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'18 Travels through America


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#81 v v

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 01:49 AM

More good stuff Jaime! See yall Friday morning in Austin! Hope the Sunset/Eagle trip is a blast!

 

 

Have I got this right, the description you sent to recognise you. Tall, slim and handsome wearing a Saville Row suit with a bow tie. 


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#82 Bob Dylan

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 07:49 AM

Yep, and my car and driver will be waiting on the Platform with the Champagne on ice!LOL

FYI:Amtrak APP Showing #2/#422 into Tucson 24 Minutes EARLY!!😎

Edited by Bob Dylan, 22 March 2018 - 08:03 AM.

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#83 caravanman

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Posted 22 March 2018 - 01:48 PM

Having shared a room with Bob at the San Francisco "gathering", I can confirm his description. :D

 

Ed.


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#84 v v

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 09:21 PM

Having shared a room with Bob at the San Francisco "gathering", I can confirm his description. :D

 

Ed.

 

Hardly recognised him, no bow tie...


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#85 v v

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Posted 30 March 2018 - 10:57 PM

Thursday 8 March Day 16 - San Francisco to Salinas, CA to Monterey, CA  ~  Part II
Updated at Jacksonville, FL ~ Friday 30 March

 

 

​We're in, the Steinbeck Center is open for business. Looked through the shop first, everything Steinbeck is available here, a Steinbeck admirers heaven. Bought a couple of books, fridge magnet for Rosie and eventually the display card for me.

 

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Asked a couple of questions of the girl at reception, she called for the Archivist. The real question was about burning Steinbeck's books in the town after he was accused of being a Communist, this was during the McCarthy era. The clerk at the Amtrak station thought it took place on the site of this center, the truth was a little more shocking, it was on the steps of Salinas library.

Basically the land owners felt they were badly drawn in Steinbeck's novels and were angry. He said he had the facts as he had spent a couple of years researching what happened to the immigrant workers by travelling with a government official who was in place to monitor how these people were treated. 

 

If you are a fan of Steinbeck this center will be for you, if not then maybe not. One exhibit that drew me back time after time was the truck converted to a camper for Steinbeck. It is the very one he travelled throughout America in with Charley his dog, then wrote the excellent book 'Travels with Charley ~ In Search of America'.

 

The camper is so ordinary if beautifully built, and to think that Steinbeck's great novel could be created around such a basic vehicle is a wonder. I thought it was the best exhibit in the whole center, but displayed very poorly. As an American icon it shouldn't just be shoved into a corner but shown in all it's glory, 'nuff said.

 

 

Travels with Charley camper

 

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Yep, got to actually touch it

 

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We leave as the center closes and ask at reception but without much hope if the display card can be bought, to our total surprise the powers that be said we could have it and it was sitting there gift wrapped, what an end to a great visit.

 

 

Worth inserting twice

 

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I left not liking Steinbeck more but gaining a greater understanding how a man who never knew poverty or hardship could write so well about ordinary and extraordinary 'regular' people.

 

Collected our stored bags from the Amtrak station and walk around the the Salinas Transit Center, 2 minutes away. Only a few minutes wait and our bus arrives, we are off to Monterey for our first visit. 

Short walk from the bus stop to the hotel, got something to eat, spent an hour writing and to bed as an early start in the morning whale watching if the weather was kind.


Edited by v v, 31 March 2018 - 05:53 PM.

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#86 v v

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Posted 31 March 2018 - 11:53 PM

Friday 9 March Day 17 - Monterey, CA ~ Day 1
Updated at Jacksonville, FL ~ Saturday 31 March

 

 

​Up and out early, across the road to the bus stop. $3.50 for 2 into Monterey center. Walked through the town and liked what we saw. Not too much open as it's early but made for a pleasant walk. We're early for the whale watch boat tour so take a look at the video of the (maybe?) previous day's outings in the bay. The weather was completely different to today, we had a sea fog rolling in. Still, the sea was fairly calm just a swell.

 

The Old Fishermans Pier is pretty tacky but seems to get away with it, some of the original fishing piers still in place and a relaxed place to be. Rosie has already taken her highly recommended seasick and motion pills, hope they work as she gets sick stepping over a puddle.

