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.

IMG_3224

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.

IMG_3559

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.

IMG_3864

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.

img_4743.jpg

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.

IMG_4499

IMG_4603

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

What a wonderful (White) Christmas break in Texas



After a bit of a rocky start (Nan diagnosed with shingles not long after arriving) we have had a very restful and relaxing almost 3 weeks in Abilene Texas. Just as well as 13 days after arriving home we fly to South America as part of the MacWool

Wool growers tour to Chile and Argentina.  No time for jet lag as there are a couple trips in the car to far west in those 13 short days.

Back to the holiday, after things settle down with Nan, Mum Ian and Ian set of for a day in Fort Worth at the historic stockyard. Fort Worth is about 3 hours driving from Abilene so it was a pretty full day but we enjoy the history of this place.  Even the drive was good just to be on the road to somewhere.

Another highlight was a visit to Frontier Texas in Abilene, this was a very informative place and filled with loads of Texas history. Hard to believe that so many bison could be in one place and that man could almost wipe them out in such a short time. Although if the bison were still roaming in such numbers there would have been no grazing for cattle, can’t have everything

The weather in Texas had been so unseasonably warm for December we thought there was no hope of any of the white stuff, we were wrong.

Although not falling on Christmas Day it did snow a couple of days afterwards which was fun.  Two out our Three Christmas trips to Abilene there has been snow which is amazing as it doesn’t happen that often.

A little bit of the Marra in Texas

Christmas day was spent with family and the turkey was fantastic (Scott and Ian were in charge of the bird) while everyone else contributed to the rest of the great food we all got to share for Christmas dinner.

During our stay got to eat lots of BBQ (Sharon’s brisket is one of my favs) mexican this along with a fair few visits to Cracker Barrell we had our fill of delicious food. A highlight was BBQ at Hard 8 on our way to to the airport to fly home on New Years day.

A favourite of mine

With Leonie having a significant birthday between Christmas and New Year this was a perfect opportunity to have lunch as one of the best steakhouses in all of Texas (well my opinion anyway) – Perini Ranch (Grandma even got to meet founder Tom Perini whilst she was wandering the grounds)

It was wonderful that Leonie, Ian and their mum could be all in the same place for such celebration and given Nan is 88 now, not going to be too many more opportunities to have everyone at a significant family celebrations.

It was a great stay with family and worth it to see the snow and all

the effort that people go to to light up their homes, something is sometimes missing here.

The flight home was uneventful and a first for us we flew out of Dallas Love Field airport. This is a great little airport and we surprised as how good the facilities and service was, recommended.

Short post but as I mentioned the aim of the game was to catch up with family, rest and eat and we did all three very well.

Watch this space for the next installment – Chile here we come…

Christmas is Texas


Itchy feet again…

On this day 6 years ago we were in San Diego heading off for a day at Sea World, today we board QF7 to fly to Dallas before a couple hours in the car to Abilene for Christmas.  Ian’s sister Leonie has lived in USA for many years with her husband Scott. This is one last opportunity for Ian Leonie and their mother(88 years and vows this is the last trip ) to spend Christmas day together. 

Love there is a direct Qantas flight to Dallas, anyone flying to the states should consider Dallas as their entry point, much nicer than LA and a good hub for onward flights.

A little about Abilene ~ thanks to wikipedia

Abilene is a city in Taylor and Jones counties in west central Texas. The population was 117,063 according to the 2010 census making it the twenty-seventh most populous city in the state of Texas. It is the principal city of the Abilene Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a 2011 estimated population of 166,416.[5] It is the county seat of Taylor County.[6]Dyess Air Force Base is located on the west side of the city.
Abilene is located off Interstate 20, between exits 279 on its western edge and 292 on the east. Abilene is 150 miles (240 km) west of Fort Worth, Texas. The city is looped by I-20 to the north, US 83/84 on the west, and Loop 322 to the east. A railroad divides the city down the center into north and south. The historic downtown area is on the north side of the railroad.
Established by cattlemen as a stock shipping point on the Texas and Pacific Railway in 1881, the city was named after Abilene, Kansas,[1][7] the original endpoint for the Chisholm Trail

A White Christmas

Although unlikely it does gets very cold and it is possible, what are the chances of striking it twice, the last Christmas we spent in Abilene was just that white. Fingers crossed!!!

