The Grand America Tour Blog 2012

Written, Produced and Photographs by Val Sampson & Richard Hinkle

Sunday 04 November 2012 Los Angeles to Home


Sadly today is our last day & we must reluctantly bid farewell to Richard We will travel through the Mohave Desert to Yermo & lunch at Peggy Sue's 50s Diner , before traveling on to Los Angeles to LAX to join our Air New Zealand flight for Home! a summary of facts for Grand America 2012 Passengers visited - 3 Countries - USA - Canada - Mexico

36 States of USA

4 Provinces in Canada - British Columbia - Alberta - Ontario. - Quebec

1 Territory - Washington DC

1 Sovereign Nation - Navajo Land Passengers stayed in 39 Hotels

Saturday 03 November 2012 - Las Vegas

Today is free day - but we are going to the factory outlets one last time! This afternoon will be spent packing !!!


Friday 02 November 2012 - Las Vegas

This morning we drove through Williams Arizona & on to Seligman - the birthplace of Historic Route 66. We then drove on Route 66 to Kingman where we stopped for lunch at Cracker Barrel. After lunch we crossed into Nevada & crossed the new bridge over the Hoover Dam - then a quick trip down the Strip in Las Vegas to arrive at our hotel Best Western Mardi GRAS - our home for our last 2 nights. Tonight we had an awesome time on our limo party bus - stretch of course - complete with champagne supplied by Geoff & Val - a fun 2 hours !!!

Thursday 01 November 2012 - Grand Canyon

Great day as we set off to explore the spectacular Grand Canyon. We first glimpsed the Canyon from Mather Point & then took the flyers to the airport to join Maverick for their helicopter flight over the Canyon. The rest of the day was spent exploring until it was time to leave. This evening we had our farewell dinner & certificates & prizes were handed out. Another great day!

Wednesday 31 October 2012 - flagstaff

We reluctantly left Kayenta & Monument Valley & travelled to Cameron Trading Post where the ladies made some great purchases of Navajo jewellery. We then drove through Flagstaff to Sedona & Red Rock Country . Great photo opportunities. We spent 2 hours exploring this very pretty community . One more stop at Oak Creek Canyon Overlook before going on to our Hotel

Comfort Inn & Suites - our home for 2 nights. Tomorrow - the spectacular Grand Canyon & our Farewell Dinner!!


Tuesday 30 October 2012 - Kayenta - Monument Valley

Our 1 st stop this morning was Walmart for shopping & coffee. We then drove on to 4 Corners Monument where 4 states meet - Colorado - New Mexico - Utah & Arizona. We arrived in Kayenta for lunch & we were then picked up by George Sisco 111 of Sisco' s Monument Valley Tours who explained the spectacular formations & Navajo culture. We then visited a Hogan & was greeted by Susie - one of George's relatives. Our next stop was Rain God Mesa where George & and his crew produced an awesome barbecue complete with luscious steaks cooked on the open camp fire. Absolutely awesome - an incredible evening in the Valley. Great job George.


Monday 29 October 2012 - Ouray & The Million Dollar Highway.

Today was a spectacular day as we travelled the San Juan Skyway & th Million Dollar Highway through the old mining town of Silverton & then on through incredible scenery to reach the town of Ouray - Switzerland of America.The scenery was just as spectacular on our drive home. A great day & incredible driving effort by Richard our Grand America Driver.

road travelled on by bus

Sunday 28 October 2012 - Durango

This morning we visited Old Town Albuequerque . Then we travelled on to Espanola for our lunch stop. We drove through Chama & Pagosa Springs to reach Durango & our hotel - Durango Downtown Inn - our home for 2 nights.

Old Town Albuequerque

Saturday 27 October 2012 - Albuequerque

Our first stop this morning was Carlsbad Caverns - spectacular. We then stopped for a picnic lunch in Artesia with packed lunches provided by the hotel.after lunch we drove through Roswell of UFO fame & then through Lincoln of Billy the Kid fame to arrive at our hotel - Holiday Inn & Suites Albuequerque.

