Tuesday, 24 April 2012

On the road home.....

We decided to travel down Highway 1 or the Coast Road. Its kinda like going down the NSW coast road. Not the same though as I have never seen the ocean quite so bluey/green. The sea was initially a grey sort of color as we made our way down the twisty windy roads. There was a fog drifting in and out over the road and sea which added to the beauty of it all. There were not many towns but the scenery around us was breathtaking. I did find it a leeetle bit stressful with the Ocean only a very few short feet away and found I was hanging on. Mr Fab ~ the Hilarious Hubby ~ decided it was the funniest thing ever to speak in a Stephen Kingy type sinister voice and discuss how we would fall to our deaths in the chilled waters below........sigh.........Bless him.
 As we were driving we saw the Elephant Seal Habitat and decided to stop for a bit to watch these gorgeous creatures sunning themselves and throwing sand over their backs. It was mainly the Mums and pups who come back every year to just chill out for a bit. By this stage the winding roads were starting to take their toll on me. It was about 3 in the afternoon and I was being decidedly quiet due to the fact I was seriously in trouble of throwing up. I think it was because we had just driven since about 10 in the morning and had not felt hungry so we didn't bother stopping except to have a look at the seals. So we got to one of the smaller towns and stopped at Macdonalds to use the WIFI. I also needed coffee ~ bad!!!!! During the whole trip we have found we didn't need to buy internet and just popped into a Maccas and had a cuppa and used their WIFI for free. It enabled us to use the Ipad and find hotels or check the map as Glenda doesn't really give you an overview....just tells you when your wrong.

We had just sat down and I was making a supreme effort to not throw up when Mr Fab started asking me why I wasn't talking. I explained I was feeling dodgy in very short and clipped tones ....that's when I discovered my new shiny husband has zero capacity for coping when his new shiny wife is not on her game. He gets extremely stressed and he said its because I tend to do everything myself he doesn't know what to do for me. Awwwwwwww how sweet is that?????? After some hot coffee and just a little walk around OUTSIDE the bloody car I was feeling much better. We decided to stop in Santa Maria which is only a few hours from LA. Mr F is NOT looking forward to the traffic so we have got the address of the hotel and we will get Glenda the Wonder GPS to take us there. It has been amazing as I said and both of us have been very firmly bitten by the Travel Bug. We are already regrouping and planning for the next one although we both agree ~ 5 weeks is far to long. We miss Dex to much and also we are people who like routine and things just so. One of the best tips I can give Y'all when traveling is ~ put everything back exactly where it should be. We have stuck to this rule throughout the entire trip and have only had one small stress moment when I couldn't find my Kindle. ( I did find it ~ we had just put it in a different place). We will be on the way back home in two days and will lose two days with the time difference but all is good. Because of the stuff up at the beginning we do have a long and tiring 12 hour drive home but it will be worth it in the end.

Monday, 23 April 2012

"Alcatraz was never no good for nobody"...(AZ 1576)

