Sunday, July 30, 2006

30th July - day

It is now our last day in America. Strangely, we feel we have settled into it and are feeling quite comfortable here. We have just got used to tipping and eating fairly well, not burgers all the time. The place is so good and the people so friendly, also it is so hot and the beaches are incredible.

We drove down from Santa Barbara down the scenic coastal route of Highway 1, stopping off in Malibu to see some of the BIG houses on the beach and the beach itself. No wonder people are healthy out here when they can get down to places like this. There is no reason to stay inside when you have this on your door step.

After a spot of lunch in Malibu (a subway in the car - classy), we headed down to Santa Monica which is basically LA again and our last stop. As typical English people, we didn't wander too far from the hostel and found a pub - "Ye olde King's Head" an english themed pub. We had a curry and some shepherds pie for dinner as well.

We were due to meet Joanna there friday night, but due to her being in a very cool but very busy editing/producing tv job, we only got a minute with her, but arranged to meet saturday instead. This left plenty of drinking time and after 2 Aussies (Simon and Leroy no less) challenged the Poms, that was it: beer-a-plenty. Actually, way too much beer. They were Australian and we'd had a head start already, so they won. But the night was a lot of fun and hopefully will be able to meet up with them in Oz sometime in November.

Saturday was a hung over day. Lots of sleeping, drinking water, going to the park to sleep some more, walking a long the beach to try and not feel ill... type of day. But by 6 o'clock we were back on track.

Joanna picked us up and took us out for the evening. I must explain to some that Joanna is my Godmother Anne's daughter who I've known since we were very small. We hope to stay with Anne and Frank in New York on the way home later in the year. Anyway, we went out for some food with Joanna and Graham, both of the coolest and nicest people ever. I have to say that as I know they'll be reading this some time soon, but it is also totally true!

[Picture still on camera will put on when we can - sorry]

Sarah and I are extremely jealous about where they live and their lifestyles. The beaches for them are merely a stones throw a way and some of the best in the world. A great way to finish off America. They are more than welcome to come visit anytime, Graham wants to go to Goodwood festival of speed so who knows...

Today we are washing, packing and preparing. We leave for Fiji tonight and will lose a day whilst travelling, we land on the 1st August. Bit sad to leave so soon, but excited to be going on further. We think we will be out of contact for 2 weeks but don't worry, we'll still keep writing and stuff, but you will have to wait a bit for the posts that's all. 2 and a bit weeks today we will be having a new comabatant in the team, one Liz Holt from Ealing, 26 years old and competitive. She'll have to write a few things on here as well.

Right strangely we are off to an Adidas shop to get some autographs from the Chelsea football team.

Laters for now
Pricey and Sarah

P.S. Congratulations to the Dudley's, hopefully now they will Mr and Mrs. Good luck to you two and we hope your day goes well!

28th July - The West coast of California

We stayed in Cambria for a couple of nights and it was great. It's a small town with not much to do, but the bed is comfy and the food is good so we just relaxed which is what we needed and what we did.

Cute huh?

Yeah right, a 3 month old Burmese something or other who has not learnt how to control his biting...

We did a bit of walking around Cambria and surrounding beaches which was pretty much all there was to do really. We did meet up with a cool Lady from Taiwan and her 6 year old son who we met in Yosemite. That was strange as it isn't the first time we have bumped into familiar people again. After Cambria we headed down to Santa Barbara.

The place is really great, much like Santa Cruz but more adult and less of a fairground attraction than the former. Again we pounded the streets and did another 10 ish miles of looking around. Did a bit of shopping again and walked the length of the beach that we could.

We had fish n chips at the end of the pier at a restaurant called the Moby Dick where we watched our first sunset. That was pretty weird as it took a whole 2 minutes for the sun to fall out of the sky and we were left with the dusk.

A small story I'm just allowed to tell is that Sarah took the picture and thought there was a little man on a Kayak in the picture above and wanted him in the shot. But after the sun went down she wondered why he didn't go into shore as it was dark. The little man turned out to be a bouy...

