Planning - November 2012

We decided that if we wanted to ride the Canadian Railway thru' the Rockies we had better do something about it. We-ell a little research had Lish asking me hadn't I once talked about the Calgary Stampede?

YEP that is a great Canadian Rodeo with an incredible Cowboy 'n Indian Street Parade, then chuck wagon races at the rodeo grounds, plus of course the Rodeo. The 2013 date for that set us thinking. I have never liked waiting a long time for things and these days the great reason we both give for doing it NOW is "Before Doug's too old to do it", so we booked our motel right then last November and there was the nucleus of the next trip.

Well as some of you know, about a week before our departure Calgary and Banff were flooded and their highway was washed out in parts with a state of emergency declared, so we decided we had better change to Vancouver instead. That ended up being a bad decision but more about that later.


Day 1 of 40 - Sun June 30 2013

We decided this time to go via Hawaii to shorten that long flight to the states and get a few days of sun and surf. On the Sunday morning we departed Proserpine for Brisbane to catch our flight with Hawaiian Airlines at 7pm. The flight took around 9 hours and we really enjoyed both the food and service on Hawaiian (we would definitely travel with them again).


Day 2 of 40 - Sun June 30

We arrived at 8am Sunday morning, courtesy of the International date line, so we get to relive the day. The walk was long to get out of the terminal, but the security people are much friendlier in Honolulu than LA. We didn't get any sleep on the plane, so checked into our motel (short walk to Waikiki beach) and crashed for a couple of hours. Then we adventured off on their buses to buy the next few days of clothes. Like last time we travelled over with just our 2 backpacks and after wearing the clothes donate them to charity rather than wasting time with washing.

That night we went down to the beach and walked along the esplanade where there was a throng of activity. We came across a great alcove called the International Market Place, which had artists, stall markets selling a variety of goods and a great food court. What a memorable night.


Day 3 of 40-Mon July 1st

The next day we had booked a great tour of the north of the island finishing with a night show and Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Centre. Both Doug and I woke up with sore throats, but soldiered on. Our host (a native of Oahu) was fantastic and a keen historian. We went to Diamond Head, saw incredible mansions and many beautiful beaches as well as climbing up through lush forest to Pali lookout. Then we headed out to the Dole pineapple plantation where we bought ice cream with freshly chopped pineapple on it. The flavour was like nothing else, they had pineapple flavoured ice cream. WOW. We arrived at the Polynesian Cultural Centre around midday on the north eastern side of the island. There are about 7 different polynesian island villages to visit with various activities and exhibits relevent to that island's culture. Everyone in the villages are dressed in that communities native costumes. When we visited the Maori village, the people got quite excited to talk to Aussies, as most of them immigrated to Australia and are over in Hawaii on a working program.

Mid-afternoon was a canoe pageant with a fantastic show by each of the villages. Then that night we had dinner and were treated to a spectacular night show. By the time we got back to the motel it was close on midnight, by which time I was really under the weather, however I would not have missed that day.

Day 4 of 40-Tues July 2nd

Next day we had intended to check out of our motel and head down to Pearl Harbour, we both wanted to see the memorials to WW2, howeverwe were so soupy that we decided to book the room for the rest of the day and call it a lay day until our flight that night at 8.45pm. After some rest we were both feeling a little better prepared for the flight.



Day 5 of 40-Wed July 3rd

After a 5 hour flight we lobbed into San Francisco in the morning, had brekky and boarded another plane onto Vancouver arriving around midday. Airport looked great, but when we arrived at our accommodation it wasn't particularly appealing, our colds were freshening up again and when we walked two blocks either way we were greeted by pan handlers, lots of smoking and drinking (no alcohol tax) and when searching for something to eat all we could find was pizza and beer or beer and pizza. We each ate an apple that night.


Day 6 of 40 - Thurs July 4th

We were so miserable that we cancelled all further plans for Vancouver and Whistler and the next day jumped the first Greyhound to Seattle. We later found out that the east end of downtown Vancouver (where we were) is the slums area. Other parts of Vancouver are supposed to be nice, but we were in no mood to find out at the time.

The US border security questioned us heavily upon leaving Canada asking why we were leaving only 24 hours later (probably thought we had done a drug delivery). Anyway, we arrived at Everett (just north of Seattle), got a decent feed and started to feel clean and civilised again. We were tired that night, but we heard fireworks and crackers nearby for the Independence Day celebrations.

