Monday, March 12, 2007


Well we made it to Seattle and our trip is almost over. So far Seattle is living up to its name, its rained the last two days, is about 10 degrees, and has a lot of shopping.

Yesterday we drove from Portland to Seattle with the rain getting heavier as we approached our destination. We had to make a quick stop at Target on the way here so I could get the rest of my makeup and perfume supplies (I now own all the Ralph Lauren perfumes I can find). I love Target here! We arrived at the Grand Hyatt and checked in quickly so we could take the car back before 5pm. Ben had grown attached to the car and it was hard but he handed the keys over easily. It was pretty wet so we just went out for dinner and a movie across from the hotel.

Today we took in the sights of Downtown Seattle in the morning and then went our separate ways in the afternoon. Ben registered at the MVP conference and went to a few things he had on and I found some shops and had a quick look at the Pike Place Market. I think I'll be able to occupy myself for the week. Later in the afternoon we met up and visited a renowned Donut shop called Top Pot Doughnuts, it lived up to its name!

Tonight Ben is out at a dinner with the other Australian MVPs and I'm planning on going to the gym and spa at the hotel as well as catching up on our emails. The MVP conference is quite big and Seattle seems to be infested with computer nerds. Its funny because you can pick them from a mile away! They are where ever they can get free wireless Internet. Plus they all wear their name tags everywhere! Ben is enjoying himself so I guess that's the main thing. He already has a lot of freebies and is planning on more. Suitcases are looking very full!

Tomorrow I'm planning on taking on the Pike Place Market... its huge so it will take a day!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

On the road again

Well we're back on the road for our last trip up the coast to Seattle. The last couple of days have been pretty uneventful with us driving for most of the day and stopping over in smaller towns at night.

San Francisco was fantastic and we were sad to leave. We spent our last day visiting all the sites trying to get as much in as possible. We went to Postcard Row or as I like to call it the Full House house, the shopping district and Union Square, Lombard Street 'the crookedest street in America', and the Aquarium. We rode the cable car as many times as we could, its so much fun because the streets in San Fran are so steep its like a roller coaster. San Fran really is a pretty town with a most of the houses being Victorians. We were lucky to be staying on the Wharf which I think is one of the best locations in San Fran, there are great restaurants, shops, the Sea Lions, and a great view of Alcatraz.

Yesterday we travelled from San Fran to Medford. We drove through the mountains and got to see a lot of snow. Medford is a small town and was really just s stopping point, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express which was fantastic with a complimentary breakfast (something you just don't see here).

Today we drove from Medford to Portland which was about 5 hours and again more snow and mountains. Beautiful countryside. Portland is a big city about 3 hours out of Seattle. Unfortunately it was raining pretty heavily today so we didn't get to see much outside of the shopping mall. So we decided to go to the movies to see Wild Hogs. Dad, you have to see that movie, you'll find it hilarious and I think you should go with Sparrow, its really a biker bonding movie but if you decide to go with Mum she'll love it too. Not sure if its out in Australia but its great. Tonight we're staying at the Hilton which was the only hotel that had cheap rooms available (what a bummer) so its a nice change and its really preparing me for whats to come for the rest of our trip at The Grand Hyatt.

We're both really well, can't say much for the weather its just getting colder as we go higher. Ben starts the MVP conference on Monday and we hand the car back tomorrow (which Ben is devastated about). We're sad that the road trip is coming to an end but we're a little sick of the car so we'll be happy to stay in one place for a week. Not sure if we'll have Internet access as most of the expensive hotels charge you for it but hopefully we'll be able to do some more posts before we leave. Hope you're all great!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

San Francisco

Today we discovered the truths behind Alcatraz. It truly is an amazing place full of stories and history. We went on the self guided tour which takes you all over the grounds and has commentary from former inmates and wardens. The weather was fantastic for it (the picture was taken later today, when it got worse) it was cold but sunny.

The prison is slowly falling apart and is being restored as best as it can but we're glad we saw it now because it doesn't look like it will be around forever.

