Daz, Sus and Phoebes travel to the west coast of the US for Bella’s wedding, with Dad, Ruth and the Stones
  • Day12

    Day 12 Big Sur

    January 28, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Most of us were up early to join Rose’s hunt for otters before we left Carmel by the Sea. We arrived at the National Park at 7.45 to find it didn’t open until 8am. We made our way around to the cove where they are most often sighted and first found some seals sunning themselves on the beach. Continuing along the path we managed to spot a few otters swimming in the ocean so Rose was happy and if you look on her Instagram page she may post some of the photos. They were too hard to photograph with just a phone camera.

    We went back to Carmel for breakfast and had an hour shopping before all piling back in our van for our drive through Big Sur, which means Big South. We stopped many times along the way for photo opportunities, had lunch at Nepenthe, a restaurant recommended by Matt and Leah, walked to the McWay Falls lookout and most excitingly of all saw a whole beach (100s) of elephant seals. They are huge creatures. There was a ranger there who explained that it was mainly females and babies. There were a few males who each have a harem of females. They feed in Alaska and then all come to California to have their babies. They were quite fascinating.

    We’re now at Cambria for our last night in America, at a beautiful seaside hotel. I’m looking at a magnificent sunset over the water. Tomorrow we will have our final drive to LA to fly home tomorrow night.
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  • Day11

    Day 11 Carmel by the Sea

    January 27, 2020 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 12 °C

    Last night we went for dinner to the Awahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. I had read the dress code and worn something reasonably dressed up and Darren didn’t look too bad either but the others were all still in their travelling gear - some still in tracksuit pants and sneakers (grandma!). Darren and I had to stand at the front of the group and try and disguise their disreputable state. The hotel was amazing in the middle of nowhere. Built in 1927, the dining room window has a view of the Bridal Veil falls in daylight. Sadly we were there at nighttime. The restaurant didn’t disappoint with delicious meals and a pianist playing the beautiful Steinway grand piano all night.

    No bears disturbed us during the night and we headed out of Yosemite at 9.30 this morning for our four hour drive to Carmel by the Sea. We met up with Matt, Leah, Annie, Elliott, Riley and Isla for afternoon and explored the quaint shops. We watched the sun go down over the ocean and Rose took plenty of photos. We went out for dinner to a Mediterranean restaurant.

    Tomorrow those who want to go and see the sea otters are going at 7.30 while the others have a sleep in and maybe explore the shops a bit more. Then we are off to Cambria for our last full day in America.
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  • Day10

    Day 10 Yosemite

    January 26, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 0 °C

    Today we were up at the crack to drive to Yosemite National Park, about a 4.5 hour drive. Jem is still happily driving the 12 seater tour bus. The kids think it’s a bit ‘special ‘.

    After only one stop at Starbucks we arrived in Yosemite around midday. We are staying one night in a lodge here but couldn’t check in till after 4 so we continued our tour around Yosemite in our bus, looking for snow and beautiful vistas for Rose to photograph. It was around 7 degrees and foggy so pretty cold outside of the car. It will go down to minus 2 degrees tonight. The whole valley is absolutely beautiful with tall, tall trees, rivers, waterfalls all around. We found some snow and had fun throwing some snow balls.

    We’re not allowed to leave food in our car overnight so the bears won’t break into it. We have a beautiful view outside our room.

    Tomorrow we drive to Monterey and may catch up with Matt and Leah on the way.
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    Philip Stone

    Enjoying your trip Sue. Sounds great. You will have to post a photo of your tour bus. xx

    Philip Stone

    From Sue. 😘

  • Day9

    Day 9 San Francisco, Alcatraz

    January 25, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    We had tickets booked for the 9am boat to Alcatraz so we were up early and breakfasted in the hotel. We walked down to Pier 33 and joined a massive queue of people who were also waiting for the first boat to Alcatraz. Lucky it’s not school holidays here so it’s apparently not busy! It was pretty cold on the boat and also foggy so although we could see Alcatraz we could barely make out the Golden Gate Bridge which isn’t too far away.

    Alcatraz is a small island in the San Francisco Harbour which has at various times been used as a fort and a prison in the past. The tour was quite fascinating. We first had a talk from the ranger as it is now part of the SF National Park. Then we watched a short film about Alcatraz and then walked up to the prison block where we received headphones to listen to as we walked through the different sections. The cells are tiny with a bed, shelf and toilet, barely leaving room to stand. The showers are open and they only had two per week. There was a dining room and a prison library and the prisoners averaged reading about 100 books per year. There was 1 guard to every three prisoners. A lot of the guards had families who also lived on Alcatraz and the children caught a boat across to the mainland for school every day. The gardens were and still are very well kept.

    We listened to a talk about a notorious escape attempt in 1962 where four prisoners chiselled out of their cells and made a raft out of raincoats. There is some dispute about whether they made it to the mainland or drowned in the attempt.

