4 weeks with an Aussie in the States.

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by latrobe, Feb 13, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    I have been looking around this site for a few days now and must say I have found it to be user friendly.Also unlike FT I have found it is easy to post pictures.Now I like doing TRs but like to use photos.I have never mastered the art of posting pics on FT so they have missed out.Hopefully I can bring a different perspective to travel.Basically a retired couple(I work part time to finance our travel) who prefer to travel in premium cabins,have become status chasers,love our food from Michelin 3 hat restaurants to street food.We have gone past the stage of having to do everything so often end up doing some very different things in our travels.most of my TRs will have debuted on AFF(an Australian frequent flyer site)so i apologise to all those I recognise from there.I hope others may get something out of my reports.I have left links to hotel reviews on AFF.
    We have been travelling to the USA for the past 30 years.We have driven and slept in all 50 states plus DC.Our son went to Wharton and lived and worked in NYC for 5 years.So this was our latest trip-4 weeks of driving through 5 states.A bit of travel,shopping advice thrown in.We had spent a month in Europe prior to this.
    This part of our trip starts with our arrival at ORD after flying AA from FRA.Our plane got to the furthest gate from Immigration just after 1700.It was a long walk but despite our dicky knees we were first from our flight to Immigration.There were only a few left from the previous flight from China.Everyone was getting their photo and 10 digits analysed-I just put my 4 right fingers on the reader and the fellow said OK on your way.Our bags were just coming out as we arrived at the carousel.They were not in the first lot but who cares-the baggage handlers were obviously efficient as it was about 15-20 minutes from deplaning to leaving the airport.
    So it was off to Dollar rentals.It appears to be an ORD thing but once again we were downgraded getting a Chevvy Malibu as a full size(the last time was with Hertz).It didn't make that much difference as we still had everything in 2 bags.Then it was off to the HGI Oakbrook Terrace-a brand that we enjoy.This one selected as it was close to a Mall with all the major Dept stores plus not far from a major factory outlet mall-Aurora Premium outlets.
    Here there was absolutely no difference in our treatment as HH gold to when we were diamond-room on top floor on side away from road with complimentary brekkie and 2 waters.As with most HGIs there is a complimentary business centre with 2 computers.
    The next morning we were off to Aurora along with thousands of others for the Labor Day sales.By the time we left there were long lines of cars waiting just to get into the parking lot.Mrslatrobe was in fine form so we had quite a few parcels to drop back at the HGI before we hit the Department stores.After that we go off to Red Lobster for dinner-one of our favourites.
    Tips-always take your automobile club or whatever card with you if it is affiliated with AAA.You get lots of discounts-eg an extra 10% off at Gap outlets(not stores) and 20% off at Rockport,Reebok outlets.Sometimes you have to point out the AAA logo on the back of the card.For all discounts look here-
    Welcome AAA Affiliates
    If you want to shop at Macy's go to the store office and get a visitor's discount card.You can get this at any Macys store in the States.It usually gives you 10% off but occasionally it is 11%.
    For chain restaurants go to their website and see if they have a frequent diners program or even just coupons.For example we have both joined up Red Lobster's Fresh Catch club and regularly get coupons for $3-4 off main meals.For the month after your birthday a coupon for a bit extra-and we were in time for mrslatrobe's birthday coupon to be valid.
    Whilst on shopping though you can also get the shopping discounts at Bloomingdales and also we have got it at Dillards in NYC-other dillards though have denied knowledge of it.
    The Chicago stay was just to recuperate from Europe and begin the shopping so the next day we were off to SFO.Down to breakfast early but there was a large Chinese tour group having brekkie so we missed the hot breakfast.Then a leisurely drive back to ORD.The Dollar lot is right at the end of a runway so every 20-30 seconds there was a plane overhead-
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    The driver of the courtesy bus,Alvin,was a cheerful fellow who was not a bad singer.He was quick to unload our bags and I was happy to tip him-others didn't.To F checkin.Bags now weigh 38,42 and 46.5lb.An increase of 13kg since arriving 36 hours before!Obviously carry on only is not for us.through the priority security lane quickly and to the Flagship lounge at K18.Now no where near as good as F lounge in SYD but IMHO better than the QF SIN Flounge.Very quiet.
    AA451.ORD-SFO.ETD-0945.ETA-1230
    Actual pushback-1035.At gate-1315.
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    The obligatory foot shot
    A new B738.Woman captain.Seats 6D,F-changed as change of equipment-though with FEBO these are not a problem.efficient service and meal reasonable-
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    Mrslatrobe's chicken salad.
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    And I had the quesadilla.
    Amazing flying over Colorado and Utah.
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    Once again we are at furthest gate from baggage carousel.Ours are out first.To get to rental cars you have to take the airtrain to the rental car centre-a bit of a hike and I would prefer the courtesy coach set up.At Dollar we do get the booked car-a Dodge Charger but for the first time we are hit with the bring it back empty line.However i say we are just going to Napa and we are allowed to bring it back full.
    Heavy traffic on 101 and I80 until we go over the Solano bridge.One of our favourite restaurants,The Dead Fish,is here but we are not feeling hungry.So on to Napa.Bumper to bumper traffic on hway29 into Napa.Maybe should have considered elsewhere on a holiday long weekend.
    The Napa stay is next.
     
