SALVATION MOUNTAIN

salvation mountain

I'd read about Salvation Mountain over on Bri Emery's blog a couple of years ago and it went firmly on the list of places I wanted to visit. It just seemed like a really strange place to find in the middle of the California desert and rare that anyone would be so committed to a cause these days - particularly one with no commercial value. But perhaps that's what keeps people coming to Salvation Mountain.

I'm not a religious person but I respect that everyone is entitled to their own belief system, and it's (or was) Leonard Knight's belief that 'God is Love' which kept him building and adding to Salvation Mountain. It's questionable about the state of his mental health to be honest, a vet of the Korean war, he returned the US and spent a large part of his life living in the back of his van, chasing dreams of flying a hand made hot air balloon.

But he finally settled just outside Slab City, and started what would become his life's work - and a spot for religious followers, folk art fans and hipsters hanging out. Whatever you think of his intentions, his ill-health or his artistic integrity - he was committed to creating something he believed in, and these days that counts for something. 

Salvation Mountain
salvation mountain
Salvation Mountain
Salvation Mountain
salvation mountain
Salvation Mountain
Salvation Mountain

But what I found to be the most interesting part was the inside. The shrines and messages left by visitors keen to be part of something. From notes about dodging Satan in a Dodge (!) to love letters left by widowers - it was a strange collection of papers and photo's. 

Salvation Mountain
SALVATION MOUNTAIN HELL
SALVATION MOUNTAIN
SALVATION MOUNTAIN
SALVATION MOUNTAIN

STAY CLASSY SAN DIEGO

San Diego

(...though I think it is for 99.9% of the year) 

If you hadn't guessed by now, the first stop on our trip was San Diego, a city I only knew about through Anchorman and my old roommate from a decade ago who had studied at SDSU. In my head it was going to be a sun bleached party town but in reality it's more of a sleepy suburban town (albeit with some great coastline). 

We landed, grabbed the car and headed to La Jolla - a sleepy town famous for it's seals and sea views. Driving the coastline down towards downtown San Diego, you can't help but think these people have the right idea - the sun shines all day long, the sea glistens. Life is pretty good. 

Though I think it would need to be a retirement spot - it's a bit of a sleepy old spot on the coastline and there's not much going on. We did find a sports bar and settled in to watch college football, watching on as locals necked back Jamesons as though it was water - but a drunken night wasn't on the cards. We had to be up, out and on the road early doors!

San Diego Mexican
san diego seaside
San Diego
San Diego Fair
San Diego Volleyball
Old men and godesses
San Diego Beach
San Diego Beach
San Diego La Jolla
La Jolla
Downtown San Diego
YUMA San Diego
Downtown San Diego


ROAD TRIPPIN'

CaliforniaDreaming

It's that time of year in the UK when you have to wear an extra layer, bump the heating up a few notches, and always carry an umbrella... no matter what the weatherman says. Which just leaves you wishing for warmer climates and digging out those #ThrowbackThursday shots of holidays in the sunshine in an attempt to manage the impending S.A.D. 

I went past pining for sunshine and descended deep into my hard drive to sort through my California holiday snaps from last year and it's left me in a bit of a state. It was such a great holiday. We started in San Francisco with the family for Christmas, then headed south to San Diego, picked up a car and hit the open road. 

From La Jolla, to downtown San Diego, across to El Centro and up towards Palm Springs via Salvation Mountain and Salton Sea, taking in Joshua Tree and Pioneertown before catching a flight back up to SFO. 

So rather than punish myself by staring endlessly at pictures of palm trees, sun soaked streets and hipster hotspots - I'm going to post them on here, and punish you too!

More to come :)

Posted on February 24, 2015 .

MAD, BAD BRITISH AIRWAYS.

You will have seen the news by now. Avios is changing. And not for the better. 

The gang over at British Airways have taken the decision to 'better reflect' the variances in pricing in how they award airmiles - which means those taking the cheaper fares will earn a lot fewer, the in-cabin bonus will be harder to come by, and it will cost a lot more to book flights using them. 

BUT - there is a but - if you plan ahead, and get in there before the changes take place on April 28th then you might be able to work around some of the changes. 

I learned about this over on the amazing God Save The Points website who read through the small print and discovered that any flights booked before this date will be honoured at the original airmile rate, even if changed later. In their words 'Book now, make changes later.'

“Will I be able to change the dates of an existing reward flight after 28 April?

Yes. You will be able to make changes to your existing booking on or after the 28 April 2015 under the existing rules. This means, for example, that you will not have to use more Avios towards your existing booking if you need to change it after this date where under the new rules you would be required to use more Avios to make the same booking. This also means that you will not be refunded any difference in Avios if you make a change to your existing booking which would require you to use less Avios under the new rules. Please note change fees may apply.”
— http://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/executive-club/club-changes/faqs

So - with a possible trip to Qatar on the cards, and wishful thinking that I'll go back to China this year - I might just book them and worry about it later. Will you?

THE GOWER PENINSULA

GOWER WALES

My parents met in Wales, back in their university days, living in various spots along the Gower.

They have - let's just say - "colourful" tales that only those lucky enough to live out their university days in the seventies would. Most of which can never be written down. 

But fancying a weekend away, we decided to take a trip down memory lane. I caught the London - Bristol and they flew in to pick up a hire car, and we headed west to Wales for the weekend.

It was a lovely weekend driving round their old haunts, stopping off at the local for a pint (and a roast), popping by to see old friends who decided never to move away, grabbing some surf in Rhossili Bay, and telling tales of the wild weekends and wild Welsh horses that the area is famous for. 

My parents have friends that own a surf shop there and it didn't take long to realise that if you timed it right, you could get from London to the coast by bedtime on Friday - ready for some early morning surf on Saturday. Definitely a plan for the summer... 

FLASHBACK: SKYWALKER RANCH

YODA STATUE

Have you ever been in one of those meetings where you're all asked to say a fact about yourself as an ice breaker? I know it's intended to be a way to get to know each other, but I always find it a bit awkward to know you're sandwiched between a fetish photographer and a mushroom fanatic (both have been said, out loud, in a meeting by colleagues. WHY!?). People choose the strangest things to reveal about themselves. 

But I have a killer fact. I went to Skywalker Ranch. I saw where George Lucas keeps his Oscars, and I spent the day wandering around Ewok Lake and buying up the contents of the General Store. I win.  

Why was I there? Work. A small but important group of European media had been invited to learn more about how the audio team at Lucas Arts create the various sound effects you hear in both the movies and video-games the company produce. Splitting the trip between the Ranch and the Lucas Arts campus in Presidio, San Francisco - meant they had the chance to both see and hear from the various teams involved. And of course - meet some Stormtroopers. 

OSCARS SKYWALKER
SKYWALKER RANCH GENERAL STORE
LIGHTSABRE SKYWALKER RANCH
FILMING AT SKYWALKER
GEORGE LUCAS BOOKS
BOOKCASE SKYWALKER RANCH
FEEL THE FORCE
R2D2 SKYWALKER

(And sorry about the dodgy quality, these were all taken on something like an iPhone 4 back then!)