This afternoon we went on a bay cruise which took us under the Golden Gate bridge, the weather was ok when we were on the wharf but soon turned overcast (which its known to do) as soon as we reached the bridge. It was so windy but it was still great to see it so close. We also saw the Sea Lions which float on the pontoons at the Wharf.

Tonight we hopped on a cable car (so fun!) and went to Powell street to check out the shops and restaurants. We spent too much time in the shops that we missed dinner. There is so much shopping to do in San Fran and the clothes are so different here. The cable cars are great, you can hang out the sides and really enjoy the ride. The streets of San Fran are so steep that its like a roller coaster ride on the cable cars.

Tomorrow we plan to find the 'Full House' house on Postcard Row, visit Lombard Street (the crookedest street), hit the shops and union square, and hopefully visit the Aquarium.

For all those Full House fans, I haven't been able to get the song out of my head since we arrived and I've now got Ben onto it. Everytime we see the bridge we just have to sing.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

We're Back!!!!

Hi Everyone,
We are finally back online, it turns out the one town in America that turns over a couple of billion a day is also one of the hardest places to get Internet access. Who would have known ?!?

The good news is we made it to Las Vegas safe and sound and as you can see by the above image we got to stay in one of the cooler themed hotels on the strip.

First impressions of Las Vegas were pretty positive, however after the initial glitz wore off I was a little dissapointed. Although there are a lot of stage shows to check out, there isn't really a lot to do in the daytime, especially when the weather is a little cooler than usual.
Personally I don't think I could have stayed much longer than we did.

On the upside Ally and I did manage to catch "The Phantom of The Opera" which I have to say is an amazing show!
We also had a look through the M&M and Coke Store. Who would have through
they could dedicate individual stores to both Ally and My favourite foods.

While in Vegas we also took a trip to the Grand Canyon.
Our trip included a quick stop off at Hoover Dam. This place is amazing especially when you take into account that it was the first (and only as far as I know) government project to finish ahead of time and under budget.

After we left Hoover Dam we then took a detour via the old Route 66, this road isn't in use as much as it use to be due to the Interstate 15 (I15) bypassing most of it.
During this detour we stoped off at a little town called Seligman. This is one of the towns that was almost destroyed due to most of the traffic bypassing it on the I15.
While here we met a guy named Angel, who managed to put Seligman back on the map as a tourist destination.
I think this is also where Pixar got some inspiration for "Cars"

After Seligman we made our way to the Grand Canyon, WHAT A HOLE!!!!! (excuse the pun).
This place is simply amazing, and to be honest no matter how many photo's we take we could never do it justice.

While there Ally and I made our way around the south rim of the canyon, this was nice little 2.2 mile walk (about 3.5 Kms). Of course most of this was spent snapping pictures at every turn.
All in all this turned out to be about a 15 hour day from the time we were picked up to the time we were dropped back to our hotel, so we took it easy that night and tried to catch up on some sleep

For our final day in Vegas, Ally and I decided to stroll around and take some photos. This was supposed to be a pretty uneventful day so imagine my surpise when I bumped into David Prowse
(for those weaker in the force this is the guy who was inside the Darth Vader suit in Star Wars Episode IV, V, VI) In comparisson to some other celebs I've met over time this guy was awsome. He was more than happy to stop and have a chat and a photo.

Oh yeah he also had a small Imperial contingent close by in case the public got a little too excited ;o)

After Vegas Ally, Gloria and I made our way to Yosemite national park (Gloria Patrica Smith or GPS as she prefers to be known has been a great voice of reason through out our driving trip).
Yosemite has some of the most amazing scenery I have ever sene anywhere especially when covered in snow.

After crashing for a night in the Yosemite View Lodge Ally and I took some time to explore the park. This was Ally's first encounter with snow so we also spent a bit of time engaging in some snowball warfare, then made our way to San Francisco.
Tomorrow we plan to head to Alcatraz, assuming I don't get on Ally's neves too much I should be back tomorrow for another post, until then we hope you are all keeping well and enjoy these pics.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

We are so silly!