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  2. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Staying at the HGI Napa.It was chockers.Room on second floor.When I went out to get the rest of our luggage a football whizzed past my head-several young fellows were practising their grid iron passes in the hallways.We thought we were in trouble especially as a lot of the youngsters appeared to be smuggling beer in.Fortunately though they all went out and weren't unduly noisy when they returned.
    We went to the CBD and they had a Riverfest on.stayed a while but all restaurants were chocker so we took a drive towards St.Helena.It looked like it was going to be Chucky duck for dinner until we found Go Fish which appeared fairly empty-was this a bad sign.We were not hopeful when the sign outside said it was an Oyster bar and Sushi restaurant.Turned out to be very nice.We shared a soft shell crab roll then I had a Cajun whole snapper and mrsdrron had a lobster bake-
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    With a bottle of local Sav Blanc-$US135.We thought it was worth it.
    The HGI breakfast here is a little different and has several Mexican dishes so during our stay I tried the Breakfast Burrito and the Huevos Rancheros.Pleasant staff.On the second day we took a trip over to Vacaville-another premium outlets.But for others there is the Jelly Belly factory with tours and a shop to buy cheap seconds.there is also a Budweiser Brewery with a free tour and tasting.Also the Travis AFB and another air force museum though you have to ring before to see if you can get an escort onto the base-not always available.Lunch today was a Mongolian BBQ at only $6.For dinner we took it easy and bought some local fruit including lovely big raspberries.
    Tuesday and we took a drive to Petaluma-yes another outlet mall-but also vineyards.then Santa Rosa-shopping and the Charles Schultz museum-$10 entrance.Then a pretty drive down route 12 to Sonoma.
    There we went to the Stone Corner gardens and had a late lunch.An upmarket cafe with trendy huge salads-2 salads plus a side of 4 different beetroot was <$15.However it did remind me why some veggies are heirloom-they should remain in the past.
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    There is also wine tasting there with several of the smaller vineyards bought together.As is usual in the US the tasting is $5 but taken off any wine you buy.
     
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  3. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    The gardens are quite whimsical with different landscapers doing various sections and unusual sculptures.But just to show drron is just a little fellow-
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    Next-another travel day.​
     
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  4. I judge M*P is two generations of web better than FT. Sounds like you are having a great time on your trip and please spend as much money as you can in California, as we really need it.

    I have always found HGI to be a pretty good value being a somewhat newer chain.
     
