A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Jochester71

Hawaii and the shrinking bathers!

The final instalment.....


View USA and Canada 2015 on Jochester71's travel map.

Well, a few weeks before we left home I discovered I could book return flights to Hawaii from LA for $11 each (and some frequent flyer points!)....we discussed it like grown ups...it took about 5 seconds and decided to extend our trip by a week! That added another day to Disneyland and then Hawaii.

Mick had been to Hawaii years ago- and pretty much just saw the beach at Waikiki. I had also done Hawaii years ago and saw the beach at Waikiki, but I had done a tour that saw me (as a backpacker, on her last leg, who had $10 USD to her name!) eat a lot of pineapple samples, macadamias and coffee! I was of course in a backpackers and to say the budget was tight would be making light of how seriously tight it was! I was fairly excited to be able to stay in a hotel, that i only dreamt of last time!

The catch with the flights was flying LA to Portland, staying in a hotel close by for a few hours, then flying direct to Honolulu. The hotel I booked to sleep in was close to the airport. Best point. To say it was dodgy would be an understatement- but none of us got bedbugs so it wasn't too bad!

Our arrival in Honolulu was met with that familiar hot, tropical weather! Yay! another adventure to embark on together as a family. We checked in, discovered that ABC stores (they are like corner delis, souvenir shops, and bottle shops rolled into one!) are still on every corner!

We went for a walk up the beach, down the street, a swim (yes, apparently the altitude of flying so much ha shrunk my bathers........weird phenomenon!) and basked in the glory that is Honolulu!

Waikiki Beach doesn't lend itself to sunrise shots-so I planned on sleeping in (not very successfully) and the sunset on the first night was overcast and not a great photographic event, so camera took a rest while I focused on relaxing and having fun!

The next morning, as a part of Jacks birthday present, I had booked for us to fly to Hawaii (the Big Island), helicopter over the active volcanoes, then bus around the island. We were to be up at 3am for a 4am departure.........

Well, I must say this was a trip I'd recommend to everyone. Mick is of the view it was better than the Grand Canyon. To see the lava (and magma) red hot just under the Earths' surface, the sulphur rising, the amazing views.....the lava flow from the air (seeing the latest eruptions, and the new land it created as it met the sea) was breathtaking. Walking on lava (well and truly set) and feeling was surreal. An amazing island. I didn't know that the Hawaiian Islands are moving 8 inches per year in a NE directions. Eventually the top islands will disappear and new islands will be formed at the bottom. The Islands are quite remarkable- of the 16 possible weather conditions accepted worldwide, the Big Island has 14- clearly missing arid desserts!

It is hot, wet and they have the highest rainfall in the world. Over 300 wet days per year! Walking through a lava tube, seeing a crater up close and personal, seeing the remnants of a scientists clothing, who lost both feet in lava, all quite incredible.

The waterfalls, the trees, we all loved it! We didn't get back to the hotel until 10.30pm that night so it was a long day. This is where Jacks ADHD is an advantage! He doesn't get tired so just keeps going! We were very tired though!

Shopping, swimming and relaxing were Sunday, and then Monday it was raining, so we hired a Mustang (yes, I got to see and sit in and drive my new car!) to drive around the island of O'Ahu! Dole Pineapple Plantation (and we did the worlds largest maze!), the North Shore (Mick wanted to see the waves!), the mountain with their waterfalls cascading down and the rich green lush vegetation, the rainbows, the views- beautiful.
We stopped for fried shrimp and fish on the side of the road and had a blast!

We had dinner at Dukes, named after the famous surfer who made surfing what it is (say most people!) and given it is right on the beach, watched the most amazing sunset......to say i was a bit dark having not bought my camera to dinner would be an understatement. I was devastated. BUT it forced me to just "BE".......and enjoy the moment!

We discussed just staying for another couple of weeks, we actually did this a lot throughout our trip, and thought we should just accept that we were going home the following day. By this time, packing had become somewhat of a forte of all three of us and we dutifully, and with heavy heart, packed one last time.

Flights to LA, then Sydney, then Perth then Geraldton followed. I will say that once you've flown First Class, even Business class is hard.......not as hard as cattle class, but still hard! (yes, i hear the sympathy!)