We a planning a quiet break and staying close to home base most of the time so won’t be so many posts this trip, I will make up for that in late January when we head to South America, with a group woolgrowers and the MacWool team.




Our Last Week

We have arrived back in Abilene from our wonderful Aspen trip. We are spending this week enjoying the family and getting our gear sorted for the trip home. A few more gifts to secure then its back to Dallas to catch our flight home Saturday.

We feel very fortunate to have had such a wonderful holiday with so many highlights and great experiences.

We are now looking forward to heading home to see family and and catch up with friends. Oh I almost forgot… and get back to work.

House hunting is on the agenda as we have to find a new home in the first few weeks,  the owner of our unit wants to move back in at the end of our lease (got this news the day before we left home). We will stay in North Parramatta so unit hunting will begin day one.

Ian is keen to get back to work after his enforced three month layoff.  The rest has done him the world of good and he is really motivated about the future and looking forward to getting back in the game.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have read and provided such great feedback on this blog. The main purpose of the blog is to record our holiday notes but it is fun to be able to share this with family, friends and anyone who is interested in my ramblings.

Until we hit the road again…..au revoir

Events from home we have to catch up on are included in this post……

Aspen Colorado

We set of for Aspen from Dallas on Saturday the afternoon. We stayed overnight in Amarillo Texas home of the US Quarter Horse Head Quarters and Museum.

Leonie and Scott booked us a very nice a condominium  in Aspen Colorado.

The Prospector is located on very close to the mall area and is so well situated. No need to use the car as everything is well within walking distance.

We crossed Independence Pass which has an elevation of 12000+ feet and was spectacular to say the least.

We really love Aspen and it has swept aside the great things we have seen and done over the past few weeks and become the highlight of our trip. I really hope we get a chance to return here again some time. This is one place you could come in any season and it would be different each time.

 While we were staying in Aspen Stage 2 of the USA Pro Cycle Challenge finished in Aspen. We walked down to the finish and watched the riders come in. Cadel Evans came in with the leaders and is well placed going into the 3rd stage. It was a fantastic to see world class cyclists in action.

A once in a lifetime chance for us. Who would have thought Cadel Evans and David Beckham in the same trip.

As pictures speak louder than words I am going to fill this post with some of the beautiful scenery in and around Aspen.

Tomorrow our peaceful holiday in the mountains ends and we head home via Santa Fe New Mexico.

The Aspen Gondola gave Lee and I a great opportunity to look down on Aspen from a great height.  It was so peaceful riding to the summit and down again

The last leg….driving

We turned our heads for home…well for Dallas anyway. We had decided to have long days and get back in a couple of days. We set out from Lexington and headed for Springfield Missouri.


We drove through St Louis and saw the arch from the road but decided against stopping as the storm clouds were building. We didn’t get caught in the storm but it sure came down after we settled into the hotel for the night.

After and early breakfast we headed for Tulsa via a small town in Kansas just so we could tick another state off the list. We were only in the state for about 30 miles but we have been there. Our Hyatt hotel was really nice and we had very nice meal in the grill in the hotel.

Up again early for the final run into Dallas we had a good deal at the Westin Hotel in the Galleria district, in fact the hotel was attached to and part of the Galleria shops.

After checking in i set about finding someone to cut my hair and do my nails. Both chores checked off we headed to Kelly (Ian’s niece) and Chris’ to catch up with the family.

We headed to Babes for a fried chicken dinner (one of Ian’s favourite places to eat in Dallas) it was all he remembered and regretted his over indulgence all night …AGAIN

We returned our trusty little ford focus to the hire company and waited for Scott and Leonie to collect us. Breakfast at Old West in old Grapevine

Stats:

29 days
5075 miles 8167 kms
10 tanks of gas averaging $30 per tank
23 nights in La Quinta includes 5 free nights we earned) ave $80 per night
1 night Econo Lodge Portland Maine $45 (hotwire.com)
3 nights 4 Star Hyatt Columbus Ohio $68 per night (hotwire.com)
1 night 4 Star Hyatt Tulsa $48 (hotwire.com)
1 night 4 Star Westin  Dallas $58 (hotwire.com)

Most states visited in one day
Portland, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York State

Favourite Cities
New York
Boston
Niagara
Nashville

Favourite States
Kentucky
Texas
Massachusetts

Other highlights
Niagara Falls
Three Chimneys Stud Farm tour Kentucky
Paddleboat ride in Mississippi
Ohio State Fair
Carriage ride in Central Park New York

Texarkana to Memphis

Texarkana to Memphis  277 miles 41/2 hours

Another driving day with a stop off in Little Rock Arkansas for a break. Driving was the best place to be as it was again over 100 degrees.

