I sea glass

There is one beach on Kauai – aptly named “Glass Beach” where you can find sea glass and it was definitely marked on our map for today.

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We got up at the crack so we could get to the beach (45 mins away) right at low tide (at 6.30am!!!!) You do the maths!

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There were quite a few treasures to be found on this beach which is right next to an old landfill by the sea from the 1950s.  Apparently it takes 10-30 years for the ocean to create each glass frosted jellybean like pebble.  Maybe the proximity of the landfill is why this little fella didn’t make it?

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It was such a beautiful day and we had the beach all to ourselves.

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Chris even found our breakfast! Ew!

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And I fashioned a new look for my toes – the beauty of this look is that you get to take most of it with you in the car.

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After about 2 hours filling our little zip lock bags and washing out take away coffee cups to use as a vessel for future finds we manoeuvred around the coast to the next beach which was beautiful, but not as profitable.

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A bit further onwards and we came across the historical town of Hanapepe.

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It was like a typical old country town with wide streets and old buildings with the original facades.

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This town has a suspension swing bridge which I had no intention of walking on – these things freak me out!

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Chris walked a little way out but then people from the other side started crossing which made the bridge swing and she quickly turned around and headed back to solid ground.

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Don’t swing the bridge!

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The little town is lovely and has so much history…. This shop is open all hours and could you please leave your thongs at the door – although with the state of my feet after the beach, it might be best if we left them on!

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Here’s a little walk around town.


Who is this little Niihau Shell?

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Ahhh, the Frange…

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Our next route was up to the lookout over Waimia Canyon….

Yep, that’s a letterbox a the first lookout stop.

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The view back over the ocean.  Such pretty colours.

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“Hey Shell – give us a smile.  Now look out over the ocean….. um, the ocean is behind you.”


And here’s the canyon!

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Waimia River close up.

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Last stop of the day was to Koloa for lunch… this was another sweet little town with tourist shops and cafes.  This little fella and his buddy came to join us for lunch and posed quite happily for these shots.

 

Chris did all the driving today (and yesterday…. and will be again tomorrow) and she did an amazing job.  It was a gorgeous drive back out to the main road through all the trees which reminded us of that road between Margaret River and Yallingup in WA.

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Home to clean and sort all the sea glass.

Again – some of these photos belong to Chris – and I thank her for the loan.

Puff the Magic Dragon

So last night I landed in Kauai via Ohua and my lovely cousin Chris (some of you may remember her from other adventures such as “Kiki in the Greek Islands” and “You can take the girl out of Gero”) was waiting for me at baggage claim with a lei at the ready.  She had arrived in Hawaii a week earlier and had explored Maui and a bit of Ohua and arrived in Kauai this morning.

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I got in quite late, so after a bit of chatter and catching up, we were lights out and eyes shut.  We don’t have aircon in our room, but it was lovely sleeping with the door open and listening to the waves and the rain.We’re staying on the east coast at a place called Kapaà and though this would be central to explore the rest of the island.  The rain still hadn’t moved on, so this morning we had this view one minute…
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Then this about 2.5 seconds later… The women doing yoga had scattered.
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Our mission on the leg of the journey is to scour the beaches for all the sea glass we can find.  With a small break in the rain we took the opportunity to get down to the beach in front of our hotel to do a spot of searching….
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We were happily doing a bit of collecting when the rain hit again…. we sought shelter under these waterproof trees, but it was still a little chilly.
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Time to hit the road and today we’re heading north to the land of Hanalei.  Some of you might recognise the name from the song made popular by Peter, Paul and Mary in the early 60s…
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Some people thought that it was a song was about smoking the marijuana…. all the signs were there – the word “paper’ (as in Jackie Paper) was said to be a reference to rolling papers; the words ‘puff’ and ‘dragon’ was interpreted as ‘taking a puff’ or ‘draggin’ – meaning to inhale smoke.  Both authors of the song said, “No it’s not!” and that case was quickly closed.