US and Canada Border - United States Port of entry Blaine, Washington.

Day 7 & 8 of 40-Fri & Sat July 5th & 6th

We spent the next couple of days resting to try to shake the colds. Saturday night as we were eating we learnt of the horrific crash of the Asiana flight in San Francisco while watching the news.

Day 9 of 40 - Sun July 7

We decided to head off to the Boeing factory at Paine Field to see where the Boeing aeroplanes are manufactured. We took the tour to the main factory building where the planes are assembled. That one building covers 100 acres, all under the one roof, with various assembly lines for each of the types of planes. We got to see the 777 and the 787 Dreamliner assembly lines. We don't have any photos to show of this as they are very strict about no photos or any loose objects in the factory. There were lots of overhead cranes and about 6 cafeterias to feed all the workers. The factory operates 24/7 on shifts (weekends are quieter). It was also great to hear that Boeing really treasure their long term employees. The motto we left with at the end of the tour was to check with the airline when you board if it is a Boeing aircraft, otherwise say 'if it ain't Boeing, I ain't going'. They also had a great little exhibit area. Afterwards, we also got to see a Boeing 777 take off for it's first test flight – really exciting.

If you 'Google Earth' "Paine Field Seattle, you see 20 or 30 completed Boeings waiting final paint and delivery. lined along taxiways.

Day 10 of 40 - Mon July 8

We then moved on down to a different motel close to the Seattle airport. Jumped a bus to the nearest Walmart to stock up and had our first feed of KFC in America. Somehow this had eluded us during the 2011 trip.


Day 11 & 12 of 40-Tues & Wed July 9th & 10th

The next day we adventured off to the Museum of Flight (one of the largest in America) and spent a day there absolutely stunned. We wandered through a history of early float planes, rocketry and space exploration. The first day at the Museum of Flight we felt we only got to see one little corner of it, so we went back the next day signed up for a membership and strolled through the exhibits of William Boeing and other aviation pioneers in USA. Then we re-lived the WWII era. We knew after 2 incredible days that it still wasn’t enough and we wanted to return, but decided to check out some other Seattle sites the next day before spending a further 2 days in the museum.

What a roof, supporting over 20 aircraft including a DC3 airliner. SR71 Blackbird 'spyplane' in foreground.


Day 13 of 40 Thurs July 11

The following day we jumped a hop on hop off bus around Seattle, enjoyed a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel to get an aerial view of Puget Sound and then took a Bay cruise out to Tillicum Village on Blake Island for lunch and a story telling show with the Indians. It was so peaceful going across the water, although we had an excited group of Spanish high school students on tour also going over to the island. What amazed me was to see jelly fish in the cold water. Their (pristine?) much sought after beaches were entirely pebble beaches and there were even some trying to surf on small waves – too cold for me (I was rugged up in my very thick jacket with 2 shirts on underneath).

Cooking Salmon in the traditional Indian method for lunch.

Lish with a totem pole (and begging cup?) at Tillicum village.

Carving head pieces for traditional dances and storytelling.

Day 14 & 15 of 40-Fri & Sat July 12th & 13th

The next 2 days we spent seeing the rest of the museum. All I can say is WOW. We visited a floor dedicated to WWI aircraft, which was incredibly interesting and tried a sim landing a WW1 aircraft. Then we crossed the road and walked through a number of exhibit aircraft including a Concorde, the Presidential Air Force One from Kennedy’s time and the Space Shuttle astronaut trainer. We then looked skyward at many various aircraft hanging from the ceiling and had a close walk around inspection of a Blackbird. There were also a number of flight simulators which had the kids lined up, an educational set up of a control tower and much, much more.


Day 16 & 17 of 40-Sun & Mon July 14th & 15th

On to San Francisco.

SUNDAY From Seattle we moved on to San Francisco (bought more clothes) and rocked up to the apartment we rented in Japantown of San Fran. Great location with supermarket (so we can do some of our own cooking) and close to public transport.

MONDAY The next day we had a lay day and just strolled around Japantown photographing the statues.


