Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Carol: Our Review Of The Movie!

This Christmas season we had a wish list of films that we wanted to watch in addition to our usual Christmas classics.

These included:
  • Christmas With The Coopers
  • Carol

Christmas With The Coopers was as expected, a simple story, a slight unexpected twist and a happy ending. Well happy in general - Laura and I finished the film in tears as there was a line referring to how dogs feel about their humans....we got a little emosh! It got quite bad reviews by the critics, but in our opinion, a Christmas movie doesn't need to be great - just 'feel-good' with a great cast and story - which this movie delivered!

Next, we saw Carol. Whenever a movie with a lesbian couple comes out (haha, no pun intended) it's hard to ignore the excitement on our Twitter feed. Usually, the movies are small, independent ones that we have to wait ages to see or spend hours looking for on USA streaming sites so when we heard Carol was heading to the cinema near us we were excited!

We planned to see it with friends but the weekend ended up being too busy.

We planned to see it at our local cinema but the times were always too late.

We planned to make sure and see it before Christmas.....and we failed!

So on Boxing Day we finally found a cinema playing the film, at a reasonable time and were able to watch the film.

Honestly, we were a bit disappointed. Perhaps the wait, the Twitter comments or other factors had built the film up too much? We aren't sure.

First, the good: the film was beautifully shot, and the styling, setting and locations were stunning. The acting was first rate - Cate Blanchett especially was enchanting and engaging. It was a lovely and artistic film.

Warning, SPOILERS ahead!!!

Our criticisms are all regarding the story. For the first 30 mins we were waiting for something to happen. Then, the story picked up and rushed through the main 'action' before settling back to it's slow pace to finish. We knew Cate Blanchett's character was going to get together with Rooney Mara's Therese we just didn't know how. However having seen the entire film, I'm sill not sure why they got together. Common interests? Shared passion? We weren't shown much of that, it looked mostly like Carol pursued Therese because of one long, lingering look.

And when their interactions turned to romance, was it because of all their deep and meaningful conversions? Did we miss these? Was there an intense friendship based on shared experiences or likes and dislikes, passions? All the things that make for a great start to a relationship, lesbian or otherwise, seemed to be missing - in our opinion.

Then, just as the film was exploring their relationship, Carol upped and left in the middle of the night, and Therese's reaction was minimal! There was another woman in her hotel room in the morning and she just said 'Oh, has she left then' and that was it! If L had left me in a random motel with her best friend my reaction would have been WAY less accepting! And as for forgiveness - that wouldn't happen after a month of been ignored. The film seemed to completely miss the nuances of a girl-girl relationship. While passion may create a relationship, communication sustains it. Their communication was non-existent.

In fact, if you swapped Therese's character to a man, it wouldn't have changed the story at all - it would almost be more believable.

There were so many bits of the story that were never really explained or followed up on - how did the Private Investigator find her? And then there were story lines that were never really finished. If the film had spent less time scene setting and more time building the relationship, it would have been more enjoyable. Or if the film had continued and we'd seen how they built a life together in America in the 1950's at least it would have left me feeling like I had learnt something, or gained appreciation for the challenges gay people had at the time.

Maybe if we had read the book first we'd have 'gotten it' more? Maybe the book allowed you to increase the speed of the story or spent more time building the relationship - I hope it does!

We rarely do reviews but when searching for Carol reviews we couldn't really find many that was more than a few lines long so we thought we'd add our tuppence.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

Monday, 28 December 2015

Christmas Eve 2015: Spa Day!

Christmas is a magical time of year, that cannot be denied. It's a time for kind gestures and thoughtfulness and we love it.

This Christmas Eve I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of Laura's thoughtfulness when I was woken up to a surprise gift. Inside of a Christmas card were details of my first present - a Spa Day and we were to leave immediately.

The Spa was just outside Stratford-upon-Avon at Hallmark Hotel Welcombe . The location was beautiful, set in rolling countryside with stunning views in each direction. Driving up the long driveway it was as if we were entering a new world. One of relaxation, peacefulness and of no distractions - it was almost as if the craziness of Christmas wasn't happening.

