Sunday 24 May
A brilliant morning as we drove through the hills South of Clearlake. We drove through Nappa Valley, famous for its vineyards, and some other great farming areas. As we approached San Francisco the clouds came down and our crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge was rather misty, but interesting. Sunday traffic on the highways was busy, busy, and after the quiet of the country roads a little frustrating. After the Golden Gate Bridge Carol had the pleasure of driving through the business district of San Francisco, actually easier than the freeways as there was plenty of time to move between traffic lights at a reasonable speed. Congratulations Carol.
Then East, across the hills again, to Modesto, our base to take us to Yosemite National Park tomorrow, again with beautiful sunshine, and warm. A shorter day of driving and enjoyable in a different way.
Saturday 23 May
What a varied but delightful day. Cloudy to start our journey further South until we crossed a range of hills, at 3000 feet, where we were welcomed by brilliant sunshine and a wonderful view of snow clad Mount Shasta. At 14150 feet, almost cloudless, the mountain was indeed majestic and we had it in view for almost an hour. Moved into thickly forested rolling hills as we approached Lassen Volcanic National Park. Welcomed by heavy rain, but only for a short time and as we travelled through the park to 8500 feet we were surrounded by snow clad hills in bright sunshine. What a great experience. Stopped many times for photographs. 2015 is the 100th anniversary of a volcanic explosion in the park, the remains of which can be seen in various places. Before leaving the park we encountered an amazing scene of boiling mud and steaming volcanic vents.....all this at over 6000 feet. As we left the Park we found a great cafe in a place called Mineral, with a bikie group of 30 just leaving. Good snack before we moved South again for our night at Clearlake, passing through some excellent farm land and finally rugged hilly scenery.
Friday 22 May
Light drizzle rain all day until we approached our destination of Medford. Stopped at a covered bridge, one of many which were to be seen throughout Oregon over the past century. Had a couple of side trips to visit Eugene, my home for four years, Willamette Pass, where I ran a ski program and Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake was definitely the highlight of the day......low cloud meant a very slow journey around the lake, but we were surrounded by snow clad slopes which really made the trip. Pity we could not see the Lake but compensated by the snow. An interesting day driving though some magnificent scenery, even if seen at close range.
Thursday 21 May
We travelled South on Highway 101, which extends from Canada to Mexico along the West Coast of the USA. Our first stop was at Cannon Beach to see the "Haystack", one of the significant points of interest on this part of the Oregon coast. As we travelled the cloud descended so unfortunately we could not see a great deal of the magnificent scenery which highlights the coastline. A couple of stops to try to see some of the sights. Arrived in Florence in time for dinner which we really enjoyed in the historic older part of town.
Wednesday 20 May
Some of our group travel North by cruise ship along the Inside Passage to Alaska. Should be a great trip. The rest of us travelled South to return to Los Angeles over the next week. Getting through US customs took an hour and then we had a pleasant drive through magnificent forests until we reached the outskirts of Seattle where we caught up with the traffic.....7 lanes full of slow moving traffic for about half an hour. Then continued South along the Washington coastline into Oregon, crossing the Columbia River by a long causeway and bridge to Astoria where we stayed the night.
Tuesday 19 May
An early morning drive to catch the ferry to Victoria Island. Stopped at Butchart Gardens for a few hours and enjoyed the vast variety of flowers and shrubs in different themed gardens. Beautiful. We then drove into Victoria for a brief look around the harbour area and the famous Empress Hotel. While waiting for the group Norman visited Beacon Hill. Park and Norman went to the start of Canada Highway 1 which crosses Canada for 8000km Back on the ferry where we enjoyed our last meal together..
Monday 18 May
A later start then moved to the Capilano gardens on the North shore of Vancouver. The suspension bridge was a challenge for some of the group but worthwhile traversing as the tree top walk on the other side of the canyon was worthwhile. Seeing three wonderful raptor birds was a surprise. A walk on a cliff walk above the gorge was thrilling especially with a walk out on a platform above the valley. We dropped into a salmon hatchery just to see the miracle of the life of a salmon Then up to Grouse Mountain and a ride on the large Gondola with a fabulous view over Vancouver city. We all took a walk around the ski area, with no snow, hoping to see a couple of Grizzly bears, but most only saw a sleeping one. Meryll arrived a little later and was privileged to see two bears enjoying time in a pond. Couple of excellent films wrapped up the day on the mountain before taking a slow gondola down the mountain and back to base. A busy but enjoyable day.