So what follows are some of the Hawaiian pics!

To say that this has been a holiday of a lifetime does little to convey just how awesome this trip was. We saw and did everything we wanted to, and could possibly have done in 6 and a half weeks. We had seen so much that some became a blur, some we forgot about until I recapped some pics, and some we couldn't get out of our heads.

I've always believed that there are two kinds of people- those that love to travel, and those that don't. I know people who argue that they love Australia, or Perth, or Geraldton, so why should they travel anywhere else. Then there are those that travel, and their eyes widen, and their education grows, and they come home, truly appreciating where we live, how lucky we are, and how beautiful our home is. We love travelling. I in fact, couldn't have imagined 10 years ago that I'd travel so much. And, i still love it, savour it, build my memories and cherish each moment, each day, each week that we travel to amazing places.

Mick and I decided early on we would pick the places we wouldn't go back to. That didn't quite go as successfully as we had hoped. The only place we wouldn't go to again was LA- its just a big city. I just don't get why everyone loves it- maybe I totally missed the point. Canada is beautiful, from East to West. I LOVE Canada- and we plan to (when Jack moves out!) go back, with a car, and just drive.

The Aurora was something that is not easily conveyed to people. It was surreal, angelic and unworldly. Memories I will hold dear.

And travelling with my family? Well, Mick and I decided we travel well together- we didn't argue, we soaked everything up, expressed a lot of gratitude furore circumstances, experiences and being able to show and teach Jack a whole new set of experiences. Jack, the kid who hates reading and writing and the mention of the word 'school'- he soaked up everything like a little sponge. Im a firm believer that the education he received during our trip was not able to be replicated in a classroom. Ever. He loved it- saw so many things and definitely got sick of us saying "We've waited 44 years to see this and you get to see it and you're only 9!"....we kind of threw that in a lot!!!

So, favourite place? Impossible- there were many. Least favourite- dealt with above. any regrets? None. Would we do it again? Show me the money!

They say, that the way to keep that holiday high is to always have another one planned when you get home. So on 12 December we embark on a road trip with our caravan to Tasmania for 6 weeks. Yes, I get to spend a whole month in my beautiful State of birth. To eat fresh raspberries, marvel at the beauty and hug family. I just might do a blog there too!

So if you are still reading, thanks for coming on our trip of a lifetime- it truly was remarkable!
xx
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Posted by Jochester71 15:17 Archived in USA Comments (3)

Disneyland- the happiest place on Earth!

sunny 28 °C
View USA and Canada 2015 on Jochester71's travel map.

Yes! We are all big kids inside- if we really let ourselves do it!
Arriving into Disneyland (via a 6am flight from Vegas!) was ok- we were pretty excited and so hit the ground running! Given there are two parks side by side- Disneyland and California Park- we decided to hit Disneyland first. It was not long until Jack and I bought our first pair of ears. Mick wasn't convinced, and so looked outta place ! Everyone from babies to 80 year olds wear ears. There are well over 50 different types of ears, a set for every occasion, and a must have accessory!
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Disneyland, therefore there are a lot of special things happening.It was also October......Halloween month and so the halloween decorations, ears and T-shirts were everywhere. As well as a lot of patrons dressed up.
I simply lost count at how many Elsa's were there.......hundreds!
We had four days there- so did Disneyland, California Park, Disneyland then California Park for day 4.
Jack absolutely loved it. Going from ride to ride- dragging Mick onto a couple! i loved it, and certainly Jack did!
We were super kids for 4 days, I think we need to be big kids more often!
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Posted by Jochester71 19:19 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Grand Canyon

Saturday 3rd October we headed to Grand Canyon. We flew out of Boulder to the canyon, helicoptered down into the canyon, did a boat trip down the Colorado River and then helicoptered out again. We then did the Skywalk and flew back to Vegas.
No photos will ever do the canyon justice. It is huge, majestic and beyond belief.
Here are a few snaps!_02A5625.jpg_02A5640.jpg_02A5649.jpg_02A5652.jpg_02A5672.jpg_02A5689.jpg90__02A5720.jpg_02A5726.jpg_02A5745.jpg_02A5764.jpg_02A5768.jpgGOPR0457.jpg

