Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Home is where your heart beats

It has been a long time since I last blogged.  

A lot has happened since then.

We've had our second trip to America.  
We visited Florida and went to Walt Disneyworld, which didn't overly excite us.
Universal Orlando was absolutely brilliant and we plan to go back there on our next trip to see the new part of Harry Potter.
We did another Disney cruise, visiting the Grand Cayman and Mexico, which we loved.
We really love Mexico and its food and people.
At Cozumel we tried Snuba and the kids had a ball.
The Princess developed a blood nose at Margaritaville after snuba that went for over 15 minutes, we assume it was from the equalising under water but she is prone to nosebleeds.
We visited New York City for about five days, five days is not long enough and we plan to return one day for a long visit.
Boo to the low life who stole our DSLR camera at JFK airport though, causing us to lose so many wonderful photos of our trip up to that point.

We spent time in Montana again with family for Christmas and New Years.
We went skiing and exploring.
After Montana we flew to Seattle and spent a few nights at The Camlin, exploring the Wharf area.

I loved Seattle and can't wait to go back!!
It's my second favourite city now, after San Francisco.

We drove the 101 back to Anaheim, the coastal drive took almost a week and the scenery was beautiful.
If you are reading this and you are from anywhere in that region, know that I am so envious of where you live!

Our trip finished up with Little Man and The Groom watching the Supercross at Angel Stadium, The Princess and I braving the MLK Day crowds at Disneyland and me and the kids doing the Neverland 5K with some of our American friends.  
The Groom spent his birthday dinner at Bubba Gumps with us (I chose the location but he wanted to go there too).
Five days at Disneyland is still not enough.

We've had more roosters since Reginald.  
I'm focussing on Dorkings and Light Sussex at the moment, experimenting with crosses of the two for meat purposes.
We've eaten a couple of the roosters but our flock is slowly increasing.

The vegetable garden has been a bit slow to start this year.
The Groom got a few truck loads of dirt and manure from a friend's cattle yard last year so it's been quietly maturing away in the back paddock until a few weeks ago.  
I have planted corn, tomatoes, silverbeet, sweet potato, herbs, capsicum, cucumber and strawberries and a few other things that I can't recall off the top of my head.  

We normally go camping on a cattle property over Easter but we didn't this year.
I'd had a stent put in to a coronary artery a week before after I 'failed' a stress test.
I had my car written off in an accident the month before when a car ran up the back of mine on the highway.
I had whiplash, back spasms and chest pains so the hospital made me do the treadmill stress test.  
I failed.
I got very dizzy and almost passed out.
I had an angiogram the following day and that's when the blockage was discovered.  

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I had a rare reaction to a medication which caused a heart attack.

Yep, a heart attack.

It's not a fun thing to have.

I'll write another post about what I experienced later but I'm doing okay.
It will be a long road to recovery but I will get there.
Sadly, one of our dogs had to be put down the night before I came home from hospital and a friend's sister-in-law died of pancreatic cancer the day I came home.

I have to, I booked another Disney cruise last month for next year and I WILL NOT miss it!

And yes, my cardiologist knows what I've done and he thinks I'm crazy anyway so he's all good with me going :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cheep Cheep

After having chickens for the past couple of years we decided a few months ago to buy a rooster, Reginald, the Rhode Island Red rooster.

Otherwise known as Reg (unless he's in trouble then it's Reginald).

Our ladies are commercial breeds and didn't think they'd be likely to go clucky.

Except one did.

One Of The Three Misty's did.

Just to clarify, we have 4 black Australorp crosses.

First, we had Misty.

Then we got given three more and they were all identical so it was hard to tell them apart.

I got lazy, they were all called Misty, too.

Hence, One Of The Three Misty's.

So, one of the Three Misty's decided she wanted nothing more than to become a mummy chicken.

We built her a 'nursery' out of the children's old cubby house, upturned it and surrounded it with mesh and found an old gate to use as a door.

We relocated their nesting box to the nursery, much to the disgust of the other ladies who have now been relegated to plastic packing crates to lay in (although they seem to prefer a milk crate turned on its side and filled with hay).

She's been sitting for about 4 weeks now.

Our fingers are crossed she'll have babies of her own soon.

It's our first time to have baby chicks so we have no idea of what to expect.

Last night I saw that one of the eggs had been chipped and was at the back of the clutch.  

