Slack blogger
california
bigholiday
Again I apologise for my slackness in providing blogs.
I don't really know what day it is or when we did what any more so I will try to provide a summary!

After 4 nights in Vegas, we set off through Death Valley towards Lone Pine, CA.
Death Valley is always an interesting (&Hot) drive, big strange landscapes, long dusty roads.
Lone Pine is an old frontier mining town, one main road runs through it, and we stayed in one of the oldest hotels - Dow Villa.
"The Dow Hotel was built in the early 1920s. Even then Hollywood was looking for movie locations where there was a variety of scenery. Where better than the Owens Valley, with its snow-capped Sierra, its ancient Alabama Hills, its deserts and mountain lakes and streams. And when they came on location, they needed lodging. Mr. Walter Dow, a Lone Pine resident, could see ahead and knew what it could mean to the valley to have the big movie business, so he built the Dow Hotel.

Originally the Hotel had 55 rooms and one apartment for the manager. The front porch gave a magnificent view of the Sierra with Mt. Whitney the central attraction. The Dow Hotel hosted countless producers, directors and stars. To name a few of the stars, John Wayne, William Boyd, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Pat Buttrum, Stewart Granger, Errol Flynn, Robert Mitchum and Clayton Moore."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_shot_in_Lone_Pine

Only one night in Lone Pine before we set off again to head further into Northern California on the way to San Francisco via Yosemite National Park.
We took the scenic route through the park that goes over the mountains, Tioga Pass. I didn't take any pictures as I was too busy soaking up the scenery, and keeping my eye out for bears (apparently around 14 bears a year are hit by vehicles in the park & you know how I like bears)

https://www.google.com/search?q=tioga+road+yosemite+park&es_sm=122&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=HrOtU8ScDtXboATQ6YCoAQ&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=667

Once through the park ( a 4 hour drive) we landed on the outskirts of it in a small town called Mariposa, which appears not to have evolved much past the wild west. The sheriff was on a horse outside the local bar (complete with wooden swinging door).
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Stuffed armadillo in a pink bow:
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The next day we headed off to San Francisco! The more we go here the more I like it.

Our first night we had a really good meal in an italian restaurant near our hotel, and being in wine country the wine was pretty good too!

We visited the USS Hornet Aircraft carrier, and I got to sit in the Captain's chair in the tower :D

We ate Tacos and drank margaritas, (Jon had a strawberry one AND a spicy pepper one).

And on the Monday I performed at Hubba Hubb Revue at the Uptown, Oakland! So much fun to be back, great show and I can't wait to see pictures! One highlight for me was the drive back over the Bayh Bridge post show - Jim (the promoter & MC) drove back complete with sailor's hat & Hawaiian shirt in situ.

Tuesday - The Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo! I've wanted to stay at this hotel since I first read about it online about 10 years ago, it's a complete one off. Built in 1958 on a mountainside using rocks from the mountain, it can only be described as camp! Faux Swiss exterior mixed with lavish pink rose interior, stained glass, beaten copper and western murals, and that's just the common areas of the hotel. Each room is individually decorated to a theme, most of which either have a stone waterfall shower or large fireplace.
We had the "Safari Room" which had a waterfall shower!
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Love this place! Want to come back and stay in every room! Jon enjoyed the large rock face fire place and stately leather chairs (with his large glass of wine). A local lady pointed out where a dinsosaur fossil was accidentally built into the walls with the rocks from the mountainside too - so cool!

Las Vegas
california
bigholiday
Forgive me dear readers, for I have been very lax in updating the blog whilst in Las Vegas!
I'll try to condense the last four days or so into one post here for you

Sunday: We drove from Palm Springs to Las Vegas. I was sad to say goodbye to the Movie Colony Hotel, and look forward to returning at some point!
Las Vegas journey was punctuated as usual by stopping for gas in Baker (home of the world's largest thermometer!) and at the Las Vegas Outlet Shops (just to stretch the legs and get a drink)
We stayed at New York New York, as our favourite hotel Bill's in Vegas has closed since we were last here. NYNY is a lot bigger, and a bit overwhelming until we had got our bearings.

