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Offline dubbledee

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« 2013-Sep-03, 07:15 PM Reply #50 »
Pleased you got to see the Canyon, ED.  :thumbsup:

I was in Vegas in 1992 and had a flight booked to the GC mid-afternoon. 

But, I got myself into a poker game and rang up and cancelled.  :bash:

Offline dubbledee

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« 2013-Sep-03, 07:16 PM Reply #51 »
ED, re the fotos, email me and I'll post - if ya want, i.e. :unsu

Offline El Dufus

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« 2013-Sep-08, 01:48 AM Reply #52 »
Las Vegas - wow, what a place.

This is Disneyland for adults!

It is garish, crowded, ugly, traffic clogged, totally over the top, and normally a place I would avoid. But but when it comes to life at night, I like it - don't know if I'll come back, but it's a must see at least once.

The casinos are gi-normous. The Bellagio Hotel is so big you can spend half a day looking around its foyer and shopping arcades, which contain more buying opportunities than an Ozzie CBD. The Venetian is the same. How all the shops make a living is beyond me, but they seem to prosper. Poker machines from horizon to horizon, and plenty of people to play.

We are staying at the Vdara Hotel which is hotel only (not a casino), and it is 4.5 star at a very reasonable rate. I'd recommend it for everyone.

Entertainment forever - currently playing in Las Vegas: Elton John, Shania Twain, Penn & Teller, David Copperfield, Cirque du Soleil, Faith Hill, Jerry Seinfeld, the list goes on and on, and at reasonable ticket prices. We attended Aussie group Human Nature singing Motown (brilliant), and tonight we are seeing Cirque du Soleil set to The Beatles music. Things to do in Las Vegas are never ending.

Art exhibitions are brilliant and numerous.

Just too much to see in 5 days, but we'll give it a go!

And to top it all off, our youngest son married his English rose in a lovely service yesterday right here in Las Vegas.

We leave tomorrow with a flight to Seattle to join an Alaskan cruise for 7 days. Weather has been brilliant, and we know how lucky we are, as other regions have had fire and floods. We're hoping our luck holds for the cruise.

After that, another 6 days in Vancouver, and then home for a short break before the Sydney Bash!

We've certainly packed a lot in to this one, but not getting any younger and want to see as much of the world as we can before it's too late!

El D




Offline Goldie Locks

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« 2013-Sep-08, 06:19 AM Reply #53 »
Glad you're having a great time El D..I knew you would! 

Now you know why my girlfriends and I didn't sleep for 4 days when we were there!  :bdn:

 I LOVE Vegas - crass as it is.................... and have been back 4 times over the years so never say never!   :yay: :wizard: :icecream: 

Enjoy the rest of your travels and come home safely!   :bye:

Offline El Dufus

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« 2013-Sep-08, 10:39 AM Reply #54 »
G'day Mugsie,

Thanks for that - will see you shortly after return at the GCTC for a debrief.

Mrs El D sends her best.

El D


Offline Ascot

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« 2013-Sep-09, 07:03 AM Reply #55 »
Sounds like a great trip.  Bring the pics to the Sydney bash will ya.  Love to see them.

Offline MagiC~*

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« 2013-Sep-09, 07:11 AM Reply #56 »
Thanks ED,

Maybe the wife and i will get an opportunity one day to take that trip and if not I can just live it through your fabulous penned adventures

Looking forward to some pics  :thumbsup:

Offline El Dufus

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« 2013-Sep-09, 09:15 AM Reply #57 »
Thanks to everyone for your comments. You're encouraging me to keep writing you know!

We found another couple of shows on here at the moment - Rod Stewart and Celine Dion - minor stars!

Last night we attended Cirque du Soleils "Love", set to the music of The Beatles. Absolutely one of the best shows we have seen. If you don't like Beatles music, it's probably not for you, but the set was built especially for this show, and it consists of 6,300 speakers, so the sound is massive and brilliant. And the acrobatics spectacular.

If it ever comes to Oz, pay any price as it is a must see.

We are currently sitting at the airport waiting for our flight to Seattle, so a further update from there if time allows.

Plenty of photos have been taken, but not with the IPad, so when I work out how to upload from a camera, I'll try to show some.

