This is really just a set of pictures taken from a 15-minute stop off travelling through Saguaro National Park – taken approximately halfway between Tucson and Phoenix. More cactuses than I’ve ever seen!
Otherwise known as the Aeroplane Graveyard. This is right next to Tucson International Airport and an active military base which led to a problem as 4 weeks ago the military instituted a new rule that stated that any foreign national had to show a passport to gain entrance – three of us had bought our passports but as the other two members of our party had not we couldn’t see the boneyard without splitting up. As it turns out we didn’t need passports to see the main body of restored planes, which was what we wanted to do anyway!
Below then are a lot of pictures of planes, taken from the tour bus (75 minutes on an Arizonan morning!)
I swear this plane is a cartoon (or at least inspired a smiley cartoon plane!
When you’re cute but trying to look tough – the bumblebee
The ultimate airfix kit – build-it-yourself plane
The Dreamliner 787 vs Boeing 737
The Guppy (behind the others)
A random radar plane
Air Force One
This plane is called a fairy… one of the ugliest planes ever made apparently!
Day one of the Tucson road trip – we headed 3 hours down the I-10 to Tombstone. This city gained fame/notoriety as the location of the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which was acted out for us later that afternoon! Today it is mostly a tourist location and has several exhibitions relating to its earlier history as a bullion boom town (and a very impressive diorama!)
Big Nose Kate’s Saloon
The Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday prepare for the gunfight at the O.K. Corral
The ‘scene of the crime…’
Mining – what Tombstone was originally known for.
Supper had to be steak at CattleTown, Tucson followed by Strawberry Shortcake – both delicious though everyone was confused to find that there was no ‘shortcake’ anywhere near it, but was rather a vanilla sponge cake!
So, all quiet on the West Coast here – the last few days have been full of the above. Yesterday we went to a wave pool in Tempe featuring a huge mechanical wave every five minutes – great fun yet eerily reminiscent of the arena in ‘Catching Fire’ (Hunger Games II) when it begins!
Also there have been huge rain and thunderstorms every evening and this morning I awoke to many flood warnings – my phone sent me at least three warnings of flash flooding in my local area! The storms have been very exciting (when inside obviously!), full of both sheet and fork lightening. However I can tell you that the iPhone camera is not cut out for storm videography as this is the best I got…
The food as usual has been good but enormous – today we went to Eggstacy for lunch and for $11 Max and I split the following:
Pecan Pie Pancakes – the full portion!
Other examples of an entire day’s calories in one plate include Chloe’s banana Nutella pancakes:
First of all, Southwest Airlines are hilarious- I’m only ever flying with them again! Airline and a stand-up comedy act? Sold.
‘If you’re scared of flying, put your head between your knees and tremble until we bring round the alcohol’
‘You are so lucky to have us as your flight crew’ (no lack of confidence there)
‘My guy in Houston writes these leaflets – I know none of you will read them but you should. If there’s an emergency – tough, you’re on your own! (Only joking, obviously look for a crew member!)
[Paraphrased but the gist is there]
They also give very friendly snacks…
The first night we ate at Pita Jungle where I was again reminded of the scale of American portions – I ate the second half of the meal for breakfast the next morning! I had a lentil fatoosh salad which there is no photographic evidence of – it tasted good though!
Dessert did make the camera though – below is an ice cream sandwich made of a chocolate chip cookie, a s’mores cookie with mint chocolate chip ice cream and hot Nutella (hence the salad before…)
The next day we went to one of my favourite lunch places – Flower Child. Basically a hippie place (even including a ‘yoga mat parking’ spot) it specialises in bowls, salads and other tasty things. I had a Vietnamese salad bowl with tofu which was delicious, but I was also very taken by the drinks – honey-lavender-limeade, elderflower-rose lemonade and strawberry-lemonade, all on tap!
Then we had a quick tour around some of the amazing houses in the local area before heading to Creamistry – my favourite ice-cream place! Based on some – very dodgy – liquid nitrogen freezing principles you can create your own ice-cream by choosing a base, flavourings and toppings. Below we have a creamy base, tiramisu flavour with hot fudge sauce on the top. (Again, salad for supper!)
Also, this is what a Malteaser looks like in the States…
Until next time then, happy eating!
So this was meant to be one post about San Francisco, but it took far to long to write the first one – we clearly do a lot! This is now day two – our only full day.
The hotel we stayed in provided us with muffins and coffee for breakfast- I discovered that ‘half and half’ does not make nice coffee…
Next we started walking through some of the districts including Mission, Castro and Japantown before heading towards the Golden Gate Park.
This is called ‘Alpine Street’ – well named!