I don’t know…. you tell me.

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Little Jackie paper loved that rascal puff,
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff. Oh

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on puffs gigantic tail,
Noble kings and princes would bow whene’are they came,
Pirate ships would lower their flag when puff roared out his name. Oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

Dragons live forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant’s rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his life-long friend, puff could not be brave,
So puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave. Oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee,
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee.

Written by: Leonard Lipton & Peter Yarrow
Performed by: Peter, Paul & Mary

For some reason Kauai is overrun with chooks.  They are everywhere – all different types.  They seem to just run free in the wilderness… and in the supermarket car park.  We pulled into a scene lookout today and were witness to this scene – three chooks were standing, evenly spaced, staring at the wall while the two chooks at either end looked to be keeping guard over them while this little light brown one was pacing, probably giving some sort of speech about his political beliefs and how all chooks need to fall in line if they are to continue to roam free on the island. It was quite surreal.

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We drove down some lovely roads trying to get off the main road whenever we could…

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One such road lead us to this beach…

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It was covered with coconuts and driftwood…

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There was a massive storm here in April and a lot of the roads were washed away – this was probably one of them.  It’s down to one lane.

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A bit further north was the Kilauea Lighthouse and wildlife refuge.

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We stopped off at every little beach we could along the way…

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In search of lovely sea glass…

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No sea glass here…

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We finally made it to Hanalei and found out that the road beyond the town was also washed away in the storms.  Only local traffic are allowed through there – which meant, not us… so we hung around town for some lunch and some retail therapy.

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We did manage to find our way down to Hanalei Bay, but the overcast day didn’t make it look as gorgeous as it really is.

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Looking back in the other direction was a little better.  It’s amazing what a bit of sunshine can do…

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One the way back we stopped off at some lookout points…. apparently Jurassic Park was filmed here in the islands – I bet one of the scenes was here.  Here’s a website with all the movies that have been filmed here:  Avatar… Tropic Thunder… The Thorn Birds!
https://filmkauai.com/movies-television-shows-filmed-kauai/

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This is looking back down Hanalei Bay

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And I guess if you quint a little bit, the mountains do look a little bit like a dragon… sort of.

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With all the driftwood here you’d never have to fear being stranded on the island…. a makeshift boat is only a tube of glue and a ball of string away.

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And if you ever need to make sound effects like that of a cantering horse…..

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5,039 miles away from home (well it’s actually 10,800km from my home if we want to be semi accurate)

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And let that be a lesson to all you other sharks out there….

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 I can’t work out which one suits me better….

Some of the photos in today’s blog post are the work of Chris Dobson – she knows which ones she took.

That’s all folks!

Ever since I was 12 years old when my Mum & Dad went to LA on a trip, I’ve wanted to go to Universal Studios.  I remember looking through their old chemist printed photos of Jaws coming out of the water and thought it was just amazing.

Well this time I going to get to go myself…. but as I read more and more about what was on offer at Universal the more I thought – ‘you know what, I don’t need to go there.’  You see, I’m not into rides and I’m not too keen on the Fast and the Furious franchise (never having seen any of the 13 films), I’ve also seen the Water World show once before at Sea World and I’d already done the Warner Bros Harry Potter experience in London…. so the only thing that was left to see was the Jaws thing and that didn’t appear like it had changed since 1982.

So I hummed and harred about what I would do, but then decided on the Warner Bros Studio Tour.

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I didn’t actually realise that so many shows were made on the WB lots – Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Murphy Brown, Gilmore Girls, Full House and now Fuller House and of course The Ellen Show.  Then there are movies such as My Fair Lady, Rebel Without a Cause, Gravity, Harry Potter and then most of the super hero stuff.

The tour took us around the back lots where some of the shows had their stages set up and also the street scapes where they shoot the outside scenes.