I expected to find a little chick tucked away under her this morning but I found this.

I don't think it's made it.

Time will only tell.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

And that, my friend, was the end...

Sadly, our wonderful American holiday was coming to an end.

After leaving San Francisco, we headed towards Solvang.

Worldmark didn't have any accommodation available for us in Solvang so we ended up checking in to a Days Inn at a nearby town. 

I can't remember what it was called but it was in a movie called Sideways (which I haven't seen) and opposite the Anderson Pea Soup place.

We didn't eat there but we will next time.

We checked in late to the motel and was up bright and early the next morning to check out the surrounds.

They did not disappoint whatsover!

This feed store was near to where we were staying so we wandered over to have a look.

There were so many things I wanted to take home but couldn't.

Like saddles.

Dog kennels.


Lots of puppies were up for sale through a local animal rescue centre.

We couldn't take a puppy home with us so we had to make the kids settle for passing on a donation to their group.

Solvang was everything I imagined it to be.

It was kitschy, cute and fun.

The Princess loves olives so we bought garlic olive oil, balsamic pomegranate vinegar and she taste tested almost all of the olive oils on offer at the Olive place!

We bought Christmas stuff at the Christmas shop and she got another china doll for her collection.

I bought a great bread knife from the Nordic Knives shop plus some other things here and there.  

There were so many great things to buy that it was hard to walk away.

The Groom has an uncle who lives in Denmark with his Danish wife and they said we should try ebelskievers - I don't know how to spell it so forgive me, I tried.

We wandered about looking for somewhere to eat and settled on the Solvang Restaurant.

The staff were great, the service was great and the food was great.

We just didn't really like the ebelskievers, I'm afraid.  

They were just too sweet for our liking.

We later returned back to our motel with full bellies and ready for our final day once we woke up in the morning.

We had a pizza from a nearby pizza shop, which was so delicious and bigger than anything we get at home.

We couldn't eat it all and it had to go in the bin the next morning.  

We packed up the car in the morning and headed for the bright lights of LA.

After seeing this sign I told the kids that Father Christmas WAS real and they wouldn't name a road after him if he was pretend!

Somehow, the song stuck in my head for the rest of the drive...

We wound our way along the coast and admired the scenery, sad to be getting closer to our final destination - LAX.

Before stopping at the car rental place to drop off the car we decided to hit a Walmart and another Outlet store for last minute shopping (and a couple of duffel bags to check it all in at the airport).

Our car hire return was uneventful and quick with Enterprise and we had a lovely shuttle driver who took us all back to the airport in a timely manner.

I must say, though, the VA departure area leaves a lot to be desired. 

There was very little in the way of shopping or dining.

We managed to eat at Burger King and then take our seats at the gate with what seemed like hundreds of other travellers.

Unfortunately, The Princess lost her Nerd Minnie stuffed doll and it was never to be seen again.

The flight home was great and it was lovely to be home.

But our feet soon became itchy...

Friday, January 25, 2013

I left my heart in... well, you know the rest

Finally, I'm back.

I'm having problems uploading photos as my internet connection keeps dropping out - the joys of living just that bit too far away from the exchange...

So, we've left Vegas and are making our way to San Francisco.

The road to San Francisco was rather long and boring.  

So we entertained ourselves with singing, talking about our favourite things we've seen and done so far on the trip plus reading (well, The Groom didn't do that part - he was driving) and looking at the scenery.

Eventually we got to the state border and we were asked if we were carrying any fruit onboard.

I don't know how sincere they are at border control about their security, but we answered "no" and were told to drive on.

At home, inspectors would search your vehicle to check!

The feed lots that we passed saddened me.

They were massive and looked nothing like the ones we had up here.

I really felt sorry for the cattle out there.

It made me think of the documentary, Food Inc.

I loved looking at the road signs and recognising names from movies or books.

Now I can say that yes, I do know the way to San Jose.

After what seemed like the longest time, with a few stops for something to eat, go to the bathroom and get some fuel in our rental Jeep, we were finally there.

San Francisco!

I have a bit of a phobia of bridges, I do not like heights or being so close to other traffic in a confined space.

So we did not go over the Golden Gate Bridge, but I've decided that next time we visit I will make the effort - just so we can say that we have been over it.

I really loved driving through the city streets.

The Groom wasn't impressed with the traffic and tight lanes, but he's a country boy so he's excused.

