7/11/13 – When in Napa do as the winos do

Skyped the oldies before leaving this morning and lied some more about when our return flights are, since we want to get home a day beforehand and surprise them. We told Sar and Auntie Ann in secret just in case we need some inside help, and they’ve now decided they’re going to pick us up from the airport! Too, too sweet! Now I’m probably gonna blub at arrivals. Hooray. As we left San Francisco we got to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. That was pretty awesome and we got another great view of Alcatraz from there. We went to an Ihop for brunch just after leaving San Fran. Cue another country omelette and more pancakes, yummy scrumboes! There was a petrol station right next door so we got to feed Klaus too whilst we were at it.

Why is it even called the Golden Gate Bridge? It’s red. Or if we use the technical name: “industrial orange”. Ooooh, fancy.

It was a pretty short drive to Napa so we got to our hotel around one o’clock. Wine country is seriously beautiful – vineyards everywhere you look! We Skyped Sid for a little bit and then headed back out to a winery for our wine tasting tour. They went through the processes of how they make the wine and more info on the winery itself. We got to try two white sparkling wines, one sparkling rosé and two still reds (the reds in particular were vile). I wasn’t keen on any of them, but it seemed to amuse Kel watching my reaction. The guy in charge asked what flavours we could taste in one of the whites and were people saying things like ‘peach’, whereas I quietly muttered ‘vinegar’. I’d anticipated I wouldn’t be a fan from the beginning but hey, when in Napa do as the winos do!

One of my favourite drives so far!

We had takeout pizza for tea (I’m gonna look like a sodding pizza). Got another chunk of writing done and watched some Big Bang Theory, including a brand new episode! Totally can’t wait to catch up on the new season. Then much to my delight, Interview With The Vampire was on! God, I love Lestat. Tom Cruise really is perfect in it. Made me miss Kay a lot though… But Kel did spot that the steamboat (the Natchez) is the same one that we went on! Awesome!

Can you tell I wasn’t impressed? I think the man behind me was enjoying his a lot more!

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27/10/13 – We’re going on a bear hunt

Got up super early so that we could get our next car and then make the most out of zoo times. Very quickly Skyped the oldies before leaving and even managed a speedy waffle too! The idiot driving the shuttle left early without us and tried to blame US for being late, though we were bang on time, and then he sent us off the wrong way for our Alamo pick-up (our guess was on purpose). We got a small choice of cars, including more Elvises and more Codys. I went for one of the Versas, primarily for the better fuel consumption. So we now have Elvis’s brother Klaus!

Having this picture taken then distracted me from locking the car… I realised a few hours later. Oops!

We then spent the rest of the day at San Diego zoo. The place is huge! Obviously we’ve seen a lot of the main animals at other places but we got to see gorillas, tigers, lions, etc. much more close up. We even got to see polar bears and hippos underwater, both of which were new experiences. Pandas were also new. And we even got to see bears! I’ve never seen bears before! Exactly three weeks too late. Typical. Funnily though, one of my favourites was a husky-lab cross called Miley. They use a buddy system where they pair big cats or wolves with domesticated dogs from a young age. So Miley shared the exhibit with her best friend, a cheetah! We also did a 4D Ice Age experience, where you watch clips of the film and they just turn all the special effects on you. I was sat at the front and pretty much got drowned in bubbles. It was rather amusing.

Smiley Miley – forget the exotic animals; I just want her!

This genuinely scared the bejeesus out of me. Princess Mononoke, anyone?

After the zoo we made a Walmart stop and then went back to the hotel. We were more interested in food by this point, so we swiftly headed back out to Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern. I had tomato bisque, then buttermilk fried chicken with garlic mash, along with some very lovely sangria. We had a joint Miranda recall over some of our favourite parts and both ended up crying through laughing just thinking about it! Simple minds, eh? Spent the rest of the night watching Big Bang Theory and drinking Hard Mike’s Cranberry Lemonade. Such fun!

After three weeks on the dot I finally got my belated birthday wish of seeing a bear!

26/10/13 – Bye bye Texas

Up early for re-packing and getting ready. Managed to fit some waffle time in too, of course. We found our way back to Austin airport and bid farewell to Cody – he’d been good to us, even if he was a glutton for petrol. We had a good wait at the airport, so I listened to some more of That Anime Show and giggled over Tatum and Massey talking and singing Disney. Also had a smoked brisket sandwich with honey mustard spicy sauce from the famous Salt Lick – can totally see why; it was gorgeous! I got messy though. Too much sauce, Gaston. The first flight totally didn’t feel worth all the waiting around. We were barely in the air for an hour!

