West Coast With Brother Bear

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Los Angeles

Safely arrived in Los Angeles, to our relief much colder then the unbearable heat we left in Adelaide. We had not booked a hotel, had no transport and no us currency, any observer could tell straight away we were ‘kids with not a clue’. We rummaged through our wallets to scrap together enough money to exchange in order to use the pay phone to make a booking at a hotel. To our surprise it was much harder to get a taxi then expected, after walking around for 25 minutes, we managed to get ourselves a taxi. The sights on the way to the hotel, which was in Hollywood, were shocking, not only was there a smog of pollution surrounding the sky scrappers, but there was an extreme extent of poverty. We noticed as we started to drive down Hollywood boulevard, it was not the fabulous, wealthy and gorgeous suburb portrayed in movies. Instead, a large community of homeless and was contaminated with excessive amounts of trash and graffiti. We decided we would check out the destination before judging it, however within 150 metres of admiring the famous stars engraved on the sidewalk we were approached by a guy selling a “hollywood celebrity tour” we thought why not, we were so exhausted we couldn’t argue with this guy. Quite interesting to see how these “celebrities” can afford $20 Million dollar houses and 5 minutes down the road there is such poverty that for anyone is a sight to see, my first thoughts of this country (my country) is astonishing and although it is similar in some aspects, it is completely different in others.

 

Santa Monica

The taxi fare was $80 dollars from the airport to Hollywood, which was more expensive than Australia, so we thought we would catch the LA public transport down to santa monica. we walked for over 2 miles until we made it to the correct bus stop, so many buses went past, we waited for 2 hours until we got onto our bus. What an experience we had waiting for the bus, we met a few very funny homeless people, who were so humble and knowledgable. The bus went past our stop by 9 blocks, it had been about 4 hours since we started our trek to get to the Hertz Rent-a-car, we didn’t feel like walking another 2 miles. It was just our luck, when a tall, skinny man holding a jumbo Starbucks cup approached us and offered us a lift up the street, straight away he guessed we were Aussies, and made some brilliant banter. My gut feeling was to trust this guy, i mean he was driving an electric car, how much harm could he really do, so he drove us up to Hertz, he offered to come in and help us get a cheaper price but he had to run to a meeting, as we were saying our goodbyes he just happened to mention how he was business partners with Richard Branson, no bigger just thought it was nice for us to know. * I keep his business card in a secure place in my wallet, just incase i feel i want to work down there *. So we got our 2011 brand new white Toyota Camry, with a GPS named ‘Never Lost’, who became very helpful when we had to find hotels, restaurants and pretty much anything. We had a look around the beautiful Santa Monica, it has a really great outdoor shopping mall area, the wharf which was also nice and then we had our first proper mexican meal – which wasn’t that great, they over complicated everything by adding way too many different ingredients to the tacos. We left finding accommodation way too late, so we literally had to sleep in the car, we drove up some hill in Malibu off route 1 and put the seats back and slept in the car, it took about 4 hours until falling asleep.

 

San Louis Obispo 

Woke up to the sound of water smashing the side of the car from people speeding past my window in order to get to work i assume. My leg was wet as i had left the window slightly cracked and the heavy rain had managed to get in. We drove up the coast to San Louis Obispo to meet up with Ben’s friend Tom, who lived with four other people. As soon as we got there we headed straight for the SLO brewery, we got to try our first “fireball” which is a cinnamon tasting vodka. The brewery actually belonged to a guy from Adelaide so that was a bit of a conscience and we got treated very specially. Who would have thought to make blueberry beer, well they did here and it was delicious. We then started to walk home in the rain and thought it was a great idea to stop at another pub and try the not so delicious “bud light” which apparently all the college students drink. We made it back to the house and Katie, Claire and Mike wanted to go get some Japanese food, Ben and I were all for it. Cant really remember the food, only the Saki Bombs we did, which is when you have a glass of beer and you place chopsticks parallel on top and balance the shot glass on top, then you hit the glass so the shot falls into the beer and then skull. It sounds as bad as it tastes and that was the end of the night for me. The next night Tom wanted to cook us an all-american dinner, which was pork ribbs covered in jack daniels BBQ sauce, i thought i would make a big salad to add an australian touch. My stomach defiantly did not approve of the pork ribs and lets just say i had to run to the toilet a lot that night. We had a pretty good night out we played kings and all had a good laugh, went back to SLO brewery, which was quickly becoming our regular watering hole. Ben and I got a photo down the infamous alleyway of bubblegum.

