Saturday, July 31, 2010

We're in Auckland

Just checking in from Auckland Airport, after a day in the City of Sails. On the way into Auckland Airport, we used the new(ish) SmartGate system, which works for Australian and New Zealand passport holders, and is a set of automated kiosks that process your arrival, meaning that we didn't actually have to queue up at any point, except for the actual bag x-raying.

The Bonneville Run

We picked up a hire car from Budget at Auckland Airport, we were expecting a late model Falcon, but when we went to pick it up, the clerk informed me that the Falcon she had available was "a few years old" The Bonneville Runand so she was swapping it for a newer Commodore. The one we ended up getting was a pre-SIDI VE SV6, so not that new, but still a nice surprise for a rental car.

The first thing we did after leaving the airport was to work out how to get to Mount Eden, a volcanic mountain in the heart of Auckland, and we managed to get up the top just on sunrise. While it was a little chilly that early, we got a great view of the city of Auckland and I managed to get quite a few photos. Mount Eden is about the same height as the Auckland Skytower, possibly a little higher, has all the same views as the Skytower, is a lot less crowded and it's free. For my money, Mount Eden in the early morning is definitely a must-do activity if you get the oportunity, just watch out for joggers and bike riders on the twisty one way access roads.

The Bonneville Run

After leaving Mount Eden, we decided to try to find something for breakfast, and stumbled upon a nice little bakery in Auckland. We then did a bit more driving around checking out the scenery before making our way to the Auckland War Memorial and Museum. We spent almost 3 hours wandering around inside there before we headed off in search of something for lunch. We eventually found a Nando's and decided to have that for lunch as we wouldn't get the opportunity again for another 5 weeks.

The Bonneville Run

We then headed back to the airport, cleared security with only minor hassles, my second 'random screening' of the trip, I'm two from two so far, not that I mind if it keeps us all safe. I also had a small issue with my roller bag weighing in about 9kg's overweight (there's a 7kg limit on Air New Zealand flights) however with laptop and camera gear out of the bag (which you are allowed to do) the bag came in under weight and we could continue on our way, bringing us to where we are now, with me uploading photos and writing a blog post on the laptop while waiting to board.

Boarding call

Just had the word that our flight is going to be boarding in 5 minutes. We managed to get through check in fairly easily, even with mountains of camera gear, thanks in part to the ThinkTankPhoto bags Kate and I are using for our carry on luggage.

The Bonneville Run

Location : Horrie Miller Dr, Perth Airport WA 6105,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nine Sleeps To Go

We're now into the single digits of the countdown to The Bonneville Run, with only 9 more sleeps to go. We have booked all the accommodation from when we leave San Jose on the 3rd of August until we depart Bakersfield after the Famoso Raceway Summer Nationals.

Random San Francisco street sceneAlong the way we'll be spending a few days in Los Angeles, checking out the Petersen Automotive Museum, the Wally Parks NHRA Museum, visiting the Moon Eyes shop and the Bobs Big Boy in Downey. We're also planning on getting to a Dodgers game while we're in town and have a few other things on the list as well.

After we leave Los Angeles, we're off towards Las Vegas, taking time out to stop in at Bakersfield and Death Valley along the way. We have hotel rooms booked in Beatty, Nevada, just a little way outside Death Valley and only a couple of miles from the Rhyolite Ghost Town, which I intend to visit around sunset and hang around to take a few night photos.

In Las Vegas, we've booked a couple of nights at the Bellagio hotel and casino, home to the famous dancing fountains. We haven't made many plans for our time in Las Vegas yet, but will sort that out a little more while we're on the road. Once we leave Las Vegas, we are spending a night in a cabin on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and then heading north to Bonneville.

The Bonneville Salt Flats are located just outside the town of West Wendover, on the border of Utah and Nevada. They are home to the fastest land based motorsport on the planet, with many world land speed records being set here. We arrive in town on the Friday of the Southern California Timing Associations SpeedWeek event.

We have hotel rooms booked in West Wendover though till Tuesday morning, which is when we say goodbye to the salt and head onwards with the road trip. We have rooms booked on the southern shores of Lake Tahoe and at historic Wawowa hotel in California's Yosemite National Park. After we leave Yosemite, we're headed onwards to Bakersfield and the Famoso Auto Club's Famoso Raceway, home to the ANRA's Summer Nationals, a huge 2 day Nostalgia drag race meeting.

The Cadillac parked on the side of the Pebble Beach's 17 mile driveAfter we leave Bakersfield, we're probably going to make a few things up as we go along, thats where the booked accommodation runs out for now, unless we decide to add a few nights somewhere else as well. We are planning on getting to John's Charburger in Livermore for a Friday night cruise in the weekend after Bakersfield, and there's also a GoodGuys show in Pleasanton that weekend, so we might hit that up as well. I'd also like to head back down to Santa Cruz and Monterey, and perhaps spend some more time around that area, maybe as an overnight trip during the week, instead of going back and forth each day.

While we're back in North California's Bay Area, I'd love to get to the San Francisco 49ers' preseason game against the San Diego Chargers on the 2nd of September, and there are a number of things around the San Francisco area that I'd like to see, both things we didn't know about last time and things that we went and saw last time, but I'd like to see again. We'll nut out some of those ideas over a few drinks while we're on the road and come up with some sort of game plan at a later date.

At either end of the trip, we also have a lengthy stop over in Auckland, New Zealand, between flights, and on the way across, we've booked a hire car for the day and will spend some time exploring Auckland before returning to the airport to wait for our flights to San Francisco.