We're kept entertained by a few characters near the piers, a pair of Sea Otters swimming with their arms folded over their belly swimming on their backs. Further out is a colony of Harbour Seals making their presence heard. Then our boat arrived from it's overnight mooring.

 

 

An old Sardine? boat.

 

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Sea Otter

 

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Boat is maybe just over half full, good for us, but the fog is getting thicker. Before we leave an unhappy looking 'old timer' leaning against the pier rail looking down at us shouts out twice "we used to hunt these whales, now we just look at them". Mixed feelings watching him.

We pass the end of the breakwater and see the source of the seal noise, a large black male seal surrounded by a harem of adoring females, think he was trying to scare us off.

 

 

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We sail for at least 45 minutes out into the bay and beyond, nothing sighted except for an extraordinary Black Footed Albatross. We're not birders but the sight of this bird with about a 6 foot wingspan just gliding back and forward so close to the sea was mesmerising. Even better was it's ability to just touch ever so slightly the tip of it's wing onto the top of the swell, no splash or even a ripple where it touched, quite amazing. 

We sailed past the rocky point where john Denver died in a flying accident, the strange light and the fog coming and going made the area appear strange and spooky.

 

 

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Got my eye on Rosie as the swell is now noticeable, no reaction so far (thanks for the pill advice Wendy). It's pretty cold though even though we have dressed for cold weather. Further out to sea another whale boat is static, they have found a pair of Humpback whales, much larger than we thought they'd be.

These were the only marine life we saw but they entertained us for nearly an hour as they were attracted or curious about the boats. Totally unpredictable where they would appear so we gave up trying to photo them and just watched, no spectacular photos, sorry.

 

 

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The boat cruised around some more but nothing to be found, after 3 hours we are back and moored up at the port. Rosie had been leaping around the boat like a Gazelle (well almost), I just got colder and colder and ended up sitting inside becoming fuzzy. A couple of days earlier we had spent the night on a Greyhound with a manic aircon above my head, it leaked very cold air onto the top of my head and I hadn't been warm since. The cold boat did for me and we went back to the hotel for an easy day and evening.

 

 

A customer friendly establishment on the pier

 

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Edited by v v, 01 April 2018 - 01:00 AM.


#87 v v

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Posted 01 April 2018 - 12:57 PM

Saturday 10 March Day 18 - Monterey, CA ~ Day 2

Updated aboard a bumpy Silver Meteor train south of Kissimmee ~  Sunday 1 April

 

Nope, tried multiple times to write on the Meteor and constantly hit the wrong keys. Very bumpy track south of Orlando added to by keeping up maximum speed all the way. We arrived in Miami 50 minutes early! interesting ride in places. 

 

Updated in Miami Monday 2 April

 

 

A prompt start again and same bus into downtown Monterey. Walked to the Fishermans Pier to start a short coastal walk westwards to Cannery Row. Just beyond the pier is a rocky cove with a small sand beach when the tide is out, here were more of the Harbour Seal colony resting.

But our attention was first taken by a saxophone solo being played close by, it was beautiful. A lone musician was sitting on a rock playing his heart out, what music, what a setting. ​

 

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Then we realised that the seals were actually sleeping, leave you to make your own mind up about their choices of location. All I would say is I'll never again complain about having to be in the top bunk of a sleeper.

 

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A gentleman out for his morning's constitutional, a paddle around the harbour

 

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Another 1/2 a mile or so further round the coast there were a group of divers examining the Kelp beds as they attract unusual marine life to them The camera had slipped undetected to a special setting and created a photo almost resembling sea monsters returning to the sea (well to us it does).

 

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Eventually we reach Cannery Row, the setting for one of Steinbeck's most famous books. It's very commercial although not quite tacky. There a few original corners that still exist as they did in Steinbeck's day, but have to be looked for.

 

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The group statue down by the sea is nicely done, Mr Steinbeck with a group of friends and characters. JS's head is a favourite perching and pooping place for seagulls, lovely setting close to the sea.

