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Western US live trip report

London
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Western US live trip report

Ok take two - my original post was deleted for some reason, so I'll try again.

My husband and I are doing a big road trip through the Western United States. We are British but have been living in Australia for the past year and this trip is us making our slow way home. We started off with a stop in beautiful Tahiti and then went on to Hawaii - both Oahu and the Big Island. Our first stop on the mainland was San Francisco, and from there we will be driving north to the Redwoods, into Oregon, Washington, across to Yellowstone and South Dakota, down to Colorado, Arizona and Utah and finishing up in California. We have about seven weeks for this mainland portion of the trip.

It's a big trip covering a lot of ground, but we did a very similar trip to this three years ago at an even faster pace and enjoyed every minute of it so we are keen to repeat. I've been doing these reports semi-live as we go along for friends and family but I hope they will be of some interest on here as well. If anyone wants to see photos I have lots of these too (but I don't think I'm allowed to post the link directly on here).

I'll post the reports as replies...

London
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1. Re: Western US live trip report

SAN FRANCISCO

A quick hop across the Pacific saw us back on the mainland and in San Francisco, probably one of our favourite cities. We were staying in the Palace hotel right on Market Street and just a couple of blocks from Union Square. Although we landed very late and by the time we got the BART from the airport, checked in and got to our room it was time for bed I could see that this was a fabulous hotel. It is a grand old dame of a hotel, built in the nineteenth century but destroyed by fire and built again in the early twentieth. A little dated in places perhaps, but it is gorgeous - very ornate, sophisticated and full of opulence and character. Definitely my sort of hotel.

We had arrived during some sort of freak cold snap. While we were there the temperature dipped as low as 13 degrees (C) during the day! We had a couple of days to relax in the city, and the first day we went for breakfast at Lefty O'Douls - an old favourite when in San Fran. We spent the rest of the day doing shopping, shopping and more shopping - after nearly a year in Australia it felt very good to actually be able to buy things without breaking the bank! Old Navy, Macys, the Apple Store - we could have spent a lot more money than we did but were determined to hold off until we got to the no-sales-tax states. We did do one touristy thing - we took the glass elevators up to the 32nd floor of the Westin hotel for a brilliant view of the city and a sneaky look at their wedding area. If I wasn't already married I'd want to get married here that's for sure.

Our next day was more of a touristy day. We headed up to Fishermans Wharf to have a look at the sealions and catch our boat to Alcatraz. We thought we would get the touristy cable car up there but after standing in the line at the Powell Street terminus for about 45 minutes and only advancing three feet we decided to get the normal public transport cable car instead. This gave us enough time to have a quick bowl of soup in a bread bowl from Boudins before getting on the boat.

This was Rich's first time on Alcatraz and my second and we both absolutely loved it. The place is very atmospheric and the audio tour is fantastic and really brings the characters and stories to life. We have Escape To Alcatraz ready to be watched to bring this all to life.

With this and Port Arthur in Tasmania in the same year our tour of famous prisons of the world is complete!

After getting the boat back to the wharf we decided that as we had skipped the cable car on the way up we would get it back instead - the line was much shorter and there were four empty cable cars waiting. This would be quick we thought. Unfortunately not, we actually ended up queuing for an hour and a half and were treated to a most astonishing display of worker inefficiency and - dare I say - laziness. They would stop the empty cable car for 10 minutes to have a break and a chat with their colleagues, then turn it so it was facing the right way, then allow everyone to get on and proceed to have another 15 minute break to have a chat with the same colleagues, then eventually and begrudgingly return to the cable car and spend ten minutes slowly checking everyone's tickets before finally leaving. And we watched this happen in what felt like slow motion over and over again. Even the non-British people in the line were tutting and humphing. These must be the most well-rested employees we've ever seen!

When we finally made it onto a crowded cable car we had a nice ride back to Union Square and felt we had earned our Cheesecake Factory dinner. Never mind we had to wait for an hour to be seated there, it's a ridiculously popular restaurant and mostly with Europeans as far as we could gather. We shared an appetizer (oh yes, we've been here before and know how to play the game!) which left room for a cheesecake each. Mine was the "hidden gem" (according to the waiter) pineapple upside-down cheesecake and I genuinely think it was the most delicious thing I have ever eaten.

With this we reluctantly said goodbye to San Francisco and the Palace hotel and the next morning got the BART back to the airport to pick up our rental car which would be with us for the next six weeks. After much negotiation with the guy at the desk (involving him wanting to charge us for an upgrade and us not wanting to pay it) we ended up with a brand new Hyundai Sonata hybrid which he assured us would pay for itself with fuel economy. I can't say if he's right yet, but it's a fantastic car for a road trip. Spacious, comfortable and so quiet you can't even tell whether the engine is on - we love it already!

Next stop - north to the Redwoods.

