USA North West Road Trip 2013

Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Yellowstone National Park, Missoula, Spokane, Seattle, Forks, Portland, San Francisco, Las Vegas. (Full Photo Set Here)

This was our 1st big American road trip as a couple and as we were getting married it also doubled up as our honeymoon trip, Work kindly allowed to take 3 weeks off in one chunk, So I started my planning for the first time using Google, Google Maps & Expedia, I tried to factor in some big highlights for our 1st epic trip around the western states of America.

1. Getting Married in Las Vegas, Nevada

2. Driving the Carmel Highway in Zion National Park, Utah

3. Seeing the Geyser Old Faithful in Yellowstone, Wyoming

4. Seeing a real Ghost town at Bannack State Park, Montana

5. Visiting the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, Ironically to see Concorde

6. Visit Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle, Washington

7. Staying in Forks, Washington (The Town from the Twilight Books),

8. Stopping in Aberdeen, Washington to see where Kurt Cobain grew up

9. Find the Twilight Filming Locations around the Portland, Oregon area

10. Visit Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon to see the Hughes H-4 Hercules aka the Spruce Goose

11. Visit Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

12. Drive the US 120 through Yosemite National Park, California

So the plan turned out to be as follows

From Location To Location
Saturday UK Vegas
Sunday Vegas Vegas
Monday Vegas Vegas
Tuesday Vegas Salt Lake City
Wednesday Salt Lake City Yellowstone Park
Thursday Yellowstone Park Missoula
Friday Missoula Spokane
Saturday Spokane Seattle
Sunday Seattle Seattle
Monday Seattle Seattle
Tuesday Seattle Forks
Wednesday Forks Forks
Thursday Forks Cannon Beach
Friday Cannon Beach Portland
Saturday Portland Klamath Falls
Sunday Klamath Falls San Francisco
Monday San Francisco San Francisco
Tuesday San Francisco San Francisco
Wednesday San Francisco Vegas
Thursday Vegas Vegas
Friday Vegas Vegas
Saturday Vegas UK
Sunday UK

Day 1 (Saturday 12th October 2013)

An early morning start to our day as we had about a 2 hours drive to get to Gatwick, so Dad picked us up around 07:00 and we headed off down the A1(M) around the M25 and finally down the M23 to Gatwick, arriving around 09:00, we thanked Dad for driving us, and wished him a safe drive home, we then entered the North departure lounge, passing through security within 30 mins, we made our way towards the shops and restaurants on the hunt for something to eat, we opted for a pub style outfit and bought a full English fired breakfast, we also found a window seat over looking the airport departure gates, eventually our flight was called and we made our way to Gate 57 around 11:40, queuing for about 30 minutes we eventually got on board our flight which was BA2277 a British Airways Boeing 777-200 ( G-VIIT ) we settled in for the next 11 hours.

Waiting in the Queue at Gatwick
Fried Breakfast @ Gatwick Airport - 131012 - USA 2013 - Steven Gray - CIMG3836

Passed Security and into the Departure Lounge

Our view while we ate breakfast

Nice Carpet at Gate 57

Nicer Carpet in the BA Boeing 777

Window & Wing view of Gatwick

With the time difference we arrived in Las Veges about 15:30 local time. And as it was “Government Shutdown” it took us a good while to get through immigration and to collect our bags, so it must have been about 17:00 by time we got outside to the taxi rank, hoping in the taxi it made it’s way to our 1st hotel which was the “Stratosphere”, via the I15 as it was quicker than the Strip, $35 later we checked in to the hotel and got our room keys. Dropping our bags off and a quick play with the rooms features, we then decided we wanted an evening walk down the strip and some food, so we exited the hotel and started to walk towards the other hotels on the strip, once we got to Circus Circus we opted to try the all you can eat buffet for $17.99, why not when in Rome and all Yvonne wasn’t over enamored by the quality of the food, but it did allow us to have a bit of everything we wanted. Bellies full we continued our walk, we bumped into a nice legless homeless guy in wheel chair, and a wannabe rapper who gave us a copy of his mix CD, after some more wandering we made our way back to the hotel for the night,

Day 2 (Sunday 13th October 2013)