 

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Monterey is now one of our favourite places, somehow it handles the influx of visitors in it's stride without losing the essential special place and laid back unhurried feel. It's a place we would return to.

 

Tomorrow we travel to LA, local bus back to Salinas, Amtrak Thruway bus down one of the farming valleys to San Luis Obispo (SLO), then the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner right along the edge of the California coast, can't wait.


Edited by v v, 04 April 2018 - 10:29 AM.


#88 caravanman

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Posted 02 April 2018 - 09:30 PM

A great adventure you are both having, I am very jealous!

 

A fan of Steinbeck myself, I enjoyed "Travels with Charley" very much. An important book chronicling the fast changing USA of the day. I was not aware of the "book burning" episode, but any whiff of social conscience in America was taken as being an enemy of the state... How familiar these days :D

 

I know one anti Steinbeck AU member who will be spitting on my post if she sees it... Hello Alice, long time no hear from you...!

 

Rocinante may have been a reliable steed for Steinbeck, but I don't feel he liked being uncomfortable too much...  This item from 1967:

 

https://www.popsci.c...y-camping-birds

 

A few years back I drove from SLO up the coast highway to Monterey, a great day out.

 

Keep on keeping on!

 

Ed.


Edited by caravanman, 02 April 2018 - 09:37 PM.

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#89 v v

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Posted 03 April 2018 - 12:22 AM

A great adventure you are both having, I am very jealous!

 

A fan of Steinbeck myself, I enjoyed "Travels with Charley" very much. An important book chronicling the fast changing USA of the day. I was not aware of the "book burning" episode, but any whiff of social conscience in America was taken as being an enemy of the state... How familiar these days :D

 

I know one anti Steinbeck AU member who will be spitting on my post if she sees it... Hello Alice, long time no hear from you...!

 

Rocinante may have been a reliable steed for Steinbeck, but I don't feel he liked being uncomfortable too much...  This item from 1967:

 

https://www.popsci.c...y-camping-birds

 

A few years back I drove from SLO up the coast highway to Monterey, a great day out.

 

Keep on keeping on!

 

Ed.

 

Thanks Ed, things take a turn for the 'different' later but still adventures

 

Yes always understood that Steinbeck came from a comfortable middle-class family and even when trying to establish himself as a writer never went without. All the more remarkable he could write with such insight.

 

The inside of Rocinante was of a very high standard, bit like a deluxe 2 man tent where all the parts work and are in the right place, it's a lovely thing for it's time. Built by the Wolverine Camper Co of Gladwin, Michigan.

 

Here's an inside photo

 

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Where are you now Ed, I'm confused?


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#90 caravanman

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Posted 03 April 2018 - 04:50 AM


 


Where are you now Ed, I'm confused?

 

 

I am at home in Nottingham, only now getting around to writing up my Indian trip from last October 2017. Fortunately, I made notes at the time... my memory cells are not too sharp these days. :D

 

That does look a well built camper!

 

Ed.


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#91 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 03 April 2018 - 11:30 AM

I love this part of your trip--water, boats, a precious little sea otter, and lots of seals (and sea lions? I think perhaps the harem with the black male are sea lions, not seals? That's if I remember the sea lion show at Mystic Aquarium correctly, where they explained how to tell them apart, but I've forgotten the details by now--longer flippers, I think).

 

I do notice there is a conspicuous absence of any details of your meeting with our own Bob D.--hope you had a good time and that he did not lead you astray into any mischief down there in wild Texas! :P



#92 v v

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Posted 03 April 2018 - 12:15 PM

I love this part of your trip--water, boats, a precious little sea otter, and lots of seals (and sea lions? I think perhaps the harem with the black male are sea lions, not seals? That's if I remember the sea lion show at Mystic Aquarium correctly, where they explained how to tell them apart, but I've forgotten the details by now--longer flippers, I think).

 

I do notice there is a conspicuous absence of any details of your meeting with our own Bob D.--hope you had a good time and that he did not lead you astray into any mischief down there in wild Texas! :P

 

Thanks ma'am

 

The harbour seals are what the whale boat co called them but some we're very big. Maybe an expert here will have the answer.

