And finally……

The transfer bus to Los Angeles airport was running 15 minutes late. It took us on a series of large freeways where the scenery was no better than the previous day. LA is not a pretty place.

Check in and baggage drop is swift, but we are unable to get seats on the aircraft together. Previous efforts to check in on line had failed. There is time to spend our last dollars on some liquid refreshment.

It’s goodbye USA after just over three weeks. The final closure of my 90 day adventure.

I have done so much. Seen so many amazing and many absurd things. Am I wiser and more measured than before I went? Who knows. I certainly think I am heavier. But getting out on my bike will remedy that.

I will be returning to reality, rather than the fantasy of the last three months. I feel I have achieved something that going back four months ago had an element of fright for me.

Back to work on Monday, I need to collect my car, and determine where I go from here.

On the plane I watch “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. Not being much of a film person I had never seen it. The film certainly captures the India I knew from past business visits.

We are on time for landing. The last five minutes are hellish. Turbulence on a big scale as we descend. The woman who is next to me suggests to her feller that she thinks she may throw up. Let me hope she aims it in his direction rather than mine. Fortunately she fails to deliver.

We come down with a massive bump. The worst landing in three months. Here I am, back in England and our wonderful summer.

The plane taxis around for ages. Then we dock, but we are stationery for 25 minutes with seat belt sign on. Goodness only knows what the delay is.

Finally we get off and all the immigration, baggage and customs formalities are complete.

It’s day 90, and this is the end.

I would be very interested if my blog has inspired anyone to visit any specific places, or indeed travel the world.

Once again thanks to all my dedicated readers.

And so the story ends…….

And finally……

….and thanks to…

The dream nears its end. A number of people have asked “Won’t you be sorry to come to the end of your travels?” The answer is ‘no’. I have been mentally prepared for each step along the way. The trip has been amazing, but it is clear to me that England is home, and always will be.

I have also been asked “What is the best place in your travels?” This is impossible to answer.

The best moments? Well, getting together with my Son and Daughter in Law was a highlight, as was my Girlfriends arrival in California.

Amazing moments…. My Daughter in Law pressing floor 46…… Bumping into a Cassowary…. Seeing my Son score a 30 yarder in a football match….. The Royal Palace in Bangkok…… The Great Barrier Reef…… The Great Ocean Road….. Mystery Bay, Australia…… Jervis Bay, Australia….. Cappadocia Turkey…. The Blue Mosque, Istanbul…… Jet Boating in New Zealand….. The Bay of Islands…….. Punakaiki…… Yosemite Park…… Bryce Canyon…… Flying across the Grand Canyon…. The Queen Mary floating hotel…. The list goes on.

Special thanks to……

My Son and Daughter in law who were the original inspiration to travel to Australia.

My other Son and his Girlfriend in London who gave me so much encouragement.

My Girlfriend who gave me so much support before my trip, and provided such encouragement, and who helped bring an extra dimension to my last three weeks.

My dear old Dad, without whom I would not be here.

My good friends Colin and Larysa, who gave me so much help before my travels.

My client, ETC, who kindly looked after my turtle, “Birtles”. BTW, this is the worlds leading commercial and industrial scale eradication company!

My client, Cherrytech and friend Stuart, who kindly looked after my car.

Dave, from a couple of doors away who helped lift my filing cabinet.

Orhan who accompanied me in Istanbul.

Doran of Istanbul who encouraged me to ride an elephant.

Lindsay Christie at STA Travel in Dundee who really got into the spirit of what I was trying to achieve.

Charlie and Katie for the fine map that ensured I never got lost.

Geofrey (yes only one f) who was the first to say “keep us updated”, hence my blog.

Barry, who said likewise as above, and came up with the ‘Duffer’ name.

All my blog readers. All have ensured I was never alone.

All those who sent me messages of encouragement.

All those who commented on my blog. It was well appreciated.

Leicester City FC, for proving the underdog can do special things.

….and thanks to…

Shattered glass and rip off key fobs.

Rock Bottom Micro Brewery and Restaurant proves to be a gem. The beer is very good, a selection of lagers through to IPA and stouts. The food is excellent, and this must be added to my great bars of the world list! The “Shattered Glass IPA” is particularly pleasing.

