An open-ended adventure by Elisa
  • One month to go

    March 5, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    In one month from now we will be at the airport going through immigration and then getting on a Qantas flight heading to Los Angeles.

    At the moment I am in organisation mode. I have traveled before for a few years across many countries, but I never left a house that I own with two dogs and traveling with a partner and kids in tow. And.. We are mostly camping.

    The trip consists of traveling for 3 months. About half of the 3 months is camping from California to North Carolina. We will have a few days in hotels and cabins, a week in a rented house in North Carolina, and the rest staying at friends and family mostly on the East Coast and North East.

    We originally were going to buy a crappy SUV and hope for the best but my mom and sister Danielle agreed for me to borrow the small SUV which was once my grandparents. My best friend Ger and her friend are going to drive across the East Coast, where it currently lives with my sister, and bring it to LA where we will meet her. Ger's brother moved out to LA and this was a great way to see him.

    One month will go by fast; and these are the things I have completed and still need to do to be ready to leave.

    House sitter is booked for 3 months
    Itinerary is almost complete and booked
    Disney is all paid for
    We all have US Passports and Australian passports other than Josh who has his visa.
    Dog tags with house sitters number ordered and awaiting delivery
    Packing has started with piles on study floor
    Still need to make sure all bills come via email

    As for things I needed to organise in the US.
    Bank accounts done
    Ordered AAA membership for the car
    Insurance going through Danielle
    Need to get an ezpass
    Tent is bought
    National park pass us bought
    Inara's B-Day present is bought

    I am getting excited, as well as nervous and Josh is ready to have our adventure. I just hope everything gets done and I don't forget anything. Brandon is upset he can't do auskick as we will be away all term, and he doesn't know yet that he is going to miss his "100" days party that he has referred to a few times. Inara has no idea of course and I just hope her 4 teeth that are on the verge of coming through do it in the next 30 days.

    Thanks for following us on our trip and will post again in a month.
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    Bethany Hannan

    If you need a place to stay in DC, we have a whole finished basement and a guest room and would love to host you!

    Elisa Gatti

    Thanks Bethany. We aren't stoping in DC. We are driving from Williamsburg VA to Ocean City MD. Ill touch base closer and maybe we can have lunch or something. ;)

  • Day2

    Here we go - Melbourne airport

    April 5, 2018 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    The day is here and it has been a rushed morning. We left on time at 530am but getting parking at the airport took super long. Luckily we had Bruce & Margaret to help with the kids as we maneuvered the luggage. We were rushed through by Qantas staff getting checked in,customs and security. Check-in with kids is great as we go to the front line and pretty much right unto the plane.
    Here we go... 14 hours to go..
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    Bruce Pearce

    Got you This app is very good Like the photos but at this stage can't work out how to save them to phone or computer etc

  • Day2

    Landing in the USA

    April 5, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    We made it to LA, and it wasn't too bad. Inara didn't sleep because she watched "the boss baby" a few times. We had a few hours of turbulence so Brandon got the best sleep as he doesn't take turbulence too well and slept through it. Such a deep sleep that he had an accident. Supposdly it happens every flight.

    Our home for the next 4 nights is the Grand hyatt regency orange county hotel. We have a awesome bunk bed for the kids and a brewery downstairs for the adults.

    Today was a write off as we needed to get over the 14 hour flight. Inara finally fell asleep as we went though customs, through the hour drive and stayed asleep for the next few hours as we waited to be checked in.

    The pool and the spa was a quick recharge but exhausted Inara and Elisa, as soon as they got back from the pool passed out on the bed. Brandon and Josh went to Target across the street and Brandon fell asleep in the trolley and josh had to carry Brandon and the bag backs on his own.

    Elisa and Inara walked a mile and back after their nap to get a local telephone number but was unsuccessful, but Brandon and daddy then had their turn to nap.

    Trying to get kids to bed as we have a big day tomorrow and hopefully we conquered the jet lag.
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    Vicki Weinert

    Glad u have arrived safely and the kids were so good on the flight. Well done.

  • Day3


    April 6, 2018 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    Elisa was ready to get to Disneyland when it opened at 8am but the kids had other ideas and slept in. We spent more than 12 hours (845am to 10pm) at the "Happiest place on Earth".

    We started with "It's a small world after all" and finished with the "Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room" before the fantastic fireworks display. Elisa's favourite ride was the buzz light year ride ride (Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters) , Josh enjoyed the Tea Cups in Fantasyland and was surprised at the sheer size of "Its a Small world" and "Pirates of the Caribbean". Inara seemed to enjoy the "rockets" but entered every ride with excitement. We think Brandon enjoyed "Star Tours - the adventure continues" the most but he is asleep at the moment to ask him.