You have Patsy’s Pies from Shameless…

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A generic City Hall building…

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Stage 25 is where the Big Bang Theory is filmed.  We weren’t allowed to take any photos in there, but the two apartments were set up as well as the foyer area where the lift and stairs are.  They shoot over 5 days – day 1 the cases do a table read, day 2 they do a run through, day 3 they do a rehearsal where the lawyers attend so they can see if there is any content in the script that might offend/contradict any of their sponsors… for eg: they couldn’t eat a pizza and get food poisoning, then go to a commercial for Pizza Hut – so some jokes are rewritten if they don’t fit in with the sponsors.  This is a reason that they are always eating Chinese or Thai food on the show because those restaurants are generally not advertising on TV.  Then day 4 they have a technical rehearsal with an audience where they test out the jokes and if there are no laughs, they rewrite the jokes until they do laugh…. then day 5 they film in front of a new audience.

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Can’t think which show this book shop is from, but it looks familiar…

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Remember the episode in Friends where Ross became “Red Ross” in order to impress his girlfriend/wife, Emily by playing Rugby?  This is where it happened.

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These A frames covered in bushes are used to block other buildings…

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Here’s the ‘town square’ – the gazebo is on wheels, so it can be moved out and some other monument put there to depict a new town.

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Some houses.  I think these are from Gilmore Girls – I never watched it, so I’m not sure but there was a girl on our tour who we dubbed “Gilmore Girl” because she knew everything about the show and thought that she was on a private tour with the guide.

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So this house looks like this on one side….

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….. and it looks like this on the other side!

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Rose Wood – this was actually used in the dance scene at Rydell High in Grease.

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Phil’s Bar from Murphy Brown.  Apparently they are bringing this show back.  I don’t know why writers can’t come up with new ideas.  Don’t get me wrong, I mean I loved Murphy Brown…. back in the 80s, but come on.

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The house from Full House and now, Fuller House.

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This is called New York Street where they film the scenes meant to be in New York.

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Then we were taken to the Harry Potter/Fantastical Beasts & Justice League costume displays.  I know Wonder Woman and obviously Superman, but I’m not to familiar with the rest of the League….


Some of the facades in the street scapes were just painted on which to the naked eye looked obvious, but when viewed through a camera, it looked 3D… I think the 2 men standing there were real, but in a magical place like this, you can’t be too sure.

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When a popular show finally finishes their run – like Friends, the stage gets a plaque celebrating the show.  Ellen’s show is recorded in Studio 1 and she already has her plaque.  Apparently when The Big Bang Theory finishes, they’ll get one too.

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Then we were driven through The Mill which is where the sets are made….

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Want to see the Batman cars?  There was a young chap (about 18) on our tour travelling with his Mum and brother.  He was offered the chance to switch on the bat signal, so as Mum was holding up the phone to film it, he made an excellent production of running in from the side and shouting “Batman – where are you?  We need you!” and flicked the switch.  Our group applauded him as his mother said, “I don’t think I pressed record.”

Next was the interactive area with costumes and green screens and audio talks, etc…..  It was the first time I saw Ellen the whole day – I think she may have been avoiding me.

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This area paid tribute to the writers and editors and storyboard drawers, etc….

Piles of screenplays…

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Penelope Pittstop…

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Storyboards showing how a show like Shameless follows its story lines for each character….

There were costumes from Ocean’s 8…

Then it was time to line up and have your photo taken on the Friend’s couch…

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There were the old time classics…

And the new technical green screen types of movies…

Here we have Phoebe’s guitar from Friends, a real life Oscar and one of the Warner brother’s hardback script collections…

These are some of the items that you can buy in the gift shop…

The Friends’s door (you can’t actually buy the whole door, but this was a cupboard in the gift shop – you can buy a fridge magnet of the frame though… which I did)

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A magnetic set of Sheldon dress ups…

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Or a complete set of robes from each house of Hogwarts… there were a number of kids walking around in these robes (I wasn’t one of them….. or was I?)

