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Fab North America Travel

    Fab North America Travel

    Solo Road Trip on Historic Highway One

    My Solo Adventure

    Location: Pacific Coast Highway

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    Curious Seagull, Pacific Coast Highway

    Six days and 1300 miles behind me, I arrived home from my Road Trip Pacific Coat Highway (solo).  What’s in a name?  I mostly referred to it as “the route”, thanks to the friendly woman inside my Garmin navigator (who I affectionately call Lois). Whatever the name, it is well worth the time it takes to leisurely enjoy this twisting and turning coastal road.  It is unlike any other in the United States.

    “Lois” and I had six days, and set out to drive from Los Olivos, California to Gig Harbor, Washington.  I certainly thought six days seemed like plenty of time (Lois was non-commital) as we left Los Olivos on a hot and sunny September afternoon.  Six days, it turns out, was not enough time to road trip Pacific Coast Highway…I needed more time to really drink in the views, get out and hike the trails, breathe in the ocean spray and sink my toes in to the sand.  I needed more time. To relax.

    Lois – well she prefers to spend her time “recalculating”.

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    Pismo Beach Kayakers

    With another week I may have even continued the trip all along the Washington coast – and frankly I think I will do that, sometime in the next month or so….I just feel compelled to see the rest and complete the quest. I know Lois will be up for it too.

    Driving the Pacific Coast Highway there were surprises: standing on the beach in Point Reyes without a breath of wind coming off the ocean.  Unheard of in my experience.

    There were frustrations: construction projects throughout the drive causing back-ups which Lois couldn’t possibly have prepared for. I tried to be patient, realizing how important it is to maintain this historic gem of a road and keep drivers safe.

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    Stormy Beach

    There was peace: watching the sunrise at Cannon Beach as I did my morning run along the shore…the pink and gold of the new day bathing Haystack Rock and its sister rocks just as I was running by.  Took my breath away.

    There was adrenalin boost: when I slipped and fell on a muddy hill as I was trying to get a photo,
    catching myself only by grabbing a seedling within reach.  Thinking later about how long I might have laid on that rocky beach below before the next tourist trying to take a photo saw me there…

    There was variety: Hot sun and torrential downpours.  Fog, wind, beautiful clouds.  I saw it all.

    There was Lois: keeping me company, insisting on the  shortest route to my destination, which never was the Hwy 1 Coastal route.  She adjusted…eventually.

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    You see some strange things on a road trip

    And I would do it all again.  Driving the Pacific Coast Highway was rejuvenating and relaxing and restoring to travel alone, singing in the car, thinking, planning. Sometimes using the “mute” button on Lois.  Wish I had had a mute button when doing road trips when my kids were little.  And sometimes just being still.  A new skill I’m learning; being still.

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    Early morning beach run

    I truly recommend making this quest – alone or with someone you love…there were certainly many moments I wished my husband was with me.  But it was also a great thing to do alone…to just be alone can be a really good thing for the soul.

    I didn’t see it all, but I did see a lot…enough to make some recommendations.  So take my advice or not, but find the time to make all or part of the beautiful and scenic Hwy 1/101 a part of a future road trip. Driving the Pacific Coast Highway alone or not, is a positively delightful experience.

     

     

    CALIFORNIA – Road Trip Pacific Coast Highway Solo

    Los Olivos

    In a word: Wine

    Yummy Eats: Los Olivos Café

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    Los Olivos

    Claim to Fame: One of the film locations for the movie “Sideways”.  I actually haven’t seen this movie, I don’t know why.  Gotta check it out now.  My observation of Los Olivos was the “cute” factor is fairly new…perhaps a result of its brush with Hollywood.  No matter, tiny and quaint, its worth an hour or two.

    Lois says: Find a shady parking spot, on the street.  The sun here is hot, even in the fall.

     

    San Luis Obispo

    In a word: Friendly

    Yummy Eats: Firestone Grill – serving San Luis Obispo’s famous tri-tip sandwich

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    Just outside of San Luis Obispo

    Pillow Talk: Cheap, clean and fabulous, the Peach Tree Inn on Hwy 101 is  a throwback to my childhood road trips in the station wagon with the fam. $79 a night.

    Claim to Fame: Named the most friendly city in the United States in 2010 by National Geographic writer Dan Buetner in his book Thrive.

