Abilene to Los Angeles

usa-flight-2017-boys.pngDuration of this trip was from 28th November to 13th December so that we could take advantage of the boys’ early school break up to do one last overseas trip with them altogether

Leonie has been out for past month visiting her mother and took the opportunity to fly home with us. The purpose of this trip was to visit family in Abilene Texas so our grandsons could meet and reconnect with US family as well as experience a belated Thanksgiving dinner prepared by Leonie. We love our turkey day celebrations that is for sure!!

via Qantas QF7 (A380) Direct to Dallas great flight well looked after. Scott and Leonie were there to meet us. We picked up our Dodge Caravan hire car which was perfect for our needs.

Having previously had this type of vehicle in LA with four adults and two children on that occasion. So this time it was perfect for three teens and the grandparents (us) for our planned road trip to Los Angeles.

Beautiful West Texas Sunset
Headed West

In no time at all, we were away on our way to Abilene (2.5 hours west Dallas Fort Worth)

The first stop unanimously voted on as Cracker Barrell at Weatherford where we meet Scott and Leonie for dinner. Everything was up to its usual standard and the boys reminiscing about previous visits on their last trip.

After eight days in Abilene which included a couple days back up in Dallas/FortWorth where we did the JFK tour and visited the Fort Worth Stockyards before catching up with more family for dinner and movies.

A highlight of the stay in Abilene was the opportunity to watch a high school playoff game in the new Abilene Christian University (ACU) Stadium. It was amazing the Graham Steers were playing the Sweetwater Mustangs. Scott’s sister Stephanie teaches at Graham High and the rest of Scott’s family live in Graham, Texas so we happy to hop aboard the bandwagon and become steers supporters for the night.

Our Abilene stay included lots of good food at places like Perini ranch and BBQ brisket and a visit to Sonic which intrigued the boys no end having their orders served to the car window.

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A highlight was a visit to the Abilene Heritage centre which provided a fantastic insight to Abilene down through history, the boys loved this and spent hours exploring and watching the shows and reading stories.

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Soon it was time to hit the road towards Los Angeles taking in El Paso, White Sands National Monument the Santa Rosa Blue Hole and some of Route 66. It was pretty cold and miserable and wet when we set off but we made good time to be at the border for our first night. I always wanted to drive west of Abilene and keep going. Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 11.11.53 am.png

Alberque was our next overnight stop where we ate at the Standard Diner before settling in for the night at another LaQuinta Hotel. These hotels are great budget rooms when traveling and the complimentary continental breakfasts come in handy as well.

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The next stop along the way was at the historic El Ranch Hotel the historic El Rancho Hotel provides a unique Southwest Experience in the midst of the American West.  The El Rancho Hotel is a pillar of the West and was the Home of the Movie Stars throughout the 1930s to 1940s who filmed Westerns in the area.

Back on the road to our last overnight stop at the La Quinta Inn & Suites Kingman Arizona before arriving in Los Angeles.Dinner was at yet another diner, this one had not changed a thing in 50 years, Rutherford’s 66 Diner  2011 E Andy Devine AveKingman. 

We hit the road early the next morning and ready ourselves to handle the LA traffic. As I have driven in LA peak hour(s) a number of times before we thought we endeavour to get there before the peak.

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We achieved this and had a good run into Hilton at Universal and checked in about 2pm.

Ian and I returned the car to the closest car hire which was at the Bob Hope airport. We took a taxi back to the Hilton and settled in for our final few days. It is always a relief to get rid of the car’s unscathed. The Hilton is the perfect location for everyone to do their own thing and for the boys to explore all that universal and the CityWalk where everyone could do their own thing. The grandparents could get a bit of a break and relax in the hotel before a full day at universal and our flight home.

We used a great car service Lansky Transfers (used previously when in LA) to collect us from the hotel and get us to LAX in plenty of time to check in and board QF12 for the flight home. Very reliable and no fuss, takes all the stress out of getting to the airport that is for sure.

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This trip goes down in the archives as another successful travel experience with the boys we love being able to broaden their horizons. We like to spend their inhertiance on having great adventures and experiences with us not on us after we are gone.

13th December Flew home on QF12 from LAX

Tucson to San Diego in a day

We decided to drive from Tuscon to San Diego in one day (about 400 miles or 660 km). Like driving from Sydney to Nyngan. The drive was good up to lunchtime when the heavy rain set in and driving across the range was tricky, Ian was up to it and we arrived safely at our hotel by about 4pm.  We saw three rollovers on the way down due to drivers going to0 fast and braking too sharply in the slippery conditions.