Starting the day off early we walked north to the downtown area, grabbing breakfast in an Irish themed pub, we wandered around the Fremont Street area for a while before we attempted to find the Clark County Marriage Licence Bureau, to purchase our wedding licence, once we had the licence we then ventured out to the Las Vegas North Premium Outlets for some retail therapy, returning to the hotel for early evening we had dinner in the Roxy diner, which is a 50’s theme burger restaurant

Day 3 (Monday 14th October 2013)

Day 4 (Tuesday 15th October 2013)

Day 5 (Wednesday 16th October 2013)

So today 16th, we started in Salt Lake City with a local temperature 39f aka 4c we took a nice walk around to find that SLC shops only open at 10am doh! so we took in breakfast which involved Eggs, Fired Potatoes & the worlds most peculiar hard bacon and flat sausage! with a nice slice of what can only be called SPAM, but they call it ham. after breakfast we packed the Chariot and headed out on the I-15 to our next stop of Mesa Falls Idaho. Stopping off at a gas station for fuel the computer was reading that we’d done a health 33mpg on the last tank  I picked up a cookie (photo to follow) and Yvonne got some double dipped chocolate peanuts. both very Yum. after a good 3 hrs we turned off the I-15 and found Mesa Falls (photos to come) also Yvonne spotted a wild Squirrel & tiny chipmunk. when we departed we stumbled upon some wild deer. back on to the I-15 then I-20 towards West Yellowstone we missed Bear World (Yvonne’s not letting me forget this in a hurry) as we climbed into the Montana hills we started to see snow on the side of the roads. eventually arriving at Gray Wolf Inn in West Yellowstone. Chariot unpacked we too a quick walk around one of the gas station was showing it was 38f/3.5c ish we popped into the “Slippery Otter” and got some dinner 12oz Steak with salty Idaho fires and 1/3ib Black Angus Burger with salty sweet potato fries. Man they like their salt over here. Fingers Crossed Yellowstone will open tomorrow, if not we’ll pop into the Bear & Wolf center over the road then off to Bannack State Park for lunchtime to finish tomorrow in Missoula Montana.

Day 6 (Thursday 17th October 2013)

Finally arrived in Missoula at 22:05. today turned out to be a long one with lots of driving the last 50miles was a killer with the fresh 1c air from outside blowing in to keep me awake. our day started in West Yellowstone, Montana before the short drive into the newly reopened Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, with in 5 minutes we spotted a loan dear wadding across one of the many rivers, driving further into the park towards Old Faithful we came to an abrupt stop as a herd of Bison were walking down the road (Photos to come) stopping at some of the many cut-ins or stop-offs we managed to so quite a few the smaller Geysers & Vents. finally we arrived at Old Faithful around 11:20 just in time for it’s next expected eruption which happen about 11:50ish. afterwards we rushed off leaving Yellowstone behind to Bannack State Park in Montana which was a good 5 hrs away. halfway we had to stop for Gas! and as i pumped one of the staff cleaned our windscreen! you don’t get that in Luton! eventually we arrived at Bannack around 17:00 just in time to allow us a good hour to look around as the sunset (Photos to come). Leaving Bannack behind we settled in for a 4hrs drive. that’s it for today, just backing up the photos/videos then off to bed.

Day 7 (Friday 18th October 2013)

19:28 we’ve finally settled into our Motel room in Spokane Valley, Washington. plans have shifted slight to what we’d planned. but we should still be able to get to feed the Lions, Tigers & Bears tomorrow at Cat Tales Zoo, Spokane. Today how ever started in Missoula, Montana with a later wake up than the last few day and a sharp cold -5c outside, don’t think our California Hyundi has felt that before. a light free breakfast at the Super8 was enjoyed ahh Milk and cereal rather than fired eggs and potatoes for once  Afterwards we spent the morning into early afternoon in Missoula Shopping. then around 15:00 we set off back on I-90 west bound towards Washington state passing thought the tree lined mountains. any how after 3+ hrs we arrived in Spokane and got lost… yes there are two Spokanes, Spokane & Spokane Valley and they both appears to have roads with the same names! after a 30mins drive around pissing around with satnav that wanted to got to 19051 rather then 12803 urgh and almost mounting a kerb in the middle of a 5 lane road i was trying to do a left turn from we found the Motel hidden around the back of what looks like a drive-thru dentist. right i’m off for dinner, might post some photos later, if not the next post will be from Seattle tomorrow x

