Thursday 27 September 2012

Wonders Of The Golden West Part 3....

After a good night's sleep it was time to board the coach again heading north through the Arizona Desert where we stopped to look at the cacti at

a piece of Apache land that is up for sale at $20,000 an acre apparently.

We didn't realise just how big the cacti are until we stood next to them.

After a short break we were on the road again travelling through the Verde Valley  and the General Crook Trail and into red rock canyon country.

We saw the famous Bell Rock in Oak Creek Canyon

 before stopping in Sedona for lunch and a little shopping. 

Sedona's main attraction is its stunning array of red sandstone  formations, the Red Rocks of Sedona. The formations appear to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun.   Sedona was named after Sedona Arabelle Miller Schnebly (1877–1950), the wife of Theodore Carlton Schnebly, the city's first postmaster.

We left Sedona 

heading up to Oak Creek Vista 

with it's spectacular views of the Coconino National Forest.   After a short photo stop we set off again to Flagstaff and The Grand Canyon and this was our first awe inspiring view of the wondrous place.  I cannot explain the feeling of awe I experienced when I looked out on this view, it brought tears to my eyes and a feeling of peace and wonder.  

We took lots of photos and I have to say none of them do it justice but I will post what I consider to be the best, I hope they give you some idea of the wonder of one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

After this quick photo opportunity we were taken to our lodge, in the Canyon National Park, to quickly freshen up before being taken to Mather Point on the South Rim, which is the widest point of the Canyon at approx. 18miles and another photo opportunity.

It was time to leave Mather Point and head back to the lodge to eat and then to bed ready for another early start the following morning and the journey to Las Vegas.

I hope you'll join me there in Wonders Of The Golden West Part 4.

Monday 24 September 2012

Wonders Of The Golden West Part 2....

After an exciting two days in Los Angeles it was time to travel east across the desert towards Phoenix and our next stop, located in the heart of the Valley of the Sun, Scottsdale.

The Sonoran Desert

We stopped at Hadley Fruit Orchards, Cabazon,  for a comfort break, which also allowed us to buy some fresh fruit and a few supplies to nibble on the rest of the journey. Hadley Fruit Orchards was founded by Paul and Peggy Hadley in 1931 in Banning, California. Their neighbors were the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. According to members of the Morongo tribe, Paul Hadley often provided tribal members with fruit and dates, fostering a rapport with Hadley Fruit Orchards that remains to this day.  You can read more about Hadley Fruit Orchards here.

Finally we reached Scottsdale,  which boasts sunshine more than 300 days of sunshine a year.

Scottsdale was just an overnight stop but we made the most of it opting to join the optional excursion to Rustler's Rooste, a western style steakhouse located 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix and 20 minutes from Scottsdale, for a cowboy style dinner and entertainment.

The legend goes that the original site, atop a butte in the foothills of South Mountain, was a hideout for cattle rustlers.   The first sight to greet us was Old Horny

and the views

We were given a choice on entering the restaurant to either use the door into the dining room or enter via the slide

we chose the door, though some of the younger members of our party did use the slide.   There was a band playing some great Country & Western music

and after a fantastic feast of salad, corn, steak, vegetables, beans, bread and a whole lot more, all washed down with either (or all) beer, red and white wine and jugs of Tequilla,  which was included in the price, we even managed to do a little line dancing.

We had a fantastic night, but by 10 p.m. we were 'plumb tuckered out' (to coin Allen's phrase) and ready to head back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.  Just time for a quick photo before we left.

 Join me next time for Wonders Of The Golden West Part 3.

Succinctly Yours - A Microfiction Meme #63

Grandma at Grandma's Goulash provides a picture and a word prompt for this Microfiction Meme and the rules are use the photo as inspiration for a story of 140 characters OR 140 words.

Want more challenge? Use the word of the week in your story. This part is optional.

This week's word is DELUGE here's the picture and my offering, using the picture and word of the week  in 140 characters, including spaces and punctuation.

The pelicans were patiently waiting for fish to drop from the sky in the expected deluge
thus saving them the hard work of catching them. 

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Wonders of The Golden West Part 1..........

Hold on to your seats whilst I take you on our Tour of the Golden West. (Click on photos to biggify)

We flew out to Los Angeles on 29th August for a 16 day tour taking in Scottsdale, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Fresno, Sonora, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Lompoc and lots of places inbetween.

From the airport we were transferred to our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, formerley known as the Hollywood Heights hotel.    Our first evening we spent exploring the Highland Shopping Centre on Hollywood Boulevard, which was a short walk from out hotel.

