Our trip didn't end on June 25th just because we arrived in Melbourne; to me the holidays were still going. After settling in at Aunty Daphes' place and Scruffy finishing kissing me and Clive we unpacked some of the things we needed right away. It was getting cold and still raining a bit in Melbourne, and I still had my shorts and sandals. I knew that it would be cold in Melbourne and we had planned to change into long pants once we landed but why bother? We managed to catch a taxi right away so we had no reason to change at the airport, plus we wanted to shower once we got to aunty Daphe's place.
We caught up with some relatives while there, Wendy, Robbo, Steven, Stephen and some friends Paula and John. We also managed to catch up with the travel journals.
While driving around Melbourne and Malvern East I took some photos so that family and friends back in the USA can see what Australia is like since that was one of the most asked questions. I can only post what it looked like in the state of Victoria .We did mention that the east side of Australia is really nice and warmer. It was good to have caught up with the relatives, and Paula and John. Paula and John were able to go down "memory lane" since they have travelled to the USA quite often and have been to maybe 90% of the same places we have been.
2nd July 2010:
We are back in Mildura now, and I was surprised that it had rained and was cold something that is probably very rare in Mildura. We arrived back home about 5pm after stopping off at Coles to get things for sandwiches (no Oscar Mayer's Bologna), Clive made sausages instead - I stuck with ham.
We began unpacking the car and putting away some of the things that were within reach, we had to leave car on the driveway since the Ute (truck) had a flat battery.
So now it's time to have "dinner" and finish unpacking the other suitcase we put in the bedroom. Scruffy didn't have much to unpack. His was mostly 2 pillows, 5 cans of dog food, 4 blankets and his food and water bowls. What a life...he has his own maid and butler. We have one large suitcase to unpack. The suitcase with all the goodies, but that can wait and there is nothing in there that will spoil.
After dinner and unpacking (didn't need all the 20 pairs of socks only wore socks the 10 days if even that many, we were in California & AZ and had days to wash and I won't even say how many pairs of undies I packed!) we relaxed by watching the footy on TV. Bulldogs and Hawthorne. It was good to come home to be able to relax and watch footy.
Scruffy has been really uneasy, I woke up twice to find him on the end of the bed on the floor just looking into the kitchen. Maybe he has to get used to the "smells" again. Sure hope he settles in.
Now that I am home and have some free time I am able to look back on some of the things we saw and did:
Some have asked if I am ever going to move back to the USA. The answer is Yes, but not anytime soon. I did not drive the entire time we were in the US. I couldn't get over the amount of traffic, even in my hometown Beaumont!. The interstates are just as bad. The amount of people in Texas that drive the so called "Big Butt" trucks and the height geeze you need a ladder to get in and out of some of those. Maybe I have been gone too long, but everything in Mildura is so slow paced and have not yet seen a traffic jam. Rush hour? 10 - 15 cars if even that much on corner of 15th and Deakin. No "Big Butts" as in trucks here.
We are still on the pros and cons of some of the towns/cities we would like to move to.
I am still aiming for Wisconsin.
Clive like Flagstaff, AZ( maybe)
New Mexico: Albuquerque (maybe), Santa Fe (maybe), Las Cruces (maybe)
Texas: San Antonio (No)Clive Yes, Beaumont (No)Clive Yes, Austin (maybe). McAllen (No) Corpus Christi (maybe)Clive yes, southeast and south Texas is just too humid for me,
California: San Diego (maybe) and Bakersfield (No)
Wisconsin: Green Bay, Sheboygan, Racine (Yes) Clive yes
Outskirts of Chicago (maybe).In the city - deifentially NOT although it would be all walking, bus, L-train. Parking in the city is a fight to get a car park.
Memphis, St. Louis, Missouri, Louisiana (no way). We still have to visit other parts of the USA someday. As for now I think I will just stay here for a while longer, but not necessarily in Mildura. Clive liked most of all the places I have mention except not sure about Memphis, St. Louis since we only seen the part where the hotels were.
I enjoyed all the sites and museums we visited. Some of the places I had already visited before but it was nice to see them again some of the places have had some updates done on them, Graceland, NASA, LBJ Museum/Austin just to name a few. I think now Clive can now understand some of the American history and events a lot better than just on paper. Some of the states I had just driven through (as some of us do) and never had the time to stop and enjoy what they had to offer. I had to leave the USA to become a tourist to enjoy what was in my very own "backyard".
Spending time with the family was very enjoyable, there were a few snags along the way, but they worked out ok in the end. Seeing some of the relatives that I had not seen in over 30 - 40 years was one of the best highlights. "Shame on me" for letting it go that many years. Now that we have email and face book, there is not a chance of that happening again. Clive being able to meet them was also another highlight. Now he was able to put faces and lives with what I had told him about. There are still many more he did not meet. That will have to come at another time maybe a reunion someday down the road. He loved everyones company(don’t forget he didn’t want to come home back to Australia).