 Carlsbad Caverns

Friday 26 October 2012 - Carlsbad
Today is another travel day & our 1 st stop was Segovia then on to Ozona to see the statue of Davy Crockett & also have lunch. After lunch we travelled across the Pecos to Fort Stockton & stopped at the statue of Pisaino Pete - the world's largest road runner - then on through Pecos to New Mexico & Carlsbad & the Best Western Stevens Inn where a margarita reception awaited us.

Pisaino Pete

Thursday 25. October 2012 - San Antonio
An early start this morning - basically a travel day so we can reach the Alamo before it closed. We explored the Alamo & Riverwalk & then went to the hotel - El Tropicano Riverwalk

El Tropicano Riverwalk

Wednesday 24 October 2012 - New Orleans - Local
This morning we paid a visit to Oak Alley Plantation for a guided tour of he mansion. We walked to the levee of the mighty Mississippi. River for a photo. After lunch we returned to our hotel via a trip through Downtown New Orleans.

Oak Alley Plantation

Tuesday 23 October 2012 - New Orleans
This morning we crossed into Mississippi & stopped at Genada & visited Walmart for supplies. Then we travelled on to Brookhaven where Alf celebrated his 80th birthday in style at China Buffet!!!
We then crossed into Louisiana & into New Orleans - the Big Easy - stopping for a photo at the City of the Dead. We toured Downtoen & pointed out Bourbon Street @ arrived at our hotel - Maison St Charles - our home for 2 nights.

City of the Dead

Monday 22 October 2012 - Memphis - Local
Well today was the day we all went to Graceland - nobody found Elvis alive & well - some did get a photo with him !!! So we had all things Elvis - also our official group photo. Tonight we went across to the Peabody Hotel to see the famous Peabody Ducks & the Duck Palace where they live on the roof of the hotel. Amazing!! Tomorrow we are off to new Orleans !!!

Peabody Ducks & the Duck Palace

Sunday 21 October 2012 - Memphis
Last night we enjoyed dinner & a great show on the General Jackson showboat. This morning w set off for Memphis, our 1st stop was Loretta Lynn's ranch & Kitchen for coffee & the on to explore her Coal Miner's Daughter Museum. Fantastic !! Then it was on to Casey Joes Village for lunch . After lunch. Travelled on to Memphis & explored Beale Street & then on to Sun Studios for a guided tour. We arrived at our Hotel - Holiday Inn Select our home for 2 nights. A Welcome reception awaited us at the hotel complete with lemonade & Monkey Bread - one of Elvis's favorites !!! Tomorrow Graceland !!


Saturday. 20 October 2012 - Nashville Local
This morning we were joined by our step on guide , Barry, who told us all about Nashville & pointed out the Ryman Theatre, Grand Ole Opry & then took us to the Parthenon & the star's homes including the home of Johnny Cash which was destroyed by fire. We also saw the famous Bat Tower!!!

RCA Victor

Friday 19 October 2012 - Nashville
This morning we toured Downtown Montgomery & saw the First White House of the Confederacy before traveling on through Wildwood to Athens with a chocolate stop at Russell Stover's before continuing on to Nashville & our hotel Gaylord Opryland Resort. Tonight we had a foot stomping time at The Nashville Nightlife Dinner Theatre where we were given a warm " yee hah" welcome by Diana & the gang. Great night !

The Nashville Nightlife Dinner Theatre

Thursday 18 October 2012 - Montgomery Alabama
Today was a travel day. We travelled across the Florida Panhandle to Tallahassee , the capital of Florida & stopped for lunch at Midway. We had an afternoon stop at Wal Mart after we left Florida & crossed onto Alabama. This morning we saw the Historic Suwannee River & took a picture of the musical sign. We arrived at our hotel Wingate by Wyndham & tomorrow we are off to Nashville Tennessee - Country music Capital.