  5. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Wednesday morning.The B team is on for brekkie.Slow service.Bacon burnt-ie really black.We leave at 0820 for our midday flight out of SFO.No problems until we cross the Solano bridge.Then bumper to bumper traffic-an acccident is slowing the traffic.Mrslatrobe is getting nervous but we still manage to get to the Dollar lot by 1030.However it takes 15 minutes to get to terminal 3 and 7 in front of us in priority queue who are taking their time so she is still edgy.Then one fellow starts arguing as he is being charged excess baggage fees,fortunately another 2 agents appear and we are checked in.Our bags are 37.5,46.5 and 53lbs-but allowed through like that.At checkin we are told that the flight is delayed until 1240.In the AC by 1100-do you want drink coupons?Oh yes says mrslatrobe and soon has a wine in front of her.We soon find out that AA flights disrupted as the remains of Hurricane Hermine are over DFW today.
    AA1923. SFO-LAX.ETD-1200.ETA-1330.
    Actual pushback-1340.At gate-1435.
    Only a drinks service on this sector.once again a new 738.Once again we are at furthest gate from baggage carousel.2 bags out first-mrslatrobe says she only saw 2 bags loaded,she is right third bag does not make an appearance so off to baggage services.Told it will be on next flight.later on we find it actually was given a ride to JFK.
    Off to the Dollar lot.Here they have a separate queue if you have an international voucher.Only 1 agent so we spend 45 minutes in queue.Everyone is getting the hard sell on insurances and upgrades.When I get to the agent I tell her it is my third dollar rental for the week,I have all the insurances i want and I have AAA.However this time I cant get rid of the bring it back empty bit-the agent tells me it is Californian law which is obviously BS.Later I look it up online and cant find the law.Email dollar on 3 occasions-no reply so i email the californian Attorney general-immediately get a reply from Dollar but basically saying tough.Interestingly since arriving home i have had an email from the AG thanking me for bringing this potential consumer fraud to his departments attention and that the authorities will investigate it.Motto-dont BS drron.
    After all this excitement we set off for Carlsbad.I405 is in gridlock.Not to worry,with 2 people in the car we can go in the HOV(transit)lane and soon we are whizzing past all the traffic.Review of HGVC Marbrisa here-
    http://www.australianfrequentflyer.c...-ca-25543.html (HGVC Marbrisa Resort,Carlsbad,CA.)


    It was dark by the time we checked in and unpacked.so we went down to Carlsbad village and had dinner at the Fish House Vera cruz-nice but not great seafood.We then went to the supermarket to stock up as we were in an apartment for 3 days.If we can we go to Albertson's.Most US supermarkets have shoppers clubs with discounts for members.At Albertsons if you say you are from Australia at the checkout they get out a card and give you the discount-saved us $12 on a $49 bill.
    Well the HGVC Marbrisa overlooks Legoland so a great place to stay if with the kids or grandkids.But been there,done that so naturally the first thing on the agenda for Thursday is a visit to the Carlsbad Premium outlets.Less than a mile away.However you could get the shopper in your party to drop you at the Crossings golf club whilst they go shopping-staying at the HGVC you get a discount on the golf.If you are into that sort of thing you can do a timeshare presentation and get tickets to seaworld or even Disneyland or a $100 Macys voucher.We declined that.Also for the golf tragics Carlsbad is home to Taylor Made,Callaway and Cobra.
    By the time mrslatrobe had finished shopping it was time for lunch.We went to Bellefleur which is in the Outlet Mall.It was good and i would reccomend it.I started with Ahi Tuna served with wasabi and teriyaki sauces-excellent.Mrslatrobe had the mussels but they were the NZ greenlipped variety which we think are inferior.Mrslatrobe then had a salmon main course whilst I had a combination seafood with crab cakes,salmon,coconut prawns and calamari.Great value at $16.95.Accompanied by a "wine flight"for each of us.A taste of 3 different wines-Sav Blanc for mrslatrobe and Cab Sav for me.A great idea.All up $80.
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    After lunch back to the hotel for my nanny nap-these few days are chill out time.When we got back our missing bag is there.SFO-LAX via JFK and AA2121.Now if I could get EQP for the extra distance the bag went.
    Friday and just took a drive along the coast and went to the San diego Botanic Gardens(close to Carlsbad).$12 entry and not worth it.Had lunch at P F Changs-short ribs,VIP duck and beef with snow peas.Very nice.With a half bottle of wine-$70.Then spent the afternoon on the balcony sipping wine.
    Next-9/11 and a day at the baseball.​
     
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  6. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    When we first bought our tickets to the baseball the San diego Padres were also rans.By the time we arrived they were head of their division but just ahead of the SF Giants who they were playing today.So instead of the game starting at 1730 which would have been easy for us it had become the TV match of the day starting at 1300.So we had to check in early.Fortunately we were able to check into the Sheraton Suites at 1030.Review here-
    http://www.australianfrequentflyer.c...-ca-25594.html (Sheraton Suites,San Diego,CA)
    We walked down to Petco Park-the weather was beautiful.Just over 41000 attendance and the atmosphere was great.Now San Diego is a naval town and this was 9/11.The National anthem was sung by a female naval officer,the Navy did a fly over,a giant US flag was brought onto the field by the crew of 1 of the ships in port.The first pitch was thrown by a former NY fireman who had gone into Tower 1.You can imagine the emotion.
    On the lighter side the Padres mascot is a Friar-it is Spanish mission territory.So the Padres have a Frequent Friars club-I believe they get any time access!Entering the ground we were both given a Padres sports bag and leaving a coupon for 2 tacos.We were in a serviced box which was enjoyable-it cost us just over $A60.Things as usual for a sporting venue were expensive-beer-$8,wine-$7.We did consider this area-
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  7. ThatJohn
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    ThatJohn Silver Member

