Friday, August 31, 2007

Dinner Out and a Quiet Day

We had a great dinner out with Jan and Larry's youngest daughter Meg and her beautiful daughter Chloe. Meg would love to go to Oz for a holiday, and wants the girls to show her a young persons view of Oz.....

This has been our second day of rest and it really was needed, allot of walking on pavement isn't so good for the 'old boy's' feet.

I made the most of the time to clean out the beast, learn how to put a movie clip on my blog...did you like it???

Read all the comments again that you all are adding to the blog...thank you!!

for those who don't know, if you go to the bottom of each entry I make and CLICK on Comments you can add something or just say Hi. By the way which LYN left the comment,please as I know 3...just say where you live if you don't want to leave your name...I'll know.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Day in DC

To have our day in Washington DC we needed to set the alarm early, 5.30am, so that we could be driven by Jan(which was extremely hospitable of her) to Fredricksburg to catch the commuter train-VRE to Union Station in DC. The ride took 1 1/2 hours and we arrived at 8.45am.
Union Station is glorious. It has 2 large halls that are parallel to each other and the second one consists of three levels, which has shops, restaurants, movie complex and a food hall. We bought tickets on a Hop On Hop Off Tour- Old Town Trolley and had a while to wait for departure so we looked for a place to eat.
We had breakfast at Johnny Rockets (not a patch on the Castle Hill one) and planned our day.

The first stop on our tour was to visit the Seat of Government...The Capitol.. We arrive and were assigned a time for our guided tour and we only had to wait for 15 minutes after the first time slot allocated. They have the tours every 5 minutes to allow time for security to check all bags before entry into the building. The main entry hall is called the Rotunda and it is amazing. I do have movies that I will put together when we get home for anyone interested . Then we saw the Statue room.

There is a law in DC that states ...No statue over 18 feet tall as the statue on to of the Capitol is a Lady called Freedom and no statue to any person is to be greater than Freedom....I like that..

When we left the building we exited the door where the President Incumbent exits to stand in front of the Nation to swear The Oath Of Office to become President.

After the tour of the Capitol we hopped back onto the trolley and did a drive past the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the WWII Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The difference between a Memorial and a Monument is that a Monument is planned while a person is Alive and a Memorial is planned after their death.

Next Stop was a couple of Smithsonian Museums. The Smithsonian has 15 different Museums and the one we chose to see was the Native American One. The whole building is constructed with no corners as the belief in their culture is that Bad Spirits can hide in corners so - no corners no bad spirits..
The photo I have included of the native costume is the one that I liked the best. Not as ornate as some but I love tassels

After the Native American Museum the 2nd last stop was the White House Visitor Centre which for security reasons is no longer situated at the White House. We did some shopping for some white house souvenirs and the we went the the last stop for the day at the DC Welcome Centre where I picked up a few more magnets and a polo shirt for myself. For those of you reading this who may remember a pair of jeans that I had bought on my trip to the States in very much loved Stars and Stripes ones........well I can't find any jeans so far but to compensate it is a polo shirt this time.

After a great day sightseeing we got off the Trolley at Union Station and purchased our tickets to go back to Fredericks burg. We followed the sign to get the correct platform and a really nice man somehow figured out that the train we wanted was the VRE and told us that the sign was misleading and we needed a different track and that he travelled on the VRE also. They had absolutely no seating in the hall above the platform and after standing around for 15 minutes we went to the platform and there are no seats there either. We were happy to see the train 25 minutes later to be able to board and sit finally.

A great day was had by both of us but I do think I have worn Grant out as we are having a slower day this stage it is an unknown as to what may unfold..

Here is a short clip I took in DC. I had tried to upload one in a previous Blog but had had no luck.....enjoy..

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Virginia Side Trip

We had an early start on Sunday morning after the football and went to Richmond Va to have a late breakfast with Jan and Larry's eldest daughter, her husband and their two gorgeous girls. It was really nice to meet them and I continually ask all the members of the family we meet, to come to Australia to visit with all of us 'Down Under'

This house was owned by the Eppes family who built their house on the land that was granted by Royal Decree to their ancestor Francis Eppes I who was one of my ancestors. During the Civil War, Ulysses S Grant made this are his base of operations during the Battle for Petersburg.

It was amazing to be in the area where my Ancestors who were among the first families to live in America, to have walked all those hundreds of years ago.

