Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day 72 - 17th July 2012

We are now home. The journey from Hololulu by Hawaiian Airlines was fantastic. The 10 hour flight was full of watching movies on the entertainment system. We cannot speak highly enough of the Hawaiian Airlines cabin crew and the airlines per se. The two attendants that served us throughout the flight were professional and best we have experienced. The aircraft left about 30 minutes late but arrived on time in Sydney. It was uncharacteristic of Sydney International Airport to be empty. We zipped through Immigration and Customs within ten minutes. Our four bags were at the carousel when we arrived and then we walked into the winter cold Sydney night. We were home by 9:30pm. The above photograph is our last view of Hawaii. The view is Waikiki and was only three hours prior that we were on that beach. That's it for our holiday and this blogsite is now officially closed for posts. Until our next holiday. Mahalo (thank you in Hawaiian).

Monday, July 16, 2012

Day 71 - 16th July 2012

Photograph 1 - Our last morning in Waikiki - a beautiful blue picture from an awesome place.

Photograph 2 - A rare photo of Duke's Bar, Waikiki - why? It's empty! Taken in the wee breakfast hours. This is our favorite haunt for those great lava flow cocktails, great nachos and a great barman name Justin. He gave us complimentary drinks on arrival and a great conversationalist.

Photograph 3 - Surprise surprise! We booked a taxi from our hotel to take us to the airport. A "stretcho" was available for the same cost...so... we went in luxury. Taken outside our hotel in Waikiki.

Photograph 4 - As in photograph 3 but inside.

Our flight is due to leave at 1245 and we left, very sadly remind you, at 0945 in a stretched limo. What a surprise! One of these beastie's was available and the baggage people arranged it for us. We did go for a walk along Waikiki to soak up our last memory of this wonderful place before we checked-out. We are writing this narrative in the Hawaiian Airlines Premier Lounge and taken advantage of their free internet. We have one more hour to board and 12 hours later we should be back in Sydney - hopefully to a warm winter's night. Cheers.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day 70 - 15th July 2012

Photograph 1 - Looking at Diamond Head from the Waikiki Aquarium, Hawaii.

Photograph 2 - Diamond Head Lighthouse, Hawaii. This lighthouse is located within private houses surrounding Diamond Head.

Photograph 3 - Entering the tunnel to go inside Diamond Head Crater, Hawaii.

Photograph 4 - Inside Diamond Head Crater looking towards the highest point of the rim. The volcano is inactive - last time it erupted was 175,000 years ago.

Photograph 5 - Looking toward the most easterly point of O'ahu. Taken from the rim of Diamond Head Crater.

Photograph 6 - Our "green line" trolley bus with the Diamond Head Crater rim in the background, Hawaii.

Well this is it. Effectively, this is the last post for our holiday while in the USA. Tomorrow about 12:30pm Honolulu time we board our aircraft for the ten hour journey back to Sydney. Given the 20 hour time difference between Sydney and Hawaii we had 72 days of great experience and now that we ventured into the US we have seen now how they have given us their best hospitality we could ask for. There have been minimal changes to our itinerary and for those annoying changes we did face it worked out either better or compromised agreeably. We didn't suffer any serious or even minor health problems. The only problem we faced are sore legs from walking long distances and dry skin we experienced when in desert territory. As an example Las Vegas has zero humidity that took all moisture away - especially the soles of our feet. If asked what was our highlights of our holiday the three most memorable sights we seen were: bears in the wild, Yellowstone National Park and the state of Colorado. However, these sights are just three among many things we experienced during our trip. To readers who did read our entire blogger they will know what parts of the US we had enjoyed. So.......where to now with this internet site? On our return we will enter some photographs for days 71 and 72 which will not be many snaps. However, this will be a good reference of our trip not only us but others who want to know what we did. We would like to thank all those people who read our story and have actually sent emails to us - we really appreciate this. For those who have read, even partially read, our posts it is appreciated if you could reveal yourselves when we come home. Thank you from Neil and Anne.

Day 69 - 14th July 2012

Photograph 1 - Anne tying up loose ends regarding pearls. At the International Market - directly across the road from our hotel, Waikiki, Hawaii.

