Monday, October 20, 2014

A post about something other than triathlon..............

3 weeks (21 days) in America? you betcha!

The plan:

Big Gazza heads over to America early to acclimate and head into the Grand Canyon from Kanab to run his 273km ultra run (unsupported). Yep, he's a weirdo!

The other Plan:

Seasoned travellers - we got this!
Kezwaldo, Sparky and I head over a few days later, land in L.A and travel North to San Fran, then Yosemite and on to Vegas where we meet Big Gazza at the end of his run. A few more days in the Grand Canyon before the girls head home and then Gazza and I head off to Zion before heading home.
Where to start?

Landing in L.A at 6am driving on the 'other side' of the road and navigating our way through the streets to our hotel room, yeah. We found the hotel and fell out of the oversized ride into a scene somewhere between Karate Kid "Nothing but Palms Trees Ma." and Sons of Anarchy as a gang of bikers, including their cuts, gathered at the end of the token of a pool. The hotel reception was an 'I can't give a shit about anything you want.' Mexican teenager. Sooo, surreal. And that was the story for L.A and set the taste in my mouth for what I thought would be the rest of our trip. As we were to stay in separate rooms, I was just a little concerned for my safety and the girls. But hey, we survived and we toured the stars and took photos at the Chinese Laundry with B.B King and had some onion rings at Hooters. We toured Hollywood Boulevard and Rodeo Drive and made the pilgrimage to the HOLLYWOOD sign. We got the full L.A experience.

We headed North, first to Santa Monica Pier. Breaky at Bumba Gump's and a nice walk along the pier. What an odd beach, reminded me of England in a way. Long wide beach, no wave, token surfers catching shories. We met a waiter who served breakfast and sunshine and the girls made a friend. After breakfast, we were keen to lose L.A and follow the coast line to Monterey. I'm pleased to say that the taste sweetened the further North we travelled.
Road trippin' with my two favorite allies

Fully loaded we got snacks and supplies
It's time to leave this town
It's time to steal away
Let's go get lost
Anywhere in the U.S.A.
Watching Humpback whales from the road, we wound our way along the coast road and soaked up the sun as it dipped beneath the waves, in what's seldom seen for us Aussie girls, a sunset over sea.
An unexpected turn and we found an extra night in Monterey and a spontaneous whale watching cruise. Living the dream, we watched whales and sea lions cooperative feeding within 50metres of the boat. Simply breathtaking. We heard baby Sea Otters calling for their Mammas, we had good food, Geo-Caches and a much nicer hotel, including waffles and we were in high spirits.
Oakland A's - Go team! - We lost...

Fallen head over heels for baby Sea Otters
Budapest our morning travelling song, on to San Fran and our next adventure. We were met by a vibey, welcoming city. We toured the bridge, Mandatory! so we did it 3 times. We toured the city, rode a street tram, ate at Pier 39 and the sour dough bakery and ran up steep streets to descend Lombard street and walk in the steps of Maya Angelou. I ate an old donut and the girls downed a beer as we waved one finger hellos at the players at Oakland Baseball Park.
We headed towards the West and into the rain. Somewhere out there Big Gazza was running through the canyon in 45 degree heat. I was so acutely aware of the contrast to our trips, only a few hundred miles apart from each other. But for us the wipers were on high and Yosemite on the map. We paused and I soaked it in. The view I had been longing for after so long. A bucket list moment as we laid our eyes for the first time on Half Dome. If you can breathe in a scene, then that's what I did. I let it seep into my pores and senses so I would never forget it.

We spent a magical  day at Yosemite, we hired old back-pedal bikes and rode slowly around the monoliths and gawped up at them in awe. We drank White Russians and more beer in the shadows cast by El Capitan and spied climbers on the rock, before they lit up like bright stars in the night as they tied themselves in for the night. Truly a special place.

As I travelled with my kid and her partner, I had an unexpected gift. A realisation that I couldn't have predicted. I had my girl to myself, uninterrupted time. Even though Sparky was with us, it made it even more special to see them together, interacting, laughing, loving, relaxed! In the amazing land of forest and granite, I secretly wished it would never end. Lost time in a lost moment. Sometimes, when you watch and listen, you can hear and see the memories wrapping themselves about you. 

From the forest we headed South and on to Las Vegas. Surreal moment as we crossed Death Valley, met a hungry Coyote, ran in the wind and sand for a few steps of the Bad Water, and landed in Vegas in a Casino with air con and wall to wall slot machines, spinning tables and colour and neon everywhere.
We hit the tables for some fun and watched the years of practice with G'Dood and a box of matches pay off as Kezwaldo black jacked her way through like a boss.
Finally, it was time to pick up Gazza. Done finally, we headed to meet him. But we were turned back due to flash flooding, torrential rain and car crashes. Crazy moments, but we finally got him home, safely and satisfied in our arms.

Meeting his goals head on, Gazza soldiered on like the diesel engine he is. Never giving up, and never stopped moving forward. He has made life long friends, even if they never speak another word to each other. They shared time, precious time. Shared an experience together and lived to tell the tale.
We took a couple of days to allow time for Gazza to recoup. We did a huge flying fox through Fremont Street. The four of us hanging on wires suspended and racing above the crowds on high.
Rested and keen to go, we toured Route 66 and drove headlong into the South rim of the Grand Canyon. I'm not sure really if the word is 'awe inspiring' as I have heard the G.Canyon described as before. For sure, no mistake, it is beautiful, unique and huge. But it was not as earth moving a moment as Yosemite. But still just as sweaty palmed as they sat on a cliff edge for a photo, hundreds of feet above the canyon floor. Back to the city lights of Vegas and shows including 'O' and 'Michael Jackson' we indulged and shopped and had coffee and shared time with Rory and Susan, our special friends from Canada. How the world can move and turn and twist and land us back together a year later.
This too shall pass, and my time with the girls came to a close with smiles and neck hugs and a 'goodbye travel buddy'. We saw them off and then Big Gazza and I headed towards the sun once more and the North Rim and then on to Zion. Oh my, what else can America offer us. No way, a spine tingling, white knuckle, rock scrambling, death defying ride with Angels. No ride is complete of course without an encore and so we scrambled our way to the top of Observation Point where, for my birthday and our 21st anniversary we had lunch with a cheeky chipmunk and heard an eagle scream through the canyon as we spied on him from our perch in the clouds.
What an amazing life I have............

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