Alan and Jean sharing our cruising news with friends, family.

20 July 2015 | Rabi Island Fiji
29 June 2015 | Suva Fiji
18 December 2013 | Auckland
05 December 2013 | Auckland
27 October 2013 | Vavau Tonga
12 September 2013 | Samoa
24 July 2013 | Moorea, Tahiti
19 July 2013 | Papeete
19 June 2013 | Nuka Hiva
02 June 2013 | Pacific Ocean
29 May 2013 | Pacific Ocean
24 May 2013 | Eastern Pacific Ocean
19 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
16 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
13 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
06 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
08 April 2013 | Shelter Bay marina, Colon.
28 March 2013 | Belize
27 March 2013 | Belize
03 March 2013 | Panamarina, Panama

San Francisco to Las Vegas

28 October 2012 | Trinidad
very hot and humid
A wave of heat hit us as we followed our taxi driver out of the airport terminal at Port of Spain. Welcome back to Trinidad.

We had left Las Vegas late the night before, a short stopover in Miami and here we were lunchtime in Trini. Somewhere along the way we lost about 4 hours but not as bad as the leg NZ to San Francisco. We arrived in foggy San Francisco before we had left NZ. Yesterday afternoon a week after returning to Tuatara the heat, time differences, travelling and boat jobs caught up with us so we declared today, Sunday, a rest day.

Many people had told us that San Francisco was a nice city and once the fog cleared we too discovered the delights of San Fran. After a short rest we spent the first afternoon and evening wandering around the water front. The Golden Gate Bridge was a line of watery lights through the mist. We enjoyed Crab chowder with Fish and Chips at Fisherman’s Wharf. Looked at the choice of ferries for trips on the bay and had our first small American coffee, which of course was large. It took me a few days to get used to the large servings and fries with everything. I eventually retreated to the entrée section of the menu and even there I nearly got caught out. At a Lone Pine, Western inspired diner the sandwich in the entrée section still came with a choice of either soup or fries! Cowboys, even film star ones are obviously a hungry bunch. The waitress was a little taken aback when I declined both and was moved to ask where these strange people came from.

“Where you folks from? “
“New Zealand”
Blank look. “ok then, sure you won’t have the extras?”

In San Francisco we decided to take a two day ticket on one of the many hop on hop off double deck tourist buses. We had seen similar buses in other cities we have visited and always commented that we could do that someday. Well we decided, with a little push from the hotel receptionist, that the someday had arrived. Friday morning we hopped on for our tour of the city. We hopped off at Alamo Square to wander past beautiful 3 story Victorian houses some of which feature in films and TV Series. Apparently the Mrs Doubtfire house was in the vicinity but we didn’t worry about tracking it down. We walked up and down the city hills and found ourselves at Height and Ashbury where the Summer of Love and Flowers in your hair hippies hung out in the late 60,s. The place still has that Hippie air although the grubby homeless overflowing out of the Golden Gate Park downgrade it a little. Many could do with some sweet smelling flowers in their hair. I found it a little sad to see so many really young homeless hanging around the area. Time to hop on again to head for the more picturesque Golden Gate Bridge.

We got a great view of San Francisco Bay, down to Alcatraz, from the top deck as we crossed the bridge, the sun was out and there were a few yachts sailing amongst the tourist ferries. We hopped off to take some photos and caught the next bus back into town for a wander around Union Square and very late lunch in China Town. Walking up the hill to Stockton we found every inhabitant of China Town stocking up on their weekend vegetables, roast duck, fresh fish and many things we couldn’t recognize. We got bananas and fresh strawberries to supplement the hotel donut breakfasts.

Saturday was a glorious sunny day, coats and scarves discarded we hopped on and hopped off again. First stop was back on the Embarcardero at Fisherman’s wharf for a boatride on the sunny calm harbor, under the red arches of the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz Island. We chose to go on a small ex fishing boat that only took 6 people.

“I used to catch Tuna, now I catch two legged Tuna.”

