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Bye bye Mexico & welcome to Southern California

written by Birgit, pictures mostly by Sam

sunny 30 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

Eventually we reached San Felipe and found a nice place at KiKi’s RV Park which featured a palapa on two levels. This allowed us to move our bedroom on the upper level of the palapa for a change. This was excellent – specifically as it is so hot and humid here in San Felipe such that we were thankful for every little breeze.

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We spent the next morning on the beach, eventually went into town for lunch and then used the opportunity of being in a place with lots of dunes for doing some quad riding. That was so much fun!

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Max first rode with his dad, later with me. Sam used the opportunity when he was alone on the quad to go fast, jump and try steep inclines and the like, whereas Max and I took it easy. At least whenever I was the one at the throttle. When Max had control, he did go full blast – at least until I got scared and took his hand away from the gas.

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After that excitement we were all a bit exhausted. While Sam and I were in favour of taking an actual break, Max continued playing all along – in this case playing with his little surfboard in the sand until he was all sandy.
Luckily enough with the beach just a couple of steps away, it was easy to get rid of the sand and to even get treated as a bonus to a nice sunset.

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The next morning, another dip in the sea was due before finally leaving the Sea of Cortez and with that also Mexico.
We were surprised to see that on our way towards the border, there were enormous white areas along the beach. When we found a turn off towards it from our highway, we explored what it was and realized that it was a huge salt pan or probably rather a salt sea. The blinding light from the pure white was fascinating!

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We were much less impressed by the border between Mexico and the USA. We had to wait for about an hour on the road directly south of the gigantic border fence between the two countries. When it was eventually our turn, we realized that this was directly the US side, i.e. there was no outgoing customs or immigration point at all. The agent at the US border was extremely friendly, explaining to us how to get to Mexican customs to make sure our car is officially out of the country again. He also asked about the soccer game of this evening – and with that we realized that this was the day when Germany was playing Italy in the Euro 2016. We had not been following the news at all in the last couple of days.
After going back to the Mexican side of the border, lots of waiting and a couple of referrals from one office to another, we were finally able to make sure that the temporary import of our RV was officially stopped. Once more we stood in line for getting back into the US and got questioned about our trip by another agent. This time we knew how to answer the questions and got into the US without much ado.
As a welcome to the US, we were treated to a nice sunset – they are just much more interesting whenever there are clouds around vs. a clear sky. And luckily enough we were not in the middle of one of those thunderstorms going on around us!

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Our first night back in the USA was the Friday night of Fourth of July weekend. Given that all campgrounds and RV parks were probably full on that weekend, we used freecampsites.net once more and found a nice BLM site not too far from the Mexicali border at Plaster City OHV area. We did see a couple of buggy drivers, but none of them stayed overnight. So we had the pleasure of having a lonely campsite again with a nice starry sky. And there’s nothing to complain about the toilet facilities – they were significantly cleaner than many others we had on our journey so far and featured a nice view…
The drive over the Tecate divide into San Diego the next morning was really nice. We only briefly passed through downtown San Diego before heading directly to the USS Midway, a decommissioned aircraft carrier that is now a museum in the San Diego harbour.

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After our visit to the USS Midway, we prolonged our parking and headed south along the embarcadero to a pleasant food court where we had a late lunch before heading north along the coast towards Los Angeles.

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We had reserved a spot for the night at the Los Angeles KOA in advance – a smart move since the KOA was fully booked by the time we arrived in the evening. I can’t really say that it is a pleasant place to stay: it was a classical RV park with RVs standing next to each other tightly and even though it’s called the Los Angeles KOA, it’s located in Pomona, a suburb 30 miles / 50 km away from downtown LA. Given the holiday weekend, we were charged 66 USD for the night, so a new record by far surpassing the previous 45 USD max we had paid back in Oklahoma. Still, it served our needs for having a place for the night.
The next morning, we were not able to resist going shopping at Aldi’s before heading towards downtown Los Angeles. More or less by coincidence we ended up in the Central Market an enormous food court featuring food from all corners of the world. It reminded us a bit of Spittalfield Market in East London. We opted for Chinese food – a good choice!

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Our walking tour of downtown featured Pershing Square, the jewellery district and a couple of theaters along Broadway. We were surprised to see lots of nice old buildings and architecture. Even though we usually say that we’re no big city people, once in a while it is very nice to stroll around a city after all – specifically after having been for such a long time in the rather lonely deserts of Mexico’s Baja.

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Posted by dreiumdiewelt 00:13 Archived in USA Tagged mexico market hut la outside border downtown salt palapa Comments (1)

Time to relax for a couple of days

York, Perth

sunny 34 °C
View Around the world 2016/17 on dreiumdiewelt's travel map.

From the quaint town of Wagin we got to drive through some more nice undulating fields and hills before reaching York at the banks of Swan River. York had been settled just a few years after Perth and features historical buildings bundled with a small-town ambiance. We had lunch in the park by the river before continuing the last stretch to reach Perth.