El D



Offline chuggers

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« 2013-Sep-10, 07:13 PM Reply #58 »
ED,

I have been drooling over your posts....what a trip...and Shina Twain ...thought she gave up singing.....can't wait some pics at the Bash....keep posting...and I especially want to get into your ear about Grand Canyon...but not at the Bash..I think you will need a rest then...and what a come down after your trip coming to just Sydney Races.....  :lol:

 :beer:


Offline El Dufus

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« 2013-Sep-11, 04:19 AM Reply #59 »
I think this will be the last post for a week as I'm not sure about Internet coverage on the cruise.

We arrived quite late in Seattle, and only had a day to look around. It is a lovely city, population about 800,000' and they say it has a mild climate all year - something like Sydney. We awoke to a pea super fog which persisted until about midday, then disappeared like magic to a superb sunny mild day. We took the tourist bus for a run around the city and visited the farmers' markets on the waterfront (another lovely harbour). These are a daily market, full of the most delectable produce, lots of street artists of top quality, and the fish sellers are an entertainment in themselves. The markets are another must-see on a visit to Seattle.

Visited a few other tourist spots, including "the needle", which is another Sydney Centrepoint, but higher, and with grandiose views all over Seattle.

Seattle has its own mountain, which is a few miles out of the city, and stands about 14,000 feet, is covered in snow all year, but is shrouded in cloud most days. Would you believe it was cloudless yesterday and we saw it in all its beauty. the locals said we were lucky (again). It is so high, it appears above the smog line in the middle of the blue sky - a peculiar sight.

We are currently waiting to depart the hotel for the cruise terminal, so I'll take the opportunity to pass a few general observations about the US.

I had some pre-conceived impressions about America.

I thought it was going to be cheaper than Oz. I see no evidence to suggest that is correct in many, many instances of general living expenses. Books are marginally cheaper, hotels are the about the same as Oz, as is the quality. Food is about the same, maybe marginally cheaper, but pharmacy items are definitely cheaper. Restaurants are more expensive.

Cars are much cheaper, as is entertainment.

One of the big surprises for us is that poverty is rife, and in your face. Beggars are a fact of life in all major cities, as are street people. The reasons are complex, but my own observations a

The minimum wage in US is $7.50 an hour. It is impossible to live on that, so it is a natural progression that street living is common, and you find that tipping is expected in all aspects of cash transactions. And the tip is expected to be in the vicinity of 10-20 %. If you don't tip, don't expect service. In many restaurants, the tip is automatically included in your bill, and it is 18%. Cabbies expect a tip of at least 10%. Bus drivers always have a sign in the bus saying gratuities are very welcome.

Generally service standards in cafes and restaurants is very good, but that's on the basis that a tip will be forthcoming. If you don't tip, you might get a comment that is unexpected!

Many things we take for granted in Oz are not common in US.

There is no Medicare, no compulsory superannuation, no minimum wage of $20/hour, no 4 weeks holidays, nor unemployment benefit payments of anywhere near ours. So cost of production in US MUST be less than Oz, and it should naturally follow that manufactured goods should be cheaper than in Oz.

Social issues are often spoken about on TV, but believe me, the disadvantaged are much better looked after in Oz. Trade Unions do not appear to carry the same strength here, which is a separate issue depending on your point of view. These trips to other countries can certainly make you think about your own existence.

I realise I'm straying into the political arena with some of those statements, so I stress they are my general observations, and other people may disagree. That's life.

Americans are very helpful and friendly. They always express amazement that we have come so far to visit them, and almost all say they would love to visit Oz one day. Our accent is considered difficult (would you believe), as they expect us to sound like the Crocodile Hunter, who is still the most popular Aussie in the US.

Religion appears to be very important to many, many Americans, and churches of different types are everywhere.

American men seem taller than I was expecting.

I was also expecting obesity to be commonplace, but I reckon it's the same as Australia. As far as I am concerned, obesity is worse in the UK than either Oz or USA.

Fashion is similar.

Language expressions are the same - plenty of "oh my gods" and "awesomes", and "like" after every second word.

Drunks are the same - loud and nasty.

Things to do are never ending, and the scenery is always changing.

Certainly, we have been blessed with a magnificent trip so far. The cruise will top it off if the weather holds, but we have been so extraordinarily lucky, it probably can't last forever (please do!).

That's enough for now, so will try if I can during the cruise, but if not, in a week or so.