We didn’t mind being hooked although I am not sure the boat would pass the officials in NZ.
The safety talk consisted of a vague wave to a box on the back deck, “the lifejackets are over there” with that we were away. An enjoyable hour on the water, no need of fancy technology such as a microphone, the six of us sat on the front deck and the commentary arrived from out of the wheelhouse window.

Being a sunny day seats on the top deck of the bus were at a premium but by late in the afternoon after a couple more hops the day was cooling down. To get back to our hotel stop we needed to cross the Golden Gate again we opted to stay in the warmer bottom deck as the sun started to sink. Two return trips across the bridge and with one trip under it I think I had seen enough of the much photographed icon of San Fran. Just as well we were off on our road trip to the Grand Canyon via Las Vegas the next day.

Sunday morning we picked up our car and left the city as the Nike Women’s marathon ran along the water front. For a biggish city San Francisco was reasonably straight forward to leave, good directions from the Avis lady helped. Our Plan was to go to Las Vegas via Yosemite National park and Death Valley. Stay a night in Sin City before driving on to the Grand Canyon via the Hoover dam, back to Las Vegas and the flight to Trinidad. We had some nights booked some not, a little bit of flexibility which worked well. Even though our little convertible flew along the fantastic roads it was a long day to Yosemite and through to Mammoth Lakes where we found a motel a little after dark. A night just before Yosemite would have been better. We still had time to wind our way down to the bottom of the Yosemite valley stopping to admire the view of Half Dome and the Granite cliffs, thundering waterfalls of the guide photos were just a trickle. The autumn colours along the Merced River in the valley floor made up for the less than spectacular trickles. We returned back up the steep road, top down to catch the afternoon warmth took a last photo across the tree tops to Half Dome and turned onto the Tioga Road, still in the Yosemite National Park. This high pass takes you through the High Sierras, a road that is closed for most of the winter. We saw a very little bit of snow but mainly dry rocky landscapes with huge boulders, glacier carved valleys, trees hanging by their root tips in small crevices, a photo opportunity at every corner. Just at sunset we turned out of Tioga Rd past Mono Lake onto the 395. The snowy topped mountains glowed pink as we looked at the map and decided Mammoth Lakes was a good option for the night.

Mammoth Lakes seemed quiet it was hard to find a place open for dinner. Summer trekkers had gone home and the winter skiers were waiting at home for the snow to arrive. From a couple of pamphlets I read snow can arrive in the hundreds of inches in this area. We found a great place for breakfast next morning, Java Café. Pancakes and real tea, both just what we consider a normal size. The café was full of comfy couches, movies for hire, woolly hats to buy as well as a basket of knitting for customers to pick up and contribute a row or two. I can imagine it full of fun and laughter in the winter, that day we were on our own but it didn’t feel lonely as empty cafes often do.

We left Mammoth Lakes, hood down, enjoying the warmer air, long straight roads. Desert scenery fringed with snowy mountains took us to Lone Pine for lunch and on to desolate hot Death Valley. At 190 feet below sea level we started to slowly climb a little higher over the Springs mountains. By late afternoon we were driving down The Strip past the glittering lights of The Luxor, MGM Grand, The Flamingo, Caesar’s Palace, a mini Eiffel Tower at Paris and much more. The fountains at Bellagio gave us a show as we passed, down the road a bit a mini volcano belched out fire and water spouts, we had arrived in Las Vegas.

In the evening we walked past wedding chapels with Elvis look a likes and pink Cadillacs. We wandered into the Venetian past gondolas and waterfalls to gamble and loose a massive 10 dollars on the pokies. At close to Midnight we had only got half way along the Strip we decided the rest could keep until we came back from the Grand Canyon in a few days.

Vessel Name: Tuatara
Vessel Make/Model: Alan Wright 51
Hailing Port: Opua NZ
Crew: Alan and Jean Ward

Sailing in the Pacific

Who: Alan and Jean Ward
Port: Opua NZ