Historic Suwannee River

Wednesday 17 October 2012 Orlando
Today was another free day. Most went to the factory outlets & shopped til they almost dropped - great bargains. Some back belt shoppers stayed on. Hope they get back before we leave tomorrow !!! Another enjoyable day.

factory outlets

Tuesday 16 October 2012 - Kennedy Space Centre / Air boat Ride
We left early for our visit to the Kennedy Space Centre where spent 4 hours. Some explored the
Apollo site while others enjoyed the IMAX theatre. After lunch we left for Christmas Florida where we were met by Pork Chop - the guard pig. We enjoyed a 1 hour air boat ride on the St Johns river - saw 2 alligators - up close. We returned to th hotel for Happy Hour & dinner. Great day enjoyed by all.

Kennedy Space Centre

Monday 15 October 2012 Orlando - Free Day
Today is a free day & some are visiting Disneyworld & some the EPCOT Centre - a good day for some to just relax

Orlando - Free Day

Sunday 14 October 2012 Orlando
We made a fuel stop this morning & then crossed into Florida with a stop at the Welcome Centre
Before moving on to St Augustine, America's oldest continuous settlement & home to the oldest schoolhouse in USA. Our next stop was Daytona International Speedway where some intrepid travellers tried a track tour !! We drove through the pretty coastal region & past the drive on beach to reach Daytona. We arrived at our hotel the Rosen Inn. at Pointe Orlando - our home for the next 4 nights.

Daytona International Speedway

Saturday 13 October 2012 Savannah
We crossed into our 24 th state early this morning & made a fun stop at South of the Border. We then travelled on to the historic city of Charleston where we spent some time exploring. In the afternoon we crossed into Georgia to arrive at our hotel BW Savannah Gateway.

South of the Border

Friday 12 October 2012 - Fayetteville North Carolina
This morning we crossed into our 23 rd state - North Carolina & stopped for our morning stop at Border Station before moving on to Kitty Hawk & the Wright Brothers Memorial. We had a good lunch at Millers Waterfront Restaurant at Nag's Head where we tried a local delicacy - hush puppies !!! We travelled on to eventually arrive at our hotel for this evening - Ambassador Inn where we received a great Southern welcome from our host - Sharon . A long day - but a good one .

Ambassador Inn

Thursday 11 October 2012 - Williamsburg
We left the hotel & travelled to Jamestown Settlement where the Revolutionary war started. After our self guided tour we drove the Colonial Parkway to Historic Williamsburg. We stped for lunch & time to explore this pretty town. In the afternoon we again drove the Colonial Parway to Yorktown Victory Centre where the peace was signed to end the Revolutionary war. We then returned to our hotel.

Yorktown Victory Centre

Wednesday 10 October 2012 - Williamsburg Virginia
Our 1st stop today was Carmel Church to refuel "Goldie" then we travelled on to Richmond - Capital of Virginia. We had a fantastic guided tour of the Capitol & now know all about the Civil War. Fantastic restoration of this grand old building - we had lunch in the Merewether Cafe before moving on to Historic Williamsburg & our hotel -Fairfield Inn by Marriott - our home for 2 nights. An easy day - but a good one !

Williamsburg Virginia

Tuesday 9 October 2012 - Washington DC - local
Our 1st stop this morning was Arlington National Cemetery - some watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns , while others visited the John F Kennedy gravesite. We then went on to the Lincoln Memorial , The Korean Garden of Peace , then we drove past the Capitol & The White House. We had several hours to explore the museums & have lunch before returning to the hotel. Tonight several people attended an optional dinner cruise on the Potomac River & then returned to our hotel. Another interesting day !