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    *blinkblink* You may need to look at your formatting on that post! It's a bit wall-of-text. :)
     
  8. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Yes all you can eat hotdogs,popcorn and free flowing sodas-yum.
    As to the game the Giants had bases loaded with none out in the second but failed to score.The Padres hit a home run in the third and that was the end of the scoring.At the end of the 7th innings that had a time out for the crowd to stretch.I really enjoyed the day.So some pics.
    After the game we walked over to the Convention centre and registered for my conference-the only reason this trip occurred!We then walked back to the hotel.We were snacked out.
    Sunday and a short drive to the Mexican border.Yes you guessed it another factory outlet.Mrslatrobe was not finished yet.These were the Las americas outlets and boy were they busy.Then we drove back to the Fashion valley Mall-you can get there on the light rail.Upmarket shops,lots of eating choices plus theatres.Then it was back to the Harbour and a walk along the foreshore.A Californian Sea Lion was basking on one of the docks.The USS Midway stands out and can be toured plus you can eat on board.One of the things advertised was an afternoon sailing with Dennis Connor.However by now we were thinking of our stomachs and went to the Fish Market restaurant-fantastic.Ginger,lime prawns and then we each had a 2lb lobster tail.A bottle of Oyster Bay Sav blanc and a total bill of $135.By the we had had enough and back to hotel for an early night.
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  9. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Monday and i was at the conference all day.The americans certainly can come up with the goods.This was a heart failure conference but the speakers for the first session were an engineer,a zoologist and a rheumatologist-really thinking outside the box.The engineer was a fantastic presenter-she worked in nanotechnology in telecommunications-didnt cause me to have much faith in our Government's broad band plan.
    Outside the Convention centre overlooks the harbour and there is always something going on-
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    Even the Dole ship with only dole containers-
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    That night we drove out to Mission beach and had a tony romas ribs meal.
    Tuesday and back to the conference.Mrslatrobe went to the Horton Mall in the CBD-tip you can park here for free for 3 hours,validating machines throughout the mall,no purchase necessary.Dinner that night was another PF Changs-we really like it.
    Wednesday and the conference winds up at lunch time.We have a 3pm checkout.We enjoyed the Sheraton suites and on a Z4R rate was $A140 a night.Staff really were great.
    We then drove to San bernadino and the HI Colton,review here-
    http://www.australianfrequentflyer.c...bro-25638.html (Hampton Inns-Colton,CA and Jonesbro,AK)
    Quite unusual putting in $10 of gas at a time not wanting to leave too much fuel in the tank.Commute was up I15 to I215.amazing how many new housing estates since we last drove this way several years ago.however reminded me of the old Tom Lehrer song-Little boxes-and theyre all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.
    On I215 you pass the Marian Field AFB and another air museum.On arriving at the HI find the place full of old bikers who have just finished the Annual Route 66 ride.However after unpacking it was a short drive west to Desert Hills and another outlet Mall.Dinner at Outback steakhouse-amazing what is passed off as Australian.However the steaks were very good.back to the HI and had a great nights sleep.
    next-off to LAX.​
     
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  10. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Sorry about that but you know us Aussies are just full of wind!
     
