Day 47! Portland to Forks (Twilight 3) (The Movie and Book Tour)

As today was mainly a ‘Twilight’ day I’m going to post all the photos on this page.

We left Portland bright and early as we wanted to visit a couple more Twilight sites.  The weather has been fabulous today both down in Portland and up here in Forks. The temperature has been in the 90’s and we were told that summer arrived in Forks today … just in time for our arrival. Alas, that means we won’t be seeing any of the Cullens today!!

The yellow ribbon denoting where filming took place

Bella tells Edward she knows what he is ……. “Vampire”

Sandra at the spot where Bella tells Edward she knows what he is …… a vampire!

Bella and Charlie’s House

Bella’s street outside her house

Bella’s road outside her house

Bloated Toad Restaurant, as was!

Jilly’s shop


‘Forks’ High School’

Forks’ High School where Edward saved Bella from being crushed

Need I say more!

Well, I wonder who owns this then!!??

Funny sign!

Sandy River at Oxbow State Park

Our first Eagle – taken through the car window!

One of Oregon’s beautiful beaches

The first thing we did was to drive to Oxbow State Park where the ‘Say it out loud’ scene was filmed.  The Ranger directed us to a skinny tree that had a yellow  ribbon tied around it and there it was. It amazes me how small the areas are that the different scenes are shot in yet in the films they always look so big.  This area was just off the road where people were driving their cars past.

After that it was our intention to go and see the Cullen House but we decided it was too long a journey and we wouldn’t have seen much of the house anyway, because it’s hidden by trees so instead set off for St. Helens.

The first place we visited was Bella’s house.  The scenes in Twilight, both inside and outside the house were actually filmed here. It was quite emotional to be stood right there where they all stood and Charlie parked his Police car. One thing made us laugh and that was a notice pinned to the tree addressed to ‘Twilight Fans’.  It said that it was private property and requested that people did not go on to the property or peer through the windows (who would do that?) but that they didn’t mind people taking pictures from the street and then closed by wishing people a lovely visit to St. Helens.

We then went to the Bloated Toad Restaurant. This is where Edward took Bella after he saved her in Port Angeles from the group of men and she had mushroom ravioli.  Sadly, the restaurant is now closed and the property up for sale.

Our next port of call was going to be Thunderbird and Whale Bookstore where Bella purchased a book about Quileute legends but again, it’s gone. There wasn’t a building that looked like it at all and now at that address there’s a B&B!

We did see a shop called Jilly’s and that was where the wardrobe department bought 36 prom dresses plus lots of other things to decorate a shop called Cuts+ into the Petite Jolie dress shop scene where the girls were trying on dresses for the Prom.

After that we travelled to Kalama High School which in the film was Forks High School, where the parking lot scenes were filmed and where Edward saved Bella from being killed by the truck. As the school is closed for the summer holidays and I didn’t want to be arrested for trespassing, I didn’t go around the back of the building to see the area where Edward follows Bella into the woods by the school for the scene where she tells him she knows what he is ………. a vampire!

The drive from there to Forks was very pleasant, mostly along roads lined with fir trees and you can imagine my excitement when we entered Forks and there was the ‘Welcome’ sign that is so familiar to all of us Twilight fans. To make it even better, there was Bella’s truck and a funny sign in the window of the Chamber of Commerce

So, we are now staying at the Cullen House in Forks. Of course, this Cullen House represents the one in the book, not the movie version.  It’s lovely here and the owners are great. We’ll post pictures tomorrow of the inside and outside of the house but one thing they do have is a miniature version of the graduation caps board.

This is definitely the place to stay for any Twilight fan. Every room has copies of all the books to read and all the DVDs to play. Also, it is left to the individual to decide what name they want to give the room they are staying in. There are all the Cullen names to choose from and today I’ve decided that our room will be known as Alice’s room. Someone else had already called their room, Edward’s and at first I called our’s, Bella’s room, but then I thought that she wouldn’t have her own room because she would be sharing with Edward!! Am I over-thinking this!!!??? I think I may change the name daily for the time we are here!!

Tomorrow we set off on our Forks and La Push adventure!!

The other photos we took today are at the bottom.

Day 46! (Part 2) Twilight 2 (The Movie Tour)

Before I start day two of our Twilight adventure, I need to add something to Twilight 1.

I forgot to mention that the Carver Cafe was used in another scene in Twilight and that’s where Bella and Edward are in her truck after she’s left home because James is chasing her and they drive past the Cafe as Mike, Jessica and some of the others are coming out of the Cafe.

Multnomah Falls

Charlie’s Police Station

Drawing cash at the ‘police station’

The bridge that Bella and Charlie drive over when she first arrives in Forks

The crossing with the wooden bears (no longer there!) and the logging truck when Bella first arrives in Forks

The Black Bear Grill

This is where Bella and her friends parked in the van at La Push

Where Bella and Jacob walk on the beach and he tells here about ‘the cold ones’

I also forgot to include a photo of Multnomah Falls in the post. You see the Falls when Edward and Bella are walking to the field to play baseball.

So, day two of our Twilight adventure!

After our visit with Cindy Mc. we headed to Vernonia, the little town that was the stand-in for Forks in Twilight.

We started with a visit to Charlie’s Police Station ……….. well it’s actually a bank, so I took the opportunity to draw some cash while we were there. This is where Edward and Bella stop after he rescues her in Port Angeles and they are told Weyland had been killed. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to be stood there.

I spoke to an American lady while I was drawing cash and she asked what we were doing in such a small town and so far from home.  I explained that I was a huge Twilight fan and she understood immediately.  She’s seen all the films too.

Towards the beginning of Twilight you see Bella and Charlie in his Police car as they enter Forks, the drive over a bridge and then come to a cross roads and you see big wooden bears stood on the corner of one street and a huge logging track passes over another street.  Well this is where that scene was shot.

Bella also drives over the bridge again on her way to school after she leaves the house and slips on her bottom and Charlies has had new tyres fitted for her.

We had lunch in a small place called The Black Bear Grill and on the wall was a picture of Kristen stood outside the Grill.  Apparently she went in and had a drink there during filming.

After Vernonia we moved on to Indian Beach.  Indian Beach was the stand-in for La Push in Twilight. This is where Bella goes to with her school chums on a cold wet day so that they can surf and she meets Jacob and two of his friends there.  Bella and Jacob walk on the beach and he tells her about ‘the cold ones’.

Tomorrow on our way to Forks we will be stopping at Saint Helens were a lot of other scenes were shot …. so watch this space!!

Day 46! The Oregon Coast

Well today has been a fun-filled long day!

We started the day with a wonderful visit to one of Si’s Flickr friends, Cindy Mc. We hadn’t met before but it was just like Dot and I all over again (as though we’d always known each other) and Cindy gave Si some great tips for future use.

We then moved on to Vernonia!! This little town was the stand-in for the town of Forks in the Twilight film. I’ll post about our visit there in an additional post, Twilight 2.

Si paddling on Cannon Beach

Lifeguards in action!


Rescuers and rescued!

Sandra and Police Officer, Josh

Sandra and Si at Ecola State Park overlooking Cannon Beach

Si with his ribs!

There are no words!!

Indian Beach

Indian Beach

Indian Beach

After lunch in Vernonia we moved on to Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast. Words cannot sum up what a marvelous place that is. The beach is spectacular, all sand that stretches for miles, the water is crystal clear and good for surfing, the sky was blue and we paddled in the Pacific ocean which to our amazement wasn’t as cold as we thought it would be.

The town of Cannon Beach is a holiday hotspot full of shops, restaurants, places to stay and things to do. Being a Saturday today, it was packed.

