2016 America

On Tuesday 26th July 2016 on-cable-car-in-san-fransiscoI joined my new friends Andrew, Ann, Robert, Jonathan and Helen from 1st/16th Sutton Cub Pack on their holiday to America.  We left early for the airport for our flight to San Francisco.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a seat, so had to ride in the luggage locker. We arrived safely and once through customs we took a cab to the hotel in the centre of San Francisco. We dropped our bags and had a walk around, looking at the Chinese Arch, when we saw our first cable car. We went into a typical American Diner where I helped them with their milkshakes. We had been up for nearly 22 hours, so went back to the hotel and bed.

We woke up after a good night’s sleep and went to Loris’s Diner for breakfast. bus-tour-round-san-fransiscoThen we got on a bus for a city tour, where we saw lots famous buildings and drove over the Golden Gate Bridge. We got off the bus at Fisherman’s Wharf and I decided they needed help eating the Clam Chowder and Calamari. cheesecake-factoryAfter exploring the area, it was back on the bus back to Union Square. We popped into Macy’s famous department store before going up to the 8th floor for The Cheesecake Factory. I’ve never seen so many cheesecakes. We each had a different one and the slices were bigger than me.

on-cable-car-in-san-fransiscoFinally, we jumped on a cable car and had a ride to Hyde Street. We then jumped back on and rode all the way back to the other end of the line at Powell Street. I sat down with Andrew, Ann and Helen whilst Robert and Jonathan stood hanging on to the side.  The ride up and down the hills was fantastic so much better than any roller coaster, then it was back to the hotel and bed.

We got up early and caught a street car down to Pier 33 where we had breakfast before getting on a boat over to visit Alcatraz Island and prison. alcatraz-mapOn the way over I saw the Golden Gate Bridge in the fog. We got off the boat and walked up to the prison where we had a tour. let-me-outThey put me in a cell but I was let out early for good behaviour. It was fascinating but also quite scary. We caught the ferry back and wandered along to Pier 39 where we saw wild sealions sunbathing on the docks.  We decided to walk back but the hills were very steep so Helen carried me as I’ve only got little legs.cable-car-museum On the way, we passed the Cable Car Museum so decided to visit. It was very interesting and I learnt all about the history of the cable cars and how they work.

It was our last morning in San Francisco, so after a our-hire-carquick breakfast at Loris’s we had a trip to the shops for our packed lunch food. I stayed with Ann, Robert and Jonathan in the hotel lobby whilst Andrew and Helen went off to pick up getting-comfortable-in-our-hire-carthe hire car.

A large car pulled up outside the hotel and Helen jumped out. After loading the luggage into the boot, we climbed aboard.  I noticed that the steering wheel was on the wrong side of the car and Andrew was driving on the right side of the road. I told him that he was on the wrong side of the road, but he confirmed the Americans drive on the opposite side of the road to us.

Driving through the outskirts of San Francisco we soon joined Highway 1 which followed the Pacific Coast down to Monterey. We stopped for a picnic lunch overlooking the ocean and then again to enjoy the view before arriving in Monterey.  outside-bubba-gump-restaurant-in-monterraydinner-in-monterrayAfter checking in to the hotel we walked down to a place called Cannery Row to eat in a restaurant called Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.

The next morning we had a continental breakfast in the hotel before walking along to Fisherman’s Wharf to get on the boat to go whale watching.going-whale-watchingWe cruised out to sea for about 30 minutes and suddenly spotted whales. We eventually saw Humpback whales, Fin whales and Blue whales.whale-watching humpback-whale

All to soon it was time to head back to shore but not before we saw one final Blue whale surface right next to the boat. What an amazing experience. Once on shore, Jonathan was hungry so we found a nice little restaurant looking over the harbour watching the Harbour Seals play in the water. After lunch we had a walk around Monterey and visited the local museum where I learnt all about the history of the area. Then back to Fisherman’s Wharf and on to another boat for a short trip along the coast looking at the Sea-lions, Sea Otters and Kelp Forest.