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Then you can purchase the wand of your favourite character.

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There was one last chance to purchase a beverage at Central Perk…

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Then you were shuttled back to the main gate.  The whole tour was great, but there was a definite rush to it, with a so much to see, so little time vibe about it.  I didn’t see a single famous person and we were told if we did spot one we’re meant to treat them like an animal in the wild – don’t approach them and don’t make eye contact or sudden movements.

Next to our apartment is Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffle House – there is a line up every day to get in there and today was no different…. however what was a little different was this group of people – there were huddled together around a chap and they all had their hands on him and they were chanting…. were they praying for a table to become available at Roscoes?

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And then my time in LA had come to an abrupt end.  I had a fantastic Uber driver who happily chatted all the way to the airport and eagerly helped me with ALL my cases.  Thank you Emmanual from El Savador.

See you mainland USA – it’s been great.

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Aloha Hawaii….. it’s down there somewhere.

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La La Land…

I think you either love LA or you don’t…. I’ve only been here once before (25 years ago!) and stayed in a lovely house with a lovely family in “The Valley”.  We only went into the city once to do the touristy Hollywood Boulevard to see the stars and handprints, and a drive around the hills to see if we could find Madonna’s house – which we did, but then we got out of the city and saw Malibu and Disneyland which was much nicer and probably gave me a rose coloured sense of what was on offer here…. then again things could have changed somewhat in all those years.

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This time we are staying in walking distance of Hollywood Boulevard and you can see the Hollywood sign from the end of our street and I have to say, aside from our gorgeous Parisian oasis of an apartment, the area we’re in is not flash.  We Ubered through some lovely areas near Beverley Hills yesterday to do some shopping, but it is a vast contrast.

Here’s our lovely house… the Parisian Suite at Villa Delle Stelle “House of the Stars”


Apparently it was decorated by Brogan Lane who was once married to Dudley Moore.  One of the five villas has been decorated with all things Dudley including an upright piano that Duds himself liked to play.  Our apartment was inspired by Grace Kelly.


Yesterday, we visited the Old Farmer’s Market at The Grove – an outdoor shopping mall.  The Farmer’s Market is an open air market with permanent stalls.  It’s been going since 1934, but the history goes back to 1880 when a bloke and his business partner purchased what was a dairy farm, then they tried drilling for water, but they struck oil instead.  Their business grew and grew including a sports stadium, a baseball field and a drive in theatre and they built a central marketplace where local farmers could see their wares.  And now they’ve built a lovely outdoor mall called The Grove and attached it to the Farmer’s Market and the whole thing is quite civilised.

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Usually there is an old fashioned trolley that takes you from one end of the The Grove to the entrance of the Market, but today we saw it tucked up in its shed.

(Not my photo)
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Here’s the olde’ fashioned petrol station – probably on the site where they first accidentally drilled for oil.

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All the food shops in the Market had names like – Phil’s Deli & Grill…

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Charlie’s…

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Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts…

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It was still pretty early, but if it’s like anywhere else we’ve been, we’ll bring the crowd.

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There are some lovely shops there but as we were looking for particular things we headed over to the Westfield shopping centre which was also an outdoor mall – items were purchased and then when we were ready to head home we were directed to the “Uber Lounge” – have you ever heard of such a thing?  Very civilised!


Dinner was another recommendation by Caroline in the office of a place on Hollywood Boulevard called Wood and Vine.  There was one table left in the courtyard and it had an ok vibe about it.

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It was described as a sharing dish establishment which was fine by us, except that all the dishes that we ordered were just one serving – ie: a plate of salmon on mashed potato with beans, Big enough for two, but served as if it were for one person.  We just cut it in half and split it, which is fine, but weird.

This morning we did a walk up in the foothills of the Hollywood Hills – suggested by the compendium and the lady in the office. It took us up and around some lovely old houses where some famous people used to live.