Whilst we were there, two Lifeguards had to rescue three young people who had gone too far out over the crashing waves and were in distress.  It was a sight to behold. We then got talking to Police Officer Josh who told us he was in the UK last year and got married in Perth!! He has Scottish ancestors and just loves the UK.

After visiting Cannon Beach we moved to another one just along the coast called Indian Beach. Again, this is where they filmed scenes from Twilight so I will include details of that in the other post but I’ve added some of the other photos here too.

Today we had to travel back through Portland again but surprise, surprise, there were no traffic jams!! Someone must be listening to us at last.

Tomorrow will be another ‘extra’ exciting day for me because we leave Portland and move to the little town of ‘all things Twilight’ …………. Forks!!

PS: Before I forget ……… just in case you think Si’s given up his ribs, here are two pics of him with his dinner this evening!!

Day 45! (Part 2) Twilight 1(The Movie Tour) (For the fans reading the Blog)

So today we visit some of the sites where they filmed Twilight.

Carver Cafe

This is where Bella sat with Charlie

Where Stephenie Meyer sat

Twilight dolls at the Carver Cafe

Poster saying that the Carver Cafe was part of Twilight

Edward stands in the sunshine here and reveals to Bella how he ‘sparkles’

Edward tells Bella he’s a ‘killer’

Edward tells Bella she’ believes the lie’

Edward rips a tree out of the ground and climbs the tree on the left to tell Bella she’s ‘his brand of heroin’

Edward says ‘so the Lion fell in love with the Lamb’

We started off at the Carver Cafe.  In Twilight, this is where Bella meets her Dad, Charlie for dinner and where she meets ‘butt crack Santa’. Mike and some of her other school friends are outside playing with a football and Stephenie Meyer is sat at the counter of the Cafe.  She has her laptop with her and at the time was actually writing the second book in the series, New Moon.

After that we visited the Stone Cliff Inn. This is where Edward shows Bella how he ‘sparkles’ and where he says those famous words “so the Lion fell in love with the Lamb.”

Day 45! Columbia River Gorge

The weather today has been beautiful, hot at 97°F, a little humid but nothing to bother us.

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

Latourell Falls

So today we travelled the Columbia River Gorge to see some of the most beautiful waterfalls you can imagine along Historic Route 30. Our ultimate goal was Multnomah Falls, (these Falls and the Gorge will be familiar to all the Twilight fans reading the blog as some scenes from Twilight were filmed here!!) They are the second most visited attraction in Oregon, the first attraction being the coast. We are hoping to visit that area tomorrow.

The falls drops in two major steps, split into an upper falls of 542 feet (165 m) and a lower falls of 69 feet (21 m), with a gradual 9 foot (3 m) drop in elevation between the two, so the total height of the waterfall is conventionally given as 620 feet (189 m). Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in the State of Oregon and is listed as the 137th tallest waterfall in the United States by the World Waterfall Database.

It was very busy this morning and the sun was in the wrong place for Si to get any decent photos so we went off to visit some of the sites used for the filming of Twilight (there’s a separate page for all of the photos Twilight-related) and then we returned this afternoon to the Falls.

You would have thought we would have learned our lesson from yesterday with all the Portland traffic but no, we managed to get caught it in again today.  What a nightmare!! How does anything get done here when it takes so long to travel everywhere!!

Some of you reading the blog will know what a huge Twilight fan I am and today was a heavenly day for me as we visited some of the sites used in the filming of the first film Twilight.  We had lunch at the Carver Cafe.  If you want to see photos of the places we visited then click on the the next Post ‘Twilight 1’ above.

Day 44! Klamath Falls to Portland (via Crater Lake … again!)

Well ‘what a difference a day makes’ ……. we awoke this morning to bright sunshine, blue skies and it was warm enough to get the shorts back on!!!

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

Simon and Sandra at Crater Lake

Sandra at Crater Lake

Chipmunk at Crater Lake

Rogue River near Crater Lake

Rogue River near Crater Lake

The US Army on manoeuvres

Portland Traffic!

As we would be passing Crater Lake again on our way to Portland we decided we should do a little detour to see if Si could take more Lake shots. This is the actual colour of the water, the photo has not been altered at all.

Well, the weather at the Lake was beautiful, such a change from yesterday, although at 8,000 feet the wind was a little chilly.  So, Si got his shots and then we headed off for Portland.  It all turned into an eight hour drive and when we got to Portland it was rush hour, so you can imagine what the traffic was like and to add to that there was a car breakdown and road works!!

We came to the conclusion that the whole of the US Army was on the move today as we passed lots and lots of army trucks on the way out of Crater Lake.

We couldn’t complain about the drive today as about six hours of it was through forests and forests of pine trees.  There’s no shortage of wood in the US that’s for sure.

This is going to be short and sweet today as we are very tired and need to get our beauty sleep!!

More from Portland tomorrow!

Day 43! Crater Lake

Well today, the ‘all-weather’ photographer’s assistant is not so ‘all-weather’, rather ‘under- the-weather’, I’ve managed to get a head cold from somewhere so I’m sneezing and using tissues as though they are going out of fashion!

Crater Lake

When we woke up this morning and it was cloudy but dry we had a little hope that it would be dry up at Crater Lake and we would be able to get good views and Si some good photos.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S. and is fed only by rain and snow (but no rivers or streams) and so is considered to be the cleanest large body of water in the world! The water is exceptional for its clarity and intense blue colour.

The lake rests inside a caldera (a caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption) formed approximately 7,700 years ago when a 12,000-foot-tall (3,600 meters) volcano collapsed following a major eruption. The eruption may have been the largest in North America in the past 640,000 years!

Crater Lake

Alas, when we arrived it was raining. To view the Lake you drive either via the west or east rim drives and we decided to start on the west side.  Good job we did because by the time we came to end of the first half of the drive on the west side the east side drive had been closed off due to the bad weather. As we progressed around the west drive climbing to elevations above 8,000 feet the weather became appalling. We couldn’t see the lake as it was covered in a rolling mist and the rain was pouring down and it was difficult to even see the road which at time was rather hairy as there are no barriers to protect drivers from going off the edge.  We sat for a while in the hope that it would clear but when it didn’t we headed down again.

However, by the time we reached the bottom the sun had appeared and Si was able to grab a few photos of the lake.  Sadly, the blue of the water was not evident all over but just in certain areas.

Crater Lake rim today with snow!

Photographer in the snow!

One thing that surprised us as well was the amount of snow from the bottom to the top of the Lake. They have an annual snowfall of 43.5 feet (13.2 meters) and start to clear the snow in April ready for the 500,00 visitors that come every year. The lake last froze over in 1949.

It would have been a very beautiful place to see if the sun had been shining so we’ll just have to mark it down for another visit in the future.

Mummy bird at Crater Lake

Baby bird at Crater Lake

We didn’t see much wildlife today but did see the two birds below, mummy and baby.

Also below, are another couple of photos we took on the drive back today.

Oh, and before I forget …………… Si had his wish come true today and he saw a bear! “At last” I hear you say!  Well, here’s the photographic proof!! Ha, ha, ha. I bought it for him in the gift shop at Crater Lake.

Si’s bear – Bruno!!


Day 42! Mount Shasta to Klamath Falls, Oregon

I’m sorry to say there’s not much to report today!! We’ve driven up from Mount Shasta to Klamath Falls but it only took us a couple of hours and it rained most of the way.  The clouds are very low over the mountains.

Mount Shasta – the best shot we could get!

Again, the best shot we could get of Mount Shasta

We did have one stroke of luck as we left Mount Shasta and that was to arrive at a view point of the mountain just as the sun came out for a second and showed the snow on top.

We are supposed to be ‘doing’ Crater Lake tomorrow before moving onto Portland on Thursday but we are told the weather will be bad again so we will have to wait and see what occurs in the morning.

