Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cleaning and Packing

Time for all good things to come to an end, the last night in the RV was spent cleaning the fridge out and clean the bathroom as it needed to be returned by 11am the next day.
The next morning on our way to Santa Fe Springs...the RV place, we went to Claremont to the street where I once lived 57 years ago...yes I am that old..

And our house was still there, for me it was quite a thrill to see it, and to know that the area has not descended to becoming just another 'hood' was nice to see.

We then..with Percy's help..navigated the LA Freeway system for one final time and said Farewell to 'The Beast' and we then taken by shuttle bus to our motel near LAX Airport.

We realised that we needed one more suitcase to return home with all our purchases so we caught a cab to Costco and got such a good deal on a set of 2 bags that we could do a little more shopping...which we did.

While we were waiting for a cab to take us back to the motel Grant commented on how our children 'really shouldn't allow us out'..

My only hope now is that I remembered everyone as over a seven week period it is easy to forget what has been purchased.

Highway 1

This Blog is just some of the photos we took during our drive down Highway 1 to show the diversity of scenery we saw over the two days of driving.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Full Circle

After spending 3 relaxing days at Tom and Colleens house just organising our packing and washing clothes and just sitting around talking with not having to drive anywhere, it was time to start our homeward journey.

We have travelled down to San Francisco and only stopped at the Stanford Shopping the person who had a request will have something to keep him warm during his convalescence... then we turned onto Highway 1 and we have seen the wonderful coastline and gritted our teeth as we wound around the mountainous coastline, then it took full concentration to drive the Freeway's of LA and tonight we are staying in the KOA at Pomona California, the suburb of my birth and tomorrow morning we will be cleaning out the van and returning it to the Rental Co. On the way we will drive by the house that I lived in as a newborn.

I have tried numerous times to add a photo to this entry but for some reason known only to the blog world it is not doing any for me tonight.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tahoe and Beyond

During the night it started to rain, usually that means its not going to be too cold, but not at Lake Tahoe and it was just above freezing and the temperature was 20deg. below normal. Being set up for summer, we just about froze and during the night I had put on sox, tracky daks, and my hoodie, and I was still cold. At about 5.30 am I thought I might get up but then I thought it would be warmer to stay in bed...then I thought it would be nice to get up and turn on the heater...what was that thought...HEATER ..yes we have a heater...WARMTH...shame the brain just doesn't work in the middle of the night...

We decided to catch the local Trolley Bus downtown and have a hot breakfast and we eventually found somewhere to eat and had to give our name and wait 20 minutes until a table was ready. After breakfast we wandered around and shopped some more and bought ourselves a warm jacket each and some gloves.

We were going to take a ride in the chairlift but due to the possibility of lightning in the area it wasn't operating, so we found a cosy PUB and had a few drinks and a BLT and then walked back to the campground. We then enjoyed the rest of the afternoon doing nothing in particular and had an early night as we planned to leave for my cousin Tom's house on the other side of the mountains. He lives in the foothills of the Sierra Madre' Mountains which is still pretty high up.

Last night we saw the skunk that comes up to the house to eat the cat food and we didn't get to see the bear that usually comes around on Rubbish Night and knocks over the Bins, and the children are not allowed out at dawn or dusk as there are Coyotes, Mountain Lions, Foxes, Bears and Lynx(Bobcats).. so once it got near dark I just stayed inside...who said I was chicken.....ME
Today we have spent the morning packing our bags to see how we are going to manage all we have purchased. We should just be OK with no spare room and only one large heavy (62lb)box that will either be shipped or excess baggage.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

California Dreamin

We arrived in South Lake Tahoe after dark last night and all I have had time to do so far is dream. We just about froze to death as we are high up into the mountains, and we really are not set up for cold weather. We are having a day off driving today to sight see, but its a miserable day, so it will be indoor sightseeing.
We have seen some beautiful scenery in the last few days. With those last few photos I had previously posted, they were just the tip of the iceberg. It becomes sensory overload after a while.

