I honestly haven't had the time to write anything as yet. I guess that's the difference between travelling by train/air/bus as you have time to kill. Whenever we've been out of the car we've been seeing/doing something and we've been pretty exhausted at night. It's much easier to quickly process some photos and then whack them online. Finally on a Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas I have a chance to catch up, so I'm sure this will turn into a wall of text. TL:DR (too long, didn't read): We're good and having fun.
There is a difference between going to Vegas to 'Do Vegas' and it being a stop while travelling. Coming from 3 days in the desert to a 5 star hotel is definitely jarring, let alone getting around the people here for the weekend. We have been covered in layers of sunscreen, sweat and dust while everyone else is to the 9s with a drink in hand. Drinking cocktails and gambling have so far been pretty far out of mind, but unavoidably in sight.
It only occurred to me yesterday that I will be in the USA for 3-4 months and that's the longest I've spent in any country apart from Aus. It's a great place to meet a diverse range of people from different areas situations. I guess the amount of people 'getting by' and those doing it tough is the biggest surprise…sometimes through no fault of their own and sometimes just bad luck. We've met some great people though, some of the most genuine and courteous people I've ever come across.
The people of San Francisco were really awesome, even the homeless who ask for money will tell you to have a good/safe night when you tell them you don't have any money. Lots of people do give them money, I have sometimes…but to be honest the payment systems over here are so much better I have gone 5-6 days without using cash at all. Even the Cherry stand on the side of the road in a national park had credit card facilities (iPhone and credit card attachment).
LA was less interesting, one day in Venice Beach/Santa Monica was enough for us. We had just come from Yosemite National Park (which is now on Kym's bucket list…after the fact), seeing lots of wildlife and amazing countryside. LA was grey, spread out, concrete, manufactured…boring? Kym's surprise birthday present was Universal Studios which was a great choice. It got us out of LA proper and we spent the afternoon walking straight to the front of the line for air-conditioned or water based rides. It was over 90°F which is 32ish Celsius. We backed up for Disneyland the next day which was also good fun. The Star Wars (Star Tours) ride blew my mind and I found out during our 2nd go that it randomizes and you get a different experience everytime…pretty cool.
Joshua Tree was somewhere I had wanted to see because of the music that had come from there, plus I had seen photos and it looks like a really weird place. It was great to be out of LA and into the desert, a place you definitely could get caught out without enough water etc. I have a lot more respect for the cowboys back in the day, it would have been a shit way to live. We spent our days there walking through canyons, getting lost amongst the Joshua Trees and climbing over the rocks. We've seen a fair bit of wildlife along the way: bobcat, lizards, coyote, hawks, roadrunners, squirrels, sea lions, deer.
The coffee has been alright, you pay a bit more for a cappuccino/espresso based coffee which we have been doing, but I'm starting to turn towards the good old american bottomless cup. It's honestly not that bad and even the bad stuff I can drink ok. Plus it's half the price. The food has been really good, we've been caught out with portion sizes a few times (mostly with take-away food). My favourite was a shitty taco place in the Mission district of San Francisco and Kym's was a 4-course $20 menu in Mission as well (a little place with about 12 seats).
My highlight so far would just be the Californian countryside in general, it changes so quickly and drastically. Also seeing an awesome band (Kvelertak) while standing next to James Hetfield and then shaking hands with him at the end. Kinda weird seeing him pulling rocking out Metallica style to someone elses music. The Crown Prince and Princess of Norway were there too.
Kym is shopping at the moment but I'll take a guess and say her highlights have been the shopping, Yosemite and Disneyland. Even though her 'childhood dream' was slightly shattered when she realised the Disney castle she had been dreaming about is actually in Orlando, FL. So I guess we're going to Walt Disney World now too.