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June 13th 2012
Published: June 13th 2012
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Carla: Since the last blog we’ve packed quite a bit in! Feeling a little weary now but the RV (motorhome / campervan thingy) takes the strain rather well. We started in Anaheim, CA on Sunday 3rd June (our second Sunday 3rd June after crossing the dateline) and spent 3 days there relaxing, being annoyed by the unsustainability of some Americans’ lifestyles and marvelling at the horrendous food and such gargantuan portions. We visited Disneyland on Tuesday and on Wednesday we guiltily scurried to the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana for something a bit more educational. On Thursday we drove through the Mohave Desert towards Arizona and Friday, Saturday and Sunday were spent at the Grand Canyon. (Aching calves aside it was one of my trip highlights so far). Being in a National Park at the Canyon was great because they are run completely oppositely to most US places in that they try to be low impact and you can get biodegradable washing up liquid (which we searched in vain for at a normal supermarket!) etc etc. On Monday we drove to Lake Mead and stopped (as Al recounts below) at Seligman, Arizona on Route 66 for the important England v France Euro 2012 match. Seligman is a perfect little wooden ‘wild west’ town, revived for tourists but still quite charming. No MacDonalds here. We spent Monday night beside Lake Mead (the one created by the Hoover Dam). The temperature by the lake (right near Boulder City and Las Vegas) was ‘egg-fryingly’ hot and remained so until late in the evening.How people can live guilt-free in these places I don’t understand, think of the energy and water used? We saw golf courses and football pitches in Las Vegas as well – how can they justify that water useage? Also, we wondered why there weren’t any solar farms that we could spot. Such an obvious place to have them – perhaps there’s a reason why. But I guess I mustn’t rant as we are joining in the whole fun and games by driving an 8 miles-to-the-gallon road hog all over the place. Read on to find out all the quirky details of the week (and menus of the week) from George, Ruby and Alex.

George: We get to Disneyland just as it opens and there is hardly anyone there. Dad and I go on Splash Mountain. Ruby won’t come because she’s too scared. There is a huge drop at the end. Afterwards we go on the Pirates of the Caribbean. In the Pirates of the Caribbean shop me and Ruby buy a sword each. (And the man in the RV rental place recognised them as Disneyland swords when he saw them! Ed.) Next we go on Big Thunder Mountain. It’s a super fast thrill ride that almost goes completely on its side. In the afternoon we go on a ride called Star Tours where you go all around the universe without going anywhere, it’s so cool. We go to the Death Star. We go on lots of other rides as well. In the evening there is a parade with loads of Disney characters including: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Simba, Mary Poppins, Goofy, Aladdin, Peter Pan and others too. At the Grand Canyon we stay in our RV. We pick the RV up on Thursday from El Monte RVs. The Grand Canyon is MASSIVE! It would take about 3 weeks to walk all around the Canyon (Don’t quote us on this, we made this fact up. Ed). We see people looking right over the edge of the Canyon, they have gone past the fence! In the evening we have a barbecue with sausages, burgers, salad, corn-on-the-cob and mushrooms.

Ruby: When we went to Disneyland we went on an Alice in Wonderland ride and the Thunder Mountain, it was awesome. I met Rapunzel and Flynn, it was a long wait. I talked about the movie (Tangled) with them. For lunch we went to MacDonalds. I had a kids’ meal, then we went back to our hotel, had a swim and went back to Disneyland. We did Jedi training, we saw the parade and we saw fireworks – they were amazing. I felt happy and amazed. Later in the week we went to the Grand Canyon in our RV. It was huge and amazing. We walked around only a bit because if you walked all the way round it would take a long time. We saw people down below, they looked like ants because they were so far down. We got back to the campsite, had a play and then in the evening we had a barbecue . It was yummy. The next day we went on a walk down the Canyon. We got even hotter. It was scary because you felt like you were going to fall off. The rocks at the top were a billion years younger than the ones at the bottom.

Alex: We arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon, a good time according to our fellow shuttle bus passenger, as the traffic was great – although it still seemed pretty bad to me. Our hotel, the ‘Park Vue Inn’ was directly across the road from Disneyland – we could see the Matterhorn and Space Mountain rides from our room (neither of which did we get to go on, as the Matterhorn was closed for seasonal improvements and Space Mountain was deemed ‘too scary’ by all). We spent a day recovering from jetlag by lazing around in the pool, which was right in the middle of the hotel car park. The next day we were ready to face Disneyland. Thanks to a top tip from Mike Bailey, we were up early, and at the entance gate by 7:40am. We met Mickey Mouse but were told by his minder that he was not available for photos as he had to moved on to Toon Town and we could find him there later. (We were also denied photo opportunities by Pinochio and Goofy for similar reasons!) We did however get to go on Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain without having to wait at all, before the park got more crowded later on. Disneyland was fantastic, a great mix of thrill rides, fantasy, cheesy kitsch and technology. The new Star Tours ride was amazing, a 3D cinema combined with a flight similator that has the effect of making you feel like you are flying at ‘light speed’ on the Millenium Falcon. We had a full day, after all the rides we went to see the parade, an extremely camp affair led by Mickey and Minnie Mouse with the Sweeps from Mary Poppins bringing up the rear. We left the park after the fireworks over the Disney Castle, with Tinkerbell and Dumbo flying amongst all the explosions. We were all exhausted, and both George and especially Ruby thought it was the ‘Best Day Ever’. On Thursday the RV trip began. The trip will be about 9,000 miles and take about 11 weeks. We stopped overnight in Yermo, near the ghost town of Calico, in California. The next day we were on our way to the Grand Canyon. We had 3 nights in the National Park campground. We arrived late in the afternoon and by the time we had set up it was too late to go to the Canyon, so we decided to wait until the morning. Next day we went to the Visitors’ Centre to look up what we could achieve in terms of walking with children, and decided to start with an ‘easy’ walk along the rim on the first day, and a moderate walk down into the Canyon the next. The Canyon was awesome, in the literal sense. Walking alongside and down into it, the Canyon is so big it’s incredibly difficult to describe and photographs don’t really do it justice (at least mine don’t). Although the rocks are over a billion years old at the base, the Colorado river only started carving out the canyon a mere 6 million years ago. George and Ruby seemed amazed by the fact that the river (which you could only just see down at the bottom) had managed to wash away quite so much rock down to the sea. The colours of the various layers made it easy to see where one type of rock had been overlaid by another, and the changes in composition and slope direction. Down in the canyon George was initially very nervous about the sheer drops from the side of the pathways, but grew more confident as we went on. We got a couple of miles down the path, before looking at the height we had come down and deciding that we had better go back up. The temperature gets hotter the further you go down, at the rim it was 27 degrees but down in the canyon it was 35 degrees. It took us quite a bit longer to get back to the top.