We left home just after 9.30am and dropped Bisbee off at the dog sitter's Laura had thought to organise so we could relax for as long as we wanted. From there it was straight up the motorway for a 10.30am arrival at the Spa.

On check in we received Spa bags complete with towels, dressing gowns and slippers and were shown around the facilities. This included a Sauna, Steam Room, Caldarium, Laconium and Tepidarium - and an ice shower to have between rooms to help with blood flow and keep you refreshed - it worked a treat!

There were also foot spas, Jacuzzi's, a full sized swimming pool, a Fesco Vitality pool (that was outside), a tropical rain shower, heated stone loungers and a full gym (which we didn't use).

As if that wasn't enough, the package Laura had gotten also included a champagne Cream Tea and a treatment!

I had a pedicure and L had the manicure - both were half an hour treatments done by lovely girls who were very focused on making sure we remained relaxed. I think I even nodded off :)

The day was perfect, the location amazing and best of all, it was so quiet in the Spa that it felt like real quality time together. It's not often that we get time to relax, indulge and focus on us but this was a great opportunity to do just that. It was even better that it was after a busy few weeks being here, there and everywhere with Christmas preparations and social engagements. It also meant we walked out feeling like we were floating on clouds - exactly what we needed to allow us to get our last few food bits from Tesco's without getting involved in the chaos.

Our Spa glow also lasted through Christmas day and we have decided that if we can we will make sure and book something similar every year. New tradition!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Death Valley was Dead Good - USA Road Trip Part 4

24 hours is never enough time to spend in Vegas but we comforted ourselves with the fact that it was au revoir rather than goodbye. The trip was brief but the memories were made and we had far more of the USA to get on the road to see.

After my fav (indulgent) Las Vegas meal - Panda Express Orange Chicken and Maccy D's fries - we packed up and hit the road. The next part of our road trip took us through Death Valley. The things we'd read, pictures we'd seen and guidebooks we'd checked out had said that Death Valley could be the hottest place on Earth. The sources talked about temperatures rising 10 degrees from the time you drove into the area to the time you reached Dante's peak. And yet when we arrived it rained. Well it rained on and off. There was no overwhelming heat. It did get warmer the further in we drove but the highlights were the views and the rainbows rather than the experience of the heat.

We saw scorpions cross the road and drove round the tightest corners on our way across the area. We ascended to Dante's peak to be greeted with a breath taking view - or maybe my breath was taken from the scary as hell road we had to take to get up there. But the longer we stood and admired the view the more amazing it was and I can honestly say it ranked up there with the spectacular sights of New Zealand and Australia. The time we spent standing on the edge will stay with me forever.

From Dante's Peak it was a whistle stop tour to see the other sights before sunset - the moon like dunes and rocky mountains made for a drive that was out of this world. When we weren't twisting and turning it was clear straight road all to ourselves, perfect driving conditions.

The only challenge we had was getting food. Turns out Death Valley is exactly prime location for fast food restaurants of shops. The road trip from Vegas to our destination of Mammoth Lakes was just over 5 hours but as night dawned we found ourselves in need of substance and thought an 11pm arrival time might mean we'd miss room service. We thought we were in luck when we saw signs for Tea Kettle Junction, except it was just a junction, the same with Death Valley Junction - sad times. Panamint Springs sounded hopeful but had nothing, then Swansea and Aberdeen - places that are big cities in the UK but were tiny drive through places with nothing of note here. Then Lone Pine appeared. A big town by Death Valley standards and it had a Carl's Jr. Dinner sorted. As we ate the place went from empty to full and we really felt like we'd be lost on the road for days. The people that appeared were talking of their woes and travel issues and we couldn't help but worry when we heard one group talking about the fires in Yosemite - not far from our next stop!

Fueled with food we finished the drive in endless darkness on, at times, terrifying roads. We drove up steep curvy roads and down windy narrow turns. It was like an arcade game only the terrifying realisation that the car wanted to do 80mph even with all my weight on the brake pedal kept me firmly in reality.