    Home to the California Polytechnic University, this city has made a conscious effort to control growth and promote local (downtown still is a shopping area and has an outstanding Farmers Market, year – round, on Thursday nights), right down to no Target, no drive through restaurants. Yes I said no drive-through restaurants.  Why you ask?  Well SLO’s Mayor says they want people to get out of their cars!  Shhh…don’t tell Lois.

    Lois says: I love the old “Motor Inns” designed for road travel.  The Peach Tree was perfect.

    San Simeon

    In a word: Elephant Seals

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    Sea Elephants – you can smell them a mile away

    Claim to Fame: Hearst Castle – worth a visit.  Can be long lines depending on the time of year

    Watch for the signs to stop at the Piedras Blancas and view the harems of these smelly, loud, entertaining and interesting coastal creatures who make this beach their home year-round, with peak season being February through May.

    Lois says: The parking lot at Piedras Blancas was muddy, watch for large potholes here…but plenty of parking available.

    Big Sur

    In a word: Stunning

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    Stunning Big Sur

    Yummy Eats:  Be sure to go to Nepenthe, for the view as much as the food.  Meal was good, view was spectacular.  For breakfast don’t miss the Big Sur Bakery.  Try the Quiche or organic granola.

    Pillow Talk:  Lots of options in Big Sur – all expensive.  But for something fun and unique splurge on the fabulous Treebones Resort.  You won’t be sorry.

    Claim to Fame: The very rugged area did not see electricity until the 1950’s and the coast highway took 18 years to build.  Pioneers were a tough breed here, and early conservationists.  Their names are still visible throughout.

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    Enjoying a beach walk

    Great hiking and views everywhere you go.  Don’t miss Julia Phieffer Burns State Park, Phieffer Beach and to the North the spectacular Point Lobos State Park where you can spend the whole day and not see it all. No cell phone service anywhere here, on Verizon anyway.

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    The road can be challenging. Pay Attention!

    Lois says: If you are prone to motion-sickness take your meds before joining me on this section of the route.  Very up, down and twisty and we don’t want any messes on the interior of the car.  Thank you.

    Monterey

    In a word: Tourists

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    Monterrey Sunrise

    Yummy Eats: Fish Hoppers – delicious seafood risotto with a waterfront view.  Monterey has lots of options for dining on the water…some more touristy than others, but worth it to enjoy the salty smell and sights of the ocean here.

    Pillow Talk: Very disappointing room at Padre Oaks…for $200 it was old and sad.  But the motel was full, so that must mean $200 is the going rate.  Too bad, over my normal budget.

    Claim to Fame: The spectacular Monterey Aquarium is worth a visit, make the time, especially if you are traveling with kids.

    I particularly enjoyed a morning run along the waterfront.  A great trail that runs from Fishermen’s Wharf to Lovers Point was wonderful, flat and right next to the ocean.  Listening to the sea lions bark and the smell of the ocean breeze was a great way to start my day.

    Lois says: If you are only going to be in town a few hours skip the lots and park in street parking a few blocks out of the Cannery Row area.  Abundant and inexpensive.

     

    Half Moon Bay

    In a word: Charming

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    Great fence outside of Half Moon Bay

    Yummy Eats: I had lunch at the Moonside Bakery and sat outside in the sun.  My turkey sandwich on croissant and latte were perfect. It was busy – always a good sign- and the clientele appeared to be both tourists and locals.

    Claim to Fame: A coastal gem, Half Moon Bay’s temperate climate, access to San Francisco and the coast position it perfect for a full vacation if you have the time.  Unfortunately, I did not.

    Lois says: Choose the “Business Route” to assure access to the downtown area of Half Moon Bay.  The area is well marked to access the beach here too.

     

    San Francisco

    In a word: Variety

    Yummy Eats:  So much fabulous food…so little time.

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    San Fran and the Golden Gate

    Claim to Fame: The history of San Francisco is deep.  This city played a major role in the developing California territory and the entire west coast with gold, lumber, fishing, fires and more.  San Francisco has also been a leader in gay rights, healthy lifestyle and technology.

    You really need to make San Fran a separate trip, but if you make it a stop on this trip and only have a day just stroll and enjoy the waterfront, the Golden Gate and the views.

    Some of the most stunning views on the route are after you cross the Golden Gate Bridge on Hwy 101, follow the signs to Hwy 1 which climbs up and over Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods. Spend time here if you  can, it’s really beautiful.  Be sure to pull into the Marin Headland overlook and enjoy the view here before descending down the winding road to the coast and several beaches including Stinson and Bolinas.