Arlington National Cemetery

Monday 8 October 2012 - Washington DC
Our 1 st stop this morning was Philadelphia & Liberty Bell. Unfortunately there were huge crowds of people as it was Columbus Day & folks were out with their families. Our next stop was Kettle Kitchen Village in Amish Country for lunch. We took photos of pretty farms & also the quaint horse & buggies of the Amish People . We then travelled onto Washington DC - the Nation's Capital - our home for 2 nights.

horse & buggies of the Amish People

Sunday 7 October 2012 - New York City local
Today we toured New York City & visited Lady Liberty & Ellis Island & Central Park before returning to the hotel where dinner was included. We surprised 2 birthday couples wait a " slice" of cake each complete with candle? Good fun!

birthday couples

Saturday 6 October 2012 - New York
Our 1st stop this morning was at Plymouth to view Plymouth Rock & the replica of the Mayflower. We then made a stop at Walmart to stock up on water , apples & candy. We travelled on to Newport Rhode Island where we won the America's Cup & to have lunch. Some engaged in retail therapy & picked up some bargains. We travelled through, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York & New Jersey. We crossed the George Washington Bridge to arrive at our hotel - Quality Inn Meadowlands - our home for 2 nights.

replica of the Mayflower

Friday 5 October 2012 - Boston Local
We were joined today by a local guide who showed us around Boston & explained the history of the city. We visited the USS Constitution & the Old North Church of Paul Revere fame & then headed to Quincy Markets for lunch & shopping. After lunch we drove by the replica of the Tea Party Ship before heading back you our hotel. A very interesting & informative day !


Thursday 4 October 2012. - Boston
Today we travelled through magnificent Fall leaves - through New England - Vermont - New Hampshire & Massachusetts - had a great lunch in Lyndonville & stopped for photos at the covered bridge. Despite the rain we had another great day - tomorrow we will tour Boston & visit the historical places. Our hotel tonight is Fairfield Inn by Marriott.

covered bridge

Wednesday 3 October 2012 - Montreal
What a fantastic day. We were met by Pierre - the owner - when we arrived at the Sugar Shack - Sucrerie de la Montagne. We learned how maple syrup is made by hand & how they tap the maple trees. Next was the wood fired bakery where they can bake 100 loaves at a time & then it was inside for a lumberjack's feast. Robert - the resident musician - kept the fun & merriment going while some erstwhile performers attempted to play the spoons!!! After a visit to the General Store - aka gift shop - we reluctantly waved farewell to Pierre & headed for Mont Royal for photos & then on to Old Town & finally arrived early at our Hotel Holiday Inn Longueuil - Montreal. Another really great day.

Sugar Shack

Tuesday 2 October 2012 - Ottawa
Wow ! The view of The Falls last night was spectacular . Dinner was great. We left Niagara & travelled around the outskirts of Toronto. We passed through many areas with pretty Fall leaves & travelled past Lake Ontario & thenSt Lawrence Seaway to reach Ottawa , the nation's capital.
Unfortunately we were not able to get good photos of the parliament buildings as there was a lot of work being done on them. We arrived nice & early at our hotel - holiday Inn Select - Kanata.

St Lawrence Seaway

Monday 1 October 2012. Niagara Falls - Local
Sleeping in this morning & after breakfast we set out for Niagara Falls. Some ventured on the journey behind the falls & others braved the crowds for Maid of the Mist. All agreed it was awesome!! Next stop was the floral clock for photos & then onto Fort George & Niagara on the Lake. We returned to the hotel via the Welland Canal & were lucky enough to catch a lake ship in the lock - with 2 more waiting. Another great day. Tonight is an optional dinner in the revolving dining room in the Skylon Tower - pretty terrific - especially when they illuminate the Falls.
Tomorrow we are off to Ottawa.

Niagara Falls

Sunday 30 September 2012 - Niagara Falls
We left our hotel - holiday Inn Maumee Toledo and headed for Detroit - " Motor City " where we stopped for photos. We then set off through the pretty leaves to the bridge to Canada. We passed through Canadian customs & immigration & proceed on to our lunch stop at Woodstock.
We then travelled down the peninsula through London & Hamilton To reach the Niagara Escarpment. Great view of Lake Ontario ! We dropped the passengers downtown to explore & left for the hotel to drop off the bags. We picked the people up & returned to the hotel - Holiday Inn by the Falls - our home for 2 nights. Another good day !