Penticton, Canada
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2. Re: Western US live trip report

hi I have posted links to flickr for my photos and I have seen links to photos on a thread on this forum.

- my understanding is that as long it is not a commercial site you own and are selling ads you should be good.

London
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3. Re: Western US live trip report

That's what I thought too, but they've told me the reason it was taken down was because blogs are classed as self-promotion. It's a shame because it's a bit easier to read with the photos embedded in the report, but TA makes the rules I guess!

Calgary, Canada
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4. Re: Western US live trip report

Excellent report, would love to see photos - can you link to your pictures?

Wednesbury, UK
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5. Re: Western US live trip report

Hi.

According to the TA Admin, if you structure it like this, then it is acceptable, which given the level of detail you have should work I hope, as I blog too, and I will not be a happy DE if they zap them all.

"We ask all members to limit links to their personal blogs strictly to the blog home page as a signature-line at the bottom of their (presumably informative) posts, as per this example:

.... <forum post text with plenty of information for other travelers> ...

Signed,

HappyTraveler

www.happytravelerblog.com"

*

It would seem that TA does not approve of just "blog links" -- they prefer to keep them at the end of forum posts which contain *traveler information*.

Edited: 31 July 2013, 08:01
Uden, The...
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6. Re: Western US live trip report

Thanks for posting. Port Arthur and Alcatraz.....but you still have to go to Robben Island to make it complete ;-)

7. Re: Western US live trip report

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Removed on: 31 July 2013, 20:38
8. Re: Western US live trip report

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This post was determined to be inappropriate by the TripAdvisor community and has been removed.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

Our staff may also remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason. Thanks for being a part of the TripAdvisor travel community!

Removed on: 31 July 2013, 20:38
London
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9. Re: Western US live trip report

We had a slight change of plan on our first day on the road. We had thought to drive up from San Francisco to Lassen Volcanic National Park and spend the night in Redding, but we didn't have as early a start as we planned due to the car hire shenanigans, so we ended up just driving straight to Redding and doing our Walmart shop with the extra time we had.

Now last time we did this sort of trip we didn't really do a shop like this, but on almost every trip report I've read for any road trip no matter how long everyone seems to stop at Walmart to get a cooler and other such practical road trip essentials. I had a long list of things to get such as a cooler, a tripod, torch, wet wipes etc. But my dear husband was not on the same page as me and didn't quite see these things as essential and we found ourselves in the ziplock bag aisle having a friendly discussion about why they were/weren't extremely useful. I won in the end but had to compromise and put the tripod back.

We stayed in the Travelodge that night and it happily bills itself as the best hotel in Redding and number one rated on Tripadvisor. I haven't seen the other hotels in Redding but for a Travelodge this was pretty good.

We left early the next morning and started the drive towards the coast. This was a lovely drive, exactly what you'd think Northern California should look like - forests, streams and Bigfoot. Ok we didn't see Bigfoot himself but we did stop at the Bigfoot museum in Willow Creek just before we got to the coast which has lots of artifacts about the search for him and all the evidence that has supposedly been found. It was a cute place, but more interesting because of the other bits and bobs in the museum, such as cash registers, bank notes and radios from the early twentieth century.

After this stop we made a beeline for the coast and the big trees. The Redwoods area encompasses the national park and several state parks, and I had done extensive research to try and find a few highlights for us to stop at (which didn't involve driving on unpaved logging roads in our lovely car). Our first stop was the trail through Lady Bird Johnson Grove. This is a really nice walk and puts you right among some truly massive trees. The fog had rolled in but actually on this occasion it really enhanced the park and created a lot of atmosphere as it sat around the tops of the trees. There is something decidedly eerie about being in a quiet forest with nothing but huge trees, spiderwebs and multiple caterpillars as company.

We then drove the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway which was worth it if only because of the herd of elk we saw in the meadow.

Our last stop of the day was up to the Klamath River Overlook, a stunning look at the mouth of the river as it meets the ocean. The ocean was so still and calm and we saw some black shapes moving in and out of the water in the distance. They definitely weren't whales because there was no spouting but we have no idea what they were as they were just too far away and the binoculars were safely locked away in the suitcase waiting for Yellowstone.

Tonight we are staying in the Best Western in Crescent City - by the looks of it another good quality budget motel.

Sam53

kiwisam.blogspot.com

NORTH CAROLINA
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10. Re: Western US live trip report

I am enjoying your blog and see no self promotion going on some people just ilke to be killjoys.

I had to laugh about the cable car workers you are right they do take their time some of it is justified as they have to space them out but I suspect a lot is not. The worst place to get on is at the wharf terminus and the Powell st. terminus next time try the other line at the Bay st. Terminus much less crowded. Another thing is you wouldn't believe how much those cable car workers can make since they are considered municipal workers.