Day 8 (Saturday 19th October 2013)

18:28 arrived at The Maxwell Hotel, Seattle, managed to get the 2nd to last parking space, good thing we have a Compact SUV as tight isn’t the word! Today started off cool at 2c we drove to Cat Tails Zoo for them opening at 10am. wow within seconds of walking in we were greeted by a fully grown White Royal Bengal Tiger, they also have around 12 Sumatran Tigers, Pumas, Bobcats, couple of Lions & a pair of Black Bears. plenty of photos have been taken so expect them eventually. we left Spokane around Lunchtime for the 4hr+ drive to Seattle, quite a nice drive though the farming fields of Washington and the up into some more cloud shrouded mountains dropping down into Seattle it turned out to be easier to drive than I expected. once we arrived at the hotel parking was fun to say the least, but the chariot is parked now and thats good enough for me. omg this hotel is plush, going to have to change my shirt and dress up a little for dinner now, we’re here for 3 days so i should get photos uploaded now. see you soon, Steve & Yvonne

Day 9 (Sunday 20th October 2013)

Sunday 20th :- Seattle, Today Yvonne and I did our best “Wombles” impression to the max, yes we we’re Wombling Underground, Overground, Wombling Free!  we took a long walk around town today starting off by walking down to the piers, taking in a lovely Steak & egg breakfast in the Hook & Plow, we then left to take in Pikes Place Market. then back down to the harbour side eventually arriving at the “Underground Tour” which we took at 14:00. The tour was very interesting and an eye opening view into Seattle’s history from it’s earliest days until the early 1900’s. afterwards we walked back upto 5th Avenue and back along to Space Needle and the Hotel. all in all well over 10km

Day 10 (Monday 21st October 2013)

21st Oct :- Seattle, today we walking into Seattle again looking for a bank and breakfast, eventually found a bank who would cash travelers cheques and boom our 1st $100 dollar bill  we managed to find breakfast at the Icon Grill and i had my 1st Biscuits and Gravy. yeah peculiar dish, don’t think i’ll have it again. after returning to the hotel we took the car from the now quite empty parking garage, Driving south we arrived at the Museum of Flight to be greeted by Concorde G-BOAG & an original Air Force One VC-137. after boring Yvonne for a couple of hours we left to seekout the house where Kurt Cobain shoot himself, this turned out to easier to find than i expected. another location in the bag we returned to the hotel. a quick stop in the room, we took a walk into town to snap some evening/night shoots of Seattle. Job done, tomorrow we drive to Port Angeles & Forks for the next two nights.

Day 11 (Tuesday 22nd October 2013)

22nd Oct :- Forks, Today we started in Seattle and took a late start to avoid the local traffic, catching the ferry around 10:45 we departed a foggy Seattle to arrive in Bainbridge roughly 30mins later, taking the freeways for the next 1hr 30mins we eventually arrived in Port Angeles. a quick walk around we found a place for lunch, had quite a nice Pork Rib Dip on ciabatta thingy. another brief walkabout and we departed off towards Forks passing the beautiful Lake Crescent and stopping to photograph it obviously  this area is definitely Logging Country, we’ve seen so many Logging Truck fully loaded with logs!. Forks on the other hand is a little bleak to say the least, anyhow we’ll take a walk around town and go down the beach “La Push”

Day 12 (Wednesday 23rd October 2013)

23rd Oct :- Forks WA, today we woke to dense fog, but the TV forecast was suggesting 21c by lunchtime by the coast so we decided to grab breakfast in Forks then walk about and then head toward the beaches at La Push for lunchtime. which we ended up doing  there are a number of beaches between cove formations so we explored 3 different ones thought out the afternoon. returning back to Forks by early evening we had a lovely dinner at “The In Place” then off to bed for an early start tomorrow, which will be Aberdeen, Shelton then Cannon Beach for the evening. catch you soon, Steve