Started the day off with a decent breaky then jumped a cab down to Pier 33. The day was warm with a hint of a chill in the air so I was grateful for the Fab new $28 coat. So many people milling about the dock and further down the Wharf but we had pre paid tickets so all good. Hint: Purchase your Alcatraz tickets online prior to your trip out there.
Everyone is herded onto a large cruiser to make the journey out. It takes about 15 minutes and it is a really good ride with views to kill for...no pun intended. I may have a little trouble describing Alcatraz as it is an amazing place. You leave the boat and have a mandatory orientation with the Ranger who gives you a brief rundown on the Island and a little of its history.  Now it is not only a tourist attraction it is also a habitat preserved for a multitude of bird life. I gotta mention that it has some of the biggest bloody seagulls I have ever seen!!!
 It opened as a Penitentiary in 1934 and had 4 Wardens during its time till 1963 when it closed. You knew if you were sent to The Rock you were doing some hard time. Strict rules and regulations governed the prisoners every moment and ANY infringement of those rules meant time in Isolation. The prisoners had no names just numbers and their lives were basically eat sleep and work with not much time for anything else. They rule was they were given basic medical care, food, clothing and shelter but ANYTHING else was a privilege not a right. It  was hard time on The Rock. We walked up some windy hills with a brisk chill breeze bowing off the bay to The Cell Blocks. There as part of your admission price you can have a Audio Tour. We all took the Audio Tour and proceeded to walk where directed. There were a stack of people there but you end up in your own little world just listening to 4 of the Guards and 4 of the inmates who take you around the cellblock and tell you stories of their time there and also little stories on what happened over the 29 years it operated as a prison. It was then taken over by Indians who were protesting land rights.
I cant even begin to imagine what it must have been like. The teeny tiny cells which they were in most of the time, the continuous checks and head counts, the monotony of life. Nobody was given any special treatment even Al Capone who tried and was quickly put back in his place as just another prisoner. It also appears The Birdman was a bit of a nutter hence the reason he spent most of his time in the Isolation wing!!!!! Mr Fab walked into one of The Hole cells and could touch both sides of the walls with his arms stretched out. These cells for punishment had a hole in the floor for doing your business and no mattress until nighttime and apparently the lights were left off so you were in pitch black and freezing conditions. One prisoner related how he would pull a button from his prison jacket and toss it in the air and then try and find it in the dark to occupy his mind while down in those cells. Today was a balmy spring day with a bit of a nip in the air so I reckon it was freezing bone chilling cold in the winter with the fog and breezes coming off the Bay. It was interesting to see the view they had. It is AMAZING. Perfect views of the city and the bridge and the life just a short distance away. One chap described how on New Years they could hear the revalry from San Francisco as the noise drifted across to them.......
The Wardens mansion and all the accommodation for the Guards families was destroyed by a huge fire so you can only see the remains today. All in all the best tour we have been on and we all really enjoyed it. Make sure you wear layers of clothes and a really good pair of walking shoes ( I tested one of the new pairs of Reeboks I got and they did me well.)
At one stage during the tour I realized I had no idea where the rest of the gang were as you become so absorbed in listening to what the narrators are saying. I went outside to spend some time looking at where the Warden and his family and where the guards had lived. One of the children was also on the tape as an adult of course she related what her life was like living there. It appears the kids and families lived just as they would in a very small town. They simply caught the boat over to the mainland to go to school every day. The prisoners who had been there still cannot fathom why people would want to visit Alcatraz as all it means to them is despair , pain and anguish. Our interest stemmed from the show Alcatraz as we both really enjoy it and were fascinated to see what it was all about.
 Absolutely exhausting day walking around and Mr Fabs poor little toe became a bit worse for wear so we jumped back on the boat for the 15 minutes ride to the mainland. I got wet with seaspray coming over but we went right up top to watch the Bay as we came back.
All a tad hungry but still talking about it all so we decided to stop in at Hard Rock for some well earned calories. We wandered down to Pier 39 where it seems Sea Lions took up residence about 22 years ago. They randomly came and settled in there and have been there ever since. Except for a short time after an earthquake when they disappeared.
After lunch/dinner we said goodbye to the Leachs and came back to the room. Both of us lasted about an hour before we fell asleep!!! All in all a terrific day and we enjoyed spending it with Heather and Rob!!!! Tomorrow we are going to take Highway One down the coast road and just stop when we feel like it for the next two days. Sort ourselves out before we have to brave the traffic into LA in preparation for the trip home. Its been an amazing time for us both but we are now both ready to go home. As much as the economy is down here and the costs are good its still a very expensive place to be traveling around. San Francisco accommodation is very expensive for what you get ~ hence the reason we want to settle in somewhere a bit closer to LA. Still a couple more updates to go before Fabulous Scents gets back to the business of working and preparing for the next Great Adventure.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Fishermans Wharf San Francisco ~ Just sayin

Good Morning San Francisco!!! This morning we wandered down to the Holiday Inn Breakfast and had a scrumptious breaky before walking down to the main street. We hopped a Street Car which is different to the Trolley Car and toddled down to Fisherman's Wharf. Zillions of people there so we walked from Pier One up to the touristy part so we could have a look around. Now it appears my wankiness has not diminished here as I appear to have allegedly taken pictures of the WRONG Bridge. It appears I took pics of the Bay Bridge and not the iconic Golden Gate. That has been rectified today.....Mr Fab is bringing that up with quite monotonous regularity ................ I will now insert pics of The Golden Gate Bridge.......then we can move on.
Moving on....... While we were there we found where we have to meet the Leach's tonight and also we saw Alcatraz!!!! Took a few snaps but we will be going out there tomorrow. We also did the tours of The Pampanito Submarine. Now this was interesting!!! It was very small inside and I honestly have no idea how those brave chaps managed to live in one for any length of time. I was very happy to be out of it I can tell you. We then went down to the SS Jeremiah O'Brian which is whats called a Liberty ship. They were knocked together in 60 days during the war and carried supplies etc to the troops. It was very interesting and it appears she brought Aussie War Brides back to the States at the end of the war! Good Job!!! We came back to our room and just chilled a bit before going to have showers and get ready to go out to dinner with Heather and Rob. Rob it seems was a teeny bit nervous about meeting us....lasted about 2 seconds and he was more than comfortable. It was great to then go and see San Fran with a native!! Headed down to Fisherman's Wharf and went to Boudins which is a famous sourdough bread place. Now they serve your meal in a cob loaf!!! Seriously!!! Ronnie had the Chicken Pot Pie in a cob and I had the Chilli! Very tasty and not quite as heavy as some of the meals we have had. We were craving something a little lighter and I combined mine with a side salad and Mr Fabs was full of vegies. After dinner we just wandered about the wharf for awhile taking in everything that was going on. Oh and got to see some of the sea lions sleeping on Pier 39!!! One was pretty darn cranky at the rest of them as we could hear him roaring!!!
Now to bed as we are going to ALCATRAZ in the morning!!! Cannot begin to tell you how exciting that will be and how much we are looking forward to it.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Are you going to San Fran...cisco ~are you wearing flowers in your hair......