Saturday 29 September 2012 Toledo
We bid a fond farewell to our host , Lisa, & reluctantly left the Holiday Inn Madison West - great hotel - wonderful water park. Today was another travel day - not much to report until we came to Chicago - lots of traffic - great views of the skyline. Today we left Wisconsin & travelled through Illinois - Indiana to Ohio. Arrived early at our hotel for this evening - Holiday Inn - Maumee.Tomorrow we go back into Canada & to Niagara Falls .


Friday. September 28th, 2012 - Madison
Not much to report today as it was a travel day as we drove across the Plains throughSouth Dakota, Minnesota & into Wisconsin. Our 1 st stop was at the famous Corn Palace in Mitchell for photos . This afternoon we got some great pictures of the pretty Fall leaves. Tomorrow is another travel day as we head for Toledo Ohio.

Corn Palace in MitchellFall Leaves

Thursday. September 27th, 2012 - Mitchell
WOW !!! What a day - weather perfect - 1 st stop Mt Rushmore to view the Presidents. Then it was on to Bear Country USA - what a sight - the unbelievers were blown away by the bears - black , brown & Grizzly varieties . Also mountain goats , elk, reindeer, big horn sheep & mountain lions & bison. A visit to the grizzly compound found Tank who posed for photos & gave us a big smile !!! Lunch stop was Wall Drug - what a great place - everyone explored all the great stuff on display - not to mention the hot roast beef sandwich !! Yummy !! Our afternoon stop was at Al's Oasis - very interesting - some ladies engaged in some retail therapy. We then set off for Mitchell South Dakota & our hotel - Holiday Inn Express - great hotel - dinner at Whiskey Creek Restaurant. Great day - will be hard to beat. The next 2 days are travel days but I am sure we can find something of interest as we travel across the plains.

Mt Rushmore

Wednesday. September 26th, 2012 - Deadwood
Our 1st stop today was the Little Big Horn National Monument the site of Custer's last stand. We drove the circuit & relived the battle. We then went on to Gillette Wyoming for lunch. After lunch we travelled through Wyoming to South Dakota - our 6 th state - to arrive at Tatanka - Story of the Bison where we were greeted by our friend Deb Picard. Our next stop was our Hotel Hickok's Hotel & Casino. Dinner was at Kevin Costner's restaurant - Diamond Lil's in the Midnight Star. Another great day - tomorrow more surprises in store.

Little Big Horn National Monument

Tuesday 25th September 2012 Billings Montana
Today was basically a travel day as we travelled across the plains through Missoula & Butte to arrive early at our hotel Holiday Inn Grand Montana. Not much luck with photos as there was a lot of smoke haze from the wildfires on Idaho. Tomorrow we are off to Deadwood !!!

Missoula & Butte

Monday 24 September 2012. Polson
Today we set off early for Calgary to pick up Geoff & some extra passengers then we travelled the Deerfoot trail through High River to St Mary's in Glacier Park. After lunch we skirted the park & drove through Kallispell around Flathead Lake to Polson - long day but a good one.Tuesday 25

Flathead Lake

Sunday 23 September 2012 - Banff local -Lake Louise
A later start today as we explored Banff. Our 1st stop was Bow Falls for a picture stop - then we drove slowly past Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel - the Castle in the Rockies - more photos. Then we drove on to Sulphur Mountain Gondola for a breathtaking ride to the top. We travelled along the Bow Valley Parkway - on the lookout for the elusive wildlife - and arrived at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise where we had lunch - some walked around the lake - others took pictures & explored the chateau. After lunch we drove back to Banff & stopped at Safeway to buy our goodies for tonight's BBQ. Unfortunately we missed out on Moraine Lake as the road was closed. Oh well !!

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Saturday 22 September 2012 Banff
We left Jasper this morning & stopped at Athabasca Falls for photos. We then travelled the spectacular Icefields Parkway with a stop at the Columbia Icefields Centre for lunch & our ride on the Ice Explorer on the Athabasca Glacier - spectacular. We continued on the Icefields Parkway through magnificent scenery & colors to stop at the beautiful Peyton Lake for a photo. Our next stop was Bow Lake & Bow Glacier then we went on to Banff with a stop at Safeway & then on to our hotel for 2 nights - tunnel Mountain Resort - fully self contained ski chalets - so tonight we cook our own dinner - maybe tomorrow night a. BBQ if the weather stays as good as it has been so far. Another spectacular day !!! WOW !!!

