More walking, and KA

Hey Dad,

So we got in late last night, or early depending on your outlook. 

First stop for me and mum this morning was the pool, figuring everyone would be in bed and just meet us there. 

There are a number of things we want to see and do while in Vegas, and they need some organisation! So mid morning mum, tania and I set off down the strip.  First stop MGM!

One of my bucket list wishes is to see a cirque du soleli show. MGM host KA, which is one show I would love to see. The others all wanted to see it too. 11 tickets purchased for this evening. Awesome! 

We carried on walking and got more information on activities. Some of the group wanted to go on a helicopter flight around the grand canyon. I left mum and Tania to get the information and I wandered up the strip to see a few places we missed on our long walk yesterday. I got up as far as the miracle mile, and was too hot and tired to go any further so I headed back to the hotel pool. 

I lay there quite happily for the rest of the afternoon. Pool was still closed too, wonderful. Now even though it was closed, we were still hopping in and out to cool down quickly. No one said anything to us, but the first time Holly tried it, a life guard came straight over and ushered her back behind the rope.  Only Holly could get caught first time around! 

We had booked into an Italian restaurant for dinner, and were told the plates were designed to be shared. Knowing how large the American portions have been, we ordered carefully. We still had more food then we knew what to do with! The waiter asked if we were celebrating anything, to which Tania said it was Esme’s graduation. With that he shouted at the top of his lungs and informed the entire restaurant! Esme went red, and the whole restaurant applauded. We all laughed! 

We didn’t hand around long though as we had to get to KA. Our seats were amazing. The show was simply awesome! I remember you coming back from London saying how good it was, this was just something else! We all really enjoyed it. 

Another evening spent in the casino. We stumbled across this silly horse game, where there are 5 horses and you bet which will be the first two to come in against the ever changing odds posted on the game. We each stuck in $5 worth of quarters and played until we had all ran out of money. No skill involved, just luck. It’s a naff game really, but with all of us playing it we really enjoyed ourselves. 

Yet another late night! 

Night dad x

Shopping and exploring

Hey Dad,

So buy the time we got into Vegas last night, Holly and Neal had been shopping all afternoon. Yesterday was Memorial Weekend here, and so apparently all the shops would have a huge sale today. So it was agreed today would be the best day to hit the outlet centres. I could think of better ways to spend my first morning in Vegas, but whatever, I figured we may as well get it put the way! 

The outlet centre was only a 1pinutw drive from the hotel, and it was huge. Sadly though no great major bargains. We didn’t stay too long there, no one wanted to spend the whole day shopping.

We drove back to the hotel, and the first stop was the pool! From the long drive yesterday and walking around in the blazing sun this morning; I was ready to find a sunbed and not move for a while.

I found the others sitting in the far corner, furthest away from anyone, and next to a closed off pool. It was ideal, as the rest of the hotel guests crowded around the open pool! I grabbed a sun bed, helped mum finish her lunch, took a sneaky dip in the closed pool (which was only closed because they didn’t have enough life guards) and had a nap. 

We went back up to our rooms late afternoon to get ready for the evening. We were going on a walking tour through the hotels, with Tania and Johnny as our tour guides. 

The hotels were just unvelieveable! They all have walkways linking them together, so there is no need to go outside or cross any roads. They all have crazy themes too. We are staying in the Luxor, which is Egyptian, the hotel next to us is Excalibur and then New York New York. A walkway then takes you to the other side of the strip to MGM. We carried on walking up the strip to Ceasers Palace, being amazed at all the other crazy hotels along the way. 

I had told mum about the cheesecake factory, and the huge slices of cheesecake. Others knew about it and wanted to go, so that’s where we headed for dinner. The slices were not quite as big as Hawaii, but even sharing a slice mum and I could not finish it! 

We learnt pretty quickly that MGM is Uncle Johnny’s favourite place to play poker. We headed back down the strip towards MGM. Once there we wandered around the tables, and Tania showed us how to get drinks for $1. 

Now one thing me and Jon agreed on, was our first proper bet would be roulette, 20 on 20. We headed to a table and Jon went first. Number 19. Opposite side of the board, but one number away from 20. My turn. Red 32. Now this may seem a long way off, but it is right next to 20 on the roulette wheel. I could not believe it!

I then sat and watched Johnny play poker for a while. I was hoping to pay a game, but after watching him play a table, and having not played poker since new year I decided against it, with the types of people playing I would be throwing my money away!

I know Vegas never really appealed to you, and to be honest I think you were spot on. I am not sure you would have liked Vegas. Maybe for a night just to see it, but as a holiday I don’t think this would have been for you. It’s loud, there really too many people, and a fair amount of crazies. At least the crazies now are the good kind, and not the LA kind. 

