A Travellerspoint blog

Campervanning with some crazy Folk

A 10 day roadie around some of America's amazing national parks

all seasons in one day 22 °C
View Year of who knows what!! & North America on ladiesofleisure's travel map.

We left the bright lights of Las Vegas behind for the wilderness. It seems that somehow we had all signed up to spend 10 days in this...

From here on in it will be lovingly referred to as Alley Cat

I don't know which of us went into this "10 day total immersion Landy styles" trip with the most trepidation. I am not a patient person at the best of times and thinking about it, I have not spent this amount of consecutive time with my Mum since I started kindy 27 years ago. As you can imagine - there was a lot to catchup on. Soph on the other hand is super patient and understanding so I thought that she would perhaps cope the best out of all of us.

As it turns out, all of us have come out the other side relatively intact. Would we do it again? I will answer in a few months when the details become hazier. I joke, it was an amazing time and a great opportunity to see some amazing parts of USA together at our own pace.

Our first stop on the roadie was Zion national park. About 3 hours NE of Vegas, it was a relatively smooth ride to the first camp ground. Some members of the party not too happy about the lack of shower facilities available, but we buckled down and prepared our first campsite meal and had our first sleep in the little tent on top of Alley Cat. Mum and Cj slept down below in quarters that can only be described as plush.

The following day was spent exploring Zion and doing a few walks. I will leave you some pictures to try to do justice to what is an amazing area of the world.

Red roads!
Cave women
Courtney at one with the rocks
Landy girls on pride rock
The best view in Zion National Park
There are 10 of these failed jump shots. This one looks like we are trying to do the haka
Which lead to just two of us. Thats better

Next stop on the trail was Bryce Canyon National Park. This canyon is famous for the hoodoos which we have so many photos of and are super impressive, but upon arrival we were met with this...

Not ideal hoodoo-photographing conditions
That didn't stop us trying

So we could not see a thing. We were really hoping for a miracle the next day and boy were we rewarded. The orange rock formations need to be seen to be believed (how many more cliches can I throw in here?...mind-blowing, one-in-a-million, a sight for sore eyes, a picture paints a thousand words and so on and so forth.)

These funny formations are named hoodoo's, so named after "Legend People" who were turned to stone by Coyote
The Geologists' explanation is far less interesting; erosion
Mum and Courtney at Bryce National Park

It's a natural arch!

We walked down in amongst them which was a great new perspective


Heading out after a very early start and a pathetic sunrise which does not even make the cut for blog photos, we went to Kodachrome Basin state park with rock formations called pipes. This was a lovely spot for a picnic even though we had been warned about rattle snakes and scorpions.

Nice pipe

We did not see these deadly animals but we ran into another animal which was less scary but still made Soph run in the opposite direction.


The drive from Bryce through Capitol Reef up UT12 (name of the road) is touted to be one of the best in the USA. It did not disappoint. It was an absolutely stunning and scenic drive even if the weather was bad.

One of two flash floods we came across which stopped traffic for a wee while

Just like Charlie and the chocolate factory

The following day was a really really long drive with a fabulous reward at the end - Monument Valley. You may recognise these scenes from old westerns or forest gump. We had alot of fun re-enacting the scenes.

Courtney just loves the serenity
Mexican hat (apparently)
Monument Valley
We did not take this photo
Fabulous evening for a drive
This area is home to many native american communities

The final leg of our National Park days was the Grand Canyon as seen from the South Rim. We thought this was going to be the most impressive part of the trip but given all we had been treated to in the days leading up to the mighty GC - the other parks certainly gave it a good run for it's money. While still amazing and vast and deep (and grand), the other parks were certainly on par on the spectacular-scale. I guess the moral of the story is - go see 'em all!

Canyons make me excited
Condor doing it's thing
Elk doing their thing
The Grand Canyon has a way of making you feel small
This pseudo-happiness hides a crippling fear of heights
Everybody enjoys the view
Mum missed the memo on the 'jump' part of 'jump-shot'

We had to drop CJ off at LAX so dropped into Santa Monica Beach for a final picnic out of the back of Alley Cat before sending her off on her way. Unfortunately we seem to have misplaced our photos somewhere so we have no evidence - but it did happen (see video).

The final three days of the camping experience was spent driving up the pacific coast highway (PCH) and searching for places to sleep. No longer were we in the wilderness - RV and camping parks abound. We were to be found on night #1 skulking around very full campgrounds to try and find one more spot. It didn't work however and we ended up roadside which then resulted in a rude awakening at 0200 hours from the sheriff who was threatening a $200 fine. So off we drove to try and find a more secluded roadside spot. The remaining nights we managed to find nice camping grounds which made for a much nicer, more relaxed kip.

