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Published: February 21st 2008
On the way to the Grand Canyon, had to stop off in New Mexico (to prevent a really long bus ride from being a ridiculously long one). Still took 18 hours to go from San Antonio to Albuquerque via El Paso. We were boarded by US customs not far from the border after El Paso, checking the work permits for the Mexicans on board (i.e. everyone but me), they seemed bemused by my passport and visas.
Albuquerque is a strange town. Built right on Route 66, there´s three parts to it - downtown with almost nothing of interest, Old Town a fairly cool historical part with museums, lots of old buildings and some good souvenier shopping and Nob Hill which is supposedly the cool trendy part full of bars and restaurants (this being the US that amounted to probably 2 bars). Still, spent a couple of good days there, though was staying in another strange hostel (American hostels seem to attract fewer backpackers than rather strange people living there semi-permanently).
Left Albuquerque for a short(ish) trip to Flagstaff, Arizona. Now I was picturing Arizona as a desert state which would be hot and sunny - unfortunately didn´t account for
the elevation of Flagstaff so arrived to a town covered in snow. Flagstaff is a really cool little town though, was staying in a nice hostel close to downtown, which consists of only a few blocks of shops, restaurants and microbrewery bars. Like Albuquerque, Route 66 goes right through the centre of town, along with a railway line that every half hour has a Union Pacific train with hundreds of carriages speeding through.
Watched the Superbowl on Sunday in an "Irish" bar and barely made it back afterwards through a blizzard. On Tuesday, took a trip to the Grand Canyon. Picked the perfect day - the higher parts of the canyon were still dusted in snow but it was a perfectly sunny, though cold, day. The Canyon was predictably spectacular, though didn´t really spend enough time there, will have to stop overnight next time. Pictures of course won´t do it justice but here´s a couple anyway.
Left Flagstaff and continued west to California. My destination was San Diego, but as the bus went through Los Angeles anyway (and it is the final destination of route 66), I reluctantly decided to stop for a day in Hollywood (just to
say I saw it). Utterly ridiculous place (why on earth would anyone want to go on a tour of "stars" homes??) but got a picture of the Hollywood sign, caught a movie at the Chinese theatre and left the next day for a short ride down the coast to San Diego.
Stayed with Lian Ni and Paul in San Diego, great to see them again. They live in Ocean Beach, a "liberal enclave" of San Diego apparently right on the beach north of downtown. Very cool place, pure California. Went whale watching in the bay on Saturday, didn´t see too much whale action (a few briefly in the distance) but did see plenty of dolphin pods and a lot of military action - fighter jets were constantly taking off from the San Diego military base, flying over our boat and (we found out later) intercepting some Russian bomber planes who had approached a US carrier (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7240197.stm). On Sunday, went on a walk through Torrey Pines Reserve near La Jolla and dropped by to see the Pfizer site (been missing it so much!!).
Next stop - go south of the border, down Mexico way.......
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