El D




Offline Ascot

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« 2013-Sep-11, 06:23 AM Reply #60 »
What about the price of Ugg Boots?  I assume you can't wear your Brissie shopping ones on the cruise  :o .  Have you found ones for Alaska?


Offline Goldie Locks

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« 2013-Sep-11, 07:19 AM Reply #61 »


American men seem taller than I was expecting. 



 :yes: :yes: :yes:

Offline El Dufus

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« 2013-Sep-18, 02:06 PM Reply #62 »
I'm back. internet was available on the ship, but was so expensive I would have needed a mortgage to afford it. nevertheless, I continued to record my thoughts daily, and have now copied them to this thread.

I was not looking forward to the cruise boarding process in Seattle, as we have had a few bad experiences with cruises in the past, but this was surprisingly easy. Straight on board and a delightful lunch while we were waiting for our luggage to be sent to the cabin.

The cabin was amidships and with a balcony view - quite small but very comfortable with a king bed, television and a good shower with plenty of hot water!

We left on time at 4pm, and spent the first night having dinner (great food), and then a good night's sleep. The next day was spent at sea on our way to Juneau. Calm seas, although a ship of this size handles most swells with little movement. Luckily we don't get seasick, but we noticed a few people heading for the medical centre almost immediately we hit the open ocean.

Juneau is the capital of Alaska, but is a small town, not very pretty, and as we were going to find out at all our ports of call, full of jewellery shops. There are many on-shore activities, from float planes and helicopters flying over the glaciers, to bus tours to various tourist spots. Depending on how much you want to spend, and for how long, most of these are good, but any flights are upwards of $300 pp, and we decided that was a bit over the top, so elected for a bus tour to visit Mendenhall glacier and Glacier gardens at $49pp. This was very enjoyable, as the glacier was quite spectacular even if a bit smaller at the face than we had envisaged. Plenty of photos taken.

The gardens were also very enjoyable as it entailed a tram tour up an almost sheer mountainside through a temperate rainforest and a wonderfully maintained garden area containing temperate plants and flowers.

The bus driver told us that Alaska has four seasons the same as Australia, but they call theirs Wet, Wetter, Wettest, and Snow. There are only a few days a year when the sunny days prevail, and when it rains, it is normally horizontal from the high winds.

Guess what?

We had a perfectly sunny day with no winds, the first for several months! The bus driver was ecstatic.

 We were only in Juneau for the day, and left for Glacier Bay that night.

Well, I have to say that we must be blessed. We have seen some of the most beautiful scenery in the world in Yosemite National Park, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, beautiful cities like San Francisco, and the spectacular Las Vegas, and yet Glacier Bay surpassed them all!

I need to explain further. Glacier Bay (north of Juneau), is only visited by cruise ships in early Spring and late Summer. We did not know this at the time we booked our travels, so this was a bonus. And the weather is usually overcast and rainy - it rains about 280 days a year. Sunny days you can count on one hand. Last year they only 15 days on which they could fly helicopters and small planes for the tourists.

We had a perfectly fine day of Brisbane winter temperatures, and the National Parks Guides (on board for the day) told us it was the best day for a couple of years! They called it a miracle.

Glacier Bay is as described - many glaciers flow into the bay. The fjords are so deep that the cruise ship can get up close and personal on good days, and we were able to get within 150 metres of the largest of the glaciers (Johns Hopkins Glacier). Words are inadequate.

The glacier itself stands about 300-400 feet at its face and about 600 metres across. In bright sunshine, the ship sat for an hour as we watched huge ice falls (called calving) drop into the bay in front of our eyes. The glacier travels many miles to the bay, and is in retreat (as are most glaciers) due to global warming. The constant movement of the ice flow gives rise to noises like thunder as sides of the surrounding mountains are gouged. When the iceflow arrives at the bay, the front just calves off and falls. Mrs El D was lucky enough to have her camera focused on the ice wall when a large part broke away and fell. It was breathtaking! The roar of the fall was amazing, and yet the wave it made was like a ripple as it moved towards the ship. We hardly felt it.

Hundreds of cruise passengers were standing at the bow watching this occur, but we were all so dumbstruck, we must have stood unmoving for the hour or so and almost completely silent as more calving occurred. The ship holds 2000 passengers, so the silence itself was deafening. In fact, so many passengers were watching the amazing spectacle that most of the crew came out to watch too. They are usually working inside and rarely get the opportunity to see the scenery.

