Site hosted by Build your free website today!

The USA Adventure 1999

Back to Fabian's

My sister Caroline and I had been planning this trip last summer and decided to go through 
with it over Christmas 1999. Our plan was to rent a car in Louisiana and drive all the way to 
San Francisco, were we would fly back to Sweden to celebrate New Year 2000. 

Here is what happened.

Louisiana and Texas

Saturday 99-12-11

I went to New Orleans, Louisiana, to pick up my 
sister, Caroline Solberg. I had rented a 
Chevrolet Cavalier, a red one, and headed for NO 
after lunch. I went straight for the airport and 
found a place to stay for the night just next to 
the airport, a Rodeway Inn. She was scheduled to 
land 9:30pm, so I had the entire afternoon to 
myself and I went down to the Palace and watched 
"End of Days" with Arnold Schwarzenegger, not a 
bad movie. Then I bought some food at Popeye's 
and drove back to the room to wait for my 
sister's plane. She came in on schedule, a little 
bit early in fact so we missed each other at the 
gate but I found her down at the airport Shuttle 

We went over the airport road to the motel and 
got our-self ready for a night in the French 
Quarters. She had brought presents from Sweden, 
some Wine Gums (a sort of fruit jelly candy) and 
Daim (caramel chocolate candy) which were very 
tasty indeed. We parked at the end of Canal 
Street and walked down in the Quarters, we 
stopped at some shops and bought CDs and 
refrigerator magnets. Then we walked over to Cafe 
du Monde and ate their fried specials (Beignets 
or something), that filled both of us up 
completely. I showed her the French Market, 
Jackson Square and the Streets, Bourbon, Royal, 
and so on. We walked up Bourbon Street and 
watched the craziness, which I have seen on many 
occasions during my year in Louisiana. Of course 
they had the Bead frenzy and we managed to see 
some tits as well. After that we stopped by 
Harrah's and played some slots, Caroline won $5 
from one of them and we thought that was a good 
start on the trip so we went back to the car and 
drove to the room for the night. This was just 
the beginning of our luck during this vacation.

Caroline on the Texas side of the Texas-Louisiana border. [above]

Sunday 99-12-12

We woke up by the airplanes taking off from NO 
International Airport, and then we got our rental 
car. It was a white 1999 Buick Century with a V6 
under the hood. It ran smooth and fast and proved 
to be an excellent automobile to use for long 
distance driving. We took both cars west on the 
I-10 and came to Lafayette just before lunch, 
which we had at Mel's Diner. In the afternoon we 
went to the Cajundome and watched Louisiana 
Icegators beat the crap out of Florida Everglades 
in hockey. During one of the breaks in the play a 
guy with a microphone came up in our stand and 
turned his attention to me. He asked me a 
question about who scored the first goal for the 
Icegators in front of the whole stadium, I was on 
the big screen and my voice went out in the 
speakers. I answered the questions correct, it 
was true or false, and I won a $25 gift 
certificate at Academy Sports. Now, this guy that 
asked me the question approached us before the 
game and asked us if we wanted tickets for the 
game. I replied no and said we would buy our own, 
then he said they were free, so we took them. I 
bought a pair of shoes for $7.50 after the 
discount. In the evening we went to Bonin hall 
and checked Caroline into a room, my good friend 
Laurie set my sister up. We ate dinner at 
Logan's, a steakhouse, where you eat peanuts and 
throw the shells on the floor.

Monday 99-12-13

This was the last day of check out from the 
dormitories at UL Lafayette. A very busy day for 
all Hall Counselors, me included of course. I 
returned the Cavalier to the rental shop before 
lunch. My sister came to pick me up and we went 
for lunch at Bennigan's. The afternoon was filled 
with more work checking people out of their 
rooms. Later that evening we were invited to the 
Residence Hall Staff Banquet, which took place in 
Cafe de Lafayette. We played games, ate some 
food, drank sodas and mingled a little bit. I got 
an appreciation diploma for my work as a Hall 
Counselor during the fall 1999 semester. My 
sister won a Monopoly, the Millennium version, in 
the game lottery at the end of the banquet; our 
luck kept coming. After the banquet we headed 
over to the Strip in Lafayette, a quarter full of 
clubs and bars, and we paid to come into the Keg. 
Since it was Lucia, a Swedish tradition, it was 
party night for Caroline and I. We danced and 
drank a lot the rest of the night, I lost a 
little track of my fellow Hall Counselors in 
there, but it was fun.