We don't have traffic like that where we live.

All I could say was how much like Melbourne it was!

And that was even without the trams, but that was a bonus.

We stayed at the WorldMark on Bush Street, near Chinatown.

So after we had given over the car to the valet (and paid a small fortune for the privilege of parking in San Francisco) we checked into our tiny but gorgeous room and headed out for some sightseeing.

Before I go on, I want to say how friendly the people in San Francisco were.

We left our hotel and were unsure of our bearings (we'd forgotten to grab a map and by the time we realised we needed one we were one block away), so we must have looked a bit confused as a homeless man pushing a cart full of his belongings stopped and asked if we needed help.

This man was so polite, so friendly and so informative I think it really set the tone for how we saw the rest of the population.

He did not ask us for money for his time, unlike so many people we encountered in Hollywood.

A few blocks away, we saw an old lady looking a bit confused on a corner.

She asked us for directions to a bank and we admitted to being tourists and unable to help.

A man on the other side of the road crossed over to us and asked if we needed help then gave the lady directions, wished us a great stay and went on his way.

We walked with the old lady as far as she needed to go, just chatting, and said our farewells and continued on our way.

Just a brilliant introduction to my now favourite American city!

Of course, the first stop had to be Pier 39 and check out the entertainment.

I loved them, they remind me so much of dogs, this one on it's own reminded us of our dog, Rosie, and we spent about half an hour just watching and listening.

They do smell though.

And it is really noisy.

But their antics are so funny.

We stopped in to Ripleys Believe It Or Not, one of the kids' favourite places to visit.

It was a lot of walking that we did that day and I couldn't wait to get back to our room and rest my weary feet.

I'm so unfit I had to walk backwards up some of the steep streets!

The next morning, having gotten our bearings from the day before, we headed back towards the Pier - our mission today was to visit Alcatraz.

We wandered the streets but didn't catch the trolley car as we had just missed it or we were in a shop as it passed us by.

We passed a fire station and the men were cleaning their truck, so we stopped and watched them.

They told us we could take as many photos as we liked then we got talking about where we came from.

I mentioned how much like Melbourne I thought San Francisco was like and one of the firemen said that his brother had been to Melbourne and said the same thing.

I really wanted to ask if I could jump in the truck and beep the horn but I thought they might think I was weird, so I didn't.

I wish I had the courage though, that'd be so cool!

I loved that they decorated their vehicles for Christmas.

Even in a city there is always someone who can manage to create beauty in their world.

This was on the footpath outside an apartment complex.

The kids and I pretended it was a fairy garden.

Finally, we made it to the wharf and headed up to where the ferry leaves for Alcatraz.

Alcatraz has a feeling to it that is so hard to describe.

It was windy, cold and almost reverent.

If you've ever been there then I'm sure you'd understand what I'm trying to get at.

We listened to the park ranger give his spiel then went inside to watch the video before collecting our audio tour head phones.

I can only imagine what it was like in the prison in its hey-day.

It is beautiful in a macabre way.

We spent many hours wandering Alcatraz so by the time we left we were hungry.

We'd walked through Little Italy on our way down and I had spotted a little Italian restaurant that I wanted to go back to for dinner.

We had an early dinner at Franchino Restaurant.

We were one of two groups there so we had the owner's complete attention.

Guisseppina, the owner's wife, was so much like my childhood friends' mums.

I ordered the seafood linguine.

It was delicious.

She jokingly admonished my kids for not eating all of their dinner and told them there would be no dessert if they didn't do so, so they did and they did.  

We chatted with her and her daughterabout how they came to come to San Francisco and the changes they've seen over time, children and their quirks and lots more.

They were such lovely people and I will go back there to eat.

Great food, great people, great kindness.

After dinner we walked slowly back to our hotel and settled in for the night.

We only had two nights in San Francisco and it wasn't enough.

In the morning, we packed up the car and headed back down the Californian coast for Solvang.

Goodbye, San Francisco.

I can't wait to see you again.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A hunka hunka burnin' Vegas

Vegas is everything they say it is AND MORE!

Okay, I'm finally back and ready to get back into our trip.

I can't believe how fast this year has flown and our holiday is all but a memory.

Anyway, after the laid-back pace of Montana we headed off to Vegas.

It was the most expensive part of our trip!

Timeshare, anyone?

We flew Delta to Salt Lake City and caught our connecting flight to Vegas where we were amazed by the amount of poker machines that greeted us as we got off the plane.