The PCH was quite impressive and there was some amazing coastline along the way including world famous Big Sur. We even timed it right and went to an Avocado and Margherita festival. Score!

A furloughed US government worker?
The Pacific Coast!
Avocado's and Margaritas are worth celebrating in Morro Bay
'Dusting-on' instead of off
Beaut coastline

We are super happy to have seen all these amazing sights and it does make me think that if there were only one country I could visit in the world aside from NZ, it may have to be USA. Although, the parks are all closed right now due to the US government closing down "non-essential services", we are very lucky to have got in when we did. Phew!

Next stop for us was San Fran to watch NZ win the America's cup. (Now you know how far behind we are... whoops)

For those keen on the video portrayal of our travels - here is the roadtrip moving picture:

Posted by ladiesofleisure 20:17 Archived in USA Tagged grand_canyon camping rv camper zion bryce_canyon capitol_reef monument_valley escape_campers pacific_coast_highway Comments (4)

Viva Las Vegas

A short, hopefully sweet account of three days in Vegas

sunny 30 °C
View Year of who knows what!! & North America on ladiesofleisure's travel map.

You realise they don’t do things by halves in Vegas when you walk off the plane into an arrivals hall bulging with slot machines. We had just two days locked in for Sin City – and to be fair we did far less ‘sinning’ than most (taking ‘The Hangover” as a benchmark).

The famous Bellagio
Ice cream addicts anonymous at it again

We found ourselves sufficiently entertained strolling around taking in the never-before-seen levels of kitsch whilst trying to avoid seizures from all the flashing lights.

Bright lights in seizure city

In between breakfast buffets and water displays we saw a Cirque du Soleil show and visited the Stratosphere. Not the real stratosphere of course, that would have been less frightening. It is your standard skycity/centre point tower-type structure, with one key difference – it has truly terrifying rides on top of it.

So whilst taking in the lovely views of the Las Vegas strip, you are either; a) dangled and spun 112 stories above the earth, b) shot out and abrubtly stopped dangling over the edge or c) propelled straight up and extra 50m towards the real stratosphere. Horrific. Never before have I been so terrified, and here is an image to prove it. You're welcome..

Oh the terror.
One redeeming factor of this tower or terror is the view
Must I do this, really?
Never again Stratosphere, never again.

I was however, much happier with my feet on terra firma strolling ‘downtown’ Fremont street looking at people dressed as anything from Avengers to Native American Indians to Chippendales and all the suckers who got their picture taken with them.

Fremont street

So with that our whirlwind tour of Vegas was over and 10 days of family campervanning fun was to begin…

But wait there's more!

Here is the video summary of our travels in Southern USA, including; New Orleans, Florida and Las Vegas.

Posted by ladiesofleisure 23:35 Archived in USA Tagged las_vegas stratosphere chippendales Comments (2)

Coasters, Gators and Timeshare seminars


all seasons in one day 34 °C
View Year of who knows what!! & North America on ladiesofleisure's travel map.

We hit up the muggy state of Florida because Mum had signed onto an accommodation and car hire package, which was actually pretty good – the catch was, however, that we had to endure the hard-sell of two slimey timeshare sales pitches. We declined the incredible deal, although leaving a ‘legacy’ for our unborn children was indeed a very tempting offer.

First stop was Orlando. This was a destination neither of us had ever contemplated visiting, but due to the aforementioned “deal”, here we were. Lucky for me (Hayley), Orlando was the perfect holiday destination. With the city awash with theme parks, I was like the proverbial kid in a candy store. Although I would have loved to have spent all week at theme parks with adrenalin pumping through my veins – apparently it goes against medical advice. Almost crippled by choice – we narrowed down our shortlist to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Wet n Wild.


Soph and Ma were not too keen on any of them initially, but they were dragged along by Courtney and I and ended up having a blast. Soph in particular is now a converted theme park junkie. She has even been heard to say “Lets go another round on the Harry Potter rollercoaster”. I guess there’s a kid in all of us.

Courtney getting ready to go off to wizarding school

We paid Hogsmead a visit. Had some AMAZING butterbeer. It was totally incredible and I want the recipe.