I’m sure there must be some good shops around here somewhere!! Maybe we could get Si that extra jumper.

Photographer’s Assistant!

Me doing what I do best ……….. eating chocolate!

As we are a little short on photos today, here’s a funny shot of me taken in the rain yesterday and one Si took today of me eating chocolate!! How come I never manage to get a funny picture of Si?

The hotel we are in at the moment is giving away free soup and bread at 4.30 pm so as it’s such an awful cold day, only 56 degrees F. at the moment, perhaps us ‘old folk’ should trundle down to take advantage of their kindness to feed the poor and hungry!!

Day 41! Mount Shasta

Well today was a bummer on one front but good on two others!!

We awoke this morning to rain and a temperature of 46 degrees F. So it was on with the jeans and wet coats.  We came to see Mount Shasta but alas as of yet we haven’t been able to see it because most of it is covered in mist.  Fingers crossed we get to see it before we leave tomorrow.

The new Licence Plate Game

The two good things were, one: we have a new LPG (License Plate Game).  Hooray! Who would have thought that in a small town like this that we would walk into a book store and they would have one. As we are halfway into our holiday, we think we will start over with the game and see how we get on from now until we get back to New York and see if we can do as well as we did with the first one.  I think I’ll put this one on a chain around my neck to make sure we don’t lose it!!

The second good thing was ………….. I managed to find a lovely hairdresser, Mary from Studio B. here in the town to colour my hair. She did a really good job and I look decent again.

McCloud Lower Falls

McCloud Middle Falls

Us at McCloud Middle Falls

The photographer’s ‘all-weather assistant’

As our plans had to be changed due to the weather, we decided to do a small hike to see the beautiful McCloud lower and middle falls.  The area was once inhabited by Wintu Native Americans and they named the Lower Falls ‘Nurum-wit-ti-dekki’ meaning Falls Where The Salmon Turn Back.

Archaeological excavations in 1986 at Fowlers Campground by the Falls, revealed that the Native Americans came on a seasonal basis about one thousand years ago. They used the camp as a base for hunting, processing food and fishing.

You will notice that the photographer has his ‘all-weather photographic assistant’ with him today, carrying the tripod.  For the fashionistas among you, you may like to know what the modern ‘all-weather photographic assistant’ is wearing this season and who dresses her!! Well, our model today is wearing The Jeggings and a Limited Collection grey sweater from the world-famous Marks and Spencer store at The Meadows, Camberley, her wet jacket is courtesy of a stall at The New Forest Show in Hampshire (August 2011), her hiking shoes are from the Bass store at the Waterloo Premium Outlets in New York (thank you Dot for the introduction) and her leather backpack comes courtesy of a store (name unknown) in Guildford, Surrey.

Especially for you Nat, today we actually used the camera remote and it worked first time so there was no need for swearing, cursing or foot stamping by the photographer!!

Si has become obsessed with bears during this holiday and he’s expecting to meet one around every corner!! There was a small spat between us in the middle of the forest while visiting the Falls today as we both felt the need to carry the tripod so that we had a weapon to defend ourselves should that bear appear. As I am more agile and can run faster than my husband I decided to let him carry it most of the way!!

Tomorrow we leave Mount Shasta for Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.  See you there!!

Day 40! Yosemite to Mount Shasta, Northern California

It’s so lovely to be back in contact with the world!

The Beast 2

Today was a driving day.  It occurs to me that I haven’t posted a photo of our new chariot, ‘the beast 2’ so here it is! This one’s a little smaller and only seats five people!!

We left our fabulous B&B and the lovely people we met there and are now ensconced in Mount Shasta.  The weather’s a bit of a shock, at the moment it’s cooler and cloudy.  We had some rain on the way here but only a cupful.  We have come to the conclusion that we have probably seen the last of the very hot weather and plan on getting our jeans out tomorrow.  Hey ho!

Lake Shastina

Northern California seems to be the home of fruit growing.  We passed through miles and miles of fruit trees, nut trees and acres and acres of sunflowers.  Then it turned mountainous and very green with lots of fir trees. I was taking photos as we travelled but this is about the best one, a view of Lake Shastina (not bad for being taken through the car window).

Tomorrow we explore the Mount Shasta area.

PS: For those taking an interest in Si’s eating habits, tonight he had a beef short rib ……….. he said it was fabulous.  I should have taken a picture of the look of pleasure on his face!!!!

Day 39! Yosemite National Park

Well today was interesting!! We decided to do a small hike, just a two-mile round trip that should have taken 1.5 hours!! Being the Brits that we are we set off about 11.30 a.m. just in time for the hot midday sun. The lady at the Information Centre told us to take plenty of water and at the time we thought that as the hike was only going to take a short amount of time so the water we were carrying would be plenty. How wrong can two people be!!

The rock before the hike! That’s me trying to stop it from rolling any further!!

The hike we were going to do was the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail to Columbia Rock with an elevation of 1,000 feet above the valley floor, so in total about 5,000 feet above sea level.

The summary of the hike was that Columbia Rock is a massive granite rock jutting from the north canyon wall a thousand feet above Yosemite Valley with the rail-lined overlook atop the 5,031-foot rock offering a distance and detailed view of the valley. The hike follows the first steep mile of the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail – with the aid of 60 switchbacks – through oak and manzanita groves. The trail was built in the 1870s by John Conway and his crew.

Not even a quarter of the way yet!

Upper Yosemite Falls – this is where we should have turned round!!

Help! I’m exhausted.

Upper Yosemite Falls – I’m feeling a lot better now!

Upper Yosemite Falls and Half Dome

So, we set off at a steady pace in the sunshine.  Yesterday was a lovely day but cool so we expected today would be much the same but no, it’s been much hotter. The path we were on first of all was gritty sand and the incline rose slowly.  We stopped at various points to admire the view, take photos and refresh ourselves.  However, it became apparent after about two hours that we had gone wrong somewhere!! We soon found ourselves climbing over fallen rocks and up very steep inclines.  One man told us we had about another 15 minutes to walk until we reached the end of the hike and then another told us it was at least an hour. By now we were starting to feel rather tired and our water was running low.  Every time we turned a bend we were confronted with more steep slopes to climb and fallen rocks. To cut a very long hike (story) short, we consulted our hiking book again and soon realised that we had already reached our destination about an hour earlier and should have turned back then!!

Are we stupid or what! I told Si it was all his fault of course as he was the one who picked the hike in the first place and he should have realised sooner that we had been hiking for far too long.  Us ladies know that it’s always the man’s fault, not the lady’s!!!!

We were in fact now doing the 7.2 miles round trip that takes six hours to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Point.  This is usually undertaken by the more experienced climbers, not just us hikers.  We decided the best thing to do was turn around and start the long decent.  Well, as is usually the way, the decent was worse than the ascent.  The rocks were slippery and the sand very difficult to walk on.  Good exercise for the legs though and the views were magnificent!

In the end the ‘small’ hike took us 5.5 hours and we covered seven miles and were at an elevation of about 6,500 feet above sea level.

The snake – anyone know which snake this is?

We saw a snake on our travels and a blue-jay seemed to follow us all the way up and down the hike, every so often it appeared that he was laughing at us.

We hadn’t eaten anything substantial since breakfast so were very tired, dirty and hungry when we returned to the B&B and didn’t feel like going out to dinner but the day was saved when Scelestia here at the B&B kindly offered to share their wonderful family dinner of lasagne, salad and wine with us. It was like manna from Heaven!!

Our B&B – Yosemite Rose

Tomorrow (Sunday) we leave Yosemite and move on to Mount Shasta in Northern California and there hopefully, we’ll be able to update the blog for the past three days.

Day 38! Yosemite National Park

Where’s BT Infinity when we need it!! Still can’t post to the blog so am typing this for when normal service is resumed.  Hopefully on Sunday (and here we are!)