    Lois says:  Caution – keep your eyes on the road going over the Golden Gate Bridge…its hard to do, but safety first!

     

    Olema

    In a word: Earthquake

    Yummy Eats: Sir and Star is a spectacular and surprisingly affordable restaurant in the heart of tiny Olema in a beautiful historic building.  I nearly died over the delicious dinner rolls, along with my trumpet mushroom salad and Bubble and Squeek.

    Pillow Talk: The Roundstone Farm Inn Bed and Breakfast offered a superb location to enjoy the area.  $170 a night included a nice breakfast.

    Claim to Fame: Home to the stunningly beautiful Point Reyes State Park which boasts miles of shoreline and hiking you could spend several days  here and I wish I had.  You can also walk on the San Andrea Fault which runs right through the area.  A great visitor center at Bear Valley is only minutes from Olema and is a great place to plan your day.

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    Great California wine

    In the neighboring town of Point Reyes be sure to visit Cowgirl Creamery for the most outstanding cheese on the earth.

    Lois says: My GPS is a little iffy in this area…I really had a headache here.  You might want a back up paper map in the car just in case.

     

    Marshall

    In a word: Oysters

    Yummy Eats: Hog Island Oyster Bar

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    Pacific Coast Oysters

    Claim to Fame:  If you love the bi-valve then this is the place.  Popular with the weekend crowd from the city, but open most days, you can enjoy sitting at the outdoor beach bar and slurp raw or cooked oysters, you can buy oysters to go, and you can also see the oyster farm.  Worth a stop!

    Lois says: You come upon this place quickly so be watching and aware of cars turning into the valet parking lot. I recommend valet always…such cute guys at the valet!

     

    Point Arena

    In a word: Lighthouse

    Claim to Fame: The only pacific coast lighthouse where you can climb to the top (115 feet), Point Arena is worth a stop.  The views from the road are also spectacular.  A nice stop to stretch and breath the sea air.

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    So picturesque

    Lois says:  You’ll catch sight of the lighthouse easily from the road.  There is a perfect pull out on the ocean side to stop and snap a few photos.

     

    Miranda

    In a word: Redwoods

    Yummy Eats: The Avenue Cafe is a great spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner – right on the world famous Avenue of the Giants.  Pancakes – yum.

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    Redwood Forest

    Pillow Talk: Miranda Gardens is a cozy and fun spot for a night or two  right in the middle of the giant trees and close to everything Redwoods, including the Avenue of the Giants.

    Claim to Fame: Big Trees.  Even if you’ve seen them, every time I still feel so small.  It’s astonishingly beautiful and renews your appreciation for Mother Nature and her ability to amaze.

    Lois says: Lights on for safety in this area.  Big Trees = dark roads.

    OREGON – Road Trip Pacific Coast Highway Solo

    Gold Beach

    In a word: Wild

    Yummy Eats: This is a town you want to have seafood in.  Check out the Nor’Wester for Seafood and Chowder.

    Pillow Talk:  Fabulous lodging at the historic Ireland’s Rustic Lodges.  Get a cabin if available (mine was darling and the bed very comfy) or ask for a lodge room with an ocean view. The cabins don’t have views but are roomy and include a small fridge and microwave.  Oceanside rooms do as well.

    Claim to Fame: Gold Beach touts itself as the “Wild Side” and rightly so.  Enjoy wild crashing waves on deserted ocean beaches, wildlife, wild salmon and wild views all with fewer people than some other towns along the Oregon Coast.  Easy access to the wild Rogue River as well.

    Walk to the beach in the early morning and you will likely have the place to yourself.  A great way to to start the day

    Lois says: The final section of Hwy 1/Hwy 101 out of Rockport before you hit Crescent City and cross into Oregon is very steep and windy.  We tackled it in a rainstorm as well.  If possible, plan your trip to be on this section during daylight hours.

     

    Cannon Beach

    In a word: Shopping

    Yummy Eats: A perfect lunch or light dinner choice is Sweet Basils.  Great tapas and wine as well as a nice happy hour in the summer season.

    Pillow Talk: Cannon Beach Hotel – I loved this quaint hotel one block from the beach. The building is old but beautifully restored and the rooms are small but very comfortable.  The breakfast which is included in the price was the best I had on my trip in the cozy french cafe that adjoins the hotel.  Tres magnifique!