We found a real ale bar where we had a meal, and of course some real ale, before retiring for the night, we were quite exhausted after our 11 hour flight and had to be up quite early the following day for our tour of LA.

The following morning we met our Tour Director, Allen and bus driver, Bob,

and boarded our coach to start our tour of LA.

Our first stop was the Farmer's Market

where we had breakfast of bacon and egg

and MWM couldn't resist a doughnut to follow, with a cup of coffee.

After a walk around the market we boarded the coach again for our first stop on the tour La Brea Tar Pits the worlds most famous Ice Age fossil excavation site and its bubbling asphalt lakes, right in the heart of LA!  

After excavation the Ice Age remains are taken inside the Page Museum

where the best fossils are on display.

Next on the tour was


with it's posh shops

its iconic sculpture

The "Torso" by Robert Graham, which was built in 2003, and made out of aluminum. It was being cleaned when we passed.

We also passed Los Angeles Police Department and County Jail

where Hugh Grant was taken after his arrest for his 'indecent conduct' with Divine Brown on

the famous 'Strip', where we drove past

"The Viper Room", which used to be owned by Johnny Depp and was where River Phoenix met his end.  We drove past this amazing building

 The Disney Auditorium

 The Los Angeles Times building

before stopping at Olvera Street, the oldest part of downtown Los Angeles, where we saw the old Plaza Church (Mission)

the market

and Avila Adobe, the oldest standing residence in LA.

a fascinating insight into life in the 1800's in Los Angeles.

Back on the road again we saw the Capitol Records Building

which was saved from demolition by public outcry.   Our last stop on the tour was Madame Tussauds, where we got to take photos of us posing with some of our favourite stars.

MWM managed to get a shot of me with the HOLLYWOOD sign in the background.

Did you know that HOLLYWOOD was originally called HOLLYWOODLAND and was first erected in 1923. Its purpose was to advertise the name of a new housing development in the hills above the Hollywood district of Los Angeles.  In 1949 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce began a contract with the City of Los Angeles Parks Department to repair and rebuild the sign. The contract stipulated that "LAND" be removed to spell "Hollywood" and reflect the district, not the "Hollywoodland" housing development.The Parks Department dictated that all subsequent illumination would be at the cost of the Chamber, so the Chamber opted not to replace the light bulbs. The 1949 effort gave it new life, but the sign's unprotected wood and sheet metal structure continued to deteriorate. In 1978, in large part because of the public campaign to restore the landmark by shock rocker Alice Cooper (who donated the missing O), the Chamber set out to replace the severely deteriorated sign with a more permanent structure. Nine donors gave US$27,700 each (totaling US$249,300) to sponsor replacement letters made of steel, guaranteed to last for many years.

We had opted for another behind the scenes walking tour after the coach tour and met our guide at  Grauman's Egyptian Theatre.  We went inside the theatre but unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photographs. The Egyptian Theatre was the venue for the first-ever Hollywood premiere, Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks, on Wednesday, October 18, 1922.  In 1927, Grauman opened a second movie theater further west on Hollywood Boulevard. In keeping with the public fascination in that era with international themes, he named his new theater the Chinese Theatre. Its popularity eventually rivaled and surpassed the Egyptian because of its numerous celebrity handprints, footprints and signatures in the cement of its forecourt.  

We also visited the Chinese Theatre and took some photos of the footprints and handprints.

We also saw the Dolby Theatre,where the Oscars are held

and photographed the famous staircase but there was no red carpet for us that day.

This is the ceilinginside of the El Capitan Theatre.

In this photo of Hollywood Boulevard you can see the El Capitan Theatre on the left hand side (click on photo to biggify).  The sign was changed to Muppet Theatre for the film 'The Muppet Movie'.

In the left in the far background is the Roosevelt Hotel, where Marilyn Monroe was discovered, she was a resident at the hotel for two years when her modeling career took off. Her first magazine shoot was taken on the diving board on the pool behind the hotel. The hotel is said to be haunted by various Hollywood stars, including Marilyn.

See the hotel behind the palm tree in the next picture?

Do you recognise the fire escape on the front of the building?   That's the fire escape Richard Gere climbed to get to Julia Roberts at the end of the movie 'PrettyWoman'!

Well that was the end of our tour of LA/Hollywood so all that was left to do was to go get showered and changed and go eat dinner, after which we retired to bed (early) in preparation for our onward journey the following day.

I hope you enjoyed our first days in LA and hope you'll join me for Wonders of The Golden West Part 2.