Sunday 17 May
A rainy morning so we relaxed before moving South to Vancouver. Very busy on the highway as it was a holiday weekend. Scenery great as always though we only stopped briefly as there was too much traffic and weather was not the best. As we approached Vancouver we stopped at an outlying beachside suburb for lunch and then circled Stanley Park before going to our suite hotel in the city. Great hotel with lounge, kitchen and separate bedroom. Ideal for our three day stay in Vancouver.
Saturday 16 May
Once again we started our day with bright sunshine and a pleasant drive through pristine countryside. The scenery was quite varied from rich farmland to rugged mountains with steep gorges, with snow clad mountains as we moved towards the coast. A couple of brief stops enabled us to stretch our legs and have snacks. Later intermittent rain started as we came closer to Whistler, our stop for the night. Unfortunately we missed out on seeing wild animals of any kind, but we are grateful that we have seen so much over the past two weeks.
Thursday 14 May
We started our trip from Banff to Jasper a little earlier because the Glacier Highway promised many interesting stops. There were several stops to watch wildlife including a black bear, several deer and bighorn sheep. Clouds were quite low so scenery not so good to start with but there was a little snow which made it interesting. Sun managed to squeeze through by the time we reached the Athabasca Glacier which was good as we were able to take the Glacier Explorer, an amazing vehicle, out onto the Glacier. Very pleasant on the 6 kilometre long glacier so many photos were taken. We moved North after lunch and had several stops for scenery and animals and arrived safely at our hotel in the middle of Jasper by 5 pm. A great day once again.
Friday 15 May
Cloudless skies but cooooool as we travelled out of Jasper toward Mount Robson. Had to stop at one of the lakes on the way where we had mirror perfect reflections of the snow clad mountains. Great. Mount Robson, the highest peak in Canada looked wonderful though it had a small cloud covering the very top. Still looked great. More bear sightings, this time a Grizzley bear just browsing near the road and another brown bear close to the road as well. After checking in at our accommodation we ventured into one of the British Columbia State Parks where we were amazed at three different waterfalls.....just so much water flowing over them.
Another wonderful day.....now quite warm as we sit outside overlooking a pond at the resort we are staying at.
Wednesday 13 May
Today we travelled the old highway between Banff and Lake Louise and were fortunate to see quite a few deer, an elk and a black bear, plus a few smaller animals of uncertain names. The weather was glorious so the snow clad mountains were really appreciated. We visited Emerald Lake which was ice free and looking beautiful surrounded by the snow covered mountains. A couple of other places we would like to have visited were still closed, probably because of excess snow. Our final,destination the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise was a real,picture with the lake still partially frozen, but looking great in the sunshine. All of us took a stroll beside the lake and enjoyed the wonders of God's creation.
Tuesday 12 May
What a glorious day. Cloudless skies all day with snow clad mountains all,day. Perfect for photos. Our first stop was at the Calgary Winter Olympic centre, just to see a little of the winter snow scene. Still snow around but not enough to see anyone in action. See the girls in the bobsled !!! The drive to Banff was so picturesque. We took the Sulphur Mountain Gondola to the top, again with wonderful views all around. Five of us made it to the top. Then to see the Bow River Falls and on the the Hoodoos before arriving at our hotel, early for a change. A visit to downtown Banff finished off a very pleasant day.
Sunday 10 May
A very cool morning with frost outside. Our travels today took us North through luxurious farmland with snow covered mountains in the distance. Throughout the day we were able to enjoy the wonderful changing scenery. Nothing exciting but still enjoyable. From the farming areas we moved into dry rounded hills and then into more rugged country as we approached the Rockies. Our meal stops were enjoyable through the day but disappointing in Browning, an Indian resort area where nothing seems to happen until later. Hotel is great.
