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Old 13th August 2013, 22:24   #31
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Default re: My West Coast Roadtrip **EDIT: Finally completed!

The drive from Sedona to Los Angeles was the longest we had on this trip after our opening day marathon. To compound matters we had to meet an old school friend who lives just South of Phoenix and works in a town called Tempe. How Americans live and work in different cities is beyond me

So I asked her: Phoenix or Tempe? And she replied (naturally) "Scottsdale!" Apparently there was a nice Mexican place there that she'd wanted to try out for a while. It was somewhat kinda on our route so we agreed.

As we headed towards Phoenix the terrain got more rugged and the temperature increasingly higher. By the time we reached the pretty town centre of Scottsdale, AZ, it was a blazing 104 F.

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Lunch was a pleasant affair. It's always nice when you meet someone after nearly 25 years and can still talk about stuff from back home like it was yesterday you'd last met. The much-touted food was strictly average but the girls got along like a house on fire and soon we were all having a blast. But the long road back to California beckoned and we wrapped up after a bit and hit the road again.

Unfortunately for us we drove right into the worst interstate gridlock I have ever experienced. There was an accident up ahead and a huge line of vehicles were just waiting and going nowhere. We waited patiently for a while but then the desi mentality took over. The closest exit was hardly 800 feet away and we saw the odd vehicle use the shoulder to get to it. It was hot, the effects of lunch had started wearing off and worst of all, we needed fuel, so I took the chance, hit the shoulder and took the exit to a road that didn't look like it was going anywhere.

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Luckily it led to a small town nearby where we parked, tanked up, bought some snacks and took a much-needed bathroom break. We then took a state highway all the way to the next point where it met the I10 again. Thankfully the route was clear. After that it was a straight drive back to Bakersfield and then to LA.

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We reached our hotel which was near LAX without incident. It was very disconcerting to be told by the receptionist at the Courtyard Marriott LAX El Segundo that we were expected to pile our luggage onto a cart and take it to our rooms ourselves because there was "no one available" to do this. We later learned that the hotel did not offer a bell hop service at all. Very American but after hours of driving on a hot day it's the last thing you need!

Anyway, we found an empty cart, dragged our stuff to the rooms and settled in. We were booked for 5 days- enough time we figured to see the sights and attend G's graduation.

Last edited by noopster : 13th August 2013 at 22:51.
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Old 13th August 2013, 22:58   #32
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Like I mentioned before driving in LA was a breeze. We did a lot of runs from LAX to Santa Monica to downtown and even to Pasadena where we were told the shopping was good. I don't really remember the sequence we went about things so will just post the pics in the order taken

Shopping in Pasadena:
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The pic above shows an interesting offroader we spotted when traffic was jammed momentarily at an exit.

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Some pics from Santa Monica pier:

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Last edited by noopster : 17th August 2013 at 09:34. Reason: Added pics
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Old 17th August 2013, 09:05   #33
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Default re: My West Coast Roadtrip **EDIT: Finally completed!

California is so beautiful. Palm-lined boulevards are a joy to drive on and bougeanvillas in bloom everywhere.

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We had lunch at an Indian restaurant which I think was called "Electric Karma". Funny name but the spread was good.

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Later that evening...

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Hollywood by night was a nice experience. We stopped to pick up breakfast supplies for the next morning at a store that stays open till 3 am. The owner was from Russia and very friendly.
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Old 17th August 2013, 09:16   #34
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Default Graduation!

The next day dawned and with it the reason we'd flown halfway across the world: Gautam's graduation. A proud day for all of us and I must confess, there were some tears all around!

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The University campus was a riot of colours and emotion.

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The engineering school graduation was on the basketball court.

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Looks familiar? The keynote address was by none other than NR Narayana Murthy. This obviously preceded his triumphant return to chair the company he founded.
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Go Trojans!
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An off-campus shot of car and driver. My more stylish friends have taken extreme prejudice to my alleged lack of dress sense . But hey, it's California!!!
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Last edited by noopster : 17th August 2013 at 09:37.
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Old 17th August 2013, 09:33   #35
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After the high emotion of the graduation, we wanted to go somewhere we could chill out and relax. Two free days and so much to see! Eventually we ruled out Universal Studios and decided to spend one day in Disneyland and the other visiting San Diego.

Disneyland was non-negotiable- it was the only reason my little girl had patiently endured all those hours of flying and driving! To be absolutely honest, we all had a ball!

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You've got mail!
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An enchanting stage show of Beauty & The Beast:
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Oh to get an autograph from a real princess...!
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...and another!!!
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...and ANOTHER!!!!
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The parades are the most fun thing in Disneyland. They start in the early evening and continue late into the night. We lined up early and got some good views!My West Coast Roadtrip **EDIT: Finally completed!-note-1674.jpg

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Virtually every Disney (and Pixar) character makes an appearance and it's a delight to watch each of them get a warm and rapturous welcome.

Last edited by noopster : 17th August 2013 at 09:59.
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Old 18th August 2013, 18:15   #36
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Default San Diego!

San Diego was the first city I visited in the United States, on my first trip there in 2001. I was totally taken up by how beautiful it was. It was exciting that I was finally able to return here this trip, with the family in tow.