by-the-shark-tank view-from-monterray-aquariumToday we all walked along to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  We watched the sea otters being fed before going on to look at the open water section where we watched the Hammerhead Sharks, Blue Fin Tuna and sardines being fed. It was fascinating looking at all the different fish. There was so much to see and learn about.monterray-aquarium

We were able to tour behind the scenes of the aquarium and learnt all about the research work they do as well as how they maintain the tanks. As we were saying thanks to the guide, he saw 2 or 3 Humpback whales in the bay. We all got very excited including the guide. After a final look at the sea otters we headed back to the hotel and dinner. Another tiring but exciting day before we move on to Yosemite. Lots of trees for me to climb.

We finally left Monterey at about 10:30am and started back up the coast until we joined Highway 101. After a couple of hours, we stopped off at a mall in Los Banos for a quick lunch. Then Andrew and Robert spent quite a bit of time trying to work out how an American petrol station works before we were off again. We drove through lots of different types of scenery until we arrived at the entrance to Yosemite National Park.

signWe paid for an entrance pass and drove through the park to our hotel where we are staying in 2 cottages in the woods. We unloaded the car and headed to the restaurant for dinner as Jonathan was hungry and we were all tired after a long days drive. Time for bed and getting our energy for a day exploring Yosemite National Park.

enjoying-the-treesThis morning I got up early and joined the family when they went to get breakfast from the ‘Grab n Go Deli’ in the hotel before jumping on our bus for the tour of Yosemite National park. Our driver was called Saul and as we drove through the park he told as all about the history of the area as well as about the trees, plants and animals in the park. Saul also told us how the Black Bears break into cars to get at food left in them. He explained that they would jump up and down on the roof of the car until the windows popped out. We stopped a number of times, to enjoy the scenery and take lots of half-dome-in-yosemitepictures. I felt very small in front of the huge mountains. Later we arrived at the Ahwahnee Hotel where we were having lunch. We were early so had a wander around the grounds where I saw a deer and ground squirrels. I was also able to run around though the trees and let my inner wolf run wild.

I did keep a look out for Rattle Snakes and Black Bears. We drove through the valley floor until we arrived at the base of the Yosemite Waterfall and walked up and had a paddle in the river. Then back on the bus again and up to Glacier Point. The views up there were breathtaking. It was very hot so I made sure I had plenty of water to drink. We got back on the bus and Saul drove us back to the hotel. We got back about 5.00pm and said goodbye and thank you to Saul for a lovely day. Time for a quick swim before going for a pizza for dinner and then to bed. Another busy but enjoyable day.

very-big-treeAnother day dawned, so we all jumped in the car and Andrew drove us all into Yosemite. We drove for about an hour until we parked up at a place called Tuolumni Grove. We then followed the trail for about a mile downhill until we reached the Giant Sequoias. The trees here were huge and there was even one large enough to walk through the trunk.

My inner wolf came out again as we walked through all these massive trees. After a short sit down it was time to walk back up the hill. Although it was only a mile, it felt much longer as I’ve only got little legs. We got back to the car and after a quick drink, Andrew drove us back down to Yosemite Valley where we again parked up and we sat beside the Merced River having the occasional paddle or swim to cool down. I even dipped my paws in the river. It was very cold but very refreshing.

We spent a jackalopescouple of hours by the river, Andrew drove us back to the hotel but he did take a quick detour to stop off and look at an old American steam train. He and Robert had a chat with the driver (or engineer as they call them in America). We returned to the hotel and had a quick shower to freshen up, even I washed my face and paws. We then walked over from our cottage to the main hotel and had dinner in the Jackalopes Restaurant. Jonathan’s burger was even bigger than me.