  11. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Friday and we start with the usual but adequate HI breakfast.This one though did have a waffle maker.We then stopped off at Ontario Mills for a spot more shopping and a snack from Cinnabon-cant resist those rolls.
    Again hard trying to judge the fuel and unfortunately as we go through downtown LA the fuel light goes on so off the freeway and put another $5 of gas in.We then drive down Alvarado Street to get back to the freeway-this is real third world.A mexican area but all the street stalls look more like Siem Reap than the USA.Pass a park with literally hundreds of homeless people lying around on their cardboard boxes.
    Decide to have an early dinner before going to the hotel.so we go to the Manhattan Mall just south of LAX where there used to be a lot of restaurants.Most now closed.So we go to Olive Garden-not even a good impression of Italian food.Before paying the bill I went to the rest room-walked in on a fellow shooting up-he was very happy,laughing all the time.
    Then to the Radisson LAX-mrslatrobe had joined up goldpoints before we left and a promo had given us a free night so we used it here as unlikely to be able to use it any time else.Review here-
    http://www.australianfrequentflyer.c...lax-25604.html (Radisson LAX)
    Left before brekkie.I had expressed concern to mrslatrobe that 1 bag was quite heavy-she was unconcerned.But at checkin it weighed 57lb and we had to repack-now bags weighing 52,49 and 48lb.You would think that would be the end of the shopping right?Wrong.But that is later.
    had to queue to get into the priority security lane but didn't take too long to get through.I set off the alarm twice-?why.The TSA agent said run through so i did and no problems.We get to the flagship lounge around 0600.Only 2 others there and 1 extra arrives in the next hour.very comfortable.Great selection of fruit,a sparkling from Sonoma is out plus a selection of spirits.Sausages,beef patties,tomatoes and a frittata are the hot items.
    AA2422 LAX-DFW.ETD-0740.ETA-1240.Push back-0747.At gate 1255.
    Reasonable brekkie-Quesadilla with scrambled egg and cheese,fruit and a buttermilk biscuit(scone).
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    This is our first MD-80 of the trip.Not much room when seat in front reclined(this is the F cabin).
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    But OK if upright-
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    At DFW there is an AA bird in Oneworld livery-
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    After brekkie I do my usual trick of falling asleep.Wake as we begin our descent.A lot of turbulence.A tray of glasses hits the floor in the galley.The sound suggests several break.Now we are at gate a little late-1255 and at C2.Next flight going from D21 at 1345.Do we make it-that next.​
     
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  12. ThatJohn
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    ThatJohn Silver Member

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    Or, as we say here in NZ, "wund". ;)
     
  13. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Coming off the plane at C2 we turn right,up the escalator and via the moving footway to Terminal D.Quicker than the train.So not only do we make our plane we have time for 15 minutes in the AC.Important as we wanted to ring the HGI where we will be staying on our return as a parcel due to be delivered.Not only made the call,got our drink coupons and knocked back a sav Blanc each but got offered complimentary T mobile cards-didn't take it as all hotels we will be going to offer free internet.
    To the gate and 2 FAs are missing-their connecting flight is late.They arrive very soon after and boarding is on time.However once boarded we wait as they are waiting for connecting baggage.
    AA2162.DFW-BNA.ETD-1340.ETA-1550.Pushback-1405.At gate 1605.
    Just over an hours flight so no meal-just drinks and nuts.Now QF do do better on these short flights-eg SYD-BNE or MEL.However this flight has one of those AA gems-FA Brian.Interacts with virtually all pax on boarding.When door closes wishes happy Birthday to the woman in 11D.Then asks everyone to show appreciation to the serving personnel on board.His service is efficient,friendly and the whole F cabin is commenting on the service.Has a long chat with mrslatrobe and she gets another wine without having to ask.I had no hesitation emailing AA customer service with my praise.
    On arrival at BNA our bags are last off,though baggage was out very quickly.Once again at the Dollar counter we are hit with the bring it back empty but the fellows here really are pleasant and do admit it is just the company policy.We do get our booked car-Chevvy Impala-good because it takes all our luggage in the boot.Then off to the Sheraton downtown,review here-
    http://www.australianfrequentflyer.c...-tn-25637.html (Sheraton Nashville Downtown,TN)
    Not very impressed but it was a free night.Now the lounge wasn't much as is typical in North America,Opryland and Opry Mills were still closed from the floods earlier in the year so we took a drive east on I40 to a small outlet at Lebanon.Not really worth it.An Outback Steakhouse is nearby.I have the Prime Rib and mrslatrobe has the Pork chop.Both very good.back to the hotel and we crash,not waking until 0800.
    Next-Little Rock.​
     