Photograph 2 - A colony of mongoose  (or is it mongeese) at Paradise Cove, Hawaii.

Photograph 3 - Paradise Cove - on the west side of O'ahu, Hawaii.

Photograph 4 - Canoe riggers at Paradise Cove, Hawaii.

Photograph 5 - Anne trying out the spear throwing - totally missed the target altogether. At Paradise Cove, Hawaii.

Photograph 6 - Neil having a go! Almost a bulls-eye. At Paradise Cove, Hawaii.

Photograph 7 - Coconut climber showing how to collect coconuts. At Paradise Cove, Hawaii.

Photograph 8 - A stray and adventurous mongoose at the base of the stage (while a show was going on). At Paradise Cove, Hawaii.

Photograph 9 - Hula dancers while the king (in red) looking on. The start of the main show at Paradise Cove, Hawaii.

Photograph 10 - A lovely Hawaiian girl showing the crowd a sample of lu'au food at Paradise Cove, Hawaii.

Photograph 11 - Doing the haka - New Zealanders performing at Paradise Cove, Hawaii.

Photograph 12 - Dancing to the Hawaiian Wedding Song. This picture shows how the fine the hand movements are during this dance. Paradise Cove, Hawaii.

Photograph 13 - Finishing the show at Paradise Cove, Hawaii. Hula dancers in full costumes.

Photograph 14 - Our crazy bus escort enticing all passengers to live-it-up as we are approaching Waikiki. Hawaii.

What a great day in Honolulu. The islands are in the middle of the summer and the temperature is perfect. Cool sea breezes are all through the day and nothing could be better. No wonder Hawaii is a popular destination place. We headed to Ala Moana which is a big shopping complex about six miles or so from Waikiki. Macy's were having a big sale on clothes and Anne couldn't resist. Designer label clothes reduced from $100 to $17 we could not go wrong - hah. After the shopping spree the question arises - how do we fit these into our already oversized bags? Returning to our hotel it wasn't long before we boarded our Paradise Cove bus to the lu'au venue. Our bus escort - a young ADHD Hawaiian was a barrel of laughs. He entertained us all the way to the venue and on the way back. He kept calling us "cousins" which is the Hawaiian way of addressing each other here. He had all of us screaming and going along with disco music that would look like a party was going on inside the bus from anybody outside. In fact he'd refer to other buses as having "ugly" people. The la'ua at Paradise Cove was okay. They gave us four complimentary cocktails each and showed us samples of Hawaiian life such as, coconut gathering, canoe rigging, fishing, cooking pig lu'au style, spear-tossing, tattooing, hair braiding etc etc. The show was great and the food - well   poi (made from taro root) is crap. - We reckon if you tasted clag it would taste the same. If anybody who is visiting Hawaii for the first time a lu'au is a must.

Today is Day 69 and tomorrow is our last full day in Hawaii and the USA before we fly back to Oz. We really don't want to go back (only to say hi to all our friends, pat our doggies and await for our first grandchild to come along) . We could do another 10 weeks or so around the US - if only time and money allow us! We'll have one more post before we depart and that's it. So - until tomorrow - cheers.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 68 - 13th July 2012

Photograph 1 - Not long after lift-off at Las Vegas. The turnpike below is a small one compared to the bigger cities.

Photograph 2 - Diamond Head Crater, Honolulu, Hawaii from the air.

Photograph 3 - Ford Island, Hawaii. The USS Arizona Memorial is to the right of the island.

Photograph 4 - Waikiki Beach from our balcony - Outrigger Waikiki On The Beach.

