Observations of the USA

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After 16 days through the states, I’m pretty much an expert now. Ha! No, I don’t think I could ever be, but the experience of driving the coast has opened my eyes to some ridiculous, funny, stupid and different observations of this country.

  • McDonald’s is legitimately everywhere. We’d be driving through a small town (comparable to Yallingup for example) and there will be a McDonalds, Taco Bell and Starbucks on offer. If not more!
  • Car pool lanes. These are bloody genius! If you have two or more passengers, you can drive in the furtherest left hand lane, which is always quieter.
  • All the food and beverages are sweeter or are cinnamon flavoured. Soy milk is sweeter, tonic water is sweeter, chewing gum tastes like cinnamon. It’s ridiculous.
  • Most people we met were super friendly, but always think they’re right. They want you to have the best trip, so you need to cancel that hotel you have in Pismo beach immediately and book in at Morro Bay.
  • The catch phrase is “SO good”.
    – That donut was SO good
    – Her hair looks SO good
    – That bar is SO good
  • Speaking of bars, every single one has at least one TV showing any game of sport. Even the classy bars will have it on, and then you hit Buffalo Wild Wings where they show at least 10 different types of games on 50 screens around the restaurant.
  • Pick up trucks are no joke. To me they resemble monster trucks, and scare the life out of me on the road.
  • Customer service is insane! As the staff work off tips they always go above and beyond to make sure you have the best experience. So, even though at times you know they’re faking it, it’s a nice change to the grumpy hipsters back home.
  • Having said that, tipping SUCKS. American companies need to sort their shiz out, pay their staff the correct wage so that the customer doesn’t have to.
  • On top of that, please just include the taxes in the price tag of any item. I don’t want to have my $5 note ready, to have someone tell me “Oh, that’ll be $6.20 thank you”.

Rant over. This country, like all others has positives and negatives. I loved the trip, and wouldn’t have done it any differently at all. I just find these little differences fascinating, and thought you might too!

Big American love,
Hanbel.
x

 

Big City Life

Yo yo yo! We’ve made some good progress in the last few days, and have officially hit Oregon! We’re right down the bottom at a little town called “Klamath Falls”, and I will tell you all about it in due time.

For now, we shall be re-visiting San Francisco.

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The city of cable cars, a beautiful red bridge, clam chowder and a lot of junkies, as it happens. When Andrew and Harley came to San Fran a few years back, they stayed in an area called South of Market or SOMA, and they loved it! It’s downtown, right in the middle of everything and a quick walk to the cable car which shoots down to Fisherman’s Wharf.

Naturally, we booked a hotel there for this trip too. Little did we know, that this area has a changed a little and is now the home of many a drug dealer, junkie and homeless person. Please don’t stay here if you visit.

As much as I tried not to let this bother me, arriving at 6pm and struggling through the traffic, only to be welcomed by the charming neighbourhood wasn’t a great start. Not to mention the four hour sleep I managed due to noise and friendly mice playing under our bed.

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Regardless, we pushed on and headed out for some tourist attractions. This particular cable car runs up from Fisherman’s Wharf to market street, where the workers jump off and literally push the car around to travel back the other way.

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Fisherman’s Wharf is pretty much what you’d expect. Plenty of tourist traps, a seafood cafe every two metres and the sea lions at Pier 39. We grabbed the obligatory meal (I stole some and it was deeelish!) and started our search for bikes to hire.

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The wind was howling like a mofo that day, and it was bloody cold down by the water. So we made the choice not to ride over the bridge and possibly get blown off said bridge. We did take the bikes the 5km round to the start of it and get a gooooood look.

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She is a thing of beauty, even on a cloudy day. Despite the weather and my weariness, I’m glad Andrew pushed me to ride out there and have a good look.

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We finished the afternoon with a walk up to Lombard Street; seriously those hills are a killer. I better have buns of steel after this walking, not to mention the fact that every hotel we stay in has stairs. Every bit of exercise counts right?

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The following morning, we swung by the painted ladies for a quick peek, before hitting the road again and getting out of this big city.

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The overcast day doesn’t do the colours justice, but these houses are so freaking pretty. The yellow was my winner!

I’m still unsure how I feel about this city. I like the elements it has, I’m just not sure that they mould well or work exactly right. It’s hard to describe, and I’m sure the area we were staying didn’t help, but I just didn’t get the city. I still had a great time though, and I didn’t want to leave it with a sour taste in my mouth. Which is why San Francisco will always be known as the place I bought my first American Peanut Butter ­čÖé

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Much pb love,
Hanbel.
x

Are We There Yet?

For those of you who might not know, Andrew and I decided to hire a car in LA and drive it down to San Diego, and then all the way up to Seattle.

We have our mountain bikes with us, and this seemed like the most logical and cheapest way to transport them to Whistler. Once we hit Seattle, we’ll take a bus to Vancouver and then another to Whistler (to avoid extravagant costs for taking a car over the border).