The next morning my main objective was to find somewhere that was showing the England v France match. We set off early and got to the Black Cat Bar in Seligman. We were a little put off by the fact that they needed a ‘No Firearms’ sign on the door, but the barman was friendly and turned up the commentary for me despite us only spending $4 on 4 cokes. The fact that it was 10am on a Monday morning didn’t put off any of the other customers from having a few beers. One woman finished her third beer by 11:30am and then left the bar saying she couldn’t stop any longer as she had a busy day ahead of her! After the match we got back on the road to the Hoover Dam. We crossed over the newly completed bridge before driving over the dam itself. I had visited the dam 20 years ago with Isobel (my sister) before the bridge had been built, and driven over it then. It felt slightly disturbing again, the weight of all that water pushing against the dam as we drove over it. George and Ruby were interested in why there was a security check before we were allowed on, and I had to explain what would happen if the dam was attacked by terrorists and collapsed. A few miles on was Lake Mead, and we stopped over night by the shore. We went for a swim in the lake, which was beautifully warm, surrounded by mountains, and only the powerboats charging around threatened to ruin a lovely spot.

Additional photos below
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13th June 2012

...the land of my yoof (well for a few years in the 70s anyway) - time to go back! Yes, the national parks are a complete (and wonderful) contrast to much of life in the US. It's a land of excesses in so many senses.
13th June 2012

Special day!
A very Happy Birthday to Ruby for today. We hope she has a fantastic day. Well, she's already been to Disneyland so can it get better than that?! The Grand Canyon sounded perfect and your photos of Fuji were striking. I notice the hat Alex is wearing (with iguanas on occasion) is very similar to one we had in Venezuela (with woven insect... perhaps a cricket?). xxx
13th June 2012

Always wanted... travel on Route 66 and also route 1. Ian Hickey
14th June 2012

Dear Carla Loved reading about your experiences in CA & AZ... it will be interesting to see what you think about Las Vegas if you are heading that way - makes Disneyland feel factual & grounded! The Grand Canyon is one of my favourite places in the US, so beautiful and unspoiled by too much commercialism (was anyway when I visited 16 years ago). My Mum and I did the drive up from Phoenix stopping off in Sedona for a couple of days (such a peaceful & spiritual little town - again was 16 yrs ago anyway!). We stayed right on the edge of the canyon in one of the old miners cabins & it was so peaceful looking out over the canyon at night with hardly anyone around (only lit by the Haley Bob - think this was what is was called - Comet that was in orbit at that time). I think, in general the National Park Service do a good job of keeping the parks real & unspolit by too much comercialism but this is the mecca of the stuff so I guess they can't keep out everything else the civilions wouldn't visit! Needless to say I hated Vegas though had a very good time with the group of friends I went with from work for a wedding (that was a fiasco!) so very much had the full "Vegas Experience" staying in the Bellagio, limo rides, one friend lost all her money on the slot machines etc.. 2 days there was my absolute limit... Am getting excited about Me and NS - just starting to do some research about what to see/do etc. Loved George's cartoon strip!! F x
14th June 2012

As ever, fab to catch up with your travels and whatever we may think, there is NOTHING quite like that sheer delight that all children experience from visiting Disney Land - wonderful!
15th June 2012

Happy (belated) birthday Ruby....!
Sounds like you're having a wonderful adventure, and spending time at Disneyland must have been magical. Benji's birthday was on the same day as yours and he would love to have seen Rapunzel, Flynn and all the Disney princesses. He did get what he wanted though, which was a pack of 10 Disney princess dolls! Thank you for sharing your travels and photos - they make us want to fly out and join you! You all write very beautifully and we look forward to hearing and seeing more soon. Keep having a fantastic time...for all of us! Love from all of us...xx
17th June 2012

Dizzy with Disney
You guys seem to be having not only a great time but an 'awsome' one! Disneyland sounds great especially the rides etc. Are they real people being photographed with Ruby? We envy your visit to the grand Canyon it does sound truly AWSOME!! Lots of love Nanny and Grandpappy
24th June 2012

A Grand Canyon
Hi all, I loved the Grand Canyon photos, and seeing George and Ruby's faces in Disneyland. Not surprised if it's all starting to catch up with you - you've gone more than half way round the world. I think the US can be tricky - it lulls you into a false sense of familiarity with the language but it's just as foreign as somewhere in Asia. Hopefully you'll have some relaxing time on the road as you head north, are you going through Oregon and the Redwood forests? All th

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