The National Park Guides were as excited as us, and kept saying our day was such a rare occurrence, we should be eternally grateful.

And then the ship moved on to another glacier - Margerie Glacier - and the same thing happened. Bright sunshine, blue skies, massive ice flows, and wonderful calving a few metres in front of us.

I have to say we have had the most phenomenal experiences and we all know how lucky we have been to experience something that only occurs very rarely for us tourists.

Because of the weather, the tourist season only lasts from May to September in Alaska, so for us to have perfectly fine days of brilliant sunshine and blue skies is just against all odds. In fact, since we left Australia on 21st August, we have not had a wet day anywhere.

From the glories of Glacier Bay, we travelled overnight to Skagway, a small town of 800 permanent residents. Once again, we had a choice of activities, and chose a train ride to White Pass and return on the White Pass & Yukon Railway. No sunshine, but perfectly clear weather, and once again the best day weather-wise for at least 4 months - can our luck keep holding? This is a small gauge railway that traverses 3000 feet up a valley with spectacular (do I use that word too often?) views. This area of Alaska is where the gold rushes occurred back in the late 1800's, and there is still clear evidence of the toil they went through. The journey took a good 3 hours, and while it seemed a bit expensive, was thoroughly enjoyable, with good commentary from a skilful guide and scenery to die for - even saw mountain goats and marmots!

With all of the things we have seen and done over the last few weeks, our party of four is all a bit exhausted, but willing to fight on for the remaining ten days until return to Australia on 25th September.

From Skagway, we journeyed overnight to Ketchikan, and awoke to very threatening skies. The morning presentation from the guides told us that we should prepare for a wet and cold day. Like clockwork, as we disembarked for the day's outings, the skies cleared to a cloudless day with temperatures once again like the Gold Coast.

We took an amusing hour tour through the town in an amphibious "duck", but then made a last minute decision to take a sea plane flight over the fjords and mountains surrounding Ketchikan. It wasn't cheap, but the cloudless skies made the decision easier, even though one of our foursome was terrified of the small plane - an 8 seater de Havilland Beaver, but it took just the four of us on this journey.

Well, I've run out of superlatives this holiday. We soared and floated between mountains, we flew through valleys where we felt like you could reach out and touch the cliff faces, we landed on a fjord lake in the middle of mountain peaks, and we were able to climb out onto the floats to experience the wilderness. We then took off again through the valleys and returned to our starting point with a feather-like touchdown on the bay near our ship.

Our pilot kept saying this was the best day's flying all Summer, but the clouds that were moving in from the West were going to make tomorrow a totally different and difficult day. How much more luck can we have?

Tonight we start the journey back to Vancouver. It will take us all of tomorrow and the next night and we are due in Vancouver at 7am on Tuesday (today is Sunday).

Off to a nice dinner and a bottle of red tonight, and a lot of conversation on another day where we have just about exhausted our joint bucket lists!

El D

Offline monologue

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« 2013-Sep-18, 03:16 PM Reply #63 »
A great holiday by your description and thanks so much for letting us on your journey.

With access to most destinations by flight there's no reason why we shouldn't explore whats on offer.
Enjoy the rest of your holiday and lets hope the great weather you have experienced stays around for a while.

Online westie

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« 2013-Sep-18, 06:23 PM Reply #64 »
ED
A great travel journal, throughly enjoyed it.

Offline ratsack

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« 2013-Sep-18, 07:11 PM Reply #65 »
what a great read , felt like i was there   8-)

good read  ED

Offline El Dufus

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« 2013-Sep-19, 01:23 PM Reply #66 »
Thanks for the nice comments. It's all going to come to an end in less than a week now, and while we wil be sort of glad to get home, we have had such a wonderful holiday it will be sad to say goodbye to the US.

We arrived in Vancouver (Canada) yesterday, on time and to blue skies, but threatening to rain. The four of us did our usual and bought tickets for the Big Red Bus, which is the hop-on hop-off tourist bus that takes you around the city's best spots. We have found this the best way to get an overview of what we want to see in a short period of time.

Vancouver is a nice city, but needs a bit of a facelift, even though it hosted the last Winter Olympics. It's not unlike Adelaide, but with a bit more traffic chaos.

