After 13 days we have finally found time to update our blog.
We are back in San Francisco after driving 1800 miles across 3 different states: California, Arizona and Nevada. We picked up the car (a Dodge Caliber not quite a charger but never mind!) from downtown San Fran last Friday and set off in the direction of the Grand Canyon. We decided to drive just 6 hours on the first day and stopped off in a little town in the middle of nowhere called Barstow. Here we did the traditional US thing of pulling into a motel and asking for a room (we fell lucky and got a lovely little motel with the biggest bed we have ever seen!). The next day we set off for the Grand Canyon where we had reservations at a campground for two nights. Being in the middle of the desert, the weather was boiling hot and sunny during the day but FREEZING at night! So needless to say, we didn't get the best nights sleep (Rachel was coldest!). But the next day we went to see the Grand Canyon itself; it is stunning. Words cannot describe how spectacular it actually is.
After two nights sleeping on seriously rocky ground we were both ready for a real bed again. Driving into Vegas was an experience to say the least. Americans seem to change lane without indicating over and undertake, tail gate and general make city driving a far cry from the wide open interstates that we had enjoyed before the horror of Las Vegas Blvd. Despite this we arrived at the stratposphere hotel and casino which is at at the north end of the strip. The room was a bargain at $23 a night. Included in that rate the hotel gave us discounts on all day buffets and a free ride to the top of the stratosphere tower which stands over 1000 feet above the strip. If that wasnt high enough we both decided to ride the 'big shot'; the world's highest rollercoaster, rollercoaster is the wrong word really. For those of you who havent heard of this it is basically a ride that shoots you vertically up 1147 feet above the strip, upon reaching the top of the ride you plummet back to the viewing deck so fast you briefly experience weightlessness. Vegas itself was an experience to say the least. It is quite literally a 24hour city, nobody seems to sleep! Highlights included winning $90 on roulette, the buffet at the Bellagio (the most scrummy food we have ever tasted - from every country in the world), 1 cent slot machines and free drinks while you gamble (which if you are only on 1c slots, you are not spending very much even if you are losing!).
Going back to the beginning of the trip, we spent 4 days being very touristy in San Fransisco. We walked for about 12 miles on the first day just getting a feel for the city (12 miles wasn't planned, we just didn't realise how far everything was!); we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge and up and down the VERY steep hills. One of these hills boasts the crookedest street in the world - it is bizarre! We took a trip to Alcatraz and did the audio tour of the cell block - very scary, tiny cells. Our hostel was lovely, so nice in fact that we came back this week!
Going to New Zealand tomorrow - 13 hour flight, although we wont arrive til tuesday because of the international date line... weird!
Anyway, running out of internet time now so we'll say bye for now - make sure you stay in touch! :) Love Rach and Si xxx