Not much to say on this Friday the Thirteenth except that it was lucky for us. First, when we checked at Las Vegas Airport Hawaiian Air gave us First Class seats and secondly our over-weighted bags were okay. All we did was asked if there were first class seats available and for a nominal fee we had seats 3A and 3B. In addition we were allowed in their Club Lounge at Vegas and skip the huge lines as we went through security and boarding. It is the only way to fly. Hawaiian Airlines are great and highly recommended for those who are thinking of travelling to Hawaii. Their service is faultless and for a six hour flight the time just went fast. We actually left Las Vegas in drizzle - yes- it actually was raining. We arrived in Honolulu at 12:15pm and could not obtain a room until 3pm...so...we hit Dukes Bar for some lava flow cocktails and a bite to eat. Nothing has changed since we were here ten weeks ago (it seems like an eternity). Dukes Bar is still crowded and the traffic just as congested - but it's great being here. The weather is just right, temperature in the low 30s and the ocean as blue as can be. Why do we have to go back to Oz in three days time?? We have a booked luau tomorrow - being picked up at 3:30pm and hopefully going the have a great feast along a golden beach. We'll tell more about this tomorrow. Cheers.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day 67 - 12th July 2012

Photograph 1 - The front aspect to the New York, New York Hotel. This is just across the road to the MGM Grand and near our accommodation. Note the cloudy skies!

Photograph 2 - The entrance to the Mad Onion inside Hooters. Meals are under $10 USD and are huge and one of the best venues in Las Vegas.

Photograph 3 - An electronic roulette table in Hooters. What more can gamblers ask for?

Photograph 4 - Anne decide to give up $1 USD to gamble in Las Vegas....so...the Sex and the City machine  was carefully selected. After two spins she won a whole $29 USD. Not to be disappointed she collected the booty and happy that she had ripped off the MGM Grand casino. It was a good feeling...now Anne has more Macy money for Honolulu!!!!

Photograph 5 - Looking out of our 38th floor balcony. A desert storm bringing desert dust to Las Vegas - along with high winds. A Las Vegas storm does not have rain.

It is an unusual day here in Las Vegas. It is overcast and looks like it will rain. The locals know it will not because this city only receives drizzle only a few days of the year. All we did today is ensure that we have exit seats on our flight to Hawaii tomorrow. We went on line exactly 24 hours before the flight (9:05am) and grab those precious seats - for a cost naturally. It's first in first served basis. After confirming our flight we walked to Tropicana Hotel and visit their "The Mob" tour. It is an interactive walk around rooms that have been set up to take you back to the 1920's. They had people dressed up as gangsters and helping us deliver packages to the "Boss". Also there is a museum of famous gangsters and their life history - and in some cases their early demise. It was okay and good to kill (no not killing people but time) a few hours today. For dinner we are going to have our meal at Hooters. There is a restaurant called "Mad Onions" that serve excellent and rather inexpensive meals. Ironically, Anne cannot eat onions and ordering meals at the Mad Onion appears to be a contradictory. Tomorrow it will take six hours to fly to Honolulu, however being three hours behind it will be three hours difference from Las Vegas. It will be great to return to Hawaii the place of our first embarkation to the US. Cheers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 66 - 11th July 2012

Photograph 1 - One of the many casino/hotels along The Strip, Las Vegas.

Photograph 2 - The spaceship looking structure is called "The Cloud". It does cover the bottom with shade from the heat. However, what is important to Anne is the Fashion Show shops behind the Cloud. There's many designer clothes stores and more important - Macys.

Photograph 3 - This is the Ross store along The Strip. It appears to have all the old designer clothes that become out-of-fashion. The beauty about this store are the cheap clothes. Up to one tenth off the original price. Anne did buy gowns here for under $30 USD.

Photograph 4 - The MGM Grand has a restaurant called The Rainforest. To enter we passed a huge fish pond with tropical fish. This is one of the most colourful fish that inhabit the tank.

Photograph 5 - Inside the Rainforest Restaurant in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. Every half hour there is a lightning storm and thunder. The decor is set in a tropical rainforest with all the sounds of animals ad birds.

Photograph 6 - Well, taken inside the Rainforest Restaurant before our meal was served. What else can we say?

Photograpgh 7 - This is the only Deal-Or-No-Deal machine in the MGM Grand. It tried to rip us off eight weeks away, but we got our money back next visit. Our big gambling spree of our holiday was with this machine. We think it took about 49 cents from us all up.