We stopped at Cracker Barrel in Yuma to break the journey. This is Ian’s favourite eating place and he has been hanging out for the opportunity to sample their meals. Yuma is nestled in the Yuma and Gila valleys of southern Arizona on banks of the Colorado River.


With three days in San Diego, it was worth pushing on to get the opportunity to rest up a bit and catch up on washing and other chores. We are staying at a La Quinta on the outskirts of San Diego, again a great hotel at the right rate.



The gunfight at OK corral

We dedicated today to visiting Tombstone. Tombstone is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States, founded in 1879 by Ed Schieffelin in what was then the Arizona Territory and is the site of the famous gunfight at OK Corral. Tombstone is 70 miles south of Tucson and well worth the trip. Without tourism, there would be no Tombstone, everything is designed and relies […]

Grand Canyon, Phoenix, Tucson Arizona

After a delicious breakfast at our hotel, we set out to spend the morning in the Grand Canyon South Rim National Park. Entry was $25US per vehicle and with maps in hand, we headed into the park. The Rangers were very informative and helpful. It helps to be Aussie everyone likes to chat to an Aussie. The weather was very clear and not all that cold, a bit chilly to start off but warmed up during the morning. The park is well layout and designed to handle large numbers of visitors. As it is heading towards winter it is considered low season but still, there were quite a few hikers and visitors out and about. The viewing areas give spectacular views of the canyon and wow this is some gully. The colours and character of the canyon were different at every place we stopped to look. Spotted the Colorado River snaking through the canyon at the Hermit’s Rest lookout, even spied some rapids through the binoculars. We spend an enjoyable few hours exploring before retreating to the general store for coffee and shopping. All touristy items but still fun to look at.

At about 1pm we set a course for Phoenix, with the plan to overnight there before heading to Tucson where we plan to stay for two nights allowing us time to make the trip out to Tombstone. The drive was uneventful and the roads really make driving easy. We arrived in Phoenix at 5.30pm and had a bite to eat in the hotel (Courtyard on Marriott) cafe. Up early and quick continental breakfast before finding a Walmart (don’t know how we did it ..only at least 20 to choose from according to Tom)  for essential purchases than on the road for Tucson only couple hours drive away. On arrival, we head out to the Pima Aviation Museum and Boneyard where all planes not in use are mothballed. The museum was great, so many different planes from so many different eras. Even a couple of old Air Force One planes (Kennedy and Johnson’s AF1 plane was on display). The B52’s are so big, how on earth did they get off the ground, especially fully loaded. To see a paddock full of planes as far as the eye can see is something to behold.

Checked in to our La Quinta room and walked next door to the Denny’s Diner for a light dinner, well at least mine was light, Sharpie has 3 courses again, he couldn’t resist the apple pie. Spend the next two hours moaning about eating too much. Tomorrow we are headed to Tombstone Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday country and the site of the famous Gunfight of the OK Corral.

In and around Las Vegas

We have walked too far and eaten too much in Vegas. It was good to be back in town again, there is still more to see but I can only cope with 3 days at a time. The food is over the top and we almost succumbed to death by buffet twice. How many snow crab legs can I consume at a sitting well no-one was counting but let’s just say a lot. For Ian it was the mini lemon meringue pies, he ate more than 3 blokes could in a sitting. If the amount of food doesn’t get you…. the walking will. We walked the whole strip in a number of goes, still ended up footsore. We had the best weather for seeing Las Vegas, not a cloud in the sky each day and warm enough to be comfortable about 22c each day. Staying in the Paris Casino was a highlight and being in the middle of the strip it was perfectly located. I have stayed in three casinos in Vegas now and each has been better than the last. Ian had a lot of fun playing Texas hold ’em. He won and even won back the $100 he lost playing blackjack in ’99, he feels vindicated now that he has his money back and some.

After checking out it was back in the car and headed for the Grand Canyon approx 277 mi – about 5 hours driving time.

We had a good trip and getting out of Vegas was uneventful only about three turns in total and all on freeways, easy. Tom proved his worth yet again. Along the way we stopped for coffee and fuel at Kingman otherwise it was straight through to Village near the south rim on Grand Canyon and checked in to our Holiday Inn Express Room ($64) and lovely spacious room.

The highlight of the day would be crossing the Hoover Dam, this was amazing and provided us with a great place to stretch our legs and get some great shots around the dam and the new roadway they are putting. The bridge construction is something to behold. The countryside was very barren until about the last 2 hours of the trip. This country has its share of goat country.

Dinner at the Yippee Yi Oh Steakhouse, it was good food and good service, lovely big open fire and very warm inside. We are getting our first taste of cold as there was evidence of last night’s ice on the ground when we arrived and the temp has been dropping quickly. The gloves are out!!!

Tomorrow we explore the canyon…….