View Full Version : USA West Coast mumblings...

Dave B
18-04-2016, 10:51 AM
Another ‘last family holiday’ as the ‘kids’ are now 21 and 19 ! We’ve had a fair few of these ‘last holiday’ with the kids !
They, well...Isabel mainly, wanted to do the Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1 or simply ‘The 1’.

A few thoughts in a Mike Solo’esque’ list of our time in the US:
The disparity between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is staggering. Speaking to a few have nots and it is often a case of ‘there but for the grace of God’ many have simply been shafted by the way of things in the USA, born on the wrong side of town or a victim of Policy etc
The US of A seems to have a huge homeless issue with its interlinked mental health issues.
I hate the fact that the morons advertise a price and then add bloody tax. So a 3 for $10 costs $10.82 etc. Hugely frustrating and I’d never get used to it
Portion control is, well, out of control.
It seems cheaper to go out and eat than buy food and prep it yourself.
Beer is expensive
Petrol is half the UK price...which just means the 15-20mpg cars/pick ups do UK average economy (taking into acct the stupid ⅚ gallon sizing the US have)

We packed, we crammed this lot into the boot of the Yaris and at an ungodly hour drove to Manchester Airport for the short hop to Dublin before a longer one to San Francisco.

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All went well...if a little long in the air for my liking.
Picked up the hire car, a Ford Explorer, which was fine for space and comfort ( I almost had to tell the hire desk guy to f### off when he continually tried flogging me extras I did not need. He got the message in the end. We then drove the hour or so to Santa Cruz where we stayed the first night in a small and very homely B and B.
We ambled down the road into the town and were hit by the noise and rush of people that is the Boardwalk/Funfair/Blackpool Stateside.
Day 2 and we headed south along the 1. It was sunny. It was perfect for the first real day of the trip.

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Lunch stop at a run of the mill diner and the food ws excellent...if a tad overfacing (we’d never get used to the monstrous servings and ended up opting for fewer servings for the 4 of us (wife hates food waste so after a fortnight of eating leftovers, she’d have been an honorary American at 25 stone if we got this wrong…)

That night we had an apartment on Venice Beach. I say ‘on’, it was literally the closest building to the seafront and was really nice, comfortable and well equipped.
We strolled up to the pier at Santa Monica, had some donutty type thing the name of which escapes me and watched the world go by.

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The next morning we took the advice of the apt reception guy and had breakfast at a local cafe that did 50% off between 8 and 9 before packing, collecting the car from the overnight $35 car park and heading south to San Diego. We stopped at an upmarket Mall for lunch and to ensure we didn’t arrive at the next hotel too early and arrived at the ‘resort’ Hotel mid afternoon.

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We had a great view from the balcony and watched a weird Police Op unfold for about 40 minutes. Turned out it was a drunken woman (she got herself locked up) who had reported her drunken female mate on board a boat as being ‘suicidal’. Anyhow, 14 cops, a police dog and 3 boats later, she was detained safely and taken away. I was staggered at how many turned up and really wanted to go and have a chat about their protocols to see how they compare with the UK but they all appeared quite ‘distant’ as though, despite my wife and my common link with them, they’d not really want to chat.

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Glorified Rounders stadium

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Went out for tea and then called for a few snacks etc at a local store, Ralphs. A lovely Latino girl called Mercedes served us and used her store card to get us the locals discount.
We spent Tuesday finding our way about in the warm spring sunshine and Isabel got her new iphone.
Some splendid craft in the harbour including this motor yacht with its own 902 helicopter sat on top and the biggest sailing yacht I have ever seen

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A wander about downtown ‘Gaslamp quarter’’ with a mexican meal for tea followed by sunset on Coronado Island

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San Diego Zoo in the rain the next day. Typical, years of drought and we take them some rain. I don’t like zoos but Erin wanted to go. It was a bit meh for me
The next day we did the old town which was nice if a little theme park, the best bit was a deserted model railway exhibition. Superb (and we all agreed for once)

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Deliberately blurred and off centre...spot him ?