Monday: We ate the most amazing bbq food ever. The place looked like a shack, and when we walked in it was pretty much walking into their kitchens but OMG THE FOOOD
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Tuesday we saw Meatloaf at Planet Hollywood. It was really small venue compared to the Arenas I've seen him at before, and we had decent seats so that was good.
The bad: He's old & can't hold notes like he used to, and he mutters rather than sings.
The good: He performed "Hot Patootie" from the Rocky Horror show in it's entirety, with 6 backing tap-dancing Columbias in screen accurate costume, complete with Time Warp medley and the scene being shown on big screens behind him. AMAZING. I pretty much squealed "EDDIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" in time with the movie when it came on & I realised what was happening.
The big inflatable bat was there.
The Ugly: He wears old lady shoes. :( Not very rock & roll Meat, not very rock & roll.
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I enjoyed it though :)

Afterwards we stopped for pizza on the strip, at a place called Pin-Up Pizza. Here's me just hanging with Bettie Page:
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We drove out to the Valley of Fire. Beautiful rock scenery, very strange though, like being on Mars. I climbed on things, and Jon strode through the sand dunes:

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Then we went shooting at American Shooters:
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We also visited the Hoover Dam! It was very hot. I'm always impressed by the engineering, the art deco style, and the grit of the workers that built it in the 30's

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We drank lots of Cocktails too:
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Palm Springs
california
bigholiday
I love Palm Springs!!
After breakfast in Santa Monica we drove about 2 hours out into the desert to Palm Springs, our hotel was built in the 1930's - it's only got 14 rooms, all in little separate bungalows around a pool, and
"Years later, it became a haven for iconic celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Jim Morrison. Most recently the property was restored to its original grandeur of Desert Modernism that continues to evoke a feeling of simple elegance and informality, which is just what guests will experience during their stay here at the Movie Colony Hotel. "
Needless to say, I am very comfortable here :-) I feel part 50's movie starlet recuperating from hectic Hollywood, and part Jim Morrison out in the desert liaising with the coyotes and cactus. Very cool.

Before we checked in though I had been given a heads up on a closing down sale by the Palm Springs Follies, who are selling off all their old costumes!
"The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies - a world-famous, Broadway-caliber celebration of the music, dance, and comedy of the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s with a cast all over the age of 55!"
AMAZING. The place was full of old showgirls and drag queens.
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I wish I could've bought these! I came away with a pink showgirl bodysuit & skirt, tap shoes, dance shoes, wristlets and some swarovski rhinestones at a STEAL.

After getting lost in the convention centre this was held in for 30 minutes while Jon boiled in the car waiting for me (eeek!) it was a quick rush to the hotel, and hopping into a taxi to get to Dickie O'Neals irish bar to watch the England game.
I had an AMAZING corned beef sandwich and strawberry margaritas.
Then back at the hotel it was free cocktail hour:
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Today we had breakfast in Rick's Desert Grill, FABULOUS. Now we are just chilling ahead of the desert drive up to Vegas!

Friday - Universal Studios
california
bigholiday
Jon saw an advert for Universal Studios were if you buy a ticket, you can return again for the rest of the year - so we went yesterday, and we'll be going back again at the end of our holiday! :D
This is a very good idea, as after 2 hours up in the hills under the sun I normally flake out.
After our designated 2 hours (Studio trolley tour, ghost train, waterworld show) we drove to Pink's hot dogs for lunch - as amazing as I remembered, and Jon had two!

Santa Monica - Wednesday & Thursday
california
bigholiday
Hello!
After getting up at 3am on Wednesday morning for the drive to Heathrow, we arrived at LAX airport at 14:00 PST, that's 22:00 back at home!
It's almost routine now going through immigration, picking up luggage and hopping on th courtesy bus to pick up our car from Hertz... speaking of which:
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:D Can't wait to do some real mileage in this! It makes a wuffley noise when you put your foot down
wufflewufflewufflewufflewuffle

Back at the Sea Shore Motel, and over to Finn McCool's Irish bar for happy hour to end the day, followed by pizza delivered to the motel room from Joe's - we had sicilian style, cooled in olive oil

Wednesday:
Breakfast at Denny's!!
Walked along 3rd Street promenade
Walked along Santa Monica Pier
Walked along Venice Beach. Discovered I should only be allowed out in moonlight as I burnt my shoulders AGAIN despite wearing high factor sun screen.
Went to Target & got some random item & spicy doritos.
Had a nap.
Went to the pub!

2014
california
bigholiday
Holiday for 2014 starts here! We're checked in an spending time in the lounge at heathrow terminal 3 before he flight at 11.15

Wednesday
california
bigholiday
We went up to Griffith's Observatory, for the second time (we couldn't get parked when we went back when we first got to LA). We couldn't get parked again, which was a bit of a pain, as it is a beautiful view from up there.
Instead we went to Phillipe's for lunch, best sandwiches ever. Today has been all about food really! 
We then went for another walk round Venice beach - I like it there, sunny, full of weirdos and stoners, lots of weird shops etc. Jon is not such a big fan but he indulged me none the less!
This evening we have had the best italian food I have ever eaten, words cannot describe the lasagne we have just had:

It was a bit like that.

And the tiramisu...... OOOHHHMAAAAGERRRHDDD!!!
I am so full of food right now, but I didn't want to stop eating as it tasted so good.
#piggy
We fly home tomorrow :(


(no subject)
california
bigholiday
Sunday:
We went to the Zoo!
We stopped at the beach before we got there, chilly in that sea breeze. Some crazy fools were surfing too
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This ostrich knew I was eyeing up her feathers.....
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Snuggling bears!!!
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Poison dart frog! good picture, but I used flash, and then I had to apologise to the frog for dazzling him
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Closest I have ever been to a flock of flamingos! Beautiful!!
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Although we enjoyed wandering round the zoo, all of the big animals (Giraffe, gorillas, zebras, bears, lions, tigers, snow leopard [gorgeous!], rhino, hippo, anteater, polar bear) looked depressed, bored and claustrophobic. Especially the polar bear, he looked miserable. I don't think the enclosures were big enough, really those types of animals should be in a Safari park or even better, conserved in the wild. 

Sunday evening we drove out to San Jose to Henry's Hi-Life, a BBQ place featured on Man Vs Food as seen here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNyI8RU5cks
We both had ribs, they were OK, not amazing, and the BBQ sauce was more like tomato soup. Meh!

Monday:
The long ass drive to Los Angeles! 5.5 hours
I love our hotel here though, it's in Brentwood (lovely neighbourhood, the new Beverley Hills  you know, and the house from Fresh Prince is round here!)
The room is big and lofty, and there are free milk & cookies in the lobby every afternoon. After such a long drive, we had a snooze and then went to Baby Blues BBQ in Venice for food. As experienced on previous holidays, these are AMAZING ribs. (Yes, this means I ate practically a whole baby pig in the space of 2 days. I don't care, it was tasty).

Tuesday:
Universal Studios, and my favourite ride, Jurassic Park. We got properly soaked this time round, it's been such a hot day they turned up the water effects but equally we dried out in minutes.
Haunted House update: I managed NOT to kick any midgets this time, but did have a "Bring it on!" moment with Frankenstein.  

(no subject)
california
bigholiday

Thursday:
Bishop, California. Actually quite a rural place, the other tourists there were all from other parts of the States. In the evening I had gone across the road for a late night burger to Carls Jr, and the bloke behind the counter was definitely bemused and surprised to see an english person there asking for a $6 burger!

Anyway,  Thursday morning we got up early and began our epic journey to San Francisco. the sat nav estimated it at a 6 hour journey (yikes!), I had anticipated it at 4.5 hours based on google maps.
We would've shaved it down to 4.5 hours, had it not been for various delays due to roadworks going through Yosemite National Park. 
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We stopped off for pizza after 3.5 hours or so, at a random camping village - there seems to be nothing else to do out there but go camping, hiking or variations thereof. Pizza was good though, even if we did look out of place for our lack of camping gear!