On arrival at Mammoth Lakes we found our hotel and I parked while Laura checked in. Before I could head in to meet her she came out to the car park with words that still make me smile. 'STOP, we have to clear out the car.....all of it, the hotel say bears come looking for food and will rip into cars for any scraps!' I smiled for 2 reasons 1) after 6 hours on the road (and as not the tidiest of people) cleaning out the car was no easy feat and 2) our proximity to actual bears was kinda exhilarating.

Some 20 minutes later with bags of rubbish we reached our room and passed out. Turns out driving a racing car is tiring! Plus we wanted to fresh faced and bushy tailed for our day in Yosemite the next day.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

One Night in Vegas - USA Road Trip Part 3

When you go to Vegas, people presume you are going for a number of reasons:
1) Gambling
2) Drinking
3) The clubs
4) The hotels

No-one expected the reason we were driving to Las Vegas from LA was to see Britney Spears. But it's true! We drove to Vegas via Baker to spend just one night in Vegas and for one reason only - to see Britney.

It has been said before and I am sure it will be said again that I am a slight fan girl when it comes to Britney. This was the 7th time I had seen her live, and thankfully it lived up to every expectation.

However to get there we had a five hour drive from Anaheim (after checking lost property at Disneyland) to Las Vegas. The road was mostly long and straight, and great to drive. We listened to Ms Spears the entire way and it was awesome. And HOT!

Love these roads and in 99 degrees F with the top down this is what road trips are meant to be
Someone kindly drew our journey on the side of a building in Baker
We arrived at 4pm and drove up to the Mirage, handed our keys to the valet and checked in. Next stop was out strip view room for a quick change of outfit and then straight to the pool. Five minutes later, with a margarita in hand we were loving Vegas and getting slightly merry.

Reliving the bachelorette party!
Dinner was at Guy Fieri's Diner. The food was delicious and portion sizes gigantic but it was perfect for sharing and to fill us up for the night ahead. Next stop was BRITNEY!!!!

The Mac n Cheese burger to the left, and truffle fries to the right - both are highly recommended!!!
Britney's Piece of Me show is at Planet Hollywood, which thankfully is central on the Strip so we were able to make it to the venue with plenty of time to get drinks and take pictures. When we were shown to our seats I almost cried. We were only seven rows back! We were close enough that we could see her without a camera zoom and it made the performance even better. What's more, we were surrounded by Britney fans who joined me in singing every word to every song. We danced, we sang and we enjoyed a delicious margarita that I hold solely responsible for the final picture below! The show was everything we hoped for and more. The set was incredible, the set list was perfect and the atmosphere was brilliant. The great seat helped and getting covered in the confetti added a certain something but halfway through L turning to me and saying we should see if we can come again in 2017 was my highlight. I am so lucky to have a wife that is willing to indulge me!

It's Britney B!tch
Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol!!!

Disneyland!!!!! USA Road Trip Part 2

The place dreams come true sounds about right.

As fully grown adults, there are few things in life that allow you to revert to childhood and pure unadulterated enjoyment - but Disneyland is one of them.

We loved Disneyland.
We spent 15 hours in Disneyland.
We can't wait to go again!

It's hard to explain why our day in Disneyland was so amazing - there were the parades that filled the streets, the wonderful rides and the amazing hosts - but for me it was more than that. I have a feeling that it was because it was a dream come true. It was getting to do something that I had dreamed about, wished for and ultimately wanted to do for what felt like forever.

We were in tears driving up, we were uncontrollably excited queuing in the car park and while on the escalators heading to the train to get us to the park this picture says it all.

I'm so glad that I married someone who indulges in every moment, who made us buy glittery Disney ears, who made sure we were kitted out in Disney gear and who queued with enthusiasm. My Laura doesn't stand in line with a sour look - this lady takes selfies, chats to people and gets excited about the rides to come. She is without a doubt the best person to go to a theme park with.