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“Jessicar Rabbit”

So, now you’re informed, I can start my rambles about how awesome road trips are. I just LOVE them. Benefits include:

  • More space for all of our baggage,┬áplus we literally haven’t touched our bikes since we loaded them into the car
  • Road trip snacks
  • No queues for boarding planes or trains
  • Not having to be at a station at a specific time
  • Getting to see the sights along the way, there are some incredible things we’ve come across that we would have otherwise missed
  • In’n’Out on the road (although I don’t really get the hype)
  • THE LIST GOES ON AND ON

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Back to our trip. We left our tacos and friends in San Diego, and started heading north. We vowed not to drive more than four to five hours each day, mainly for our sanity and to prevent a murder-suicide situation. Which brought us to Pismo Beach; a sleepy little beach town which was an absolute gem!

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Wandering along the pier before dinner, we stopped to watch some surfers catching waves (it was freezing and I definitely thought they were crazy). As we turned to walk away I overheard someone say “Oh, are you going to take photos of the whales?”. Yep, there were mother flippin’ whales hanging around the beach. It was the perfect night with my perfect human.

The next day we hopped on highway 1, taking crazy turns through mountain ranges and cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. If you ever get the chance to take this drive, please do. It’s breathtaking, and scary, and unbelievable.

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Salmon Falls

I wish we’d had time to stop and take in more of the highlights, but we did as many as time would allow. Our final pitstop was Santa Cruz, to check out the original store and the sweet little town. I’d spend another day there in a heartbeat.

We hit San Francisco later that night and were completely overwhelmed with people, traffic and one way streets. I think we adjusted to the quieter towns a little too well ­čśë

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Toodles for now, hope you’re all as well and happy as we are.
Hanbel
x

Doesn’t It Mean Saint Diego?

San Diego, definitely not a whale’s vagina [Mum, that’s an Anchorman reference], definitely a taco lover’s paradise.

This Californian city is so close to the Mexican border [you can literally see it from Imperial Beach] that it’s heavily influenced by the food, language and culture. We’re staying downtown in a quarter that has fairy lights in every single tree, jacaranda trees in full bloom and happy hour on every corner.

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We’ve spent our three days here chilling with Andrew’s awesome mate Rico, checking out some coastal towns, eating lots of tacos and visiting our first Walmart.

IMG_0303IMG_0307Imperial Beach…┬áThe mountains in the background? Yep, that’s Mexico.

Karena’s Mexican gave us our best meal, their ceviche was out of this world. They also served up some┬ásensational bean tacos and satisfied Andrew’s michelada cravings.

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We spent one morning walking through La Jolla, which was my favourite area. The ‘Coastal walk’ takes you from one beautiful beach to another, lets you get up close and personal with seals and sea lions and shows off with some┬ábreathtaking views.

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We even managed some exercise in this trip, going for a run around the Marina. I do not suggest doing this post-tacos. I managed to keep them down… just.

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We’ve now jumped back into Jessicar to┬áhead up the coast, and start our journey north. Holy guacamole, I underestimated how difficult it would be to drive on the other side of the road and car. I honestly feel like I’m learning to drive all over again, and giving Andrew a heart attack in the meantime. Let’s just say that it’s best that he drives through the big cities.

I’m also trying to source some healthy food which is a S-T-RUGGLE in this country. However, they do have the biggest range of protein bars and peanut butter flavoured anything, so I’m happy for now!

IMG_0325Must. Stop. Eating.

Til next time,
Hanbel.
x

California Here We Come

So, this is officially my life from now on;

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and apart from the limited outfit choices, I kinda like it. There’s nothing like being back on the road, in the air, on a bus travelling somewhere new, and this is bringing back some gooooood travelling memories.

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Our flights were smooth and non eventful, we managed a few hours sleep and plenty of movies. For an added bonus, making our way out of LAX took around half an hour, and I’m pretty sure Mia Wasikowska was on our flight. #celebspotting

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A HUGE thank you to my girls for the care package they put together for me. The slippers, hydrating mist and lip balm saved me during that 12 hour flight.

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Now, we’re chilling in cali. But literally chilling, because it’s way colder than I thought and I keep forgetting to take a jacket with me. We hit up Venice beach and Santa Monica on day one; eating tacos and riding bikes through the beach, trying to stay awake as long as possible and beat the jet lag.

I’m digging the states, and Venice is so chilled out, but otherwise LA is not my cuppa tea. I’m trying not to judge too harshly, but I really have no interest in going back. Having said that; the city has one saving grace…

DISNEYLAND!

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The happiest place in the world that requires no explanation.

We spent the whole day running around like 5 year olds, the next morning soaking up the last of the LA sunshine and after packing up our hire car (Jessicar Rabbit) we were on the road; San Diego bound.

Stay tuned for more southern cali adventures.

Hanbel.
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