Also visited Moes tavern for a different beer with Barney

The movie-themed rides of the Universal parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure) made for an amazing two days. Who knew 3D rides could be so damn cool, these rides blew our minds. Notable mention to the Transformers ride; seriously – I felt like I was an Autobot. Hats off to these guys though, everything is in theme and runs like a well-oiled machine (including those rollercoasters). Poor old Luna Park will never be the same again.

The hulk ride is definately one of the best rides in either of the parks.

We are all prepared for the best 3-D ride we have been on ... Ever...

Even got to meet bumblebee. A highlight for sure

We really wish we could have been there for halloween when there is going to be a walking dead attraction. Here is Dales caravan in Prep.

Although a very old movie, the Jurassic ride was pretty cool. And involved a heavy dousing of water so was a great way to cool off.

Even if Ma was not enjoying the rides, she was loving the Icecream. This is a Banana split which Mum demolished. The lady at the counter questioned whether Mum wanted the whole thing or not... Silly question. Kiwis eat more icecream than any other nation (Per Capita)

Lastly, we hit up wet n wild. It was nice to be at a theme park where we were not sweltering in the muggy heat all day. This place is full of great slides. Most of us (Hmmmm MUM) conquered the big one, which is where you are dropped out of a tunnel down an almost vertical slide for the equivalent of 6 storeys. Lets just say we didn’t need to give that one a second shot.

Our only photo of the day. More will be seen in the video - featured in the next blog

Buddies we made in Nawlins whilst Volunteering. Thanks for showing us the local side of Florida Jonathan and Olivia

We were taken to this amazing icecreamery. They make lovely soft serve with layers of excellent sorbet gelati. Tasty

After winding up a week in Orlando, next stop was an early morning dip with some Manatees (think overweight mermaid that resembles and elephant). It was great to take Ma and CJ snorkeling as neither had ever been before. It was low season for the manatees but we still hoped catch a glimpse. We were not disappointed. We saw a couple swimming around in the river – but visibility wasn’t great causing Mum to confuse Manatees with large rocks. Although, strangely, close by were crystal clear springs – great for spotting fellow snorkelers, not manatees unfortunately.

All geared up and ready to dive in

Again, we have very no photos of the Manatees - you will have to wait for the next blog.

Following this, we headed out to see Colleen, John and Grant, a family we had met in Nawlins. They live in the beachside town of Ponte Vedra, and they had invited us up to stay for a night. Perhaps it was a token invite “If you are ever in the neighbourhood…” I don’t know whether they actually thought we would take them up on the offer just two weeks later, with Mum and Courtney along for the ride, but there we were, on their doorstep. We had an absolute ball with them as they showed us a bit of southern hospitality. The beach was lovely, especially with the boogie boards and picnic provided, TPC Sawgrass golf course was an absolute treat to see (the food here to die for) and they were wonderful company. We sure were spoilt visiting these guys.

Amazing feast at TPC

In front of the famous 17th hole with our wonderful hosts

View of the club house from the 18th

Incredible sunset

More food from our wonderful hosts - we left about 20 kilos heavier

We had to drag ourselves away however for the next leg of the journey. We were hitting up Fort Lauderdale. We were only in town for a two days and one of those was taken up telling Bill the salesman that owning a timeshare wasn’t desirable to us, but yes we will have the free lunch. So with the little time we did have, we packed in an awesome Everglades tour on airboat, spotting alligators in the wild. We even squeezed in a quick trip down to Miami for people watching and stalking Dexter’s house.

The everglades are absolutely stunning




Has anyone seen that show Swamp People... Its what we pretty much are now.





We all were very brave and held this little guy. Courtney nearly dropped it though...

South Beach


I nearly wet my pants taking this picture. Courtney is being a stalker....

In order to get this photo of Dexters house. Love it. We recognised it immediately.

All in all, a wonderful time was had in Florida so thanks to Mum for hooking us up with the sweet deal and educating us on timeshares. It was a small price to pay for an ace 10 days.

Posted by ladiesofleisure 11:35 Archived in USA Tagged beach florida orlando universal_studios harry_potter manatees islands_of_adventure fort_lauderdale wet_n_wild dexter butterbeer tpc_sawgrass Comments (0)

Rebuilding Nawlins one floor at a time

New Orleans for a stint volunteering

sunny 32 °C
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Our accidental visit to Puerto Rico freed up a bit of time in the schedule before meeting Ange and Courtney in New Orleans. After a bit of investigation into volunteer opportunities, Hayley found there was still a huge amount of rebuilding being completed in New Orleans (or Naw’lins, as the locals put it) from Hurricane Katrina – yep, eight years on, there are still residents displaced due to a number of reasons including lack of insurance and plenty have been ripped-off by contractors, leaving them looking to charities for assistance.