Our to-do list was formed of ride recommendations and guide book advice, we rode 19 rides, we saw Mickey's Soundsational Parade, Paint the Night and Disneyland Forever firework show, we went to the Tiki Tiki show and ate Mickey shaped beignets - it was all incredible.

It was 36 degrees Celsius most of the time and shade was hard to come by, but in all honesty we were enjoying ourselves too much to notice the sunburn. No queue was longer than 40 minutes - turns out a Tuesday while schools are in is the perfect time to go.

Laura also got us badges, mine was a first time one and hers a happy birthday - if you go - get them at the information desk by the entrance - they are free and really added to the experience! All the hosts wished Laura a happy birthday and I was asked numerous times how I was enjoying my first time - it added something special. It also gave Jeff a reason to talk to us. Jeff was a personal highlight for me, He approached us while we queued for the Matterhorn and proceeded to tell us Disney joke after Disney joke for 10 minutes. It was Dad joke extraordinaire and we loved it.

I spent the whole day in awe of how amazing everything was; the details and the thought that went into everything certainly made it an incredible place to wander round. And the fact that they kept extending the closing time meant we definitely had enough time to see EVERYTHING. Personal favourites had to be:
Finding Nemo ride - even though L screamed louder than the kids when it crashed (she's easily startled)
The Matterhorn - old school but awesome
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters - you are in a computer game shooting at targets - AMAZING fun
Big Thunder Mountain - my kinda rollercoaster
Indiana Jones Adventure - although I had to hold tight to L
Peter pan's Flight - made London look sooooo romantic
Splash Mountain - the soaking was appreciated in the heat

We also loved that there were hosts available to take your pictures - as they banned selfie sticks in the park, it was needed :)

The only slight blight on what was one of the best days ever was the fact that our camera went missing - it was left on the side in the toilets at the very end of the day and when we ran back to get it it had gone :( We were hopeful it would turn up in lost property but sadly no such luck so our whole days photos (and all the ones from LA) have been lost. Thankfully we have a few taken on my phone, and the memories we have are enough to last a life time. Oh and we managed to get this one from our photo pass:

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 - Always Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving!!

This day is the one I miss home the very most every year. I love the atmosphere in the lead up to Thanksgiving, everyone is so happy and content and strangers are nicer drivers and in supermarket parking lots. And this year Boise has snow!! Anyway.

I make the most out of every holiday throughout the year, even though my colleagues and neighbours probably think I'm crazy. Whether its an office Easter egg hunt, being the only house in my neighbourhood decorated for Halloween, or having sparklers and BBQs on the 4th July (no matter how rainy it might be!) I feel like I do the very best I can to bring the things I love so much about the USA to my life in the UK.

Exhibit A - Halloween 2015
But Thanksgiving is the only one I've really struggled with. Maybe it's simply because my work doesn't just let me have the two days off we get in America to cook and celebrate, maybe its because even if they did, the people I love would still have to work so wouldn't be able to celebrate with me, maybe it's because this holiday is about family, and most of mine are far away. It's also probably because strangers in the street don't know it's Thanksgiving, so the air of love and kindness just isn't there. I think mostly it's that I haven't yet found a tradition Sarah and I can make our own - to do Thanksgiving the 'American and wife in the West Midlands' kind of way.

Sign I came home to from my girls!
So while I'm waiting, and researching, and thinking of magical things we can do each year to celebrate along with my 'Americans in America' counterparts, this year we were invited to the opening of a brand new restaurant in Birmingham, called The Stable! It'll be so fun to have a nice date night in town, and get to sample all this restaurant have to offer, to mark the occasion. We'll post all about it afterwards, so keep an eye out!

Though Thanksgiving is slightly bittersweet for the lone Idahoan of Kings Norton, it isn't lost on me just how much I am to be thankful for.

I'm most thankful this year for my Mum - she has fought pancreatic cancer this year, and after lots of chemo, a surgery at Johns Hopkins, lots of recovery time in hospital, and more chemo, she is officially in remission as of last week! Mum is truly my hero, she handled everything that came her way incredibly well, continued to be the Mum we all love and adore throughout, and never lost her sense of humour. It may not be over forever, but for now, we are all just so grateful and happy.