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    Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach

    Claim to Fame: The sand is world famous here, known as the singing sands.  The world famous Cannon Beach Sand Castle Festival is in June, but enjoy the sand and beautiful beach any time of year.  Bring a jacket.  Lots of great shopping here too, if that’s your thing.  Stay more than one day and also visit beautiful Seaside just 8 miles up the road.  I also recommend a visit to Ecola State Park for the view.  If you have time, hike around.  I saw several elk here.

    Lois says: For some reason driving on the ocean beach is a popular activity here.  I’m not into it myself, but if you are, and have the right vehicle, it’s legal.

    WASHINGTON – Road Trip Pacific Coast Highway Solo

    Ilwaco

    In a word: Shipwrecks

    Yummy Eats: The Depot Restaurant is a great place to combine a great meal with history and ambiance.

    Claim to Fame: Ilwaco on the Long Beach Peninsula has a wealth of history as a hub for transportation on both land, sea and river.  It’s primary seafaring and transportation position has also created many shipwrecks through the years.  Today its still a hub for fishing, transportation, seafood, cranberries and tourism.

    A stop at Cape Disapointment State Park will greet you with spectacular views, two lighthouses and a wonderful museum/interpretive center on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

    I did not spend the night here, but hope to go back and do so, as this area is worth several days to explore.

    Lois says: I used my Washington State Parks annual pass here, well worth the purchase if you visit many of our State’s parks through out the year.

     

    South Bend

    In a word: Seafood

    Yummy Eats: East Point Seafood has fresh, canned and frozen seafood to go as well as an outdoor fish and chips stand.  Don’t miss it!

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    I love oysters

    Claim to Fame: Famous for Willapa Bay and the fabulous oysters produced there.  Even if you are just driving through town, be sure to stop and pick up some to go.

    Lois says: Watch the speed limit, these small town police love to give you a ticket.

     

    I left Hwy 101 at the town of Raymond and headed East over to I-5 and took I-5 from Chehalis on home.  I will hopefully continue the tour in the next month or so and enjoy the rest of the rugged Washington Coast section of this wonderful route. With Lois of course – she was a great companion!

    More on that when I (we) do!

     

     

     

     

     

    Fab North America Travel

    Solo Las Vegas

    Fun Things to do Alone in Las Vegas

    Location: Las Vegas Nevada

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    Iconic Las Vegas

    So how do you Solo Las Vegas?  Don’t worry – there are lots of things to do!  I wasn’t really sure how this was going to go, but, I have to say, I had a wonderful time enjoying my time alone.  I’m not a gambler and I’m not too interested in anything to raunchy or risqué.  But there is so much in this city beyond all the “what happens here” stuff.  It’s what I love about Vegas.  Unfortunately some of the best stuff gets lost behind all the glitz.

    So I found myself getting lost in Las Vegas. My sixth time in Vegas is my first time alone here.  Why would you come to Vegas alone?  Well, it’s a long story, but my husband is camping with college friends in Death Valley (two hours Northwest) and I am in town to run a half marathon.  So I decided to take on Vegas solo…just another thing I am learning in my fabulous fifties.  Solo Las Vegas is okay. Alone; but certainly not bored in this town.

    I booked a room at the Flamingo.  We’ve stayed here several times before.  The Flamingo definitely has the best pool in town…but, not so much in November.  It never occurred to me to check if the pool was open.  It wasn’t.  Oh well, it is November after-all, but the weather was great and I was looking forward to a little pool time.

     

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    Flamingos at the Flamingo

    Vegas Tip:  Depending on the season, ask questions when you book your room.  Vegas is not hot year around, but November is a great time to travel here, as the crowds are down and so are the room rates.

    The Flamingo upgraded me to a suite when they were not able to offer me the King bed I had requested.  Every time I have been in Vegas I have found the hotels willing to give you upgrades or perks.  The rooms are not where they make the money, so they want you happy and a loyal return customer.  So ask.

    Vegas Tip:  Over the years I’ve stayed at the Flamingo, Planet Hollywood and the Monte Carlo.  For me, I avoid the “themed” hotels because they are more crowded and noisier with gamblers and shoppers.  You are always welcome at any of the hotels whether you are staying or not.  So I choose something quieter and smaller and just visit the giant hotels for the fun stuff.

    I decided on this visit to check out some things in Vegas I had never done before, including some things in the outlying area.  So I rented a car.  You don’t need a car if you are planning on staying only on the “Strip”.  But if you are in Vegas more than a couple of days, I really recommend getting a car…there are some amazing things to see within a few minutes of the strip and just an hour or two outside of town.  It’s safe and the roads are good so a solo Las Vegas trip can include some outlying adventures.

