A Travellerspoint blog

And already it was our last day before returning to Oz

sunny 25 °C

We had a good sleep in given that our flight leaves at midnight tonight. An 18 hour flight with little sleep expected means that we need to sleep now.

Another continental breakfast and then a long walk for a cultural experience for our last day. The Huntington Art Galleries and Botanical Gardens seems just like the thing to do.

http://www.huntington.org

It was a long walk but enjoyable through this local area. The houses are enormous and we saw more squirrels than people. The front gardens were magnificent and given it was a Sunday and no one was gardening, one must conclude that they employ gardeners mid week to maintain the yards.

The walk to the gardens took longer than the return and I'm not surprised as the instructions were pretty ordinary. Mandy was guide and she got us there in the same manner as we got to Vegas......trial and error.

The Galleries include;

The American Art,
The European Art,
Greene and Greene (furniture architects), and
Prints and Drawings

The facility was donated by a rich prick and his wife (interesting that he married her after his Uncle died. An they call Tasweegians inbred)

Anyway he was into playing with railroads in the late 1800's and made a fortune which he gave away to art (dickhead Auntie doer)

The grounds were lovely but the art a little ordinary. Whilst I am not being critical, the yanks are not naturally artistic in my view.

Arrival at the Huntington

Arrival at the Huntington

The goddess with her students. Walkies.....

The goddess with her students. Walkies.....

We didn't get long in the galleries and really had little opportunity to walk around the gardens because we needed to get back to the Langham for our traditional pedicure.

Enough time however for Tony to be photographed in the grounds.

What's with the naked kid lady...this is 2013.

What's with the naked kid lady...this is 2013.

Time for one last "been there" shot before a return trek back to the hotel.

What's with all the naked people...oh this is the Pasadena nudist park.

What's with all the naked people...oh this is the Pasadena nudist park.

We arrived back at the hotel in time for a shower, shave and shi.... before our limo trip to LAX. Whilst we have a midnight flight out, LAX is traditionally slow and with our checkout situation and need to "get out" it means a long wait in the Qantas lounge until the flight boards.

We had our traditional pedicure in the hotel spa and it was wonderful. I traumatised the locals with my feet and Mandy selected a nice colour for her nails. Needed to wear what the yanks call "flip flops" back to the hotel so the nails wouldn't scratch.

A few more Moet's in the lounge and then our limo arrived. The driver was very good with plenty of information about music and the local area. Mind you he was struggling to fit into the front seat. Another example of the expanding population.

We checked in and then passed through the duty free with only $250 spend and then it was onto customs. Our last security check thank god and we made it to the lounge for our 4 hour wait.

The tasting plate in the Business lounge of Oneworld

The tasting plate in the Business lounge of Oneworld

Dinner and then a few drinks with a final catch up on email, blog and Facebook. More to follow pending our flight.

Posted by mandt0413 24.03.2013 21:39 Archived in USA Comments (0)

A day of shopping and general rest; it's been a hectic trip.

sunny 27 °C

A nice sleep in and leisurely breakfast was the best start of the day. It's been a very busy trip but enjoyable. Time for a bit of slow time and shopping. The option of going to Disneyland or the many alternatives eg Knots Berry Farm or Universal Studios; were all a 7am start and 8pm return to the hotel. This did not appeal to us at all particularly when there are queues of up to 2 hours to get on a ride. Shopping is the go.

The Langham have a shuttle limo into the old part of Pasadena, so this is for us.

The goddess off to shop.

The goddess off to shop.

The area of Pasadena is very leafy and beautiful. It is clean and the streets so neat and tidy.

The goddess in the shopping area and main street

The goddess in the shopping area and main street

More Pasadena

More Pasadena

Although we took the hotel limo, we found out the next day that it was only a 20 minute walk into town and this would have been preferable given the beautiful day.

A pick up at our favourite US store Macy's and it was back for more champagne at the Langham. Moet of course.

Macy's waiting for the limo

Macy's waiting for the limo

Another quiet night with the lounge staff exchanging stories about the wanker yank in the lounge that was louder than a Jimmy Barnes Concert....

The Langham Lounge

The Langham Lounge

Posted by mandt0413 24.03.2013 20:39 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Off back to LA and end of our short road trip

sunny 21 °C

We had an early wake up call for a 9am flight out of Phoenix. It was still dark when the alarm went off and it was a quick check out. Our car was read and it was off. I drove the last leg which our satnav indicated would only be 30 minutes. The freeway was good at that time of the morning but the signs to the airport pretty scarce.