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Friday saw a shortish drive North for 3 nights in LA. We had booked an apartment just off Hollywood Boulevard, mainly for its proximity to Universal for a trip to the newly opened Harry Potterland. The appt was fine but the area is a dump...the Walk of Fame and all those stars including the Chinese Theatre and Dolby Theatre ?? All a real let down. Sunset Bld ? Another dump.

Potterland was a great day out followed by a drive thru Bel Air and Beverly Hills.

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Dave B
18-04-2016, 10:51 AM
It all felt very, erm….semi-permanent. It seems folks spend $5 or $10 million dollars on a tired big 20 yr old house then spend another 5 or 10 million on ‘re-modelling’ This seems to consist of demolishing most of it and rebuilding...in 6 x 2 timber with OSB board covered in render….hence the semi-permanent!
The next day we went to downtown, drove Mulholland Drive, went to Griffiths Observatory and saw the famous sign.

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We were pleased to leave the next morning !
So Monday we drove North towards a night stay at a Golf Club near Carmel (Of Clint Eastwood Mayor fame) We ended up driving right thru a US army base that went on for mile upon mile and we didn’t see another vehicle for most of them.

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Up and over a pass and then down to the 1 again. They upgraded us from a normal room to a suite at the golf and country club and it was superb. They even through in a nice breakfast. A great place. We ate locally and then wandered around Cannery Row in Monterey. A nice place to while away an hour or two.

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The next morning we wandered about Carmel...weird, weird, weird. Like a make believe town….way too pretty and everything just so.
We headed to San Francisco, dumped the bags at the hotel in downtown and then Erin and I took the hire car back and caught the BART back to downtown. Really straightforward and the right choice as we didn’t need a car at all in SF and avoided 3 days of hire charges plus 3 x $40 a day parking !
The Hotel offered us a free breakfast the next day...with a bit of a catch. It was another resort hotel linked to timeshare type ownership. The deal was we gave 90-120 minutes up for a free breakfast plus $100 vouchers for food at a few local restaurants. Seemed worthwhile as we’d spend an hour over breakfast anyway so save another $40 or $50. We were initially asked how likely we were to buy a timeshare with them...erm 0%...we kept getting asked...still 0%. They quite pushing it after a short while and we left with our vouchers
So SF, we did all the usual, Alcatraz...brilliant. Cable car….a clanky old trolley bus with two fellers fannying about with levers and stuff. The waterfront in the sunshine. Brilliant.

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Oddest thing in SF was strolling along one of the main drags at teatime, loads of folk about and as we passed a bus stop with several people stood there, a homeless trampy type dropped his kex and had a dump in the gutter. Staggering..for all the wrong reasons but we all laughed like drains at the absurdity of it

Crapper Street !

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Drank good coffee
Spent the $100 at Bubba Gumps with an incredible view (how much have we spent so far ?...are we at $100 yet….)

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Not all burgers....

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So, the last day and we had a few hours to kill so dumped our bags in a secure room at the hotel and walked downtown. When it was time to leave and go get the BART to the airport we lugged it all the 3 or 400 yards along the pavement and went to the ticket machine to get 4 tickets. Yet another bag lady pestered us a bit telling us how to operate the machine. I had a few coins left in my pocket so gave them to her, she held out her hand and when I dropped them into it she said’ It only pennies...you got more?’ I have never felt closer to punching a woman in my life. Unbelieveable :angry::angry:
Anyhow, a long flight, long layover, then short flight (prop plane...cool) and were back in Blighty….to cold temps and snow !

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A great trip. I’d not go back to LA again but we’d defo do San Diego and San Francisco.
It cost a fortune all told and some things really pi$$ed me off...the taxes and the tipping...including some places who automatically add 15 or 20% to a bill. I hate the fact that it is part and parcel of life to tip (didn’t we have a tipping thread once upon a time) PAY PROPER WAGES FFS

Dave B
18-04-2016, 10:52 AM
A few randoms
Thought of NB with this

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Tim in Y with this

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How do they get away with plates like front and rear ??

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A Tesla shop...in a shopping mall

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Boots anyone ?