As good as Santa Barbara was the Hostel was bad. We were warned by Tristan 'Smug mode' Jones that it wasn't too great, but it was the only one we could get and we only had one night. So there were 12 of us crammed into a corridor with no cooling system or fans or anything on a very very hot night. Add to this the Amtrak train station a mere 50 yards from our window and sleep was a difficult commodity. Here in the US the train drivers like to make use of their horns... alot... like all the time. I hate them! As much as Sarah hates spidey.

Time to hit the road now and to mini van it some more.

Laters for now

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

25th July - A rest day

I'm going post crazy...

Anyway, we left Monterey and the bikes behind us and we ventured down the coast to a quiet small town called Cambria. On the way we did the Route 1 scenic drive down the coast of Big Sur. The begining was rubbish due to the immense fog, but later on the day it got to be pretty impressive. We stopped at a few beaches and cliffs and nearly dies a few times Italian Job style going round cliff corners in our massive mini van.

We stopped to see some elephant seals, they were big, like everything else here in America so we were'nt too surprised. They shuffled around a bit and stuff but nothing too cool.

The town is a one street wonder, but with net so we are stocking up for a while. The owners are awesome though and the two girls working for them are real friendly too. It is so good to have a real bed to sleep on and some alone time as well. The dorms can get overwhelming at times, you can't do anything without waking people up or annoying someone, farting and such...

We have also thought about a COMPETITION... a caption competition... the winner can get some cool free T-Shirts and Hat and stuff we got from Moto GP/ or something else if you don't want that, the winner can choose I suppose. So, I have given you all something to start with, so get going, you can do just 1 or the lot, the winner will be decided by a panel of 2. Good luck: -

1. Check out the Massive guns -

2. How good would you look after 20 mile bike ride?

3. Me and a big red truck from the Cline wine valley

4. Lost for words again...

5. Got cheese?

6. Never-bin-behind-bars!

Get commenting!


23rd July - Extra pictures

Here a few extra pictures from sundays activities: -

One for Captain Nigel and Mr Neal, pit girls and mechanical bull riding.

Me on a new Yahama R1.

Danni Pedrosa lined up and ready to race.

Nicky Haden won the race so he gets to do a burnout on the start finish line.

Laguna Seca Raceway


23 July - The Birthday!

Today was the best. Bikes, beer and birthday, the 3 B's.

We started early in the morning, left by 7 and got to the track by 9. There was so much to do and see. We came prepared because the morning was cold but we were told it was going to be hot, they were wrong there, it was going to be F**** hot.

We did a bit of shopping at the 100s of bike stands. There was cool stuff everywhere, a shame that we couldn't get some stuff to take back home, but things were too big to lug around the numerous countries we are going to.

Also, with the luck of my birthday, I won a raffle. Free hat and t-shirt was mine! Though I was the 20th name read out of the hat, but I was only the 5th there so I got it. Mwahahaha.

We watched a bit of the practice session which was pretty good. Then we saw some Moto X stunt riders, again amazing.

After that we headed up to the grandstand to our seats. They cancelled one of the pre-races before Moto GP due to the heat, and we had to hide under the grandstand to get some shade. It was unbelievable heat, well over 100 degrees again. The hottest we have ever felt, sweaty was definitely a new look. We were so hot in the sun that we had to put clothes on to stop from getting burnt. My forearm actually began to bubble and boil, not a pleasant experience.

But then the race started. So good. We were on the start finish straight, opposite the pits and a big screen TV, a perfect spot. They all started off well, no crashes on the first bend, Nicky Haden the american lead for most of the way but always with someone up his backside. Rossi started 10th and then moved up to 4th before his bike blew up. He was not a happy bunny whatsoever. We could also see the podium and the presentations which were awesome.

After the race we did a bit more shopping then climbed up a hill to see the famous corkscrew turns. We climbed the wrong hill, which was a pain in the hot butts of ours. We then climbed the right hill and got to see some of the other race from the corkscrew turn.

The day was so good. Thank you Sarah for the tickets. An excellent birthday, I reccomend it. Even the near riot in the queue to get the bus back didn't tarnish it a smidgen. Nor losing the rental car at the park and ride could tarnish anything too.
Enough bikes now I promise... until september...



Tuesday, July 25, 2006

1 day till birthday - 22nd July - Monterey

Man, I am so excited, it's like being 6 again on Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is Moto GP and my birthday, awesome.