Nothing thrilling happen today - except our last days of shopping in Las Vegas looking for those bargains and items we don't see in Australia. The temperature in Las Vegas is extremely hot and for some reason there are about half the people on the streets in comparison when we were here five weeks ago. We miss our vehicle Connie however it was time to let her go yesterday. We now need to concentrate on our return to Australia and face the cold wintry weather we have been hearing. Not looking forward to that! Since we have a bit of free time this is a good time to reflect on our holiday highlights. The following is the same list that was put on this blog back in April 23rd. And in this post we have placed comments and achievements for those who may be interested. Tomorrow we have another day in LV and in tomorrow's post we'll add in some positives and negatives of our holiday in some detail. So until then - cheers.

* Pearl Harbour and visiting the USS Arizona, Hawaii (It was a great tour and highly recommended for those visiting Hawaii. The company who ran this tour was highly knowledgeable and fun to be with)

* A day trip to the Big Island Hawaii to see the volcanoes (The tour company who ran this could not put couples together on the flight to and from Oahu and the Big Island. If we did this tour again we would arrange our own flights and hire a vehicle - perhaps stay a day or two on the Big Island to appreciate what's on offer there. We don't recommend taking this tour company. However, once we were on the tour the guide was excellent and helpful. We experienced one of those rare days when it rained, however it did not mar the visits to volcanoes, lava flows and the beauty of the island)

* Walking down the "Strip" in Las Vegas (Boy it is a long street. Out of the three visits to Las Vegas we probably walked the length of the strip at least four times. It is a good way to keep fit. For the first time the wonders of the casinos, hotels and shops is awesome but for the third, fourth, fifth time it just another walk. We don't recommend doing the walk in the heat, early in the morning and at late at night are recommended. At night all things bright and beautiful comes out and is amazing watching the water works etc.

* Taking a heliocopter ride over the West Rim, Grand Canyon (This is one of the best tour we have done. It was worth the extra money to take the ride into the canyon, land next to the Colorado River, take a boat ride on the river, walk the Skywalk with front of the line tickets is the way to go. This tour is highly recommended and would be number one on our list do in USA. The tour company Papillon are excellent and very professional)

* Walking the Skywalk in the Grand Canyon (As above. We could not take cameras on the walk, however the tour company took our photo on the feature. This walk is not for the feint-hearted. Looking through glass to the bottom of the canyon one mile up is gutsy)

* Touring the White House, Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery and Museums in Washington DC (We had hired a tandem bike and this was the best way to visit these places. It would be about five miles to walk around the entire Washington DC mall to cover the many museums etc - with a bike this enabled to save time  - and what a way to have fun. Arlington Cemetery is best toto reach by local train. There was a hop-off hop-on shuttle service in the cemetery - at a cost naturally - to visit the major graves which took about two hours. Only a few graves are actually visited using this shuttle and is good if time is a concern, otherwise take a good pair of runners and can easily spend five hours walking around in this large complex)

* Taking a heliocopter ride over Manhattan New Yok City (We were rather disappointed with this tour. The tour company did not give us what was organised and paid for, however on the good side the day we had arranged had rained and they gave us the tour two days later - it was good weather on that day. The copper ride does not fly over the city but over the Hudson and East rivers - rather disappointing. Fying around NYC is very popular and always booked out, in view of this it is pot-luck where you sit in the aircraft and a strong possibility not having a good vantaged seat)

* Visiting some TV and Movie locations in New York City (There was so much information that was given to us that the next day we could only remember a few locations and smovie/TV situations. It was good way to see NYC and interesting to hear the guide's view of things in this city)

* Visiting Boston and sitting on Norm's seat at Cheers (Boston is a great city - we highly recommend seeing this great place - it has lot t offer. The street view of Cheers was good to see....but.....inside there is nothing like the TV show. The internal shots were done in LA, therefore there was no Norm's chair...so we had to imagine the scene)

* Eyeballing the Niagara Falls (On a clear day the view of the falls is one of the highlights to see in this part of America. In fact the only way to see the falls is on the Canadian side0

* Visiting Toronto in Canada (Not a good city to visit. It has a french influence and the people do not have that politeness and charm its American folk have. The only thing Toronto have to offer is the tall CN Tower and the waterfront views, otherwise it is just another large city. We certainly wont be visiting this city again unless we have to)