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And my shitty Post Script was my old ticker going out of sync halfway thru the trip. No huge issue other than 6 solid months of training to climb Ventoux by all 3 roads in mid May is now scuppered. Still, 7 yrs since it was last out of sync and I may get to have an ‘ablation’ this time which may well cure it for good….oh, and had my haircut since this pic.

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18-04-2016, 11:18 AM
Great report!

We're flying Aer Lingus to Orlando in October and have bugger all time for transfers, in Dublin, I'm a little worried. But I'm sure it'll work out..

Had you been to the US before Dave?

18-04-2016, 11:32 AM
great report

Tim in Yorkshire
18-04-2016, 11:36 AM
Yellopwr indeed, looks like you had fun :thumb:

18-04-2016, 01:16 PM
I'm doing San Fran to LA (Huntington Beach) via Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and Santa Monica in Sept this year. This report has made me even more excited to be over there. :veryhappy:

Dave B
18-04-2016, 01:38 PM
Tim, yes, did Pacific NW down as far as SF in 1998, I cycled in Death Valley in 1999
Then Florida in 2006 and 07
Our flight home was delayed slightly and Aer Lingus pulled out the stops to make sure folk with connecting flights made their next connection (not sure whether it worked but I suspect so)
I'd fly with them again, they were a great bunch :thumb:

18-04-2016, 01:52 PM
Nice holiday, good read. Cheers for posting, Dave :thumb:

Neil Mac
18-04-2016, 04:04 PM
cool story, bro :thumb:

18-04-2016, 07:03 PM
cool story, bro :thumb:

You do know that's a piss take reply, don't you???:lol:

Great report, brings back memories:thumb:

18-04-2016, 10:50 PM
Nice report :thumb:

I hate the fact that the morons advertise a price and then add bloody tax. So a 3 for $10 costs $10.82 etc. Hugely frustrating and I’d never get used to it
Yep, 4 years in and this still gets on my tits. Look mate, your pokey little coffee shop exists here and only here, no customers are exempt from paying Sales Tax, so put the fecking price including Tax on your menu.
It does go to illustrate how the United States often operates as an assortment of little countries though. Some states don't charge sales Tax or even take Income Tax.

How do they get away with plates like front and rear ??When you buy a new car from a dealership in California, it takes a few weeks for your plates to come through from the Prison where they make them. If you buy a used car (that was previously registered in another state) from a dealership, it's the same thing.
Iirc the law states that as long as you carry your registration documents in the car, you can go something stupid like 6 months without putting your new plates on. Apparently Steve Jobs used to take advantage of this law, buying a brand-new Mercedes SL every six months as a method of preserving his anonymity on the road.

O Griffith Park, how I miss thee. Ace climbs on the road bike, I could get 3,000ft of climbing done in about 20 miles in there!
Hollywood is a real shithole, you're absolutely right. Just like Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street. If there's ever a next time, go and eat fish tacos in Venice Beach. You can do it on the way back to the airport, it's so close by. One last thing - Sunset Blvd is 13 miles long, and incredibly diverse. You could take ten years getting to know it, there's far more to it than 'the strip'.
In all honesty, I'd move back to LA tonight...

Diamond Hell
19-04-2016, 12:04 AM
Good read. Quite a lot of it sounds disappointing, though!

What would/wouldn't you miss if you did it again?

Darren Langeveld
19-04-2016, 03:33 AM
Nice trip, thanks for sharing.

I'm itching to get back out there, had some great times on the West coast.

Not least of which was some sausage with Neil Bridge :thumb:

19-04-2016, 06:18 AM
Good read that Dave, thanks for posting it.

Dave B
19-04-2016, 06:38 AM
It does go to illustrate how the United States often operates as an assortment of little countries though.

O Griffith Park, how I miss thee.
If there's ever a next time, go and eat fish tacos in Venice Beach.
In all honesty, I'd move back to LA tonight...

That's exactly what it feels like, loads of separate countries. (Obviously we just visited the one state on this trip)
Liked Griffith Park.
Would choose to go back at all. It all felt so fake but appreciate we didn't even scratch LAs surface.