Bridal Veil Falls

Cathedral Rock

We spent Friday enjoying the wonder that is Yosemite National Park. There are many magnificent things to see and photograph and we captured a few of them.

Yosemite covers an area of 761,268 acres and is visited each year by over 3.7 million visitors. It is internationally recognised for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams and giant sequoia groves. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness. The park has an elevation range from 2,127 to 13,114 feet (648 to 3,997 m).

We felt as though we were at the

There are climbers on El Capitan!! Can you see them?

top of the world today when we reached the end of the road at Glacier Point.  It stands at an elevation of 7,214 feet (2,199 m) and there is a sheer drop of 3,200 feet (980 m) to Curry Village standing below. You need a good head for heights to peer over the barrier that’s for sure.

Here they are!!

El Capitan

Tunnel View with Half Dome the first view that Euro-Americans ever had of this magnificent place

Us at Tunnel View

Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point

Si at Glacier Point

El Capitan is a vertical rock formation 3,000 feet from base to summit along it’s tallest face and is one of the world’s favourite challenges for rock climbers. Today we were treated to such a spectacle and saw climbers on the sheer walls. Some of those who undertake the climb will do it over two days, so get to the halfway point, string up a hammock and spend the night suspended on the side of the rock before finishing their climb next day.  We were told that some of the more really extreme climbers have scaled it in two hours!!!!!! It would take us two years!!

Tomorrow (Saturday) we return to hike some of the less challenging trails.

Tonight for dinner we found a little gem of a place called Charlotte’s Hotel in Groveland. Great food, super atmosphere and was very popular with the locals. Not your typical American food, instead they served small plates of different foods that people could share instead of everyone getting oversized portions that mostly end up being thrown away.

Day 37! Las Vegas to Yosemite, California

Today we are bereft on two fronts! First of all we left Vegas, which we think of as a second home as we feel so comfortable there (I tried to persuade Si that we should cancel everything and spend the rest of our trip there but he wouldn’t do it!) and secondly we have lost a travelling companion!!

Alas, we no longer have LPG (Licence Plate Game) travelling with us.  We are so sad that he has gone.  It appears that when we swopped the car over last Sunday and in all the confusion he got left behind on the back seat of ‘the beast’ and is now travelling far and wide with another family.  All I can hear in my head is his little voice when he saw us driving out of the car rental facility calling ‘wait, stop, you’ve left me behind’.  We didn’t realise until this morning that he was missing.  We feel like Tom Hanks in Cast Away when he realises he’s lost Wilson the basketball and he sobs uncontrollably ……….. we now know how he feels. LPG served us well for the first five weeks and five thousand miles of our trip and if we ever see his like again you can be sure we will snap him up. At least we have a photograph of LPG so we’ll never forget him.

Saw this on our drive today! Um, interesting!!

So, we drove from Las Vegas to a place called Groveland today which is just on the outskirts of Yosemite and we are staying in a lovely old B&B. We went to the local golf club for dinner (no photos of that I’m afraid) and were treated to the wonderful spectacle of deer coming out for their dinner too. We didn’t manage to get a photo of the deer but here’s one of the golf course.

Driving today we saw lots of different landscapes, we had barren desert, forests, lakes and best of all snow-capped mountains and a glimpse of Half Dome at Yosemite.  We even reached the dizzy heights of 10,000 feet above sea level. The temperature has gone from 102 degrees in Las Vegas to 64 degrees here!! 

Lake in Yosemite

We managed to sort out the problems we were having with uploading photos over the past couple of days so here’s a few pics taken while we were at the Bellagio and especially for Steve Blewitt, here’s Si eating and drinking!!!!

Tomorrow we will spend the day at Yosemite and I think we will have to put away our summer gear and get the jeans out ……… it’s going to be cooler!! 

What stomach!!??

Si and his Tennessee Highball!

Sandra and her Nigori Aviation!!!!!

The cheese plate!

One of the pools at the Bellagio

The pianist at the Petrossion Bar at the Bellagio

Oops, forgot to include the prairie dog we saw when we first entered Yosemite!


We are currently staying just outside of Yosemite National Park and the wifi is very poor so don’t be surprised if you don’t see any additional blogs for a few days or it may be that we don’t post any photos.

Hopefully, normal service will be resumed once we move on.

Day 36! Las Vegas

Today was our final rest day in Las Vegas.

We had a lovely day, spending the morning around the pool and then we went and did the one thing that just has to be done on a Vegas holiday and that is to visit the Petrossian Lounge here at the Bellagio Hotel to partake of their cheese plate and to drink cocktails.

The cheese plate consists of about a dozen different cheeses, fig, raisins, slices of apple, apricots and something that kind of tastes like liquorice and to go with the cheese is three types of bread and crackers!!  It is one of the best things ever!! There is also someone playing the grand piano.

We took some photos of us enjoying the cheese plate and cocktails particularly for one of our followers, Steve Blewitt, to enjoy!! They were taken taken on my phone as we didn’t have a camera with us but for some reason I’m currently having trouble getting them onto the laptop so no photos today I’m sorry to say but once we sort out the problem we’ll post them.

This evening we enjoyed Celine Dion’s new show at Caesar’s Palace. She has the most magnificent voice and this time she had a great orchestra with her. Her dresses were beautiful and the light show was amazing.

As there’s no photos today, here’s a video for all the Celine fans following the blog to enjoy!! This video is from her last tour. (I don’t own the rights or anything to the video).

Alas, we will be leaving Vegas tomorrow without winning our fortune but we’ve had a great time.  It’s another long driving day as we head for Yosemite National Park.

Day 35! Las Vegas

So today is rest day two.  We spent this morning around the pool again and Si went off and took some photos of the Bellagio reception and atrium.

Bellagio Reception

The atrium is re-dressed four times a year to mark the changing of the seasons.

The light house: the first lighthouses were built by the Egyptians as far back as 283 A.D. to guide ships away from rocks and land and bring them safely into harbour.  The first lighthouse in America was built in Boston Harbour in 1716 on Little Brewster Island.  This one is 32ft tall and has a real working light on top.

The greenhouse is 13ft high, 36ft long and 14ft wide and at the moment is home to lots of beautiful birds i.e. Rosey Bourke, Parakeets, Canaries, Cockatiels and 50 Finch birds in nesting units.

The bridge is 24ft long and 6ft tall and the tree house is approximately 15ft tall.

The chocolate fountain (photo below, especially for Steve Blewitt) is the largest in the world and is made up of white, medium and dark confectionary grade chocolate.  It has over 500 feet of stainless steel piping, and the chocolate rises 27 vertical feet from the lower level pump room.  It took two years of engineering, planning and design. Quote from the Guinness World Records Ltd:  The largest chocolate fountain measures 8m (26ft 3ins) tall and circulates 2 tons of chocolate (4409 pounds) at a rate of 120 quarts per minute. Is that enough chocolate for you Steve?

Approximtely 25,000 flowers make up this snail!

Flowers outside Sensi restaurant in Bellagio

The chocolate fountain in Bellagio

This afternoon we went Downtown and visited the most famous ‘Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in the World’.  For those who don’t know, there is a programme on Sky TV on the History Channel (don’t know if it’s on cable too) called Pawn Stars and it’s about     this shop in Vegas owned and run by the Harrison family. They are Richard aka the ‘old man’, his son Rick, Rick’s son Corey and Corey’s friend from school, Chumlee.  There’s usually huge queues to get in but we were lucky today and we didn’t have too long to wait.  Sadly, we missed them because they were in the shop this morning but this afternoon we were told they were ‘out the back’ filming.  Still, it was great to actually be there to see the shop first hand.