We have arrived! Nice and pleasant drive out here with not much traffic till we hit the outskirts of San Francisco. Bloody hell!!! It is a MADHOUSE. The traffic was horrific with cars driving every which way. We have named our GPS Glenda and she was in meltdown ~ RECALCULATING RECALCULATING as we missed turn after turn because of the traffic. It may have also had something to do with the fact I got it into my head I had to see the Golden Gate Bridge first thing!. We saw it ~ and by this stage we were both close to a nervous breakdown...well me rather than Mr Fab because for someone who gets upset about the silliest things he is remarkably calm in traffic or if he needs to find a parking spot. We have opted for the exorbitant fee of $40 a day parking because we wanted everything to be safe. I have wandered down to the Guest Laundry while Mr F organized drinks and we are just waiting for it to finish so we can go get some lunch/dinner.
So showers then out to find somewhere nice for dinner. We are thinking Chinese so figure maybe Chinatown is the go? If we cant get a decent Chinese in Chinatown we are seriously in the wrong place!!!!!
Jumped in a cab ~ hailed by the Doorman who calls all the women My Lady *swoon*. We asked the cab driver whats the best Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown? He directed us to The Empress of China. We walked down from the main entrance and found it pretty quickly. It was fascinating to see the pictures all over the wall of people who had eaten there. The service was impeccable and the food was unbelievably good. Absolutely scrumptious. We decided to walk around Chinatown for a bit of a look and it is a seriously interesting place. Random people doing strange random things everywhere. We walked back up one of the multitude of hills till we came to a main cross street to catch a cab. It was only $12 including tip so well worth parking the car and not having to deal with the stress of trying to drive in this crazy town.
We want to ride the Trolley Car of course so we are thinking maybe Fisherman's Wharf and Trolleys tomorrow after breaky. We have Alcatraz booked with the Leach's on Saturday and dinner tomorrow night. I will update again later when we have some down time. Missing you all!!!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Fun in Fresno..........

Woke up this morning ~ got myself a gun..... Yep Mr F was extremely keen to stay another night in Fresno so he could utilize the Stay and Shoot package. So I have done my best Wife impression and shopping was on the agenda first up this morning. The stores here don't open till 10 so we had the wonderful complimentary breaky and toddled off to find the Mall. I think I have mentioned The Malls here are seriously amazing. They are shiny and incredibly clean. Everyone greets you as you enter and they acknowledge you immediately. Do y'all remember the Pandora Bracelet of Travel Memories that Mish and Mark gave us? Well we have honored their gift by making sure we find just the perfect bead to remember each place we visit while we are here! We called into Rogers Jewelers at The Fashion Fair Mall Fresno and found they sold Pandora Beads. We managed to grab:
A little Cow ~ Texas
A Snowman ~ Arizona ( Because that's where we saw snow)
A sparkly dangle ~ California......... oh and I managed to sneak in 2 spacers just cose they were gorgeous......They also gave it a clean and it looks FABULOUS!!!!!!