Night dad x

Tramways, bottles and traffic. 

Hey Dad,

Long day! 

We left San Deigo early ish and drove two hours to Palm Springs. Holly and Neal went shopping, so they were going to meet us in Las Vegas. 

Before that though, we stopped for what would be one of the funniest breakfasts we have ever had! We all drove to a Starbucks. My car with Jon and Lauren were last to arrive after finding somewhere to park. When we walked in, everyone was smiling and their eyes were running with tears. Neal was bright red! Mum came up to us, struggling to speak through laughter. Turns out Neal walked into Starbucks, and looked sidewards at the menu. He was not looking where he was going, and in doing so walked forward and grabbed what he thought was Holly’s bum. Nope. Not Holly’s. It was mums! Apparently mum turned to him and quietly asked him if he was aware she was not Holly. In doing that he apparently shot back and apologised, but in doing so was so loud everyone else heard! We walked in just as the laughing had stopped.  Holly did not look overly impressed either. I wanted to ask for the security tape, we could make a fortune online. 

In Palm Srings we took the aerial tramway to 8000 up a mountain. It was 40°c at the bottom of the tramway, and we were melting! 

We bought tickets and grabbed some lunch. We had to wait about an hour to board as the earlier tickets had all sold out. 

We boarded the tramway, and the ride up was awesome. First of all, we were really high up, the cables wee hundreds of meters in the air, or at least it felt like it. Second; the floor to the tramway spun! We were rotating as we were ascending, so everyone got a perfect view of the mountain side and surrounding palm spring area. 

At the top, the temperature had dropped considerably, but the sir was thinking, and it was noticeably hard to breathe! We walked a small way down a path, and came straight back up. We were all out of breath, which was crazy! 

After grabbing an icecream and admiring the view from the cafe balcony we headed to the highest point of the mountain with a viewing platform. The view was stunning! Well worth the trip up. We couldn’t stay long though, we had a lot of driving to do!

Palm Springs was about 30 or so minutes from the road we needed to be on, however the road the whole way back to to intersection was gridlock traffic! There was no way we could go to Vegas the way we had planned, and I still had one more stop I wanted to make. Elmers bottle ranch!

We found a detour, but it meant the bottle ranch wouldn’t be possible. Not content with missing the first point on route 66 I found a detour on the detour. The others didn’t want the extra drive to go to the bottle ranch, so decided to go straight to Vegas. I was quite happy to drive myself there, but mum for some reason didn’t want me to go alone so offered to come with me. I knew she didn’t really want to, and I said I was fine alone, but she insisted she come with me.

Plugging in the route with added detour, the satnav had a melt down. Against my better judgement I followed the satnav….. straight onto the gridlocked interstate! A few choice words were shouted! Mum looked pretty annoyed too. We sat in the traffic until the next off ramp, which was three miles. It took like 45 minutes. The satnav then has another detour, keeping an eye on it, the satnav took us back to the palm springs junction, and then wanted me to drive south. The natnsv got turned off. Even mum knew Las Vegas was north east of where we were and driving south was completely the wrong way. We pulled up at a petrol station for a chocolate top up and checked with the server which way to drive. He said north. Shocking.  

Ignoring the satnav, I followed my gut and headed north. We just followed obscure road signs. 

The detour may have added some extra time to our journey, but the road made it worth it! It was stunning. Mum loved the scenery too. 

We eventually made it to Elmers bottle Ranch! The ranch is simply poles stuck in the ground with small bars welded to it. Glass bottles then rested on the bars. There were thousands of bottles. It was quite a sight. We walked around it for a while, it was like a treasure hunt, finding something new at every turn, spotting random signs and statues everywhere. 

Walking around, Elmer himself came out so say hello. I got a photo with him and asked him more about the ranch.

We had a beer in the back of the car so we left that for Elmer, figuring he could drink the beer and then use the bottle somewhere. It was worth the devoured detour. 

Back on the main road we grabbed some food in an old train cart and drove to Vegas. We still had two hours to drive!

As we got closer to Vegas I told mum to keep an eye out for the beam of light. I had been told that’s how you know you are close to Vegas. We spotted it miles away! Mum asked me where the light came from, and I didn’t know myself. As we drove I to Vegas, we realised it was coming straight out of the top of our hotel! 

We checked in, dumped our stuff ad wandered to the casino Aunty Tania and Uncle Johnny would be in. After finding them we played on a few machines and got a few drinks. Exhausted from driving all day we did not stay too long. 

Tania showed us the fast way back to our hotel, it was a maze of walkways running though other hotels. More on that tomorrow! 