Day 34! Las Vegas

The blog for the next three days is going to be rather lacking I’m afraid as there’s not a lot of action this end as we are on a total rest period to recoup after the first four weeks of our big adventure.

Today has been rest day number one which included lazing around the pool, fine dining and gambling (no big wins today!) so today’s blog is rather short. We found an Elvis slot machine that’s rather a lot of fun and we had a few wins but when it came to the big wins then Elvis had definitely ‘left the building!’ We did have some photos to post but it seems as though most of them have taken a leaf out of our book and are having a rest day too because for some strange reason we can’t get them to load. Will have that sorted out by tomorrow when we should also have photos of the atrium here at the Bellagio.  Each season the atrium is changed to represent the time of year and they do an excellent job.  Thousands come to the hotel every day just to look at it. They are never disappointed.

We did buy two tickets today to go and see Celine Dion’s new show at Caesar’s Palace on Wednesday evening (Tony, sorry you can’t be here to enjoy the show with us).  We saw her original show here in Vegas a few years back and it was excellent.

Anyway, I’ll say ‘goodnight’ as it’s nearly midnight here and we have another hard day ahead of us tomorrow so we need our beauty sleep and leave you with another look at the sight I’m looking at right now, the fabulous Las Vegas strip.

The Las Vegas strip at night from our hotel window

Day 33! Panguitch to Las Vegas

The Las Vegas strip at night from our hotel window

The Las Vegas strip during the day from our hotel window

Me with the ‘big win’.

Well it’s official, we are all arched, canyoned and hiked out so have  come to Las Vegas for a rest!! I know, ‘a rest’ you say! Yes, for the next three days we will lounge around the pool, weather permitting, yesterday we had temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees and today in Las Vegas it’s currently about 100 degrees and we are told that last week it reached 112 degrees, so quite warm! After sunning ourselves we will eat good food, drink good wine and do a little gambling.  Speaking of which, tonight we had dinner and then had a quick look around the casino because we’ve had quite an exhausting day and are a little weary and gambled $20 (£13 ) on a Monopoly machine and won …………… $440 (£300).  So, all in all a good start to our little ‘break’.

On the drive from Panguitch this morning we saw three interesting things but alas, did not have the camera handy so couldn’t take photos.  First, was a red and white lighthouse in the middle of the desert, second was a sign on the interstate saying ’80 mph’ …. how many of those do you see in the UK and thirdly was a large roundabout, how many of those do you see in the US ….. answer, not many.

It was our intention to stop off at Zion National Park this morning but the crowds were so bad we decided to give it a miss.  We have been to Zion so it was no big deal.  We did see this tepee on the way out though. Bookings being taken now!!

We passed briefly through Arizona today on our way to Nevada

Day 32! Bryce Canyon

First of all a ‘funny’ tale!! Peggy who owns the B&B we are staying at here in Panguitch was telling us this morning a story about when she first located from California to Panguitch, many years ago.

Her friend had a very old cocker spaniel dog that went missing one day. Peggy helped in the search but they were unable to find it so they called in the local tracker who also went in search of the animal but returned with the sad news that the dog had been taken by a mountain lion!  Then, he turned and in the distance saw a coyote and instantly and in front of Peggy and her friend, shot it dead! He did that because there’s a bounty in the area and if you kill a coyote and cut off the two ears, you get a reward of $50!!  Peggy knew her life would never be the same again!!!!!!!

Can you see Thor’s hammer to the right of centre?

Ground Squirrel

Old car in Bryce Canyon today

What the modern day hiker should be wearing!

So, today we did the other half of Bryce Canyon and did two hikes. One was the famous Navajo Loop trail that starts at 7800 feet above sea level, drops down to 7400 feet and then you have to climb back up again!! Luckily, a lot of it was in the shade. We did it nice and early before it got really hot. Our second hike was at 9115 feet on the Bristlecone Trail but this one was not so steep on the climbs. Some Bristlecones have been found to be between 4000 and 5000 years old!!

We also had a lucky day seeing deer, fawns, chipmunks and ground squirrels.  The difference, for those who like to know these things, between a chipmunk and a ground squirrel is that a chipmunk has stripes on its head and a ground squirrel does not!!  This is what another traveller told us so I’m open to correction!

Day 31! Bryce Canyon, Utah

Sevier River

We started the day with haircuts!! I’ve had the same hairdresser, John, for over 35 years but alas, as we couldn’t bring him with us to the US we had to find someone else to trim the locks.  It was quite a nervy experience trying someone new but we were very lucky in finding a lovely young lady called Jessica who works for Rumours here in Panguitch. In her spare time she’s a barrel racer in the rodeo.  She’s very petite so she should be able to ride around those barrels really fast. She did an excellent job in making us look decent again. While we were waiting for our appointment we had a run up to Panguitch lake and passed this lovely river along the way.

Bryce Canyon

After lunch we drove to Bryce Canyon and were once again blown away by the magnificence of it.

Bryce Canyon

Natural Arch in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon, which despite its name, is not a canyon but a collection of giant natural  amphitheaters.  Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by  frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views. The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet.

The Bryce Canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874. The area around Bryce Canyon became a National Monument in 1923 and was designated as a National Park in 1928.

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

LHOP ……. Little House On The Prairie

One of the Red Canyon tunnels

Tomorrow we will be hiking some of the trails we were not able to do today.  Because Bryce is high above sea level the temperature is lower than we had in Moab and today was a fairly pleasant 79 degrees.

As we were leaving Bryce Canyon we had to stop and make way for a wrangler and his trail horses.  Again, something else you don’t see at home. The photo was taken through the car windscreen.

Day 30! Moab to Panguitch, Utah

Today was a travel day.  We left the wonders of Canyonlands and Arches National Park behind and are now in Panguitch ready for a visit tomorrow to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Here are some photographs of things we saw on our trip. There was nothing terribly exciting to take pictures of apart from lots of dust being blown across the road.

We are staying at a lovely bed and breakfast which makes a change from hotel chains. We’ve already met some lovely people and one lady is a big fan of Downton Abbey!!

Road Train! (Just for you Bro!)

Take your RV and your car at the same time!

Day 29! Moab

Oh my goodness, we have just returned from one of the best meals we have ever had. Jeffrey’s Steakhouse in Moab … if you are ever here then try it!  Being a gin and tonic drinker I just had to try the French 75, (well I had two actually) and they were the best G&T’s I’ve ever had.  In fact, I’m surprised that this blog is being updated at all today!!

Double Arch

We ‘finished off’ Arches National Park today.  It’s been very hot but not quite as hot as yesterday.  There’s been an odd cloud or two!!

That’s brave Si waving – it’s a sheer drop the other side!

We continue to be in awe of the arches here and how magnificent they are.  Also, today we were lucky to actually see some wildlife (Muskrat, lizard and a frog) and lovely flowers all over the desert.

Si and I had a ‘discussion’ concerning sheep rock! He thought it looked like a dog but I thought it was a sheep.  It was confirmed later that I was indeed correct because it is officially known as ‘Sheep Rock’.  Women always know best!!


We visited the petroglyphs and learned that Utah was named after the Ute Indians who are believed to have left them and were done sometime between 1650 and 1850 A.D. The stylised horse and rider surrounded by bighorn sheep and doglike animals are typical of Ute rock art. Today, this rock art panel is very important to many Native Americans of the region because it was created by their ancestors.

One thing I keep meaning to say is how impressed we are with the toilets in the desert! No matter where in the desert we are there are toilets that are clean and always smell lovely and as there’s no water available to wash hands there is usually a hand sanitizer to use instead.

Just what a girl needs … a picture of her rear!

Also, we can’t help but be impressed with the organisation of moving so many people and cars around the parks. So far, there hasn’t been any queues and there’s plenty of parking.

Oh well, at least I look thinner in this one!

Desert flower


Is this a sheep or a dog?