  14. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    After waking and packing we once again tried to get to the lounge of the Sheraton Downtown-still couldn't so we missed breakfast.A drive down I40 to Memphis.Getting ready for the cotton harvest.Unfortunately roadworks near Jackson take a while to get through so only a short stop for gas and a quick lunch in Memphis-we have stayed before and visited Gracelands-after all we did reconfim our vows at the Gracelands wedding chapel in Vegas.Still remember the free Coors brewery tour too.
    Arrived at the HGI North Little Rock a bit after 1600.Unpacked and off to the nearby mall.Now Little Rock is the head office of Dillards-mrslatrobe's favourite department store.Luggage is on sale so we buy a new 4 wheeler-very light and still fits in the boot with all our others.For HGI reviews look here-
    http://www.australianfrequentflyer.c...ing-25766.html (Hilton garden Inn-a sampling.)
    After shopping it was Red Lobster for dinner-I had the all you can eat shrimp for $16.
    now in Arkansas nothing much happens on Sundays and the Bill Clinton Presidential Library only opens at 1300.so we did a little drive around.Went to Burns Park.A real oasis-weather is hot and humid ~98F.Here there is even a cricket oval and rugby fields.Went to the visitor centre and find we are the second lot of Australians this year to visit.Also in the park an old covered bridge-
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    We got to Bill's Library a little early so instead of waiting outside in the heat we went downstairs to their restaurant and had drinks.Great to sit in the Aircon.Found they do a Sunday Brunch-looked great and only $23.95 but we weren't feeling hungry.
    So a few shots of Bill's place-
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    The view to downtown.
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    Next-Bill's Library.​
     
  15. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    I thoroughly reccomend visits to Presidential libraries.The only ones we haven't been to from FDR on are Reagan,Nixon and Eisenhower.We have also visited the homes of 10 earlier presidents.Some of the libraries are free and some charge.Bill Clinton's does charge-$7 for adults but as I am over 62 I got in for $5.Well worth it though I did think this time there was more effort put into enhancing Bill's reputation than explaining the various policies and incidents of the Presidency.

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    Naturally I could see myself fitting in-
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    Every library has the Oval office as it was set up in the Preidency-
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    And display gifts given to the president-now where did this come from-
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  16. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Right outside the Library is this impressive old railroad bridge.from the signs it was part of the Rock Island Line-a mighty fine line from the song-
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    Of course mrslatrobe takes much more artistic shots-
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    There is also the old station that has been restored as offices for the Bill Clinton Global Initiative-
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    We then went down to the riverbank which is a pleasant area-unfortunately being Sunday nearly everything was closed.There was however a "Paint Arkansas Red Party"going on.Yes political.
    Even though Little Rock is far from the sea you can tour a submarine here-the Razorback which served from 1944 to 1970 and then in the Turkish navy until 2001.
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    But once again mrslatrobe is much more artistic in her river shot-
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    Enjoyed Little Rock.That night we went to Texas Roadhouse-a really cheap steakhouse chain.A meatatarians paradise.I had the pulled pork and ribs combo for $14 and mrsdrron had the very large pork chop for $9.The meat was very good.
    Next-off to Bentonville.​
     
  17. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Monday and it was west on I40,sometimes detouring onto Hway 64 to go through some of the towns and views of the Arkansas River-
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    Texas is not far away.
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    A weir and lock on the Arkansas river.
    Then up highway 71 to Bentonville through the Ozarks but detouring to the Prairie Grove Civil War Battlefield-the largest battle in Arkansas.
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    you can always tell a civil war site with the fencing.
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    Our trusty conveyance.
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    and drron at the site of the Confederate batteries-the yankees charged across these fields,several hundred dying.
    Stayed at the HGI bentonville.Dinner at the Texas Land and Cattle company-a good steakhouse.mrsdrron fillet steak and I smoked sirloin-both very good.
    next-the reason for coming to Bentonville.​
     
  18. latrobe
    Original Member

    latrobe Silver Member

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    Bentonville is of course the birthplace of WalMart.
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    This is the first store owned by Mr sam.A museum now but being renovated at the present so only a limited display but still very interesting.The brothers were obviously very down to earth fellows and Sam Walton kept his F100 so he could take his dogs hunting.Said they would look a little silly in a Rolls Royce.
    Bentonville is obviously a busy area though the old CBD hasn't changed much.Lots of hotels and obviously good occupancy with suppliers and WalMart staff visiting Head Office.
    Over the road from the WalMart museum is a nice little Town square with this statue erected early last century.
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    The inscriptions on it let you know the South really didn't lose in the minds of most people from round these parts-
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    I'm not sure if you can read the inscription but it is-their names are borne on honors shield,their record is with god.
    We then drove east past another Civil war battlefield-Pea ridge then up I540/hway 71 into Missouri before heading east on route 76 to Branson.Through farmlands and National forest but a very winding road.Plenty of wildlife including an armadillo-unfortunately it was road kill.But eagles,buzzards and many different birds.
    A late afternoon arrival into Branson and before checking in it was a stop at the factory outlets.[​IMG]
    Branson next.
     