    Vegas Tip:  Parking is free everywhere.  The hotels really want you to come in and gamble, so parking is free and abundant.  In my home city of Seattle you will pay $30 or more a night for parking at downtown hotels.  Not so in Vegas.  Take this perk into consideration in your decision on renting a car.

    On this trip I visited three destinations in my car.  I recommend all three;

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    Me in Death Valley

    Valley of the Fire State Park – 1 hour Northeast.  What a stunning surprise this park was.  It is surprising this park is not a National Park.  It felt like a miniature Arches or Bryce Canyon.  You can easily see this park in a half a day, either from your car or on a handful of wonderful walks or hikes that fit any skill level.

    Red Rock Canyon National Monument – 30 min West.  Another stunningly beautiful park with a great scenic drive if you don’t want to hike.  If you do want to hike there are lots of great little trials though this beautiful park.

    Death Valley National Park – 2 hours Northwest.  Worth the drive (in the winter or early spring).  You can do this trip in a day, or you can stay the night in Furnace Creek. Death Valley is a remarkable place.  Several incredible sites are within sight of the main road, showing off the interesting geological aspects of the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere.

    Vegas Tip:  I did not go this time to Hoover Dam or Lake Mead but these destinations are also an easy drive from the Strip.  In addition, Grand Canyon is about three hours away.  You can easily make Vegas your home base to experience some of our countries greatest sites.

    Back in Vegas I decided to take in two Cirque de Soleil shows during my visit.  On previous visits I have seen some of the  “showgirl” type of shows (Jubilee, Crazy Girls, Burlesque) and I have also seen Blue Man Group, Wayne Brady, Kathy Griffin and Jersey Boys.  I’ve also seen Menopause the Musical several times, both in Seattle and in Las Vegas.  This show is hilarious, and continues its long Las Vegas run at Harrahs.  Laugh out loud – even if you are on a solo Las Vegas adventure.

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    Bellagio Glass Ceiling

    Solo in Las Vegas I saw the Beatles Love one night and Mystere the next.  Cirque shows are all spectacular, but I am always impressed how they can make each show so different.  It makes you want to see all the shows.  Love and Mystere were very different from each other, as well as very different from the two shows I have seen previously (OZumanity and KA).  Beatles Love showcased original Beatles recordings including never before heard conversations of the Fab Four in the recording studio.  Using these original works Cirque designed a wonderfully nostalgic walk down Beatles memory lane, using their signature acrobatics, special effects and costumes.

    Mystere was very different from Love.  I laughed out loud so many times during this, fun and light show which excelled not only in comedy but in costuming and definitely in acrobatics.  This show included a great deal of audience interaction. I really loved it. And guess what?  Being solo, I was escorted from my balcony seat down to row three!  Perks for solo Las Vegas!

    KA and O remain my all time favorites, but it really is difficult to compare these shows.  There is nothing else like them on earth, and that is why they fit so perfectly well in Vegas.

    Vegas Tip: Discount tickets can be purchased day of often for 50% off.  Don’t expect to find all the shows available though.  The very popular shows such as KA, “O”, Celine Dion, or Elton John are rarely available.  If you have your heart set on these blockbuster shows buy your tickets before you come to Vegas and be prepared to pay full price.

     

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    Fountain at the Bellagio

    Of course a fabulous thing to do in Vegas, when you are solo or anytime, is shop!  Some of my favorite shopping areas are at The Venetian, The Bellagio and ParisThe Fashion Show Mall, across from The Wynn is also very popular.  This trip I was shopping for make up and a new handbag and boy did I have a lot of places to choose from.  There are many shopping areas I have still to tackle, so of course I have some great reasons to make another trip to the “Strip”.

    The days are over where Vegas was a cheap destination.  You still can find inexpensive meals and hotels, but the really hot items are gonna cost you.  So if you are on a budget (few of us aren’t) get lost enjoying some of the free entertainment available all around you.  You just gotta know where to look.   Since I was alone, I really enjoyed just walking around and taking in the sights and sounds. Be sure to stop and see the fabulous fountain show (free) outside of the Bellagio check times here, the amazing atrium indoor garden (changes seasonally) inside the Bellagio (free and one of my top things to do in Vegas), and the belching volcano outside the Mirage check times here.