Last of all, it occurred to me that the folks back home might like to see what I’m on about when I’m talking about the Licence Plate Game!! Well, there’s a pic down below.  You will see that each block shows the State’s name i.e. New York and underneath that it is the capital of that State. You can see that we  have just two States to see on a licence plate and they are Delaware and Hawaii.

It might also be of interest if I tell you where we have visited so far and you will see how far we have crossed the country.

So far we have visited New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Arizona and Utah.

One of the more stranger things we saw today was a man in a skirt (and he wasn’t even Scottish!) … photo below!!

Si at Sand Dune arch

PS: I knew I wasn’t on top of things today, I’ve just realised I’ve missed out three photos. One of Si at Sand Dune arch, the second of him emptying sand out of his shoes and a photo of Skyline arch

Skyline arch


Si emptying the sand from his shoes!

Man in a skirt!

Day 28! Moab

First of all I would like to give a ‘shout out’ to Karen from Calgary, Canada who we met on the tour of Antelope Canyon and who is now following our blog.  It was lovely to meet you Karen. Enjoy the blog!

Mesa Arch with the reflection of the rising sun

Mesa Arch with the shining sun

So, today was another lovely, easy day at the ‘office’ …… not!  We left the hotel this morning at 4.45 a.m. to go back to Mesa Arch in Canyonlands to take photos of the sunrise. Just as we pulled into the parking area a coach full of tourists (I know, we are tourists too, but when we saw how many there were our hearts sank) arrived too …. nightmare! Why do these things always happen? Because there were so many people and a lot of them were inconsiderate and had no idea of photography etiquette things got a little heated with the photographers who had been there for some time.  Well, when one stepped in front of Si’s tripod just as he was taking photos then of course words were exchanged and  I think we got sworn at in a foreign language but Si was not having any of it.

We arrived down at the arch to find people already there, cameras on tripods just waiting for 6.00 a.m. when the sun was due to arrive.  There was one young Italian photographer who had left his hotel at 3.00 a.m. just to get a good spot. It was well worth the early start as you will see from the photos.

We thought these looked like Meerkats!

Balanced Rock – how’s that staying up there?

After a short rest we then made our way to Arches National Park, another wonder to behold.  The arches are formed by erosion into the most amazing shapes.  It has taken millions of years for these arches to form and one could be standing today and tomorrow be just a pile of rubble.

The Anasazi Indians first settled on the land in 1000 AD and petroglyphs (photos tomorrow) still exist and so proving they were here.

The start of our climb!

One of the most famous arches is called Delicate Arch.  We’ve seen it from a distance on a previous visit but decided that today was the day to do the three-mile round hike to get a closer look.  We set off along the trail and soon realised that this would not be an easy hike in temperatures of 90 degrees.  We rounded a bend and could see people way off in the distance but couldn’t believe that was the trail we would be going on.  The climb rises to 500 feet by way of a steady incline passing over soft sand, flat rocks and steps that have been carved out of rock.

We met people on their way back and they all kept saying things like “a ways to go yet” and “it’s very windy up there so hold on to your hats.” We kept walking steadily getting higher and higher and thought we would never reach the top.  About half way it started to get a little hard to breath and my little knees felt a tad wobbly but we kept going one foot at a time, thinking all the while that perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea after all but that British Bulldog spirit kept us going until at last we reached the top and there it was, Delicate Arch in all its magnificence.

Do we really have to climb up there?

The people who warned us about the wind were not wrong ………. it wasn’t a wind blowing it was a gale.  We had to take off our glasses and hats for fear they would be whipped away. The ledge up top was not that big and two steps back could have been a disaster.  It would be true to say we were more than a little concerned for our safety.  Si took his photos very quickly and we started the descent.  Of course it was much easier on the way back as most of it was downhill and we were glad we did it but I don’t think we’ll be going back anytime soon.

We were both wearing our Antique Archaeology (from a US TV show called American Pickers) t-shirts today and at the end felt they were very appropriate because we felt like a couple of right old fossils!!

Sandra not looking her best after the long climb but it’s just around the bend

At last … Delicate Arch

You can see why they call it Delicate Arch

On the way back down

The way down

At last, the car park in the distance

Delicate Arch in all its glory!


Day 27! Moab

Today we ‘did’ Canyonlands National Park or at least the part known as the ‘Island in the Sky’. The colourful landscape has been created due to erosion which in turn has created countless canyons, mesas and buttes by the Colorado River, the Green River and their respective tributaries.

The day started with the temperature in the high 80’s and by the time we left it was touching 100 degrees.  Hot weather for hiking in that’s for sure but the magnificence of Canyonlands made it worth the toil and sweat!!

It has taken 245 million years for Canyonlands to look as it does today.  Asking how sandstone is made we were told that it’s sand, water, pressure and time.  It is a very inhospitable place. Trees only grow to a maximum of about 20 feet high and have very shallow roots.  At this time of year some of the cacti are flowering.  During the day most of the animals stay out of the sun preferring to come out in the cooler evening.

Mesa Arch

One of the most famous arches is Mesa Arch.  Photographers go very early to get pictures of the sun rising through the arch. Arches are created through water erosion and one day this famous arch will just fall into the canyon below.

Visitors from all around the world enjoy the wonderful views.  Today we saw Japanese, French, German and Belgians.  It felt as though the whole world was here on holiday with us.

One thing that did surprise us was that at 7000 feet in the high desert we actually managed to cross another two licence plates off of our licence plate game so the trip was  doubly worth it. We’ve only got to get two more States (Hawaii and Delaware!) We don’t have a clue where we are going to get Hawaii from!!

Enjoy the photos!


Day 26! Page to Moab, Utah

Monument Valley

Taken at Goulding’s in Monument Valley

Taken at Goulding’s in Monument Valley

We had a lovely drive today from Page and are now residing in Moab, Utah.  During our drive we passed by Monument Valley again so took the opportunity to call into Gouldings (that was the first trading post and hotel in Monument Valley and where they filmed a lot of John Wayne’s cowboy films) to take more photos.

The landscape went from desert with red rock that turned to yellow rock and then to a green landscape then back to desert again.

Here are today’s photos.  I took the one of the first arch we saw and I think you will agree it is quite stunning.  Not bad for being taken through the car window while Si was driving at 60 miles per hour!! Stand aside Si, there’s a new photographer in the family!

Taken at Goulding’s in Monument Valley

Taken at Goulding’s in Monument Valley

Sandra’s photo of an arch near the La Sal mountains

San Juan River

Mexican Hat

Monument Valley

Goulding’s in Monument Valley

Bikes at Goulding’s in Monument Valley


Monument Valley

Page, Arizona

Day 25! Page, Arizona

We’ve had the most fantastic day today. The sites we have seen have just been fantastic and the pictures will speak for themselves!

The tour jeeps.

Cheryl – our tour guide

First of all we went on a guided tour of Antelope Canyon. It is the most-visited and most-photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest. The land is owned and the tours run by the Navajo.  Our guide Cheryl was fantastic.  Her knowledge was one-hundred percent and she instructed everyone in our group on how to take each photograph to get the best light and angles and she knew everything there was to know about all the different cameras in the group too.  Well done Cheryl.

Antelope Canyon was first discovered in 1934.  A young Navajo girl was out looking for her lost sheep and found them in the Canyon.  Those sheep were not stupid, they were sheltering from the sun and heat.

The Canyon was created and continues to change due to the monsoon rains and flash flooding they have in July, August and September. Rain floods down the river bed and the only place it has to go is into the Canyon and as it flows it spins against the walls and in so doing and as it is made of sandstone, erodes it very slowly into fantastic shapes. The floor of the Canyon is shifting sand and today in one particular part the floor was 20 feet higher than it was this time last year and that was due to the last monsoon being fairly mild.  When the monsoon rains are very harsh the floor height decreases dramatically.

