We've made it to Yosemite – we bypassed San Francisco for now to head into the mountains, meet Simon and Cheryl and get some paddling done. We're going to stick around here for a few days and get lots of paddling done, then probably head north, get some more paddling done, see Lake Tahoe, then loop back around for San Francisco and then return here for a couple of multi-day trips once we've warmed up to style of rivers out here.

Net access is fairly easy to find, but mobile reception isn't & we're planning on being busy on the rivers and in Yosemite for most of this week, so if it all goes quiet, don't worry; we're off having fun.

Busy week on the Pacific Coast

Since leaving LA, we've had a pretty busy time. We've been down to San Diego and back up the Pacific Coastal Highway which is where we are now.

On the drive down to San Diego, we stopped at the Crystal Cathedral which is a church made of glass and we were lucky enough to hear the massive organ being played.

The highlight so far though has been the San Diego Wild Animal Park where we stayed on their roar and snore thing which meant we got evening guided tours and woke up to the sound of lions roaring and elephants. It was awesome seeing so many animals as well. The rest of San Diego was pretty cool too and soon we were heading up the Pacific Coast.

The Pacific Coastal Highway (PCH) was stunning – it's a little windy road up from LA to San Francisco. We're now in a quaint little place called Carmel, where we're leaving the PCH and heading in land towards Yosemite. We're meeting a couple of friends who have a permit for the Toulomne(sp?) river on Friday so we're going to met up with them and finally get some paddling in. :) We were looking to do some surfing while driving the PCH, but all the beaches we've seen have warnings on them of “Unexpected life-threatening waves” and said that going into the water would be “unwise” – so we didn't.

Sorry – still no photos, but we've been taking loads, and will probably spend some time uploading them when we get to San Francisco at some point next week.

Hope everyone's having fun at home, let us know what you've been up to. Will update again when we get the chance.

Macy passed!

In my less than four minutes I have on the free internet in the library, I have the good news that Macy passed her smog test very well and so we now have her registered to us and new licence plates! We celebrated with some rather yummy milkshakes, and a slight change of plan. Tomorrow we're going to head to Six Flags theme park and then down to San Diego. Have just found out about a roar and snore thing at the wildlife park where you can camp out overnight near the animals so will look into that more.

Still no paddling as yet, but soon especially now we have a road legal Macy! 😀

Nearly a week into our trip

Well we haven't quite left LA yet due to Macy needing a little more work than we hoped, but fingers crossed we should be heading out today…

However we did get to spend our first night in the back of Macy in the mountains – true it wasn't far off the beaten track but it was still kinda cool to get out of the city. Having dropped Macy off this morning, we caught a Dash bus and found a Kinkos which is where I'm writing this now. So not the most exciting day so far, although we did print our tickets off to Six Flags – it would seem a shame to come to California and not do one of the theme parks! In terms of paddling, we're waiting till Macy is ready and we can pick up a guidebook and head inland a little.

Where we stayed last night was a little nerve wracking at first because of the very strange loud animal noises we could hear. At first we had no idea what they were until David remembered we had driven past a wildlife sanctuary! The views this morning were lovely with the moon hanging over the mountains, and I'm looking forward to heading over to more areas like that.

Last night we headed to Walmart where we were able to pick up enough luxuries for the van such as pillows! I'll be relieved when she passes her smog test and we can head off.

Leaving LA

We're leaving LA today, assuming Macy passes her smog test and we don't spend too long in the queue at the DMV getting her registered. The plan is to head south to San Deigo for a few days, maybe pop over the border to Mexico and then return up this way and go to Six Flags.

We spent most of yesterday chilling. We took a trip into Santa Monica, swam in the sea at Venice beach and walked along the board walk. The size of things over here is still surprising us – last night we ordered a small bag of popcorn (aka kettle corn) and got what could have been a pillow case full of it, then I ordered a small pizza and managed to eat half of it. So we've got pizza and popcorn for breakfast…

We've not yet found anywhere that will allow us to upload photos (i.e. the hostel internet machines haven't), but rest assured that we've taken some cool ones & will post them soon: we need to find a net cafe with a printer so that we can get our cheap Six Flags tickets, so maybe that'll be our chance to upload them.

Loving LA

Hello to everyone! Well, this is our first foreign proper blog entry, on what has been our 4th day in LA. Today we bought a map to plot our escape out of the city, though its not been too big and scary.

(for those reading via email, this entry is continued on the blog.)

We're staying at Venice Beach and have been to Santa Monica a couple of times. Santa Monica centre is rather nice, with lots of shops, a funky atmosphere and a great Creperie. It's fab being able to see the beach from our window and there is a lovely cafe opposite for breakfast.

On Thursday we headed over to Hollywood and indulged in a Limosine tour of the area taking in all of the famous landmarks. One of the strangest sights we saw was a man walking along the street wearing a hoodie with a rabbit in the hood.