    We left Alcatraz around midday and had some lunch and then went on the cable car. It was interesting but apparently not the best one to go on (there are two). Then we went on the hop on hop off bus to see sites around SF, the best being crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. We were sitting on top of the bus and it was absolutely freezing. It was also quite foggy so we didn’t get a great view but still fantastic.

    Tonight we met John Pople for dinner at the Franciscan Crab Restaurant. It was lovely to catch up with John. He lives about 120km from where we are. Dinner was delicious- clam chowder, shrimp Alfredo and a huge chocolate sundae to share.

    Tomorrow we are up early to head to Yosemite.
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  • Day8

    Day 8 flight to San Francisco

    January 24, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Today we had breakfast with Lance and Bella and it was lovely to see them so happy together before they fly off to their honeymoon in Hawai tomorrow.

    We then headed to the airport for our flight to San Francisco.

    The flight was only an hour or so and we reached SF and caught the sky train to the rental car company to get another 12 seater bus as Jeremy enjoys driving us all around!
    We checked into the Holiday Inn at Fisherman’s Wharf and then headed straight down to Fisherman’s Wharf to get some of their famous chowder. We looked around and Phoebe and the kids had disappeared. They preferred to go to In N Out Burger!

    Darren and I and Dad and Ruth ended up at a seafood restaurant for dinner and had crab chowder in a bread bowl and a huge plate of crab claws.

    Jem and Rose and the kids headed off to a basketball game they had booked tickets for.

    We got our first glimpse of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge covered in fog. Tomorrow we go to Alcatraz.
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    Fiona Carroll

    Looking like Kings at a banquet 😊

    Fiona Carroll

    Wow, eerie looking place.

  • Day7

    Day 7 Bella’s Wedding

    January 23, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Thursday 23rd January- Bella’s wedding- the reason we are here.

    Started with breakfast at a nice restaurant and then off to do some sight seeing around San Diego. Rose wanted to see some ‘wall art’ ie graffiti and we managed to find one is the spots she was keen to see but as it was in a car park she couldn’t get good photos. Then on to an ultra fancy hotel on the waterfront which is famous for being the longest standing wooden hotel and was built in 1887. Then Darren wanted to see a Vietnam memorial but we suddenly got stuck in traffic so had to rush back to the hotel to get our wedding finery on then drive out to San Diego Ecclesial Hall about 40 minutes away. We made it in plenty of time.

    The hall has been decorated beautifully with flowers and white chairs and apparently quite a lot of friends and family had helped with everything particularly Rhonda, a sister from San Diego who had only been baptised this year and became the wedding coordinator (she is actually an accountant 🤣).

    Sean Eustis was the marrying brother. All the grandparents and parents walk down the aisle at the beginning of the wedding before the bride and bridesmaids. As soon as the music started for Bella to walk down the aisle my eyes started leaking. She was so beautiful. The bridesmaids wore a lovely shade of green while Isla had on a dusky pink dress.

    Karen Simons and her daughter Ellie were there to take the photos and it was lovely to catch up with them.

    We also caught up with Christian and Jennifer Russell and Sean and Rebecca Eustis as well as Mike and Myra Stickney, the groom’s parents. We also caught up with Sharnie Kirkwood Tunnell who still has her Australian accent. Rosie Oosthuizen was there also having married another Tunnell, Seth who was also the MC at the reception .

    It was also lovely to catch up with Rebecca Abel Hunter. Uncle Ron and Aunty Mary Abel and their family came and stayed with us in April 1983, just before my mum died in the June. Then not long after Uncle Ron died of a heart attack so I’ve always felt we had a close bond and we connected on FB some years ago. It was great to see Rebecca again in person and meet her husband and children.

    The reception was about half an hour away in the garage of friends of the Eustis family which has been specially converted for events. It looked lovely decorated with flowers and fairy lights. We had wood fired pizza and Caesar salad and there was a donut wall for dessert! The speeches were all lovely and most of them tear jerkers. We were sitting near Ruth Tunnell the matriarch of the Tunnell family and opposite Levi and Jess Gelineau who it was lovely to meet.

    The young people and some older people carved up the dance floor after a first dance by Lance and Bella, a father daughter dance by Matt and Bella and a mother son dance by Myra and Lance. Grandpa Elton also got right into the dancing at one stage which was a sight to see.

    We farewelled the happy couple with a sparkler tunnell and they drove away in Lance’s car which had been done up by Elliott Riley Harry and Jack with seran wrap (glad wrap) all over the doors, a donut on the antenna and red food colouring in the windscreen wiper water.
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    Fiona Carroll

    Enjoyed reading this Sus, sounds & looks like a beautiful day. I shed a tear here watching her walk down the isle. So lovely that you were all there for them. Great to hear you were able to catch up with all those friends. 💝🥰

    Travel Adventures


  • Day6

    Day 6 San Diego Zoo

    January 22, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    Today we all headed off to San Diego Zoo except Darren who decided he had better do some work.

    Rose has been anticipating this day with excitement as she is obsessed with pink flamingos and apparently there would be some here.