* Driving a Ford Mustang to Charleston and Savannah (A great way to go. Two great cities, relaxing with a sense of southern hospitality. The vehicle hire was cheap and highly recommended if you game enough to drive in the USA)

* Driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina (It was a long drive. Once we had expereinced the forest and the views were great...but...for four hundred miles it became repetitious. If we wanted to do this drive again we would do the interesting bits along the parkway0

* Visiting Monument Valley, Utah (As a John Wayne fan this is highly recommended. Beautiful mesas and buttes and the panoramic views were great. The Navajo indian people run the park and charge an entrance fee. It can easily be seen from the main highway although but to drive to the bottom of these features you'll need to pay the fee)

* Visiting Bryce Canyon and The Arches National Park (The Arches National Park is recommended - take a good pair of shoes and some water if walking to the Delicate Arch, otherwise most rock features are easily reached by vehicle. The Bryce Canyon is different but beware the accommodation at Ruby's Inn. The Best Western take on thousands of guests per day and the culture of employees within this accommodation is not conducive to good customer relationship. The major feature of Bryce Canyon are the hoodoos)

* Visiting Colorado and staying at resorts along the Rockies (Beautiful views and to experience high altitudes. We visited this area in the summertime therefore there were not many people - this was a good thing. The scenery of the Rockies is alpine and recommended)

* Driving to Salt Lake City (Driving to Salt Lake City was not an issue - just another drive along expressways. But the city has the most polite people we came across. Shopping is cheaper there and the trnasport system is easy to use especially when it was free to take trams in the CBD. We would like to visit this city again and spend a couple of days there)

* Watching Old Faithful inside Yellowstone National Park (This is a must-to-do. Old Faithful erurpts every 90 minutes or so and speccie to watch. However, Yellowstone National Park is a big park - it takes all day to drive around the perimeter road. The highlight of the park are coming close to bears in the wild. It is a rarity to see bears but if you do you'll never forget it - it wqas a great experience)

* Encountering bears and buffaloes (As above. For the bison, once you see one you seen them all. There are thousands of these big animals in Yellowstone)

* Staying in the Black Mountains of South Dakota (A laid-back location. Good in history regarding pioneers, gunslingers, gamblers including Calmaity Jane, Wild Bill Hickok and fo3es alike. Lots of history and the hills are a great way to experience forests and all sorts of nostalgic activities - tourist vintage trains)

* Visiting Deadwood, South Dakota location of Calamity Jane & Wild Bill Hickok (As above. It was good to know the true history of these famous people - quite different from movies and what we hear on TV)

* Viewing Mount Rushmore (Nothing spectacular - once you see this feature, that's it. We were amazed how small they were compared to photograph we have seen.)

* Passing through Custer's Last Stand (Highly recommended if you are interested in that sort of history. We appreciate the reasons behind this massacre and what followed from both sides of the belligerents)

* Staying a few days in the Glacier National Park, Montana (We saw grizzlies there. Even though it rained the beauty of the park is amazing. Even in summer it has a wintry aspect to it. It was off the beaten track however it was a good way to experience Montana)

* Visiting Seattle and touring the Boeing Factory (The Boeing Factory was a disappointment. The tour was conducted like a regimental parade. No cameras, no water, no food was allowed. You see the inside of the factory from walkways above and that's it. As for Seattle, it is a great city- plenty of things to see and do, however, driving around the city is a nightmare. Pleanty of seafood to enjoy and all things food-wise)

* Train trip to Vancouver Canada for a day (The train to Vancouver by The Cascade Rail was good. The journey hugs the coast and border crossing was easy. Vancouver is a beautiful city, especially Stanley Park. We only spent five hours there. It really needs about three days to fully appreciate the city. This part of Canada was streets ahead in friendly locals in comparison to Toronto folk)

* Viewing Mount Rainer and Mount St Helens (Due to the fog and inclement weather we did not see these mountains. So far this is the only expectation not met)

* Visiting Crater Lake, Oregon (Highly recommended. We picked a beautiful day and the volcanic feature was awesome. It was worth the deviation from the main highway to visit this park)

* Driving through the redwoods in California (If in California visitors need to experience these great wonders. These trees are in fact endangered and a pity that there is only 5% left in the state)

* Spending time in San Francisco (There was so much to see in San Francisco. If wevisit USA again we will spent at least six days here. It is a great city, beautiful with the Golden Gate, Alcatraz and Fisherman's Whark district. 