As soon as we got to Monterey, which is only 40 minutes south of Santa Cruz (I can do educational too), there were bikes knocking around. Then that evening, there was hundreds. Bike heaven.

So Friday, we arrived, checked in, then found some Aussie guy's car keys left in his car. Found him and gave them back, then ended up drunk with him at a biker bar down on Cannery Row with another guy Lance who was from Touson, Arizona. A weird day.

Today, Saturday, has been a quieter affair. Went to the aquarium this morning to see a lot of fish. Penguins, otters, sealions, anchovies, tuna and many more pizza toppings. It was very educational, but we were slightly gutted as Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards (Moto GP riders for the uninitiated) were there the day before. We saw on the Moto GP website that they turned up in a limo, and we saw that limo yesterday as the bar we were at was just down the road. Dammit.

We have now found a new lunch spot, Subway. After claiming they were rubbish, Sarah is now a convert, so we've stocked up on sandwiches for tomorrow. They're cheap too about 2.49 dollars which is about 1.50 squids, so that helps us out too.

In the afternoon, we went along the coast to 'Lovers Point' which was full of families and was busy so we headed up the coast further. There we watched the ocean and slept off a bit more of the hangover.

This evening there were even more bikes down Cannery Row, so we went there again. Now we are completely ready for tomorrow, we are going to bed early, if I can sleep at all. Tomorrow is a 6:30 start and bikes all day long.

More soon.


July 20th - Santa Cruz wasn't actually that far

Yes! We have made it out of San Francisco! Loved the place but 8 days felt like we were trapped there. Still would definitely go back, such a beautiful place. Even the hills are fun.

The driver's licences arrived Wednesday morning. Thank you to all involved, both sets of parents and the random guy living in our old flat who was also very helpful. I have finally got some wheels!

Top tip for all of today: Don't hire a car from the shop, go online and not to their site either. Some evil cow quoted us 616 dollars with not many insurance packages and we found it for 350 with everything included. So we booked ourselves an economy 2 door small car and came away with a Chrysler Town and Country minivan.

It's huge. Sarah says she could run around in the back of it if we put the seats down. But it is weird to drive on the wrong side of the road with an automatic. Still they get out the way of mini vans. I suggested we call it Mini-van-illy after the not so famous pop artists. Sarah suggested Fuzzy... (after the licence plate 5UZZA).

Santa Cruz was our first stop. Quite a good place but not as good as I heard. Too touristy and for kids, and the surf was rubbish. Still we spent a few days on the beach and had a room to ourselves which was great. Went bowling one night and I got whooped. Madame hit 142, her personal best.

Whilst we were there we saw this huge fat guy on the Dance Dance Revolution machine. We took one look and then smirked as he was about 18 stone, then we had to eat our mockingness as he was awesome. He was playing for 2 people, so both dance things, and hit a massive 55 combo. We clapped when he stopped.

Also forgot to tell you about the calamity incident in Foot locker. Picked up a shoe from the middle of a wall of shoes, put it back not realising that there was no wall behind the rack, shoe then went down the back knocking over a good dozen or so others on the way. Much apologizing I was told not to worry and to walk away. Then went to see Sarah, turned and knocked a load of boxes off some other shelves... I was asked to leave.

Tomorrow we are to head off to Monterey. That will be good.



Sunday, July 23, 2006

Small insertion - 22nd july


Just a quick entry as we haven't got the best internet in the world. We will be out of contact for a while as we are going down the west coast of America and they seem a bit backward on the net front.

Driver's licences are back and we have a car, more on that later.
We have done Santa Cruz and we are currently in Monterey for the Moto GP AND my birthday.

Happy birthday to Annie for Monday!

Laters for now
Geof (soon to be aged 27) and Sarah (aged 26 and gloating)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

18th July - More San Francisco

We are still in San Francisco... still enjoying it though, but we have nearly been here over a week. We are trying to hire a car but we still have to wait until our new driver's licences arrive. Hopefully this wednesday now, fingers are crossed.

That is the end of the bad news, now onto the good: -

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MA! Hope your day went well and thank you for your help!