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The only name I recognised was Charlie Chaplin, and even then we couldn’t find which one was his.  A lot of the houses were old-time Hollywood glamour that have seen far better days.

There could have been a wonderful view of the city and across LA from some of these places, but LA was shrouded in fog (smog) today…

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As part of our walk we stopped in at the Cafe 101 – a kitschy, retro place where the hipsters go.  It was an authentic American diner with stools at the bar and booths and the building looked like it had been designed by Mike Brady – with sloped roof and everything.

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Today, besides the walk, has been a getting ready to go day.  We’re downloading podcasts for the plane and packing and repacking… I had a slightly heavy case leaving New York and our B&B in Denver and our Parisian Oasis in LA have both been upstairs… lots of stairs.  I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to get a 32kg case up stairs on your own, but it does not do wonders for your back.  Yes, I know and I agree, 32kgs is too much stuff, but I have been away for a long time and across a couple of seasons & climates and I’ve done a tiny bit of purchasing, so after this…..


I was forced to purchase another case as I am flying Hawaiian tomorrow and they only allow 23kg cases…

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So, we never heard from Ellen and I must say that I’m a little disappointed.  However I understand that there are probably millions of people from all over the world, even here in LA who have tried for years to get tickets to one of her shows. Still…. it’s a little bit selfish on her part.

I did see her star though (which looked a little smeared) and I’ve booked myself on a Warner Bros tour tomorrow, so maybe I’ll just casually bump into her, cause that could happen.

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Jodie leaves on her flight to Melbourne tonight and I must say that even though I’m ready to get out of LA, I will miss her being in the next room. Not so much that I won’t jump in to sleep in that room next door as soon as her case is down those stairs…. can you blame me?  Just like all good siblings do – we took turns at having ‘the good room’ in each place we stayed.

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We have a back door in the apartment that just goes down to some parking bays, but I opened it up today and would you look what I saw….

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That’s right – if you squint hard enough, you can see the Hollywood sign.

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The last train…

It was overcast and cloudy when we said goodbye to our lovely little San Francisco Airbnb…. the train was going to be on time – damn it! so no Chloe’s Cafe croissant french toast covered in strawberries for us this morning.  Our little apartment was down the right side of the house and round the back.

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We boarded the train and made sure that we got seats on the right hand side as that is where all the scenery was going to be – although we didn’t hit the coast until quite a few hours into the trip.

We did travel through quite a bit of marsh land…

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Then miles and miles and miles of vegetables – like so many miles that you’d think that this stretch of California was feeding the entire country.  There were all sorts of things growing from cabbage to strawberries and lots of people working hard picking them.

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Kay had mentioned to us that there were oil fields on the way, but I wasn’t quite sure what to picture – well, this is it – little oil pumps for a few miles.,,,

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There were rolling hills and a few lakes and then finally – The Pacific.

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This was wonderful as the train got quite close to the edge of the cliffs in some parts…

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The water was a little disappointing though.  It was a bit murky today with lots of floating weed.  There were still people swimming and surfing in it though.  Maybe this was a good day?

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There were a few trees along the way that made us think of home – Geraldton in particular!

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And a few boats were parked just off shore and we wondered if they were the coast guard.  Just like at home, there’s a fair bit of coast for them to guard!

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Here’s one of the little bridges we went over.

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And this was our view as we went over it…

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A pier…

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And people on the beach waving at the train – happy to say that all pants were kept pulled up this time.

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We stopped at few towns with unfamiliar names, but then we stopped at Santa Barbara and I know that both Oprah and Ellen live not far from there…. This house was right next to the train station – I don’t think either lady lives in this house, but we were close.

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They actually live up in them thar hills…  We were hoping to snag some tickets to a taping of Ellen while we were here and I applied ages ago, but we’ve heard nothing and Ellen has been in Africa with her gorilla foundation, so it just wasn’t meant to be.  I still may go to Warner Bros Studios though and just pretend I was there.