We spent today travelling to a couple of tourist spots we had picked out, and had a most delightful lunch sitting on the foreshore of Granville Island in Bridges Restaurant. This afternoon we visited Capilano suspension bridge and wildlife walk, which was terrific. Then we took a walk around Chinatown, always interesting, but I have to say my feet are pretty tired. Despite the forecast of rain today, the skies turned blue and cloudless again!

We returned to our hotel (Georgian Court), which is situated opposite a large sporting stadium. Someone mentioned an ice hockey game was on tonight, and a quick enquiry told us that the Vancouver Canucks were playing the Edmonton Oilers in a trial game tonight, prior to the season starting  next Saturday night.

So we decided to try to get to the game. After all, it was only a trial game. But the crowds seemed enormous, and there were ticket hawkers outside the ground, so we thought surely a trial game can't be that popular.

We eventually got to the ticket office after lining up for twenty minutes, and asked for 4 tickets with a reasonable view. Certainly said the ticket seller, peeled off the four tickets and then said "that'll be $478 including tax". The response was a rather predictable "F***in' hell, you're kidding", anything cheaper?"

"Sure", said our new best friend. "I've got four standing room only tickets for $280". At that stage, we admitted defeat and slunk away back to our hotel and some commiseration beers.

Wouldn't the NRL or AFL love to be able to charge those sort of prices for a trial game for God's sake! And the stadium was packed to the rafters, but at the hotel bar, we noticed the game being shown live on TV. I think it was a lucky escape.

Tomorrow is another full day, but our friends are leaving us on Friday to continue their own adventures for another two weeks in the US, while we make our way home next Monday. It will be sad to see them go, as we have had a lot of fun together and seen the most amazing sights.

This will be one of my last notes unless something spectacular happens in the next few days, so thanks again for your great encouragement. I've enjoyed putting them together for my own sake, as well as sharing with you all.

El D




Offline monologue

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« 2013-Sep-19, 02:07 PM Reply #67 »
Thanks Ed,
Amazing how you've picked up that yankee twang accent already. :)

Offline El Dufus

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« 2013-Sep-21, 02:54 AM Reply #68 »
G'day Mono,

Hopefully the "twang" will have left me shortly after return. I'm sure the Sydney bash will "bash" it out of me as a last resort.

I have tried very hard not to pick up the drawl, but they reckon they find the Oz accent hard to understand, which amazes us. So sometimes we did find ourselves saying things like "oh my God" or "you got it" with a definite American accent, just to see the reaction - usually a laugh as they realised we were "taking the p***".

They are a lovely people, but very conservative in their world outlooks.

The Oz election did not get a mention on any of the main channels, and our only source of info was from the BBC when we had access. Australia remains a novelty to the Yankees.

El D

Offline monologue

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« 2013-Sep-21, 09:32 AM Reply #69 »
Yes ED we found that while we were on our bus excursion around the UK.

Not a lot of news from Aus reported.
I had to wait for a phone call from daughter to realise we had a new PM ( albeit very short lived)

The "yanks" we had on our bus were nice people but just didn't seem to have the same sense of humour as the rest of the travellers on the bus including Aussies and Kiwis.
They do think were America is the "world" and couldn't belive just how far we had travelled from here to the UK

Welcome home

Offline Racehorses

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« 2013-Sep-21, 04:40 PM Reply #70 »
Thaaaaaaaanks ED, hope you both arrived home safe.

Offline El Dufus

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« 2013-Sep-22, 02:28 AM Reply #71 »
Haven't left Vancouver yet!

Monday is fly-out day, arrive back in Oz on Wednesday 25th Sept.

Looking forward to a rest, although has been a brilliant holiday.

Finally got some rain today.

El D

Offline Ascot

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« 2013-Sep-22, 09:05 AM Reply #72 »
Gee, the little high flyer is going to struggle getting used to hanging with us plebs again. How about a day at the GC races before Rosehill so we can knock that quasi yankee twang out of you.  Have a nice day.

Offline El Dufus

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« 2013-Sep-22, 01:08 PM Reply #73 »
Have you ever been on a cruise Mr Ascot?

If you've seen the line up for the free buffet, you will redefine "pleb" very quickly.

And you don't qualify by a long way!

El D

Offline dubbledee

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« 2013-Sep-22, 01:54 PM Reply #74 »
I doubt Ascot has caught a ferry across the Brisbane River.  

Although, thinking back, we took him fishing one weekend.  :fishing:

Safe travels, ED.  Just remember whose job it is to carry the suitcases.

 :whistle:


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