Monday 11 May
What a change in the weather. Low cloud surrounded us as we travelled North toward Canada. As we moved away it started raining, which changed to light snow for the next hour and created a picture perfect covering of snow on the fir trees and surrounding area. Once over the high ground we moved out of the rain into the lowlands of Northern Montana to the Canadian border. A quick stop at customs and on to Fort Macleod, one of the early outposts in the development of Canada. We visited an Indian UNESCO site called Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump where we learnt how the local Indians in the 1800's and before were able to survive on the hunting of Buffalo. As we moved North to Calgary the weather cleared and the afternoon was very pleasant as we travelled through lush farmland, the beginning of thenCanadian Praries. Calgary, with a population of almost one ill ion is a sprawling metropolis with the Southern city limits almost 30km from the city centre. Busy, as is any major city but with the assistance of our GPS we soon arrived at our accommodation. Dinner at a local shopping centre and some of us took a visit to the city.
Photo by Hazel Walker
Saturday 9 May
Yellowstone National Park all day with good weather but coooooool. It even tried to snow but nothing lasted. Our first stop was to see Old Faithful and we arrived just 10 minutes before it was to perform. Just at the right time the geyser blew, but nothing really spectacular. At least we saw something famous. We moved on to another area with a variety of Volcanic activity then on to see the biggest waterfall in the area in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Quite impressive with wonderful coloured cliffs. Other areas were impressive as we moved through the Park. As we moved along one stretch of road there were several cars stopped beside the road so we had to investigate. A grizzly bear had been sighted so we al climbed the hill where a ranger was directing everyone. The grizzly was asleep but at least we could see it and then it looked up sufficiently for a photo. Further along we were privileged to see several bison crossing a river, even a calf with them. We naturally took lots of photos. We finished the day with a visit to an area known as the Artists Paintpots where the volcanic activity provided a series of small pools of varied colours. A very pleasant day and no rain, which was forecast.
Friday 8 May.
Lots of rain overnight with clouds right down this morning, which made for quite picturesque scenery as we travelled North into The Grand Teeton National Park. Now moving through thick forests the scenery was totally different. Streams provides plenty of water for the lush growth.
Then we saw our first large animal, a bison, and we saw many more through the day as we travelled through Grand Teton and then Yellowstone National Parks. We also saw some cotton tailed deer in the distance. Yellowstone has numerous hot mud pools and geysers and we stopped at a few of them and benefited from the healthy sulphur smells. Rained quite a bit in the afternoon, and because of the height we were at it was sleet, which seemed like snow on the windscreen. We were very fortunate with our route as our entry into Yellowstone was only opened for the first time this morning after the winter closures. Plenty of snow beside the road and on the mountains all around us. Two nights in Yellowstone so looking forward to seeing some of the spectacular scenery here.
Thursday 7 May
Different scenery today as we moved from the arid country of the spectacular canyons to more lush countryside with mountains in the distance. As we moved through some of the valleys we saw oil figs working with local storage tanks.....not something we expected. The area we moved through covered some of the old wagon train route of the famous Oregon Trail, going over the American Rockies at 9117 feet, the highest point in our trip so far, we have been living at over 6000 feet for most of the time since leaving Las Vegas. We arrived at Jackson, our stop for the night with accommodation right at the base of the ski area. Plenty of snow on the surrounding mountains made for wonderful scenery.
Wednesday 6 May
Not far from our accommodation in Moab we entered Arches National Park and were amazed once again at God's creation. As you van see from the amazing pictures of some of the natural arches we were able to see. A bit of walking involved to see some of the better ones but well worthwhile. The whole morning soon disappeared and after some lunch we made our way through changing scenery to our Park City our next port of call.
Tuesday 5 May
Rain. But this did not deter us and we set out for our next National Park. The sun gradually appeared and we soon arrived at Capital Reef National Park. Not so well known but again some great rock formations with plenty of variety in colourings and size. After lunch we travelled for some distance through many variations of scenery and into the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area with vast Canyons and with the Colorado Ricer running though the middle. The scenery was magnificent all day and in spite of a long day, finishing with rain, we enjoyed the majesty of God's' wonderful creation.
Monday 4 May
What a glorious day. We made our way to Zion National Park and even before we reached the main entrance we were enthralled with the wonderful views all around us. We were able to take a one and a half hour shuttle ride right into the Canyon, where again we were presented with more wonderful scenes. On our return we jumped into the bus enthusiastic for the next visit to Bryce Canyon National Park. What a sight presented itself over and over again. Majestic towers of rock formations with varied colourings provided many opportunities for photographs..
A great day.