The rental drop off was enormous but located about 3 mile from the terminal. Very efficient return process and included a bus shuttle to the terminal. Arrived at the terminal and I remembered that my good glasses were still in the car. We checked in and because of time to spare it was back to the avis rental site to find my glasses. It was worth the effort because they are Rayban and we have time to spare.

The airport at Phoenix has no Admirals club so we waited for our flight in starbucks. The security process was very quick this time around but when we arrived in LA and I opened my checked-in bag, the TSA had left a calling card in my bag. We had TSA approved locks on the bag and they searched mine on a random basis. Good security and care given we didn't know until reaching the hotel.

TSA calling card Phoenix to LA flight

TSA calling card Phoenix to LA flight

The American Airlines flight was via their sister carrier Eagle Air. This is similar to the Qantas Link arrangement with a smaller jet servicing short legs. Still the flight was more enjoyable than the one from NY to LA. Coffee was still shit though....
The jet was so small that our carry on luggage had to be left at the door and we picked it up on arrival. The overhead lockers were too small.

Arrival into LA was just after 11am and we bused it to the arrivals area. Bags were collected and the Super Shuttle took us out to the Langham at Pasadena.
One of the nicest hotels in LA it is located in a quiet but expensive area of LA south of the city. It took about 50 minutes via freeways to get there and I just glad that I wasn't having to drive.

Arrival at the Langham was via back streets around Pasadena with some very large and obviously expensive houses. Compares in some way to Hunters Hill without the harbour view and smog.

Waiting for us at the entrance to the Langham was David Caruso from Miami CSI fame. He obviously heard that I was arriving and wanted a look at me. Stars, when will they learn.

The hotel is beautiful and we scored one of their best rooms. It has a 180 degree view across the LA mountain ranges and city, shame we can't see it for the smog.

Club level room at the Langham

Club level room at the Langham

It has become a tradition for us to "Lux" it up before our flight home and the place to stay is the Langham. In Hong Kong the stay was just great and it has continued here in LA.

6 star hotel with everything

6 star hotel with everything

The Langham is wonderful with quality touches

The Langham is wonderful with quality touches

The club lounge overlooks lower LA and Pasadena which is in a very leafy suburb toward the eastern mountain ranges. Shame about the fog.

The lounge has lunch, afternoon tea and pre dinner horse's doers. Between all that is Moet champagne. Can't even begin to outline just how good it is. This is what holidays are about.

If there's one thing more that Mandy loves than me; it's Moet. I bet I score tonight.

If there's one thing more that Mandy loves than me; it's Moet. I bet I score tonight.

Talking of beaver. Found this cute one in the grounds during our walk.
Leave it to Beaver is hand fed and a photo magnet for tourists like us.

Leave it to Beaver is hand fed and a photo magnet for tourists like us.

The grounds have flora not too dissimilar to Oz and it's the start of spring in the US.

Langham Pasadena

Langham Pasadena

The main hotel complex

The main hotel complex

Courtyards and pools within a large hotel facility

Courtyards and pools within a large hotel facility

The reception area.

The reception area.

A quiet night in the lounge with a day of shopping tomorrow. We have decided to give Disneyland a miss given that it is a 7am start and return around 8pm. This also coincides with the spring break for the kids and the locals believe that ride queues will be around 2 hours per. Not for us that's for sure so we will continue to rest up in preparation for our Spa treatment tomorrow and very late flight out of LA for Oz.

Lounge lizards (holmes's) in the lounge

Lounge lizards (holmes's) in the lounge

Posted by mandt0413 23.03.2013 16:10 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Flagstaff to Scottsdale (Leg three) and Mandy comes home.

Plus she gets to drive on the wrong side......

sunny 10 °C

An early start and breakfast in downtown Flagstaff. It is now Mandy's turn to drive this leg of the road trip. Flagstaff to Scottsdale Arizona is about 4 hours and at last Mandy gets a turn in the hot seat. Both hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and slow down will be my catch cry over the next 4 hours.

I've never seen in 24 years; Mandy concentrate so hard.

I've never seen in 24 years; Mandy concentrate so hard.

We stopped in Flagstaff at a diner. The old american icon and this one had everything from the "good ole boys", memorabilia on the walls and shitty food. It was like stepping back in time.

