A Travellerspoint blog

Almost Home Again

Friday, 27 March 2015

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Today we arrived back in Australia after the long flight from LAX. I'm writing this in the motel in Queanbeyan after a refreshing sleep and awake now to try and adjust the body-clock back in line with the real world. The flights were largely uneventful and we were safely on the ground in Canberra just before noon after a quick transfer in Sydney.

Fully refreshed we will drive home in the morning. This is the final entry for this saga. My special thanks to those who paid me the honour of following my scribbles on this lengthy outing.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photos by following this link to my regular album of images.

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 10:08 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Today Didn't Happen

Thursday, 26 March 2015

One of those strange things that happen when travelling from the US West Coast to the Australian East Coast and crossing the International Date Line.

Posted by greynomadm 10:06 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

The Last Day in the USA

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

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The prospect of a long flight and the extended waiting time at the airport was daunting and we spent as much time as possible in the comfort of our hotel. With check-out at 12:00 we wheeled our luggage to the bus-stop and waited for the LAX Shuttle. Right on time the coach pulled up and we piled aboard. At $30 each this transfer was only half the cost of the trip from the port to the hotel last Saturday.

An hour or so later we were dropped off at our departure terminal to join the multitudes and their mountains of luggage looking for a check-in desk. We found the QANTAS desk but the sign indicated that there would be no check-in until 16:00 and our flight was not scheduled until 23:55. Seating was at a premium or just not available and passengers were reduced to sitting or lying on the floor using their luggage as seats or pillows. We didn't look forward to standing around for the next 10 hours.

While we waited there was an announcement inviting serving, ex-serving military and their dependants to use the facilities of the USO. As an Australian Veteran I wasn't sure if I was eligible to visit the lounge. I spoke to a very helpful man at the Information desk who made a phone call and assured me that we'd be welcome. He said to come back and he'd provide directions. With the prospect of a sanctuary we patiently stood in line, moved to another line and finally checked in our luggage.

Back to the Information desk where there had been a shift change. As a stark contrast to the helpful guy from my earlier visit the current one pointed vaguely in the direction of the outside concourse. In the confusion of the LAX Terminal buildings the USO is not the easiest to find. A few questions from other airport staff and we found our way to what at first glance looked like a construction site office.

Any lingering doubts about our welcome we quickly put to rest by an enthusiastic receptionist who guided us through the facility. The friendliness of the volunteer staff was exceeded only by the range and quality of the services available. There's a room to store your bags, a play-room for parents with kids. There are showers and restrooms supplied with towels, tooth brushes and tooth paste. There is even a slumber room for those who need to sleep over. Then there is the lounge with large couches, TV, computers and free WiFi. Just to top that off there are drinks, fruit, snacks, sandwiches and hot food served up by a pair of lovely volunteers. I can't speak highly enough of the overwhelming hospitality and all of it is free!

Eventually we had to make our way back to the departure terminal to face the prospect of the security screening. What a surprise to be told that we didn't need to remove our boots, our belts could stay around our waist and electronic devices could stay safely in our carry-on. Yet another surprise at LAX was the ample seating at the departure gate and the boarding of the 747.

All this has been written well after the event and there are no photos to go with this story.

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 10:03 Archived in USA Comments (0)

A Late Night for Us

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

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We woke late this morning and staggered into the day. Managed a simple breakfast of a banana, two oranges, a tub of yogurt, a small muffin, two granola bars and a cup of coffee. Then spent the remainder of the morning writing up yesterday's activities. We've no plans for this afternoon so will use the time to have a siesta.

After 16:00 we walked down S Harbor Blvd to the Disney Shuttle Plaza. We were waiting for the 17:00 Anaheim Resorts Transportation (ART) Line 18 Bus. The ART Line 18 bus services a number of resorts and attractions along a 60 minute loop. Our destination was the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament located in Buena Park. These ART Shuttles are based on a Ford F550 truck and are designed for economy of space but not for comfort. When the bus arrived we were the only passengers for the 25 minute trip to the Medieval Times castle.