Posted by Jochester71 19:59 Comments (0)

Las Vegas

Living the Life of a High Roller (rolling out of bed on the 34th floor!)

sunny 26 °C
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Well, the first time I have ever thought I was going to be in trouble, was on the flight from Washington DC to Las Vegas (LV). It was so rough, my head was rammed in to the window! We were holding onto the seats in front of us. Of course, Jack was on the iPad, and I doubt he even noticed! It was terrifying!
So when the bright lights of the city in the middle of a flat desert were to be seen, I was rather happy! We were met off the plane by Mark, our driver who would drive us to the Bellagio. Jack started to walk out and all you could see was limousines.....then he started...I want to go in a limo, its not fair, i hate my life, blah blah blah. We dutifully followed Mark to the hotel car.......yes! A limousine, and Jack was elated! He was so excited I think at that moment, it was the highlight of his trip! Like royalty, we headed to the Bellagio to check in. They couldn't find our booking, until the sweet lady said, oh, you're a VIP, your check in is in a private area, follow me. Ooooookayyyyyy. VIP? I have no clue what you're on about, but we will follow, however you'll be disappointed when you realise you've made a mistake! off we went. Of course, we were VIPs, and we had been upgraded to a PENTHOUSE suite. A Penthouse, in Vegas, with our travel pants on (ok, they were, by this stage, our fat pants!) and were were staying in a PENTHOUSE........reality hit, WITH A 9 YEAR OLD! hehe
well, you know when you get somewhere, and they are all fancy, and the person showing you to your room explains the features, and you are like, yep, all good, we will be fine......and then they politely excuse themselves and leave, an the moment the door shuts, you look at each other and go WTF? OH my freakin god, this is amazing, and laugh loudly that you're living this life and staying in this place? Yes, well lets just say, while the three of us were running around (yes it was big enough to run around!) screaming at all the features, and the views, and the fact that we were just ordinary people staying in an extraordinary place, that is, until Jack discovered something he'd not seen before, and wanted to know what it was, and how it worked and what happens if you just turn that thing there.........yes, a bidet! hehe

So, given it was AFL Grand Final night (for us) we flipped open the Macbook, logged in, and.........yep, bed was looking pretty good! After pinching ourselves a few more times, we fell asleep!

On the 34th floor of the hotel, you get to see a magnificent view of the fountain (basically the lake out the front does fountain shows to music every 15 mins, or so, and these jets shoot water higher than the hotel (36 floors high) and it is incredible, beautiful and those babies are loud when they're pumping water that high!

Last time I was in LV, was in 2003. I was backpacking and on a severe budget (I had no money!) and so I saw the fountain from the road. That was all I could afford. There was no way I could even afford to walk up the driveway. Being here in totally different circumstances was quite astounding. I definitely took time, on my own, to reflect how my life has changed since those days. To imagine, in 2003, that I would be here, in this moment, sharing this life with an amazing husband and son, would not have ever entered my mind then. How truly lucky I am, to be able to do these things, share the world and its adventures with my two loves. Blessed.

Mick was really excited, until we had to get up at 3.30am to be collected for our Grand Canyon Tour (see next blog entry). Bloody early mornings are killing him. Me not so as I have done a hell of a lot of pre dawn photography excursions and I'm used to it!

Saturday night we ventured out to see the lights, wander the streets, and Mick and I were giggling as I dared him to see how many flick cards (people hand out little cards with ladies pics, cost and numbers on them, if you get my drift!) he could get. Clearly the first few we passed didn't give him any. I suggested we stop holding hands and pretend were weren't together. It worked a charm! haha (He didn't keep any of them, in case you're wondering!)

It is such a lively and busy place. You can't help but smile, especially at the super drunk people, trying to walk in high heels, trying not to fall down.......(that want us by the way, Mick hates wearing heels!)

Our hotel was also beautiful inside, as well as out. They had a whole walk through Halloween display, working water wheel, a talking tree with eyes, pumpkins everywhere. It was so beautiful.

I got a few night shots, day shots, and we shopped and ate. We had worked out that we would get a limo back to the airport too- compliments of the hotel, but decided to tell Jack we were getting cab. A mini tantrum ensued until the guy opened the door to the limo- and he was a 'bro' again and super happy!