I'm also so thankful for my Dad, the unsung hero of the cancer fight - he kept Mum going when she was down, made sure she walked and ate to keep her strength up, treated and surprised her to keep a smile on her face, went to so many 6 hour long chemo appointments, asked all the hard questions to all the doctors, became 'Nurse Bob' when he tended to Mum's post-surgery wound, and was the unwavering support we all needed the whole way through.

My wife, who tried to shield me from hurt and heartache every step of the way - from the day I came home from work and had to Skype Dad to find out that Mum had cancer, to driving me to the airport and packing for me to go to Baltimore for Mum's surgery, for holding down the fort while I was away, being my shoulder to cry on countless times and my reminder to stay positive throughout, for always thinking of ways to make my Mum smile from sending flowers and cards to 'take a picture of this, your Mum will like it!', for always knowing when a pizza and movie night is needed, and for being my better half every day!

I'm thankful for the caring and kind people I have around me here, my mother in law for being there for us from the beginning and for giving me a good luck charm I took to Baltimore and will keep with me always, my good friends, in laws and colleagues for checking in and asking how Mum is, but also for distracting me when I needed it with adventures and memories I will keep for a lifetime.

And finally, I'm thankful for this bundle of fur - it's our first Thanksgiving with her, and I can't believe we've had her for a year! She has changed our lives so much for such a little thing, and we can't imagine life without her. I put together a little video of her best bits from her first year, check it out here!

Happy Thanksgiving from my little family to yours - I didn't expect this post to be quite as heavy as it was, but 2015 has been a hell of a roller coaster. Here's to a healthy and happy 2016!!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The LA life! USA Road Trip Part 1

Arriving in LA - slightly tired but super excited, our first stop after baggage claim was National Car Rental. As luck would have it, our delay in Washington DC had meant that we timed it perfectly to get a Mustang! It had been dropped off half an hour earlier so had we arrived on time it wouldn't have been there.

The car dreams are made of!
We were like kids in a candy store when we saw it - jumping up and down - this was the start of our dream trip....the drama of getting there was fading fast.

In other good news, Laura was able to be a named driver which was good for two reasons: 1) I didn't want to do all the driving 2) L has far more experience driving in America so could handle the busy cities.

Thankfully L offered to drive first and I was so relieved as we hit LA traffic pretty quickly. Our AirBnB was only 20 minutes from the airport and was two streets up from the centre of Hollywood. It took us almost an hour to get there though and by the time we had moved all the bags up the stairs, we ready to pass out. However, the desire for food helped us find a Taco Bell and that gave us the energy to drive the Hollywood strip and plan our next day. The quote 'LA is a car park' was ringing true at this point!
Squint and you can see the Hollywood sign on the hill!
I always forget that the USA doesn't have Sunday closing - in the UK shops shut at 4pm, but without that timeline the day was our own. We had brunch at Mel's Diner - an omelette big enough to share and set us up for the day. It was hot - like 35 degrees C hot - so we took our time doing the tourist things. We walked up and down checking out the Hollywood Walk of Fame, we went to the world's largest sweet shop, I ran up and down the musical stairs by the Chinese Theatre and we spent a good half hour in RuPaul's shop 'just for the shade of it'.

We walked in and out of numerous gift stores collecting mementos - it was Hollywood after all, and this is what dreams are made of !

In the evening we decided to drive to Malibu and were lucky enough to time it for a beautiful sunset - perfect to watch while eating our California Donuts and revelling in how lucky we were to be there. On the way back we decided to check out Calabasas - or, as we discovered, the gates of Calabasas - the Mustang meant we fitted in well enough but we didn't dare to try and drive through the security-guarded gates!
The best evenings involve sunsets and doughnuts :)
The next morning we decided to get our hike on and headed out to the Hollyridge trail that had been suggested to us on Instagram. We knew we had to start early as it was due to get to 38 degrees that day! We arrived at the area at 8am and found a park - following the instructions we had screen shot, we found our trail and started the ascent. It was steep in places but beautiful and every so often you caught sight of the Hollywood sign. We had made the decision to go to the top of the Hollywood sign and we were so glad we did. It was almost 10am by the time we got there but the view was spectacular - totally worth it. It really gave a perspective on how big and sprawling LA is. It spreads out as far as the eye can see, but while standing there it looked so peaceful.