DH Would definately do San Diego again and also San Fransisco..but then go North and NE to do the wine region.

Neil Mac
19-04-2016, 07:15 AM
I love spending time around LA. Lots to do, and just hanging around can be a very pleasant experience.

Having said that, the wife's parents have just moved to Oregon, so my hanging around in LA time is probably over for the foreseeable...

19-04-2016, 08:17 AM
I really enjoyed reading that, thanks for taking the time to post it, Dave. :thumb::thumb:

19-04-2016, 12:14 PM
That was a great read Dave thanks for posting and nice shots to!

19-04-2016, 12:26 PM
Thanks for that Dave, I enjoyed it :thumb:

The whole tipping & tax thing really irritates me too. But people like Mercedes who appeared to be extra helpful deserve tipping and I don`t mind that.

Did you have a choice of hire car or were just allocated one ? Sounds like you had a few `upgrades` along the trip too

19-04-2016, 01:52 PM
I love spending time around LA. Lots to do, and just hanging around can be a very pleasant experience.
Having said that, the wife's parents have just moved to Oregon, so my hanging around in LA time is probably over for the foreseeable...
Aww, shame :sad: Oregon's weather's probably worse than England :lol:

Neil Mac
19-04-2016, 02:18 PM
Aww, shame :sad: Oregon's weather's probably worse than England :lol:

The MIL has had enough skin cancer, apparently. That's probably as good a reason as any to move to somewhere damp and cloudy.

Dave B
19-04-2016, 03:41 PM
Did you have a choice of hire car or were just allocated one ? Sounds like you had a few `upgrades` along the trip too

Possibly could have chosen but we'd been up about 21hrs and had to sit and wait as they sorted us a car ( I booked it bloody months before and did expect it to be ready..turned up bang on time) Anyhow, what seemed like hours but was actually about 12 minutes later, they called me over and had upgraded us to the Explorer. I'd booked a 'Jeep' or similar and this was that bit bigger. Drove OK, as I expected but we were oddballs as every other car on the coast road was a mustang convertible.
We were upgraded room wise a couple of times, the golf place was superb. Somewhere that Jay Leno goes to when they have their posh car auctions. I've probably seen it on some Quest TV car show but not twigged. We'd go back (minus the mongos)


19-04-2016, 03:44 PM
Please go back, with or without mongos, but with a bicycle.
I'll meet you there, and show you what LA is actually about. Bring your climbing legs, sunscreen and a 28T cassette :lol:

Dave B
19-04-2016, 04:56 PM
Mmmm sore point.

Spent lots of time walking everywhere and at Potterland we did all the steps rather than escalators..then a day later I 'felt' my heart had dipped back into its bad beat. Sure enough it had so I am back on a warfarin style drug (no weekly checks but there is no current antidote to this anticoagulant ) and await an appointment with my cardiologist...so 9 mths solid training, 10kg weight loss etc to conquer Ventoux next month as a 50th trip with my best mate (also 50) is scuppered. He is still riding it and he'll have 3 in support :lol:
I was gutted but such is life.
So, yes, would love to do some cycling in LA with someone who knows the area...but it won't be anytime soon :sad:

19-04-2016, 06:45 PM
Sorry Dave, I didn't twig from what you said earlier. Hope you're right as rain ASAP :thumb:

Dave B
19-04-2016, 07:12 PM
No worries at all

20-04-2016, 09:14 AM
Great report, thanks for posting. Brought back some memories of our trip around this time last year, loved SF, Carmel etc. but didn't go to LA.

We're off further north in a month or so to Seattle area, will take lots of pics and I agree, the sales tax, tipping etc. drives you mad, doesn't it!

20-04-2016, 09:15 AM
Somewhere that Jay Leno goes to when they have their posh car auctions. I've probably seen it on some Quest TV car show but not twigged. We'd go back (minus the mongos)

Pebble beach 17 mile drive?

20-04-2016, 09:45 AM
Great report, Dave - thanks for posting it up :thumb: Very sorry to hear your tickers ticking out of sync - hope it gets fixed OK :karl: