Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Round the mountain we go - Jan 24th

Another bike race and strictly on the support crew. Ten days ago I fell of the bike during a short training ride and have nine stitches in my knee. The day started early once again with us being at the racecourse by 7.15 am to get Phil off for the first leg.
Karen and I met Marilyn at Oakura for a coffee and to watch Phil go by. We missed him but nice coffee.  Next stop was at Okato and we were very efficient with changeover with Karen taking off as soon as Phil arrived. We drove along the coast road and stopped a number of times to encourage her. Great riding with not too much head wind. Saw lots of bike tyres being changed this time and the emergency vehicles were going up and down constantly.
Opunake was a busy stop with Phil taking off well. By this time we were a good two hours into the morning. Karen and I frog-hopped along the road trying to get photos but Phil was going faster than our gap. We did manage to get a few though the road was taken a couple of times on phil's phone.
We met up with mum at Pembroke school and karen had found the uphill leg not too bad. Just after Phil left us the ambulance went screaming down the hill and we were off in case it was him. We passed him safely at Midhirst. Last change was Inglewood and Karen was concerned that the Burgess Hill might get her but when we saw her she said she was fine. Phil biked with her from the racecourse while I parked the car and tried to get to meet up with them but a bit slow on the walking.

Here is Karen biking along the surf highway between Okato and opunake. A beautiful day

Relaxing at the beach with Marilyn after the race. we went back in for the Prizegiving (no winners here) and then back for dinner with her. A nice ending to the day. Our time (6 hours and 8 minutes) was comparable to last year and we were higher up in the placings. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

The wine road

First stop Gary Farrell which is a boutique winery using grapes from other vineyards. Nice Pinot noir but only purchased a cheese board made of marble.
Second stop was Moshin's which mum and Mj had tried a bottle of before while dining at a restaurant in guernville. This had really nice vin Gris and Pinot noir which we bought a bottle for Ewan. Julia our host at this winery was most informative and the best thing they had a quilt display. It was fabulous fabric art.
Third stop was porter creek and greeted by Doug ? Who was putting up the winter lights. Joe our inside host was chatty and informative about the vineyards that some of their grapes came from and also about grapes and the history in general. This was our biggest purchase with bottles to take home to NZ as well as a couple for the cellar in the house.
Driving along MJ told us that she had been this way with Marilyn and they had stopped at Matrix. When they were here in September the gardens were under renovation, but things had progressed albeit not far we thought. They had a great fountain and bones for excellent garden beds. The lady here was uninspiring and we only bought two bottles, one for me and one for Ewan to have. By this time we decided that four wineries was enough and .lunch was the next order of business.

Driving into Healdsburg we found the Town Square quite easily and three hour free parking. We tried the Healdsburg Bar and Grill for lunch. Nice menu and I chose the falafel which was delicious served with lots of lettuce and great sauce. For starters we had deep fried bacon which was interesting. 
More to come as bed time now and have packed ready for trip back to sf.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Unto Utah we went and conquered the Bryce

Another early start for this supposedly relaxing holiday. We were all ready and at the door when Jim our guide for the day, drove up. A great start as it meant we were on our way. Heading north on the interstate we traversed the corner of the state into Arizona and then into Utah. Jim asked if we wanted to stop and as we said no he suggested a side trip into the Kolob Canyon, which is an adjunct to the Zion national park. This was awe inspiring and a great start to the day, as this is a taste of what we would see in the Bryce and Zion parks.

Jim was incredibly knowledgable about the construction of the various plateaus and layers that make up this area of the states. Numerous photos later we were nearing the Bryan canyon lodge, which Jim had promised us was the best pie for lunch. Oh no, our groans resounded. They are closed. Onto the Bryce Canyon and first stop was sunset point, where Stephanie and I went down a couple of bends to experience the hoodoos first hand. Very slippery so Stephanie stayed while I walked along to a small arch in the hoodoo. Amazing view through the hole into Wall Street formations. Was great to see people down the bottom but not us today.

Next stop was Ruby's for lunch. This was nice and I had a bacon cheeseburger which was good. The fries were excellent, best I have ever had for a while. Managed to get a souvenir, fastest shop in the west.
Back in the van for a little bit of backtracking then onto the Zion national route and through the tunnels dug by depression workers in the 1930's. Really amazing. The chequerboard was easily identifiable due to the snow, great pictures I hope. Up the scenic way and the temperature was mild so we all hoped out for a walk to the river to see the icicles. None dropped while I was there but they did while I as in the toilet, c'est la vie! The noise was astounding according to the others. Saw some great stone art at the river side.
Next stop was Las Vegas so a good two hours saw us back at the hotel by 8.30pm which was excellent. The sunset was great and hopefully have some good photos - auntie steffies or facebook for pictures. 
Once back we decided to try out the dessert menu at America restaurant. Very nice, took pics. Once it was over took mum and dad upstairs while Stephanie and I went for a last look down the strip. Went into the coca cola store but could not think of anyone to buy a present for. Almost got another lot of m&ms but decided had enough luggage.

Day 2 Vegas tour

The day started with a sleep n and all you can eat breakfast, then a slow meander over the road to book tickets for a show tonight. a long trip through the MGM Grand casino found us in a taxi to the Venetian casino. We walked with mum and dad past the canals of Venice, had a hot chocolate and they decided to return to the hotel.
Stephanie and I then wandered through the Forun shops, all the name brands you can imagine at Caesars Palace, no wonder the rich and famous stay there they don't need to go anywhere for shops. Was amazing interior decoration, set up like a Roman street with suitably dim lighting. After managing to find our way into the Bellagio we walked all over and retraced our steps to find the fountains just finishing the sequence. By the time we walked to the front of the building it was time for us to pretend to be part of Ocean's 11 and watch the fountains play. I recorded it but no sound cMe through. Oh well you can see it and pretend.
A bit further on we looked the bus stop and got tickets which took us to the Mandalay bay casino so we could walk back to NYNY from ther passing through Luxor and Excalibur on our way. The Luxor was amazing and I would love to have been able to see a room - do they have sloping outside walls.
It is so amazing all the details that go into to creative g the theme for the hotel and then we found while at the Bellagio they were removing the polystyrene igloo from the display in the conservatory. Who knows what the photos will be like?

I will report on grand canyon later  refer to auntie steffies for photos and updates.
Ciao off for dinner and show

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Las Vegas day one

an adventure from start to finish today as Alex drove us past san Bruno on the way to the airport, we arrived and checked in then found out our plane delayed due to mechanical faults. Better to check. To read more of these adventures go to auntie steffies blog 
After dinner Stephanie and I did a walk around to find out where we need to be in the morning at 6.30 am. Sure is a busy town and so much different from 1988 when the casinos were cheek by jowl and you walked under the store fronts down the street. Lots more lights, characters in the street and people around now. Amazing sights seen everywhere.

Guess where we went?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Day 2 Sightseeing

After a very late to bed time we woke at 8 and were down at breakfast at 9. Ewan arrived to drive us home to get ready for the day. He requested a paper which I had dutifully got for him. Back at the house, party girl Erin, was up so time for coffee, print ticket to Vegas and depart for day two of sightseeing. First destination was the real crookedest street which is not Lombard. Vermont street in protrero hill is really windy. Next along to look around the mission district, going past Fitzgerald's and then down to AT&T park. We stopped and took pictures of the park and the views of the bay then onto the embarcadero and down to Coit tower. Coit Tower was closed for New Years but we had time to walk around and photograph Erin. Back down the hill and through Chinatown, plus some of town. 
Mj suggested that we try the Rotunda restaurant in Newman Marcus for lunch but after four escalators we discovered that were only taking bookings. Still had a nice look at the designer clothes. Next stop was to try Roy's but they were closed. Another drive through Chinatown and we found a place called little szcheuen for lunch. Great choice with pot stickers and five spice beef roll for starters and then mu-shu pork, honey walnut chicken and prawn and pumpkin with chowmein and fried rice for mains. A lovely lunch.
Next stop was Lombard street but queues were so long Mj dropped us off and we walked up the hill and down the street. The traffic was constant. I know it is a holiday but this would be the worst place to live.
Down to fishermans wharf but parking was atrocious so our courteous driver dropped us off and we wandered from the square along to pier 39. Went into the mechanical arcade and some photo booth photos later we left. The crowds were amazing and lots of families obviously out for the day. We got to pier 39 and decided to start shopping so I got some Swarovski and chocolate, then Erin shouted Stephanie and I an ice cream from Dreyers. Was yummy with a chocolate dipped cone and birthday cake ice cream. Picked up by MJ we the. Drove up to union street to have aloof at the shops and onto the haight ashbury area. By this time it was dark and we came home. An early night beckons as we are off to Las Vegas in the morning.

First day of sightseeing

A leisurely start to the day saw us sleeping in until 8.30am so a bit of a rush to get to breakfast. We were then sorted and I drove us to Ewan's. Discussions on the day followed and saw Stephanie, Mj and I depart for the sightseeing tour. We started by driving up the coast to Sutro baths, past Cliff House and Louie's diner, where we stopped for a photo look and a coffee at the national parks shop. Back in the car and driving around the suburbs, Sea Cliff, Pacific heights, marina district and others. We ended up going by the kids school and stopped at St Mary's Cathedral but could not see in.
Next stop was lunch at the grove, which is an Erin hangout. Nice quick food, I had a chilli cheese dog which was not too spicy and lavender lemonade. More travelling and Stephanie were dropped off at Union square to catch the tram to ghiarerdelli square. A mistake and we were on the wrong tram when we got to fishermans wharf but we walked along and met MJ at Buena Vista for an Irish coffee. A nice drink out of the wind and fun watching the gentleman make about 12 in one go. Next a drive around the marina and park at the Golden Gate Bridge for our walk over. It was really pleasant walking and not too windy. Took some stunning sunset pictures so that will be good to see them when we get home. The bridge I have discovered is longer than I thought so it took us a good time to walk across and MJ  was worried we were lost. A drive home for dinner and steaks cooked on the bbq for tea. Watching TV passed the evening until 11.30 when Stephanie, MJ and I headed into town to see the fireworks. The roads were really empty and as we drove along the embarcadero they started. We just crushed along watching out the car windows, taking photos. A good display and home again, back to the hotel by 1 pm. A call to Marilyn and Virginia finished our New Year's Eve.