The photo of me out on the rock was real, i had to climb down..fairly easy if a bit slippery...and then just walk out onto a rock that had at least a 1000 ft drop on 3 sides, then climb back up...quite difficult due to it being slippery. Grant elected to be the photographer and stay WAY back.

In this photo he got me to wriggle backwards and then lean back.. I told him to make sure I wasn't too close....good thing he likes having me around.

After we left the Grand Canyon we decided to drive to Las Vegas for the night as it would keep us ahead of schedule....To get to Vegas we wanted to drive Highway 93 and we kept seeing signs that no trucks or commercial vehicles were to take that Route as Hoover Dam is Under Construction. We just kept hoping that it wouldn't mean us and of course it didn't.

That's where the Homeland Security was there to inspect vehicles. We had to open the outside storage and allow them to inspect inside the van too.
The Dam is a Huge Tourist attraction in itself and they are creating it in a way that it looks like it belongs there and is not some crass eyesore. We were really impressed.
While I was in the gift shop buying a magnet the guy who owns it is a Queenland boy and he slipped quickly in to his Aussie accent while talking to me.

We then headed through Boulder, the only Nevada City that has a No Gambling Law and on to Vegas......the KOA we were planning to stay at was no longer there.. so we were right in the middle of The Strip and in our big rig looking for an RV Park...Thank God for Percy...that's the name of our GPS, he found us a very nice place close by called the Oasis RV Resort.

Next morning we started out on a sunny day and went into the desert, dressed for a hot day...well it rained all the way and got colder and colder.

We both agreed that if there was one state that we would NOT want to live in over here it would be Nevada... And seeing nothing but desert and desert mountains for hours on end gets very boring.

We did see a huge area that was owned by the US Military and Grant said that it would be ammunition dumps...I went for miles.

The divide between the Poor and the Middle Class is huge and the poor really are poor, we have seen nothing like it in Oz.

We still had to get the obligatory photos in the desert but they were really quick stops as I was freezing.

We then drove up over the mountains to get to Lake Tahoe and the road way is cut into the side of the mountain and the drop over the side would not be one you would want to take.

We did find a place to stop halfway up to let the cars behind us pass, and see a beautiful river that was heading down.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Driving Through Four States

Here are some photo's of our last 3 days driving.. We saw The Painted Desert, The Petrified Forest, The Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. Our RV was inspected by the Homeland Security before we were allowed to pass into the Hoover Dam Area and then we were allowed to drive on through .

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Great Plains

Last night we stayed at a place called Fort Smith Arkansas and I found some new friends, and i thought they were cute...until...they wanted more of me than I was willing to give.

We had an early night as we had a big drive planned for today across the great plains of Texas.

We had a nice breakfast at a place called the Cow Poke, it was next to a Gas Station and nothing else for miles

All in all we drove 560 miles today and managed to have our leisurely breakfast, do some grocery shopping, call in to a western store and see a museum along the old Route 66

Time to say goodnight until I am online again

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

West of the Mississippi

Just before we crossed the Mighty Mississippi River, we went to Graceland and boy do they know how to grab your money...but if I had a money spinner like that I probably would do the same thing.

At least I went there, the last time I went Elvis was still alive and in residence....unfortunately the day Kathi and I went from New Albany to Memphis to see the mansion, Elvis happened to drive through New Albany and stop at a local store.....

Now we are heading out the old Route 66 all the way west. We made good time so we passed Little Rock. where we planned to stop, and drove to Fort Smith, so we made it all the way across Arkansas.

Tomorrow we drive across Oklahoma and Texas and into New Mexico and if we make good time we might make it into Arizona. If that happens to all those that scoffed at my itinerary...we will be 2 days ahead of the plan....

We will see what happens...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Into the Past

After a brilliant night out in Nashville we got an early start to go to Mississippi..We decided to go via some small towns instead of mostly freeways to we had a lovely drive through the Tennessee Valley.