We weren’t at the Dallas airport for long. Which I was relieved by because it was apparently a ‘Pepsi only’ airport, meaning I couldn’t get any Red Bull anywhere! Of course I had a Matt style little huffy and had to make do with Rockstar instead, whilst watching some Psych. The flight was still only a few hours and I managed to get a good chunk of writing done, woohoo!

For the most part though the day was just about travelling. We got to our hotel, showered, then sat in bed watching Friends and eating popcorn. We’d gained two hours in the time zone crossover and at the same time the clocks went back at home. Just when we’d been able to figure it all out…

Super short flight and lots of leg room! I’m feeling spoilt…

18/10/13 – Antonio, nooooo!

Got up and got ready and packed in a very relaxed manner this morning, even though my stupid dreams still haven’t stopped. We even got to watch some South Park in between. We then got everything packed into the car and set off for San Antonio. It was just over an hour drive and I actually relaxed much more this time. Driving along the interstate is really simple, just a bit dull after a while. We were still ahead of check-in time so we went to the Japanese tea gardens first to kill some time. They were really lovely – they looked so old and authentic. There was a waterfall and several koi ponds, as well as lots of cute little paths and stone stairways.

Up for a game of Where’s Weirdo?

After checking into our hotel we headed back out to downtown San Antonio. Had a bit of a game with parking, but eventually managed to find a solution for it. We had a wander around, saw the Alamo, then went to the Rainforest Café for tea. We both had steak and chicken with garlic mash and Caribbean rice. The chicken was a bit weird, but everything else was lovely. We were also sat next to the tropical fish tank, which certainly kept us entertained. My favourite was a perpetually happy fish with goofy teeth – I genuinely laughed every time I looked at him. Kel reckoned it was like the nerdy, brace-y schoolkid fish in Finding Nemo.

We did a Walmart stop on the way home, which ended up taking longer than anticipated because Sam decided to play us up. Got some Seagrams and some more Kool-Aid though (the last six-pack didn’t even last me twenty-four hours). They also had the most awesome long Batman and Robin tees with attached capes! Sadly though they were only in kid’s sizes and Kel was sure that none would fit her. I was actually gutted – we could have been Batman and Robin on Halloween!

Came back to the room, had a few drinks, some popcorn and watched Friends and bits of Role Models. I discovered that the comedian we’d listened to in the van during the tour is actually in a show called King of Queens, which we also saw a bit of. And then to top everything else I learnt that James Roday was born, guess where? That’s right – San Antonio! Thank you for spawning a man of such comic genius and perfect hair.

My fine-finned friend – “oh my goshth, Nemo’s shwimming out to sthea!”

 

17/10/13 – Forget everything you know

Bit more of a relaxed wake-up today, though I still made sure we had time for breakfast. I had a waffle (which got drowned in syrup when the top came off the bottle), sausage and scrambled eggs. Felt very fat afterwards but it was totally better than last night! We got packed up, checked out and got the shuttle back to the airport to pick up our car. It’s a black Nissan Versa. Still trying to think of a name for him (I’m hovering over Elvis). Not only do I have the whole driving on the other side of the road thing, it’s a lot bigger than what I’d used to driving AND I also have to get used to the whole no clutch or gearbox fandango. It took me forever to actually get it into drive!

Come on then Elvis, break me into this American way of driving!

The first part of the day was iffy and I felt very uncomfortable. I felt like I was trying to watch a million things at once. We stopped at a Walmart for some drinks and snacks (I got a six-pack of blue Kool-Aid, two thirds of which is now gone) and a Radio Shack to get a cheap emergency phone and a satnav. Samantha is much more articulate than Dirty Debby. It’s very sad. Though once we had her we were able to find our hotel no problem. We munched on some popcorn whilst we Skyped Mom and Dad and then later ordered and ate takeout pizza and buffalo wings whilst Skyping Sid.

We then headed into the main stretch of Austin. We went to Congress Bridge first, which is famous for sheltering one and a half million bats who all go out on the hunt every day at dusk. They clearly waited for us too, because we’d only just got down there when they all chose to venture out. It really was an unbelievable sight (and quite an unbelievable smell too!) After most of the bats had sodded off we went down onto Sixth Street, the city’s main hub. We had a wander up and down and then went into Bat Bar for a drink. Because it was called Bat Bar. Since I was driving and America has a zero alcohol tolerance, I had to settle for a can of Red Bull. Oh sorry, did I say settle? We all know how energy drinks are never settling. There was a live musician playing, who was actually amazing. It was just a shame that the bar was so empty and he wasn’t getting the huge audience that he blatantly deserved.

Though we went back to the hotel afterwards and had a chilled night, we still went to bed quite late. Kel watched Magic Mike and I created a new original character. Good times all round! (Though more geeky and less naked men involved on my part. Oh well).

The sights tonight involved a couple of supercars and more than a million bats. Call me Bruce Wayne.