We made our way down and took a second trail to arrive at a great viewing point for the front of the sign - I was SO excited. To be standing at the sign was such a dream come true. In fact, LA was a dream come true!

We also did a Hollywood homes tour (we were tourists, we had to!) and headed into the hills to spot celebrities houses - to name drop a few, we saw: Quentin Tarantino, Vinnie Jones, J-Lo, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Ice T & Coco, the Playboy Mansion, Michael Jackson, Liza Minnelli / Judy Garland, Simon Cowell and Justin Timberlake! Phew!

We also took in Beverley Hills, Mulholland Drive, Rodeo drive and a host of other places including the jail Li-Lo and Paris Hilton did time in. It was just like being on the E! Channel. Sadly we didn't actually 'see' anyone famous but it certainly felt like we were in the right place to.

Rodeo drive had this AMAZING beauty parlour - if only it had been open!
Our time in LA came to a close with a beautiful sunrise before we hit the road to Anaheim and Disneyland.....exciting times lay ahead!!!!

See ya, LA! You were everything we had hoped for and more!

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Worst Start to the Best Holiday Ever

On Saturday 10th October, we said goodbye to our furry little lady, as Sarah's parents had very kindly offered to have her stay while we were away, and we headed to the airport. Couldn't believe the trip was finally here! We had an 8 hour trip, then a 2 hour layover in Washington DC, and a final 6 hour flight to Los Angeles. Easy, right?

It turns out not. When we arrived in Washington-Dulles airport, the place was RAMMED - five flights had just come in at once, and it looked like the customs area wasn't prepared (though surely this happens all the time at such a large airport?). We chose to go into the 'foreign arrivals' lane as it was significantly shorter, as usually we'd use my American passport to go in the faster moving 'Americans' line. And that's where we stood. For an hour. There were so many people, the border control had to ask each one of them so many questions, fingerprint, etc etc - it took so long. There weren't people around to ask what we should do, as our flight was closing imminently, and when we eventually was able to ask someone, we were told that everyone is waiting, and we would need to 'deal with it' if we missed our flight. Well okay then!

When we finally got through, we ran to pick up our bags and drop them off again, as you often do when entering the USA and transferring. 'We can make it!!' We thought. We waited with our bags to be checked for about 10 minutes, then shot off down the hall to make this flight.

Until we turned the corner, and realised we had to go through security again. Even though we were already in the airport! And guess what? That line was crazy long as well. We chugged 3 cans of Diet Coke so they didn't throw away our liquids, and waited for another 40 minutes as we kissed our chances of making our Los Angeles connection goodbye.

When we eventually got through, we went straight to United customer services - absolutely gutted. We were two of MANY who had missed their connection due to this poor organisation, so this line was pretty long too. We were told we could be booked onto the first flight of the next day. We were in tears at this point, as what kind of way is this to start our honeymoon? On top of that, United wouldn't pay for a hotel as they didn't see this as their fault (though it was a United terminal, so they could have planned better than having so many planes come in at once!!).

So we'd paid for a night's accommodation in LA as well as a hire car we wouldn't be able to pick up, and on top of that we'd have to pay for a hotel or spend the first night of our holiday on airport seats. Our only hope was standby on a very full flight later that evening - so we went to wait for it, feeling like the chances were slim to start.

We began chatting to a woman waiting to get on the flight, who was very friendly and wished us luck, We were 2nd and 3rd on the standby list - could it happen? Everyone boarded, and we went up to check the situation a few times. We were told 3 people hadn't yet checked in, and the first standby had been given a seat. Hope!!

