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Wednesday

Campfire Pesto Mac n Cheese

I love pasta and I love cheese, so this is the greatest camping dish I could have made.


If like me you are not a seasoned camper, and aren't used to cooking over a fire, this is a pretty easy (and ridiculously tasty) dish. The hardest part about cooking over a fire is that the smoke gets everywhere, but aside from that it takes about 20 minutes or so, depending on the heat of your flame and how long the water takes to boil.

Ingredients needed to feed about 4 with this beautiful dish:
a box of pasta from the shop (any kind of the small ones will do, we went for the spiral)
a tin of pesto - homemade if you have time, and a cooler
a lot of pepper jack cheese
salt & pepper to season

Honestly, I'm a lover of cheese and pesto so I tend to over add those ingredients.
Just add as much as you like (go on, add more)

Monday

Joshua Tree National Park


Considering how traumatic our last hiking experience was, I was unsurprisingly skeptical about this one. 

In true form, we arrived when it was dark out. Thankfully, unlike Yosemite, Joshua Tree is more open plan and has much smaller trees. Typically, he first two campsites were full and we thought we were in for another horrendous experience, but then we came across Jumbo Rocks Campground. Honestly, I’m pretty happy about the fact the others were full because Jumbo Rocks was a beautiful campground. 

As I said it was pretty dark out, but thankfully the stars gave us a little bit of light. We started a fire (when I say we, I mean dad did, but I was there for moral support). I did sort out some killer tuna sandwiches for us though, so who was really the important one in that situation?


After a relatively good nights sleep, we woke up, changed and headed to the visitors centre to plan our day. Let’s be honest, we didn’t want a report of what happened in Yosemite! So we spoke to the lovely man behind the desk and decided on the Barker Dam Trail, a drive down Geology Road, a hike up Ryan Mountain, and a quick look at Skull Rock. All in a days work. 

Thursday

San Diego, Stone Brewery, Sunset Cliffs & La Perla


Dad and I love a good brewery, so I asked one of my friends to suggest one and she pointed us in the direction of the Stone Brewery in Escondido. You walk through a couple of big rooms that can be used for functions and the like, and also passed the shop and first bar. Then we came to the beautiful outside area where we were going to hang out.



Although we had booked a table because we weren't sure how busy it would be, there was space at the bar so we decided to perch ourselves up there. There were a wide variety of beers, including many the company brewed themselves, either on-site or at some of their other sites.

Monday

San Diego, La Jolla Cove & Lemonade


Since starting this trip, dad and I have been using an app called HotelTonight to find cheap(er) hotels on the day, basically. How it works is you put in the location of where you are going to be and it will find you hotels at discounted rates. For this particular trip, we ended up at the San Diego Marriott La Jolla which couldn't have been better. They allowed us to upgrade to a room with two beds, the shower was great and there was even a pool. We managed to get our room for two nights for the amazing price of $172 overall (this hotel usually goes for more than that for one night, so to say we got a bargain is an understatement).

The app works in the United States as well as England, and if you use the code: ELBALL you'll get $25 off your next booking, so book away guys.



Saturday

Los Angeles, Urth Caffe & Griffith Park Trail, Day Two

Needless to say, Maddie & I were extremely hungover this morning, after spending the previous night at the Bungalow, which is a bar along the Santa Monica beach basically. Such a lovely place that we hardly took any pictures because we were having too much of a good time. 

Obviously needing something substantial to eat, Gerry suggested that we take a trip to a place called Urth Caffe. He knew about it because of the Entourage movie, and obviously he took us to the wrong one. Typical Gerry. After parking about 4 hours away (possibly a slight exaggeration, but that’s what it felt like) we finally made it to the restaurant which had a relatively long line outside the door. That’s usually a pretty good sign though, so we weren’t that bothered. 



The menu was extensive, as all American menus usually are, but the boys went for omelettes, whilst Maddie and I both went for the Sunrise Pizza. This pizza consisted of… and boy, was it incredible! The base was quite thick and the toppings all made for party in your mouth. 



Friday

Los Angeles, Original Farmers’ Market & Santa Monica Pier, Day One

Been away for a couple of days in the desert so haven't had any wifi. Technically I'm in another desert now, but that is the Las Vegas desert, where wifi is everywhere! We drove down Highway 1 to get to LA, where the views looked something like this..



After arriving later the night before, dad checked into his hotel and I went to stay at my friend Gerry’s place for the night. We just hung out and ordered pizza, catching up as it had been too long. The next morning, dad came to pick me up and we headed to the Grove and the Original Farmers’ Market.


Yosemite National Park

As many of you know, I've just started a two month road trip around America. The majority of it will be spent in hotels or crashing on the sofa of friends of mine that live all across the country. There is, however, a portion of it that will be spent camping. My family have never been a camping family, so this is all relatively new to me, and instead of starting out small, after picking up SteveO (also know as my father) from the airport, we ventured to Yosemite National Park for our first camping experience. 

I'm using the term 'camping' lightly, as I actually slept in my car whilst dad braved the tent. What a trooper!

We got there relatively late as SteveO took a while to get through customs as the airport. Once we did arrive it was pitch black, but we found our way to our camping spot at Upper Pines Campground (I’ve heard it’s quite hard to get reservations for these campgrounds usually, considering we were there in October I was able to book it a couple of weeks in advance. If you’re planning on vacationing there in summer, I believe the reservations open up in May and then you’re put into a lottery). Setting up a tent in the dark is quite challenging, but we managed to accomplish that pretty fast. As I said, I'm not a seasoned camper so even sleeping in the car was a challenge, mainly because I kept thinking that dad might be eaten by a bear in the middle of the night. 

I woke up after a couple of hours of staggered sleep to find that he was thankfully still there, no bear marks in sight! The campground was relatively peaceful in the morning, with everyone going about there business.