Car Registration Plates

One thing I noticed driving around California’s roads are the range of wild and wacky registration plates in use.

It seems there’s little restriction to what can be used as your car registration plate.

Here’s a couple of samples:

Luv to Sing or Luv to Snog?

PR Style

Travelling beyond California I notice it’s common across the USA…

Race Car Plate

Even individual States seem to get into the game, like “Sweet Home Alabama” as shown below, though some states seem considerably less imaginative…  yes, Georgia…

Georgia.gov plate

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Typing at Altitude

The highest point in the British Isles is 4,409 ft.

For the last few days I’ve been camping out in the Sierra Nevada mountains at 7,200 ft, spending time kayaking, swimming, and hiking at up to 8,500 ft.  One of the first things you notice is breathlessness and next you notice the amazing views:

The vista’s here are out of this world.  Every turn you take is a view to die for.  Miles upon miles of alpine vista’s and mountain lakes.

One of the dangers though are the wildlife.  I’ve only come across gophers, chipmunks, birds and deer.  Apparently these woods are full of bears, rattlers and even tourists…

El Paso de Robles

Paso Robles is an historical old town – by Californian standards.

Discovered in 1797 for it’s hot sulphur springs Paso old became a `real` town in the mid-1800s and even attracted the outlaw Jesse James to hole up for a year while he recovered from a few gunshot wounds.  A century later Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio also stayed here on honeymoon.

A peaceful but hot (think 100F days) town, the big attraction to many travelers over the years has been the healing sulphur springs.  The big attraction to me is the wine!  Paso Robles is now at the centre of a booming wine industry as Cowboys turn to wine-connoisseurs to make their money.  Everywhere you look someone has a tasty looking glass of vino in their hands and everywhere you go out of town, you come across stunning wineries with views or stunning views with wineries.

Staying in a `Spa-town` does have other benefits too… in this case my only private hot spring hot-tub on my balcony!

Roadtrip

Long weekend – what better reason than to get out of the city and explore some of Central California.

Surely one of the most scenic drives in the world is the Pacific Coast Highway down the coast and through an area called Big Sur.

Rural, rustic and rugged are three words I’d use to describe the area.  Here are a few snapshots I took on the way down:

 

 

 

 

Of the many twists and surprises the journey took, I’m not sure if I was more surprised by the beach full of Elephant Seals (boy, they smell!) or the 30+ German Harley Davidson bikers I came across (who also smelt) that had just driven across from Florida.

Flying Time

My neighbors are in their Eighties and came to the USA from the UK in the late-1940s.  It took them a “couple of weeks” to get here by ship.  Today I completed the journey door-to-door in 15 hours – and that was with delays.

It still amazes me how small the world has become through air travel. For me travelling 6000 miles in a day was simple compared to how it must have been just 50 years ago. This is a quick summary of how I did it:

I arrived to the airport…. had a tasty breakfast… boarded a plane…read the paper…read my book (Murakami’s 1Q84)… watched an appalling movie called Contagion (deadly-virus-threatens-to-wipe-out-man-story-yawn)…watched a funny movie called Hangover Part 2 (just like Hangover Part 1 really, equally as funny)…watched an entertaining movie called Crazy, Stupid, Love (Hmm, very American Beauty)…Looked at the amazing ice formations over Greenland and Northern Canada out of my window (very Frozen Planet but real-life versions)…watched another movie about Apes taking over the world set in San Francisco…ate some disgusting plane-food, oh, and all whilst being served red wine, beer and tea in my seat.

All in all, I was home in time for tea with my `booty` from England intact:

I hate to think how my neighbors endured the journey – I doubt they have Australian Shiraz on tap either…  If I’d taken the Ship option I’d probably just be sailing round the Isle of Wight by now… 🙂

Room With A View

“The Internet was born free yet everywhere it is in chains”  – Or rather, everywhere  it is charged for.

One of my biggest qualms with Hotels are their excessive internet charges.

Staying in the lovely 4-star Affinia Dumont hotel in Manhattan I would expect running water to be included as part of the price.  Therefore I expect another utility – the Internet – to also be free.  This is not the case and this hotel certainly isn’t an exception.

Still, credit to my 4-star hotel for what is certainly a room with a view:

Chrysler Building and Manhattan Skyline

With a view like that from the 31st floor it makes me feel a dwarf amongst the Manhattan giants.

Waking up and going to sleep with the beautiful art-deco Chrysler tower in full view has made this room one of my top locations of the year.