Saturday, 28 March 2015

Shhhhhhh Dover is closed, Brighten is busy. Plymouth is pretty.

As we started our tour around Dover, we found out why it was so was closed.  Hahaha. We went to see the castle, closed - We passed the First and Last Pub - closed. Walked up on the White Cliffs and part of the trail was closed, and you cannot be hungry before 8:00am as breakfast places do not open until 9:00am!  We did manage to walk across the White Cliffs to the other side with a view of France in the distance and rolling green hillsides where local farmers and the sheets and donkey's.  On the way back you have a choice of walking high or low.  We chose to go low, on a path that appeared to be the most traveled.  After passing a hobbit hole, and trekking through the Shire, we came to a dead end, essentially, the path was closed as well!  It was a 25 foot vertical wall that you would have to scale to get to the road.  I tried to do it, but it was slippery mud, and slide down wiping out Mark.  He did everything possible not to land on top one me, and stop me from sliding over the cliff.  We laughed and could not believe that this will used path ended up know where.  We decided that this is where all the homeless people and the drug addicts must live.  We turned around and took the high road.  Just a side note - went you are on the White Cliffs your cell service changes to France, so make sure roaming is turned off!  We then hit the road to Brighton.

Driving is still a little bit off challenge as thier roadways are about the size of the pathway along the bow river.  This is considered a dual lane highway, with trucks and busses on either side.  I do pee a little each time a truck is barreling towards me, at 60 mph, which what they seems to think -have loads of room to get by - shesh!

The coast has lots of little villages,  with Hastings begin the one that stood out for both of us.  Though we did not stop there, the views going through city centre were beautiful and looked a little like Monte Carlo without all the yachts, fancy cars, and the weather!

Made it to Brighton.  Unlike Dover, Brighton was not closed and a very busy Centre!  We chose a hotel in the middle of it all, just steps away from the pier.  That had it good points and bad.  Getting there was interesting, thank god Mark could navigate from anywhere on this earth, and once we arrived it was worth it.  Had a huge fish and chip supper, walked along the Pier and surrounding area then headed back to the hotel for the night to  decide what tomorrow would look like.

Portsmouth, where we were born, was to be our next stop, but we decided that we would just have a quick look and continue on.  Had a great full English breakfast in Cosham, where Mark was born, and continued on. Plymouth was the destination!  We moved of of the coastal roads, as it would take days to get anywhere.  We arrived in Plymouth 4 hours later.

Plymouth is spectacular!  Again we chose a hotel within walking distance of the Pier and the city centre that had free parking, that is now important to us!  Parking is tricky.  Little did we know that the parade was made for clown cars, so it will be interesting getting out!  It was raining when we got there, so we just starting walking towards to Pier, but the wind was blowing a gale, so back into town to find a quaint little bakery and had a scone, Devonshire cream, jam, hot chocolate and coffee.  By the time we had finished, it had stopped raining, and the sun was peaking through the clouds! We continued walking around. It was a good mix of old vs new, even made Mark go into a shop!

We heading back down to the pier, and the views were spectacular!  Thank you weather gods for cooperating.

Today maybe Penzance for us - we have learned that the kids are now on spring break here, so it could become alittle busier............plans may change.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

A Strange Vibe

Dover is a quaint seaside town with a strange vibe. Our hotel is right on the front, on a street that gives the impression of an off-season tourist town. It is soooo quiet -- a sharp contrast to the hurly burly of M25 traffic. But this is also a busy ferry terminal, so when we walk over just a couple of streets, there is constant stream of cars.

Those cars aren't stopping. The shops seem to be struggling to get any business. No doubt this is in part due to the off season, but it must be hard for many of them to bring in custom at the best of times. The high street was all but closed down by 6pm, not that it was really very "open" to begin with. This led me to quip "Dover... the town that never wakes...".

The castle on the hill is very imposing, and we hope to check that out today. As is usual all over the UK, we kept running into heritage buildings of all sorts as we wandered aimlessly. Dover seems to have more churches per square foot than most, with many converted to more industrial purposes.