Meeting up with all the old freinds (Scotty S., Connie B., Cary H., Pheobe D & her family, Michelle H.,Lydia, Ed and Elaine E, Katherine H & her girls, Katrina R.& her girls, Dot R.,Susan R.Shelia W. just to name a few was great and having Clive meet them all was even better. There are new friendships in the making. Clive had nothing but good things to say about them. They all liked his Aussie accent something I cannot hear anymore and don’t forget to keep in touch with email and if I missed anyone give them my email address.
The food was fantastic! Going back to what I was used to just made it hard for me to leave. My "jack in the box" tacos.HEB corn tortillas, hominy, Veleta/ rotel dip, brisket ,moms homemade tamales (she taught Clive how to make them) , all the different fast foods and restaurants (new one is Texas Roadhouse) Denny's love their food, Country Buffett, Golden Corral, Casa Ole, just to name a few and of course some of the new restaurants that have opened up since I left.
Some of the things that are new to me and I liked or disliked were:
I liked the new idea that Texas has on their interstates and we seen that on the Katy interstate inbound from San Antonio. The Houston lanes on the Katy we first noticed they had painted on each lane a BIG Interstate 10 symbol to let you know that that lane would take you to I-10, or 610, etc. In Beaumont we saw the same IH-10, Hwy69, Hwy96, etc makes it safer for people who are travelling through and not sure of what lane they need to be in. I noticed that the interstate road going into Louisiana has not changed, still bumpy as when I left.
Dowlen St. Oh what a hugh mess that is! The traffic is is unbelievable. It wasn’t that way when I left in 99. I would hate to see what its like at Christmas time traffic. Dowlen has expanded.
Humidity! I have been spoiled by living in a place that is dry.
I think I have been gone too long from the hassle and bustles of USA living. Traffic, crowds, fast paced, long lines, retails being open long hours. Traffic rush hour here in Mildura is like 15 cars at rush hour. 99% of retail shut down at 6pm(except Kmart who has new hours 8am-midnight, soon it will be like Walmart and 24/7....and people will have no lives) late night shopping for some bussiness is 9pm Fridays. Some even shut down at 1pm on Saturdays how’s that USA?
We enjoyed driving the long drives with great scenery such as the mountains and hills and that was just the southern western part of the USA. We still have the Midwest, eastern and more of the northern parts. Someday we will be able to see them all.
Clive said he would like to go in the fall/winter months next time we head off that way.
Thank you to my son, Jorge(Tiger),for organising & sending us the cell phone while we were in the US. I was able to keep in touch with family and freinds while traveling.
Hotels/ Motels:with the exception just one motel they were great motels/hotels. If you just want a place to sleep and have a shower then Motel 6 is the one no frills we found out. No microwave, fridge, hairdryer. We stayed at Rodeway Inn, Travelodge, Tropicana Hotel & Casino, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn, Econolodge, Best Western, Super8, Ramada Inn, Pear Tree Inn, & Lexington Hotel. All gave you either continental breakfast or hot breakfast which was good because we would have a breafast and would not have another meal till we got to the next destination plus you get to save money becuase the brakfast is included in your hotel/motel bill. We had “happy hour” at the Pear Tree, Lexington, and Ramada Inn. All gave you free coffee. If you don’t like 2nd stories or more, you need to request a ground floor, We got a few over 4 floors. Tropicana was 14! It was fabulous. USA travellers travelling with pets: Motel 6, and I think Travelodge and some Best Western (we had a small dog next door at the Best Western Dragon Gate in Chinatown Los Angeles) best to check in advance and no we would not take Scruffy. I think there is a 6 month quarantine period travelling overseas.
We also won’t take as many clothes as we did. The name of the game is.....wear and do laundry at the hotels/motels. All of them had laundry facialities either DIY or get them to do it. You learn from your mistakes. We’ll know all this next trip.
The water and coffee is something I could not get used to most motels/hotels used some Cloumbian/Arabic combo. Only word for that is “Horrible, I had a hard time adjusting to the coffee there. Not even my usual Folgers or Maxwell House was good. On our way back to LA we stayed overnight in Ft. Stockton, Texas and due to a flat tire in the morning, we went to a place to get it fixed and that is where I tasted my 1st cup and only cup of coffee that I really enjoyed! That man knew I needed a good cup of coffee. So if you have a special coffee brand best to take it with you.
We enjoyed the trip to the USA and hopefully we can make it back in 2 years.
Thank you all for following our travels and hope that you all enjoyed or enjoying (some of you are telling us that you haven’t gotten through all the albums yet) every minute of it just as much as we did. Just to let you all know...... we published 105 photo albums and took a total of 17, 812(I am sure I could have taken more) photos but ONLY posted a total of 9135, and 12 videos.Believe it or not our camera 5.0 megapixel/12 zoom is still in good working order and we couldn’t resit the great prices of the USA so we also bought an updated version(12.1 megapixel/20 zoom) of the camera we have at a very reasonable price (we saw same brand but a 10 megapixel here in Mildura for $950 what a rip off). We planned on waiting till we got the USA to price them there, we knew that we would get a better price, even after the money conversion you can’t beat the USA prices. We have posted 124 journal entries with 165 comments as of today July 11th.
I don’t know how long they keep the travel journals so when you have free time, “travel” and enjoy.
Keep in touch.
Next Journal: Clive last journal.