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

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

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…