Saturday, 5 September 2015

Holiday Time Again!

Yes, it's that time of year again! The few regular visitors I have here at Red Parsley may have noticed fewer new posts lately and that's because I have been on holiday for the last two-and-a-half weeks. This trip was the most ambitious yet undertaken by my wife and I and represented the fourth continent to have been visited by my good self (although my wife had already been there).

Passing under the Golden Gate Bridge on a boat trip...
This continent, following on from a few trips around Europe and South America, as well as a recent visit to Asia, was North America; more specifically California where we had decided to attempt a road trip. After arriving in San Francisco, we intended to drive east to Yosemite National Park, then down to Fresno where we would be staying for a few nights while we explored the mighty Yosemite along with Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks which are right next to each other. Sadly, Kings Canyon was closed due to a raging wildfire whose smoke partially obscured Sequoia Park as well. It seems these fires are much more common than I had realised too. Indeed, there was much evidence of previous fires in the other parks, particularly Yosemite, and all the fire hazard signs we passed were set at the 'very high' risk level. Oh dear.

Nonetheless, even if viewed through a slight haze, these parks were unsurprisingly breathtaking - Yosemite with its vast granite mountains and lush valleys in between and Sequoia with its immense forests populated by some bewilderingly large trees. From here we headed to Los Angeles for a couple of days, stopping by the usual attractions, and then hit the coastal roads by way of Santa Monica.

Yosemite Valley in its hazy-but-still-spectacular glory...
The drive up the coast was a long one, starting in LA and ending up in Arcata which isn't too far shy of the Oregon border. Of course, this wasn't achieved in one day - we stopped overnight in a lovely town called San Luis Obispo - and from Arcata we were also able to visit the Redwood National and State Parks where the tallest trees on earth are located (and where the Endor scenes from Return of the Jedi were filmed too!). These were far less 'touristy' than the other parks, requiring significant hikes (up to four hours!) to see the most interesting stuff, but nearby was the more accessible 'Avenue of the Giants' which offered an easy look at some more huge trees. This was our last park visit, however, before we headed back down to San Francisco where we would spend the remaining few days of our visit to the The Golden State.

As you might imagine, it was a rather memorable trip for many reasons but you may also wonder why I'm writing about it here. Well, it does explain the lack of activity of late (the last two posts were actually written prior to my departure), but aside from being a remarkable 16 days or so, it admittedly has little to do with the kind of stuff I usually cover here, with only limited gaming-related skylarkings involved.

Some mighty lofty Coast Redwood trees...
I was hoping to get the first of my gaming breaks in San Luis Obispo, for example, when we visited a laundromat only to find two arcade machines (one Neo Geo MVS multi-slot cab and a JAMMA cab which apparently had MAME or something similar installed) and two pintables (Terminator 2 and some carnival-related table), but alas, only one of the four worked - the carnival pintable - which was actually good fun. Much better awaited me on Santa Monica pier, however, where there were numerous retro-ish cabs to choose from. Most were somewhat more expensive than I had expected (¢75 per play for the oldest machines and more for the newer ones) but I had a great time here, with most of my time spent on Street Fighter Alpha 3 and the mighty Galaga, but there were plenty of other appealing games around including an original Pac-Man cab!

Even better was to come on my very last evening in California though. So much so, in fact, that I will say no more regarding that until the next post here which will be dedicated to it! Overall though, it has been a wonderful trip which will no doubt prove to be a landmark two weeks in my life. It's back to normality now though, and that means normal service will soon resume here at Red Parsley as well. Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are well and, if you're also lucky enough to have a holiday coming up or just gone, I hope it is/was a superb one! :)

Special Note: All photos were taken by me!

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