The lucky charity that won our services was the St Bernard Project. We signed on for two weeks of blood, sweat and tears – but mostly sweat. Despite having zero construction experience (watching ‘The Block’ doesn’t count apparently) we were thrown in the deep end and I like to think we did more swimming than sinking. Over two weeks we painted, tiled, cauked and laid plenty of laminate flooring and awarded ourselves a building apprenticeship as a result.

Don't worry, the batteries were removed for this shot
Ahhh the laminate flooring, we don't miss you
Textbook measuring technique

Whilst we were ‘donating’ our time – the timing was spot on for us to do something other than coast from hostel to hostel and be tourists. Yes, no doubt you all feel sorry for us – but we would be lying if we said we hadn’t picked up a little traveller’s fatigue. So this was the perfect way to (temporarily) dive into a routine, learn something new and appreciate our holiday again. We also saw this experience as a sweaty, free way to learn some of the basics in home reno. I’m going to ask Santa for a power drill for Christmas.

Part of the volunteer crew

Our flatmate, Oscar

Let’s not forget that we also got to spend three weeks in the wonderful New Orleans. After seven months on the road, this city sticks in our minds as, hands down, the most captivating we have visited. The mix of southern, Creole, Cajun and Caribbean culture (often referred to as the Caribbean’s most northern city) makes for a feast for the eyeballs and the belly.

A participant of the annual red 'dress' run
Pub rules
Old crooner
One of the many brass bands of New Orleans
Biking the streets

Oh lordy, did we eat. New Orleans cuisine is known for its emphasis on ‘hearty’, and by hearty I mean you might need a new one. Fried chicken, Poor boys, Gumbo, Jambalaya, Muffulettas and Beignets are the usual suspects and we dipped our toes in the fatty waters much to our delight.

Dirty roast beef Po' Boy
Pulled pork slider
Po' boy
Barack and Sophie visit Dooky Chase
Fried chik'n

It was awesome to have Courtney and Ange join the epic adventure for the US leg. We hadn’t seen any friends or family for seven months and there’s a lot to be said for seeing familiar faces! They joined the cause with gusto and lapped up all Naw’lins had to offer.

The WWII museum was ace
Hanging with Louis Armstrong
This is a 'hand grenade'
Glorious beignets
Classy Bourbon St
The beads!

After three wonderful weeks we bade farewell to New Orleans and got psyched for some adrenalin-pumping fun in Orlando Florida…

Posted by ladiesofleisure 00:43 Archived in USA Tagged food new_orleans volunteer hurricane_katrina rebuilding Comments (2)

Hayley's Mistake

Side trip to Puerto Rico

semi-overcast 33 °C
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Funny story. When hatching plans on how to spend the remaining 3 weeks we had up our sleeves before meeting my Mum and sister Courtney in the US, we decided we would explore Costa Rica. We'd heard great things and were excited to dip our toes in Central America. Well, as some of you may know already - I had a little boo boo, got confused and accidentally booked a flight to Puerto Rico instead. As our Thai friends might say 'same, same, but different'? Terrible form I know, but seriously, translated - they mean pretty much the same thing, not to mention one airport is called San Juan and the other is called San Jose. Yep - a recipe for flight-booking disaster. No doubt this debacle has afflicted many before me.

Bring on Puerto Rico!

We originally thought that arriving in PR would be a transition point between South and North America. After spending a week there, we have decided it is very much closer to North American than South. It is defined as "an unincorporated territory of the United States" so there are plenty of Americanisms around like massive pick up trucks, fast/fried food as far as the eye can see and plenty of American accents.

Yup, we're in Amurica now

We picked up a hire car for our time here which was awesome. Soph got off to a hairy start in the driving due to her sleepiness upon arrival at 0200 and the difficulty of driving on the right side of the road, but after a few near misses we arrived to Rincon which was to be our home for the first 3 days in paradise. Rincon is located in the east of the island and is known for the fabulous surf. Not while we were there though, it was flat as a pancake. This is not to say we did not have some adventures here though.

One of many light houses

This beach is famous for a set of stairs - do not see what the fuss is about

Swimming at this beach however was nice

While I was navigating and Soph was doing stellar job of keeping to the right most of the time, we found our selves off the map. We decided to go with it because I could see on my reliable GPS that there was "probably" a sealed road coming up soon. We stopped off at a beach and saw some resorts on the distance. We decided that there had to be a road connecting ours to them, so on we continue....