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We had booked a campground for five nights in a row. That is rather unusual compared to our normal style of traveling, but after eight weeks of traveling all along the coast of Western Australia, we wanted to have a couple of days to relax. For that reason, we had also booked a very well rated place at Karrinyup Waters Resort and that proved to be an excellent choice. We got a really nice spot right next to the lake and in line of sight to the nearby playground. With all the different birds around – ibis, ducks, black swans, grebes – it felt more like staying in the middle of a big zoo vs. in the Northern suburbs of Perth.

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Over the five days we were there, we enjoyed all features the campground offered. First and foremost, the pool which could have been located in a five-star hotel just as well. But also, the bouncing pillow and the playground were getting all the attention they deserved.
One day we ventured out to take a tour of the Swan Valley. From the small town of Guildford we drove through the vineyards to one of the wineries, the Mandoon Estate which is co-located with the Homestead Craft Brewery. While Max was keen on a serve of French fries, Sam ordered the beer tasting with four different beers and a cider. While I stuck to water being the designated driver for today. I did try a zip of each of Sam’s beers and of the cider and I agreed with Sam that of the four beers we did not like a single one whereas the cider was really nice.

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We did also try the wines at winery. While two of the reds from a vineyard in Margaret River were quite nice, the whites did not meet our taste at all. After all, the Swan River Valley is more known for its scenic location close to Perth than necessarily for the quality of its wines.

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After the more adult oriented activities of the morning, the afternoon was dedicated to giving Max another chance to ride his Star Wars bike before we’d leave it in Western Australia. He enjoyed it a lot and was even lucky to have some older bikers to watch and copy some moves from. And in fact, it was his last real ride. Two days later we sold it to Marie from La Reunion who amused us from there on riding continuous rounds on the bike all over the campground. And knowing that we had already secured a bike for him in New Zealand, Max did not mind.
We were back at the campground just in time for Max to join the kid’s program. After all, he had been looking forward to the water slide all day and was in fact the only kid that had the energy to go on until it closed. The day after, there was bull riding organized for the kids and Max was probably the kid on the campground that went for most rounds.
And we also celebrated my birthday one of these days. I had specifically wanted just to hang out at the campground. It was a great day in fact: good food and lots of talks on the phone with friends and family. Most amusing was the fact that I was told that the new owner of my previous mobile phone number seems to have been swamped with greeting messages. But I hope most people who wanted to get in touch knew how to reach me via email or WhatsApp.
The best birthday present of all - well along with Max' painting of a bald eagle - was getting to do some more travel planning. Having agreed with Sam on a rough cut plan for the last bit of our trip in Asia, I got to research flights and tour options for our time there. And I really enjoy doing that!
Last but not least, we used the days at the campground to get our stuff sorted and the car back into a somewhat clean state. After eight weeks of spreading our things all over, it proved to be a rather tedious task to get everything packed again.
Even though we could have also opted to return our car and then take a flight out of Perth the same day, we rather went for a more relaxed option and spent two more nights in a motel downtown. And once more we were very happy with the service that Drive Beyond offered. We dropped off the car and one of their employees took us for a last ride in our car all the way to our motel in East Perth. After eight weeks of staying exclusively in our roof top tent, we were looking forward to staying in a room with a real bed again for a change.
It was a really hot day in Perth and we opted to rather take a plunge into the pool before hitting the streets and getting a first impression of the city. In the late afternoon, the temperatures were much more bearable and we had a pleasant walk along the Swan River in the last light of the day before returning via the Cathedral.

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Thanks to the little kitchen in our room, we were able to use up some more of our remaining food supplies and then were just looking forward to the soft bed. No wonder that we all slept really long the next morning!
Being very close to the center of town, we were able to take advantage of the free buses in Central Perth. At the square opposite of the railway station the ladies of the local netball pro team ‚West Coast Fever’ were just passing out autographs and we got the chance to talk to a couple of them while Max tried to score some baskets. Not having any clue about netball and its rules, it did help to get the quick summary of the rules. We concluded that it is sort of basketball with less body contact and rather complex rules on which areas each player is allowed to play.

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After another bus ride to the Museum of Western Australia, we were a bit disappointed to see that it is closed for renovation until 2020. At least the public library next door offered a small display to substitute for the children’s discovery center. Max found the exhibits very interesting and also we did find the presentation of the various subjects very entertaining.

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Back in the center of town we had a nice break on the main town square - very quiet and relaxing, as Max headed off into the crowd of other kids to cool off in the water features. Back at the hotel we all got a break from the heat by jumping into the pool.

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That last night, we had finally used up all of our food supplies and after his evening run Sam treated us to excellent Fish and Chips.

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As our flight only left in the late afternoon, we could take our time the next morning to get our bags packed and to check out. We had two more hours in the park next door before our taxi brought us to the airport where we checked in and soon boarded our plane to Sydney.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 16:04 Archived in Australia Tagged birds park bus museum room bed bike winery downtown brewery netball Comments (1)

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