    As a family we were able to go on most rides together which was great. When Inara slept we took turns taking Brandon. We waited an average of about 30 min for a ride which really wasn't that bad. The kids were pretty good and only had minor frustrations when they were tired and hungry at dinner. Brandon decided walking was too boring and had to skip holding hands. Inara was told to hold hands or go in pram so she decided to hold her own hands together. Cheeky girl.

    The adults were ready to leave about 8pm but Brandon really wanted to see the fireworks. Of course he fell asleep before the fireworks and Inara slept through all the fireworks.

    All in all it was a fun day and we really hope Inara remembers it, as we are sure Brandon will.
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  • Day4

    Down Day

    April 7, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Today was a down day between visiting the two theme parks. Leah came over to the hotel to meet us and Elisa and Leah went out to Vodafone to get a local phone number. It was great to hang out with Leah and catch up. Brandon and Josh played in the pool but it was pretty cold. Later on that day, Ger and Luke drove over with her nephews and dropped off the car which will be our home for the next 3 months.
    The kids were still on Melbourne time and we had to take them down to the hotel foyer area for them to run off their energy.
    At least the small convenient store was open in the hotel so were able to get some drinks.
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  • Day5

    California Adventure Park

    April 8, 2018 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    Today was a great day at Disney's California Adventure Park. We started off later than originally attended as the jet lag set in the kids didn't go to bed until 1:20am, so they slept in a bit longer. It was a bit more relaxed and less crowded than Disney.

    We had lovley chats with people in line and Brandon makes friends everywhere. We even got tips on how to use the "fast pass" and "parents pass" correctly as we didn't use it in Disneyland. Brandon got to go on the grizzly bear ride twice as well as Guardians of the Galaxy.

    We even saw the Frozen 1 hour stage show which was amazing. The set design, movement, digital effects crammed with all the music from the movie is a must see.

    It was another late night but it was a great family fun day..

    Having Inara wear shoes with lights was great and good for all the rides that are dark when waiting on line
    Not sure if bunk beds was worth it as it was musical beds with the bunk beds and our king bed.
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    American Experience

    You guys are creating some fabulous memories. Have a great time.

  • Day6

    Off to San Diego

    April 9, 2018 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    We are off on our road trip across the US. We are leaving magical Disneyland and heading south to San Diego. We have our car, bought some camping stuff at Target and now need to do get our car roof rack.

    Before our trip we looked at the items we wanted at and we needed to grab a roof bag for the car to hold some of our stuff. We have a bag each, a camping bag, a tent, a stroller and we each have a smaller bag. Add a cooler (esky) and food, a small SUV won't hold it all. Well, none of the 8 Walmart's in the area had the roof bag we wanted. We then went to Pep Boys and we were sold a temporary strap on roof racks along with a roof bag to hold the luggage.

    Josh spent almost an hour in a McDonald's parking lot while Inara slept in the car and Brandon and I had lunch inside. I wonder how many McDonald meals we will have on this trip, as it's easy, cheap and almost everywhere.

    We were driving down the highway I-5 south, only having driven 15 miles, when the bag lifted up, taking the roof racks and luggage with it unto the highway. Luckily we were in the left HOV lane and the van behind us was not riding our butt and was able to swerve. We quickly stopped on the left emergency lane and Josh jumped out to grab our stuff, hoping we didn't lose Inara and Josh's clothes bags.

    It all ended well and the kids were great in the whole ordeal..Brandon even calmed Elisa, saying mommy. "Daddy will be OK, it will be ok", as Josh had to go on the major highway to retrieve the items. A cop even stopped by from the other side of the highway to see if we were OK and if there was an debris left.

    We finally made it to the San Diego Metro KOA, a bit more squished with all the luggage stuffed into the car. A highlight of the day was that the 2 min pop up tent really only took a little over 2 min and Elisa was able to do it on her own. This was a good buy.

    We had a great yummy and cheap Mexican meal that we all enjoyed just a few minutes from the KOA.

    I hope this is the worst situation that happens on our adventure.
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    Barbara Stout

    Okay. I'm following now! Brandon is a very positive child! I think he's lived many lives before. Everything that happens is just part of the adventure!

    Carla Villar

    I have stayed at that KOA before! And is that a nissan rogue?? Thats the car i am looking into buying.... see you soon! Cant wait to meet everyone!

    Elisa Gatti

    Carla Villar it is Nissan Rouge. It's a great car and we have plenty of room. See you soon.

  • Day7

    Down day in San Diego

    April 10, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    Today was a relax sat, but we were in a new city so we had to adventure out somehow.

    Not to have to stress about the roof racks, we bought a roof bag from Walmart online and we were waiting for a email to advise when we can pick it up.

    In the morning we played at the pool at the KOA before we headed into Seaport Village in San Diego. At the pool we met a local family who was staying at the KOA as they had an insurance claim and thought the KOA was fun for the kid.