  19. latrobe
    Original Member

    latrobe Silver Member

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    In Branson we stopped at the new Hilton Promenade which is in a mall.review here-
    http://www.australianfrequentflyer.c...-mo-25791.html (Hilton Promenade,Branson,MO)
    the view out our window-
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    Though we were close to the lake,just couldn't see it-
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    How do you describe Branson.Best I can come up with is Vegas for bogans,good ole mountain boys and nursing home residents.Guess i fit in.On the bill were Bill Haley's original Comets with Paul Revere's raiders-unfortunately we arrived after 3pm when their only show of the day starts.Next week Tony Orlando and Andy Williams were coming-the 2 shows we saw on our first visit to Vegas 30 years ago-and Andy Williams was well past his prime then!
    For dinner we went to the White River Fish Company-
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    We started wit alligator tail-chewy and like overcooked calamari-plus a smoked fish dip that was delicious.Mrslatrobe had coconut prawns and I blackened catfish-both were OK.We took the leftovers and fed the ducks and geese on the way back to the hotel-
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    Also stopped for the sound and light show they did on the waterfront-
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    The next morning after our meagre brekkie we set off for Jonesboro,AK.Followed highways 65,62 and 63.Detoured through several small towns including historic Hardy.Mrslatrobe felt like an icecream so we wet into this place serving icecream,walked round and round and nearly 10 minutes later walked out without seeing anybody.So then on to the HI Jonesboro.
    The pleasures of a dry county next.​
     
  20. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Our first experience of Jonesboro was good-they had 2 frozen custard outlets and with the temperature in the high 90s this was great.Frozen custard is just so much richer than ordinary ice cream-very yummy.We then went and walked around their brand new mall-air conditioned so good exercise.
    We had looked up restaurants in the phone book and saw a few of the chain restaurants were inside a private club and you had to pay a $5 membership fee-we thought that was a little silly-well no if you want a drink in Jonesboro that is what you have to do.We ended up in a Colton's Steakhouse-were in most of the small towns round these parts.Not reccomended.I had a ribeye-a little tough,mrslatrobe had the ribs-a little spicier than she likes them and also tough-not the usual fall off the bone ribs we are used to.So we had another frozen custard on the way back to the HI.
    The next morning we were surprised.The HI had a much better selection than is the usual-5 juices,scrambled eggs which didn't taste plastic,sausages,potatoes and a waffle maker.
    Then it was a leisurely drive to Clarksville,TN first through the Mississipi flats of AK and MS.Cotton harvesting in full swing.Over the Mississipi and into TN and the geography changes-more hilly.First signs of Autumn appearing.lots of Confederate flags.Cross the Tennessee river and pass some lakes before making a stop at another Civil War battlefield-Fort Donelson on the Cumberland river.The Union's first major victory under Ulysses S Grant.
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    Grant sent the gunboats down the river but as you can see the Rebs had good gun positions and the troops then had to come overland.
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    though they also had casualties.
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    The lower battery.
    [​IMG]

    We then did the marked drive that marked the campaign and the Cemetry-next.​
     
  21. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Of course there was the obligatory fencing-
    [​IMG]
    And the confederate memorial-
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    And the marker for the cemetry-
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    [​IMG]

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    And the original cemetery office and caretakers cottage.
    Then a short hop into Clarksville(Not by the last train)and checked into the HGI which appeared very new-and staff who were very informative-all the new HGIs have only showers in the king rooms.If you want a tub book the double queen rooms.This was also the first place(and only)that had an in room safe.
    Once again went to the mall.I had a 70% off coupon for Borders(reminder sign up for their frequent readers club and you frequently get such offers) and so got Tony Blair's recent book.mrsdrron still found things in Dillards that she wanted!
    After that it was Red Lobster for dinner-and yes we still had $4 off mains coupons.
    Next-back to BNA and off to DFW.​
     