The last couple of days we spent too many hours exploring the bus system to and from the valley. This is where we met Macy and Morris. Morris helped us find our minivan for the trip, Macy. The area we found Macy was Van Nuys (pronounced Van- Nice!) and she was an orphan – abandoned on the LA streets and towed away. 4 months later she has been lucky enough to be sold to us.

Tonight we're gonna have a cocktail to celebrate our purchase and tomorrow we're going to pick up roof bars and work out where to head paddling.

Hope all is well at home, we will post again soon.

David and Sharon.

Arrived LA

The trip has started: We've now arrived in Los Angeles. 😀

The flight wasn't too bad, but it was quite long and we didn't sleep too well. We got to our hostel (Venice Beach Cotel) yesterday afternoon, and slep through to this morning. We're now about to go explore.

More updates later.

Friends and Family

The last few weeks have been a really good chance to catch up with friends and family. Often being away at weekends, working hard to save up for our travels and general busyness means that I don't get to spend as much time with my family as I would like. Given that we'll be away for a long time, we decided it was important to spend time with both friends and family before we left. First we hired an Edwardian farmhouse in the beautiful Wye Valley with my Mum and her side of the family. We got to feed lambs that were a few days old, see the ruined Tintern Abbey, explore King Arthur's Caves and make the most of the sunny weather by taking my family out in canoes and kayaks.

The weekend before last, we arranged a get together with my Dad's side of the family. Sharon came up with the idea of meeting in St. Albans, spending some time there, having a nice lunch and wandering around the city.

Following that, this weekend we got to see lots of our friends in Reading, with a leaving meal on Friday and a combined house party with a friend who, rather conveniently, was having a birthday. In between that, we've been able to stay at Sharon's sister's house, spending some time with her family, including a pretty good barbecue. Eating and cooking food outside is something I love doing, and it's how finished off our last UK paddle before we leave. After work on Tuesday we headed to the Barble Bar in Theale, met some friends there, and just as the sun was setting, we tucked into sausages and kebabs.

I've been fairly busy finishing things off with work this week and it's only really been when people have asked about the trip and sharing their excitement, experience and jealousy that it's started to sink in that we're actually leaving really soon. We've had so many helpful hints from people who have been places we're going that it's been difficult to remember them all. One thing I won't be forgetting is that it's good to spend time with friends and family. As the date approaches and goodbyes are said, I'm glad that I'm not heading off on my own, I'll miss everyone, but am glad that I'll be travelling with my best friend. :)

Travelling Light

“How do you get your kayaks on the plane?” is a question I've heard several times, but it's getting easier to transport a boat: airlines are starting to realise that planes are big and can hold several kayaks; it's the taxis at the other end which can be more of an issue. Having got several flights with the BA-Quantas alliance, we told our travel agent our plans and she was a star in getting agreement that we could take out boats with us. I've travelled with a kayak before, and my choice last time was my Kingpin, which is short, narrow and rather light. Each time I look at my Mamba, I see that transporting a creek boat may be slightly more difficult. David and I considered not taking boats briefly but figured one of the main purposes of the trip was to do lots of paddling so it would be silly not to take essential kit with us and so it is I'll be lugging a long, rather heavy, bright green kayak with me. So much for travelling light! Adding another weight to my pack will be the medication I need to take. I've had insulin-dependent diabetes since I was nine – far longer than I've been kayaking – and I'd like to think we generally get on quite well. If I treat my diabetes right, then usually it doesn't hassle me, although there are always surprises along the way. Sometimes it can be interesting paddling white-water since exercise lowers blood sugars while adrenalin raises them. Trying to work out the best way to ensure I have my insulin and bits, has been rather confusing. Some people recommend talking to the manufacturers, however they'll tell you while they supply the product in that country, they couldn't tell you how to actually get hold of it. Others suggest taking all medication with you, but I guess the holidays they're talking about don't usually last 12 months. Since my Mum is visiting us in New Zealand, the best option for me seemed to be to take six months supply with me and then have my Mum replenish my stocks when I saw her. This was all fine until my doctor informed me that their recommendations was to only prescribe a month's worth of medication for anyone leaving the country. However, he thankfully decided to go with his duty of care and prescribe me the necessary amounts, even though he got a slapped wrist because of this. It's unfortunate that I seemingly put him into a difficult position and so I'm still looking for the answer of how best to deal with these circumstances so I'll know for next time!

I'm very fortunate to be travelling with someone who knows the day to day effects of my diabetes and who is willing to carry spare equipment and medication for me. I'm grateful to all those who have been so supportive of my plans, it's been fantastic to have encouragement even from people I've not met. Having such a condition may add its own element of challenge to the trip, in a similar way that taking a kayak around with me might do. However I believe the preparation that David and I have done will help deal with the worst of it, and that sometimes travelling light isn't the best way to go.