They were everywhere!

We caught the train to the baggage terminal and just walked around everywhere with our mouths wide open like 'slack-jawed yokels'.

A taxi took us to our hotel, Harrahs, which I had booked online for around $125 a night for the four of us, with $9 vouchers for each of us for breakfast at Starbucks each morning.

There was a long line at check-in upon arrival but we were through that within half an hour.

Our elevator wasn't far from the lobby and our room overlooked the multi-story carpark out the back, but we didn't come to Vegas to sit in our room and look out of the window so I didn't care.

We quickly dumped our luggage in our room and headed out to explore Sin City.

We spent 3 nights at Harrahs and I can tell you it wasn't enough time for all that we wanted to see and do.

It takes so long to get anywhere because you can't just cross the road anywhere; instead you are funnelled over walkways over the road and into casinos.

Where we would promptly become lost!

We wandered over to the PBR restaurant for dinner on the first night and we're sure we passed George Gregan and his family on our way.

But more than anything, I wanted to go to 

The next morning we got up early and wandered around and heaving a sigh of relief that most of the card touts that we encountered last night were not around, and neither was their subsequent rubbish.

Phew. Try explaining to Little Man why people were handing out cards of near-naked women...

We visited M&M World, Caesars, Paris, The Venetian and lots more.  

Having the kids with us meant that we couldn't really stop in the casinos so The Groom would wait for us to go and find somewhere to eat and sneak off to put some money on the table or in the machine while we were waiting for our food.

He knew that was a good, cheap way to get a drink - put some money in the machine, wait for the drinks waitress to come over with a drink, then collect the money and come back to us.

For some reason, it never worked for me.  I must have just become invisible whenever I put my money in.  

But I did win $35 while we were waiting for the Nathan Burton Show.

And Little Man was chosen to be part of the act.

He was so excited about that.

Anyway, we stopped in at Margaritaville during the day and asked about dinner and if kids were welcome.

We were more than welcome and told to wander about inside the restaurant and have a look around.

It wasn't busy as it was early afternoon so we checked out the boats and planes and the volcano and decided to go back that night.

All I can say is that I am not a drinker.

But after a Bud Light (I thought it would be like Hahn Light and low alcohol...), a Long Island Iced Tea and some of The Groom's It's Five O'Clock Somewhere, I was a bit giggly and unsteady on my feet.

The Princess and Little Man thought I was hilarious.

The food was great, the service was wonderful, the balloon man on stilts was funny and the volcano show with the lady was good.

And yes, I sang almost non-stop.

It was so much fun and we can't wait to go to the one in Cozumel.

After dinner we watched the Bellagio Fountains.

It was almost as good as the World Of Color at Disney.

We never managed to see the Treasure Island show as we were always too late by the time we walked from one thing to the other, but here's a nice photo of the finale.

We decided that we wanted to spend an extra night at Harrahs but there were 3 conventions starting up the day we were meant to be checking out.

As we had been sucked in to doing the timeshare presentation in order to get our "free" Nathan Burton tickets, we ended up buying into the Worldmark Group.

Our seller was lovely and it turns out it is a small world after all - his wife is from nearby and he also played for one of our local basketball teams!

But that's not why we bought.  

So, we called our guy and asked if he could book us a night at the Worldmark on Las Vegas Boulevard and he gave us the 2 bedroom Penthouse suite!

For free!

We didn't ask for it and it was totally unexpected since we expected to pay anyway.

It had a lounge, dining room, full kitchen, two bathrooms and a huge balcony.

This was our room.

And the view from our room.

We ended up getting takeaway Chinese food from the nearby shops and eating in our suite.

I caught up on all of the washing and rearranged all of our accumulated stuff in our bags so everything would fit.

Then played luggage jenga in our hired Jeep Laredo the following morning to fit it all in.

It's such a shame we were only there for the night...

Sadly, it set the standards pretty high for the kids for the rest of the trip.

As we were leaving the next morning for Hoover Dam we came across a McDonald's on fire as we headed back up to the Strip.

Luckily, it was closed for refurbishment.

So we waved farewell to Vegas, stopped for the obligatory photo at the Welcome to Vegas sign, then stopped at the outlet stores and Shepplers for some last minute shopping before making the drive out to the Dam.

Bye-bye Vegas.  

We'll be back.