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 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)

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