A Travellerspoint blog

December 2014

Hollywood & Walk of Fame


Trying to live like the locals, we decided to catch a bus and the metro to the Walk of Fame. What the hell, time to walk (or ride) on the wild side for a bit.

We successfully catch the bus to the drop off point to the underground subway station. We jump on the train and catch it all the way to the Walk of Fame. Phew we did it and we also managed to get home in the reverse - we rock!

We spent a couple of hours walking around and getting some photos, but Alyssa isn't so keen to get her photo taken with any of the 'actors'. She is quite happy just looking for a reasonable distance.

The Walk of Fame is a source of curiosity for Lys who asks why they are there and who the people are. We explain that the stars are kind of like monuments or recognition to actors, musicians, singers etc who have achieved something special in the entertainment industry. She struggles to recognize most of the names until we come across Britney Spears and Robin Williams, then the penny dropped.

Perhaps we talked the Hollywood sign up a bit too much, because when we asked her whether she enjoyed seeing the sign, she was a bit unfazed by it. "It's just a big sign Mum!" Yep! You're absolutely right Lys, it's just a big sign.

Today, it looks like we're chilling at home because as soon as Lys got up and had breakfast she was out the door faster than a cheetah after prey and into the main house to play with the girls. psst! she had to do 30min of study first, much to her disgust - but this is all part of my 'return to study plan'.

Till next time folks - stay tuned to find out what our plans are for Dream 4.1.

Posted by V3USA 11:02 Comments (1)

Home for 6 nights

We have finally arrived at our accommodation. It is a little granny flat out the back of Sarah & Sonia's house. Sarah & Sonia have 3 girls: Kate (10), Emily (8), and Olivia (5). Alyssa is absolutely loving her stay and for the first day, we barely saw her because she was quickly whipped off to the kid's bedrooms at 8:30am. We didn't see her again until 4:30pm that evening.

We were in bed by 6:30pm and asleep by 6:31pm. Get this......we didn't wake up till 30/12 at 9:30am (15 hours later). Turns out no day or bad news can't be fixed with a 15 hour nap. Today we are off to Hollywood and the Walk of Fame and then some serious planning for Dream 4.1.

Posted by V3USA 10:53 Comments (2)

Dream 4.1

So, here's the thing. Sometimes it's a good thing not to plan too far in advance. When we arrived at LAX on Monday morning, we collect our bags and proceed to customs. The man behind the counter asks some general questions and then asked a question about what we were told at the American Consulate in Sydney. We run through our little experience with him to which he then proceeds to tell us that on this occasion he can only grant a stay of 6 months. I'm sorry, did I hear you correctly? 6 (six) months? Yes folks, they are only letting us stay for 6 months. This wouldn't be so bad, but we have taken 12 months leave, rented our home for 12 months, and booked our return flights for early December 2015.

Nick asked why and I immediately throw out questions in rapid succession: what are our options? can we go to another country and return? how long do we have to be out of the country before we can return? when we return, can we be guaranteed another 6 months at least? are there any countries we can't go to and then return? "Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” Dr Suess.

The Consulate in Sydney should have told us because apparently it is the law and we can't go to either Canada or Mexico unless we go for substantial period.

Either we were too tired or too stunned to react, so we decided we would simply accept what the customs officer said to us and investigate further when we were a little less jet lagged. 15 minutes later (doesn't take us long I know) we decided to go to the information centre and seek advice about an Australian or American consulate so we could discuss our situation.

Turns out, six months is the rule and we can't just simply pop across the border like they do in the movies. We would need to go to either Canada or Mexico for a substantial period. There's that bloody word 'substantial' again. It's a bit like 'limited personal use'. There is no real definition. If we go to Canada for 3-4 months, this might be considered substantial. However, when we attempt to return to America, our destiny is yet again in the hands of the person sitting behind the desk. Bummer!

Lets not worry about this yet, let's just get to our accommodation and settle in and think about all this later, when our minds are a little less groggy and the emotions have subsided.

So now you know.....Dream 4.1 is in the making!

