Friday, 13 May 2016

Here comes the sun....

Sunday 1st May to Tuesday 10th May 2016

Greetings from Los Angeles !

Our northward travels are now at an end for this year and we have put the boat into a marina for a month whilst we head off to the United States to visit Sara and Mitch in LA.
We have managed to get it all done so very well without any problems and as seems to be our usual way, everything was achieved ahead of schedule – just hate being late for the critical timings that catching planes always entails – would rather be an hour early than 5 minutes late.
Once the bags were checked in and we had the boarding passes for both flights I could then relax.
Our itinerary for this first part was Birmingham to Newark (NJ) and then a connecting flight to Los Angeles – with the stopover time it amounted to a 17 hour journey, but we did arrive fairly well refreshed.
It is election time and the race for the White House is on.
We don't have this type of hoopla back in Australia, but
each candidate has the merchandising to go with it.
This we spotted in Newark airport whilst we waited
for our next plane

Mitch met us at LA airport – he wasn’t working that night, but Sara was, so we would see her the following day.
We seemed to have avoided the dreaded jet-lag associated with crossing so many time-zones – now 8 hours behind BST.

Have taken it quite easy whilst we have been here – Sunday was Mothers Day in the US (as it is in Australia) so it was quite fortuitous the timing of the arrival; markets to visit and to get a feeling for LA.
Diane had been here before – last year and I had been here briefly for change of planes in 1981 – this of course was prior to Diane, so in her eyes it didn’t exist.

The very wide streets, plenty of traffic (but not heavy), and a surprising number of oil wells in the general LA area were all new to me and found it interesting.
The cultures of the US (West Coast) and Australia are so very similar that it is difficult not to think that they are very much merged onto a long piece of elastic.

We left behind the beginnings of some summer weather with temperatures due to venture into the 20’s and have arrived with similar weather here, albeit with some cloud.

Like any large world city which is so well known the icons of the place are simply so much more real when viewed directly and so it is here.
The HOLLYWOOD sign, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Oscars, are all part and parcel of this great city – the latter two are within an easy 5 minute walk of Mitch and Sara’s apartment where we have stayed for this initial part of our trip.

You do get a better appreciation of a city when you stay there for a bit and we are starting to see how it is laid out.
Actually it really is a number of different towns/cities all rolled into one locality.

We have been up into the hills to see the Hollywood sign up close.
The iconic sign - Sara, Mitch and Diane

Much the same again

The perfect couple - with the newsih car

Son and father - new and old 

Been to see a baseball game at Dodgers Stadium – unfortunately the home team were beaten 4-2 but the atmosphere was great as well as the seats. Excitingly the very first ball pitched was despatched back over the centre-field fence for a home-run.
Diane was at her best impersonating the announcer with the score line, balls and strikes and generally showing off her knowledge of sport.
The game started during in the early evening whilst it was still light. The hills
behind give it a different feel to a normal major sporting event

Later as the sun has set the hills show up even more

The pitch, the ball in flight, then it is up to the batter

Baseball under lights - gotta love it

Diane managed to get a photo with one of LA's police officers.
She came back trying to tell me that she had her hand on his gun,
but I thought she said "on his bum" - I think the picture shows that
my hearing was quite correct.

We have been having a wonderful time here, but best of all we have been able to spend time with both Mitch and Sara – they are such a lovely couple and really, for us, they are simply our kids.

The following day we were out early again – just Diane and I – walking around, continuing to take in the area, which in reality is probably a fair bit removed from the average Los Angelean (if that is the correct term).
This is a tourist area and the reasons are pretty well self evident, but we liked wandering around here and enjoy the early morning before everything starts happening.
Hollywood's walk of stars - this one is for
Hugh Jackman.
(the photo is for Mick)

Spotted this sign at the market - naturally is was on the back of the "Cheese Van"
But it does sum up Diane's attitudes to salad and cheese

LA is an expensive town in which to be a tourist and I think that Diane was getting
worried about the cash, so she is thinking about another job for me.
Not sure that this would necessarily give us much more money - not with my body

Later on in the morning, once we were all awake we drove down to Santa Monica beach to take it all in there.
We happened upon an “English” pub whilst we were walking and found that they we showing the West Ham v Man United game on live, so naturally we had to stop and have a Guinness and then something to eat, the experience would have satisfied the tourists but not as true a reality as what we know; also not a true reality was that West Ham won – damn those Hammers and damn that last game at the Boleyn ground.
Not your typical English pub - for one, there does appear to be sunshine

But the Guinness did taste good

The beach itself is massively wide and with real sand, just like back home, not those pebbly things we have seen for the last few years.
It was a lovely sunny day and just strolling along the pier was simply delightful;; the sight of a seal at the end before it disappeared under the pier was lovely too.
Santa Monica pier and a bunch of crazy people

It is also the end of the legendary Route 66 - one day we
will do the full trip

Back in the car we drove further down the coast past Venice Beach (without stopping) before doing battle with the traffic to head to a bar to meet Sara’s brother Luke.
Diane had met Luke last year, but I had not, so Sara was keen to amend that and I was looking forward to it as well.
As with the rest of her family, Luke is a charming and lovable person with a great smile and great personality and such a nice guy to be with, and seems to like Mitch as well, despite Mitch marrying his sister – we had a chance to have a drink and something to eat and also talk, but he his extremely busy at the moment so an hour or so later we said farewell.
Someone mentioned that it was Diane's birthday the following day - the waitress
came good with a small birthday cake suddenly arived

Luke - Sara's brother and they are very much alike
- in looks and craziness

Mitch then drove us down to Anaheim, where we were staying for the next few days, something special was about to happen…..

3 Miles, 3 Locks
YTD: 198 Miles (319 km) , 159 Locks, 4 Tunnels, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 3993 Miles (6426 km), 2858 Locks, 114 Tunnels, 45 Lift Bridges, 170 Swing Bridges.... there was a few thousand miles flying involved

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