One funny thing about today was that for the whole tour all the camera-bearers walked, well rather stumbled mostly, through the Canyon because their heads were always tipped backwards staring up at the roof taking pictures.

After visiting the Canyon and being the mad English people we are, we then went on a hike in the hot midday sun and shifting sands to visit Horseshoe Bend.  This is the name for a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located near Page. According to Google terrain maps, the overlook is 4,200 feet (1,300 m) above sea level and the Colorado River is at 3,200 feet (980 m) above sea level making it a 1,000 feet (300 m) drop. That drop is very scary! In fact when Si was taking his photos I grabbed hold of his belt just in case he went flying over the edge!

Si’s not scared of the height!

But I am!!

I always considered myself fit but this is a different story!

Phew, we made it back down!

The hike down is not too bad but coming back up is a different story!  If Sue and Nicky are reading this they will remember how I was at the end of the duathlon we did together.  Well, today was a million times worse!! I like to think I’m quite fit, but it was a bit of a struggle at the end but well worth it.

I’ve put some more Antelope Canyon pictures below.

Day 24! Santa Fe to Page, Arizona

Before I start on today’s blog I need to revisit Santa Fe with some words and pictures!

First of all, Ladies, you know men always know better than women (not!!) well due to my lovely husband’s wonderful navigation skills we passed this twice on our hike yesterday!! I told him we were going round in a circle but would he listen ……… of course not, he’s a man!!!

Also, here are a few pictures taken from the restaurant balcony at the Lodge. 

Just to prove that Si does eat something other than ribs!!

So today we had a fairly long drive to Page, Arizona but we made it even longer when we decided we should add a further 44 miles to our journey and stop off at Monument Valley the Navajo Tribal Park ( in Navajo it is Tse Bii Ndzigaii, meaning valley of the rocks )and often referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World.  We’ve been to Monument Valley before but as we were so close decided we shouldn’t just drive by.

We called this the flying chicken!

How many faces and fingers can you see?

Driving from Santa Fe to Page we had to find things to do as we have almost completed the license plate game, so have now began to find pictures in clouds and faces and shapes in rocks (that’s how desperate we’ve become!!). The drive again emphasised how much untapped land the US has.  We went from long, long straight roads that seemed to go on forever and to no-where to a Najavo Forest 7000 feet above sea level and then hit the fantastic red rocks that lead to Monument Valley. Here are some of the views along the way.

Many of you will know Monument Valley from many cowboy films that have been filmed there.  Most famous of course would be the John Wayne films. In 1958 it became a preserved environment by the Navajo Nation Council under the Division of Natural Resources.  It sits at 5,564 feet above sea level, extends into Arizona and Utah and covers about 91,696 acres.  The height of the monuments range form 100 feet to 1,500 feet tall and the dry desert climate receives all four seasons.  The Vally displays a first hand look at one of the most tremendous natural structures created by erosion. The sight of it is breathtaking.

Left and Right Mitten and yes, that’s a car in the bottom of the picture!

The two most famous monuments are right and left mitten.  Can you see why?

Day 23! Santa Fe

Today was kind of another rest day!

We did a hike this morning above the Lodge but after that we’ve been round the pool so there’s not a lot to report.  Here are some  pics from our hike.

The mountains above the Lodge.

Sandra on the trail to Tesuque Creek and Canyon.

Simon takes a water break on the hike.

These were the only ‘wild life’ we saw on the trail.

A dish this big and they still can’t get Sky TV!!

Reception at the Lodge.

Tomorrow we leave Santa Fe for Page, Arizona to visit Antelope Canyon so see you there!!

Day 22! Santa Fe

Before I forget …. again, just wanted to say that we do try to reply to all of your comments but you may not be aware of this. You wouldn’t automatically be advised unless you tick the relevant box.

Another thing I’ve been meaning to say and I may be teaching ‘grandma to suck eggs’ here, but if you click on the picture it will open larger in a new window. After viewing just click the ‘back’ button and you will return to the blog.

Today has been a rest day but we did make a trip into the town. We’ve been here twice before and so have visited most of the historical sites already but have included a few pictures for you to enjoy.

Santa Fe, 7000 feet above sea level, has a long history going back to 1610. In 1821 William Becknel came to Santa Fe and discovered rich business opportunities which had previously been exclusively Spanish. A torrent of Americans and Europeans followed and the Santa Fe Trail was born. It was a rowdy place known for saloons, gambling parlours and brothels!!

Now this is a bit of a long read but it’s well worth it.

One of the places of interest is the Loretto Chapel that houses the “Miraculous Staircase”. In 1873 the Chapel, fashioned after Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, was built to serve the Loretto Academy, operated by the Sisters of Loretto.

Believed to be the first Gothic structure west of the Mississippi, the Chapel had one design flaw; there was no way to get to the choir loft from the chapel! Many carpenters were called in for advice, but all came up with the same answer: because of the height of the loft, a conventional staircase would take up too much room in the chapel below.  It was a question of using a ladder or re-building the balcony.

In 1879, seeking divine guidance, the Sisters made a Novena (Novena, meaning nine, is an institutional act of religious pious devotion in the Roman Catholic Church, often consisting of private or public prayers repeated for nine successive days in belief of obtaining special intercessory graces) to their patron saint, Saint Joseph the Carpenter.

Legend has it, on the ninth and final day, a mysterious capenter arrived on his donkey asking if he might help the Sisters by building  a stairway.  He came with just a saw, carpenter’s square, a hammer and tubs in which to soak the wood.  For the next six months his “miraculous staircase” containing 33 steps in two full 360-degree turns was built using only the tools he had brought with him. The staircase has no center support, nor is it held from its sides and the entire weight is on the base and hangs with no visible support. It was put together only with wooden pegs – there’s not a nail in it.

When Mother Magdalen went to pay him for his work he had vanished.  She went to the local lumber yard to pay for the wood but they knew nothing about it.  To this day there is no record stating that the job was ever paid for and experts have been unable to identify the wood used and how a man using only primitive tools could carve something like the staircase has never been explained. How it is still standing over a hundred and thirty years later is a mystery in itself.

It was originally built with no banisters but the Sisters found it very difficult to climb the stairs so they were added later. 

It’s a wonderful sight to see and of course, the mystery just adds to its fascination.

A colourful shop entrance.

A man with his parrot!

Just to finish off, here are a couple of pictures taken in town today and a couple Si took last night of a beautiful sunset and me enjoying a beverage or two!!

Sandra enjoying a beverage…or two!

A beautiful sunset from our terrace.

Day 21! Fort Worth to Santa Fe

For those who like to post a comment, would you please ensure that you add your name in the ‘name’ box, otherwise we don’t know who you are and we do like to know, otherwise it just shows as from ‘Anonymous’. There’s no need to enter your email address.  But, if you are shy then it’s okay either way.  Many thanks.

So, I couldn’t let a day go by and not post so regardless of my droopy eyelids here’s today’s entry.

We left Fort Worth in brilliant sunshine and clear blue skies and that’s how it continued for most our nine-hour journey.  I have to say, I could never have imagined that hundreds of miles could look exactly the same! At first there were large areas of wheat fields that then changed to ……. well mostly nothing!!

When we stopped at a rest area the temperature had reached 99 degrees fahrenheit (37 degrees celsius) and we saw this sign which scared us a little but we didn’t see any so that was a relief!!

We saw two other interesting things today, one was the length of the trains, they went on and on for miles. One of them was carrying cars and small trucks and the other interesting thing was this guy in his van!

We are now settled in Santa Fe at a Ranch Resort and Spa.  The first known Spanish settler on this land was in October 1743. In the 1860’s the land came into the possession of Archbishop Lamy, the first Archbishop of Santa Fe and he built a small lodge and chapel here and over the intervening years it became the resort that stands here today.