We did the dumbest thing today! I have no idea why, probably because we thought we're on Australian time but we thought we were supposed to check out today. So we checked out of the Holiday Inn and caught a shuttle to the John Wayne airport where we were supposed to pick up our rental car and drive to Las Vegas. When we arrived at the rental desk we found out that we weren't meant to pick up our car until tomorrow. It was then that we realised that we had checked out a day early and the airport shuttle was expensive. Fortunately they had a lot of cars available and were able to get our car a day early for an extra $40, with all the extras and it was a 4 door instead of the 2 door we'd booked.

So with a full day up our sleeves and our hotel laughing at us we just decided to take it easy once we'd come back and checked in again. So we travelled around Orange County and visited Westfield in Santa Ana in search of another suitcase. We didn't find anything there so we went to Target and had an absolute blast. We bought a set of luggage which will fit absolutely everything we buy for the rest of the trip. I had a ball in the cosmetics department, it is so much cheaper here than at home and you can buy designer perfumes very cheap. I picked up some Ralph Lauren for $20! Everyday cosmetics range between $2 to $6, if I lived here I wouldn't be so broke. So now we've spent too much money and we're just having a relaxing night in Anaheim before we go to Las Vegas tomorrow.

Driving is ok, quite scary for me as a passenger, its really different driving on the wrong side of the road and its hard to judge where the end of the car is. We have hired a Chevrolet Malibu, its quite gutsy and has some nice extras. We're still getting used to the driving and I haven't had a go yet but we have GPS and its great! If we can drive on the freeways in LA we'll be fine.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Buenos Dias Amigos!

Tijuana is an interesting place, on one side its full of poverty and on the other its a place where tourists party and get ripped off! We had a great time, beer costs $2 and margaritas cost $3, we both got a huge meal of tacos and Ben sampled some Mexican beer, and so far no food poisoning.

Mexico is known for its quality silver and leather and knowing us we got sucked in by the sales people but we're also tight so we bartered really well. We both came out with a leather jacket each and I got a great leather handbag. I wasn't a fan of the silver jewelry so to my surprise (and yours) I didn't buy any jewelery, Ben did buy a nice ring. It was a full on shopping experience, you don't have to lift a finger they bring it all out for you. We only shopped in the places that were recommended by the tour guide so we knew we were getting quality but its also not hard to tell whats real and whats fake. The lady who owned the leather shop was lighting our jackets and bags on fire to prove that it was real. Its still one of those places that even if you did get a bargain you come out feeling like you may have been ripped off. Oh well you only live once and I'd like to think I know quality when I see it. You can all be the judge when we come home. We only saw one Zonkey because of the rain, they don't come out in the rain because their stripes wash off.

Although we enjoyed ourselves the poor areas shocked us a bit and I'm glad that we went because it really makes you appreciate what you have even if you do live in Werribee its not all that bad.

Tomorrow we leave LA and pick up our car to drive to Las Vegas. I think I'll drive ok but prayers are always welcome. Not sure if we'll have web access in Vegas but I'm assuming we will so hopefully you'll hear from us soon. If not don't panic, we'll just be out having too much fun and partying too hard.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Our last Disney adventure

Firstly thanks so much for all our emails, its so fantastic to hear from everyone and find out all that's going on at home, it makes us feel much closer so keep them coming. I'll try my best to reply as soon as I can.

So today was our last day at Disneyland so we tried to do everything we missed. Started the day at California because that's the smallest, Ben went on a massive roller coaster and I watched... I don't do upside down. Then we moved onto Disneyland where we spent the rest of the day. I love Disneyland! I've decided my favourite ride is Thunder Mountain, its a very fast roller coaster in an old rickety train. Ben loved Space Mountain, which I have to admit is also great! Its also a turbulent roller coaster but its in the dark. Kath you would love it, its like Scooby Doo but faster! We also decided to visit the ice-cream parlour, we've been tempted all week. I had a chocolate fudge sundae, it had whole chocolate chip cookies in it, that's what I call an ice-cream they do things properly here. The park closed at 8pm tonight which was really early for us so we tried to do Downtown Disney for dinner and make it back in time for the last bus. We got stuck in the Disney store and ended up in a taxi back to our hotel but at least we got all of our souvenirs. I bought some fantastic Mickey Pj's that I've been looking for in my size since we arrived, it was near impossible but I got the last pair.

