DAY 19 - SUNDAY AUGUST 21ST 2005 & SUMMARY

Travelling home day is never much fun, so I’m not going to write much about it. We wake, pack and have the suitcases in the car by 11.00am, which is checkout time.
We eat a breakfast of pastries and coffee in the lounge in Paradise Pier before saying farewell to Susan who is catching the bus to the airport for her flight back to Tulsa.
I don’t know how she has managed to survive the ordeal, but we have really enjoyed having her along. She’s been patient with the children and even more patient with me.
Hugs and kisses all round as she boards the bus.

We then attempt, with some trepidation, to use Virgin on-line check-in again. A miracle, it works! We have our pre-booked seats.

An hour or so is now spent round the pool at Paradise Pier for a final swim and some relaxation before leaving for the airport at 2.45pm. This should be plenty of time, but the traffic on the freeway is heavy and things start to look a bit dodgy. A bit of judicious re-planning of the route and we get to baggage drop off at the Virgin desk 75 minutes before take off.

Unfortunately the security checks take over 30 minutes to get through with only one lane open. By the time we reach the gate they are already boarding and we walk straight on.
Now here’s an irony for you. India has been desperately looking for celebrities all the time we have been in L.A. especially while we were in West Hollywood. As we board the plane we walk past the bar area, sat at a stool is Eddie Izzard. We also find out that Iron Maiden are also on the flight. Typical. You wait all holiday for a celebrity and then 2 come along at once.

The rest is pretty mundane. The next people in the row in front of us decide to go for a bit of synchronised seat reclining as soon as we take off and leave them there for the rest of the flight, even during the meals. Thank you sooooo much.

So, I’m back home. I’ve had time to contemplate, but Tam told me to stop doing that, so I thought about our holiday instead.

Summary

Weather – mostly wonderful, but a few surprises. In the National Parks it was approaching 100F during the day, but this cooled off to a liveable 65F at night. It certainly wasn’t as oppressive as the humid Florida heat.
Actually jolly chilly at times in San Francisco and even cool in the mornings in L.A. The mist usually burnt off pretty quickly though to leave cloudless skies and perfect temperatures in the 80’s.

San Francisco – A slight disappointment. I’d read and seen so much about it that I thought it would be wonderful. Sometimes you can know too much about a place. There will still some very cool things to see and the real joy is just in seeing the steep hills and beautiful houses. Unfortunately we spent too much time traipsing up and down said hills due to the inefficient transport out of Fisherman’s Wharf.
Would I go back? Probably. It’s always unfair to judge a place by just one visit, but if you gave me the choice of returning to SF or New York City, I would choose NY.

Solvang – a lovely little place. I know many will laugh at my lack of sophistication in liking a manufactured touristy town, but I found it clean, tidy and rather welcoming. The wine tours helped as well!

Yosemite and Kings Canyon – An experience never to be forgotten. Kings Canyon is quieter and a couple of nights was enough there, but that doesn’t detract from it’s beauty and relative isolation.
Some of the things we saw in Yosemite will live with me forever. I’ve looked at the photos since we’ve been back, but they just can’t capture the sheer size of the mountains and valleys we saw. Hiking for 9 miles from Glacier Point was a real adventure. Not one I’d care to repeat every day of the week thank you very much, but unforgettable all the same. Yosemite is probably the most striking place I’ve ever been.

L.A. – Now here’s a strange thing – I didn’t start off with any great enthusiasm for LA (as opposed to SF, which I was really looking forward too), but ended up with affection for the place. Yes, it certainly is just one huge sprawling mass, but parts of it were fun to be around. Its history is fairly recent by British standards, but, boy, have they packed a lot into a short period of time. If you like films there couldn’t be a better place to visit.
Oh yes, it’s got Disneyland too.

WDW v Disneyland – Susan told me that whenever her late husband Scott (a real Disney fan) was asked to choose between the two, he would refuse saying that he liked both and found joy in both. I would like to have met Scott; he was obviously a very wise man. Why should you have to choose? And how could you compare even if you wanted to?
WDW is obviously so much larger than DL that any comparison would be silly. The only thing you might try to do would be to compare both Magic Kingdom’s. Even this is a pointless exercise. Just visit both, have fun in both and be grateful you had the opportunity.

Susan – A lady of infinite patience and calm. Oh yes – and punctual in the extreme. I’m beginning to suspect that there may have been an outside influence in her tardy timekeeping when we met last year in Florida. Possibly her travelling companion? I’m looking your way here Lu Beth. It must all have been your fault.
Susan, you can baby sit my childr ….. er…. I mean …. come on holiday with us any time you like.

Well, that’s about it. You wouldn’t call it a relaxing holiday. We drove, we walked, we walked some more and when we arrived we walked back again. However, if we hadn’t have walked all the miles we did, we wouldn’t have seen half the things we did. My feet were not grateful, but I was.

 

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