The Kirksey's and me with Davis on my shoulders in front of their house in Katy.
From left to right: Katie, Coco, Me, Davis, Bridgette, Katie, Jen, Mike [above]

Tuesday 99-12-14

I woke up and took care of the last things as a 
Hall Counselor and then I checked out of my room. 
My Hall Director did it himself, Mark Harris, and 
he said I had done a great job. Thank you Mark. 
Caroline came over in the Buick and we stacked 
our things and left for Houston. We came in the 
afternoon and the Kirkseys greeted us. Caroline 
had bought some presents for the family; a glass 
bowl from Kosta Boda filled with Daim (chocolate 
caramel candy), a glass snowball from Orrefors to 
put a candle in and a bottle of Glögg (a Swedish 
Christmas alcohol beverage). The Kirkseys took us 
for dinner at Fuzz's Pizza; we ate three kinds of 
pizza, American style. After the dinner we all 
went in the big Chevrolet Suburban and looked at 
a Christmas light show displayed in a street. It 
was very much, very American, impressive in its 
own way. My favorite was the snowflakes that 
danced over the road. On the way back from the 
light show the whole car started singing 
Christmas songs, some a little bit rearranged by 
the family.

Wednesday 99-12-15

Me, Caroline, Bridgette and Davis took of in the 
Buick and went to the Johnson Space Center just 
outside Houston ("Houston, we have a problem!"). 
While Bridgette was playing with Davis, Caroline 
and I experienced a virtual ride in a moving 
vehicle. We watched this roller coaster ride a 
futuristic landscape on a small cinema screen in 
a vehicle that moved with hydraulics, a 
nauseating and fun venture. We also watched an 
IMAX film about space exploration, kind of a 
commercial movie for NASA. We all ate in the fast 
food restaurant in the Space Center and then we 
took a ride onboard the Tram Tour around the 
different buildings on the premises. Before the 
tour we took our picture in front of a screen 
with NASA rockets. On the tour we saw the control 
room where they monitor all the space flights. We 
stopped by a hangar where they worked on the 
lifeboat for the International Space Station, 
X-38, and we saw the training center for NASA 
astronauts, complete with the modules for ISS. I 
noted they had one with the Swedish flag on it, 
we are part of it. When we got back after a 
chilly ride I bought our picture for $9.95, kind 
of expensive but it was a good picture. We played 
around some more in the Space Center, and 
Caroline and I bought some stuff from the gift 

We did not know exactly what to do in the 
evening, but in the end I said that we would go 
to the movies and we did. It was Caroline, 
Bridgette, Jen, Shannon and myself and we watched 
"Fight Club", a different movie. Some truism all 
wrapped up in a dirty and violent environment. 
The message, in a way, was fuck everything, but 
do it in a way that benefited someone. Afterwards 
we went back to the Kirkseys and heated up some 
Glögg, Bridgette and Aunt Patsy enjoyed it.

Thursday 99-12-16

In the morning we, Caroline, Bridgette and I, 
went down town Houston to the Galleria, a huge 
mall with all kinds of shops in it. We walked 
around a while and did some serious shopping. 
After lunch it was time to leave for Austin, 
Caroline and I drove in the Buick and Bridgette 
and Jen took Jen's car. We arrived after the sun 
set, a magical experience in the Texas highlands. 
That evening we dined at Carraba's, a Italian 
restaurant with very good food, they have a type 
of bread that you dip into a mixture of spices 
and olive oil that is so tasty. After a good 
dinner we went out into Austin and tried to find 
a good dance club, that proved to be a challenge. 
We were early, so there were not a lot of people 
out. We went into Roxy, but that was a weird 
place, you could not stand in the stairs, the 
waiters stalked you and your glass to have 
something to do, and they advertised about $1 
long necks (beer in a bottle) but sold them for 
$1.50. So we went to look for the Warehouse 
District, where all the dance clubs were supposed 
to be. We found one, and went in. But it turned 
out to be another different place, we wanted 
modern dance music, they played music from the 
70s and in the cellar from the 80s. We stayed a 
while and danced the night away, after all I had 
paid $5 to get in. No cover charge for girls, as 
usual. It turned out good anyway, we had a good 
time even though the drinks were expensive in 
American terms, $5 a piece.