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We packed the best picnic for our 12 hour train journey….. baguette, cheese, artichoke & spinach dip, cheese puffs, some chocolate a couple of bits of fruit and strawberries….. this was all that was left.  Don’t worry, we ate that too!

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The journey was long, but it wasn’t that bad – there was lots of interesting things to look at and we saw some deer along the way.  However, by the 11th hour we were both ready to get off and into our new abode in Hollywood.

And that was our last train journey.

I can highly recommend to anybody wanting to travel across the states via train.  It was comfortable and interesting with amazing scenery.  The train can run very late, but it  actually worked in our favour most times because we didn’t have to be anywhere at a certain time and it gave us more time in the place we were in, so as long as you’re flexible – it’s a bonus.

Sittin’ on the dock of the bay

Remember my cousin, Pete, his wife, Kay and their kiddies, Noah and Wes?  Well they’re going to meet us in San Fran today.  They’re driving an RV around the US – that’s a Recreational Vehicle for those not in the know.

We stated our day at Chloe’s Cafe just around the corner from our Airb&b.

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It had a great write up and opened at 8am.  Jodie likes to get up and get going and today I was thankful that she did because we arrived at Chloe’s at 7.45am, so she wasn’t quite open yet, but there was a sign in sheet at the front door and small groups of people were starting to arrive and mill around.  We were about 3rd on the list and when 8am came around, the whole restaurant filled up with people left waiting outside.  There were only about 8 tables in the whole place, so it didn’t take much.

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Chloe’s is sweet, and retro and kitsch.

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We ordered our egg dishes, but then we noticed that people had all ordered not only their own egg dishes, but also a plate of the croissant french toast covered with entire punnet of strawberries!  We couldn’t even finish our eggs but we thought very seriously about ordering a plate to share…. the thoughts became more fleeting as our eggs reached our stomachs, and we were on our way – praying that our train would be late enough tomorrow to come back here again.

We weren’t meeting the Browns until after lunch so we popped down to the Fisherman’s Wharf to have a little look before the crowds got down there.  That’s my boat down there – Lucky Lady.

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I’m not sure where the Barbary Coast Trail takes you, but I think we walked a bit of it as we headed for a good vantage point to see the Golden Gate Bridge.  I asked our Uber driver where the best place was to view it and he said, from 12 o’clock onward when the fog has lifted.  I think my question might have been lost in the accented translation.

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But it turned out that he was correct.  This is the most underwhelming photo I’ve ever seen of the GG Bridge.

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They do have some impressive gulls here though.

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And the best looking maritime museum – it’s shaped like a boat!

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We had a bit of specialised shopping to get done so we followed my expert guidance up and down some more super steep hills… You’d think I would have learned yesterday!

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But we did find some fabulous treasures along the way…. check out this person’s front door!!!  They’re snake heads – very GoT!

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And this little park actually looked like somebody’s back yard, but it was a public space which we took full advantage of and had a little sit down half way up a huge incline.

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But then the top of the incline was this – the bottom of Lombard Street, the curviest street in the world.  It’s much more picturesque form the bottom!

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Headed into the suburb of North Beach for a final spot of purchasing and looking at more street art…  This was where all the Italian resaturants were. It’s funny how you the areas are so distinct here… cross a street and youre surrounded by a completely different culture.

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These peeps doing the chalk drawings were part of a street festival we found.

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Then it was over to the Golden Gate Park to meet up with Pete, Kay, Noah and Wes.  I hadn’t seen them since they left New York and Jodie hadn’t seen them for a good 10 months or so, so we were very excited to hang out.

Because we had walked the length and breadth of San Fran yesterday, we thought it was a good idea to meet in the children’s playground giving the boys a chance to run around and play whilst the slightly bigger kids sat under a tree and caught up.