Posted by V3USA 10:39 Comments (3)

Today we leave Australia for USA (Monday 29/12 at 5:55am)

written on long flight over (time to kill)

We are finally on our way to our first destination point. I think Nick would have you believe that an adventure of this magnitude only took a little planning. Anyone that knows me (OR Nick for that matter) knows that there is a very strong likelihood that we had a list or two going on what needed to be done to actually do this. I can now categorically say that we started with a chalk pen, a floor to ceiling cupboard mirror and an hour long brain storming session. First point or points to go up on our makeshift mind map was our top 10 things to see and do. (That's an entirely separate story).

The mirror very quickly filled to the degree that neither Nick and I could continue to operate without ending up with fractured identities, so we resorted to good old fashioned pen and paper. We ended up with a list of things that needed to be done that took up an entire A4 page and no less than 4 columns.

By six months into planning it felt like we'd crossed 4 items of our list and added another 10 (and that would be a weekly occurrence). I had to keep reminding myself that rarely had I ever started something without finishing it, so I knew we were a good chance of crossing everything off our list. Even though at times it felt unachievable.

Things like electoral roll, suspending Bupa, making sure insurances were up to date, finding someone to look after our mountain bikes for us while we were away, finding someone to look after the house and then making sure all those things were up to date. We then had to consider how we were going to get around (RV, car, bus, rail) and roughly what direction we were going to travel to make sure we got to see and do everything we wanted. Then the smallest matter of cancelling mobile phone plans in Australia and reviewing our options for keeping our numbers in 2016 and having a suitable plan in the US (including wifi access for school). Not to mention suspending or cancelling memberships to almost everything with an annual fee attached.

We even did a compendium for the house guests - how to turn the washing machine on (cause its held together with superglue), how to maintain the sprinkler heads that pop off (araldite), the extra piece of timber maintaining the cubby house structure, the pilot light on the oven etc, etc, etc.

And then there was a tiny matter of how the hell we were going to educate Alyssa. That's where the School of Distance comes in. And not only did we have to think 2015, but we had to even be thinking about 2016. Apparently there were no guarantees she would get back into Southern Cross in 2016. So like any good parent, we stalked the school until they agreed to accept an early request for admit to grade 6. Clearly we're optimistic we will make good teachers and she will pass grade 5 with flying colours (or is that colors). I stalked the School of Distance on a few matters too and I'm pretty sure I'm one of those numbers that come up on the phone that people groan about or worse, they avoid answering because I'm "one of those mums".

Needless to say, we managed to cross absolutely everything of our list (like there was ever any doubt), and we're on our way.

I'm reminded at this stage of our adventure that sometimes you just have to jump and then grow wings?

Posted by V3USA 11:31 Comments (3)

In the beginning

The what and why

sunny 33 °C

A number of people have asked why take 12 months off work and school and why travel around the USA. Well since this is the first real post (the others were tests to see how the blog works and how you are notified of new posts) I will give a bit of background.

About 2 years ago Ronnie and I were commenting about how fast Alyssa was growing and how the years were flying by when we asked each other, what would we do if we had 12 months off work. The quick answer from both of us was drive an RV around the USA seeing as many National parks as possible. So I guess that was the start of the dream. Well not long after we were having morning tea with friends Richard and Dianne at our place and we started talking through the dream. Their comment was why not try and visit every state of the USA during that time, effectively a state per month. That was basically dream 2.0. It was quickly decided though that carting a 10 yo to every state in a relatively short period of time would be quite difficult and a little boring with the amount of travel on highways, so we decided to try and see things at a bit slower place.

Anyways, long story short, we thought about hiring an RV for the first 6 months but a bit of research showed that hiring an RV in winter wasn't ideal as the pipes can freeze and explode if in freezing conditions and since we still planned to see a number of National parks (many at high elevations), this plan was abandoned for safety reasons.

So here we are at dream 4.0 I guess. We basically have the first 2 months planned, but nothing booked after that. So we leave tomorrow, flying from Townsville to Brisbane on the early 5.55am flight and then to Los Angeles at lunchtime. Stayed tuned for more updates and let us know your thoughts on the trip and places you think we should see or not miss.

Nick, Ronnie and Alyssa

Posted by V3USA 19:55 Archived in Australia Comments (5)

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