The viewpoint of Mt Bonell. From left to right: Jen, Bridgette, and Me [above]

Friday 99-12-17

We spent the entire day driving and walking 
around Austin. We walked through a lot of 
different shops, did some shopping, and drove out 
to Mt Bonell outside the city core of Austin. We 
walked up some stone stairs to a summit looking 
out over a man made lake and some beautiful
houses and properties. We ate lunch at Oasis, a 
restaurant with a lot of different levels looking 
out into the bay. The food was Mexican and very 
tasty, I treated the girls after I had found out 
that UL Lafayette had paid me more then I 
expected for the last month. We had a good time 
out in outskirts of Austin. We did some more 
shopping and then called it the day. Later that 
evening we ate ice cream at a popular ice cream 
shop, I split a banana split with Bridgette, 
yummy! We rented a movie and tried to watch it, 
but something was wrong with the tape, so we went 
back to change it with no success. Maybe there 
was something wrong with the VCR, anyway we 
decided to get to bed.

Saturday 99-12-18

After bidding farewell to Bridgette and Jen, 
Caroline and I headed for Lubbock, TX. Bridgette 
and Jen went back to Houston. I took the wheel 
and cruise controlled the car through Texas. When 
we came to the interstate, I put the car at 90 
mph, and after a while I saw a police car in the 
mirrors, but to late. He had caught me on camera 
and with the laser, he had me doing 91 mph on a 
70-mph stretch. He pulled me over and I stopped 
at a rest area. He came up to our car and 
presented himself as Highway Patrol Officer 
Russell. He asked me why I was in such a hurry, I 
simply told him I was passing some cars and then 
I kept quiet, he did not look like the kind of 
guy you start to discuss such an obvious speeding 
with. He asked me to step out of the car and for 
the driver's license. We went in the back of the 
car and he filled out the ticket and asked me 
again why I was speeding, I told him the same 
thing, that I was just passing some cars. He gave 
me the ticket and wished me a good day. $175 was 
the prize I had to pay for trying to gain a 
couple of minutes, I learned the lesson. After 
that we drove at legal speed throughout the 
entire journey.

We came to Lubbock in the afternoon, found a 
motel (Motel 6) after driving around a while and 
checked in. We ate dinner next door to the motel, 
at a diner of some sort. Then we drove around to 
find something to do for the evening. The Omnimax 
at the Science Center was closed, there were no 
movies we wanted to see at that time, and the 
Buddy Holy statue were nowhere in sight. We drove 
through a housing area and found some really 
nasty Christmas lights. Some Americans think the 
more the merrier, but it does not look good when 
you can probably spot the house from outer space.

New Mexico, Arizona and Utah

Sunday 99-12-19

Holiday Inn had a Sunday breakfast buffé, so we 
went. But they cheated us; drinks were not 
included, so we ended up paying $21 for breakfast 
for two persons! The breakfast was good, but not 
worth $21. When we got into New Mexico, we saw a 
sign that Billy the Kid's final resting-place was 
up ahead. We took a detour and visited his grave. 

The arrival to Albuquerque, NM was nice; the view 
was magnificent with the surrounding mountains. 
On the entry to the city we drove off the 
interstate and headed down Route 66 through down 
town Albuquerque. We found our motel, a Holiday 
Inn Express, but we were to early for check in so 
we ate a Mexican lunch and visited the old town. 
I persuaded my sister to join me for a visit to 
the rattlesnake museum. They had a whole lot of 
different rattlesnakes, I did not know there were 
that many species of that snake. They were 
sleeping, with their eyes open, so no one rattled 
at us, unfortunately I said, good said my sister. 
We found a skateboard museum, but that was not 
the case, it was a shop and they had some old 
skateboards hanging from the ceiling. We went to 
a big mall up in the hills, Paradise Hills Mall, 
and did some shopping. After that we went down 
town again, what a splendid view over the city we 
had coming down from the hills. It was dark and 
all the town lights lit the darkness, and behind 
it all were the mountains, which were darker than 
the sky. We ate dinner at a very nice Greek 
restaurant, Yanni's. Back at the motel we used 
their Jacuzzi and pool, very relaxing and good 
for our soar backs.