Apparently, we may see bears, mountain lions, coyotes, elk, deer, raccoons, skunks and squirrels … so fingers crossed.

PS: One thing we’ve been meaning to tell you about are calf fries!! Now to our US friends you may know this already but it will probably be a ‘first’ for our UK family and friends. Calf fries are fried calves testicles!! (Prairie Oysters/Rocky Mountain Oysters are fried bulls’ testicles). We ordered them thinking they were just ‘fries’ but the waiter then explained what they were.  Needles to say, Si ate all his and I, for the sake of adventure, tried just one.  That was enough for me!!

Day 20! Fort Worth

We’ve spent a very serene day  visiting Fort Worth’s Botanic Garden.  It’s the oldest botanic garden in the state of Texas and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It was created during the Great Depression which began in 1929 and fulfilled the dream of an “outdoor library of plants.”

This statue is called “Spirit of Woman” and depicts the frontier woman at dusk waving her family home after a long hard day in the field when all the work was done and represents a collection of individuals who heartily embraced the ethic of equal work on the trails, plains and ranches.

We started our visit in the tropical rain forest before moving to the main gardens. We saw squirrels, geckos, lovely birds and a large magnificent butterfly.  The flowers were beautiful.

The Japanese Garden was originally the site of an old gravel pit and covers 7.5 acres. It has three gates symbolic of heaven, man and earth.

The ponds in the Japanese Garden are full of Koi (imperial carp), the size of which I’ve never seen before.  Some of the fish are 80 years old. We also came across a Heron (known as the Gobbler) who apparently helps keep the fish population down by eating the baby fish!! 

One funny thing we saw as we entered the gardens was the parking sign! How kind of them to make a parking space especially for us Brits!!

We then took time to visit the Stockyards Museum that has displays of cowboy, cattlemen and Native American memorabilia dating back to the early days of the Stockyards. It has an electric light bulb first turned on in 1908 at the Byers Opera House in Forth worth and  is still burning today!  It’s in the Guinness Book of Records of course.

So tomorrow it’s ‘farewell’ Fort Worth and ‘hello’ Sante Fe. The drive will take us about nine hours so don’t be surprised if there’s a blank page for Day 21!!

Day 19! Fort Worth

Note: From today the blog’s date and time will represent where we are in the US when we post rather than UK time.

So we went to the rodeo last night and it was great.  Those guys really take their lives in their hands with the bulls.  There was bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, ranch saddle bronc, break-away-roping, tie-down roping, team roping and barrel racing.  Mostly it was men riding but ladies did the barrel racing.  There was also some lasso tricks.  They also did something for the younger members of the audience.  The children went into the arena and they let a calf loose and then a sheep with a ribbon on their necks and the child who got the ribbons won a prize.  Some of the children were as young as 4-5 and they had great fun. The animals running around didn’t bother them at all.

This cowboy was very clever with his lasso. He was one of the guys who helped catch the bulls and horses after their riders had fallen off.  He’s also part of the Wild West Show.

Here’s a short video of some of the roping action. 

Today, we started off going to watch the cowboys herding the Texas Longhorns down the street.

This cowboy was one of guys herding the bulls down the main street.

Then we were invited to a gun fight! 





We thought this was John Wayne!! 

After ‘doing’ the museums we took a stroll down the street and saw there were quite a lot of bikers in town today with their magnificent machines.

And last, but not least, are some pics to finish with today.  One of Si eating yet more ribs, beef this time and us at the end of a tiring day sitting outside our hotel.

Day 18! From Hot Springs to Fort Worth, Texas

We left Hot Springs this morning just as a bad storm hit, lots of rain and thunder but after a few miles the sun was shining and that lasted for most of our five-hour drive.  It only started raining again when we were about 10 miles from Fort Worth and when we arrived here the sun was shining and it was lovely and hot with no sign of the predicted storms …. well, not yet anyway!

You may ask what we do to while away the hours on a long drive.  Well, today we completed some more of the license plate game, saw another three license plates so only have five more left to get.  Also, we have Sirius XM satellite radio in the car and on there is a channel called E. Street Radio dedicated solely to our favourite boy, Bruce Springsteen.  So, we spent most of the trip singing along to our favourite Brucie tunes.

Texas here we come!

Travelling in the US is very easy, most of the highways being so straight and long and as we pass from one State to another there’s always a Visitor’s Centre full of maps and leaflets and people to tell you all about the best places to visit.

Today, apart from visiting Dot and John’s, was the first time on our trip that we actually travelled on a road that we had driven before.  A couple of years ago we visited Dallas and passed by there today on our way to Fort Worth.

We are at Fort Worth primarily to visit the Historic Stockyards and our hotel is bang, slap in the middle of them. People told us we would know we were here because of the smell (the cattle) but so far, no smell! The Stockyards were once the biggest and busiest cattle, horse, mule, hog and sheep marketing centre in the south-west, where more than 160 million head of livestock were sold and have operated under various owners since 1866.  Today the 125 acre Stockyards National Historic District is home to restaurants, hotels, saloons, galleries, great shopping (if the brochure’s to be believed) and family-style entertainment. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District in 1976.

There’s lots to see here and one of the attractions is that twice daily a herd of Texas longhorn cattle are herded down the main street.  It’s a sight to see. The cowboys driving the herd are all dressed in 19th Century clothes. (Pictures tomorrow).

Home of the rodeo.

Tonight we go to the rodeo.  What I didn’t realise was the rodeo is indoors so there will be no problem if it should rain.

Day 17! Hot Springs

Well, we survived the bad storm last night but were told today that four tornadoes touched down in an eight-mile radius of where we’re staying and saw pictures of two of them. Scary! But today it’s been sunny and hot.

So, we went and ‘took the baths’ this morning at Buckstaff Bathhouse.  It sure was an experience, we enjoyed it very much. Buckstaff first opened in 1912 and has been in continuous use since then and looks much the same inside today as it did back then and it is now the only bathhouse providing the traditional bathing experience in Hot Springs National Park.

Men and ladies bath separately of course and the first thing we had was a whirlpool bath in an old fashioned tub (I don’t think they were the originals!) but the contraption that turns it from an ordinary bath into a whirlpool looked as though it had been there since about the 1920’s.  It literally stood in the water and agitated it.  The water temperature for bathing is 100 degrees fahrenheit or 37 degrees celsius.  After being in the bath for about 20 minutes, you sit in a sitz bath, that’s good for lower back problems, then it’s into a vapor cabinet for five minutes, after that it’s time to relax in very hot towels wrapped all around the body for 20 minutes, then it’s in the shower to wash off.  I think the showers must have been from 1912 by the look of them and then it was a massage.  We were given hot spring water to drink at each treatment and then iced water to finish.

After being scrubbed and polished and fortifying the inner man (having lunch that is), we went up the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. The tower is 1,256 feet above sea level, overlooking 140 miles of beautiful Arkansas countryside including Hot Springs National Park and the Ouachita Mountains.  Construction began in 1982, and the structure was officially opened to the public on June 3, 1983. The view was magnificent and Si went out onto the open observation deck to take pictures while I cowered on the floor below in the glassed-in area.  I’m not a person for open heights of any kind!! The tower did sway slightly in the wind but it wasn’t scary.









The people of Hot Springs are very lucky because they never have to buy bottled water.  All they do is take their containers, as many as they like, down to one of the cold water dispensers and they can have as much free spring water as they like.

Tomorrow we move from Hot Springs to Fort Worth, Dallas.  The only problem is that there is a severe weather warning for that area now too!! It’s a five-hour drive so fingers crossed we can outrun the bad weather. Brollies at the ready!!