We arrived at the venue well before opening time and there was a bit of a queue but it didn't take long to get things moving. We'd bought our tickets from the Discount Tours and Tickets store and we were required to convert our vouchers for proper tickets. The whole place was themed and all the staff dressed in appropriate period costumes. We were addressed as "Lords and Ladies" by the magnificently dressed Lord Chancellor who was the MC for the event. The ticket collector handed us two coloured plastic cards, our colour 'blue' and numbered 5.

Next we were handed cardboard crowns also coloured blue. The colour indicating the section of the stadium where we would be seated. Adorned with our crows we were directed to the forecourt, an area devoted to bars and gift shops and a growing number of people. For many it appeared to be a return visit and there were optional additional services such as being 'knighted' by the king and having your photo taken.

With less than 15 minutes to show time there's an announcement from the Lord Chancellor explaining how the entry and seating was to take place. Two sets of doors were opened one to the left and one to the right. Proceeding by crown colours each of the six were asked to make their way inside. I was amazed at the size of the auditorium and the arrangement of the seating. We found our colour and our table which consisted of a row of theatre style seats arranged as bleachers with a shelf/table for our plate.

The activities in the arena started pretty much on time and lasted for a full two hours. Horses, knights and pages demonstrated they skills all accompanied by great lighting effects and powerful sound. In front of each of us was a bowl and a plate made of a pewter like metal and a plastic mug. The 'serving wench' filled the mugs with a beverage of choice, water, soda or iced tea. Next came a large slice of garlic bread and a bowl of tomato bisque which was hot and very tasty. Activities in the arena continued uninterrupted.

Another visit by the 'serving wench', this time to deposit half a chicken on each plate, no utensils, so had to be finger food! It was quite a task to handle and demolish that piece of hot meat but it was delicious. Soon after the chicken delivery our 'serving wench' was back deftly dropping a roast potato and a cob of corn alongside the carnage of the chicken. It took some effort to do justice to the feast. Meanwhile, back in the area the knights have moved on from displays of horsemanship to mock battles. Sparks flew from clashing swords and lances smashed into many fragments as they jousted.

Our 'serving wench' returned to clear the 'table' and top up the drink mugs. With about half an hour to go and after a decent amount of time for the meal to settle she was back with a warm sweet pastry and cups of coffee. We paid $25 each for this outing and it was worth that for the meal alone, the 'show' was a massive extra bonus. Did we enjoy it ?? YOU BET !!

Exit from the stadium was quite orderly and I had time to visit the restroom before making our way to the ART bus-stop. There was no need to rush as we had about 20 minutes to spare. Right on time the bus pulled up and we were driven the 30 minutes back to the shuttle plaza at Disneyland. The ART one-day pass cost us $1 each from the Discount Tours and Tickets store

It was after 22:00 when we got back to the HoJo and I didn't have the energy to write this up so it is our last day here as I post this.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 10:07 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Disneyland All Day

Monday, 23 March 2015

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We took our time having a light breakfast and packed our jackets and water for the day at Disneyland. We left the HoJo at about 11:00 and walked about 10 minutes to the Disneyland entrance. There is a huge plaza and bus station to cross and then had our bags checked. Despite the 'early' hour there were already queues for rides and special events. Many of the signs indicating 30 to 40 minutes delay. We wandered somewhat aimlessly towards "Tomorrow Land" while marvelling at the many futuristic buildings and structures.

Inside the Innoventions building there were many futuristic displays and activities but all very dark and loud. We drifted along and found that Honda's ASIMO was due to perform at 12:30 so we stayed there and formed the head of another queue !! Once inside the theatre we were shown a short movie clip outlining the developments of robots over the ages. The curtains parted to reveal a stage set to look like a family room complete with the lady of the house and appropriate furniture and props. She introduced the start of the show as ASIMO walked into the room. He is recognised as the most advanced humanoid robot in the world. He's about 4 feet tall and weighs just over 50 Kg. He performed many tricky moves, kicked a football, walked up and down some stairs, danced and finally RAN across the stage at 6 kph. He's on show six times per day and was one of our highlights for the day, having seen him on TV is one thing, seeing him live is quite a different experience.