An american diner, guys at the counter and good ole boys in the booth

An american diner, guys at the counter and good ole boys in the booth

For a decent cup of coffee we stopped further up the road and a nice coffee shop and then hit the road. Again the scenery returned to that desert back drop interspersed with mountains and canyons. Mandy I have to say handled the driving better than me. Although she used the windscreen wipers more often than me, she didn't drive on the wrong side too often.

Mandy spent most of her time watching the mirror.

Mandy spent most of her time watching the mirror.

The trucks are a continual concern. So many and so quick....

Route 66 and trucks by the shit load

Route 66 and trucks by the shit load

The traffic was less hectic and we arrived in Scottsdale courtesy of our satnav at about 2pm. The intercontinental resort "Montelucia" didn't have our room ready until after 4pm so we sat by one of the many cafes and watched the world go around.

Clear sky and no traffic. Arizona is beautiful.

Clear sky and no traffic. Arizona is beautiful.

Cactus everywhere.

Cactus everywhere.

And then it was home. Scottsdale but not Tassie.

And then it was home. Scottsdale but not Tassie.

This was Scottsdale road on the way into town.

The room once we got it (after a journey in a golf cart to get to it) was very nice and located near one of the pools.

The sports bar at the Montalucia in Phoenix

The sports bar at the Montalucia in Phoenix

One of the pools with Camel Back Mountain behind.

One of the pools with Camel Back Mountain behind.

He that is obeyed.......I wish. Relaxing by the pool watching the god damns.

He that is obeyed.......I wish. Relaxing by the pool watching the god damns.

An early night, light dinner and a few drinks by the open gas fire was a nice end to the day. It has been pretty hectic to this point and we are both very tired. With an early start tomorrow for our 9am flight we thought a visit into downtown Scottsdale was probably not worthwhile. Scottsdale has no real site of interest and we are shopped out.

The suite at Montelucia

The suite at Montelucia

Our bathroom

Our bathroom

Kicking back outside the suite

Kicking back outside the suite

So for dinner we had a few ales courtesy of the resort for breaking our shopping at check in. Oh; I didn't mention this......whilst we were waiting for the room the bellboy dropped our package. The resort replenished the supply with a few freebies at the sports bar. So with the fireplace alit we enjoyed the night air.

The Arizona night air and Mandy. Maybe two of my favourite things in life.

The Arizona night air and Mandy. Maybe two of my favourite things in life.

Posted by mandt0413 22.03.2013 20:25 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Vegas and Grand Canyon.....leg two onto Flagstaff Arizona

semi-overcast 7 °C

A wake up call was organised for 5am so that we could get to our limo pick up. The limo was longer than a football field and the driver Anthony loved the word AWESOME. On a trip lasting 20 minutes to the airport he would have mentioned AWESOME at least 20 times. Still he was pretty good in giving us some history on Vegas and his view of the ride ahead on the tour of the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam.

The black limo Vegas Style

The black limo Vegas Style

Arrival at the heliport required a security check in and thankfully no X-ray. ID was required and I hadn't read the fine print meaning that Mandy had no ID with her and I was in the shit.

Check in for our helicopter ride to the GC

Check in for our helicopter ride to the GC

We were allocated by weight to a tour number 69 with 4 other people. Our pilot another Anthony was also very informative and a budding comedian. After a safety check and instruction on emergency vacation of the aircraft we were off. I couldn't help but believe that the briefing about getting out and use of a life vest was useless. When helo's go down they don't glide and it's rarely a good outcome for the pilot, crew and any poor passengers.

Following the pilot out to helo 69

Following the pilot out to helo 69

The company Sundance Helicopters have a gold mine of an operation. About 7 flights per day max per aircraft and with on my count, 20 aircraft at $400 per person makes for a pretty healthy profit.

Settled into the aircraft by weight meant that Mandy and I were in the back with Mandy in the middle. This wouldn't have given her the best view and the pilot indicated that she would have a front seat coming back.

Our ride to GC from above and within

Our ride to GC from above and within

The trusty rear gunners

The trusty rear gunners

Leaving Vegas and seeing it from the air so close just brings home how much money has been spent on the city. The size of the hotels and the obvious number of visitors ploughing money into the slots must be something else indeed.