So now we're waiting for the washing machine to finish so we can use it, running out of clothes already, you need to wear lots of layers here. Tomorrow its Tijuana!

Disneyland and Hollywood

We've been so busy we've completely forgotten to tell you all about what we've been up to, but don't worry we're still here and we're still having fun. We spent Saturday on an LA/Hollywood tour. We were so lucky because not only did we get to go to Mann's Chinese Theatre and the Kodak Theatre but we got to see all the set up for the Academy Awards. Hollywood was really exciting but its not as beautiful as we expected, the Walk of Fame really is just a footpath with stars on it. We also visited Farmers Market, downtown LA and Venice Beach. Unfortunately the bus driver was terrible and a young girl sitting across from us vomited all over herself and the bus, we couldn't get off fast enough.

Saturday night Disneyland was open until midnight so we saw the parade and fireworks. It was so fantastic we went back last night to see them again. We've spent most of our nights either at Disneyland or Downtown Disney. Downtown Disney is a part of Disneyland that's free, it has cafes and shops. The first day we visited Disneyland the computer system was down and they couldn't process our tickets so they gave us one for the day and we had to go back later and change it, we were supposed to do that on the same day but that was the day of the massive downpour and we just forgot. So instead of having a three day pass we got four days for the same price. So far we've spent 3 days there but we've split it into nights as well.

Sunday we visited the Crystal Cathedral for the morning service. We both really enjoyed it and Sara Groves was a visiting artist. She performed her new song which sounded amazing in that building. The building is gorgeous, it really is something you need to see. Later that day we went to California Adventure which is the other theme park at Disneyland, and we spent the night at Disneyland.

We're both really well, I've been having some back pain and I think its because of all the walking but it doesn't seem to be going away, its just annoying. Weather has been fantastic but as you can see by the photos it's still cold. I'm getting a bit sick of the food and I can't wait to get out of the tourist areas, all you can buy is junk food and I'm feeling really disgusting, I'd love some veggies!

Today is our last day at Disneyland, bit sad but we've really enjoyed ourselves. We'll try our best to keep the posts more regular, sorry to those who were expecting one.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Universal Studios

Today we hit LA and discovered all the things that make going to the movies so special at Universal Studios. We started the day with a Universal studios tour, this was fantastic! We visited the set of Desperate Housewives, the Fast and the Furious, Jurassic Park, Jaws & some original sets and special effects. The tour goes for about 45mins and its a great way to get you in the mood for a full day of rides and shops.

We had an interesting experience on the Jurassic Park ride, it broke down just as the TRex was about to eat us before we dropped about 80 feet! So we were stuck waiting up the top for them to fix it. It was quite an experience, we were soaking wet because its a water ride and we were over the suspense of what was about to happen. However with all that I still think it was the best ride. On the Mummy Returns ride I exercised my vocal chords and screamed my way to a sore throat, Ben thought that was hilarious, it was his favourtie. Overall Universal is a great park but we've decided that the rides here at both Disneyland and Universal are really weak in comparison to Australian rides, at least ours are longer and they go upside down. We got home at about 8.30 tonight and now we're going to have a spa... yes its freezing but its the whole point of actually having one.

The good part of the day was the weather, it held out beautifully and although we're in as many layers as we could find it didn't rain which is a miracle considering its snowing around America.