Back to the ship on the shuttle bus, and tonight is my last night before I fly back to England. The room on board ship retains many of the original features, but it could do with a little TLC.

Something from earlier today made me smile. We went into a Louis Vuitton shop for curiosity as much as anything. My Girlfriend spotted a key fob. To be honest it was pretty naff, but it had a vanity mirror in it. She enquires as to how much this slither of leather and glass was. “Two fifty” says the attendant. Well two dollars and fifty cents seemed about right to me. As we left the store having resisted this amazing bargain, a short interchange with my Girlfriend revealed it was $250. Are there fools out there that part with serious money to buy this trash?

It’s now Thursday, and I have just had my last night in a bed before I return to England. The flight back to Gatwick leaves Los Angeles International Airport at 7:30pm tonight. So there is time for a little more exploring. We leave our baggage on the ship for collection later.

First task is to find somewhere for brekkie. “Crime de la Crepe” is a quaint French cafe, and very nice too. What a breakfast….. Eggs Benedict. Daytime menu looks ace too.

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Off to see the beach. We have been in Long Beach, and have yet to see this famous beach. A walk helps the breakfast go down, and it’s not long till we are looking across a nice sandy expanse, with the sea in the background. It’s much as I had seen in pictures before. However there are no seats on the promenade. It would have been nice to have sat, relaxed and taken in our surroundings.

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During our travels we had collected a number of wrapped muffins and Danish Pastries. These were emergency supplies for us in the event of car problems whilst driving miles through arid desert. Fortunately we never had to use them. We had seen a number of tramps in town. One in particular had turned our stomach having dipped his hand into a bin and ate the contents. We had decided to leave the surplus for a tramp. Maybe not the healthiest diet but surely better than their alternatives. My Girlfriend coyly left a bag of muffins and pastries close to a dosing tramp. Sure enough he found the bag, and inspected the contents as we watched from a distance. We both felt that it may just add a little sustenance to a needy person.

Just time to wander to Rock Bottoms for a last “Shattered Glass IPA” before returning to the ship to collect our baggage. Our journey is by the Aquabus, a boat shuttle that provides a novelty return, rather than the shuttle bus. We collect our bags and now it’s two coaches to reach the airport.

Shattered glass and rip off key fobs.

Crassly tacky

Exploring the ship is fun. There is an exhibition of cruise ships through the ages, which is very interesting. Across the water is the hub of Long Beach. It looks much more civilised here than where the ship is moored, and our previous bus ride had shown us the more glamorous side of this city.

We have a nice meal on board until such time as we both conk out. It’s been a long day. We sleep well, consume the last of our food supplies for breakfast and set out to explore.

The free shuttle takes us into downtown Long Beach. It’s clearly a modern manufactured environment of retail outlets, restaurants and a few tacky souvenir outlets. But it’s very clean, and the marina is nice. It is however a bit galling to have crass bubblegum music being piped out of every other lamppost.

Pottering around and sipping coffee is very relaxing.

As we are so close to Los Angeles we decide to head into the city to see Hollywood. We catch the Metro, this train system is a mixture of overground trams and underground trains. All life forms appear to be on the train. Several I believe are a different species from me, and a few display real ‘attitude’. The journey into LA is particularly depressing. This city is a sprawling hell hole. Why would anyone want to live here?

There are numerous announcements on the Metro, one in particular I can associate with is “Don’t give money to solicitors”. Excellent advice.

An hour later and we are on the famous Hollywood Boulevard. It’s got to be seen, but it is probably one of the most crass places I have ever visited. This street really excels in the ‘tacky stakes’. Film and music stars adorn the pavement (or perhaps I should say sidewalk) with star plaques. All sorts of Hollywood heroes are here to greet you. As for style, well it scores zero in my book. But then again, what does Old Duffer know about style?

After an hour or two we decide to head back to long beach. I am pleased I visited Hollywood, it would have been stupid not to have visited having been so close, despite my negative thoughts on the place.

There is a micro brewery with a restaurant in Long Beach and the food looks good. So this is our next destination.