    We choose Seaport as they had a Ben and Jerry's and it was free cone day. We walked around this very touristy area, which was designed by Disney people. As we were near the bay, we thought maybe we could do some kind of boat tour\ride and Brandon really liked that idea.

    The ride that was available was the Seals tour and Brandon wanted in it. It was a transformer and the vehicle went from land into the ocean. Brandon was hysterical the whole ride and Johnny the 1st mate loved Brandon.

    The ride took us around seaport, next to the airport (the busiest single runway airport in the country and the 2nd busiest in the world) and then we drove into the Bay and viewed the bay. We saw local sea lions, pelicans, cormarans as well as a variety of different military helicopters and even a destroyer ship.

    San Diego has the largest military complex (navy, army, Coast Guard and reserves) in the world, and we were looking at a large part of it. Every year they graduate 21,000 marines.

    That night, the lovely family we met at the pool invited us to their cabin for drinks. We had a lovely time hanging out with April, Chris and the two kids Xena and Hunter who were in between Inara and Brandon's age. The kids played well, had smores and we had nice adult conversation.

    Update on roof bag... I received an email from Walmart stating the bag is out of stock and can not get them....
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    Vicki Weinert

    So sorry to hear of your roof rack saga. Lucky no one was hurt. I can just imagine Brandon’s enthusiasm for the seal tour. No wonder the tour guide fell in love with him. He’s so funny. Can just picture his eyes when you drove into the water! Inara seems to be enjoying the trip too and Brandon has been such a good brother. Smooth travels from now on. Love Vicki and Pete.

    Vicki Weinert

    PS. Forgot to say that this is where a Kenny’s brother lives. He’s a Marine but is stationed in Japan at the moment.

  • Day8

    San Diego zoo

    April 11, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Today was planned on the itinerary for the San Diego Zoo. Before we could do that, we had to go another 15 min South, toward the Mexican border to go to a roof bag factory which Elisa found online late the night before.

    It was perfect... A company that only makes roof bags, has a 2 year warranty, great reviews, less than $100USD and the lovely sales lady even help put it in the car. Perfect.

    The San Diego zoo was big, clean, with a complex map with aviary's everywhere and hills. Inara's, Brandon and Elisa's favourite part of the zoo was the Tiger. He came right up to the glass and was only inches apart from his face. Inara hung on for life. Josh liked the Pandas even though they were sleeping. We also took the double decker bus around the zoo as it was a bit much to walk around the hilly environment and there was no way we were going to see it all. The penguins were a highlight and the leopard sharks that shared a enclosure with them.

    The zoo mostly held animals that were rescued or were on the endangered list and was trying to breed them. The amount of plants and plant species that the zoo grew was amazing..they grew most of the plants that the many different animals ate, including bamboo and eucalyptus.

    It was a tiring day but glad we went. The skyfari (gondola) was a good way to finish the visit.
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    Marilynn Sharp

    Hope the kids enjoyed the zoo. I remember being impressed with it.

    Carla Villar

    My kiddos loved the san diego zoo! It so much different than a zoo in buffalo!

  • Day9

    Driving to Joshua Tree National Park, Ca

    April 12, 2018 in the United States ⋅ 🌫 19 °C

    Today was our first real driving day and we were driving with our new and awesome roof bag. We packed up our gear and drove 3 hours east. We said goodbye to our friends who were enjoying the pool on a warmer afternoon.

    We had a 3 hour drive but before we reached our destination we saw the signs for Palm Springs, California. We met some Rv'rs at the KOA and they said to have a stop there, so we did, but Elisa couldn't remember why. As soon as we pulled into the little town, we saw the Aerial Tramway.

    The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway—the world’s largest rotating tram car—travels over two-and-one-half miles along the breathtaking cliffs of Chino Canyon, transporting riders to the pristine wilderness of the Mt. San Jacinto State Park. Once you reach the Mountain Station—elevation 8,516 feet and a was about 5 degrees.

    As we are traveling before tourist season, just at the beginning of Spring, we were able to walk right unto the next tramway. It seemed to be a very busy area during season as there was A to J parking lots. We parked in A. Palm Springs seemed to be a small town that was built around the Casino. There didn't seem to be anything else.

    The air up top was brisk and Pristine. We weren't wearing the correct clothes so we were only able to walk around for about 20 min, but there were miles of hiking trails up top. We also couldn't stay long as we needed to get our tent up before dark.

    We made it to Blackrock Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. The day was extremely windy as we drove, and the wind in the top of Mt. San Jacinto sounded like a freight train was coming through and the wind still did not let up as we put up the tent and made dinner.

    It was a cold windy night and Brandon seemed to be the only one who slept as he was all rugged up in a onsies, flannel pjs, sleeping bag and fleece blanket.
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    Bruce Pearce

    A great holiday