Now yesterday I told you that the Americans are stunned when you say you are from Noooooo Zeeeeeelund. They look at you as if you are a bit freaky (well perhaps we are of course). It is weird. Yesterday we were sitting in the bus on our tour to Ste Anne Canyon – we were the only non-Americans and the tour guide asked where everyone was from. So the lady sitting behind us taps us on the shoulder and tells us that she plays cards on the Internet with a lady who lives in our very own country. “Now tell me where in Nooooo Zeeeeelund do you live?” So we explain where we live and ask where her card-playing companion lives. “Well she lives in a town there that is very near Australia!” Heaven forbid. So we name the towns down the west coast that “are very near Australia” for her but no – it didn’t register at all.
I need to tell you something about ze bathroom. Actually specifically the public bathrooms. This is perplexing. They do not have something on the door indicating vacant/engaged – so you never know if the cubicle is vacant or not. This means almost every time you go into the “Ladies” you see little old ladies like me bending down trying to look under the door to see if any feet are in there. I feel like writing to the Minister in Charge of Public Conveniences to tell him/her that they need to contact the door handle company in Noooooo Zeeeeeelund and order several thousand of those simple little catches that will inform people if it is safe to go in and save little old ladies like me putting their back out just to see if it is safe to go to the loo. Unbelieeeeevable. These are the amazing experiences you get when you travel!
On Saturday we disembarked the ship in Montreal and flew over Milwaukee, Cedar Rapids, Colorado Springs and the mountains of Colorado where snow is still in the valleys. We flew over Bryce Canyon which was like looking down on a vast brown plateau of jagged pieces of a jigsaw puzzle not quite fitting together and then over the mountains of San Bernadino before landing in Los Angeles. Now we are back in the land of cars and 12-lane highways.
Sunday we had an absolute treat and the highlight of our adventure here. Larry and Cengiz are friends we made on the Tour de France trip in 2010 and they were with us again in France in 2013 and are two wonderful guys. We were picked up from our hotel at Redondo Beach at 7.45 and taken to a French Cafe for breakfast followed by a tour in Larry’s brand new Mercedes 4WD to Malibu, Santa Monica and Redondo beaches. Larry showed the apprentice where he does his long rides on quiet roads but steady climbs. He took us to Beverley Hills and we walked the beautiful shops of the famous Rodeo Drive – with the boss confiscating the VISA!!! Actually, I was afraid to even step into the shops because I had forgotten to polish the tiara and wear it and I can tell you I didn’t dare turn over a price tag in case I fainted on the spot! We went past Pepperdine University, Brentwood and admired the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean and I can report that when you see house numbers 25464 you know you are on a very very long boulevard! We were then taken to their house in the beautiful Rancho Palos Verdes – a gorgeous suburb with a Spanish influence on the hills above Redondo Beach and looking out to the Pacific Ocean. There we enjoyed a wine or two in the garden overlooking the sparkling sea and then to the Trump golf course for dinner also overlooking the ocean but with the added attraction of a whale which surfaced just for us! The boss had spent 7 days on the ship looking for whales!! To complete a great day we watched the beautiful sunset over Redondo beach ending the best day we have had since leaving home. It was fabulous to spend a day with our very dear friends Larry and Cengiz. Perhaps we might meet up with them in France sometime or we may even see them in NZ!
Now – ze bathroom. I have to tell you this because it is truly unbeleeeeeevable. At their magnificent home I had to use the bathroom (as you do) and the first indication that this might be a challenge was that when I opened the door the toilet seat lifted itself to “welcome” me! Heaven forbid – didn’t expect that and it freaked me out. Anyway, I sat – seat was warm and I was thinking that this was a pretty good bathroom. However, there was a rather flash and shiny panel beside the toilet which took my eye. It had options: Rear cleansing; rear cleansing soft; front cleansing; arrows to go up or down!!; pressure buttons to give more or less; then drying options – oscillating; pulsating. Well, this took a little while to work out you know because you have to try everything don’t you and I can report that all this really “tickled my fancy” – literally! I had to regain my composure some several minutes later and exit this room, collect my camera and go back and photograph all this technology. Then I sent the boss in to see if he could work it all out and tickle his fancy too! That bathroom should get an academy award in my humble opinion!
So now we have joined our next tour group and yay!! Eleven Kiwis join us and off we set this morning to do the tour of LA which we have seen before but I tell the boss that at our age we can do with a little repetition and reinforcement so we can remember it. We did the Hollywood strip where the Stars have stars in the pavement to commemorate their wonderfulness and there was hype in overdrive from the moment we set foot on the strip so we escaped up the stairs that the Academy Award nominees walk up to get to the theatre to receive those statues and make their speeches and we found a little oasis of nice shops and less people and had a little walk around. Tomorrow we leave early for Lake Havasu and the Grand Canyon National Park which means hot temperatures in the 40’s, keeping the hydration up and wearing very comfortable light clothes so we don’t melt into the pavement