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Kwaussies road trip, the final chapter!

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Jan 5th, 2013, 11:18 PM
  #1
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Kwaussies road trip, the final chapter!

I'm struggling to load the report again so have started a new thread for the last few days. Thanks to everyone whose been following us, it's been great to have your company on our big adventure

One of the number one 'to dos' on our trip planning list was the Radiator Spring's Racers ride at Cars Land. 'Cars' was the first movie Taine ever watched and he has been pretty besotted with all things Lightning McQueen ever since.

Of course Cars Land is at Disney's California Adventure Land as opposed to the original Disneyland and since we couldn't come all this way and not see the place our own dreams were made of as kids, we got up early to make an assault on both parks with a one day Park Hopper pass ($125 each, thanks very much!).

We walked to Disney because it's only 1km away from the hotel. When we got there at 8am there were already queues. Soarin' California was the first ride inside the gate so we did that while we could. At 8.20am we arrived at the queue for the Fast Pass to Cars. The Fast Pass is a system where you swipe your entrance ticket and are given a time to return to the ride later in the day, thereby bypassing the poor suckers who are in the stand by queue. The queue to get to the Fast pass for Cars was longer than the queue for some of the rides! We were told the line was 30 minutes long and all the passes may have run out before we got to the head of the line. At 8.20 in the morning! Not to be deterred we waited patiently in the line which actually moved quite quickly and scored ourselves a Fast pass for 8.20 - 9 pm, just 12 hours later! It was like scoring a gold wrapper because there were lots of people behind us who missed out.

Luckily the weather was glorious so we weren't too hot or too cold while we trudged around California Adventure trying to sneak into as many rides as possible. On a day as busy as yesterday that meant mostly tame kiddy rides but that suited Taine and I anyway. After lunch at Downtown Disney we went to Disneyland and fought our way through the increasing crowds there to visit all the Lands we'd seen on Sunday night TV in our youth.

We watched the Christmas Parade, not quite as exciting as the one at Disneyworld, partly because Christmas is over and partly because by then I was exhausted and cold and then ducked out to Downtown Disney again for some dinnertime pizza. There we met yet another Aussie family doing a similar trip to ours.

Finally it was time to go back and claim our Fast Pass to Cars Racer. I admit to feeling a little guilty as we passed the people in the stand by queue (now at 150 minutes wait time!) The ride was excellent, just like being in the movie as we passed through Radiator Springs and met all the characters. I think it was made all the more special because of our recent journey through the red rocks of Sedona and down Route 66. The racing part was just fast and furious enough to satisfy Geoff the adrenaline junkie and not bad enough to make me throw up, although as the photo attests, I had my eyes closed most of the time! We stopped on the way out to watch the 'Colours' fire and water display and in time to see Disney's fireworks as we went past their gate. By the time we started the long walk home we'd done 14 hours straight at Disney!

You can imagine our joy when we were mistakenly woken at 5.30am this morning by a wake up call intended for another room! Just one of the issues we've had with this hotel. Once we were properly awake we hopped in the car for a day trip to San Diego. Thankfully we'd had some training on the Racers ride because the traffic in Southern California is insane. It even puts Texas to shame. We drove through San Diego to the Las Americas outlets right on the Mexican border. We thought about crossing, just to say we'd been in another country but thought better of it because of the re entrance queues. It was an odd feeling to think of an artificial line being a barrier between people. Borders have made sense previously to us because we are girt by sea but watching the birds fly backward and forward over the border control buildings made our human differentiation seem pretty stupid.

We bought a few more pairs of ridiculously cheap Nikes at the outlets, visited an outdoor Mexican bazaar and then drove back to Mission Beach in San Diego for a beautiful sunset. San Diego will definitely be on the list of 'places to stay longer' next time we come.

Then we rejoined the speedway for another white knuckle journey back to LA, counting our blessings when we arrived back in one piece.

http://demansersintheusa.blogspot.com
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Jan 6th, 2013, 04:49 AM
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Holy Disneyland Troopers. Can't imagine the Cars line for fast pass reservations was longer than the actual wait line.

How things have changed over the years, eh?

And do hope you get back to see more of San Diego - which of course - has more to offer than the Las Americas outlet.

Again, loved your reports and pics. Have a safe journey home.
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Jan 6th, 2013, 08:12 AM
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Thanks Tom. When I say the final chapter, we still have 2 days left in LA so we are moving to Hollywood to check out the obvious there before we get on our plane Tuesday night so still a couple of posts to go. I am sorry we didn't have time to stay in San Diego but Sophie is spending her last week in the US there so I'll have a vicarious visit this time and be sure to include it on the itinerary next time!
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Jan 6th, 2013, 09:38 AM
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Next time in SD let me know - and I can give your the "cooks tour".
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Jan 7th, 2013, 08:37 AM
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The freeway was a nightmare this morning. Even on Sunday there were cars everywhere and when we hit a traffic jam we took an exit and 'winged' our way through the back streets towards Hollywood. As in all the big cities we've visited, the contrast between poor and rich neighbourhoods was stark. We drove through ghettos where the thought of the car breaking down was terrifying but as we got closer to the beach the tone changed completely.

We stopped at Venice Beach for lunch. We toyed with the idea of hiring some bikes to ride along the board walk but it was so windy we could hardly stand up let alone ride so we just walked out to the end of the pier and imagined how spectacular the beach must be in Summer.

From Venice we drove up through Santa Monica to the Hollywood Hills for a glimpse of the famous sign. It was pretty exciting to see this icon and we also had fun guessing who might live in some of the expensive homes set into the hills.