We did a day-drive from LA and returned the same night. Having limited time, we did a trip of the renowned San Diego Zoo and then relaxed at La Jolla Cove.

The zoo was fun:

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We sat on the sea-facing grassy knolls of the La Jolla cove for a couple of hours. Some relatives who live locally stopped by and we had a good time catching up.

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They were insisting we stay with them but we were eager to get started on our run up the Pacific Coastal Highway (Route 1) up the coast to San Francisco. We said our goodbyes and left for LA.

Last edited by noopster : 16th January 2014 at 18:16.
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Old 6th January 2014, 20:17   #37
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Default The Glorious Route 1

Quote:
California State Route 1 (SR 1) is a major north-south state highway that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of the U.S. state of California. Highway 1 has several portions designated as either Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), Cabrillo Highway, Shoreline Highway, or Coast Highway.
(...)
The highway is famous for running along some of the most beautiful coastlines in the USA, leading to its designation as an All-American Road. In addition to providing a scenic route to numerous attractions along the coast, the route also serves as a major thoroughfare in the Greater Los Angeles Area, the San Francisco Bay Area, and several other coastal urban areas.
Source: Wikipedia

In short, we drove up from San Diego right at the Southern tip of the state through LA via the I101, then hit Route 1 somewhere before Malibu, covered San Luis Obispo, Carmel, Big Sur before hitting the interstate again in the final run-up to San Francisco. It got a little confusing along the way at times and we ended up crisscrossing between the coastal highway and the regular one a few times. We even managed to end up on a toll road somewhere near Carmel where we paid $27 to cover an 11 mile "scenic trail" that was pretty much a golfing community for the super-rich!

Since it was a 500 mile drive and we stopped several times to admire the scenery as advised, we broke the journey into 2 segments. Night halt was at a town along the way: Navin had suggested Pismo as a nice halfway point and we stayed at a lovely beach resort called Sea Crest Oceanview. No prior bookings but remember this was pre-season. The next day, we slept in, started late and stopped for a very late lunch at a charming Italian place in Carmel, then drove to San Francisco with no more stops.

As expected the coastal highway was magnificent- a treat for the senses. An added bonus was the elephant seal nesting point we crossed near St Luis Obispo.

Let the pics do the talking! Shot on iPhone.

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Bonus pics for the foodies!

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Last edited by noopster : 16th January 2014 at 18:25.
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Old 16th January 2014, 17:31   #38
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Default Lake Tahoe

Once we were back in the Bay Area, we started focusing on the social part of the trip. The vast majority of my junior college gang is now based in California, most of them dotting the Bay Area from San Francisco to Sunnyvale. Two more friends flew in, one from Minnesota and another from Dallas, and a grand reunion was planned. First time in almost 20 years!

The reunion was planned for the weekend so we had a few weekdays to kill in between. Marriott owns a large property on the Southern side of Lake Tahoe that serves as a ski resort in season. Early summer meant we got some killer rates for a 2 bedroom suite there. So we drove up from San Francisco via Sacramento to the beautiful lake that sits plum on the state's Northern border with Nevada.

My Galaxy Note battery had been troubling me immensely throughout the trip and it failed completely once we'd finished the Route 1 run. BIL didn't join for the Tahoe trip so the iPhone was unavailable too. I was carrying my JVC video camera which also takes stills, though unfortunately really low resolution ones. The Tahoe pics are without a couple of exceptions all shot on that. Someday I will regret that!

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We took an entire day just lazily driving round the lake starting at its Southern tip and doing a full circuit. We stopped at every vista point we could. The Nevada side of the lake has some beautiful beaches and we took out pizza from a local joint and sat on the beach and ate a lazy lunch. The water, typical of the Pacific Ocean, was freezing. Daytime temperatures were in the high 50s (about 12-15 deg C) which sounds cold by Indian standards but it was really enjoyable in the direct sunshine.


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Last edited by noopster : 16th January 2014 at 18:09.
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Old 16th January 2014, 17:48   #39
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Default re: My West Coast Roadtrip **EDIT: Finally completed!

Well, that's about it for this road trip! We started and ended our journey in San Francisco, covering approximately 3500 mi (5500 km) across California and 2 neighbouring states. The Pacific Coastal highway run was a dream, right from gorgeous San Diego to the incredibly shiny-clean Lake Tahoe. My kid got to play in Disneyland and the Zoo and the adults got to play slots in Vegas and luxuriate in a hot tub jacuzzi or two. Denny's and Starbucks became our staples. Also Mexican food (we ate so much that when my friend offered to cook Mexican for our reunion party we groaned. Dal-rice was so much more heavenly!)

I'd been planning this trip for almost a year beforehand so there were no surprises: costs were kept under control by booking flights and hotels early. We drove everywhere and saved on flight and taxi expenses.

A major achievement was doing two stretches of nearly 600 miles each (close to a thousand kilometres) in a single day. I did virtually all of the driving solo, except when we needed an extra car for more people joining us, when my BIL would rent locally. No pullovers by highway patrols, no speeding tickets or any other blots on the driving record, thankfully! On the last day of our trip, I finally got tired of the trusty Nissan and traded it for my BIL's rental for the day.

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Fitting parting shot I think. Hope you enjoyed this travelogue!

Last edited by noopster : 16th January 2014 at 18:10.
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