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    Slotzilla in Freemont

    Be sure to check out the free light show in Fremont ( one of my top things to do in Vegas). In fact Fremont is really fun, and its too bad more people never get down there.  If you are brave enough the a highlight in Fremont is the Slotzilla Zipline!  Not free but so much fun!  Get your tickets in advance, because it often fills up! I can’t wait to do this again.

    People watching is fantastic, interesting, entertaining and free way to spend some time; have a seat and watch the show.  Solo Las Vegas you will see rhinestone and sequins next to jeans and t-shirts, and sometimes hardly nothing at all.  But it is Vegas.  It’s come as you are (or as you want to be) everywhere in Las Vegas.

    Vegas Tip:  If you are planning on being in town in November or December check into special shopping packages  available at many of the hotels.  These packages include shuttle services to many of the best shopping malls.

    Vegas Tip: Although the Monorail, in my judgement, should extend both North to Fremont and South to the Airport, it currently runs from the MGM North to the Convention Center.  Depending on where you want to go, it might be a good choice to help you get around, especially for a solo Las Vegas adventure. Taxi’s are plentiful as well.

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    Me on the right – Slotzilla Zipline

    Some of my favorite solo Las Vegas sites I discovered on this trip.  Not free but for a minimal $18 I highly recommend the wonderful Neon Boneyard Museum, just North of Fremont (free parking).  This guided tour is a fascinating walk down Vegas memory lane.  A night-time tour (with lights) is also available.  This might now be my favorite thing to do in Vegas.  For a minimal charge I also recommend the New York New York roller coaster, the trip up the Eiffel Tower and the changing exhibits at the Imagines Exhibitions Gallery at the Venetian.  This visit I lost myself here enjoying a most remarkable exhibit of National Geographic photography for only $20.  Many people really love the High Roller Wheel.  I thought it was just okay.  

    You do get a good view, and you can have drinks while you make the full circle…it just wasn’t as exciting as I was expecting.  But you can’t love everything I guess.

    Being a coffee addict, I have to say, finding a good cup of coffee in the hotels is tough.  You will pay more for a cup of coffee than you will for a beer a lot of places.  No Vegas hotel I have ever stayed in has provided coffee in the room….remember they want you in the casino not in your room.  However there are several Starbucks throughout the strip (and other espresso kind of shops) if you are in need. When you are on your solo Las Vegas adventure coffee is a must.  And don’t forget, Starbucks always has free wi-fi too, so don’t pay your hotel for wi-fi if you don’t want to.

    Vegas Tip:  I’ve noticed in the shopping mall areas you will find many shops and restaurants offering wifi.  I locked on to free wifi at Sephora of all places while at the Planet Hollywood shopping mall.

    I can’t write this whole love-fest article about Vegas without talking about food.  You could spend the rest of you life just getting Lost in the Las Vegas food scene. You can spend $2 or $200 or $2000.  There is something for every pallet and wallet in Vegas. Now don’t be shy.  Just because you are solo doesn’t meant you shouldn’t eat well!  Every Celebrity Chef you can think of has a place in Vegas.  These Chefs are, of course, not actually in the kitchen.  So you are paying for the name.  I’ve dined at many of these places not always successfully.  I will give a big thumbs up though to Tom Collichio’s Craft Steak at the MGM and

    Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill at Caesar’s Palace and Hubert Keller’s Fleur at Mandalay Bay.

    Vegas Tip:  Check out Top Vegas restaurants and tons of other great information at my favorite Vegas website www.lasvegas.com

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    High Roller Wheel

    Some of the best food I’ve had in Las Vegas are in places where you never heard of the Chef;  Hash House A Go Go at the Plaza in Fremont (two other locations as well),  Picasso at Bellagio, The Buffet at the Bellagio, the Oyster Bar at Harrah’s, The Border Grill at the Mandalay Bay,  Lotus of Siam off strip, and Mon Abi Gabi at Paris, Indian Oven off strip and the iconic Peppermill.

    So I survived my four days solo in sin city and I can highly recommend getting lost in Las Vegas, alone or with a friend.  You can make Vegas whatever you want; highly charged and fast paced, or slow down relax and enjoy the scenery.  It’s a bit of a freak of nature in that way –  well, that’s Vegas.

    Loose yourself. Solo or not.

     

     

    Fab North America Travel

    A Fond Farewell

    Chapter Four – Betty Leaves Us

    Location: Route 66

    I know it’s the right thing to do, but my heart is breaking. Today we say goodbye to the Fabulous Betty, our beautiful pink vintage trailer and companion on our seven week cross country journey.IMG_6587

    We have sold her to a lovely lady and her daughter.  It is a perfect fit. This woman has a black suburban she calls Black Betty. Can you believe it?  It was meant to be.