Caroline at the meteorite crater in Arizona. [above]

Monday 99-12-20

On our departure from Albuquerque we drove up 
into the hills surrounding the city once more, 
and we had a marvelous view of the city with the 
mountains behind it. When we came into Arizona a 
lot of things happened. First we encountered an 
Indian cave, an ancient Navajo village, with 
American buffalo in a little pen and different 
artifacts from the late 19th century. The guide 
told us to walk clockwise around the camp, and we 
did, because it is believed by the Navajo's to 
bring good luck. I got myself a buffalo good luck 
charm by picking up a map in a store further down 
the road and present it to the ladies at the 
Navajo cave. After the cave we drove on until we 
came to a National park with the Painted Desert 
and Petrified Forest. We drove through it and 
took some beautiful pictures of the iron laden 
rock formations. Further into Arizona we stopped 
at the huge meteorite crater, where NASA 
conducted moon training for astronauts during the 
Apollo program. The wind was blowing hard around 
the crater, but we prevailed and got more 
pictures of the wonders of nature.

Me and the Buick at the painted Desert. [above]

Next stop was Flagstaff, AZ and we checked into 
the worst motel on the trip, but they had 
Jacuzzi. We went to the public library and 
checked our e-mail. We had read about the 
volcanoes in the tourist guide, so we drove into 
the hills once more and paid our visit to the Sun 
Crater Volcano. We were some 7,000 feet up by 
now, and we felt the thinner air up there. The 
sun was going down and we hurried around to see 
as much as we could before it became to dark to 
see. I climbed up another 1,000 feet to a peak of 
8,000 feet, Caroline stopped after a third of the 
climb and went back to the car, and it was a hard 
climb. But I was determined to go all the way, 
and I put my head down and concentrated totally 
on the climb. When I got to the summit I relaxed 
and my head started spinning, like a cheap buzz 
up there in the thin air. My heart was racing and 
I breathed heavy, but I relaxed and enjoyed the 
moment and then went down again. In the car on 
the way down to Flagstaff we saw the most 
beautiful sunset over the mountains and 
volcanoes. The moon was up and it shone full from 
the sky, enhancing the view even more. Back at 
the motel we went down to the Jacuzzi and rested 
our bodies in the hot water and the bubbles.

Me in front of the Sun Crater Volcano outside Flagstaff. [above]

Tuesday 99-12-21

It was the chilliest and coldest morning when we 
left Flagstaff and headed north towards the Grand 
Canyon. The drive was smooth, and the landscape 
continued to be mountainous. We saw a summit on 
our way into the Grand Canyon National Park. The 
first thing we passed was the airfield, and we 
stopped to check how much a ride in an airplane 
would be. We were lucky, they had two seats 
available within 20 minutes, so we purchased the 
tickets and waited. Our pilot, Chad, picked us 
all up, six passengers and himself, and we walked 
out to the 1970 Cessna to see the canyon from 
above. The whether was good, it was partly 
cloudy, but the sun came down in streaks and 
painted the canyons and the terrain with specks 
of light. It turned out to be good for our 
pictures. The ride took about an hour, and it was 
breathtaking. Over the south rim and the canyon 
itself the ride went smooth, but the north rim 
was bumpy, and when we turned from the north rim 
out over the canyon again the plane dropped down 
three stories it seemed. I thought it was fun, 
but Caroline did not, she had to fight to keep 
her posture. We took almost 100 pictures together 
from that ride; it was fantastic to see the 
wonder from above, worth every cent that we paid. 
When we got back we realized that we had been 
lucky once more, the waiting room was full of 
people waiting their turn to take off. We got our 
certificates and drove off to explore the south 
rim of the canyon by car and on foot.