* Driving long the Big Sur (Most of this was seen in fog, however, what were saw was awesome. Driving along the coastline with some3 plces over the water's edge was scary)

* Spending time in Los Angeles (LA is a mess with traffic. If you can push that aside it is a great city. It is a must for movie/TV buffs. There is so much to see if you wish to visit Disneyland, Universal Studios etc. Beware of tour companies that offer hotel pick-ups. The one we chose were unfair with hotel locations due to their inconsistent policies. They made us catch a taxi to a nearby hotel in the morning but in the evening they dropped us off at our hotel without ado. This tour company is too big and took on too many people. This loses the professional relationship between tour guide and their passengers. We were put on a double decker bus and the guide was not in sight to tell us about the sites we were to see)

* Touring Universal Studios, Hollywood (Highly recommended. It is always crowded. We were wise to have front-in-line passes and preferred parking. Otherwise we would be still waiting in line to take rides and tours within the complex)

* Enjoying a Luau on Oahu Hawaii (Our Luau is in a few days time and will talk about this in a future post)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 65 - 10th July 2012

Photograph 1 - About half way between Los Angeles and Las Vegas - the Mojave Desert, California.

Photograph 2 - Leaving California and entering Nevada. The I-15 just travels on and on. Note the salt lake in the background.

Photograph 3 - At the state line between California and Nevada - what are these strange searchlights in the desert? There are actually three towers?

Photograph 4 - Entering Las Vegas from the west. The tall buildings in the background are casinos and hotels - about 12 kilometres away. From this location they look about a couple of blocks away, however, the desert atmosphere makes them look closer than you think.

Photograph 5 - Our accommodation is on the top floor (Floor 38) of Tower 3 Signature Hotel. This is the view looking towards the Strip in Las Vegas. Interestingly, the temperature at this time was 120 deg F. Convert that into Celsius it's 49 deg. The city is actually baking!

Photograph 6 - Our Connie at our Hotel in Las Vegas. Within a few hours she was returned to Avis.

Photograph 7 - Handing Connie back to Avis at the depot. Also Anne is looking quite sad in parting with her. We collected her 32 days ago with nearly 6,000 miles on the clock. When we handed her back it read just over 15,000 miles. Boy we did some miles. On another note, check out Anne's shopping bag - it's full of new clothes.........again.

We left at 6:30am today to try and beat the Los Angeles rush hour. Well - we did it without any fuss. Charlotte put us on the I-15 which is near our hotel and the expressway went through the centre of LA on to Pasendena and headed north to Las Vegas. The traffic was light on and we averaged about 100 KPH along this entire section. In other words it was okay. We expected to take 7 hours to Vegas but it only took us 4 hours 15 mins. We arrived about 11am....so we visited Wal-Mart and spent a bit of time there buying all sorts of stuff that we can't get in Australia. Anne cannot believe that her make-up that costs $50 AUD in Penrith, cost only $10 USD here. From Wal-Mart we checked-in to the Signature Hotel in Las Vegas (for the third time this holiday) and was given the top floor apartment in the 3rd Tower - and what a view? Since we still had Connie for a few more hours we drove to the Premium Outlet north of the city where Anne hit Ann Taylor fashion store with zest. We were due to hand Connie back to Avis by 6pm and with a few hours to go we refueled her and gave her a vacuum and wash.... she looked great. When we handed her back it was a sad moment. We were quite attached to this vehicle. Connie never faulted in her travels, was never abused, been involved in all sorts of heavy traffic in Salt Lake City, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles but the best thing that her high miles per gallon was excellent fuel economy. Well we are now in Las Vegas for three nights wondering how we going to fit everything in our suitcases. It will be a couple of days just relaxing and finishing off our shopping before our flight to Honolulu on Friday. Lastly the temperature actually reached 120 deg F here in Las Vegas - that is 49 deg C in our language. Since there is no humidity here the heat was hot but not that bad - we just needed to drink a lot of water. Cheers.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Day 64 - 9th July 2012

All photographs in today's post are taken at the Los Angeles Universal Studios, California.