We enjoyed our break in Little Rock famous resident Bill Clinton 42nd US President. We visited the historical district, River Markets and took a trolley ride to see the sights in the short time we were here. Very clean and pleasant place to visit. On the road again we pushed on to Memphis arriving about 5pm.

After checking in we headed out for our first BBQ since returning to the US. Now the question is Tennessee BBQ as good as Texas BBQ? It was sensational but the jury still out until we get back to Texas to compare. We went to Corky’s BBQ and started with a half onion loaf and shared the ribs for two.

Almost had to crawl home we had eaten so much and Tony our waiter took great care of us and even got some of Sharpie’s jokes and fired back with some of his own.

Tomorrow: A day spent seeing the sites of Memphis

Memphis Facts: A city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers. Memphis has an estimated population of 646,889, making it the biggest city in the state of Tennessee, the third largest in the theSoutheastern United States, and the 19th largest in the United States.

Dallas to Texarkana

Monday morning we collected our little ford focus which will be our wheels for the next month or so. Not sure about it being black in 100+ degree heat but we will survive. Didn’t take Sharpie long to get the hang of driving on the right again so we were at Grapevine Mills by 10am.

Needed to pick up a few things and check out a dress shop for Sarah that she has been looking at online. Chores are done we headed for Texarkana some 190 odds miles and 31/2 hours away.
We had an uneventful trip and checked in to our hotel in time for an afternoon nap. Well, Ian napped and I blogged and Skyped. We hit Walmart to pick up some fruit, cheese, and biscuits for a light dinner. Sill daylight until almost nine pm

=

 

About Texarkana:

Texarkana is a city in Bowie County, Texas, United States. It effectively functions as one half of a city which crosses a state line — the other half, the city of Texarkana, Arkansas, lies on the other side of State Line Avenue. The population of the city is 34,782 at the2000 census.

We stayed in the La Quinta just out of town.  $65 per night breakfast included

Will Sunday 10th July ever end…..


Our trip begins on Qantas Q107 with a bumpy take off due to the wind.
No upgrade as the plane was filled to capacity. Hoping for one on the way home. Had good seatmate who was very accommodating when we needed to move around. Dinner/lunch was good I had the beef and Ian had the chicken. First leg 12 and half hours to LA through customs and collected bags before heading to gate for AA 2448 flight to Dallas.

Long layover in LA ran into Chris and Kelly( Ian’s niece) Baker at LAX they were flying home from Brisbane. Flight from LAX to DFW uneventful nice to have wifi. Everything looks tinder dry from the air.

 
Delighted with and pleased to see our very comfortable La Quinta room located just south of DFW airport. 


We worked out we had been up 30+ hours by the time we reached the hotel at 7 pm Sunday. 

 
Dinner at Red Lobster both had the Wood Grilled Lobster, Shrimps and Scallop plate. 

 

 Sunday 10th was a never-ending day. All travel reasonable, food good and pleasant seat partners. A good nights sleep now then collect the car in the morning. First, stop Texarkana.

The Lobby

The room

and….. the breakfast

 

 

all for 89.00US a night…

 

San Antonio and the Alamo

Sunday morning we set off on a four-hour drive to San Antonio. We had a break at Brady for donuts and coffee. We arrived at San Antonio at 2pm and headed to the Mexican markets for a couple of hours while waiting to check in to our room at the Courtyard on Marriot. After checking in we headed to Landry’s on the river walk for dinner. We had yet another huge meal and then decided to walk it off by walking along the river walk to our hotel. It was so pretty with all the Christmas lights and decorations.

 

The weather was warm and perfect for a stroll before bed. Day two we all headed to the Alamo after a Mexican breakfast in a well known Mexican restaurant. There is some much history in this place and it is not hard to imagine what it was like in days gone by.
After the Alamo and a bit of shopping at the river centre, we headed back to the hotel for an afternoon siesta. A cruise on the river was followed by dinner at another Mexcian restaurant right on the edge of the river. The best nachos ever. After dinner, we strolled back to the hotel at about 9.30pm. Tomorrow we head for the outlet malls at San Marcos buts a whole other story.