Return to the West – USA

We first visited the USA in the 1970s and have returned many times since. Until starting this blog, I would have said we much prefer the east to the west coast; nevertheless, we are now taking a trip to the west because our daughter wants to see some of those iconic places that everyone speaks of.

We last made a west coast trip when photos were on film so to recapture the memories we have to look through albums. Hence, the images in this blog are taken from old photographs and there are only a few because we are bad at keeping things in order so these are what I spotted as I flicked through some albums.

We started in LA and I remember hating it. Wondered where I had landed because the lingo of choice was Spanish not English! We must have been brave as we picked up a car from the airport and hit the horrendous traffic without a second thought. The start of our journey was not great – we saw the Hollywood sign, Beverley Hills and the Walk of Fame at Mann’s Chinese Theatre. I thought it was all either tacky, OTT glitzy or scruffy and felt unsafe.


We headed across the Mojave towards Palm Springs. That felt false, which of course it is, and was full of old people. We will probably enjoy more now as we are part of the required ‘not quite pushing up daisies’ age group. Nevertheless, things improved as we drove south to Tombstone a historic western city, which we loved. Had a drink in Big Nose Kates saloon, saw where the Gunfight at the OK Corral took place, which wasn´t in a corral but in a boarding house, and toured the town in a stagecoach. I remember we were surprised at how modern it was back in the late 1800s with its football pitch and electric streetlights.

We then swung north to Phoenix where we bought Stetsons and cowboy boots and on to the Grand Canyon. We took a flight through the canyon which was superb, so this time I am looking forward to a helicopter to get even closer, and there was no Skywalk bridge so that will be a first.

We finally arrived at Las Vegas. You can´t visit the area without stopping at these places, and one man’s tack is another’s must see. For Jim and me it was total tack, for Kate it is close to the top of her Must Sees. I lost $20 in the Luxor casino, saw a show in the Golden Nugget, and passed the drive through “Chapel O’ Love” where weddings were taking place even at night.


Onwards through Death Valley, where I bought a silver cigarette lighter cover in a mining ghost town then a stopover at Mammoth Lakes. It was early June and I thought the authorities had forgotten to remove the road signs, which advised ‘Take your Chains’. Next morning, 3 feet of snow met us outside the door and we were thankful for the cowboy boots and jeans we had bought. We were supposed to be going to Yosemite National Park but because we had a hire car and no chains, we ended up in Reno, 300 miles before the traffic cops would let us do a left turn! This time round, we may get to see Yosemite.

Next, San Francisco, it was everything I had hoped for, from the kitsch of Fisherman’s Wharf, to the trolley bus rides. From Alcatraz to the Painted Ladies and of course Chinatown and Pier39.

The next part isn´t included in our new trip, once we have been to San Francisco, we fly home. However, to round off our original visit, after the hustle and bustle we headed down Route 1 stopping at Big Sur, Carmel, and Monterey. I fell madly in love with sea otters in the Monterey Bay Aquarium and think of them each time I pick up my key ring. Had lunch in Cannery Row and felt we had stepped back in time to a town in a John Steinbeck novel. Visited Hearst Castle the breath-taking home of Randolph Hearst on whom the film Citizen Cain was based, and finally back to LA.

It will be interesting to see how things have change, if my memories are true and if I like places now that I hated then and vice versa

All the images that have my Red Queen logo are mine, those without I have had to take from the internet although I have little doubt if I searched long and hard I would find a lot more of ours tucked away in tins, boxes and albums. 🙂

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One Response to Return to the West – USA

  1. greyjake says:

    The photograph showing the horse on a stone plinth marks the spot where cowboy/actor Tom Mix died. I guess you have to be a certain age (like me – old) to remember Tom in early Hollywood westerns.

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