  22. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    The staff at breakfast were great but there was a problem-only teaspoons to eat your cereal-finally they found some soup spoons.A short easy drive to BNA.Lifts are small and we had to proceed separately to the departures floor.All kiosks and just 2 bag drop counters open-we tried to proceed to the First class bag drop but were told to use the kiosk.But a problem-it wouldn't let us check in 2 bags each and wanted to charge us $100-apparently it kept insisting all 4 bags belonged to mrslatrobe-probably not too far off the mark.[​IMG].So we ended up checking in at the F baggage drop anyway.So bags now 50,46,41 and 26 lbs.​
    We had a Starbucks before going through security.Even using the "expert flyers"line it was slow.Some didn't appear to be too expert!The Agent on the line though was a real character and kept us all entertained.Then to the AC-really nice-open,light and very few pax.Had to ask for our drink coupons but no worries.​
    AA2491.BNA-LAX.ETD-1355.ETA-1550.​
    An older MD80.It arrived late~1330 but a really quick turn around and pushback at 1400.This older plane was subtly different(As they are every time you fly[​IMG]).Overheads on A,B side were smaller than usual,the E,F side is larger but appeared even more so on this bird.Not as much leg room when seat in front reclines-as it did from takeoff.​
    [​IMG]
    Efficient service but without the flair of Brian.Absolutely full flight.Once again drinks service only-really that is poor for a 2 hour flight.Good view of DFW as we circled-below the storm clouds and through the pollution-​
    [​IMG]
    At gate at 1550.3 of our bags were the first out.Our 4th was last-it didn't have a priority tag.at least it showed priority tags did mean something.So downstairs and catch the shuttle to the rental car centre.This time we get the car booked and do not have to pay for the tank of fuel-just as well as we are just hanging around Dallas.Off then to the HGI Grapevine/DFW North.Another new HGI so we change to a 2 queen room to get a bath.​
    next-getting crabby.​
     
  23. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Unpack and then we walked over to Joes crab Shack for dinner.We had appetisers of garlic mussels-very good,fried oysters-small and not so good,and then a bucket of dungeness crab-very,very good.So we got a refill.Wine here cheaper than all other chains we have seen.So all of this came in just under $A90 on our Amex.
    Waiting patiently-
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    That's more like it-
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    Happy as last-
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    Saturday and I was going to play at The Cowboys golf club.Eighteen holes,cart,GPS plus all you can eat or drink(non alcoholic) for $200.Well this is Texas after all.However rain,cold and thunderstorms on and off all day so another day of shopping-Grapevine Mills(which is quite close to DFW) and the outlets and shopping plaza at Allen-north of Dallas.
    For dinner it was back to a P F Changs-we do like our Asian food and this chain is at least consistent.Many US Asian restaurants are not great.
    Next-our reason for stopping in dallas-Big Tex.​
     
  24. latrobe
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    latrobe Silver Member

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    Our original plan for this trip was just to overnight in DFW then on the Saturday fly home.But we found out that the Texas State Fair-Big Tex was starting this weekend so we extended our stay.I must confess in a past life I was a Show Society president so am a bit of a show tragic.Sunday was our day at Big Tex.We got there soon after the gates open.I was able to get in as a senior.
    The food offerings are quite incredible.You can get anything deep fried-coke,coffee,green tomatoes,margharitas,beer,moon pies-the list goes on.Food though as is usual was expensive.there was a Texas wine interesting tasting area but a bit of a rip off-$1 a sip or $10 a glass-you could get reasonable wine at the food outlets for $4 a glass.
    The place is huge so you really dont feel crowded.Lots going on.Many concerts-mainly country artists.Was Pie judging day.We also watched the pig racing-a real hoot.Then there was the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps-not a band and the only surviving drum and bugle corps in the US.They put on a great show with an incredible array of music.Then at night spent a little time in Midway-sideshow alley.A big day.
    So a few pictures-only 5 at a time due to rules.
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  25. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    That's the Carquinez Bridge between Crockett and Vallejo, going over the Carquinez Straits. Solano is the name of the county I'm located in (Crockett, where the Dead Fish is, is in Contra Costa County). Let me know next time you come by as you're pretty much in my backyard here. Benicia bumps right up to the Vallejo city limits and we can see the bridge from here (and you can see us). If you had looked below the bridge on the Vallejo side, the California Maritime Academy, part of the state university system, and their training ship Golden Bear, are located there.
     

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