We found the Disneyland Railroad and took the train for a circuit of the park. We started at the Tomorrow Land station, there are only three other stops, Main Street, New Orleans Square and Mickey's Toontown. When we got off that train we found that we were close to the Monorail station and decide to try that too. This train makes a complete circuit of the complex including the adjoining California Adventure Park and the Disney Downtown shopping and hotel/resort area.

Toontown was a fun place featuring many of Disney's famous cartoon characters and some of the most unusual structures that truly look like they were lifted from the screen. This area is somewhat of a dead end with only one way in and out. Next was Fantasyland where we had another short 'rest' in the Theatre to watch the performance of the Magical Map. A wonderfully staged and presented show mixing song and dance and great film and live character interaction.

On through Frontier Land to see the Mark Twain Riverboat and the Sailing Ship Columbia. Once again the queues for these attractions stretched out for miles with a minimum of half hour waiting times. Adjoining this area was New Orleans Square, the main attraction being the restaurants.

As it was approaching the Parade time of 16:00 we headed in the wrong direction and had to do a U-turn to find our way to the Main Street area.
There were roped-off areas for people in wheelchairs and scooters. Elsewhere we were required to be seated - on the ground !?? Managed to squeeze in between a lady on a scooter and two refuse bins. Turned out to be pretty good spot. Mickey's Soundsational Parade was brilliantly staged and the costumes beautiful with the emphases being on the music of Disney cartoons and films. There were nine floats and many individual street level performers.

After an essential rest-room stop we wandered through one of the Emporiums and arrived at the 'Town Square' for a performance by a military style band. They played a number of tunes and then performed each of the 'marches' of the five US Military Services. Serving and retired members were encouraged to come forward. Just a small diversion. Most countries recognise three armed services, the US has the 'standard' three, Army, Navy and Air Force then adds the Marines and the Coast Guard. I'd not previously realised that being the case. The band then conducted the Flag Lowering Ceremony, playing Taps, the National Anthem and God Bless America.

Jenny still hadn't found those items to take back as presents so we went through the big shop on the right of Main Street. She still didn't find what she was looking for but I bought myself a great coffee mug. One of the themes around the park were various takes on Grumpy from the Seven Dwarfs, Jenny felt that the mug reflected my personality (hurt look). What almost more impressive was the packing material to protect our purchase. The mug finished up the size of a football.

I figured there were parts of Fantasyland we hadn't seen so I dragged Jenny back through there. By the time they were setting up for the 18:30 Parade we were done. Time to head for the exit where we elected to have our hand stamped, "Just In Case". In a final desperate attempt to 'find those items' I convinced Jenny that we should call in to Disney Downtown. An interesting area that eases one into the Disney thing without entering either of the ticketed parks. There was a huge store and Jenny found an appropriate 'item' but couldn't get it in the right size. Bugger !!

I decided that best way out of the area was in the opposite direction to the people coming in. Not a brilliant idea as they were coming in from a carpark and was HUGE !! Distances that were no big deal for cars and buses are quite daunting at the end of a long day for pedestrians. We managed to dodge the fences and locked gates and finally found ourselves in the real world but a long way from HoJo. It took another 30 minutes to make it to Mimi's Café where we collapsed in a booth. Didn't have the energy to cross the road to HoJo and unload the backpack and camera first.

A great and HUGE meal again. Between us we polished off five glasses of Diet Coke and almost the last of the fries on the plate. Staggered across the street to the HoJo and decided to just crawl into bed. We did stop to drop our gear and splash some water in the face. A long, 10 hours, and strenuous day with most of the time on our feet.

I wrote this on Tuesday morning based on my best recollection.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 11:27 Archived in USA Comments (1)

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