Day 13 (Thursday 24th October 2013)

24th Oct :- 19:00 Cannon Beach. We left Forks, WA around 08:30 departing south down U.S. 101 we enjoyed the foggy/wet single carriageway coastal road all the way down to Aberdeen, WA we stopped off at KC Park (the tribute park for Kurt Cobain right by the bridge that he used to go to and he wrote songs about) afterwards we left towards Shelton, WA to try to pick me up a Seattle Seahawks NFL Jersey…. and they’d sold out  that was a wasted 2hrs driving  anyhow back towards Aberdeen the south back onto U.S. 101 towards Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park arriving around 17:30 we took a walk around the Park to see the beach overviews and taking some timelapes videos. Tomorrow we’ll take a walk on the beach then we’re off to Tillamook Air Museum, eventually to arrive in Portland & St Helens to find the locations they filmed Twilight and to eat at Wankers Corner before over nighting.

Day 14 (Friday 25th October 2013)

25th Portland :- starting the day in Cannon Beach we took a quick drive back to Ecola state park and onto the Indian Beach for a nice walk along the sands, departing to towards Tillamook we should have been there with in an hour however we appeared to be stuck in a queue behind a flat cap in a Crown Victoria! yes the American equivalent of the Rover Metro. arriving at Tillamook Air Museum we enjoyed a lovely look around their aircraft of which 95% of them are flyers and they don’t have any form of barriers around  when finished we had a Chili Burger, which actually was a burger hided under a pile of Chili. In the gift shop i got talking to the cashier guy about Duxford and he offered to take us over to workshop hanger where they were working on the Avenger, Mustang & FW190. eventually we departed towards Portland we had plans to find locations in Portland used for Twilight fliming, but by time we got caught in Portlands afternoon traffic we decided to just go to the hotel and check in, which ended up being around 17:30. we did however take a walk into the downtown area in the evening but it turned out to be quite a dive of a place, so we returned to the motel for the worst nights sleep i’ve had. to many clubs and pub around here, and some tossers car alarm when off at 02:00am for about 15mins  . Evergreen Air and Space Museum & the we’re staying in Klamath Falls this evening. laters all….

Day 15 (Saturday 26th October 2013)

26th Oct :- Klamath Falls, Today we started in Portland, OR. leaving the “Dive” sorry Motel we headed off towards St Helens, OR, this is where they filmed a few parts of the 1st Twilight Movie and where the Lead Female Character House was. Finding all the locations I’ve now got brownie points in the bag while we were there I made friends with what looked like a Feral cat with No Tail! we didn’t know his name so we called him “Gerald”. next up was Carver Cafe in Damascus, OR. this is again a Twilight location from the 1st movie, we’d read some reviews that said the service and food was crap. but to be honest we chanced it and it turned out to be fine, so after lunch we departed to McMinnville to the Evergreen Air & Space Museum, OMG the Howard Hughes’ H-4 Hercules is massive, good thing I’d brought Dads 10-20mm lens with me, a few hours later we we off again towards Klamath Falls. shame we were running late as we’d had to skip Crater Lake National Park and it was dark so we couldn’t see the scenery. Tomorrow is a 5hr 30mins drive to San Francisco

Day 16 (Sunday 27th October 2013)

27th Oct :- San Francisco, today we started in Klamath Falls after the worst nights sleep as we were only 2 blocks away from a rail freight yard, where every Locomotive blew it’s horn when it left the yard! even at 2am argh…. anyhow around 8am we took a walk around town to find out it’s like the worlds biggest ghost town on a Sunday. so we left Klamath Falls for the 5hrs 30mins drive to San Francisco which actually turned out to be around 7hrs with traffic  anyhow we how we’re here now for the next 3 days. so it’s our Alcatraz tour tomorrow morning so I best get off to bed.