We were called up to the desk, so very nervous. We were given the news - there were 5 free seats on the plane!!! BUT. The plane was at weight limit, so they weren't going to let anyone else on. Well, I hate to say it, but we both burst into tears, right there in front of the check in desk. The woman who told us looked at us like we'd grown two heads, and then left the other two to it.

I tried to comfort Sarah, and calm her down as we had made a small spectacle of ourselves. I rung my mum, who very kindly offered to pay for a night hotel for us, and I was just about to agree, when...

The man at the desk came over and asked us to stick around. He said the pilots had ordered a re-weigh especially for us, and there are no guarantees but not to go anywhere. I told my mum I'd call her back, as we waited with baited breath.

A few minutes later, we were confirmed - there was room for us on the flight!! WHAT!! We hugged both the men behind the counter and thanked them, and ran down the hall to the plane, feeling like we'd won the lottery. Sarah popped her head into the cockpit and thanked the pilots personally, and I got a high five from my friendly lady as I headed to my seat.

We couldn't believe it. We were going to be there only a few hours late!! Our holiday had officially STARTED!!! Next stop, LA!!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The trip of best days ever! (Highlight list)

It's hard to know where to start with the write up of our honeymoon road trip. For a start we want to remember as much as possible and share as much as possible but that will take ages - every day was such a great day. We also want to focus on the highlights but with so many it's hard to pick a few to get started with. So I thought for this first post i'd find a happy medium - each day I wrote down what we did and this was the output. The trip in it's entirety in almost highlight form.
  • Picked up white mustang from National – dream come true! Even better Laura can legally drive it  - phew!
  • Find Airbandb after getting stuck in LA traffic – location is amazing – Hollywood strip is two streets away!
  • Brunch burrito at Mel's diner, Hollywood – so good!
  • Found Britney Spears star on Hollywood walk of fame + MJ, Liza Minelli & Bee Gees
  • Had a bible preacher follow us with a megaphone saying 'there is no gay relationship that will be okay in God's eyes' oh dear #LA
  • Checked out Rupauls shop /largest candy store in USA & bought new PINK selfie stick
  • Drove to Calabasas private, gated communities – ended up getting Maccy D’s all day breakfast sausage burritos – must get again!
  • Drove through Malibu – it’s nice, beachy and busy
  • Margarita in a bar in Hollywood
  • California Donuts – got four but will get more!
  • Hiked to Hollywood sign- went to the top / back and front – loved it!
  • Got a parking ticket – damn Columbus day being a holiday we didn’t know about!
  • Did a Celebrity home tours saw Ice T & Coco’s, Bieber's Katy Perry's, Quentin Tarantino, Vinnie Jones, MJ’s, Playboy Mansion, Bruno Mars’s, Justin Timberlakes and his car. Did Rodeo drive and Beverley Hills – saw the jail LiLo & Paris Hilton ended up in – very nice!
  • Rusty Mullet bar for Tatter Tots & corn dogs - so so good!
  • Checked out down town LA & Walt Disney concert Hall
  • Teddy Graham's damn you (just discovered this awesome snack!)
  • Sunrise over LA at 7am – beautiful!
  • Disneyland -15 hours, 13 rides, 3 parades & fireworks – such a great day! Dream come true.
  • Drive to Vegas-arrive at Valet parking at 4! Love this place.
  • Check in & hit pool with Margarita – merry by 5.30pm - ooops
  • Dinner at Guy Fieri's – really good food and massive portions – Vegas baby!
  • Shock guys at the bar by saying we were married – ah poor southern state men!
  • Watched Britney from 7 rows back with a margarita – seriously amazing – another dream come true! No camera zoom needed to see her this time!
  • Brunch at Panda Express & MCD'S – best combo EVER!
  • Hit the road at 1pm & to Death Valley
  • Raining but beautiful & saw double rainbow – pretty special!
  • Dante' peak- stunning view over Death Valley
  • Finished drive to Mammoth Lakes in the dark via Carl Jr- SO scary - the drive not the food!