We then went into JC Penney and bugger me ~ A Liz Claiborne jacket for ....wait for it....hope your sitting down......$28.00 INCLUDING tax. Oh yeah Oh Yeah!!!!! Its a black sort of chilly spring day jacket with a hood which is perfect and will be perfect for going over to Alcatraz but also ~ as it doesn't get that cold in The Bah. Did you see what we paid????? $28.00 *faint* We both actually looked a few times to make sure we were reading it right!!!!
Mr Fab has taken his Certificate of Shooting and has toddled down to the Rifle Club......I don't figure I will see him for quite a few hours. We discussed going to Yosemite and Ronnie said he was just enjoying having a bit of a break from the driving. We also decided that a holiday was about doing things you don't normally do......So we have decided part of the Next America Trip is Yosemite to Mount Rushmore and across Dakota. We almost felt guilty missing out on seeing this natural wonder so we googled and saw it is beautiful but it can wait. As long as he is refreshed I am happy as he has driven a massive amount of miles.
So far he has driven:

LA to Vegas ~ driving: 279 miles
New Orleans to Fresno: 2120 miles.
He has to now do Fresno to San Francisco then back to LA to fly the 8000? miles or 22,300km  home. PHEW!!!! What a journey! Well worth every single minute and every single dollar. Seeing this country has been spectacular and also finally after all these years of friendship ~ to finally get to meet people who became a part of our lives!!!!! I will be in save mode as soon as we get home and getting ready for the next trip!!!!
So a nap for me while he goes and does boy stuff. We are at The Comfort Inn in Fresno and all the girls  are really nice! Victor the Manager made me laugh out loud when he was describing the grouting in his entrance tiles. He was very excited about his grout.........
So loves ~ tomorrow will be San Francisco!!! We are meeting up with Heather and her husband Rob and we are pretty darn sure we will have a ball. Kinda wish M & M were there to but we will see them next time and then when they come to visit us!!!!!
Till next time ~ see y'all ( I know!!! I am getting so good at Y'all)

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Pinball Green and "3777"............... Obscure thoughts

He is a pretty bloody good shot!!!!
Traveled another long day to end up in Bakersfield California. Bigger town that we thought!!! It was a seriously long day as my not so shiny new husband was a tad worse for wear today. I am now calling him Pinball Green.....He has told me I am NOT allowed to regale you about how he hit the walls 3 times in the middle of the night and bounced off each one as he made it to the bathroom. I am not allowed to mention how he slept on the bathroom floor......Nope a Wonderful Wife such as myself would NEVER mention things like that so I wont.
It was a very quiet drive as Mr Fab was decidedly seedy. He met up with an Ex Navy American and just chatted and had a good time. I think he needs a break from the driving but I am certain he wont be doing it again for awhile!!!!!Lucky for me the scenery was once again brilliantly amazing.... We are now planning the San Francisco part of the trip and finding a nice hotel to stay in for a few days. We are planning on seeing Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz but apart from that we are again just winging it. We were going to detour to Mount Rushmore but we feel we wont be able to relax if we are watching the time so next trip. So all in all a pretty cruisy day with Mr Fab NOT impressed with me. Everytime I look at him and see him hitting those walls like a Pinball machine it sends me off into mad peals of laughter which I then have to cover up with pretending to cough....
Lets discuss The Ramada 3 star at Bakersfield...........Dear God I cant discuss it!!! I am sorry readers but it is far to icky and stressful...maybe I should mention looking up in the half light and seeing "3777" written on the wall near the bed?????????? I dont even want to THINK about what that could mean..Made me itchy just looking around the room and I had to leave the lights off!!!!! I am not sure where they got their 3 stars but I can tell you absolutely ~ it would NEVER be from me. From the one scraggy pillow each on the bed to the bathroom which again makes me so itchy I cant even think about it. I told Mr Fab if I ever call him a Ramada Bakersfield he will know I mean business!!!! Being smokers is not a good thing I know. Not only for health reasons and a long and happy life but also because basically if you smoke you are put in the dodgiest rooms at the back and treated like a sleazy drug dealer. Its actually stopped us smoking as much. I am sure if my Mum is reading she will be fist pumping and jumping about yelling "YES FINALLY". By this morning I was awake with the birds and saying to Mr F ~
" Quickllllyyyyy Quicklyyyyy hurry up come on faster lets move it". I could not even have a brew this morning as the coffee maker did my head in completely!!!!! I spose it was better than sleeping in the car...hmmmmmmm let me think on that for a bit and get back to you.