The strip from 3,000 feet

The strip from 3,000 feet

Golf course right in the guts of Vegas attached to one of the resort hotels

Golf course right in the guts of Vegas attached to one of the resort hotels

A 40 minute ride via Hoover Dam to the bottom of the Grand Canyon for breakfast was the plan. Hoover Dam from the air is fabulous, the length and size of Lake Mead is about 500km around and it took nearly 10 years to fill after it's completion.

up to 18km wide

up to 18km wide

up to 7000 feet deep

up to 7000 feet deep

To quote the limo driver AWESOME

To quote the limo driver AWESOME

The are a number of companies flying into the canyon and each have their own landing sites. This is a big business but the enormity and scale of the canyon is massive. Landed for about a 40 minute walk and breakfast. The floor of the canyon is very volcanic and the rocks very loose.

Mandy in the canyon

Mandy in the canyon

Mandy was saying to me to keep stepping back to get into frame....

Mandy was saying to me to keep stepping back to get into frame....

The Holmes's in the Grand Canyon

The Holmes's in the Grand Canyon

The flora was also very special albeit sparse. The cactus were different to what we have in Oz. We had seen these suckers all the way to Vegas. Good opportunity to see it up close.

We had seen these suckers all the way to Vegas. Good opportunity to see it up close.

Cactus like we've never seen before.

Cactus like we've never seen before.

The colorado river was close yet so far. Interesting story from the pilot about the Powell expedition of the mid 1800's that first travelled down and through the canyon.

The river snakes through for about 400 kms

The river snakes through for about 400 kms

Mandy do you keep telling me to back up.....I'm in frame already. Take the freakin photo!

Mandy do you keep telling me to back up.....I'm in frame already. Take the freakin photo!

All to soon it was over and time to leave.

Our visit over too soon.

Our visit over too soon.

Mandy had a front seat going back and I sat next to the pilot. He kept asking me to fly it but the best I would do was to start the rotors.

Out of the canyon and onto the plateau

Out of the canyon and onto the plateau

Our flight back took us over the Vegas strip and the casino's, hotel's and resorts. We never saw a single wedding shop and so we stayed the way we were.

Looking toward the strip including the Trump Tower Hotel. The exterior is all gold.

Looking toward the strip including the Trump Tower Hotel. The exterior is all gold.

We arrived back at the heliport at around 930am after nearly 3 hours and it was back into our limo with Anthony AWESOME.

The limo in daylight

The limo in daylight

It had been 2 very long days so after arriving back at the Venetian we put $2 into a slot as our contribution to the mob. Lost the lot and then off to bed to catch up with some sleep. We had a late check out at 4pm but ended up hitting the road around 2pm for our drive to Flagstaff. On picking up our car I couldn't help but notice the roof in the parking area was a replication of the Cistine Chapel.

A cistine lookalike in the car park

A cistine lookalike in the car park

And then it was off on the next leg. This was another 4 hour trip but with less stress than leaving LA.

We stopped along the way at a local indian shop for a rest stop and photos. The scenery is very sparse, flat and brown. What else can we say, its the same for 100's of km's. When we fill up with petrol I couldn't get the pump to work. Good one, I finally worked out that you have to pay the attendant first and then fuel. Petrol was $3.90 a gallon or $1.03 per litre.

The gas gussler

The gas gussler

We stopped off for a coffee and rest stop at a place called "grasshopper junction" and I shit you not, this was a one mule town. Complete with the original wagon with a coffin in the back. This is definitely outback USA style.

Grasshopper crossing

Grasshopper crossing

The goddess at Grass Hopper

The goddess at Grass Hopper

Tony in charge of the wagon hearse

Tony in charge of the wagon hearse

We arrived in Flagstaff around 6pm and this area is still partly covered in snow. The area is very mountainous with lots of pine trees. One could describe it after what we've been through as almost "deliverance country". It is much colder than the desert plain that we've been driving through.

Stayed at the Radisson in Flagstaff which is probably the largest of the hotel's and is located on the old Route 66. We have been on Route 66 since leaving LA and this part is the old road. Route 66 goes from the east to west coasts and is mainly dual highway. As a minimum the highway has been 4 lanes and at times 8 lanes in both directions. Makes our National roads look poor. What has been very noticeable is the lack of litter on the roadway's and no graffiti. No maybe we've been in the better areas but it certainly is a big difference to what has been occurring in Oz.

A late dinner in the restaurant (wrong order too), some washing and an early night after a big day.

Posted by mandt0413 22.03.2013 19:30 Archived in USA Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 20) Page [1] 2 3 4 »