Monday, 7 April 2014

Back From the Desert Across the Pond.......California Trip 2014

It has been a very long month in lots of ways. I have packed my 22 year old daughter off for a year to work on a specialist cruise liner, she will be taking groups of tourists around the archaeological sites of Europe. You know the type of thing: " It's Tuesday, it must be Ancient Greece". She has a Masters in Archaeology and saw this as a great way to visit all the sites she has read about during the last four years. Here she is learning how to put out fires as part of the boat safety training, doesn't quite send home the right message!
No sooner had I waved off my lovely daughter than I was packing my suitcases for our bi-annual road trip. This time my better half had decided that we would follow the gold trail to California. As some of you are aware I am not a great traveller but the old boy works hard to keep me in miniatures so I try and pack my bags with good grace.
Well I am now home and over the jet lag, more or less unpacked and thinking of all the things I would have done differently as you always do. Here is a small selection of the places we visited and the things we saw.
This was our beautiful base in Palm Desert, about two and a half hours from Los Angeles, surrounded by the palm trees that have given this area it's name and style. This is a golfing and tennis community near Palm Springs and indeed it is smack bang in the middle of the desert.
 Our first trip was to Temecula Old Town. Essentially a pioneer town of the 1880's which despite a huge expansion in the last thirty years is trying to recapture it's historical background. I could not quite work out if any of these buildings were in fact old but they were cute.
We also had a fabulous breakfast here in a traditional diner that first opened in 1957 and I am pretty sure had not seen a makeover since. Pancakes to die for
 Indian Wells Tennis Centre saw us sitting in amazing sunshine for a two day visit. We have been to quite a few tournaments and the setting of this one, in a desert surrounded by mountains was pretty spectacular. It had a very relaxed atmosphere and was not as crowded as some of the bigger tournaments are.
The Palm Springs Ariel Tramway is very popular with both locals and tourists. It takes you from the 90 degree desert floor......
 .......up to the top of a very chilly 40 degree mountain chalet, where we had a lunch with a view. As you can see I was a little under-dressed for the snow!!
 Of course when in Palm Springs you have to pay homage to Marilyn and have a frappacino in the Starbucks right next door.
For the next week we would be hitting the road for our all-American road trip, two thousand miles through California, Arizona and Nevada. Miles and miles of, well not a lot really, except sand, gravel and dirt plus the odd cow or shack. Goodness America is a big place.
First stop, the Grand Canyon with the Pink Jeep Company. We decided not to drive there ourselves but to go via Sedona and give the old man a day off driving so he could sit back and enjoy a few glasses of Californian wine.
 The red rock mountains of Sedona were absolutely spectacularly beautiful. The back drop of all the most iconic westerns I watched as a child, so familiar I immediately felt at home in this Western themed town. 
 While in the area we also visited Jerome an old mining town with a reputation for bad behaviour late in the Nineteenth Century. This town sits high up in the mountains and this picture shows one of the town's bordellos perched on the mountain edge. I love the wrap around verandahs a definite idea for a miniature project. 
 Next stop Las Vegas and here is the night time view from our 54th floor hotel room at the Wynn Encore. 
 The show stopping wonderland of the Wynn and Encore.
 Lighting Alice in Wonderland style.
 Giant sparkling butterflies and balloons in a hallway.
 A flower wonderland to hide the casino.....
.......with a fantasy tree lined avenue.
Yep the Wynn hotels were pretty amazing and the Strip is long, colourful, heaving with people and I could not wait to leave.
I really did not like Las Vegas at all. Glad I saw this 7th Wonder of the Modern World, will never go back.
 Broke the long drive back to Palm Desert with a trip to Calico ghost town which was small but perfectly formed.
 Time to rest those weary bones after traipsing round Vegas. Love the bench!
Our last organised event was to watch the Mighty Ducks ice-hockey team in Los Angeles. That was really good fun but incredibly bitty compared to the sport I watch every week and so noisy with continual music breaks as they swept the ice every 2 minutes or so.
What I did discover is that US sport is as equally expensive for a fan as it is here.
Tickets, food and clothing all top prices.
This left a few days of shopping and chilling by the pool which pleased my husband immensely as he  is definitely a lizard at heart. I didn't buy as much mini stuff as I thought I would mainly because we just didn't have the time to visit the areas where the dolls house shops were, I always forget how huge America is plus like the UK internet shopping has taken over from the high street in an even bigger way. If I had planned better I could have ordered more online and had it sent to the house we were staying in. Next time......
On the plus side my kids are very happy. Converse, Vans, Levis, Abercrombie, Uggs and Ralph Lauren are all hugely cheaper in the US so they will have a great time unpacking their goodies.
So now I am back home, it's been raining on and off all day and I don't care because tomorrow I will return to my Honeydukes project and my youngest is coming home for Easter.
Happy Days!!