Travel Log

USA featuring California, Arizona and Utah

Coffee must have!

700 coffees in 700 days – these are Carmel and Libby’s must have coffee spots if you ever visit California, Arizona, and Utah (please note that we haven’t found as many cafes that serve real coffee – its mainly percolated and you refill your cup). Tom continues to enjoy a chocolate milkshake, as he doesn’t like coffee or tea!

Monterey, CA – please don’t miss this cafe ‘Parker-Lusseau Pastries & Cafe (731 Munras Ave) – the coffee was spectacular and the pastries and bread too yummy for words.

Carmel, CA – The Cafe Carmel which another great coffee place in the very elite shopping area of Carmel – really good coffee very creamy if you like your coffee that way!

Bluff, Utah – Cotton Wood Cafe where they serve a blend of coffees which you choose – a strong latte.


Foodies Heaven!

Since arriving we’ve had some amazing seafood chowders they certainly were a real highlight on most menus but hands down the best one we’ve had was in a little cafe in a place called Moss Landing – The Haute Enchilada Cafe and Art Gallery their website is: its worth a look as not only was the food great but the artwork was incredible.

Carmel’s A.W Shucks Cocktail and Oyster Bar – our first taste the famous Chilli Bowl and as the name says this place is also famous for its Oysters and Seafood.

Malibu Kitchen for their amazing lentil soup – so delicious!

Palm Springs has a diner you must eat at its called Sherman’s Deli and Bakery – great corned beef and potato salad.  The front counter had the best selection of cakes which we didn’t try but they are world famous for them.

Silly Al’s in Quartzsite – a great bar with live music and a great tasting pizza – the jumbo size was absolutely huge!

Aguila, AZ on our way to the Grand Canyon which is a relatively remote location and we came across the Coyote Cafe which served the best Ruben sandwich – so delicious we picked one up for Tom to eat for lunch the next day.

Walter and Nancy’s home cooked meal in Phoenix, which we just so appreciated.  Delicious potato salad and roast beef.  Beautiful home and hospitality  – thank you.

Assaggio Ristorante Italiano – Glendale Phoenix for an authentic Italian home cooked style meal.

The Happy Hidden Ranch in Cave Creek, AZ – Govert’s amazing breakfast of fresh fruit platter and his famous take on the a Tortilla with beans, cheese, avocado an egg (the secret add on) and sour cream.

Our next memorable meal was in Williams, AZ on our way to the Grand Canyon and its famous Rod’s Steak House – the best cut of meat we were all so amazed at how tasty and tender!

Cameron Trading Post restaurant – for their fried bread, Tom and Carmel have raved about this bread ever since eating it!  You either have it savoury with Chilli or sweet covered in honey and cinnamon.

Have to see or do!

Well where do we begin there are so many things to do we might just list them:

  1. San Fran – you must do one of the Hop On Hop Off bus tours as you get to see so much from the Painted Ladies to the Golden Gate – really informative.
  2. Visit the Ferry Building – go early so you don’t miss out.  You can buy great cheeses and bread and you take these to the local wine bar in the building where they will plate them up whilst you order a glass of wine or two!
  3. Santa Barbara – lunch on the waterfront at Brophy Bros – great location.
  4. Santa Barbara Bar – The James Joyce for live music you’ll find it on State Street.
  5. Carmel – do the 17 mile drive it’s worth the view – the Big Sur scenic drive overlooking the ocean.
  6. Carmel Photographer – William Eatmon Artist – his gallery is in the Carmel Plaza.
  7. San Simeon – Hearst Castle tour – it’s amazing!
  8. Los Angeles – another city to do a Hop On Hop Off bus tour, they have a great shuttle bus you can hop on and off to see all the sites, Hollywood Blvd, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Sign – you name it you can see it!
  9. Paramount Picture VIP Studio Tour it only costs $45 and it’s well worth it – we sat on the Forrest Gump bus seat.
  10. Los Angeles – Farmers Market and Grove Shopping area – two great places next to one another. In particular the Farmers Market is great for its produce but also good for a drink and a cheap bite to eat.
  11. Visit Cave Creek in AZ – a great little town and a place to stay is The Happy Hidden Ranch B & B just email  Whilst in Cave Creek visit a local store called Mexicana Rose – really terrific homewares, Mexican silver lamps and furniture.
  12. Outside of Agulia you will come across a small town called Weden you must stop at The Courtyard Gallery – it’s a co-op artist’s studio with amazing artworks in all mediums.  Owner Bonita Powell will warmly welcome you.
  13. Wickenberg and the Arizona Gypsy Boutique – owner Dianne will make you feel really welcome as she shows you great clothes and accessories.  We did buy a few things here!
  14. Grand Canyon Maverick helicopter flight – when you fly over the pine forest and drop into the Canyon it takes your breath away.
  15. Monument Valley – there is no way that you can’t view these massive rock formations and the Painted Desert as it does live up to its name!
  16. Bluff, Utah a little town that has great coffee but also an old Fort as a historic site, loads of galleries as it has a really arty feel and atmosphere.  A must is the Cow Canyon Trading Post where owner Liza Doran has some amazing art pieces including traditional American Indian pieces.
  17. Shopping, a girl has to go shopping and not that we’ve had that much time to do loads of shopping or the room in the car but here are some favourite shopping places:

–        Camarillo Premium Outlets for locations just Google because there are many and they stock brands like, Guess, Lacoste, Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade, Kenneth Cole and many others.

–        Marshalls Department Stores, all they sell is designer items for a third of the price.

–        Anthropology fabulous clothes, accessories and homewares which you can shop online.  They don’t have outlet stores but have regular sales in their own stores.


Pescadero Bed and Biscuit in Pescadero, CA (near San Fran) – a great place to stay the owner Peggy and her brother Michael were the perfect hosts.  You have your own little house which is fully equipped – for any more information. – we’ve stayed in many of their hotels and their corporate office has officially began supporting ‘Toms Next Step’ by giving us the same rate as USA Triathlons which is a wonderful saving.

Our home stay with the Biddles ((James, Jacki, Harry and Buster the dog) in Santa Barbara – thanks guys we had a wonderful two nights.

The Beverley Laurel Hotel in LA – great locations and a real 60’s Hollywood style of accommodation you can find out more by calling 1 (800)9623824. It’s close to the Grove and Farmers Market (just walking distance).

The Happy Hidden Ranch Bed and Breakfast our favourite place since being in the US – we just loved our stay with Govert and Sandy in their wonderful ranch you can email Govert on or

Salome and our stay with Rande and Janet at their Westward Motel – a motel that has the personality of its owner Rande all over it, with eclectic decor in true ranch style and we just loved sitting on the veranda and having great conversation with Rande and the other guests.  The trip advisor information really was true!

Aguila also in the desert and we stayed at Burro Jim Motel – also a great stay we thoroughly loved it’s character and the owners gave us an amazing price for night a huge thank you for this!

Magic moments!

Tom running Monument Valley and reaching the 100 marathon in 90 days has to have been our most magic moment since arriving in the US on February 10, 2012.

Our only home stay since arriving in the US with the Biddles in Santa Barbara we had such a great couple of days and we also celebrated Tom’s 51st Birthday.

Meeting a woman in Malibu who worked with Jimmy Barnes when he visited the US – we Tweeted Jimmy to let him know that Judith from the Malibu Kitchen said hello and he Tweeted back!

Meeting Valeria and her husband Ronnie for a great meal in LA – (Valeria was taught by Carmel back in Australia).

Digging the car out of the snow in Prescott and actually driving and being the support crew for Tom in the snow was a little weird but also magic!

The helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon was absolutely amazing it truly took our breath away!

The ‘Painted Desert’ and Monument Valley – it was truly spectacular.


Travel Log
North Island New Zealand
Coffee must have!

700 coffees in 700 days these are Carmel and Libby’s must have coffee spots if you ever visit the North Island please note Tom enjoys a chocolate milkshake as opposed to coffee or tea:

Wellington Produce Markets – Waterfront near museum host a fantastic produce market each Sunday with really great coffee charts and food outlets, featuring cuisines from across the globe.

Beach Babylon another great coffee in Wellington as we stayed two days we had two coffees – also on the waterfront near the pool.