    We arrived around 11am and the first thing we saw as we walked in was the pink flamingo pool. We could have gone home then and Rose would have still been happy. They are very beautiful. The Zoo is magnificent - easy to walk around, very spacious and very well kept. There were all sorts of monkeys, lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, meerkats, polar bears, rattle snakes, etc etc etc. My favourite was the polar bear who put on quite a show, swimming around in his pool. Rose’s favourite remained the pink flamingos and I bought her a journal with pink flamingos on it to mark the occasion. I also couldn’t resist a pair of pink and white socks with a rhinoceros on them which said “save the chubby unicorn”.

    Tonight we head to Bella and Lance’s rehearsal dinner.
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  • Day5

    Day 5 San Diego USS Midway

    January 21, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    We left Anaheim at 9.45am and dropped MJ to the airport for her flight back to Michigan where she lives with her husband Paul and daughter Eden. It was so lovely of her to visit us. We then drove for two hours to SAN Diego.

    We lunched at a Mexican restaurant where we had all sorts of fancy tacos, chicken, shrimp, beef fillet, then boarded the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier which is now a Museum. It was quite fascinating to learn about how planes take off (via steam and a catapult) and land (with a hook and wire) as well as learn that 4500 people live on an aircraft carrier with over 1300 meals being prepared each day.

    Phoebe, Harry, Jack and Lily all went on the flight simulators- the safest to fly with would be Jack as all the others seemed to want to loop the loop most of the time.

    Back to our hotel for a rest night for some with others heading to the SAN Diego Bible class.

    Tomorrow we head to the Zoo and at night the wedding rehearsal dinner.
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    Fiona Carroll

    Pass our love on to Shaun & Rebekah as well as Christian & Jennifer. 💝🥰

  • Day4

    Day 4 Disneyland

    January 20, 2020 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Today we had a big day at Disneyland at Anaheim. This is the original Disneyland. We were up early to meet Matt, Leah, Riley, Isla, Annie and Elliott at the gates at 8am.

    After going through security and the entry gates, we found it all a bit overwhelming and weren’t sure where to start so we started with breakfast at a cafe!

    We found we were too big a group to go around together so Daz and I did our own thing which was a bit nerdy compared to all those who wanted to go on the exciting rides. Rose had organised some fast passes so for some of the rides they were able to fast track the queues which were up to an hour long.

    Daz and I went on a train around the whole park to get the layout, watched a hologram of the life of Abraham Lincoln, watched a dueling pianos show twice (once with Dad and Ruth who we met up with and recommended it to), went on a boat that was a replica of the Colombia that explored the rivers of America, ate churros, fairy floss, corn dogs and other delights, checked out the Star Wars section of Tomorrowland especially for Michelle Kirkwood, even watched some highlights from all the Star Wars movies, occasionally met up with the rest of the group who were doing more exciting things such as Space Mountain and Splash Mountain.

    We thought there was going to be a Parade at 9pm but that didn’t eventuate. The day finished with a laser and firework show over the Enchanted Castle at 9.30pm and Daz and Jem had final churros then we walked back to our hotel across the road ready to crash into bed.

    Tomorrow we say goodbye to MJ who spent the day with us and drive to San Diego.
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    Fiona Carroll


  • Day3

    Day 3 Simi Hills, Reagan Museum

    January 19, 2020 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 12 °C

    Today we left Santa Monica and drove to Simi Hills for the Meeting. We were warmly welcomed by Jeff and Kellie Gelineau. Darren gave the exhort. We also met Jason and Ruth Hensley, Bonnie Somerville and Felicity Styles. MJ Styles actually flew from Michigan to meet up with us (mainly Rose) and is also staying with us at Anaheim and coming to Disneyland. Simi Hills had lunch at the hall due to an afternoon business meeting and Jeff Gelineau kindly bought us all Chinese which we had at their lovely hall.

    Jeremy is driving a 12 seater van with us all in it and he is doing remarkably well with driving on the right hand side of the road.

    Not far from the hall is the Ronald Reagan Museum so this was our next stop. It was quite fascinating. Americans have such a respect for their Presidents (mostly) which is very refreshing for Aussies. Ronnie had a very interesting life being an actor in his early life. He also was responsible for improving relations with Russia and bringing the Cold War to an end, uttering the famous words “Mr Gorbachev tear down this wall”. He also survived an assasination attempt. Nancy was a smart and beautiful woman who, when she was criticised by the press for the cost of her wardrobe put together an outfit from second hand shops and performed a song about it.

    There is also an Airforce One plane there which we could walk through.

    There was also an interesting Egyptian exhibit there with artefacts brought up from the bottom of the sea from two cities at the Nile Delta which had slipped into the sea.

    We then drove to Anaheim and are staying at a hotel across the road from Disneyland which we will go to tomorrow.
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    Patrick Tappouras

    Ask MJ to send me a math problem ☺️

    Susan Tappouras

    Patrick, that was Hannah C who used to give you maths problems, not MJ 😂

    Patrick Tappouras

    Lol - she should have given me some memory lessons 😝