 

Morro Bay

It wasn’t raining for the second day in a row and we were considering staying another day, But we really needed to get further north to return the rental car. I got to spend my last morning with Katie and Claire at Sally Loo’s Cafe for an amazing wholesome food breakfast. We said our goodbyes packed up our bags and headed north to Morro Bay. We got to go to our first thrift shop, ben brought a jacket for $3 and i got a flanny for $1, pretty stocked with our finds. We went down to the wharf area were you are able to walk along the water and enjoy the view. It was so beautiful, there were so many yachts, boats and wildlife. After Ben got to play pinball at the arcade we made it as far as Cambria (only a 2 hour drive). There we stayed the night at Cambria Palms Motel, which was really nice, surrounded by mountains and trees.

 

Big Sur

Woke up around 9:00am, probably our earliest morning so far and the main thing on our minds was to wash our smelly clothes, so headed to a laundry mat. While we waited we walked around this quirky little town just off highway 1, it had some cool little shops and cafes, but honestly nothing too spectacular. We had heard of ‘Hurst’s Castle’ so we drove up to check it out, not only was it extremely foggy but it was raining on and off, not the best day to see the castle, so we looked around at the museum then moved on. We we told there are some places along the coast that have these seals called elephant seals and believe it or not they kind of did look like an elephant and seal mixed together. These massive obese seals hardly moved and laid there like sloths, as we were watching them laying there doing nothing, two of the seals started quite a large fight in the water, splashing around like crazy. The woman volunteering said this was a very rare sight to see, so that was an interesting experience. We started highway 1 making our way towards ‘Big Sur’, which is a extremely scenic coastal drive along the coast, quite similar to the great ocean road in Australia. It is beautiful, the road curves above and around cliffs, on one side you look down on massive waves that breaking, on the other it is like a massive forrest that looks never ending. It was such a pity it was so foggy because we couldnt even see the car infront of us and the windscreen wipers were on the fastest speed. We continued through depressed that we missed such beautiful scenery. After checking prices of cabins that were in the middle of ‘Big Sur’ that were so expensive we would have had to sleep in the car for the duration of the trip. So we continued on till we got to the closest town which was monterey, it was a reasonably cheap hotel as it was just off the highway and there was many competitors next to it. In the middle of no where and i had the most delicious tasting sushi i have ever had, meanwhile Ben had to get “tums” from the chemist as he was still feeling crook.

 

Monterey

So we woke up with a positive vibe, hoping that the fog had magically disappeared but it was still there hovering over our toyota when we left our room. However, the closer we got to the beach, the began to get bluer and bluer and when we arrived to the Pacific Grove beach the weather had cleared almost completely. We walked through the main town, looking at the old fishing village that has now been turned into a tourist trap. Everything was ridiculously over priced, yet the one thing we thought was reasonable enough was the Surrey bike, which is a 4 wheel bike that can hold up to 6 people, which was $20 an hour. This allowed us to go along the beautiful coastal bike track, we saw seals among seals laying around the beaches. This is a MUST-SEE, the bike track reminded me of the coastal tracks we have along our beaches, yet this one had seals. We then checked out a famous vintage antique shop, this was filled with so many surprises and treats, yet we had to limit ourselves due to the luggage we already had. Well we continued on to our next destination, which was Santa Cruz, while i was driving i noticed something flapping about on the windscreen wipper. It was a $35 parking fine from city the Monterey, which we got for being roughly about 2 minutes late to our car that was parked in a meter car park. After our trusty GPS ‘Never lost’ got us to Santa Cruz, we drove around the foreshore area, which surprisingly was a bit of a disappointment. It looked as if everything was broken down, there was no one to be seen except for the people sleeping on the beach. We found a Motel that was close to the boardwalk thought we would go check out the casino that we drove past on the way there. When we got to the “casino” it was actually an arcade, probably better that it was an arcade than a real casino so we wouldn’t loose much money.