  • Found hotel and informed the car had to be cleared of EVERYTHING because of bears - it took a while!
  • Hotel nice enough and breakfast continental style – so S made a few sandwiches for the journey 
  • Drove to Yosemite -via seriously windy roads and shocked at $30 entrance fee.
  • Did main loop seeing forest fires and half dome – very immersive experience with the top down on the car!
  • Yosemite was beautiful - just like the pictures 
  • Made it to San Fran for 7pm 
  • Amazing Airbandb overlooking the bay and the city
  • Quick change and head to welcome drinks and had amazing truffle mac & cheese and sweet potato fries!
  • Early night before seeing painted ladies and Lombard street in cloudy San Francisco.
  • Late lunch at the old Clam House -oldest restaurant in San Fran and delicious Clam Chowder!
  • Arrived at wedding at 5 -great location overlooking bay. Nice wedding, good food, lovely company-inc some gay guys for L-and terrible drinks! Wiped S out at 11pm & sick till next day.
  • Stunning day at Santa Cruz-dip in the sea & Sarah restored! Sun-shining and feeling the holiday mood.
  • Fun times walking the boardwalk and getting fried chips.
  • Lunch in restaurant on the pier with fresh calamari and amazing views!
  • End of day watching surfing comp and visiting Monarch butterflies in the wild, pretty incredible!
  • Next morning tested hot tub at Airbandb accommodation before exploring the city after breakfast with Steph & Corrine 
  • First stop murals in Misson then Twin Peaks for overview of city, mosaic steps then Castro area before parking in China town. Finding Haing Ha for fantastic dim sum.
  • Cable car to fisherman wharf - another dream come true! Such fun!
  • Seeing sea lions at pier 39
  • Dinner at Boudins - amazing chicken and best beignets ever. Oh and a cocktail the waitress made for S with no instruction. 
  • Uber to car park – best not to walk San Fran hills!
  • Morning in the hot tub before walking Golden Gate bridge. Stunning views across the 1.7 mile bridge! 
  • Pitstop in the Muir woods for tree talk with Todd and to see red wood trees.
  • Afternoon and evening in Sausalito. Visited all year round Christmas shop & marina to see house boats and floating temple 
  • Lovely dinner overlooking the bay back to San Fran.
  • Packed up with new cases (gift for bday) – super useful!
  • 9am leaving to get to Carmel for bunch so yummy at Village Corner bistro 
  • Took Highway 1, saw beautiful coast and stunning sea-lots of pitstops for photos
  • Shocked that Pfieffer beach wanted $10 to enter! S ran thru saw very little purple sand but a wonderful beach area – not worth $10!
  • Completed Highway 1 by hanging out with vocal elephant seals – so close it was amazing!
  • Final stop in Cayucos for brown sugar cookies and gas.
  • Made it to Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo at 5pm
  • Checked into Merry pink glitter room - awesome!
  • Amazing location and great pool open till 11 + 2 x heated Jacuzzis
  • Dinner at Copper cafe-delicious milkshakes in goblets -L has one to keep!
  • Dancing in Gold rush restaurant with live band playing moon river – very romantic!
  • Took photos of pink tennis court and basketball court! 
  • Breakfast in SLO was MCD sausage burrito – still delicious
  • Drove to Venice Beach for 4pm 
  • Checked into small but very well located Airbandb. Headed out for sunset on the beach.
  • Dinner at C&O Trattoria with amazing garlic balls and pasta
  • Evening watching Netflix 
  • Next day started with walking Abbott Kinney street before hitting beach.
  • Hung out in the sea and beach till 2.
  • Showered and headed back to walk Venice beach blvd and check out shops.
  • Watched sunset – stunning – just stunning
  • Seagulls are thugs of Venice beach!
  • Visited Shawn's Pumpkin Patch for photos before stopping at Culver Westfield.
  • Dinner at Olive Garden-charged $2 to play table game (sadface) -oops. Great food!
  • 2 hours in Target before a night packing.
  • Packed car and hit the beach for last bit of sunshine - now super sunburned! - oops
  • Lunch at Baja Cantina-delicious!
  • Flight home!

Once we have gone through the photos we will blog about each stage of the road trip and what made it so great but as you can see we did a lot!