Day 18 of 40 - Tue July 16

We caught a bus into downtown (got squashed like sardines with the locals on the bus), then onto one of SF's beautiful old streetcars (squashed in this time with tourists) and jumped out at what we thought was Fisherman’s wharf. There were lots of market stalls and we found some magnificent peaches and nectarines. Doug decided he should try American fish and chips (both were foul), then he decided to try a meat pie (it was chicken with lousy pastry – no better than the fish n’ chips). We then jumped another streetcar (open top which was lovely) and went on and on past all these piers. I just never realised their wharf was so long. We saw the Louis Vitton cup yachts in the harbour for the race on the weekend (this is one of the lead up events for the America's cup).

We jumped off the streetcar and then lined up for the next 2½ hrs to board one of the famous SF cable cars. They look like trams, but there is a moving cable in a slot in the road. The tram clamps on to it and gets towed up the steep hills and held back on the descent. Early transport now restored for tourists like us. We were at the turnaround point of Powell & Hyde St, so we had the chance to watch the staff turning the cars on the giant turntable. The trip on the cable car was magic. The steep hills are incredible and the route we took lasted for 30 mins.

Our schedule was intended to be fairly busy at SF, but after the cable car that day once again our colds freshened up and everything else we planned for the week got scrapped except a short venture out to nearby Alamo Square where the famous Victorian style houses (called the ‘Painted Ladies’) are located.

WEDNESDAY's trip to Yosemite went without us, we were laid up in bed and could not bring ourselves to care, thank goodnes we had the apartment to be crook in. Missed Yosemite in 2011, now again, might have to give up on that place. This was a bad day, we talked seriously of quitting and flying home.

THURSDAY same story, had planed to cross Golden Gate to Giant Redwood forests, home across the bay from Sausalito. Across the Bay ???? Likely. Doug ventured out to get us some potato soup and other tucker, while Lish minded the house.

Day 21 of 40 - Fri July 19

AW SHUCKS past Half way thru' the holiday already. Do you know even tho'summer they had cold clammy fogs every morning we were in SF?

Day 22 of 40 - Sat July 20

Lisha wishing we were home, Doug perking up pointed out we would have had a rotten trip. Lisha unconvinced.


Day 23 of 40 - Sun July 21

Leaving San Francisco


One of the 'Classic' train journeys of the world is from SF to Chicago. In this day and age everyone travels by air or road, Lisha has never had a long train journey eating and sleeping on the train, so what better intro than this classic journey.

I wasn’t sure if I was feeling up to the train journey we had booked, but Doug feeling better egged me on and I am glad he did. On the Sunday we boarded the Amtrak train in San Francisco for the 3 day journey to Chicago on what is classed as one of the most scenic routes in America. About an hour into the journey and I started feeling the most relaxed I had in a long time. The train climbed the Sierra Nevada range with some beautiful lakes, passed through the Forty Mile Desert, followed the mighty Colorado river for 240 miles winding through some beautiful gorges that can only be seen from the train or hiking and climbed the Rocky mountains (the last part through a spiral tunnel) and then down to Denver. We had complete privacy in our sleeping compartment it was great to stir during the night and see a crossing flash past. All those who travel the route regularly were amazed that the train was on time. The section from SF to Denver has to be taken slowly through the passes because sometimes they have to stop to clear rock falls or in winter snow. We then raced across the agricultural landscape of Nebraska, then Iowa passing over the Mississippi and on to Illinois finishing at Chicago.


Day 25 of 40 -Tues July 23

When we hit Chicago at 3pm we headed straight to the rental car where we attached our Aussie flags and took the 2½ hr drive north to a small town called Fond du Lac in Wisconsin on Lake Winnebago. I think we scared a few Yankees when we drove towards them on the wrong side, but we just pointed to the flags.


Day 26 of 40 -Wed July 24

We stayed on in Fond du Lac for the next few days, spent a relaxed day wondering the aisles of Walmart where we spotted plenty of cheap alcohol (photo Jack Daniel’s Whiskey 1.75L for $39.97), along with a number of other interesting items. We even found some Aussie-made products. We found the best food ever in Fond du Lac. KFC had a buffet bar, with a large variety of cooked vegies and salads, plus apple pie for desert. Next door there was a fantastic Italian restaurant.


Day 27 of 40 - Thurs July 25

We rented an aircraft on the Thursday before the EAA Airventure officially commenced and flew to Oshkosh and then continued on a scenic journey across Lake Winnebago to Lake Michigan, followed the coast to just north of Milwaukee and headed back to base. The fly-in to Osh was ramping up with a number of aircraft arriving. The landscape around Wisconsin with all the water across the countryside was amazing to see.


