Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Real Road Trip

Arguably if you are into road trips, there is one which is more of a trip than any other and that is “Route 66”. Over the next 11 weeks we are going to be driving about 10,000 miles around the USA and will include most of Route 66 in our trek. The intention is to fly to Los Angeles, pick up an
Planned Route
RV and then with numerous diversions, roughly head north up the West Coast to Washington State, turn right and go to Chicago and then head back to LA down Route 66. We have planned the route to take in quite a number of the National Parks, a Rodeo, the fountains in Chicago (for a reason which will be revealed at the appropriate time), my cousin in Walla Walla whom I have never met but share many things in common, an old friend in Indiana and Las Vegas simply because we have never been there and might never want to be but its gaudiness is something which we want to see.

Our luggage allowance is a hefty 23 kgs checked plus 10 kgs hand – a total of 66 kgs between us and it has been 

needed since we are travelling through a range of climates from West Coast breezy, to Rockies cold, to Central Plains hot and to Chicago swelter. We also have the impedimenta of the “done it before” traveller who this time has included in their packing list, all of those small items which last time they wished they had packed because whilst not essential, they would have made life on the road that much easier.

Anyway, the house is switched off, the fridge and freezer empty and our precious garden (which we will miss enormously) handed over to the care of our neighbour who has said she will keep an eye on it.

We are not hopeful of a pleasurable flight – we are flying with Virgin Atlantic and experience of flying with them to India earlier this year has lowered our expectations considerably. So low in fact with respect to food that I will be buying my meals at M&S in Terminal 3 – Virgin's vegetarian offering last time was the worse I have had on any flight ever and their pre-arrival “snack” was almost as bad.

And so, early on a mid June Monday morning, we find ourselves awaiting the arrival of a taxi to take us to the station for the relatively easy but tedious journey by train and tube to London Airport and then the flight to Los Angeles.

The route out is the standard Great Circle route out over Ireland then over Greenland, northern Canada and on to LAX. We take off an hour late at 12.30 pm in the UK because the pilot was stuck in a traffic jam on the M25 and land 11 hours later at 3.15 pm in the US (body time 11.15 pm).

Route to LAX

Immigration and Customs are the usual underwhelming “Welcome to America” experience but process us very quickly (immigration 11 minutes) and without incident and we are outside the airport terminal some 50 minutes after landing. 

We are staying in nearby Santa Monica for four days. partly to get over the jet lag and partly to see something of LA. To get from the airport to Santa Monica you can get a Taxi or a shared Coach (both around $50) or get the Big Blue Bus for $0.50 each – yes that is 50 cents each (or $1 if you are under 62 years old). The bus takes just a little longer than the other options but is so much cheaper that it is worth the effort. It also gives us time out in daylight which is an essential part of overcoming the effects of jet lag (together with Melatonin tablets) and even though we are tired, there is no point in going to bed until it is the evening here.

And so, some 19 hours after we closed our front door in England, we open our hotel room door, tired, jet lagged, ready for bed but not able to go to bed at this early local hour.

And for no other reason than it is a great YouTube track, I attach a video showing what it is like to fly over LA and land at LAX as 

night approaches. For those watching with young children, whilst the soundtrack is fantastic, some of the lyrics are not suitable for young ears so turn off the sound. If there are no children, then turn up the sound!

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