It was so nice that it started to take longer than we thought so we then got onto the Natchez Trace and we could then travel faster. It was still beautiful but just a more direct way to travel.

Arrived at Aunt Marguarite's mid afternoon and just felt wonderful to arrive where I had spent so much time when I was 20 years old...John Fletcher arrived and he is just the same as he was back then, Harriet, Joseph, Rob and Julie Ann...then came Steve, Linda and Jay...Some I knew, some I didn't and some had not even been born when I was last here

During the day we went all around New Albany and it has changed allot since I was last here as the now have Kentucky Fried, Taco Bell and a WallMart.

John Fletcher took me to the New Albany Cemetery to see some more ancestors graves and also some extra special family member who I was close too.

Then we went back to the house and sat around and told stories about when we were young and had a really good laugh as Aunt Marguarite hadn't heard most of them. she really enjoyed it and so did we.

Saturday night we went out for supper to a great new restaurant that had a buffet that had all good southern food such as fried catfish, frogs legs, chicken, turnip greens, creamed corn(not as good as mine), peach cobbler and iced tea...well that's pretty much what I ate. After supper we went for Coffee and Cake at Steve and Linda's house and had a great to bed about midnight.

On Sunday morning we had a slow start to the day then John Fletcher arrived over and he and I went for a drive to WallMart. Just as we were driving buy the church, the bolt that holds the spare tire to the underside of the truck, snapped in half and the spare dropped onto the road with a loud bang. It sounded like we had hit something, but I knew we had not, but some guy waved us down and then john Fletcher saw the tire on the road in the rear vision...

After shopping we went by his place and then out to the farm. It is a beautiful peaceful retreat that Uncle Hardy loved to spend his time.

We had an open house on Sunday afternoon for all the family who wanted to drop by for a visit...and I saw the rest of my cousins with whom I had visited with in Georgia in 1970 and in Colorado in 1972.. needles to say we had all changed just a bit.

There was so much food that I don't think Grant or I will need to eat next week.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Doing Nashville

We had a mid morning start to our Nashville day as Susan(our new found friend), who works nights, needed some she arrived around 10am and we went to Ernest Tubbs Music Store...for the un-informed (that includes me)he was a Country Singer. Grant purchased a few CD's and I, some magnets.

Next Susan took us to a Western Boot Store where the locals shop and I did find a pair of really nice boots, plus a shirt, jeans, belt, and fringed leather jacket. And I look SHARP if I do say so myself....Grant decided on the pose as I only stand around with my foot on a bench when no one is watching.

Grant got a belt, jeans and 2 happy with his R M Williams so didn't want any boots.

Shopping takes a while so after that we went into Downtown for lunch at the Wild Horse and they have a big screen playing Country clips when there is no live entertainment. They have some full size horse statues attached to the ceiling to make it look like they are at full gallop.

We drove around after lunch for a bit to see the sites then went back to the RV for a while as Susan had to start work..While we were driving around, Grant suggested that she do what she was doing for us as a business as it was so good to have a local helping us...we wouldn't have had as much fun if left to our own devices.

At 7pm she left work just to collect us a deliver us to our evenings entertainment so that we wouldn't have to get a nice is that..

She showed us where to walk to get to the Blue Bird Cafe and then dropped us at the shopping Centre nearby so we filled in time looking at all the electronics..I have discovered that I have become a GEEK..

The Blue Bird was fabulous.. it was a night for some SOUL and the singer?songwriters were great

The photo was taken by the phone as we decided not to take the camera and then ..of course ..regretted it.
We got a CD by each of the three performing artists and then Susan arrived to take us back in time to hear 2 more songs from each of the performers.
So if any of you people are about to head to Nashville and want a more local view of the city...we know who to get in touch with.