Night dad x

San Diego Zoo

Hey Dad,

Maybe not your ideal day today, but it had to be done. 

Today we all went to the zoo! San Diego Zoo is regarded as one of the best zoos in the world, so we had to go and see it. 

There is not really a massive amount to report at the zoo really. We saw a huge amount of animals, and walked for miles around the park. After lapping the entire park we got on the cable car to fly over the park and then got the tour bus back. We had around really nice, sort of relaxing day. 

Rachel’s family had recommended a good Mexican restaurant to go to after the zoo. We are so close to the Mexican border here, this is apparently on of the best places to get Mexican food without actually being in Mexico. 

We turned up and the place was packed. True American from, people were waiting outside with buzzers. I went in send asked for a table of 9. The waitress looked slightly horrified. She explained it would be a 90 minute wait. I said fine, which I don’t think she was pleased about. 

While we waited, we sat at the bar. Mum and Lauren ordered margaritas. They had a choice between standard and large. I’ll give you one guess on which they went for! Dad you have never seen a cocktail like it! The glass was impossibly big! May as well have been a vase! Mum had to hold it with two hands. Mum’s face was a picture when they put it in front of her. Then she took a sip, her reaction was priceless! Thus margarita blew her head off! I even have a great picture taken at the exact moment! I’ll let you guess what she said from it…


Mum’s going to kill me for that one! 

We eventually got seated, but has also been much information on tortilla chips while we were waiting. Bad move! We all ordered and left the chips alone. 

As we were sitting there, we heard an all mighty smash. The waiters were carrying all the players on huge trays above their heads, and as a waiter came out of the kitchen he lost the entire tray, and it all went crashing to the floor. After watching the carnage for a few minutes, Esme realised that was our waiter. That was our meals! Shockingly enough, our food took a long time to come out. Result cooking nine orders was always going to take a little bit of time. The food was amazing, but huge. We could have all shared and not finished our plates. We were all bloated and stuffed! You know the meal is big when Jon couldn’t finish it, neither could Neal! 

After dinner we went for a walk around the old town. It was really beautiful, and it felt like you could easily be in Mexico.  There was an open courtyard with a band playing, people dancing and sitting around tables, and little shops lined the square. It was all lit up too. We walked all around it and wandered into all the little shops. I think we all needed to walk off the insane amount of food.

Back at the hotel Esme realised she had left some bits with Rachel, and I had ordered a water bottle to hers, which had arrived today. We decided to drive out to Rachel’s to pick it up. It was actually a really nice drive catching up with Esme and her life out in California. 

Well now back at the hotel, and time to pack again. Off to Vegas tomorrow!

Night dad x

San Deigo

Hey Dad,

So about our hotel, to say it’s old is a bit of an understatement! The lift is 100 years old. The door is manual and has a metal grill you have to slide across. The loft even dips slightly when people get in to counter the weight. Needless to say we will all be using the stairs. 

Mine and mums room is two separate rooms with a door. However it only has one bathroom, so the door is pointless. Holly and Neal are across the hall, and have an inter connecting door to Jon and Lauren. We all had our doors open at 2am and were having a good laugh at how dated the rooms were. The hotels have definitely gone down hill since the house in Fresno! We were also asked to sign a waiver when we checked in saying that we were aware we were in the gas lamp district and therefore would not complain about any noise! The rooms even came with ear plugs. At 2am this was of course hilarious! We also made use of the no noise complaints by having a conversation between all the open door rooms. Neal was even running up and down the hallway on a broom he found from somewhere.  

After all the excitement of last night, we did not really move very quickly in the morning. On the hunt for breakfast, we ended up in Starbucks. Lucy and Aaron had come down for the day and Rachel was visiting her parents who live nearby.  

After breakfast, the whole tribe drove over an amazing bridge to Coronado. Coronado is a beautiful island just off the mainland. We parked up and walked along a beach. The sand was unreal, it was glittery. It looked like there were flecks of gold in it! We carried on walking and came up to the most beautiful hotel. We went in and walked around.  Definitely your kind of place dad, but out of our budgets for this trip. We even stopped at the ice cream parlour attached to it. They had coconut icecream, amazing! 

We then walked back along the street to the cars. Even the town was lovely! We didn’t stop for long in the town though, and headed out to San Deigo beach. 

After eventually finding a parking space, we walked to the waters edge, and laying on the rocks were seals. They stank! The smell almost made your eyes water! They were fun to watch though, swimming into shore and kicking eachother out of spots on the rocks. 