 

Ah, Jim-Bob. As the description he sent of himself for us to look out for when arriving in Austin, was, 'the old guy looking like a bum', it sort of sets the scene. Have to say he did try and succeed in leading us astray in a Honky-Tonk but only once! what a shame.

 

The report is still in Monterey and have yet to travel to LA, San Diego and Tucson before we get to Austin. I'll get it done as soon as but we return to the UK tomorrow and today we're about to drive down the Keys so time is short but it will get finished.


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#93 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 03 April 2018 - 12:45 PM

You're welcome, v v.

 

I just looked them up, and, according to our National Ocean Service, some differences are that sea lions have larger flippers and visible ear flaps, and seals have small flippers and lack visible ear flaps. So I think the group picture is of sea lions, and the later individual pictures are the harbor seals. And, of course, the sea otter is unique unto itself! :)

 

My sense of geography is quite vague, and I got mixed up with the message from Jim-Bob coming in the middle of your California travelogue--I was thinking you had gone back to California after seeing him!

 

Also, now that I've remembered where you were going, how did you like the Meteor (aside from the bumpy ride for a while)?


Edited by Mystic River Dragon, 03 April 2018 - 12:47 PM.


#94 v v

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Posted 03 April 2018 - 10:52 PM

You're welcome, v v.

 

I just looked them up, and, according to our National Ocean Service, some differences are that sea lions have larger flippers and visible ear flaps, and seals have small flippers and lack visible ear flaps. So I think the group picture is of sea lions, and the later individual pictures are the harbor seals. And, of course, the sea otter is unique unto itself! :)

 

My sense of geography is quite vague, and I got mixed up with the message from Jim-Bob coming in the middle of your California travelogue--I was thinking you had gone back to California after seeing him!

 

Also, now that I've remembered where you were going, how did you like the Meteor (aside from the bumpy ride for a while)?

 

Thanks for the sea lion info and for taking the trouble to check it. 

 

I think Jim-Bob pops up everywhere, we're all confused. He really is a gentleman and a scholar, he looked after us as though we were his own. Mr Hudson put simply is a very nice man.

 

Ah the Meteor. If I may just say that it was a bit disappointing, and maybe part of that is we are travel weary too so could be a combination of things.



#95 v v

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Posted 03 April 2018 - 11:59 PM

Sunday 11 March Day 19 - Monterey to Van Nuys, CA
Updated in Miami ~  Tuesday 3 April

 

 

Up early, all packed and ready for the local bus into Salinas. As we exit the hotel it will be a 35 yard walk to the bus stop, but a mini disaster strikes.

 

We're on the second floor (UK 1st floor) and have to walk down a long flight of exterior concrete steps. I lift the extended pull handle of my case, take a step down and crash, the case with a bag attached to the top of it tumble end over end in increasing bounds to the bottom of the stairs with the extended rods still sticking out and in place. It must have looked funny as I was standing at the top of the stairs holding the complete but separated plastic handle!

 

As this is a fairly small case the options are to carry it everywhere, walk crouched over to pull/push it, or find a way to create a new handle. The new handle wasn't going to happen early Sunday morning.

 

Bus arrives on time and a very jolly driver asks us a few questions, then starts to tell us about his life at which point I perch near the front door so he doesn't have to turn to talk. From Mexico, worked over 30 years as a bus driver and loves his job. Will retire in a couple of years to spend more time with family. He's just a very happy and contented man. There are never more than just a few people on-board and he appears to know most of them. We're approaching Salinas and he already knows we're catching an Amtrak Thruway bus to San Luis Obispo (SLO). He asks would we like to be dropped off at the station, how kind is that and thank him. Little did we realise that he would not just drop us near to the station on the main road, but drive right up to the station door, what fine service America provides!

 

We can do something for him too, he needed information about Seattle which we had learned from our visit just a few weeks before. It was quite detailed so he gave us his email and we sent it on to him, think that's called a good deal all round.

 

 

Our type of corporate advertising, a poster promoting pet travel on Amtrak seen in Salinas train station

 

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We sit outside the station waiting on our Amtrak bus, there was a larger group already there waiting for a Greyhound leaving a few minutes earlier than ours. The Greyhound pulls in and a Dodge Viper pulls in behind. A man gets out of the Viper and gets straight onto the Greyhound, can't think of many contrasts bigger than that.