It sort of worked out like that, except Jodie ended up playing chasey with the boys for hours – she’s got more energy and stamina than me – that’s for sure!

Getting a bit hungry, we took a little walk down Height Street in the Heights Ashbury area – made famous by Mr Harvey Milk back in the day, but it wasn’t terribly appropriate for the little ones… although I’m sure Wes didn’t even notice, as he only had eyes for Jodie!

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We called an Uber and headed back to our Noe valley hood to a Greek place we knew was awesome.

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Dinner had been of the Duplex variety – we sat at 4.50pm and dinner didn’t even start until 5pm, but they let us sit early….

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Then after dinner it was still daylight so we went for a walk back down to Dolores Park and to this fantastic little supermarket to buy some supplies for the train journey tomorrow.

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Not sure what’s happening with our glasses here Kay….. ? #slightoverlap

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Obligatory funny face photo at the request of Noah & Wes.

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The boys showing us how steep the street is…. hang on, you’ll slide down!

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Love a bit of house art…. there are even metal branches screwed to the guttering – that’s taking it all the way.

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I mean, that’s ridiculous!

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We got to Dolores Park just at the right time – the light and temp were perfect.  It was a Sunday and also Father’s Day in the USA, so there were families and friends having picnics and sitting enjoying the sunshine.

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Another wonderful catch up with this gorgeous family…. I think I’d like to do it again, say… next week?  In Hawaii?

I left my heart…. in San Francisco

Again, we were pulling into our destination station a few hours later than expected, but easily picked up an Uber and headed over to San Fran and to our lovely little AirB&B in the suburb of Noe Valley.

The weather had turned a little chilly since we left the mountains, and San Fran wasn’t looking too inviting with her low clouds and her fog.  The forecast says it’s going to be like this all weekend!

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We found our house and with fabulous instructions found a key and let ourselves in.  Just up the road is a bustling spot for restaurants and shops, so we stopped at a Greek place called Novy, sat in the window and watched the world go by whilst we feasted on moussaka, beans and a yummy chard dish.  It’s good dining with my sister, she always suggests the yummy things.

This was the view out the restaurant window.

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Then we walked home around the block to look at some different houses.

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So, slept well and up early for another day (honestly ML – you wouldn’t believe how early I’m getting up!!!)  She was a little chilly this morning, so had to pull out the old sweater I purchased back at the alligator park in Florida – remember that?  That feels like a decade ago now!

As chilly as she was – the clouds were gone and the sun was shining – a perfect day!  In my next career change I’m going to be a weather lady – just guessing the weather!

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Today we walked 14.7kms and I’d like you to be aware of the steep hill situation in San Fran… look at this incline!  This wasn’t even the steepest.

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There were some gorgeous little yards as we walked around.

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As we crossed Dolores Street and things changed.  We were now in the Mission District and I do remember from my trip 25 years ago, that we stayed in the Mission District and I recall our friend, who lived there, ‘don’t go beyond ?????? Street – it’s not safe!”  I’m now thinking it could have been Dolores Street.

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I didn’t take any photos in that area because it just didn’t seem appropriate or safe, so we quickly turned the corner and headed in a different direction.

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I love the houses here.  Everywhere you look there’s another gorgeous house more gorgeous than the last.

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And a bit of random post art…

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And some lovely pavement address art…

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And more beautiful houses on ridiculously steep streets!

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Here’s your garage art…

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Jodie had been reading in the Lonely Planet about some famous murals in the Mission District.  We weren’t quite sure where they were, but then we as we were following our noses through the streets, we randomly came across the best mural of them all – the Women’s Building.

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Then there were some more lovely houses….. take a closer look in the upstairs window.

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Ok…..

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Here’s a bit of pavement art that I thought might have been a Banksy, but was informed by cousin that “Banksy doesn’t do the ground.” So I obviously just witnessed some other budding artist’s work.

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To give ourselves a little break from the hills we reached Market Street, a main thoroughfare with trolley buses a plenty ….