Well, we have hired some bicycles for a day to have a look around the city. We rode over the Golden Gate bridge, but even though we were on it, the fog was so bad that we could only see about 1/3 of it at one time. But it was still good, high up and windy. After that we went over some big hills and off to the Golden Gate park, which had Bison in it and some ducks. The whole journey was about 20 miles so we went to bed pretty early after that. It wasn't 20 miles of flat road, this place only has up and down hills.

Saturday was a baseball game. The San Francisco giants V Philly, philly won 14 - 6. A great game as there was a lot of runs and we got to learn about some of the more bizarre rules of the game too from some locals. The whole thing lasted 5 hours in the sun so we now have the T-Shirt tan lines we've always wanted.

The next day was Wine tasting in the Sonoma valley, which I though was part of the Napa valley, but was totally wrong as it is an entirely seperate valley next to the Napa one and they didn't like me telling them otherwise. Again we had an Eastern European tour guide, this time Roman who was German who again had Arnie inflections in his voice. We got to see the beach, the Muir woods that have really big Redwood trees that we hugged, and some wineries. Got to learn how to be a wine snob and tasted everything that we could. A great day but well hot, 100+ degrees.

(For the more observant of you, well done by the way you know who you are, I know we said it was 100+ degrees and that in the pictures we are wearing jumpers, well there is an explanation for this, see it was early in the morning when we went to hug some trees, therefore still cold, it got a lot hotter later at the wineries).

Today, we went to Alcatraz. It was pretty impressive but really falling to pieces.It was cool to see where the filming took place and all of the cells and everything. Took some pictures of us in jail too.

[Alcatraz pictures to come - it's not letting us put them on]

Other than that we have been too knackered to go out and get drunk at all. Poor I know, but we are kind of saving that up for Oz. We have visited a few though, one was an Irish bar where the barman loved snooker for some reason and had recently travelled to England just to play for 4 days. We left after that drink.

There have been a few new words we have learnt over here. Firstly, we read in a newspaper that someone had been 'burglarized' probably by a 'burglarizer'. Then we saw a sign saying 'If you want a Taxie, please ask here', we didn't ask there. We also went to the Palace of fine arts which was also called an 'Exploratorium' of all things, I just hope that if there were two side by side that would be 'Exploratoria' but that would be pushing it.

There are a lot of crazy homeless people here too. One was a robot, one did a hand stand on a bottle of beer, others just cursed. But all were pretty harmless.

Hopefully we are off to Santa Cruz soon and can get some beach action.

Laters for now


Monday, July 17, 2006

Like being back in London - 10th to 13th July

We have definitely come back to the land of the real world. Yosemite was great and everything but it is just nice to be back in places where you can have a shower, use the internet and just generally live. If we could do the park again, I'd definitely be more prepared and NOT lose my wallet on the damn bus.

We have been in San Francisco now for a couple of days and things have got better. The place is really nice, though we did go from about 90 plus degrees to roughly 70 which was a bit of a shock. But it is so hot now here. The place is so nice, in many ways it is a better London. There are cool places to go have a drink, the shops are good and there is an awesome pier set up to walk along. The hills are big, but you can bypass them if you have to.

Today however, we didn't bypass any, we hit them all. We went up to the top of Lombard steet and went down the windy road that is a really steep hill. Then we went to the top of Coit Tower which over looks the city. We could see Alcatraz from there as it was a clear day but the Golden Gate bridge was a bit clouded over. The place is weird as the clouds or mists come through the city rather than over it, so some buildings can look over them. Very cool to watch.

Out of everywhere we have been this is the first place we felt that we fit in and could live here. As I said before it is very much like London but better.

So far we have walked everywhere in circles. About 8 miles a day we worked out, apart from Wednesday when we were a little hungover. We managed to find a great bar that did pints and food all for 3 dollars each. Then Sarah sensibly went to bed whilst I played drinking games with two girls from Denmark, a bloke from Blackburn and an American rocker. I lost...

We've also seen pirates of the caribbean as well, which was pretty piratey.

We have some excellent things planned for the next 4 days. Tomorrow we are going to hire mountain bikes and will cross the Golden Gate bridge, then go to Golden Gate Park in the afternoon. Saturday, we are going to see the San Francisco Giants play baseball all afternoon. Sunday we are on a trip to see the big trees in the morning followed by some cheese and wine tasting in the afternoon. Monday will see us go to Alcatraz. Maybe I can lock Sarah up for being mad crazed, but we can only hope.