A view over the Grand Canyon. [above]

A closer look at one of the many parts of the Grand Canyon. 
This one is called Shiva's temple. [above]

When we passed the little village we stopped by 
the IMAX theatre and watched the Grand Canyon 
movie. It was another good ride, and we made it 
just in time. The movie took us down into the 
canyon and we experienced the thrill of water 
rafting. We ate at a nearby Wendy's and then 
watched the canyon up close. We decided to stop 
at three sites along the south rim, one to the 
West Side of the rim, one in the middle and the 
Desert Point at the very corner of the east part 
of the canyon. At one point I climbed outside the 
designated path and climbed out to the drop, it 
was thrilling and exciting. I was scared, since 
you could not tell if the rock would hold you and 
the drop was thousands of feet down to the 
Colorado River. I felt really good after I had 
done it, but Caroline was nervous while I was out 
there, but she took a picture of me. At the 
Desert Point there were a watchtower with Indian 
paintings inside it, we went up as far as we 
could in the tower and watched the canyon one 
last time.

History written in the canyon, as layers of different minerals from ancient times. [above]

Desert Point, an old watch tower in the very east corner of the South rim. [above]

We had looked at the map and discovered a road 
through the south part of Utah that would take us 
to the interstate north of Las Vegas. But what we 
did not see was the shape of that road. It was 
fine until we hit another National Park in the 
middle of the mountains. The road dwindled around 
the mighty peaks and we experienced, once more, 
the feeling of puniness when related to the 
nature of those mountains. It was getting dark 
and the road went through a very long tunnel that 
did not seem to end. When we came out on the 
other side, the road climbed down the side of the 
mountain from side to side, the drop was massive. 
It was another thrill to ride it all the way down 
to the bottom. The we came to a village and it 
looked like it was a refuge for people during the 
holidays, it had some really nice houses and it 
was alive out there in the mountains. The moon 
came up behind us and lit the summits against the 
dark sky.


Colorado River. The maker of the Grand Canyon. [above left]

Splendor. Truly a wonder of nature. [above right]

The interstate towards Las Vegas went through 
some rocky terrain at first, but as we closed in 
on Las Vegas it flattened out. About 60 miles 
(~100 kilometers) we saw the lights from Las 
Vegas illuminate the horizon. When we drove over 
the last ridge and the city of Las Vegas opened 
up in the valley beneath us, we held our breath. 
There were lights all over the place. We drove 
through it and ended up driving across Las Vegas 
Blvd, or "The Strip", as it is called. That is 
the road where all those fancy hotels are 
situated and where all the people hang out. All 
those neon signs, spotlights, flashing and moving 
lights just took the night away. We found our 
hotel, the Mardi Gras Inn, and checked into our 
room. The room was the nicest on the trip, very 
large and with two large beds and a kitchen area. 
We dressed up a little and ate in the hotel 
restaurant. After that we gambled and played the 
slots in the hotel. I put $3 into one of the 
slots, and when I had played for a while and had 
$1 left I hit the jackpot, I got three different 
colored 7:s and won 800 credits, or $200. I had 
redeemed the speeding ticket, with some interest. 
That felt really good, I tell you. We just 
laughed and laughed as the machine spat out the 
quarters for what seemed an hour. Beginners luck 
for sure! There were a lot of seasoned players in 
there, but I won. This had been a day of wonders, 
both man made and made by nature.


Our Cesna from 1970 and the people flying with us. 
From left to right: Four other guys, Me, and our pilot Chad. [above left]

Me after I have just won $200 on the slot in front of me. [above right]

