed to meet up with some Australian friends we had met earlier on the trip. Again, there was no shortage of cheap beer! Austin calls itself "the live music capital of the world" but we didn't actually see much live music, certainly not as much as Nashville or Memphis.
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Austin has the second largest bat collony in North America. Every night at sunset around 1.5 million bats fly out from under "bat bridge" to go and feed on insects. We went and watched one night, hundreds of people line the bridge and wait for the bats. They absolutely stink but it's an amazing sight. We also checked out South Congress or "SoCo" as the locals call it. This is a really trendy part of town where there are loads of Boutiques and arty and crafty shops. We also discovered our favourite burrito place there, Freebirds! England needs one of these big time! Went and had a look at the Texas capital building which they proudly state is 12 ft taller than the Washington Capital building. Remember "everything is bigger in Texas!"
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After Austin we caught the Greyhound bus to Houston to meet some family friends who were putting us up for 2 weeks. We had an absolutely fantastic time there, not least on the first thursday when my Dad turned up to meet us completely unannounced (well allmost). We went out one friday night to a homecoming high school football game. A great night and gave us a taste of real America but it all felt like something out of High School Musical.
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The next day we went to see the Houston Dynamo's Vs Seattle Seahawks in the final game of the MLS season. Houston had nothing to play for but won 2-1 in a fairly entertaining match. About 20,000 fans were there and the atmosphere was great, loads of streamers and the mexican fans there made noise from start to finish.
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When asked "What is the one thing you'd like to do whilst in America?" earlier in the week, Ash had answerd "fire a gun" So the following weekend we were taken to a firing range. The first couple of shots we're pretty nerve racking as there's so much to remember. Ash had an embarressing incident when a hot bullet shell flew down her top, although now she has a pretty cool scar!
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Whilst in Houston we also did a day trip to San Antonio with my Dad. We visited the Alamo, went up the Tower of the America's, and had lunch down at the River Walk. We learnt a lot about the history of Texas, and discovered even more when we visited San Jacinto (an old battle field where Texas won it's independance from Mexico).
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Posted by ElliotWebb 18:43 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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