Athabasca Falls

Friday 21 September 2012 Jasper
This morning we left Kamloops & travelled through the Fraser Canyon to Clearwater for our morning stop. We stopped next at Mt Terry Fox & read the story of Terry Fox & his run across Canada on an artificial leg - the result of bone cancer. We travelled on to Mt Robson - highest mountain in the Rockies & stopped for lunch & pictures . Our next stop was aphoto stop at Moose Lake - 13 Kim's long - the largest lake in the Rockies. We crossed the border into Alberta - put 2 nd Province - & then on to our hotel Mt Robson Inn. Dinner tonight is at Evil Dave's Wicked Food Restaurant !!!!! ?????

Moose Lake

Thursday 20 September. Kamloops
Today we travelled through the outskirts of Vancouver to reach Hope. We were blown away with chainsaw carvings . We stopped in the Fraser Canyon at Hell's Gate for lunch - experienced a tram ride to the bottom of the canyon. After lunch we travelled to Lytton to see the confluence of the Fraser & Thompson rivers before moving on to Kamloops Lake for a photo stop. We arrived at our hotel Comfort Inn & Suites Kamloops . Another great day !

Fraser & Thompson rivers

Wednesday 19 September 2012. Vancouver Local
Today we explored Vancouver. We drove Downtown & saw the statue of " Gassy " Jack in Gastown & then on to Stanley Park to view the Totems. We saw Holland America's ship "Zaandam" at Canada Place. At Prospect point we stopped for a great photo of the Lion's Gate bridge before driving by the university & then back to our hotel

Lion's Gate bridge

Tuesday 18 September.
Our 1st stop today was the Cowichan Indian village for a guided tour of the Totems. Then on to Chemainus - the little town that did - for lunch & time to view the beautiful murals. We moved on up Vancouver Island to Duke's Point where we boarded the ferry to Tsawwassen. We travelled through the George Massey Tunnel to arrive at Richmond & our hotel for the next 2 nights. The Executive Airport Plaza Hotel.

Cowichan Indian village

Monday 17 September. Victoria - Butchart Gardens
Today we visited the famous Butchart Gardens & were blown away by the magnificent displays & colors . The Sunken Garden & Waterfalls were magnificent. The Hi Tea proved a great success & we all took a doggie box for those who chose not to take the option. Great photo opportunities & the inevitable " group Photo" under the But hart Gardens sign was a must. We returned to the hotel early to get ready for our inclusive dinner tonight

Butchart Gardens

Sunday 16 September 2012
Reluctantly we left the Crowne Plaza in Portland Oregon & travelled through Olympia - saw the. Capitol & proceeded to Kneeland where we had an extended visit to Walmart !! We travelled down the spectacular Olympic Peninsula to Port Angeles to join the MV Coho for the cruise to Victoria BC Canada. Alas ! The 1 st semi off the ferry broke down & had to get a push start from a tractor !!! We finally cast off 30 minutes late. Arrived Victoria & drove to hotel - Queen Victoria. Hotel. Settled in - had dinner - looking forward to Butchart Gardens tomorrow & Hi Tea

 MV Coho for the cruise to Victoria BC Canada

Saturday. 15 September 2012 Portland.
We continue north today on the Coast Highway through Redwood stands stopping at the Trees of Mystery - home of Paul Bunyan & his blue ox Babe. On to Crescent City then turn inland to Grant's Pass where we stop for lunch. Despite the "scotch mist" we are having a good time. We cross into Oregon - our 2 nd state & travel through Eugene & Salem to reach Portland & the Crowne Plaza Hotel our home for tonight.