On Sunday evening after we checked in at the motel we went out for drinks at Hooters and it was a really busy night there as the World Championship Wrestling was on the big Screen. While we were waiting for a table I saw 4 young men who were carrying Championship Belts, so I went over and asked them if they had won them in a Fight. Grant was amazed that I had just fronted up to these Bro's from the Hood, and later Larry said he was ready to run. Anyway the boy I spoke to probably just thought I was a silly old lady from Australia and was very nice to me. He told me that they had bought them. I was totally amazed
Anyway when the wrestling started they put them on.....I still cant believe that anyone would buy Belts and wear the. like they had won them...To me its something that a 10 year old would do.

We started out the day after breakfast at the motel to do a CD Guided Tour of the Petersburg National Monument Battlefield. It started at the Visitor Centre where we heard a talk by a young volunteer who was a History Major at College. He really helped Grant and myself understand the area we would be looking at as the day progressed.

Then we went via car to the various Battery Positions along the field of battle. We saw where they fought and lived .

The cabins were for the soldiers and there were 4 to a cabin with one double bunk, so two to a bed.....cosy !!!

This area is the Crater that was caused by the Confederate Ammunition that was stored underground, being blown up by the Federal forces. They tunnelled under the ground for 500ft and exploded the lot. This was in the movie Cold Mountain.

We stopped for a late lunch at Hawk's Bar-B-Q, in the Hood and any fast food diner that requires security grills and has posters for Bail Bondsmen in their serving windows, is an interesting place to be.

On our way home after 2 fabulous days sightseeing we stopped off in Hanover to see where Patrick Henry more than likely, practise Law as he lived in the nearby area.

Tomorrow is a day off so there will be no Blogs for about 2 days as we are going into DC with the commuters for 2 days in a row and back out in the evenings.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Big Game

So much of this trip is visiting my, as we say in Oz, Rello's(relatives), that I decided to take Grant to see an American Football Game. So I researched on the net before we came away and saw that there was one city that would be holding a Pre Season Game and that was Washington DC. So I purchased 4 tickets and we went with Jan and Larry last Saturday to see the Washington Redskins play the Baltimore Ravens...

To get into the spirit of things, Jan had purchased Redskin T Shirts so we could look the part. Grant wanted to do the body paint, but it was a good thing we didn't have any as he would have sweated it all off anyway.

The game was due to start at 8pm so we needed to get away by 4.15pm. We found our parking station about 2 miles from the stadium and our parking fee included bus transport to and from the car park....They were utilising office car parks which is very smart and had people everywhere to tell us where to go and park.

We had taken a picnic dinner with us and we watched the party start. Everyone gets there early and has 'Tailgate Parties' ie they lower the tailgate on their Utes and BBQ etc. They start all this up to 3 hours before the game.

We arrived at the stadium and no bags or Esky's allowed, so we had our cameras and poncho's, thunderstorms expected.....

Sat around for a while and watched the warm up and interviews happening before the game and about 7.45pm we were all asked to leave the stadium and go to the concourse area due to weather concerns.

Tens of thousands of people were standing an many of those were circling around. It was like being in a great big washing machine. It was extremely hot and humid. We stood for about 3/4 hour and the wind came up so at least we cooled down. Then we were glad we were right down on the ground level as the storm hit. Lightening hit the stadium and the rain came in buckets. Apparently it was a level 5 storm which is pretty much a level 1 hurricane.

After it passed we had to wait a while for safety concerns, then we were allowed back in. They played National Anthem and for me that was great and the game started at about 9.30pm.

As it was so late the half time entertainment was cancelled and the 2nd half(3rd qtr) started. Just after Redskins scored a touchdown which put them in the lead--YAY--we had another lightning strike which put out the big lights...we were once again asked to go to the concourse and we just took off running for our bus as it was already 11.30pm and had a long way to go back to Jan and Larry's.
We had a great night and I actually wouldn't have changed a minute of it as I am sure I will remember it allot better than just going to watch a game.

Here is a photo's for Melissa especially.

I put as many BUTTS into the photo as I could for you........

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Drive North

We left Tom and Eva's house on Thursday morning after peak hour to head north and we planned to drive to a town called Florence South Carolina. Grant is getting used to "The Beast" now and we are getting along a bit faster than on our trip to Jacksonville.

Well, in spite of Grant's excellent driving skills we didn't quite make Florence because I have decided to collect refrigerator magnets of each state we pass through on our journey. Even though Grant patiently (true) left the freeway four times to find a shop that might sell them, we got through Georgia without one.

That slowed us down somewhat and Grant got a bit tired so we stopped early in a KOA and as we went into the Office to check in....LOW and BEHOLD they had one only Georgia magnet left for sale....YAY.

We had an early night as we were both exhausted from our wonderful, fantastic, superb time in Jax....and as we have no TV in the RV and I couldn't connect to their WiFi , managed to get 10 hours sleep......even I slept 10.