Photograph 1 - Looking down from the upper to the lower lot where the majority of outside movie scenes and stage buildings are located.

Photograph 2 - The famous "Back to the Future "De Lorean. Just visiting July 2012 for our benefit!!!

Photograph 3 - Stunt cars used in most spectacular chases including "Fast and the Furious".

Photograph 4 - A dry scene in a Costa Rica set.

Photograph 5 - Immediately following photograph 4 - a flash flood with rain.

Photograph 6 - A set used for many westerns in the past (apparently not used much now). John Wayne and other famous western actors have acted in front of these buildings. As an example in John Wayne and Kirk Douglas "War Wagon".

Photograph 7 - Another set used in films that have a story set in the early 20th century.

Photograph 8 - For those Wisteria Lane "Desperate Housewife" lovers. One of the houses used in the set. Interestingly, this house was also used in the Leave It To Beaver" TV series in the 50's.

Photograph 9 - Another Desperate Housewife house. Note the agapanthas in the front!

Photograph 10 - House used in the TV series "The Munsters".

Photograph 11 - A B747 crash scene - used in Tom Cruise's "War of the Worlds".

Photograph 12 - And another "jumbo jet" view. They say that Universal Studios used an actual B747 to make this pile of wreckage.

Photograph 13 - The Shrek 4 dimension theme show. The four dimensions includes 3 D glasses and the last dimension allows the viewer to feel certain scenes. Such as water spraying at particular moments and the holograms that actually come right up to you - awesome.

Photograph 14 - Norma Jean is still alive! Performing for the crowd.

Photogarph 15 - Anne in front of the famous Universal Studio image.

Photograph 16 - That's all folks. Finished for the day and onward to Los Angeles's famous traffic snarls. 

It was great hopping out of bed late this morning. We faced the Los Angeles expressway with a vengeance by taking Connie's top down and thirty minutes after we made it to Universal Studios - ten minutes after it opened. The expressway has a 55MPH speed limit, however, motorists charge along at any speeds well above that. It is quite scary being overtaken on both sides by large trucks and huge pick-up vehicles. It wasn't the speed that is intimidating in fact it is the tyre noise that vehicles make that is scary. The excessive noise is deafening. Also if you are not familiar with junctions and the correct lane you suppose to be on - your a gone'er. Universal Studio is awesome - what more can we say? There are thirteen themes and we only did three! The first was the "must-see" Studio Tour. It was a 90 minutes ride into the backlots to see how they made movies with special effects. Plus they put on thrilling shows through movies like King Kong, Earthquake and the famous Wisteria lane where Desperate Housewife are filmed. We passed old movie scenes of 1950'ish westerns, Jaws and The Fast and the Furious. Next we took a ride on the Simpson's roller-coaster. It actually is not a roller-coaster but a car that is a simulator with a 360 deg viewing screen - in cartoon style that is. It makes you think that you are on a real coaster. It was great. Lastly we took the Shrek show. It is a new 4D vision concept. The holograms are great and as an example when the donkey (Eddie Murphy) sneezes the audience actually gets sprayed with water. On the floor below your seat there are jets of air that make you believe something is crawling below you - definitely the sight, sound and feel experience. By the time we finished the three themes the crowds were huge and the waiting time was becoming longer - and we had front-on-the-line passes!. We felt for poor families who had to wait in line for up to 90 minutes to wait. Well, by 2pm we had enough and drove back to our hotel without much ado from the LA traffic. Sadly we'll drive to Las Vegas tomorrow (our third visit to this place) and we have to hand back our Connie. We had her for thirty plus days and sorry to hand her back to Avis. We are leaving LA rather early tomorrow (about 6:30am) to try and escape the traffic. We are certain that Charlotte (our GPS) will trek us through the Downtown expressway. Also it will take about 100 klms to get out of LA's suburbia and head for Las Vegas. We will be passing through the Navajo desert and therefore back to extremely dry conditions. So until tomorrow - cheers.