Wandering aimlessly is our goal for this trip, and the Iphone's navigation map makes that easy to do since it seems to lose track of our set destination from time to time. We were wandering in circles for a while, but we now know the general solution when lost: just take that Effingham Street...

Dover done in a day!!

We made it here with no glitches or hiccups.  LHR was deserted, and we just sailed through in record time.  Off to the car rental place, and was happy to get a Mazada 3.  Mark could almost fit in it, and we could hide our luggage as we go on the road trip.  The only bad news, it the car is brand new, and has not been enjoyed by others!  What this means is all the rim dents will be mine as I get used to parking.  The good news is you can park in either direction, so many turns will be in order, so I will always park on my side.

Dover is a little town, and pretty. Our hotel is right on the waterfront so we can see the white cliffs of Dover and the castle from our window.  Our hotel is an old building that has quite a slant in the floor, so we trek up and down a hill just to go the the toilet. Lol.

The weather has been so good, I have been forced to pull out my sunglasses!  Walked around the town, which becomes deserted at 6:01pm, have a lovely dinner (thanks mum and dad) Mark and I managed to stay up until 8:00pm!!!!

Doing the castle this morning, then we are on the road...........but before that we are in search of the best full English breakfast...........can't you just taste it?

When we have better wifi I will upload pictures!

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Final Prep!

Mark and I are off for a 10 day adventure back to England.  Back to where we were born, played, and went to school. It is just him and I with no fixed itinerary, maps to get us through the back roads of England from Dover to Penzance. It will be a little bit of "Call the Midwife" with a smattering of "Coronation Street" to end up at "Downton Abbey".  Five days on the road, and four days in London - this should be a memorable experience..................The sunglasses are just wishful thinking.  Just throwing it out to the universe for a least one sunny day!!!!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Furnace Creek, Death Valley

We ended up taking the 395 from Lake Tahoe to Vegas.  This should be on everyone’s bucket list if you like to drive.  We started in mountains, and ended in the desert.  It was worth the 10-hour drive.

When we started off in the morning, we did discuss whether or not to go through Death Valley because of the extreme heat warning.  Tim being Tim – we are going! This is a once in a lifetime experience.  I gingerly agreed, and followed. 

The views were to die for, and the road kept you totally engaged with the twists and turns.  About two hours into the drive we came to a summit of one of many passes, and as you reached the top, looking down was a huge lake nestled in was looked like a volcano plume. We had no idea that it was coming, and wished we took a picture, but it becomes problematic when you are traveling at 80mph, and fly but the only scenic look out point.

The heat started to crank up a bit by Bishop, California so it was now top up for the rest of the day.

Well…… was time; the Death Valley sign was right in front of us, and no turning back now.  It was a cool 37 degrees C, so I thought we would be okay. 

The road itself is like riding on a rollercoaster.  No sure how someone in the passenger seat would survive.  It was so fun, and the temp was now 43 degrees C.  As we head through the desert in is like you are on the moon.  There are quite a few big hills. You go from below sea level to 5000ft above sea level.  At the highest point, there is a pull out you can look down the whole valley.  It was like a mini Grand Canyon, but the coolest thing was as we were standing in the 45-degree heat, an American Fighter Jet did a fly by in the canyon.  It was the best thing ever to see that.  He did a little flip, and everything.  Total Top Gun.

Now… the pit of despair –Furnace Creek.  Hottest place EVER!!!  I truly did not believe that it could get that much hotter, but is so did!  52.5 degrees c.  We got out, and it was like a blow dryer on hot blowing on you.  I really loved the signs to they had posted as you went back up in altitude.  Turn off air conditioning for the next 10 miles to prevent over heating.  Ah nope, that is not gunna happen!!!  I was actually panicking because this is the first time in this trip that my engine temperature gauge moved.  If it to over heat, I am in the middle of nowhere, not a busy road at all.  (could be that the smart people did not go through Death Valley)  I was going to melt in the middle of the desert.  We did make it through, but the cars were definitely cranky.  I was never so happy to see 47 degrees C in my life; which was the temp all the way to Vegas from there.