Nevada and Cailfornia

Wednesday 99-12-22

We had asked the people working at the hotel what 
you can do in Las Vegas during the day, so we had 
lots of places that we could visit before sunset. 
We started out the day in Las Vegas with a visit 
to the University Library. We checked our e-mail 
and drove back to the hotel. We decided to walk 
down to the “Strip”, or Las Vegas Boulevard, and 
go to the different hotels with their activities. 
Everything in Las Vegas cost money, nothing is 
free, as we soon found out. We took a ride up in 
the miniature Eiffel tower at the Paris Hotel. 
Inside the hotel were a French plaza with cafes 
and shops. One thing that all the hotels had in 
common were the huge amount of gambling machines 
and tables. From the Eiffel tower we saw the 
entire city, but the view was not as stunning as 
we thought it would be. Outside New York New York 
they had arranged an ice skate show, which they 
held every hour. We watched a part of it and then 
headed down towards Excalibur and Luxor. The 
Excalibur had everything you can imagine about 
knights, chivalry, magic and castles. The Luxor 
is the pyramid with the Sphinx sitting in front 
of the hotel. We also saw the lions at the MGM 
hotel. From the Excalibur we took a tram all the 
way to the other end of the Strip, to the 
Stratosphere tower. We had planned to eat lunch 
up there, but the line was huge so we passed. We 
had walked for hours and were very hungry, so a 
McDonald’s had to do. We saw the Venitian, with 
the little river around it with the singing 
boatsmen, and stopped by the Mirage to see the 
dolphins, but that cost too much. At Ceasar’s 
Palace we walked the mall, all the way down to 
the Nike store. There they had the fountain show 
every half hour or so, we watched it. A story 
about the fate of Atlantis, the aging king and 
his two children fighting for power and 
eventually the greed of the children led to the 
sinking of Atlantis into the ocean by the gods. 
That show had fire, water and laser effects that 
gave a really impression of the dialog between 
the king , his children and the gods. A very 
American type of show I must say. Treasure 
Island had the pirate city with the two ships, 
but the show was cancelled due to preparations 
for the Millennium celebrations. 

Me and the slots in Las Vegas. [above]

All in all we had walked around from 10am until 
6pm, 8 hours all together. We were exhausted, and 
we had decided to go eat at a restaurant in the 
Stardust hotel, because we would receive free 
tickets to the show “Enter the Night” and two 
drinks. I had persuaded Caroline to go on the 
show with me, in the commercials it seemed like a 
show only for gents, with wild ladies dancing and 
showing off the whole package. But it turned out 
to be equally barred for the ladies in the 
audience. The male dancers showed some of their 
stuff as well. The show was great, with ice 
skaters, Mexican string ball and drum artists, 
dancing, singing, and a laser show that really 
impressed both of us. The entire show was 
accompanied by a live orchestra. We had a good 
time, and the show was going to be shut down on 
the 27th of December, so we were among the last 
to see it ever.

After the show we walked down the Strip and 
watched all the lights, incredible and 
fascinating. Outside the Mandalay hotel they had 
a artificial volcano that erupted every half 
hour, and we got there just in time to watch it 
go off with thunder, fire and water splashing all 
over the place. It is amazing what people do to 
entertain others.

Thursday 99-12-23

We went up earlier this day, for the plan was to 
reach San Francisco in the evening. We drove 
south on I-15 at first, then we went straight 
west on some small roads, it took us a long time 
to get somewhere. We ate lunch at The Cookery, a 
truck diner along the way. We came out on Highway 
1 in the afternoon. We passed the Hearst Castle, 
but time was running away and we decided not to 
stop and look closer at it. Highway 1 was smooth 
in the beginning, but it soon turned out to be a 
roller coaster in and out along the coast line. 
The speed dropped significantly and we realized 
we would never reach San Francisco that day. So 
we checked our maps and decide that Santa Cruz 
would be enough for one day.

Me and Caroline at Jerry's Diner. [above]

While we were driving along the coast, the sun 
was getting lower and lower towards the horizon. 
We stopped and watched the sunset along Highway 
1, it was beautiful. We went up in the cliffs and 
looked out into the Pacific, the waves were 
crashing in on the beach a some 150 feet below 
us. The sound of the waves and the sun setting 
was truly an orchestra to marvel and behold. We 
stayed for 15 minutes and saw the sun disappear 
under the horizon, leaving a golden and red light 
on the clouds.