Tomorrow we're heading to LA again, we've booked a tour of LA which includes Hollywood, all the LA sites, Venice beach and much much more. The Oscars are on Sunday so we're hoping to catch a glimpse of the set up at the Kodak theatre. I hope everyones doing great! Until tomorrow have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Disneyland + rain = :o(

Today reminded me the most of Melbourne, we went from cool, to sunny and warm, to pouring with rain. We spent the day at Disneyland, the happiest and the soggiest place on earth. The day started really well and Disneyland is just a place you have to see to appreciate, its big and everything is so beautiful. We were there from 9.30am to 8pm and we only made it around maybe a quarter of the park! We visited as many Star wars things as we could find, had our photo taken with every character we saw, went on every ride we went past, ate terrible American food and looked in all the shops... oh and of course, we lined up to get our photo with Mickey Mouse! I have to say the highlights were the Tea cups, the Matterhorn, and Indiana Jones. Unfortunately the parade was cancelled due to really, really, really wet weather. It was sunny for most of the day and then at about 6pm it pelted down with rain. I was soaked from head to toe.. my jacket was waterproof but not for that kind of rain. So all layers of my clothes were soaked through. Which meant we had to call it an early night.

I have also decided that my clothes just aren't warm enough for an American winter, must go shopping. I also have option anxiety in regards to Disneyland... there are so many cool tops, pj's, and bags.

Tomorrow we've booked a trip to Universal Studios, hopefully the rain will hold off.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

We Have Arrived!

Finally we're here! And not without a couple of mini dramas along the way.

I'd just like to thank everyone who told us that we could combine our weight, unfortunately that wasn't the case. We were allowed to take 23kg's each and we weighed in at 29kg between us. Oops! Fortunately the "nice man" on the desk let it slide but we've been told to separate it for the trip home. Then the "nice man" told us we weren't allowed to take any liquids or gels on the plane so that's moisturizer, deodorant, toothpaste and all the things that makes life a little nicer. So we had to check all of it, what we didn't know is that the "nice man" had no idea what he was talking about and that we could take it on board as long as it was under 100mls and in a glad bag. I tell you I wasn't happy! So we arrived in LA smelly, tired and just in need of sleep and a good shower!

Although we didn't have our comforts the flight was pretty good, I slept for most of the way but poor Ben wasn't so lucky. I'm small enough to fit on the seat lying down Ben wasn't so fortunate. We had an empty flight so we had a row of 4 to ourselves and we were able to lie down and get comfy. Customs in LA was fantastic! It all happened so fast and the staff were really nice and George Bush now has our fingerprints and photos on file. We arrived in LA at 10am this morning which is still Wednesday so we've gained time... we're so tired and its only 3pm.

So far what we've seen of LA its really smoggy and doesn't look all that attractive. Its so big, everything is so big! We're staying in Anaheim at the Holiday Inn which is actually OK considering the price is pretty cheap. Not much around other than Disneyland but I'm sure we'll work our way around, at this stage a shower is all we wanted. So far we've been to The Block shopping mall, and we've seen the Crystal Cathedral and we're definitely going there for church on Sunday, its amazing, TV doesn't do it justice.

So for now, we're taking it easy, will probably go and do something fun tonight. Looks like Disneyland tomorrow, Ben just can't wait any longer, but I think that's a nice way to spend our wedding anniversary.

Hope you're all well and that I'm making this as interesting as possible, when I get some sleep I'm sure it will be a lot more exciting.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Trip outline

As promised here is a map of the locations we will be visiting while in America.

I know this isn't the most ideal map to check out so I've added some more details of our trip below.

  • First we fly to L.A. from there we make our way to The Holiday Inn Anaheim. We are here for about a week checking out the sites.

  • Once we are done in Anaheim we pick up a car and trek through the Nevada desert to Las Vegas

  • From Las Vegas we make our way to San Francisco with an overnight stop off to Yosemite National Park

  • After San Francisco we make our way up to Seattle, this is where I'll be attending the MVP world summit. While I'm doing that Ally will be taking in the sights of Seattle.

  • After our last week in Seattle we'll be heading back home. So this is it until we get to L.A.

    Sunday, February 11, 2007

    Travel Blog up and Running!

    Howdy Everyone,
    Ally and I have put this blog together as a sort of travel diary for our trip to America.
    As we make our way up the west coast we will be posting pictures and stories of the things we encounter. We figure this is an easier way to keep you all up to date rather than sending individual emails while we are away.

    We will be leaving Melbourne on Feb 21st I hope to have a map of the places we are visiting up before then but if I don't get around to that then the next post will hopefully be from L.A.