Starting at the conservatory we then walked through the Memorial Gardens and towards the lily pond (weirdly foul-smelling) and the Japanese Tea Garden (expensive – $8 dollars if you wanted to go in!)
The less-than-fragrant lily (never saw any…) pond
We then wandered down by the lake where I was surprised to find turtles! I didn’t even think about seeing them in the wild but was struck by how still they were – sat on sticks in the middle of the lake!
Then we walked back to the Piers, heading for Pier 43 and a half, and our boat tour! This took us out to the Golden Gate Bridge, around past Alcatraz and back to the mainland, but was very interesting. After a dodgy start the audio guide was fascinating – very well ordered and gave a good balance of information throughout. The weather was sunny but hugely windy – I was trying to take pictures and several times nearly fell over whilst balancing against the rail with the camera in my hand. I was struck with two things about the bridge – firstly it’s sheer size, and secondly the colour. It’s orange apparently. My whole understanding of San Francisco architecture is a lie.
I was excited to go around Alcatraz- I had wanted to go on a tour but they were all booked up. The boat trip though was great in this respect – it gave a lot of information, slowed down as you went past and circled the island almost completely. The stories of the children who lived in Alcatraz, going to school on the same ferry as the criminals coming to the island and the interviews with people on it were very interesting and I do want to find out more. They also talked about Angel Island (the Ellis Island of the West) and again, being something I knew nothing about did make me want to learn more about it.
After the cruise we walked back through Chinatown, before aiming to find some supper! One of the most famous Chinatowns in the world, this clearly gave off the impression of being a living district, rather than one created for tourists. We went to a bakery where Max had a Chinese custard tart and I tried an unusual delicacy of a puff pastry filled with a mixture of ginger, yellow soy bean paste and preserved egg – unlike anything I’ve had before but very tasty!
We then tried to find tea, which turned out to feature a LOT of walking – we had bookmarked several places, most of which were either closed, expensive or not what we wanted at the time. However, our last choice struck gold and we ended up at the Capital Restaurant which served huge portions or delicious food for good prices. If we were hungrier, they had a deal for $15 of spring rolls, egg fried rice, beef and broccoli, sweet and sour chicken, tea and fortune cookies. If the portion sizes were anything to go by, that was probably a week’s worth of food in one meal! Maybe next time!
Before heading onto Phoenix (our main destination) we decided to spend a few days in San Francisco. There are two reasons for this:
- I have wanted to go for a long time
- Plane tickets to Phoenix were very expensive!
However the end result is positive – we got to spend some time there and it didn’t disappoint! As I’m now waiting in the airport for the Phoenix flight it’s time to fill you in on what we’ve been doing!
So on our first evening we were very tired but still decided to go out and explore a little bit, particularly as I had my eye on a specific ice cream sundae shop… We planned to head on the cable cars to go to Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghiradelli Square, however we accidentally got on the historical Streetcars by mistake. However, the conductor was lovely and allowed us to carry on and refused to take any money, despite us trying to pay him – instead Max got instructions to buy me flowers!
Next we headed past the Fisherman’s Wharf to Ghiradelli Square and walked up through the shops. Passing the improvising violinist we went into the chocolate and coffee shop for our sundae – only to find that the new rules say that calorie counts have to be added to menus.
I don’t want to know the number of calories in this one.
Afterwards we walked up some of San Francisco’s massive hills and went to the top of Lombard Street (calling itself the windiest street in the world). The pictures are not great due to light, but the road is extreme- speed limit of 5mph! (Dad would like it!)
We then wandered back to the bay front and caught out first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz in the early evening, before catching the cable car back to the centre – there was a bit of a ‘Knight Bus’ (Harry Potter link!) feel to this, from the old cable car with huge metal leavers to the screaming driver! I joked on the way up that it looked a little like a really slow rollercoaster going up to the top and when we got to the top of the hill it definitely felt a bit like that!
We then went for some food which weirdly was quite hard to find at 8.30-9pm. San Francisco apparently has the most restaurants of any American city, but they all seemed to be closed! After walking through Little Saigon and the Tenderloin District, past the theatre (where I was hugely excited to find that it was showing ‘Hamilton’) and bypassing a pikachu giving directions (!) we gave it up as a bad job, and went back to the hotel. However en route we passed the ever-open Chipotle! Though disappointed to find that it is $2 more in San Francisco than in Washington DC or other more eastern US cities (they are NOT exaggerating about how expensive San Francisco is!), we got a huge plate of food and learnt what Sofritas is! (Tofu rice bowl for Max). At this point we were definitely ready to collapse (6am English time!) and were definitely ready for bed!