Shannon a little town outside of Wellington with great coffee from a coffee chart called Sip which a is local franchise chain. This is a place worthwhile stopping not only for the coffee but to browse the terrific shops in this little town.

Taihape has the wonderful cafe called Le Cafe Telephonique with our host Fran not only having the best coffee but the most beautiful cafe with delicious treats and a fantastic menu for both lunch and dinner, a jewel in the crown for Taihape!

Stir on the waterfront of Lake Taupo near the yachting club serves a great coffee with a beautiful setting to add to the ambience – (oops we did eat our own yummy chocolate cakes)!

Auckland on the waterfront at Jack Tar, a creamy coffee overlooking the waterfront – the new development for the Rugby World Cup!

Foodies Heaven!

We have to say New Zealand has had the most amazing cuisine with ample fresh produce and our meals have been really delicious. Our hosts in Wellington John and Liz, especially Liz, did the most delicious lamb rack on the Sunday night – with vegetables from the produce markets. Thank you Liz and we need that recipe I believe it was a Gordon Ramsay.

Beach Babylon Wellington – simple but we didn’t want it to end mince on toast (yes correct it was soooooooooooo tasty!)

Hunterville – Station Hotel for the best steak and vegies and the outstanding cooked breakfast with the works, delicious with crispy bacon, baked beans, sausages and toast!
Taupo – Scenic Cellars with the most amazing tapas style menu, the mussels are amazing with a huge serving and incredibly reasonably prices. Wines available from the cellar at bottle shop prices with minimal surcharge to have BYO!

Rotoura – Italian Restaurant just down from Regent Boutique Hotel in the plaza, for beef and béarnaise and lamb cutlets with red wine jus – atmosphere with alfresco dinning at its best!

Home cooked meals, Carmel’s beef and winter vegetable salad, and the chocolate cup cakes which Lib made (packet mix ‘Pam’s brand) cheating but delicious!

Have to see or do!

Wellington produce markets on the waterfront near the museum each Sunday – the fish monger auctioning off his latest catch on the wharf should not be missed not only for the theatre but the bargains!

The Desert Road and the views over the Volcanic Mountains Tongarrio, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu as you head to Taupo!

Lake Taupo itself and walking along the water front – beautiful on a calm day!
Rotoura’s steaming hot spring Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.

Rotoura’s famous Polynesian Thermal Spa for treatments and a soak in a thermal spa for the afternoon. Carmel goes for mud massage whilst Libby has a mud Alixr water exfoliation treatment – really great and both treatments completed with a hop in the thermal pools – ranging from 42 – 36 degrees! Reasonably priced around A$62.00 dollars.

Auckland’s waterfront similar to Sydney’s Darling Harbour – fantastic choice of seafood restaurants or you can do what we did and visit the Fish Markets for live music and simple snapper deep fried but simply tasty for just $12.00 for two!


Gables Motor Inn, Taupo for providing us with a very comfortable accommodation for two nights. They have their own thermal spas with each accommodation unit.

Station Hotel, Hunterville with their fantastic hospitality and really reasonable rooms at only $30.00 a night.

Wellington a huge thanks to our wonderful hosts John and Liz – their home overlooks the harbour with a spectacular view.

Aspen Hotel in Hamilton and the wonderful free accommodation.

Magic Moments!

Sitting in the club lounge of the ‘Interisland’ as we made our way to the North Island, it’s a great way to travel.

Our time spent with the Taranuga Boys High School with Scott and boys from the cross country team, their Mum and Dads’ that joined us for the sausage sizzle.

Running with the Hamilton East Running Club and finally meeting Roger (Chook) who has given us his car for our time in New Zealand.  Lyn and John hosting a great dinner at the The Cook Pub with members of the club we really enjoyed our time together.

Wellington and Auckland weekend stays and experiencing the ambience of cities, great cafes, markets, outdoor eating and yummy seafood experienced in both locations.

South Island New Zealand

Coffee must have!  (But not for Tom – he prefers his chocolate milkshakes!)

700 coffees in 700 days so over the past 20 days these are Carmel and Libby’s must have coffee spots if you ever visit the South Island:

Clyde Bank Cafe – Clyde, really great coffee and food in this little cafe and you can’t miss it as it’s opposite the bike hire shop on the main road into Clyde.