Our last morning in Yosemite, so we were on the move again. We brought some sandwiches and crisps (chips) for our packed lunch. We left tenya-lodgeTenaya Lodge and drove back into Yosemite National Park for the last time and stopped by a lake for lunch. It felt a bit strange as the lake was at an elevation or height of 5000 feet above sea level. We eventually left Yosemite and joined a freeway going south for Death Valley National Park which took about 3 hours.

The scenery changed as we started playing i-spy but after using sand-dunes-in-death-valleythe words bush, cactus, sand and another bush we run out of things to say. We stopped off at a view point and saw Death Valley for the first time. We drove down to the valley bottom and stopped to take some photos. The sand was so hot it burnt my paws. Andrew told me that the temperature got up to 112°F.

We arrived at Stovepipe Wells Hotel which was about 200 feet scorpion-in-death-valleybelow sea level. After a short swim, it was time for dinner. However, as we were walking to the restaurant we saw a scorpion walking on the path. I decided to keep a look out when going back to the bedroom.

We woke up early at Stovepipe wells and it was already 90°F.breakfast-in-death-valley We had breakfast and then had a quick look in the General Store across the road before packing the car and moving on to the Grand Canyon. scorpion-in-roberts-bed-in-death-valleyRobert got a bit of a shock as he was checking the bed to make sure he hadn’t left anything, he found a live scorpion on the sheets. A member of staff was also surprised to find one in the room but the scorpion was soon captured and released back into the desert. We got in and drove down the valley and stopped at some sand dunes.

We walked over the dunes, it was very hot and I wished I wasn’t wearing my fur coat. 282-feet-below-sea-level-in-death-valleyI found out that the film Star Wars used these as a location on the planet of Tatooine. It was so hot, Andrew and Ann insisted that we all drank lots of water whilst we were in the valley (at least 4 litres each). We then carried on stopping at Furnace Creek Visitors Centre, by now the temperature was up to 108°F. After looking around the centre we drove on to a place called Badwater which was 228 feet below sea level and the temperature was now 112°F

It was time to leave Death Valley and drive to the Grand Canyon National park. It was a long way (over 400 miles) and took us nearly 8 hours. Andrew did very well but was quite tired when we finally arrived at the hotel. After finding our rooms and I finally decided which bed I was going to use, we went down for dinner and then turned in for an early night so we could be up early to see the Grand Canyon tomorrow.

grand-canyonWe got up early and grabbed some breakfast in the hotel before jumping on a shuttle bus to the Visitors Centre at the Grand Canyon National Park. We learnt a bit about the area before walking up to the rim of the Grand Canyon.

All I could think of to say was ‘wow’. I didn’t think a valley could view-over-grand-canyonget so big. It is about 1 mile deep and 18 miles across at the widest point. After taking lots of pictures we walked along the rim edge until we arrived at a place called The Village where we had hot dogs and a pretzel for lunch. Although it didn’t look far on the map, I was quite tired because of the heat and because I only have little legs. After lunch we looked around the Angel Bright Lodge and then had ice creams at which point the heavens opened and there was a massive thunderstorm. I am glad they had all bought raincoats with them so we didn’t get wet. Who would believe it was raining in the State of Arizona and we arerock-sample-from-grand-canyon in the Grand Canyon National Park in the desert sheltering from the rain.

It eventually stopped raining and we decided to walk Bright Angel Trail down into the Canyon itself. Although we only walked ½ mile down the path, it was quite steep and we were soon about 150 feet below the level of the rim. The scenery was still amazing. sunset-over-grand-canyonAfter walking back up the hill, we explored the Village and even found the railway station and saw the train leave. We walked to Mather Point to watch the sunset over the Canyon. sunset-at-grand-canyonThe views were breathtaking and seeing the constantly changing colours of the rocks in the canyon as the sun finally disappeared over the horizon. Then it was back on the shuttle bus to the hotel and dinner. Another brilliant day.