We drove so far that day, the actual scenery changed several times:
- Gold in them there hills rural town
- Them there hills
- National park (fir trees, mountains, lakes)
- Camping village
- Them there hills again
- Fruit & nut growing fields of California (mainly plums and almonds)
- Civilisation, Bridges and San Francisco!

Once arriving in our hotel, I promptly walked to Peets Coffee for an intense caffeine hit for both me & Jon, before unpacking all my burlesque stuff and doing my hair/face for the night's show!
We got a taxi down to the venue so Jon could enjoy a beer while he watched the show.
It. was. awesome. I really really enjoyed performing, it was a well organised and  run show, the people were all lovely, I can't wait to see pictures!
Perfect international debut :-)

Friday:
We chilled on Friday, as it was the first day in a week where we didn't have to get up and drive off to another destination!
Peets coffee for breakfast, followed by lunch at Mel's Drive In http://www.melsdrive-in.com/aboutus.html

I've always wanted to try a Reuben sandwich, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reuben_sandwich, and I'm glad I did! Om nom nom nom. 
My root beer came in a tall glass with a striped straw and a cherry floating on top, which made me happy (easily pleased).

In the evening we went to Patxi's pizza, which we enjoyed last time - you get a the pizza base, with the toppings on, then a layer of cheese, then a layer of pizza base, then the tomato sauce, like a double decker pizza. Very nice. 

Saturday:

Today we had International House of Pancakes for breakfast, then went for a walk round fisherman's wharf in the sun. I particulary enjoyed The Musee Mechanique http://www.museemechanique.org/ which has some music machines dating back to the 1890's, and some original peep show machines. I took some some pictures/video on my phone but they won't upload on this connection :(

 


(no subject)
california
bigholiday

Tuesday night:
We went out to Panda Express for tea (fast food chinese chain, amazing orange chicken) and picked up some beer & wine, then just chilled in the room at the Hard Rock.
I must say the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is our new favourite Vegas spot, the room was huge, the bed like an enormous cloud, and the decor right up our street - we shall return!


Wednesday morning:
I woke up super early, so wandered round the casino trying to find some coffee. I like doing that, you see four kinds of people:

- People who have been up all night at the slot machines, still playing (tired from concentrating, zombie like and a bit  pale from lack of sun)
- People coming home to their rooms after being out all night (generally disheveled looking and loud)
- Cleaners  (Need more lemon pledge)
- Other people like me, wandering round starry eyed at the blinking lights, looking for coffee

Once I located coffee & delivered it back to our room on the 10 floor (Side note: HRH has the FASTEST lifts I have ever been in)
we packed up, and set off to buy me a hat.
I needed a hat as we were off to Badwater in Death Valley http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badwater_Basin and the last time we were there I got ill from the sun & heat after 15 minutes, so we thought a hat would help. Plus I look good in hats. I chose a jaunty western number in black felt.
2.5 hours later after a circuit of the valley, we got out of the car at Badwater. It was 43 degrees C, so not as hot as it had been on Vegas last week, but I'm sure the change in altitude doesn't help either, so even with hat I was back in the car feeling awful after 10 minutes.
Due to the route via Death Valley, the rest of our journey to Bishop (our stop off between Vegas and San Francisco) was one long-ass road punctuated by western frontier towns, population 254. One of them, Lone Pines was used loads for filming westerns in the golden Hollywood age. we stopped for Meatballs & Spaghetti in a small diner there as we hadn't eaten since that coffee in Vegas.

50 or so miles later we rolled into Bishop, which is a larger town (technically a city) but still quite rural and quaint. Our hotel is lovely, the local creek actually runs through the hotel grounds, and our balcony overlooks it.

Tomorrow, on to San Francisco, and I'm performing at a show there :-)


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