From the seals we walked to the sand and through a stone cave. The cave led no where, but it gave a great view of the horizon. The cave was in the water, with a few rocks to stand on to get through. Amazingly, we all kept our feet dry! 

From the beach we drove inland to somewhere right up your street, wine and chocolate tasting! The winery was set on a small ranch type place, with small wooden buildings and little people paths, it was very pretty. We had lunch there which gave us all a good laugh. Mum placed an order and we were given a number. Of course she ended up with the number 20. Jon came to the table with it and I shot back in my chair laughing. The others of course looked a little confused so we had to explain. 

Anyway, we had lunch and headed for the tasting section. We could try five wines, and were given a chocolate button to have with each of the wines. Mum was of course disappointed we only got one chocolate button.

With a fill of some very good wine, we went to out final destination for the evening; Rachel’s parents house. They were cooking a BBQ for all of us! The buyers were just huge, like over an inch thick and perfectly cooked. With salads, dips, corn, pasta and nibbles, they really went all out for us, and it tasted amazing. It was also really refreshing to have a hike cooked meal. 

We spent the rest of the evening sitting on the sofa and telling stories of our trip so far. As it got late we said goodbye and drove back to the hotel. We all need to catch up on sleep from last night! 

Bedtime! 

Night dad x

Universal, Dodgers, Driving

Hey Dad,

Universal studios today! 

This universal is completely different to the Florida one. This is much more about the films then being about rides. We wandered around Harry Potter world and did a bus ride of the back lot and looked at a load of film sets. It was pretty cool! We ran around the theme park with military precision. One thing you taught us was how to maximise your theme park time. Of course, mum, Jon and I knew what we were doing, the others  (especially Lauren) looked a little terrified!

We had to rush around the park, we were on a deadline! 

We had to be our of the park early enough to drive across town to go to a baseball game!

Dodgers vs Cubs. We had a great time. Thanks to Aaron, even mum had a basic understanding of the rules. All the fans mingle and sit together. English football could really learn a lot from fans of other sports. Nothing but friendly banter and rivalry. No drama or punch ups. 

After the game the field was opened to the spectators for a firework show. We wete skeptical on the standard the fireworks would be. We were amazed, it was fabulous! 

Once back at the car, we set the satnav for San Deigo. I knew this was going to be tough, we would not make it to San Deigo until after 1am. With the long day now even longer, the drive could have been tough.

Jon and Lauren fell asleep. Lauren is still jetlagged too. I decided to kill the miles by drinking their cokes from the drive thru McDonald’s they asked me to stop at. 

We are now all in San Deigo, and the hotel is interesting. Too late to fill you in now, I’ll do that tomorrow! 

Night dad z

A day with David

Hey Dad,

So remember I told you about David? Well we met him on the boat in China. He had moved back to LA and offered to show us around. 

We went everywhere! Like absolutely everywhere, and David provided the commentary. 

We went to redondo beach and pier first and had a walk around. David drove us via sunset boulevard and through some other amazing roads, past famous bars and buildings. 

Our next stop was Malibu. We walked along the beach and mum tipped her toes in the ocean. She said it was freezing. The houses along Malibu were strange. From the front there looked like nothing special.  Just a door which was typically in disrepair. David explained the houses were worth tens of millions, but there is no need to advertise that. Makes sense I guess. 

David took us to a restaurant on the water front. As we pulled in I was a little concerned, it looked really up market. It was lovely inside, and we could sit out on the balcony. The food was actually very reasonable, which was extremely unexpected.  We both had salad, just about the biggest salad I have ever seen. I didn’t even make it half way through! 

From Malibu we drove back towards Hollywood, and through Bel-air, Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills. You would have liked this area. Clean, beggar free, and the houses were out of this world! 

Over the hills to studio city! We went to the Disney studios, and saw the seven dwarf building. I walked straight in to get some picture, only to be ushered put by security.  Worth it! 

David then drive us through Griffith Park to the observatory. From there we had a beautiful view of the Hollywood sign! The observatory was great.  They had a  pendulum showing how the earth is rotating, and a machine where you could see the effect of an asteroid on earth. We didn’t stay too long, but I could have played all day there. 

Back down the hill and onto the Hollywood walk of fame. We found your star! We also found your other star, Donald Duck. After a bit more celebrity spotting; we decided we were done with our whistle stop tour of LA. 

We went back to the apartment, where the others had all had great days too. Esme found a Thai food restaurant around the corner so we all headed there, including David. I forgot my ID, idiot. Soft drinks for me all evening. 

Another long day, but travelling with a local is the way to go! We did not hit traffic once! We occasionally were even on empty roads. Best tour guide ever! It was really nice to see David too. 

Time for bed!

Night dad x