Once we arrived in Vegas, we were greeted with a frosty cold beer, and Tim and I discussed that was probably a bad move going through Death Valley, and our friends agreed.  We can say that we have done it, and don’t have to do it again in the summer
Now please enjoy this brief interlude, because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!!!!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Oregon. Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, California

What a drive from Baker City to Lake Tahoe.  It was so boring; we thought we were going to poke our eyes out.  Here are the “highlights”
  1. It does get too hot for the top down.  We have decided that 33 is the max
  2. Wondering if your car is going to melt at 42 C.
  3. You should never hear the same song twice in one day on satellite radio!
  4. Was never so happy to see a little shack on the Indian Reserve in Nevada, in the middle of nowhere that served hot dogs! 
  5. If you have ever driven to Regina, Saskatchewan….that had more to see than this leg of the trip.
  6. Was sooooo happy to see our hotel in Lake Tahoe 11 hours after we started.

Lake Tahoe

We took a break today and stayed in Lake Tahoe, on the California side.  This place is amazing.  Our hotel was close to a little town called Truckee.  This was the coolest little town.  It has the Banff vibe, but it is a functioning Heritage Park.

All the building are historic, and have been restored.  Right down to the old school gas pumps, though they didn’t work, added charm to the whole thing.  The restaurants were quaint, and the food was nothing short of spectacular.  One thing we are doing from now on is sharing a single serving of whatever.  We keep forgetting how big the USA portions are.

Of course what would a trip to Lake Tahoe be, without going to the lake?  It is the clearest lake we have ever seen.  You can see the bottom, and the fish swimming in it.  Kinda sucks for them!  There is so much to do there.  Hike, boat, bike, paddleboard.  It would worth staying at least a week here, just to do everything.

Now is the time to start the final leg to Las Vegas.  We have asked around, and the consensus is the 395 the whole way.  It would appear to be like our first day of driving, which was great.  This will take us through Furnace Valley, of which the forecast high is 127 F by the tine we reach it today.  This will be officially the hottest place I have been.  Might be a little frightened to get out of my car.  Vegas or bust baby!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

All the small towns USA

First full day of really driving, and drive we did.  We sailed down to the border at Cranbrook, and waited in a line to what seemed took forever.  They were checking everyone’s trunk/camper/everything.  Tim was first up……or lord what could possibly happen.  At one point he pointed at me, and I was thinking to myself, what has he said?  I can’t get out of the car to save him.  After about 1 min, he drove away – wait what?  No search???  My turn – this really big mean guy just reached out his hand for my passport, and said,  Why does he have such a nice car, and you have this???  What? Really? Did he just say that? Next question.  Do you guys race?  No, I said, he has a 427 and I clearly have gerbils in my car.  Yeah, I guess, he said.  Gave me back my passport, and said enjoy.  God Bless America.

We continued on to Sandpoint, and stopped for lunch.  At this point Tim said his GPS was not working.  Really? Your car is new?  It turns out that he just did not know how to turn it on.  Gwendolyn the GPS was up and running.  She gave us three routes to Baker City.  Main interstate, “Shortest”, and some other random one.  I picked “shortest”, and let me tell you in was not the “shortest”, but so scenic.  We could not have asked for a better driving route.  Though it added 2 hours to our already 9 hours of driving. It was worth every minute. (which I can say now, but I was pretty cranky for the last 45 mins. – again separate cars awesome for times like these)  One of the best things was driving through the Canola field, the smell was just glorious, the sun was shining, and Tim and I were the only ones on the road, top down, and just flying.  AWESOME

We pulled into Baker City, OR and our first hope was our cars would be there in the morning when we woke up, or not up on blocks.  We were trying to come up with a plan.  Well, lady karma is our friend.  We pull up to our hotel, and see 10 really nice cars in the parking lot, corvettes, Porsche, Shelby Mustang.  WTF what is going on?  Well it turns out there is a car show this weekend!  We just pulled in next to all the other cars, and just smiled.

It was a spectacular day, the only bad thing was Tim made me wash my car at 9:00 at night to get the “bugs” off.  Really?  Last time I checked, we have 14 more hours of driving. Nope you have to get them off, so they don’t bake on.  It’s official, he is now a full fledged McSweeny.  My dad has trained him well…….