 

Our bus turns up on time, as we are the only passengers so far we take the front seats, grandstand view of the beautiful farming valleys of California. At some point the driver tells us he can't think of many better jobs than driving a bus, is there something in the water here? Have to say it is very nice to speak with contented people, many spend their whole lives looking for their ideal.

 

To be continued...


Edited by v v, 04 April 2018 - 12:04 AM.


#96 v v

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 11:06 AM

Sunday 11 March Day 19 - Monterey to Van Nuys, CA  ~  continued
Updated in Miami ~  Wednesday 4 April

 

 

​Thoroughly enjoyed the bus ride to SLO, there's something about this area of California that appeals to us without having any standout feature. Arrive at SLO Amtrak station about on time, I've got 25 minutes to find and get to the Creole Café to put my order in for red beans and rice to go. In reality it's only about 200 yards from the station.

 

Very unassuming exterior but inside it's packed, then notice the garden seating area is packed too, they close in 15 minutes. Want to ask a question as we don't have a cooler and we wont get to eat this for at least 7 hours, will it last.

Student server didn't know but the boss would. It's a few minutes to closing and the although the boss has whizzed past a couple of times but is too busy to stop, she really is. As the clock struck the hour we get to speak. There's has no meat in their version so should be ok until this evening, boy does she look harassed. 

 

Place the order and wait, boss says a few words every time she passes, it's always like this she says. There are lots of staff and all busy, people still arriving to eat, how successful is this place.

 

On paying a very reasonable price for our food I ask when do they close...  when the last one has gone is the reply. Suggest that she takes a minute or two for herself as she looks shattered, she says she has to stay busy as she is doing it for her dad. There lies another story but I have to go. Rosie must be wondering how it's taken nearly an hour to order food. Yes it was delicious even though old by the time we ate it. The café is to the left of the station as you exit and through the car park, it faces the station building and is called 'Bon Temp Creole'

 

For our lunch we walk just across the road to Sally Loo's Café, we wanted something a little lighter than a full meal. Another pretty busy café, there are at least one or two more within 50 yards too. The whole area around the station is quite busy and it is Sunday.

 

We first visited SLO 2 or maybe 3 years ago as Rosie had heard that Oprah Winfrey had announced that SLO is the happiest town in America. After our first visit we found it slow and calm, now we'd like to add very pleasant too. It's our 3rd visit and each time we like it more, oh that we could afford to live here.

 

 

Photos of SLO station

 

Palm really was this colour

 

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Engineer boarding the northbound Coast Starlight

 

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Our southbound Pacific Surfliner waiting outside the platform area ready to pull forward and reverse into the platform where the CS is standing

 

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This old freight engine is our favourite train photo this visit

 

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Edited by v v, 04 April 2018 - 11:16 AM.


#97 v v

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 11:53 AM

Sunday 11 March Day 19 - Monterey to Van Nuys, CA  ~  continued II
Updated in Miami ~  Wednesday 4 April

 

 

​The Pacific Surfliner from SLO to Los Angeles is one of the worlds great train journeys in our view, it's our second time and a rarity as we seldom go back to anywhere. How can you not like it with a track that sometimes not only travels right on the beach but occasionally over the sea too. A small station called 'Surf' and the mysterious Vandenberg air force base on the landward side with it's experimental rocket facilities including a couple run by SpaceX.

 

Out to sea we have watched whales breaching and noticed the number of oil rigs, by the shore the private homes, campgrounds in small bays and public parking in Idyllic settings. Photos this time were not good, wrong time of day, but here are a few to give a taste.

 

 

The odd sea/beach effect as off the point at Monterey. May be a mix of sea foam and spray thrown into the air?

 

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Close to the shore

 

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A small parking area right on the beach

 

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Very close to the shore

 

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Pretty sunset

 

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Arrive at Van Nuys, there's our friend Milton waiting for us, lovely. We hope to take a break from moving along for a while, unless Milton has other ideas...