Off the the airport for our 6.30am flight to LA to then go to Disneyland. All was well, we had our 4 cases (we had increased by one!) and we waved goodbye to the driver, with his tip. That was until we realised he still had a suitcase in his car. And calling the hotel was useless as their phone lines didn't open until 7am.......grrrrr........lucky the airline called them, he came back, and all was well...........
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Posted by Jochester71 19:16 Archived in USA Tagged las_vegas Comments (0)

Washington DC and that White building!

rain 19 °C
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Well, we caught the train from New York to Washington DC. The funniest part was the captain/ train driver ....whatever you call him! Whenever we were coming to a stop he'd tell you about it in a very funny, sing song, american twang! he had us in stitches! We were sitting in the last row on the last cart, and behind us was a female steward. He would start his sing song recommendations and then make comment about her "its a lovely lively place, but if you're Jane (can't actually remember her name) you probably won't like it....blah blah blah. She was saying, every stop, every day, he does this! hehe

We arrived in DC to rain, rain and some more rain. First disappointment was that the Capitol building was engulfed in scaffold....well, we won't be photographing that then!
We had researched and Jack was desperate to head to the Spy Museum. Lucky it was beside our hotel (Washington Kimpton Hotel) so we headed there and spent more time in the gift shop than the museum!
Dinner was had (you have to try the Shake Shack- awesome fresh burgers and sweet potato chips with the most awesome peanut butter shakes!!!)
and Mick and I decided to go for a walk as i wanted to photograph the White House at night. Amazingly, the sky was a beautiful brown red colour with the clouds so I was super keen. (Let me mention at this point that my backpack with nothing but my camera, lenses and tripods weighs about 10kg and Mick refused to carry it at all- thus i was totally used to it by now)
we followed the map up about 6 blocks and , yes, according to the map, that is it! Away I went, beside it was a beautiful statue of a dude on a horse, can't actually remember who it was, but anyway. So after getting all these pics, i said to Mick that I hadn't realised that the WH bordered a main street. Another look at the map........ummmmmm, ok, that isn't the White House! Hahahaha....we couldn't stop laughing!
so off around the corner and there it was. It was easy to conclude it was the White House. There were guys everywhere, very, very secret guys, wearing T-shirts that said in big white writing "Secret Service". I kinda thought they'd be a little bit more subtle, but hey! We were still giggling about our white building blunder, but you'll be pleased to know that the Treasury Building (next door to the WH) is still a beautiful building!

The next morning (as were were only in DC for 24 hours) i set the alarm and got up t 4.30am to walk to the WW2 Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial (new one) and to photograph the stick thing(Washington Monument) and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Ok, it was pitch black, pissing down with rain and I was trying to hold an umbrella, carry my backpack and read the freakin map! These areas are huge. It was probably a 4 km walk to the Lincoln Memorial. I made sure to keep looking around me at the park as i was terrified I'd get mugged!
The Lincoln Memorial, sooooooo big and pics will never do it justice. (Americans go in for a lot of big things I've discovered!)...and being the only one there (if you ignore the homeless guy sleeping in there out of the rain that frightened the absolute crap out of me) it was amazingly beautiful. By far the best time to see most of the sights we've seen is sunrise, or before. I then wandered over the the newly opened Martin Luther King Memorial. Beautiful testament to an amazing man. There are all his saying engraved on two walls surrounding his stone monument, and it overlooks a lake, across which is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Back to the Korean War Memorial which is actually bronze soldiers walking across a field, which is a garden. Beautifully done, and ever so serene.

Few more pics and back to the hotel. Took a few of the hotel foyer and walk down our corridor, as the hotel was a complete block!
Boys were still asleep so after they woke, and i told them it was still bucketing down, we decided to take it easy. We jumped on a hop on/hop off, but as you had to sit inside, you couldn't see a thing, so we jumped off and headed back to the hotel to get ready to head to the airport for our flight to Las Vegas!
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Posted by Jochester71 18:03 Archived in USA Tagged king martin lincoln dc washington_dc white_house wh lincoln_memorial thomas_jefferson_memoral martin_luther_king_memorial luther Comments (0)

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