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… and we jumped on, mastering the online ticketing system as we went.

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Look at us, happy as Larry to be on the trolley bus.

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There was a bit of architecture that we were interested in seeing along the way, so we jumped off at the public library thinking we would walk a bit more giving us a good chance to see the lovely buildings, but it appeared that we had jumped off at the most insalubrious area.  We both felt immediately uncomfortable and jumped straight on the next trolley that came along – about 30 seconds later and rode until we hit a safer looking area.

Have you ever seen fatter pigeons than these?

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We were now in the shopping precinct and popped into Marshalls which is sort of like the US version of Marks & Spencer (sort of) and purchased a couple of items…. however these were not one of them – in fact, these made my toes feel weird and I hadn’t even taken my own shoes off.

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Marshalls sits underneath this flatiron building, which coincedently is one of the buildings we were hoping to see.

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And right outside of Marshalls was this chap.  He was crooning to some old time classics sounding a bit like Michael Bublè.  I say good on you if you can rock a waist coat and tricky daks!

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This is also the area where you can catch the cable car.  These are famous in SF and on the one time Me Jenny came to San Fran (years ago) she really wanted to ride the cable cars, but they weren’t running… so we were determined to ride one just for her.  However as this was the start people were lining up – like about 60+ people, so this photo was going to have to do.

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We zigzagged around the streets and ended up in Chinatown…. past the Willy ‘woo woo” Wong Playground.

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and smack into a Chinatown dragon dancer’s festival.

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These are the spare dragon heads…

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The crosswalk is a chinese design – very cool.  This is apparently the biggest Chinatown outside of China.  We noted that it felt like a ‘real’ Chinatown in that it wasn’t just Chinese restaurants, but that people were actually living there.  It felt authentic.

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After Chinatown our mission was to make to the top of Lombard Street, the curviest street in the world.  To get there we had to hike up several massively huge steep hills, plus an enormous amount of stairs (Madeline, you would have been so proud of me!)

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(This is not my photo – I was concentrating too hard on putting one foot in front of the other to take any photos.)

Once we got to the top though – this was our view….. That’s Alcatraz in the distance!

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And here’s a close up…

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And in the other directions…

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The top is called Russian Hill and it’s very fancy with its big houses and even bigger views.

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I love wandering around and finding random treasures along the way… We had to pop into a little pizza place to use their bathroom and the waiter was so lovely and helpful.  On the way out he wished us a pleasant day and suggested we have ourselves an ice-cream from Swensen’s – the original sherbet ice-cream place up on the corner.  It felt rude not to.

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Then with ice creams in hand we made it to the top of Lombard Street with about 6,000 other people all taking photos and walking up and down.  Cars were driving down with the passenger filming the whole experience.  This photo doesn’t look like there’s many people, but they must all be behind me.

I felt terrible for the local people who live here – this must be constant.  One young lady who I don’t think understood a lot of English was asked by a security guard not to climb up on the balconies – as they are private property.  She just giggled.  Apparently she was up on the second floor!

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The top even needs two traffic cops directing the traffic – it’s mayhem!

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We were going to walk to the bottom, but we realised that the cable car rode along the top, and we didn’t want to walk back up again, so we had a quick look and then waited for the cable car.

We rode it all the way down to the bottom.  Some would ask why we didn’t ride the cable car up the hill and then walk down and sure, you can ask that if you like.  It’s a very good question, but we had a lovely day and our feet, knees and legs don’t want to think about it anymore.

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Being the San Fran transport experts that we are now, we got off the cable car and straight onto a trolley bus all the way into the suburb of Castro, which is a predominantly gay neighbourhood.  It was lovely and colourful with the rainbow flag flying in every window and even on the crosswalks.

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We were going to get the bus home, but we decided that no – we hadn’t walked up nearly enough hills yet (I’m talking 45 degree angles people!), so we walked home!

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