We woke up this morning with a bit of a worry because we actually have nowhere to stay tonight and all of a sudden all the hotels and motels are either fully booked or $200 a night! It would appear that Monday is a holiday called Memorial Day, to celebrate the fallen combatants of US wars and everyone and their dog is checking into a hotel somewhere. Over breakfast we resolved to stay exactly where we were here in Merced as I for one was beginning to feel the pace of this amazing romp around the West.

The problem was that we knew from asking last night that the hotel was fully booked, so we asked the guy at reception to give us the first cancellation he got and book it for us right up to checking-out time at 11. In the meantime, I went in to the Eagle Bar next door and asked if there was any chance that I could watch the Champions’ League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at 11.45 this morning. The guy checked the TV schedules, found the game live at 11.30 on Fox Sports 1 and said he’d put it on when I came in. Brilliant!


Our room here in Merced

For the following hour or so we kept checking on the Internet for a reasonably-priced hotel but got nowhere so packed our bags and put them in the car in anticipation of leaving. As I took the last bag out, the room phone rang and Mary answered it. I could tell by her tone that it was good news and so it was: the guy would let us keep the room we were in for a second night! To make things even better, he not only kept the price the same ($88) but reduced it to $76! We paid up, I put our cases back in the room and we went over to the pub to watch the game, although Lady Burton took her Kindle with her.


The pub where we watched the game


As you probably know by now, the Final was a classic even though Liverpool lost and we’ll all remember Gareth Bale’s overhead kick and the Liverpool goalkeeper’s 2 shocking errors for a long time. Well done to Real Madrid for their 3rd consecutive Champions’ League Final win all the same and I’m especially pleased for Bale himself who hasn’t had it easy since joining the Spanish club a couple of seasons ago. After the match, we walked to a service station to get something for lunch, ate it back in the room then I crashed out on the couch for the next 3 hours as the fatigue and the 3 glasses of IPA caught up with me. Lady Burton had a soak in the bath while I was in the Land of Nod and then when I awoke we got back to organising the next couple of days.

It looks like we might go back down to the Pacific coast near Carmel so we can drive a bit of the Big Sur which is the SR-1 and runs south for about 90 miles towards Santa Barbara. They say it is one of the most beautiful roads in the world to drive so it should be worth the 2-hour drive to get over there from where we are just now in Merced. We have to hand the Kia back at the Luxor in Las Vegas on the 30th of May as we fly to New York the following morning, and we still have to set aside a day to visit Sequoia National Park but that still gives us a couple of days to do something a bit spontaneous.

It is an adventure after all!