    Farewell.

    It was always our intention to sell Betty and our car, (the final two big items left in our Fab Fifty purge) at the end of our road trip. It’s bittersweet and a

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    relief all at once.

    Although we have owned Betty less than three years she provided us a carefree and colorful extension of our lives and we have enjoyed every minute.

     

    Someday I believe there will be a Betty Two.

    But for now we leave Betty in the rear view mirror with her new family. I hope they get as much pleasure from her as we did.  Good bye my sweet. And thanks for the memories.

    Fab North America Travel

    The Long Good-Bye

    Leaving the country for two years

    good·bye
    ɡo͝odˈbī/
    exclamation
    1. used to express good wishes when parting or at the end of a conversation.
      synonyms: farewelladieuau revoirciaoadios;

       

    First of all – the fact that we are leaving the country has absolutely nothing to do with the events of last Tuesday.

    As you know we have been planning this for years.

    And planning, and planning and planning.

    There is so much to prepare.  In fact, I have been working on a blog about all the details from packing to prescriptions that we have had to address to make this a reality.  I will share that with you soon.

    But today – today I am thinking about Good-Byes.

    Because I have 18 days until we leave and it seems like the entire time is one long Good-Bye.

    Good-Bye to friends and family and stuff.

    The last few years have actually been one long Good-Bye.  Good-Bye to houses, and cars and jobs.  Setting out on a Grand Adventure could easily be called the Long Good-Bye.

    We answer the same questions over and over.  People are interested, confused, sometimes envious but usually just curious.  How, why where?

    Maybe it shouldn’t be Good-Bye.  Because I fully intend to see you all again.  Should we say farewell, so long, see you later? Ciao, Adieu, Adios, Au Revoir.

    Or just Good-Bye.

    18 days.

     

     

    Fab North America Travel

    What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been

    The End of Chapter Four

    Location: Route 66

    Fifty One Days

    9810 Miles

    Two countries

    Six Provinces

    Seventeen States

    Gas prices from $1.79 to $3.59IMG_7257

    Twenty-nine Friends

    Eight Audio Books

    Three Calendar Months

    One Big Road Trip

    What a long strange trip its been. From Lake Superior to the Pacific Ocean we have enjoyed

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    historic and quirky, inspirational and surprising, natural and manmade sights to fill our senses for a lifetime. North America is a travelers dream – never a dull moment.

    I love Europe and Hawaii. I love Asia and Africa and South America. But right here in our own backyard is a Paradise like no other – and I will never get enough. I’m already planning my next American road trip. And you should too.IMG_7398

    Because we are lucky to have it all – desert and lakes, oceans and rivers, canyons and forests. We have ghost towns and skyscrapers, monuments and mountains. You do not need to be an intrepid traveler, ticking
    off a list of how many countries and places you have been. I have been guilty of this. Without ever getting on a plane you can see a whole world right here in the USA. It’s beautiful. It’s mine. It’s yours.

    Be gallant and go see it.

    Its fabulous.IMG_7168

    Note – with this blog we turn the page and end Chapter Four of The Grand Adventure. We will spend the next three weeks doing our final preparations to depart the United States and not return until 2018. Chapter Five begins November 29th. 

    Fab North America Travel

    The End of the Road

    Chapter Four – Farewell to 66

    Location: Route 66

    We found it. The Pacific Ocean.

    2448 miles from Chicago we arrived today at the terminus of Route 66, Santa Monica California.

    Like many people before us, coming to the end of the road was sentimental yet satisfying. Not everyone can say they have made the entire trek, and not everyone would want to.  But we now are part of the “club” and I loved it all.

    image

    The start of Route 66 in downtown Chicago

    IMG_6945

    One of the slowest and most winding sections from Kingman to the California border

    Standing in the middle of downtown Chicago seems so long ago. Then I really didn’t know what we would find. Parts of the road were long and straight. Parts of the road were rough and complicated. It’s a metaphor for life really. Today as I stood  in Santa Monica and enjoyed the Pacific breeze it was a feeling of accomplishment.  A task done and complete. Total miles since leaving home 8200. Six weeks and one day

    IMG_6518

    A former roadside attraction – live lions – in Two Guns, Arizona

    I learned a lot about American history on this trek. I felt apart of the salt of the earth people who make our country great. It’s not a myth or legend – America is great and vast because of its people. We met a wide variety of Americans. Midwesterners bustling in the streets of Chicago. Cowboys in Texas. Snowbirds in Arizona. Surfers in Santa Monica.