We booked our Alcatraz tickets and our friend Heather printed it out for us as she and her husband Rob are meeting us in San Fran and we are going over to The Island together. We are looking forward to meeting up with Heather again and also meeting Rob.
So last night I said to my now shiny again new husband that he had to start giving me some of his thoughts about what he wanted to do. We are killing time this couple of days as we are looking forward to seeing San Francisco but it is HIDEOUSLY expensive to stay there. Everything we tried was booked solid so we finally booked the Holiday Inn for 3 days and near passed out at the price but it was our only choice and let me say I called quite a few places!!!!! So he finally admitted he wanted to have a shoot of an American Gun at a Gun Club so I googled and found and excellent one in Fresno. So here we are! I am washing and where do you think Mr Fab is? Yep The Range Gun Club. We called in this morning and he had a shoot of a Sig Surer? and a 357 Magnum. He wanted me there to film it which I did *rolls eyes* Initially he only had one box of Ammo and then on completion did his fluttery eyelashes thing at me and asked for more...sigh....... I cant resist those lashes!!! It was interesting to note ~ we walked in and they did take our passports but after asking did he know how to use a weapon they gave him a quick lesson on his weapon of choice then away he went??? At home there would have been a safety video and a million questions. Here they basically ask if you have thoughts of suicide or mental issues and your done. He had a ball and thoroughly enjoyed it. He always does whatever I want to do so I didn't even hesitate with this.(It was also a fraction of the cost of the same thing in Australia.)
We then found a Fabulous FABULOUS place to stay here ~ The Comfort Inn in Fresno who do not make you feel like a criminal, have the nicest rooms, free WIFI and breakfast!!! I am in clean clean CLEAN heaven and no numbers above the bed......Part of the "Packages" they offered were The Stay and Shoot Package...*again rolls eyes* My husband of course said ......no no no he wasn't interested in a package that offered a free weapon shoot time with 1 x box of ammo no noooooooo. I just looked at him and left him be till about an hour after we settled in and I started washing he said :
Mr Fab: Hey babe ~ that package is free isnt it?
Me: sigh.....yep
Mr Fab: well maybe I will just go and have one more little shoot
Me: Really ???????? gee there's a shocker....
*lol* I am seeing a new Pandora Bead on my horizon or maybe even 2?????????
On the way to Fresno
 So we are thinking of going out to Yosemite as its only an hour and a half from here then toddling along toward San Francisco. I will update when we have finally made up our minds. We are still enjoying the trip but I think we will be ready to go home next week. Well and truly ready. We miss Dexter and we also miss our routine. Till next time *mwah*

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Grand Canyon......*blink blink*

I have no words to describe the Grand Canyon. I am going to try and share the beauty and wondrous majestic grandeur of this unbelievable place...... I don't even think the pictures ~ and we took MANY pictures ~ can truly do justice. We left Flagstaff on a crisp sunny morning with snow covering the ground. We drove to The South Rim and parked. Initially you think hmmmm parking here, shops there, tourist buses EVERYWHERE and you reach the top of the pathway leading to the observation lookouts.......BLOODY HELL!!! Both Mr F and myself as hard as this is to believe .......were speechless. It stretches for miles and miles and then miles again. There was snow covering the ground beside the road leading up to The Park which is still doing my head in. Think about every picture you have seen of this magnificent wonder and do you recall ever seeing snow??????????? We stood on the first lookout for quite awhile just trying to burn what we were seeing into our memories. I can honestly say I have never seen ANYTHING like it. I have climbed Ayers Rock and looked over the Kimberlys (and THAT view is pretty darn awesome) but NOTHING can prepare you for literally having your breathe taken away when you reach the rise and gaze out upon this natural phenomenon.
We walked up the trail to get a higher look and it was well worth it. We had decided to not go to the Skywalk on the recommendation of the locals and they were right!!!! Yes its a bit touristy but you can still find a place at the edge of the barrier and just suck it all in. I just cannot begin to really find the words to do justice to what we have seen. As we stood at the top I said to Mr F ~ Can you imagine what Katy would do with her camera here???? He just shook his head and agreed that she would probably pass out and we would have to drag her away!!! We took a lot of pictures so I hope I can share just a tiny piece with you. We both think the snow all around added to what we saw.

After we had finally drunk our fill we got back in the car and headed toward The Hoover Dam. We didnt think we would make it today but it turns out we had a great run and managed to get there in time. You have to initially go through a security checkpoint before you are able to go up on The Dam itself but it is also well worth it. We have seen it so many times in movies that to actually be able to drive across then stop and have a look around was amazing. ( Damn it though we did not see one Transformer!!!)
Zillions of people as this is a seriously touristy place.

So ~ we are settling in at Boulder City for the night and heading to San Francisco tomorrow. We thought we might break it up into to two days of travel as we have some time up our sleeves. We will be spending a few days in San Fran before we have to head back to LA to go home on the 25th April.