Othrehua Hotel on the rail trail serves a great coffee with jumbo Jaffa’s as the special treat! You can even buy the Jaffa’s as a take away!

St Clair Beach Ocean Pool Cafe – a big thumbs up and a hint to order the correct way say Trim instead of Skim and one shot not two shots if you like a weaker coffee!

Oamaru – local cafe called STEAM on Thames Street, not only great coffee but really delicious homemade cakes and slices – highly recommend the lemon and date slice.

Waipara Springs Winery and Cafe – excellent coffee!

Kekerengu on the way to Blenheim – The Store Cafe – not only is the coffee great but the view and location is amazing.

Foodies Heaven!

Muddy Creek in Lauder on the rail trail we had the most amazing meal – the highlight was the homemade mascarpone with fresh mint and berry desert. Owner and Chef uses his home grown produce and he even made the mascarpone!

Pen-y-bryn Lodge breakfast, delicious Lemon Poppyseed muffins homemade by James, Bircher muesli with delicious fresh fruit!

St Ita’s Guest House in Rakaia – our wonderful host Ken made the best scrambled eggs for our breakfast. This is a chute little guest house with wonderful owners Ken and Miriam.

Kaikoura Seafood Beachfront Caravans were you can buy the best seafood platters of lobster, whitebait fritters, NZ Green Mussels, salmon.

Ward Eastcoast Inn for the most delicious seafood chowder with garlic bread!

Have to see or do!

Rail Trail – Clyde to Middle March with a stop at Chatto Pub, Othrehua Hotel, Lauder Cafe and Hyde Cafe.

Dunedin Albatross Colony you travel along Portobello Road looking over the Otago Harbour with the most wonderful view. Stop for ice creams in Portobello.  You’ll get to see the Albatross with the mothers feeding their babies.

Dunedin St Claire Beach Ocean Pool – just divine and the water temperature is 26 degrees!

Oamaru old Victorian town section 1800’s with original saddler, wool sheds, galleries and if you fancy some whisky tasting.  Limestone buildings feature prominently and the local museum is worth a visit.   Oamaru was once a thriving location for merchant trading. Other highlights are the locations for trout/salmon fishing and outdoor activities.

Kaikoura for sleeping seals and Oamaru also has a penguin colony – both locations have charged viewings but we just came across these animals as we walked along the beach fronts.


Oamaru’s Pen-y-bryn Lodge Email: , or!/Penybryn this 5-star lodge is not to be missed it is just amazing and the most wonderful hosts, James and James – with divine old world decor, cuisines and lodgings a real must do!

Kaikoura Waves on the Esplanade – wonderful apartments with fully equipped kitchens on the waterfront with wonderful manager Liz who will certainly accommodate your every need.

Marlborough Vintners Hotel positioned amongst the vineyards of the Marlborough region with Stoneleigh and other well known wineries walking distance, apartment style accommodation ideal for conferences, beautiful weddings or if you just want to visit the wineries.

Magic moments!

The Sharp Family in Queenstown and their hospitality made for an amazing start to our South Island leg of the run.

Tom’s arrival to Middle March and our accommodation at the Straith Travei Hotel – the regulars clapped Tom into town which was really inspiring to watch.

Pen-y-bryn and the homemade ginger bread men that are left in your room.  Ideal to have with your selection of teas served in antique china tea cups.

Carmel had posted a note on our Facebook page about accommodation in Dunedin and we received a note from Heidi and Derek a young couple about staying with them. We organised to meet on the Saturday morning to get familiar with their address and access. That night we shared a family BBQ and Tom played guitar and sang.

Home stays with two other young couples, Andrew, Cherie and their two young children Oscar 2 years and Charlie only 11 days old just outside of Palmerston and our Christchurch hosts Bek and Steve who gave us their home for a weekend without even knowing us this has been amazing.

Pen-y-bryn Lodge contacted their friends Anne and Paul who kindly offered to accommodate  Tom and his support crew for a night.  Anne’s trifle and salmon dinner was delicious and we had a wonderful night with our hosts and their daughter Brigitte.









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