    From Chicago to LA. From Lake Michigan to the Pacific. From St. Louis to Oklahoma City. From Amarillo to Albuquerque. From Flagstaff to Barstow to Santa Monica. The terrain, weather and food is as varied as the people.

    IMG_7027

    Burrows wander the streets of the old mining town Oatman in Arizona

    I wish more Americans would see the whole country from this road, or any road. There is so much to appreciate. The sunsets. The flora. The food. The patriotism.  The architecture. Fascinating and fabulous all.

    IMG_7048

    We added our names to the sign post at Cool Springs Camp Arizona

    And so with fondness we say farewell to Route 66 and turn north for the first time in over 8200 miles. We begin our drive back to Washington State. With a For Sale sign in the window of pretty pink Betty as we near the end of Chapter Four.

    But before we close this Chapter, a few more adventures are ahead. We make a right hand turn right onto another historic road – Hwy 1.  Another week heading north.

    Note – A big shout out to Mrs. O’Neils Sunday School Class (Grades 3-5)  at Gig Harbor United Methodist Church who have been following our journey on Route 66 as they study the 66 chapters of the Bible.  I love that they were able to find the journey both educational and spiritual.

    Fab North America Travel

    Midway Route 66

    Chapter Four – Adrian Texas

    Location: Route 66

    Yesterday marked one month on the road and we rolled on past 6000 miles.  I was thinking about Saskatchewan. It seems like a lifetime ago.

    But today we mark another milestone – the midway point on Route 66. Adrian Texas marks the middle at 1139 miles.

    I am enjoying this drive tremendously – even though I once again wish we had more time. Driving on Route 66 our speed is rarely more than 45 mph. The parts of the original road or the second generation road that is still accessible is usually narrow and IMG_6174rough. But oh so fascinating.

    Often the road parallels the freeway. But not always. Long stretches of the road are straight, especially through Oklahoma and Texas. But other stretches IMG_6162are winding and rolling like in Missouri. Much of the road – both the driveable parts and the non-driveable parts are the original Portland concrete. It’s interesting when paralleling the interstate Route 66 is rolling up and down while the freeway has been filled in to be a constant grade.

    We were moving along on the original road today in the Texas panhandle when suddenly Route 66 IMG_6205turned to gravel. That was a surprise. This was the Jericho Gap. Famous for historically swallowing cars in the mud. Lucky for us it was dry.

    We’ve lost the road a couple of times, although the small brown historic way-finding signs are numerous and helpful. Until we got to Texas and they disappeared altogether. We got really lost in Tulsa because multiple versions of the old road crisscross the downtown.IMG_6014

    The maps I ordered online have been helpful in keeping us on or as close to the original “mother road” as possible.  And best of all the maps guide us to cool sites of importance from the old days: service stations, motels, diners. For the most part these cool sites are no longer operational. A few are. And a few have been restored by the Route 66 National Historical Association. Others are dilapidated and ghostlike – in fact some towns like Texola Oklahoma are entire ghost towns – lost in time after Interstate 40 went through. Just like in the movie “Cars”.IMG_6187

    I love old stuff.  I fully admit I have an active imagination and always have.  It’s one of the reasons I enjoy creative writing.  My imagination is on overdrive out here.  I imagine the thousands – probably millions – of people who have driven this road before me.  Of course I think about the Joad family and all those real people like them. I imagine post war convertibles, with a blonde woman her hair covered with a scarf sitting next to her husband who wears a driving cap. My mind thinks about a family in a station wagon, not unlike my own family in the 1960’s, on a summer vacation.  Perhaps heading west to the Grand Canyon or Disneyland.IMG_5821

    And then I think about the towns and the people who are the towns.  The lucky ones whose livelihood came from the road bringing guests into their community and their businesses. And then I think of the others whose world was shattered when the interstate killed their town and their dreams.

    As children we learned about Lewis and Clark, the Oregon Trail and manifest destiny.  To me the history I am driving on is just as important.  An IMG_5718important piece of American history – not just an icon or a piece of Americana but a significant part of the building of the America we know today – the development of cars, roads, technology, commerce

    I admire it, revere it, cherish it for it’s importance while my imagination embraces it and feels it and all those who have come before me.