Wednesday, June 11, 2014

USA Adventure Week 1

For those I have not recently contacted, I have begun a 6 week tour through the USA. The first week has mainly been travelling. I left Dunedin at 4pm last Monday and about 17 hours later was in my hotel in Los Angeles but it was still 4pm on Monday.

It was the first time I had visited downtown LA. I stayed there in order to be near the Union Station as I began the first of many rail journeys. However I spent Tuesday wandering in the area, mainly to recover from the flight and jetlag.

I visited the very modern Catholic Cathedral then found the Walt Disney Concert Hall which was built just 10 years ago and is very modern. I was pleased to find free entry and audioguide. It is futuristic in design which is difficult to photograph and there is a roof top garden.

 I was lucky that the main auditorium was open and a young woman was practising on the organ but photos were not allowed in there. I then wandered further through the city.

On Wednesday I boarded the Coast Starlight for 12 hours by train to San Francisco. I booked a roomette aalthough I was not travelling overnight but it was well worth it especially with free meals and coffee thrown in. I was a llittle disappointed in the coastal scenery.

 I guess I am spoilt with the coastlines of both NZ and Australia. I am told the US coastline is more dramatic further north but not in view from the train.

After just 9 hours in a hotel I was back on the California Zephyr for 32 hours to Denver. This did provide dramatic scenery with the deserts of Nevada and the Colorado Gorge.

I was surprised at some accents I heard and discovered that among my fellow passengers was a tour group from New Zealand. There were 14 Kiwis and 3 Aussies doing a rail journey right around the USA.

I spent 2 nights in Denver and Saturday I walked the long 16th Street Mall, discovered a People's Fair where I bought lunch, and in the afternoon visited the Denver Art Gallery. It was free for the first Saturday of the month but I paid to also see the exhibtion of Modern Masters, both European and American, which was very good and closing the following day. It is also a modern design

and I saw the first of what I believe will be a lot of American Indian Art. 

Sunday was back in the air, this time just over an hour flight to Rapid City in South Dakota. I am glad the shuttle insisted on picking me up at the hotel at 11.15am for a 2pm flight. The flight was delayed by thunderstorms. For a short while all outside ground staff were withdrawn due to lightning and there was a tornado watch in place. Our plane finally landed from Texas about an hour late but after boarding we were told we were overweight and 2 people had to be removed. When there were no volunteers, the last 2 to check-in were selected. Thankfully I stayed aboard and arrived Rapid City 90 minutes late.

I have joined a 7 night Coach tour here and have now completed 2 days 1 but will leave that until next time.


JCF said...

What a trip!

Sorry the California Coast disappointed you: I guess when you live near a coast you have quite a standard by which to judge (despite being a California native, I don't get over there enough except think "Whee, I'm on the coast! It's cool here!" I'm from the Valley, where it's been hot.)

Ah, I LOVE the Zephyr! I've only made that trip once (almost 25 years ago now), but still have great memories of that GORGEOUS Colorado River country (and when you descended into Denver, didn't it almost feel like flying on the way down?)

Looking forward to your next update!

Leonard said...

ENJOY! When I was in College I would often take the Daylight Limited from L.A. to San Jose...I always enjoyed it and sometimes the Lark too...Our trains once were spectacular and as a child I loved the Portland Rose (Union Pacific) every Summer to Grandmas house...I know you will enjoy's so varied a lovely and my hope is that you will meet up with kind and hospitable people who will add to your appreciation of our West and beyond...looks like you are heading East...good much to see, so many people to enjoy...feliz viaje, Len