Day 28 of 40 - Fri July 26

We drove up to Oshkosh and bought our camp gear at Walmart, then back to the EAA campgrounds to collect our prebought tickets at admissions and then the adventure of picking a spot and having an erection.

Aussie flags stayed on to the end, Rentacar girls souvenired them when we returned the car.

Day 29 of 40 - Sat July 27 Oshkosh

OK. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the bulk days for getting about 10,000 airplanes down and parked.

Today were the mass arrivals of the Bonanzas, a real sight to see them all coming in and landing 3 abreast - 2 on the runway and 1 on the taxiway. They were all down in around a couple of hours. We also got to drive around a bit and see all the aircraft being parked.


Day 30 of 40 - Sun July 28

Sunday we stocked up on our camping supplies at Walmart.

Grumman 'DUCK'


Day 31 of 40 - Mon July 29

Opening Day!

We travelled the 15 mins to Oshkosh most days for the world’s greatest aviation show and this year covered off the things that we missed last time. While it was still busy, we felt more relaxed because we knew more what to expect this time and so we could plan each day better.

Monday I donned my Aussie wear and flitted around the grounds. One TV crew filmed me for their local news. We meet up with a couple of mates from Oz and discussed what we had bought so far. We found some more parts in the flymart that we had to have for our plane. Then we viewed the aircraft on display including a Liberator (Years ago Doug had helped a friend search for and retrieve some parts from a WW2 crashed Liberator in the Gulf), which I walked through. Plus I was fortunate enough to ride in a T-model Ford.

VW Stretch Limo - "Only in America!"

Yep - That's the BEDE Microjet


Day 32 of 40 - Tue July 30

Tuesday was tribute to naval aviation with spectacular formations or fighters, bombers and trainers. We attended a number of different educational forums on building and different forms of flying. We saw Yves Rossi the world's first jet-powered flying man take to the sky and wandered a number of exhibits.

Click this link to see Yves Rossy the Jetman in flight. He performed 4 times at Oshkosh and gave a number of talks.



Day 33 of 40 - Wed July 31

Wednesday we headed over to Fightertown to see the Warbirds in Review. There was a lass who did justice to singing some sentimental and rousing songs from the WWII era. Then Bud Anderson and a couple of other wartime heroes yarned about some of their adventures and experiences in the P51 Mustang. Back at the camp a weird contraction that looked like it came out of the movie ‘Those magnificent men and their flying machines’ drove down the road flapping it’s wings. Then the day was finished by the night airshow. There was a spectacular display by a helicopter shooting off fireworks as he flew, plus there were many of the favourites from 2 years ago.


Day 34 of 40 - Thu Aug 1

Thursday it was time to head to the ultralight field to watch the pilots show off their aircraft’s performance. We also checked out a new aircraft motor that has been gaining a lot of attention called the D-motor.

It drove around flapping wings and looking like something Red Skelton tried to fly in "Magnificent Men"


Day 35 of 40 - Fri Aug 2

Friday I attended some more forums and then jumped into the big group Women Venture photo. The airshow theme for that day was a re-enactment of the Pearl Harbour bombing presented by the Commemorative Air Force. That evening we headed over to a free dinner for all international visitors where we met some new folks.


Day 36 of 40 - Sat Aug 3

Saturday, we checked out the classifieds on the noticeboard and did some final shopping at Airventure, then we said farewell to another Osh.


Day 37 of 40 - Sun Aug 4

On Sunday we laid out all our treasures and then packed for the long haul home.


Day 38 of 40 - Mon Aug 5

Finally it was time for the long trek home. We drove from Oshkosh to Chicago on Monday. Overnighted in Chicago, then took the 4hr plane journey to LA. From LA we boarded Air New Zealand who took us from LA to Auckland 12½ hrs, changed planes for the 3 hr flight to Brisbane, before jumping a Virgin flight home. That was a marathon run. Air New Zealand had great hospitality and we would happily fly with them again.


Day 40 of 40 - Thu Aug 8

We are back in OZ, lost the 7th to the International dateline, sleep in our own bed tonight.

Once again had a great time despite some setbacks. In all we took 6220 photos and videos (37 GB worth).