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!

Advertisements

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!

20/10/13 – The changeover

Was that my first night without any annoying dream encounters? Or did I just not remember because Elvis and Russell Brand happened to be in it? Anyway, we packed up again to move on, but got a little waylaid watching some crazy chibi-like Teen Titans show. It was hilarious! Before heading out to our next destination we went to Boern to visit the ‘cave without a name’. It was never named because it was deemed too beautiful to go by one name. And it really was. All of the different formations were seriously mind-blowing, and the cave was unbelievably dark when our guide Damon shut the lights out. It was incredibly quiet too, though it was peaceful rather than eerie. I could have happily had a kip in there! We saw some bats and some cave frogs in there (oh, and on the drive down I nearly took out a suicidal deer!)

Apparently people have their weddings here. I totally get it.

We were then heading out to Corpus Christi after when disaster struck – my first ever flat tyre. Either American roads are seriously hardcore or their tyres just aren’t. Thankfully though the solution turned out to be really simple. We rang our assistance line and they had someone out to us and got the tyre changed within half an hour. Would never have happened that fast in England! We then had to go back to the airport in San Antonio to get the whole car swapped, since the tiny tyre they fitted was only a temporary replacement. So we had to bid farewell to crippled Elvis and his automail, and say hello to Cody – our new Hyundai Accent. It did mean that we went from a quarter of a tank to a full new one though. Win!

The moment where Elvis got crippled. Sorry for driving too hard, Elvis!

The drive to Corpus Christi was long, roughly three hours. I was definitely relieved by the time it was over, not to mention starving! We ordered in some fried chicken whilst watching John Tucker Must Die. I forgot how hot the brother is. After that we watched some of Holes and aww’ed over lickle Dulé Hill! Semi-early night, ready for the next move.

And introducing Cody!

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.