These things are getting long so I'll finish up quickish...

One of the non favourite foods of the City - Deep fried lemon!


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ups and downs in Yosemite

We're reaching the end of our stay in Yosemite National Park and it's been a bit of a
mixed bag.

Larry knocked us up as promised and had us on the bus to the Yosemite Bug hostel at 7
am. I had booked us into a place about 40 minutes by bus from the park in order to
save us from the cost and crowds of the valley floor. One problem - a massive rock
fall has totally closed the direct route from hostel to park, and the diversion takes
3 hours each way!

Due to this and the associated depleted bus schedule we had to spend the first day
around the hostel, so we went on the Bug Loop Trail which supposedly goes all the way
round the site but vanishes now and again. It was pretty strenuous and we saw some
pretty spots on the way - the hostel has its own natural swimming hole, but after
reports of snakes and eels in it there was no way I was going in it! I had been
imagining hearing rattlesnakes rattling all the way round the trail as it was.

Up bright and early the next day for our first trip to Yosemite. There's a great
view as we approached the park of El Capitan (the massive granite rock on the left).

The valley is really dramatic and as impressive as the Grand Canyon in many ways, but
much more developed (although sympathetically) with many hotels, shops, campsites
etc. The first day we visited Yosemite Falls (the biggest waterfall in North America
if all 3 drops are combined), then walked several miles to Mirror Lake (pretty but
not spectacular), then a couple more miles around the valley floor before home. This
time we really did see a rattlesnake!! But we kept our distance and it wasn't
rattling so we were ok!

Unfortunately somewhere between the bus home and the walk back to the hostel Geof
lost his wallet. We've pretty much sorted this out now, card and driving license
replacements ordered, but it has taken a while and may well disrupt our hiring of a
car in a weeks time! But this kind of thing was bound to happen at some point.

Due to the wallet debacle, Geof stayed back at the hostel the next day to sort stuff
out and I went into the park again solo. I went to the Happy Isles (some pretty
islands in the Merced river, lots of fast white water around), then set off on the
Mist Trail.

The Mist Trail is a hike first to the base of Vernal waterfall, then to the top of
Vernal, then to the base of Nevada waterfall, then to the top of Nevada. I heard it
was fairly strenuous so not being particularly fit I aimed to get to the base of
Vernal. But when I saw the amount of 3 year olds going all the way I thought I'd
better give it a go. Calling it the mist trail is a bit of an understatement, at
some points it was a full scale shower, but it's so hot here it was really a good
thing. In the end I got about half way to the top of the second waterfall, before
having to turn back to catch the bus back to the hostel. The falls and the views
were spectacular, it was a fantastic day.

Today my legs feel a bit dead. Neither of us fancied the early start and 6 hour
round trip to the park today, so we stayed back at the hostel and sorted out the
replacement driving licenses and stuff.

We have been roped into doing some ad hoc IT support for various people struggling with the computers. Geof's favourite today was when the monitor had gone to standby and a lady asked him how to turn it on again. Geof told her to just shake the mouse a bit. So she picks it up and waves it in the air. We got there in the end.

Well this has been a long one but then it is 3/4 days worth! We are off to San
Francisco tomorrow so next update from there.


Monday, July 10, 2006

A few pictures for your viewing pleasure

Here are some pictures for your entertainment: -

The finger of truth never lies... I am indeed Price

It's Gary

Liz wins the 'who can look more surprised' competiton, Kevin came second.

Geof is the one in the Grey shorts

Apparently Lauren Anderson is the the worlds first Playboy Playmat...

I always wanted to be a showgirl
How cheesey is this?

Tired at the end of the day, too tired to take your clothes off...

What happens in vegas, stays in vegas

(It says for the vision impaired -, it is easier than you think!)

We're not sure what to say about this one...

Yosemite park update to follow soonly.

6th July - A travelling day for travelling folk.