Friday, September 14, 2007

G'Day Y'All

This is your special correspondent Gruntly and it would appear that my first column resulted in an overwhelming response. To the 105 people who responded I will apologise to those who I have not responded to and to those who left offensive messages, bless your hearts. To those who contributed intelligent and thought provoking responses, this is not really one of those Blogs and I suggest that you reply to either the New York Post ( for those in the USA), or The Australian for those in Australia.

So lets get on with it.


One avid reader responded with corrections to my special correspondence tag "G Day Ya oorl" and I have begrudgingly accepted that it should the revised "G'Day Y'All. So from now on that's is what I will call my column. Thank you Larry for your in put Bless your heart.

The difference between a hissy fit and conniption fit is that the hissy fit is for sheilers and the conniption fit is performed by bokes. I will not accept any more correspondence on this one or I will have one.

Contrary to all those who thought there actually is a difference in the way water goes down the plug, guess what ? your wrong. In both hemisheres they go down either clockwise or anti clockwise (the opposite to clockwise for the special lady who did not know what that was). If you want to check for yourselves then go to "Myth Busters".

To those who have expressed ignorance to who Tony "Stacka" Stanford is I will enlighten you. He is a very good friend who I regard as "SPECIAL". He is over 50 and looks like Paul Hogan with out a face lift. I will accept that the USA brothers and sisters would not know him but to have my own "kin" ( that's family for the unknowing) not To know who he is is a little disconcerting.


I wont repeat the excellent work of our editor, bless her heart but I will add some insightfull observations of my own.


Now these little noisy critters are every where and are noisy during the day as opposed to the Australian crickets which are active at night.


In the states and counties that we have been to so far the trees appear greener and are generally fuller and taller than what we are used to. This makes for pleasant driving.


Skunks are definitely something to avoid. Some folk hunt and eat squirrels, deer, possum and just about anything else that comes out of the woods but you would have to be brain dead to even shoot a skunk as it is a total waste of ammunition. Ones that have been struck by cars leave a discernible after taste as you pass them and even the crows and other carrion leave them to the ants.

Country Music

I am really enjoying the country music that is coming out of nearly every radio station in the country. As most of these stations are FM we have to change the station about every 10 miles. Consequently we have heard and now know the words to "She's my Fire Cracker" and "All my Exes live in Texas now I hang my hat in Tennessee." and numerous other great hits.

Van Info

In the USA they don't have small caravans as we know them. The vehicles on the roads and in the parks we are staying at are monsters. I saw one RV the size of a bus which must have been 45ft long towing a boat longer that itself. This was surprising enough but the driver and his wife must have been over 70.

Fuel consumption is something else. The RV we have, which is a small one at 27ft , has a 7.4ltr motor and gets 7.5 miles per gallon. It has a 38 gallon tank and luckily the fuel cost is way down on what we are used to. The cost is usually $2.80 per gallon compared to our $1.40 per litre. This equates to about A$6.00 per gallon.

As I have been unable to submit my material concerning the reunion on time the editor has told me to get off her Blog. So that's whatI will do so until next time

G'Day Y'All

PS. Y'All come back now Y'hear.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nashville Cats

We are in Nashville and we have met a very nice local lady who drove us downtown lastnight and told us where to go and how to act like locals so we wouldn't get ripped off. She also told us the best place to visit and hear some really good music so we couldn't get seats for the fist night here so we have some for tonight at the Blue Bird Cafe..cant wait for that.

They have this building here they call The Batman Tower...for obvious reasons. We went into allot of Boot shops and I know what I would like but do you think I can find Ladies boots in my size......NO but whats new about that.

I think I will look for my boots in Texas, might have more luck there.

After we wandered for a while we went to BB Kings Club for some Blues and dinner It was great and then we decided on an early night so I could do my Blogs and a big day for today.

We are going to have lunch with Susan, our local new friend, and do a few little spots that have country music basically 24/7. And the a big one tonight at the Blue Bird..
Might find some boots today if I am lucky.