Crassly tacky

Old Duffer on Old Hulk

My adventure nears its end, today is Tuesday, day 87 of 90. Soon, back to England. Today we leave Dana Point, and head towards Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles. The car will be returned today at Long Beach airport. The last two nights of my tour will be at the iconic RMS Queen Mary, floating hotel.

This historic ship has been home to Winston Churchill, Spencer Tracy, Laurel & Hardy, Fred Astaire, Edward and Wallis Simpson plus many others. It was also commandeered by the British Army to transfer troops in the Second World War.

Our journey takes us on all sorts of multi lane highways, ranging from 5 to 9 lanes in each direction. Again lots of lane changing, overtaking, undertaking and manoeuvres without signals. It’s not a picturesque drive. The approach to our ship is, to say the least, depressing. The last mile or so being populated with nodding donkeys, so I assume it’s rich in oil here.

We drive into the car park. Drat…..a puncture. The front near side tyre, totally flat. How ironic. We have driven thousands of miles, across all sorts of roads, not one problem. But an hour before the car is due for return we have an issue. Old Duffer has two options, 1 : to change the wheel himself ….. 2 : to call the Support team for which Old Duffer paid a premium to. My Girlfriend convinces Old Duffer to engage option two.

Just time to take the baggage on board ship. We are too early to get into our “Kings State Room”, but they can store our baggage. A quick rush to get back to the car, after all the breakdown service may be there, and indeed it is. An uncommunicative Mexican changes the wheel in double quick speed. A ‘get me home’ wheel will limit our speed to 50 mph. Nevertheless we should be able to get the car back to Alamo in time. And we do with four minutes to spare.

We take a bus back to the ship, which involves a change, and a wait by a bus stop close to where all the down and outs congregate. There are a lot of tramps in central Long Beach.

Our room is now ready, and is very ‘thirties’, clearly the height of luxury in its day. It’s a wonderful old ship.

Old Duffer on Old Hulk

Blind leading the blind

It’s day 86 of 90, and it’s a grey morning, similar to yesterday. Off to breakfast. Sadly, this nice hotel lets itself down with a third division breakfast. Paper plates, plastic cutlery, and stodgy mass produced pastries don’t excite me. In fact breakfasts in the USA in general have been poor, Dumpling Patch being the exception.

Back in the room, a local heron has taken up a perch on the tree overlooking our balcony.

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We have encountered a few strange ‘human’ sights since being in the USA. My Girlfriend has spotted a ‘woman’ in the Hotel who seems to have particularly butch arms and hands. Has “it” got an Adams Apple? Not sure, the jury is out.

Today I have a business meeting that goes well. An advanced medical product. My meeting hosts treat me for lunch.

After this we go to Laguna Beach, a short car and bus ride away. Laguna Beach is very different. More hustle and bustle, a lovely beach, buoyant restaurants, numerous art galleries, and a real nice feel. It’s warmed up again just like yesterday, mid 70s, and lots of sunshine.

A couple of hours here, then we must return. The bus comes along. Of course we need to make sure he goes back to where the car is, ‘Ritz’, so we ask the driver.

“I don’t know” he said. “I have never done this route before”. Ah, great, a bus driver who does not know where he is heading to. We take a chance, and it pays off. In reality I think I knew the route better than he did. Mind you, it was one straight road!

Blind leading the blind

Pelicans crossing.

Pottering around Dana Point is a pleasant experience, and the Marina is teeming with wildlife, including humming birds, herons, Dolphins, flatfish, and those mentioned in a previous blog.

The quay in the picture is full of Pelicans.

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We wander up the hill overlooking Dana Point, great views and it’s now starting to warm up.

A drive south reveals a long beach, but no promenade. The surfers are out, and the waves are doing them justice.

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The Pelicans are active in the sky above, but prove difficult to catch on camera.

Sunday night in Dana Point is a lively affair. We find a real character pub in the marina, not only quirky, but full of characters too. A nice pale ale goes down well, so repeat prescriptions are necessary.

We return to the hotel to eat. An amazing chicken salad on our balcony as the sun goes down.

Pelicans crossing.