Day 17 (Monday 28th October 2013)

28th Oct :- San Francisco, today was a very early start and a brisk walk from the hotel to Pier 33 to catch the 08:45 cruiser to Alcatraz, departing on time we were on “The Rock” very quickly and spend an enjoyable morning exploring the Island, and i got to walk the Gun Galley in the Industry Building  yes a little role play was had  Work Scum, Work…. LOL returning back to the main land around 13:00ish we took a walk to Pier 39 and picked out a Cali Surf themed bar/restaurant for lunch. umm Chili Cheese Fries and fresh Pizza… by this point of the day I’d come to the realization that i’m either A. Run Down and tired or B. have caught Man Flu… moving on to cheer myself up I bought a Waffle Cone Rocky Roads Ice Cream and as we stood watching the Sea Lions on the pontoons i proceeded to dribble melted chocolate Ice cream over my Camera & Yvonne …. yup I think i’m more tired than man flu-y. it always amazes me how you can clean cameras with a napkin and some spit LOL.. next stop was the Big Red Bus tour. which we did for the next 2hrs 20mins doing a full loop of San Francisco taking in everything from Lombard Street to Haight/Ashbury to Nob Hill to the Golden Gate Bridge. finishing back at the Pier 39 area we decide to walk back to the hotel as we we’re both quite cold from being on the top deck of the bus for the last few hours. having made a wrong turn on Bay Street and Taylor Street we ended up having to walk up some mega hills on Francisco Street  apparently if i take Yvonne that way again she’s going to kill me. any how we eventually climbed to the top of Lombard Street to see the top of the twist road part which didn’t actually look that good, so we must find the bottom of that part next time. finally we turned 180 and walked off down Lombard Street until we found the hotel and here we are. Backing up photos and writing my FB update. yeah who left the fridge door open? oh wait why has my can of coke exploded? ah the fridge is set to spinal tap’s 11 great…. Fridge cleaning time then off to bed, more San Fran Exploration. laters

Day 18 (Tuesday 29th October 2013)

29th Oct :- San Francisco, today we took the Big Red Bus again on the final part of our 24hr tickets, arriving in Haight/Ashbury around 10am we found most shops didn’t open until 11am, so we found a cafe and had some Chocolate cake  afterwards we wandered around and found the house Janice Joplin stayed in in Lyon Street, Yvonne enjoyed to shops, me not some much far to much Hippy/Flower power for me. back on the bus we did the Golden Gate Bridge again which was more windy than yesterday eventually we got off at China Town around 1pm and had a walk about all the way down to the Piers again. Stopping off at Fog Harbor for lunch/dinner. and then the long walk back to the hotel. Tomorrow we leave San Francisco for Vegas again this time going via Yosemite National Park. fingers crossed U.S.120 is open for us. it’s going to be a long one, Google is suggesting 10hrs 30mins. so i’m expecting it to be more like 15hrs!

Day 19 (Wednesday 30th October 2013)

Day 20 (Thursday 31st October 2013)

Day 21 (Friday 1st November 2013)

1st Nov, sitting in Denny’s eating pancake bits waiting on my T-bone steak breakfast. WIFI at the hotel is chargeable so not going to update until later. It’s our last full day today. So we’re going to go see the dolphins at the Mirage. Then maybe Fremont Street tonight. See you all Sunday or Monday

Day 22 (Saturday 2nd November 2013)

2nd Nov :- Las Vegas, finally morning in Vegas before we fly home at 16:15. provided the TSA are working good today after yesterdays shooting at LAX. yesterday we did as planned and went to see the Dolphins and Big Cats at the Mirage for $20 each it was worth it. You can get very close to the dolphin pool sides and the underwater viewing windows are brilliant for photography too. all the big cats were sleeping except the pair of Lions which were quite vocal with each other. ROAR…. when we returned to the hotel we picked up the car with the idea of photographing the classic “Welcome to Vegas” sign but as traffic was grid locked by Bally’s and the Bellagio, we ended up doing a u-turn and driving to Fremont Street instead. any how over to today and were returning the hire car in about an hour then wasting the rest of the day waiting in the airport. See you all soon, Steve

Bored in McCarran Airport. No open BA check in desks. No Bars or Cafes this side of security. There is only so long you can waste time on the dailymail website. Tick tock tick tock. Well at least Arsenal are still top of the league. Shame about the Milk Cup and Chump league loss’ while I’ve been away

Day 23 (Sunday 3rd November 2013)

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