We'd really hoped to finish our holiday at a La Quinta because the chain has been an economical home to us for much of the trip. Unfortunately there isn't one in Hollywood so we settled for a Days Inn just off the strip.

There's a lot of Beale / Bourbon/ Duval St about Hollywood Boulevard! Similar homeless people with cardboard signs and costumed, would be movie stars offering photos with themselves for $1. It's not nearly as glamorous as I expected. We walked over several stars before we realised we were walking on THE walk of stars. It was fun seeking out our favourites and Taine was very excited to find Michael Jackson's star. We had dinner at a diner where Taine had his first root beer float (like a spider at home) and then wandered back to our hotel for an early night.

Just one day more!
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Jan 7th, 2013, 11:34 AM
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Thanks, yes a lot of people get real worked up about seeing Hollywood and then are a bit let down when they see the reality of it. My former boss and I took a couple of folks visiting from China there, they were very disappointed, thought they were going to see movie stars strolling around or something! Have really been enjoying your report.
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Jan 7th, 2013, 02:33 PM
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Don't know how much more freeway driving you have in mind - but if you can get a map of just the LA Freeways (Auto Club of SoCal has them) - and then listen to AM 1070 on the radio - if one freeway gets backed up due to an accident/closure, whatever - you can try to navigate around it.

However - during rush hour - most "bets" are off.

If you can find Mel's drive in/diner - on Sunset - it has good "comfort" food - and the walls are covered with old time pics/stars - including some from American Graffiti. http://www.melsdrive-in.com/hoursand...hollywood.html
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Jan 7th, 2013, 02:41 PM
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Here's some more info on the classic 1973 - American Graffiti - movie - which reminded many young Americans about life in their home towns. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069704/

And none other than Harrison Ford (in one of his very early roles - where he-plays a semi-bad guy - the one who challenges the hometown hot rodder to a drag race, and this is 4? years before Harrison's breakout role as Hans Solo in Star Wars.
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000148/bio
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Jan 7th, 2013, 04:25 PM
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Sad to know the trip is coming to an end, but looking forward to the final installments.
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Jan 7th, 2013, 11:10 PM
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Yes Jamie, it's really quite a rundown area. Still, it's nice to have seen the street signs and known that we've 'been here'.

You've got to love those graphic tourist maps that aren't really based on any particular scale to speak of. This morning we decided to have a look at the Farmer's Market in West Hollywood. On the map in our 'local attractions' booklet, it looked like it was just around the corner. 5 kms later and sweating like crazy in the mad, Californian, winter sun we arrived at the corner of 3rd and Fairfax. The market is a bit like a small version of the Queen Vic, lots of fresh food stalls and speciality shops. We had really bad Cajun food for lunch and then took a ride on a cute little trolley to the Grove, a lovely shopping/ dining area at the other end of the block. The thought of walking all the way back to the hotel was too much for us so we text Sophie for some bus info and grabbed the 217 back to Hollywood Boulevard.

One of the amazing discoveries we've made here is that you can take your washing to a 'wash & fold' laundromat and for 89c a pound they'll wash it and fold it and pack it into a neat plastic package, all ready to pop into the suitcase. We picked up our washing and spent an hour recovering by the pool at the hotel.

Tonight we went back to the Boulevard to Madame Tussauds. This is a little bit of fun and we spent a happy hour photographing ourselves with the waxen stars. We almost saw a real movie star because the sidewalk was blocked off for the premiere of The Gangster Squad at the Chinese Theatre. We actually had no idea why all the people were standing there photographing absolutely nothing across the street but we worked it out when they all started squealing and chanting , 'Ryan, Ryan'. We got a fleeting glance of people in suits and evening dresses and lots of limos and security people.

We grabbed a few last souvenirs at the shop which, remarkably, had another, 30 minute, $5 sale today! We also bought a 'homes of the stars' map so we can do our own tour tomorrow before we go to the airport and then we went back to our room to start the laborious process of packing and weighing all our luggage. It's so hard to believe we have to go home tomorrow. I have no idea where that time has gone!
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Jan 8th, 2013, 06:07 AM
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Kwaussie, you really are a trouper to keep it going while you travel. I suppose we all should do that as we tend to forget what happened when by the time we get back home.

Thanks for sharing the fun!
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Jan 12th, 2013, 12:35 AM
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Thanks to everyone who followed our trip. Your feedback and encouragement was greatly appreciated. This is the link to my last blog post. Hope to follow all of your trips in the future

http://demansersintheusa.blogspot.co...ining-sea.html
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May 21st, 2013, 12:49 AM
  #13
 
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I only discovered this trip report a few days ago and have spent any spare moment that I could find reading it from "go to whoa"

Having done my own "on the spot" report on a 5 week trip to the West Coast 3 years ago and also being an Aussie living in rural Victoria, I found it to be of additional interest.

If you do happen to read this post, I would recommend using "blurb" or a similar online publishing company and creating your own coffee table book from your blog and photos. My kids get our copy out frequently whenever family or friends are around and I flick through it regularly. Its great to have a fully "tactile" version of our adventures on hand rather than have them buried in hyerspace.

Like you, we have fallen for the USA and plan to return there soon.
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Jun 8th, 2013, 05:24 AM
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Thanks shanek, just noticed your post.
My trip report here was copied straight from my travel blog and I've had that made into a coffee table book, along with all the photos I took on my iPhone after my dslr broke down in Memphis.
We ran into lots of country Victorians on our journey. Quite bizarre to hear that distinctive accent in places like New Orleans and discover fellow travelers from 'just up the road'!
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