The alarm went at 6.00am as we had an early start. light-breakfast-in-grand-canyonAfter grabbing a quick breakfast we drove to South Rim Airport although Andrew wouldn’t tell me why. I was a bit worried I was being sent home early.felix-our-pilot I couldn’t have been more wrong as once we arrived we were then escorted over to a helicopter where we met our pilot, Felix. flying-the-helicopter

We were strapped in and took off for a 45 minute flight over the Grand Canyon. The views were breathtaking and Felix even let me fly for a short time. All too soon we were flying back and landing at the airport. We all thanked Felix for a great flight. helicopter-over-grand-canyonAndrew was able to buy a DVD which had been filmed during our flight. We got back into the car and drove into the National Park where we parked up and caught a bus up to Hermits Rest viewpoint.prickly-pear-at-grand-canyon fossils-in-grand-canyon

We stopped off at Monument Bus Stop and then walked the rest of the way up to Hermits Rest stopping off for a picnic lunch on the way. We then caught the shuttle bus back to the Visitors Centre and then another shuttle bus up to Yaki Point where we got out to have a final look at the canyon. On the way back to the Visitors Centre we saw wild Elk in the forest. After picking up the car we drove back to the hotel before having dinner at the Colorado restaurant where I tried some Elk Tenderloin.

We got up early and had a quick breakfast before checking out of the hotel and leaving the Grand Canyon National Park to drive to Las Vegas and our last day in America. We drove road-signfor about an hour before turning off the interstate (motorway) and driving along the famous Highway 66. hoover-damWhilst driving along Andrew pointed out sights. We passed through an Indian Reservation. We pulled off and parked beside Lake Mead to look at a huge hydro electric power station called Hoover Dam. It was massive as everything is in America.

 

mandalay-hotelWe returned to the car and drove the final 20 miles to Las Vegas and found out how to get into the Mandalay Bay Hotel. It took Andrew and Ann an hour to check-in and then we went up to our rooms on the 13th floor. When we were getting into the elevator I noticed that the hotel had 60 floors so I’m glad we’re not all the room-in-las-vegasway up there. las-vegas-hotel-corridor

After deciding which bed I was going to use, we went out over to the MGM Grand Hotel as Andrew had got tickets to see a Cirque De Soleil show called Ka which is only performed in Las Vegas.outside-theatre show-in-las-vegas

The show was brilliant and ended with an indoor firework display. After the show we walked along Las Vegas Boulevard looking at all the neon lights and saw the dancing fountains at the Bellagio Hotel.camelot-in-las-vegas

 

The water jets danced in time to the music. I’d never seen anything like it. We finally caught a monorail back to the hotel and bed.

small-breakfastWe woke up early on the last morning of our trip to America and had some breakfast in the hotel. I had a choice of corned beef hash, pancakes or French toast (the portions were bigger than me). We then went down to the pool and had a swim in the lazy river and the wave pool. All too soon it was time to head back to the room and pack the last bits in the cases before checking out. However, Andrew wanted to have a go on the fruit machines in a Las Vegas casino. He had one go and didn’t win anything but was persuaded by Jonathan to have one more go. Next second lights were flashing and he’d won $30.  At this point he stopped and we went to collect the cases. After checking out we went down to valet parking where our car was waiting for us.

We drove through Las Vegas to the rental car drop off point at the airport where we said goodbye to our car. Andrew told me that during the last two weeks we had driven 1,513 miles. las-vegas-airport-on-way-home on-way-homeThen on to the shuttle bus to the airport terminal to drop off our bags and through passport control to the departure lounge for our plane home. Although we were getting on the plane and due to leave at 3.45pm, Helen told me that we are not due to land back in England at Gatwick Airport until tomorrow morning at 9.40am.

I didn’t realise that it took so long but Helen tried to explain about time zones and how it was best if I got some sleep on the plane to prevent something called jet lag. So it’s time to say goodbye to America and next stop England.

THANK YOU TO THE LOW FAMILY For a WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE

Now for Canada What a lucky Wolf Cub I am.