Trees of Mystery - home of Paul Bunyan & his blue ox Babe

Friday Sept. 14: Eureka
Heading north from San Francisco we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, traveled through the Sonoma Wine Country we had a picnic lunch in Leggett by the drive thru tree and continued through the Avenue of the Giant Redwoods before arriving at Eureka for our overnight stop Tonight we had a sumptuous dinner at the Samoan Cookhouse.

Sonoma Wine Country

Thursday 13 September San Francisco
Today we toured San Francisco - the Embarcadero, Financial District, City Centre, Golden Gate Park & Twin Peaks. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge - stopped for a photo & travelled on to Sausalito where w stopped for a a burger lunch. Some caught the ferry back & sailed close to Alcatraz , the rest of us stayed with " Goldie " & Richard - going by way of California Street of movie fame - WOW !!! - then back to our hotel .

San Francisco

Wednesday 12 September San Francisco
Today we visited Yosemite National Park on our way to San Framcisco. We jumped on a park shuttle & explored this great park. We visited the famous Ahwanee Hotel - rejoined " Goldie" & set off for San Francisco. We made a stop at Merced Fruit Barn & then travelled on to San Francisco crossing the Oakland Bay Bridge to arrive at our hotel Holiday inn Fisherman 's Wharf

Yosemite National Park

Tuesday 11 September Oakhurst
This morning we observes 30 seconds silence to honor the fallen of the 9/11 disaster in New York City & then headed off along the scenic 17 Mile Drive . We had a photo stop at the Lone Cypress before moving on to the famous Pebble Bech golf course. We made another stop at Carmel - by - the - Sea where Clint Eastwood was mayor - he still lives there, then we went on tour our lunch stop at Casa da Fruita - for all things fruity or not. There was Casa da Choo Choo, Casa da wine, Casa da Sluice & Casa da Ice Cream. We set off for Oakhurst through the Sierra Nevada mountains & Coarsegold of the 49ers gold rush era to arrive at our hotel - Yosemite Gateway South.

Pebble Beach golf course

Monday 10 September. Monterey
Afte a sumptuous breakfast we said farewell to Jim & his friendly staff & set off for San Simeon & Hearst Castle. After our tour the castle we travelled through Paso Robles & Salinas - the salad bowl of the nation - to reach Monterey & the Best Western Monterey Inn. Great hotel ! Most of us had dinner at the Great Wall Chinese restaurant while some took a walk to Fisherman's Wharf.

Hearst Castle

Sunday 9 September Camarillo
We enjoyed a hearty breakfast & then set off for a tour of LA with a stop for lunch at Farmers Market before going on to Universal Studios.

Universal Studios

We drove on through Thousand Oaks to arrive at Camarillo Quality Inn where we were met by our friend & owner Jim O' Neil - this has been the custom since 1988 . We were treated to a great chicken dinner & drinks as the conference room was turned over to us. Great night - lots of fun.

geoff and Val

Saturday 8 September. Buena Park
Free day - more visits to Disneyland - others relaxed around the pool. Richard brought " Goldie" back in & we went shopping for goodies for the tour. Early night as the big adventure starts tomorrow.

tour map

Friday 7 September Buena Park
Another free day. Some intrepid travellers ventured south through San Diego to Tijuana Mexico. Lunch was at Tijuana Tilliys where some were noticed sampling margaritas ! Through US customs & back into the good old US of A ! We stopped for a quick look at the Crystal Cathedral & then back to the Hotel.

Crystal Cathedral

Thursday 6 September 2012 Buena Park
Today is a free day , some visited Disneyland while others went exploring - all enjoying their time here.


Wednesday 5 September 2012. Buena Park
After a fabulous flight with Air New Zealand we arrived at Los Angeles, after passing through Customs we were greeted by our favorite Grand America Tour Driver - Richard -
In a brand new bus which was quickly christened " Goldie". We arrived at holiday Inn Buena Park & after we settled in we're treated to a welcome reception , courtesy of the Hotel
Sales Manager, Jessie & World Discovery Tours.

tour coach