Edited by v v, 04 April 2018 - 11:54 AM.


#98 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 11:34 AM

Looks lovely, even if it is the "wrong time of the day"!

 

I'm glad it was the suitcase that went down the stairs and not you! :)



#99 Seaboard92

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 04:54 PM

That sunset picture makes it worth the trip. I think it's really cool to watch the sunset over the coast by rail.
View my pictures at http://trainboy1.rrpicturearchives.net
Amtrak Routes I've riden: Silver Star(NYP-ORL), Silver Meteor(KIS-NYP),Carolinian(CLT-NWK), Palmetto (FLO-NYP), Acela(WAS-NYP), NE Regional(WBG-RVR), Pacific Surfliner(SAN-OSD), Piedmont(CLT-SAL), Crescent(NYP-CLT), Cardinal (WAS-CHI), Capitol Limited (CHI-WAS), Cascade (PDX-SEA)
Steam Engines I've worked behind: Norfolk & Western No. 611; Nickel Plate Road No. 765; Southern Pacific No. 4449
 

#100 v v

v v

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 08:15 PM

Monday 12 - Saturday 17 March Days 20 - 25   ~   LA story
Updated in Brentwood, Essex, UK ~  Thursday 5 April

 

 

Now have 6 full days to rest from almost constantly being on the move, Milton thinks we should take a hike up into the hills behind the San Fernando valley on day one to break us in gently...  It's a very nice walk into areas formerly used for rocket engine testing, one of his former workplaces. He announce that this was the location where Stage 2 of the Saturn 5 rocket was tested, I'm so impressed as the Saturn 5 is my favourite vehicle of all time.

It's a little more arduous than thought due to recent mud slides closing a few of the easy accents, we all had a cardiovascular workout that afternoon. Worth it though for the views of the Simi Valley.

 

That apart it was a round of one or two visits Rosie and I wanted to make, meeting Milton's friends, more family and places he thought we ought to see and lots of eating...  we didn't feel as though we had had a waking moment when we weren't eating recently. Yes we were even more tired at the end but a week and people to remember.

 

 

The Huntingdon Library & Botanical Gardens

 

For the 3 of us the Cactus Garden was the star of this show. This enormous cactus garden would be the star of any garden display anywhere in the world, it's stupendous.

 

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Some of these globe like cactus were 2 1/2 ' high by 2 1/2 ' wide (75 x 75cm)

 

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There were also a few humming birds in the gardens, anyone know which type they are?

 

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At exactly 3:55pm Milton had shepherded us to an exclusive only by reservation café in the Library Rose Garden, for English afternoon tea at 4pm sharp! We were seated next to a group of 4 'Ladies that Lunch' . They were all very jolly and fitted in better than ourselves.

 

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Must say if you like plants and/or cacti at all that this place takes some beating, that includes Kew Gardens in London too.

 

After our Library and garden treat we were whisked off to Hollywood Boulevard, the one with brass stars and 'famous' peoples names in the sidewalk. We were off to the theatre to see the Disney version of Aladdin at the Pantages Theatre, had to meet Norma and Gail at the 'Irish Bar' close to the theatre. It had been St Patrick's Day recently and every establishment had something Irish displayed. After a walk up and down still no clue so off into each bar and club, knowing Norma she could be in any of them.

 

Most interesting was the Rappers Bar, only black people which I felt comfortable with but did get odd looks alongside some smiles. Now personally I love rap, love the anger and the protest but it's not for everyone. Milton looked like a bewildered owl when he and Rosie followed me in, Rosie just grinned as she knew it is my type of music.

 

No Norma anywhere although we all now know what the inside of some of the seedy clubs look like along Hollywood Blvd. 

 

Evening turned out very well, met Norma's daughter Gail for the first time, what a lovely lady, Rosie and I hit it off with her immediately. Performance was good and very enjoyable, theatre is magnificent.

 

 

Ceiling of the theatre proper came across as having some ancient Egyptian influences. Does this ceiling give the impression of an alien starship landing? does to me.

 

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All agree to meet again the following day for a late breakfast.

 

To be continued...


Edited by v v, 06 April 2018 - 05:56 PM.

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