Caroline and a beautiful sunset over the Pacific. [above]

Me in the twilight on the cliffs to the shore of the Pacific. [above]

We arrived late to Santa Cruz and we found a 
motel and checked in. That night we slept in the 
same bed for the first and last time on the trip. 
It was a small room, but a cheap one. We went to 
a diner and ate dinner, and then found the 
cinemas and decided to go see “Deuce Bigalow: 
male Gigolo”. Before the movie started we walked 
up and down the main street in Santa Cruz. They 
had a lot of shops that my sister enjoyed, she 
found her last presents there. We even found 
porcelain from Höganäs in one shop, very 
expensive though. The movie was full of laughs 
and we enjoyed it.

Friday 99-12-24

Christmas Eve. In Sweden we celebrate Christmas 
on this day, so it was another experience to be 
in San Francisco, California, USA on Christmas. 
Caroline and I drove down town and parked the car 
in a valet parking house. We walked around town 
and went into shops and shopping centers 
(Nordstrom). We found a Wendy’s and had lunch 
there, I was also on the lookout for a NBA store, 
but I could not find any. I asked a girl in a 
athlete and sports shop about NBA merchandise, 
she asked me what NBA was, so I left. We went to 
the library and checked our e-mail. We also 
walked down to China Town and watched the small 
shops with all the tourist junk.

In the afternoon we picked up the car and drove 
through the streets of San Francisco. We went to 
Lombardi Street, Pacific Heights with all the 
beautiful houses, and we went up and down the 
typical San Francisco streets. That was fun, 
let’s do that again! Our next aim was the Golden 
Gate Bridge, we crossed to the other side and 
drove down in the little marina city on the other 
side and then up to the lookout spots in the 
hills. We snapped the pictures of the bridge, we 
could also see Alcatraz sitting out the in the 
bay. It was time to get out of the car, and we 
headed for the Golden Gate Park with its Japanese 
Tea Garden. We paid the entry fee and walked 
around in the garden. Some hard work had been put 
into shaping that garden up for sure, it was 
stunning. The mixture of plants, rocks, trees, 
artifacts, and water combined to a marvelous 

Me on the hills next to the Golden gate Bridge. [above]

We still had some time left in the afternoon, so 
we drove down to the docks and visited Pier 39 
with all the shops, restaurants, and arcades. A 
magician was putting on a show when we got to the 
end of the pier. He was pretty good. We bought 
chocolate for $3, not a whole lot, but ‘homemade’ 
and very tasty. We found Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. 
and I wanted to dine there later on. We took the 
car and did not know what to do next. We decided 
to drive around the entire city in the outskirts, 
juts for the fun of it. It took us 1.5 hour to 
complete the circle and get back to Pier 39, just 
in time for dinner. But Bubba Gump decided to 
close early, so we found another restaurant out 
on the pier called Dante’s. We ate a good meal 
and went back to the motel out at the airport.

Saturday 99-12-25

This is the day when the Americans celebrate 
Christmas, and we thought everything would be 
closed on such a day. We were wrong. We drove 
down town and found a lot of places open, like 
the cinemas for example. We decided to make this 
laid back day a movie day. We went to “Any Given 
Sunday” and “Anna and the King”, two different 
movies but both had a message of life in them. 
They were really good movies, and they were long, 
so our day just flew by. We ate our lunch at a 
Diner, Mel’s Drive In, and we rounded off our USA 
tour with a real greasy and cholesterol rich 
lunch, yummy! After the movies we went back to 
the motel, packed our bags, and chilled the rest 
of the evening. I watched a NBA game on TV, the 
Lakers got on top of the Spurs.

Christmas lunch back in Karlstad with the family. 
From left to right: Fredrik, Lennart, and Monica  [above]

Sunday 99-12-26

We woke up early, took our Buick to the rental 
car return. It went smooth and we took a shuttle 
to the airport central. We found our gate and sat 
down to wait, like you always do on airports. The 
plane trip home to Karlstad went pretty smooth, a 
small delay at JFK, as usual, but we got back to 
Sweden on time. In Stockholm we ran into a 
problem, the flight to Karlstad that we were 
scheduled on had been cancelled, but I went to my 
travel agency and they booked me and Caroline on 
another plane, an earlier flight in fact, so we 
came back to Karlstad earlier than planned. In 
Karlstad we were greeted by Mom, Dad, and our big 
brother Fredrik. We had a Christmas style lunch 
and then started fighting the jet lag. That is 
the end of this story.