Sunday 3 May
Well, that was Las Vegas in all its splendour. We found out that this past weekend was the busiest they have had for years. No wonder we thought it was crowded.
We travelled North out of Vegas along highway 15 until we reached a turn off to the Valley of Fire State Park, the oldest and largest in the State. We were greatly impressed. With the sun shining on the rich red rock formations we just had to stop a few times for photo shoots. Later we travelled though varied countryside, but again with great scenery. Arrived early at our hotel and then found we had lost an hour with a time change. A good comfortable hotel, with a laundry to help keep up with clean clothes.
Saturday 2 May
We gathered outside the front of the hotel with great expectation. Transferred to Boulder City to the helicopter terminal. After an emergency briefing we boarded a couple of helicopters for a trip INTO the Grand Canyon. We flew over the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, the second largest body of man made water in the world. Great weather so we had some wonderful views as we travelled through extremely parched country into the Canyon. Stopped for an early lunch, which most of us kept for later. Over an hour on the helicopter was a great experience for everyone. Back at the hotel we gathered for lunch and a break before more explorations of the Las Vegas phenomena. We took a hotel tram and made our way to the Las Vegas monorail which we rode from one end to the other and half way back so that we could visit the Venetian hotel where they have a canal with gondolas and working Gondoliers. Very picturesque with a variety of scenes from Venice. On the outside of the building there is a replica of the Bridge of Sighs and on the inside St Marks Square, which seem so authentic. By now we were walked out so took a bus back to the hotel for dinner. A day of different experiences.
Both of these pictures above and below are inside the hotel !!!!
Friday 1 May
A late morning start to our trip to Las Vegas. Our 12 seat mini bus was crammed to the top with all our luggage and 10 people. Fortunately the lady on the GPS took us out NW onto the highway without any problems and we travelled through some dry interesting country with rugged mountains as a backdrop for much of the way. We stopped at Barstow for a late lunch and had a quick look at what is remaining of the once bustling shops. Many now closed and the handful which are left are mainly souvenir shops rather than quality Outlet Shops.Then on to Las Vegas where we stayed at the Luxor hotel, based on the theme of a Pyramid with an Egyptian theme. Rooms are great but the hotel is like a jungle with so many odd spots to wander. Most of the group took a stroll down "The Strip" and we're enlightened by the considerable variety of dress / or maybe even undress could be more appropriate. One of the highlights is the water display outside the Belagio Hotel, which we enjoyed. Hotels are themed so when you enter, and pass through the gambling areas, the presentations are generally very good, as is the Egyptian theming throughout our hotel. Paris was very interesting with Parisienne shops and alleyways. The night lights were unbelievable all along the strip.
Thursday 30 April
An early morning transfer to Universal Studios so that we could arrive close to opening time. On arriving we took the Studio Tour which provided an insight into the back lots of Universal Studios. Many of the sound stages are still operational but some have been transformed especially for the tour with some fantastic effects, which made the tour very interesting. The remainder of the day was spent watching a variety of shows including a 3D Shrek movie, a great water show and an animal show which demonstrated how many of the animals used on films are trained. Another hot day so plenty of stops for drinks and snacks.
2 days in Disneyland and 1 day in Universal Studios, what fun, a lot of rides and interesting shows enjoyed by everyone. Splash Mountain especially with a 45ft drop into water enjoyed by Pam, Bevan,Norman,Carol and Meryl.
Day 2 Wednesday
Well we are all tired from the flight,but on a bus going to Disneyland. Hence the sunglasses
Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 April
Anaheim and Disneyland
We arrived safely in Anaheim after a 12 hour flight and a transfer down to Anaheim. Everyone in good spirits so decided to visit Disneyland, in spite of a very long day.
Our hotel is just a little too far to walk so we use the local Anaheim Transport which costs most of just $2.00 for unlimited transfers to and from Disneyland. Sometime we do get a bargain.
It has been beautiful weather with clear blue skies and in the 30's, which makes it tiring with all the walking between the various shows and rides. Some of us are more adventurous than others but we all really enjoyed the variety of experiences over the two day at the two Disney Parks. The Disney parade was excellent with the floats and dancers just so good.
Just had dinner now for an early night. looking forward to a full day tommorrow at Disneyland. goodnight Marley goodnight Blake from all of us.
Day 1 Tuesday Leaving