 

Santa Cruz

What a beautiful day, sun was shining, the sky was crystal blue, there were no clouds to be seen and a large portion of palm trees everywhere. We walked around Santa Cruz Beach, checked out the people playing volleyball on this crisp morning and then walked down the wharf. There we had lunch at this fish restaurant, i had the BEST salmon burger, it was fresh salmon and dill with salad, such a pity i cant remember the name of the restaurant to recommend it. After we looked around down town, we were anxious to leave and head up to San Francisco as the locals were getting creepier and sketcher. It was 3pm we went left Santa Cruz, San Francisco was suppose to be an hour and a half drive away, so we thought we had plenty of time. However, little did we know that this time of the day was peak-hour traffic. The Drive into San Francisco actually took about four – five hours of mind-dumbing driving bumper to bumper. We made it to San Francisco at 8pm and checked into our motel ‘Travel Lodge’, which was in a prime spot down town on Market street. I got in contact with my friend Joe and we went out for a night on the town, the first place we went was this tiny dodgy looking bar and all it sold was beer, that was it. We left there and went a few streets up, which seemed like a very sketchy part of time and ended up going into a house party that was for an art show. All-in-all good night out, got back to the room at 3am and crashed for a few hours, till i was awoken by a constant tapping sound, i was pretty grumpy and not a happy camper.

 

San Fransisco

Ben and I hired bikes and travelled around all of San Fransisco, we went across the Golden Gate Bridge and then caught the ferry back to the other side. I Do not recommened hiring a bike in San Fransisco, every company rips you off, it would be cheaper to buy a bike and ride it over a few days rather than renting for a day.

 

Hood River

We then ventured north to Oregon where we went to Hood River, Hood River was a sight for sore eyes, absolutely magnificent. I highly recommend going there where it is to visit Mt Hood or just stopping through for lunch. We were luckily enough to have a contact there that hooked us up for a dinner and night out and then two days on the slopes at Mt Hood.

 

Seattle

Finally we had reached our destination on the west coast of America, Seattle, Washington. Once we dropped the car off at the airport we caught the train to downtown Seattle to catch the ferry to Bainbridge Island, were Nancy and Greg were meeting us. The next day we set off to Walla Wall to see Nick Blakey and Casey, the drive there was beautiful watching all the green trees slowly changed into white from the snow. We stayed there for two nights and visited multiple wineries, what an amazing few days catching up with family friends.

 

North Carolina & South Carolina

Ben and I then went over to the East Coast of America to visit my grandmother in North Carolina for Christmas and then spend a few days with my Grandpa in Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston was a neat little town it was full of people riding there bikes around and the houses were gorgeous little town houses with so much character and love. The beaches were beautiful, one night we sat and had dinner at a beautiful restuarnt on the marina and watched the sunset between the palm trees, it was beautiful. One day we went across on a boat to fort Sumter, were the civil war had begun and got to check out the old fort. I went on the big US Navy aircraft carrier ship that was in port and got to look at all the machines and read about the history.

 

Colorado

Colorado, what can you say, it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL and how fortunate are Ben and I to have family that live their. After not seeing both of my uncles & aunt for over 15 years Ben and I finally reconnected with them and also got to meet our cousins for the first time ever.

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