We gypsied our way out of vegas this morning. Flew to Fresno which seemed nice but we didn't stop, the bus service was cheap, a dollar, and the trains are late just like in England. Apparently the train hit a truck and had to stop which was decent of it. There are not many level crossings in the US.
We took the train from Fresno to a small farming town called Merced. We have one night here before we head off to Yosemite National Park. We are staying at a weird Hostel, it is actually some old dude called Larry's house. He has one room to himself, there are 2 bunk rooms and a double and the rest is a normal house. Bizarre, I couldn't live that way, but then some can.
So we've had chinese and now I'm tucking in for an early night as Larry said he is to 'knock us up' at just after 6. Lucky us!
Good night.

Sweet dreams.

And don't get knocked up too bad by Larry tomorrow!



Sunday, July 09, 2006

Vegas - part 2 - 5th July

Apparently we missed the 4th of July. It was over the weekend of the 1st and 2nd.

So we went out expecting big things but there was literally nothing happening. A bit disappointed but then it isn't really a celebratory day for the English. We did get ribbed by the ticket girls at Drive.

Anyway, today was a very surreal day, one where we got to tick off 2 of those big things you have on your 'Big List of Things To Do'. Admittedly we did them at the same time but they both count. So we flew into the Grand Canyon in a helicopter.

That was the coolest thing ever! I need me a helicopter!

I thought I was going to cr*p myself over the height thing after the Stratosphere but it didn't bother me at all. It was so good. And the best thing was the pilot was Austrian and spoke just like Arnold Swarzenager. Imagine Arnie saying 'we are just coming up to ze Hooover Darm' as we flew over the Hoover Dam. The Grand Canyon is big, real big, really really big. We flew over it and thought hmmm, but then we flew into it and about half way down you can look down and think, that is a long way down. Then you look up and you see the top of the cliffs and you think, that is a long way up! The canyon is a bout 8000 feet deep and sometimes 2 miles wide. Big. I'll try to post some pictures.

We were served a champagne picnic by the Mini-Arnie near the bottom of the Canyon and then we flew back to Boulder City, just outside Vegas. Some poor woman in the back hurled everywhere.

So after the canyon we headed into the strip to try and see a show. We managed to get tickets to see Cirque du Soleil's Mystere. Again excellent with lots of flying around people and moving stages. Sarah loved it. Then we headed back to bed, exhausted, at 2 am, again.
We never got to sunbathe once, or go to the pool, or the gym. We were barely in the room, and we walked miles. All fun though.

Gambling was actually minimal, Sarah more than me in the end, as she loves the slots. I lost about 20 dollars at Black Jack but that was it.
I recommend vegas! Go there now, it's hot, about 100 degrees each day and there is lots of stuff to do.

Right travelling tomorrow.



The Hoover dam

The Canyon

The end of Las Vegas - July 7th

Our Vegas phenomenom has come to an end, and unlike last time where we felt that we were all 'neon-ed' out by the end of three days, this time we felt that we needed an extra 3 days on top of what we had.

We basically have seen and done nearly everything we can here. It has been expensive and we will have to eat beans for the rest of the month but it was worth it.

There was a car showroom called 'The Drive' that for 10 dollars you could test drive 2 cars around a track. So off I went, the first was a Hummer H2 that I took around the obstacle course.

Sarah came with us in the back seat. We had to have a professional driver accompanying me in case I do anything stupid... She was a woman... a woman professional driver... a near oxymoron if ever there was one. (Sorry female gender). Also before I got into the car I had to take a breathelisor test. Though quietly confident, having not drunken a thing all day, Sarah was bricking it as she thought my habits might lead to a constant level of blood alcohol levels. Happily I hit 0 and put the rumours to rest.
After fighting with the girl in the Hum Vee, who grew increasingly nervous as I told her that this was my first time driving an automatic and a left hand drive car, we made it around safely. So onto car number 2, the new Chevy Corvette convertible, on the race test track. An awesome car, quick with awesome breaks and only 50 grand out here which is about 25 thousand squids. Too american though.

Next we went to the Nascar cafe and went on the roller coaster there. It was short and sweet but soo much fun.
In the evening we went to a steakhouse for some awesome Chateaubriaund. Sooooo tasty, better than the Steak house in Staines which is saying something. Then we dribbled home a little tipsy, stopping for 1 dollar margaritas before hitting the sack at 2.
The next day was awesome...
I'll save it for another post as this one is getting big.