During our off roading mission we were aiming for the resorts in the distance.....10 minutes later...




After playing around in the mud, trying to lift the car, shoving coconut shells under the submerged wheel to try and gain traction, and trying to reverse out of the mess we had found ourselves in, we realised it was a lost cause.

We were a bit freaked out (mainly me) by this stage as the sun was due to set in an hour or so and there was no sign of civilisation. Except for a fence. Which I promptly ran for dressed only in my togs. What a sight I would have made running across the paddock in my togs with bare feet. I looked like a mad woman. Then a mansion loomed out in front of me and I could have cried with happiness. Muddy and crazy as I was, I knocked on the front door. After a few knocks with no reply, I opened the door and yelled out to someone. A lovely American women came down the stairs to be my knight in shining armour. I outlined our dilemma and asked whether -

1. There was an exit from the road we were currently stuck on
2. Could she help me out by calling a tow truck for me.

The answer to both was no. But she did have a son who could come and help us by giving us a little tow.

Excellent, this is even better! She took me to his workshop where he was hard at work making kite boards and stand up boards (check the website here - MHL) while I stood around with muddy legs and only my togs on. But off we went, he decided to save us and they both came along with three dogs in tow to help us get out of the mess.

Ten minutes later we were out, super thankful and also feeling really bad about the fact that their dogs were now covered in mud from laying down in the puddle. Super nice wonderful samaritans who saved us. We parted ways agreeing not to go off roading again.

It was a very close call and we felt pretty lucky to have escaped relatively unscathed.

Until the following day when I got sick. Uhoh, gastro strikes and I am not a happy camper and consequently, Soph has to listen to me whinge all day and we don't get to go out. It takes a couple of days to fully recover, but being the brave soul that I am, I ventured out for a few trips to the beach. It really is a tough way to spend your sick days.

Poor me

A little swim at this beach is a great curative measure

Once recovered, we continue our meander around the island of enchantment. We have no real destinations in mind and are just on a mission to see some cool stuff and get around to the capital where our plane was departing from 6 days later. We headed down the western coast where we could see rugged coast line and pretty vistas all along the gorgeous coastal drive.

Rocks and sea spray

Salt flats of the pink variety

One of he more famous lighthouses at Cabo Rojo

Iguanas sunning on the rocks

Where is she? Can anyone see?

Everyone, and I really do mean everyone, has invested in a pair of crocs. Everyone.

Once we had sniffed out a place to stay, we decided to go on a bioluminescent tour. We have seen this phenomenon a number of times in Australia and NZ, but it is some of the best in the world in PR. We went after rain and in a bad bay though and it was not that great. We heard that it was better over in the East but it seems even in low season you have to book 2 weeks ahead of time to get a spot on one of those trips so we missed out. It was still a nice ride out into the bay and we had a night swim. Obviously no photos since as soon as you shine a light on them, they go away.

We decided that instead of driving along the southern coast of the island, we would drive through the middle via Ruta Panoramica (Panoramic Route). It was a totally stunning drive as we headed up into the mountain ranges. Not to mention a bit cooler which was a lovely change.

Drive through the middle with some gorgeous views along the way

The last big driving day was spent heading back down from the mountains to the coast for some more swimming and relaxing before finally arriving to the capital city.


Some hot chick on the beach

Seeking shade on the beach because it is super hot out there

Not a bad spot for a picnic

We had a few days to spend in San Juan and although tempting to stay inside in the loving arms of AC, we ventured out a few times to see some hot spots. We went to a museum in the city where we also got directed to a market in the street.

The highlights of the old city however have to be the forts built by the Spanish in order to defend Puerto Rico from potential invaders trying to get in on the action.

One of the San Juan forts used to defend the town from all the invaders who want a slice of paradise


The view from one fort to the other

Stunning view from the fort

Old San Juan is a hip little colonial city and was a fun place to stroll around. After a visiting a good handful of these gems during our South American travels - San Juan was up there as one of the best. We spent three days here indulging in the regular sweat, eat and sight-see combo we seem to have enjoyed for the past few weeks. For an unintentional holiday destination - there could be worse options than Puerto Rico. So thanks PR, you've shown us a damn good time.

San Juan street art

Pretty strolls around the old colonial town of San Juan

Street view from our hostel

Here's our take on PR, GoPro-style:

Posted by ladiesofleisure 17:39 Archived in Puerto Rico Tagged beach forts puerto_rico ruta san_juan rental_car rincon panoramica isabella cabo_roho barranquitas colonial_town Comments (1)

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