We got on the road early and headed of to Ranoake Rapids in North Carolina and we travelled so well that we decide to call Larry at work and see if it would be convenient if we drove to their place a day early...which we did and here we are.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Beast (friendly)

Here it is, the method of our journey, it is parked in the lot at the Kennedy Space Centre. We were the first to arrive before the gates opened for the tourists.....I had a great time.

Unfortunately Grant got struck down with a rotten cold and was feeling miserable so I told him he could go back to bed and sleep for a few hours while I do the tourist thing..

It was great I took the bus tour that is called "NASA Up Close and Personal" and we saw the longest runway in the world and the control tower that is the least stressful due to lack of traffic as there is only 1 landing at a time and no departing traffic. We saw the various launchpads from the early rockets to the Apollo Series. All very interesting.

When the tour was over I hurried back to the RV and woke up Grant so that we could go to Jacksonville.

We arrived at Tom and Eva's house and it was all just so exciting and we have talked and talked for three days so that is why there have been no current Blog to read...It will happen again as I just get too busy to do one every day...
To our surprise Tom's daughter Laura was here also as she had come down from Kentucky.
We are all just having the best time.
It is my birthday today and Grant has just made me a Strawberry Daiquiri. so I will blog again another day.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Miami to Mims

Well we have arrived at our first campground near Cape Canaveral....What a day!!!

It started out great with a slow leisurely breakfast and getting packed up to leave the motel. All great so far, pay the final check and get the bellhop to collect our bags and get the taxi. We even got all our tipping worked out OK and tipped the bellhop. THEN the bellhop, must have known the 2nd taxi driver waiting in line and put us in his cab.

Thats where all went wrong...we gave him the written address and it was 103rd we near the sign to 103rd St, Grant said we needed to turn off, he said NO he knew the way and that was wrong. Grant and he argued for another 15 minutes all the while we are travelling further than where we wanted to go. He kept saying that it was another suburb. I called the RV people and she told me a hotel near the address, so the driver had to take us back all the time trying to tell us we had told him to go to the further out suburb........meanwhile if you have ever seen Grant getting angry and know what I mean.

When we got near the pickup place we were both looking for the sign and we missed it so he needed to turn around and come back...which seemed to be a big problem as WE SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT.

We paid him what we thought he should get....NOT what the meter read and NO TIP.

And Grant said that he is sure that there are allot of NICE Cubans in Miami, but we didn't get to meet many of them, just the nice girls dancing on the tables at Mangoes.

So we are at the campground and it is time for bed..................

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Still Miami

As I write this entry, Grant is snoring beside me as he has been hit by either Jet lag or a heavy cold....BUT he was well enough earlier this evening and we grabbed a cab and went to South Beach where everyone who visits Miami should go and enjoy.
We wondered along the sidewalk that was just Cafe after Cafe, and finally decided on Cuban food and ate at a great place and watched the weird and wonderful world pass by. Its amazing how many staff work in the one Cafe.

We wandered a bit further and were about to head away from the Cafe area and we heard some terrific Latin music and we found it coming from MANGOES which is a Cafe and Bar with live music and dancing so we stayed for quite a while and had a couple of drinks. It was excellent.

We then grabbed another cab back to the motel and had a friendly Taxi driver, whose English was good, so it was interesting to talk to a local.
We have now finished our sightseeing in Miami and tomorrow we collect the RV, or Motorhome or however you the reader wants to refer to it.
Then the real adventure begins.........first lesson will be driving on the Right side of the road

Friday, August 17, 2007

IN THE USA - Miami

Well here we are after 35 years of wishing, 3 years of planning, 1 year of organising and 19 hours of travelling.

We found that entering the US an easy and friendly experience. Not quite as smooth as entering New Zealand but certainly better than we had imagined that it would be. The only impossible part of the process was collecting our luggage.
The slowest part of our travel was going through the security for our internal flights...we are really glad that we are driving across the country and not doing allot of flying.

After 12 hours of sleep we headed off on the metro mover (overhead mono rail) and headed into downtown Miami for the first morning, did allot of walking and Grant managed to get some really big blisters on his feet.

I was surprised that so many of Miami's people only speak Spanish so we had some communication problems, or we just ended up in the wrong part of town.

In the afternoon we went on a tour boat around the Bay of Biscayne and saw the Port of Miami and the house where the Rich and Famous live.
At the end of our first day we were too tired to eat out so we stayed at the motel and had an early night.

Day 2 in Miami we had an early breakfast and then headed out to go on an Air boat Ride on the Everglades. A tour bus came and picked us up at the Motel and then gave us a hair raising drive out to the Trading Post where they have Guides who gave us a great trip. We saw small Alligators, Black Vultures, Turtles, various Fish and Birds.