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The Hairy Animal 2009 World Road Trip
Hairy Animal goes to Worcester

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Coming home

Heathrow, United Kingdom

A long wait at SeaTac International Airport at Seattle, but the Boeing 777 was very prompt and set off more or less on time and landed very close to the scheduled time as well, but neither Barbara or Charlie got much sleep.

It was good to see the old country again:

complete with the usual traffic on the M25.

We found Aurian easily in Terminal 5 and within 45 minutes of landing, we were on the road on the final leg home.

permalink written by  Saros on June 2, 2009 from Heathrow, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: The Hairy Animal 2009 World Road Trip
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Home at last

Fairford, United Kingdom

Aurian got us home safely with our big pile of luggage and we celebrated with a Chinese take-away as we were too tired to cook anything.

We already knew that one of the five hens had died of old age, and that one or two had gone broody. We found one broody one:

But the other one, which had apparently not been sleeping in the protection of the shed, seems to have provided dinner for Mr. Fox, so we're down to three.

The garden is looking seriously overgrown:

And there's a rather massive pile of post to deal with.

And that's about it. It all seems a bit of an anti-climax after our adventures, but it is nice to be home again.

Thanks for reading our blog.

Charlie & Barbara

P.S. several days after we got back, George, the broody hen we'd thought had been eaten, turned up unharmed and eventually her hiding place has been tracked down and she's being reintegrated into Normal hen society!

permalink written by  Saros on June 2, 2009 from Fairford, United Kingdom
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I'm a troll, boldy woll!

SeaTac, United States

Day - 42 Monday 1st June 2009

Got everything repacked and stuffed into the boot (trunk) of the car. Lucky we have the big car we do as there wouldn't have been enough space in a smaller one.

We had a look in Bremerton for the Naval Museum but failed to find it and so decided to just get on the ferry for the 45 minute cruise across to Seattle.

Our ferry, the Walla Walla arrived in due course:

And we were efficiently loaded aboard, and then off at a very respectable speed. The harbour seems to be home to a huge range of boats from the smallest rowing boats and inflatables, right up to naval aircraft carriers and destroyers:

Some passengers decided to try and get a free ride:

There were good views of Mt. Raainier again:

And after a pleasant ride, we got in to the hustle and bustle of central Seattle. It wasn't easy to find anywhere to park, at least with the minimal cash we had available, so headed out of town across a big bridge:

Then we heard this strange noise that seemed to be coming from underneath the bridge, so pulled off, parked and walked back to investigate.

As we walked under the bridge, a large hand came down and nearly grabbed Barbara:

It already had a VW Beetle as a trophy, so probably wasn't too interested in her, as she'd only have been a small mouthful:

We managed to get away from the troll and drove out to Boeing's facilities and “Future of Flight” exhibition to the north of Seattle. It had some interesting stuff and across the apron could be seen this strange craft:

Then we drove across town to the airport, and after a few hassles, found the right place to drop off the car, lugged our luggage into the terminal and checked in. Bags safely sent off, we had to get through security next and they are even more thorough in the USA than most places and you even have to take your shoes off.

And that about finishes it for America. We're waiting now at gate S10 for our 777 to arrive and take us home. Heathrow next stop.

And a late addition, here's our 777 being readied to bring us home:

permalink written by  Saros on June 1, 2009 from SeaTac, United States
from the travel blog: The Hairy Animal 2009 World Road Trip
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SCA Reunion

Bremerton, United States

Day - 40 Saturday 30th May 2009

After a bit of shopping in Eugene for things like a new bag to hold all our souvenirs for the flight home, we set off on the longish haul up to the Seattle area.

It could have been another boring drive, but various stops helped quite a lot, including a nice one at a rest area where some local church people were doing free coffee and refreshments as a safety aid for long distance drivers like ourselves.

By mid-evening we'd got to our chosen motel and checked in, then arranged to meet Betty Ann at the McDonalds on Bainbridge Island. Charlie has known Betty Ann since college days in 1968, and although we've seen each other several times in the intervening years, it's been a very long time since we met up in America.

We found each other okay and went off to a nice little place by the harbour for drinks, eats & chats:

And that's about it for today. More socialising tomorrow.

permalink written by  Saros on May 31, 2009 from Bremerton, United States
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A tour of Bainbridge Island

Bremerton, United States

Day - 41 Sunday 31st May 2009

Met up with Betty Ann at a nice little café for our morning coffee:

Then off to the nearest beach for Charlie to have a last swim in the Pacific, or at least, Puget Sound. Well, that was the plan, but although the water was quite cold, it was the scum floating on the surface of the water that put Charlie off getting right in. The thought of a green beard was somewhat offputting!

That's Mt. Rainier, an active volcano (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Rainier) in the background by the way.

After a lovely barbecue at David's place, we went for a bit of sightseeing and started planning our leaving of the Seattle area tomorrow, and there are several ways of getting across Puget Sound to Seattle:

This is the Bainbridge Island ferry, there's also the Bremerton Ferry; here are the two Bremerton Ferries passing each other:

And another shot of Barbara and David (Betty Ann's brother) watching the Bainbridge Island ferry go past, with Seattle in the background:

We also spent a bit of time with Betty Ann's dogs:

And then Betty Ann showed us her new car:

Then up to a nearby harbour to enjoy the sunset from a harbourside bar:

Nice views of the church and other parts of the town:

And a lovely sunset with the boats bobbing at their moorings and the occasional seal swimming around between them:

Just time then for a farewell photo as David & Betty Ann have to work tomorrow and we have to pack and get ready for the flight home:

permalink written by  Saros on May 31, 2009 from Bremerton, United States
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High melting point snow???

Eugene, United States

Day - 39 Friday 29th May 2009

A brief tour of Klamath Falls for some photos for the record, and then north towards Crater Lake, which everyone said was worth seeing.

It's very warm here, in the 90's even in the shade, and the sun is extremely hot so we were a bit surprised when they warned us that some roads around the lake were still closed by snow, and there was basically only one way in and out.

We set off past Upper Klamath Lake:

and Barbara was delighted when she spotted not just one, but two pelicans on the lake. Klamath Falls has the pelican as an emblem and we hadn't seen one until then, so it was nice to see they are still around.

We continued north along some very scenic roads and stopped in a very small place called Fort Klamath for a coffee/lunch break in very friendly and somewhat eclectic café/store where I was warned that if I removed my cap, it was considered to be the café's property! I kept it on as the sun outside was still very strong.

Moving on, we drove along the side of a very steep valley and on stopping and looking down, could hear but not see the river at the bottom as it was so steep. There was no barrier at the edge of the parking to prevent unwary pedestrians from stepping over the edge, and although the drop was not vertical, it was so steep and slippery that going over the edge would have meant sliding about 500 feet down the slope, with no chance of getting back up, even if you survived the fall.

A little further up, we encountered the first snow. It was relatively deep, and we were rather puzzled as to why it hadn't all melted because it was still very hot outside the car, and we very much still needed the air-con on. These two pictures were taken at the same time & place, outside and inside the car:

Climbing steadily up the twisting mountain roads, we got eventually to a good sized car park at Rim Village, and hoped to find some 'facilities' as the coffee was working its way through.

We found the café/gift shop .....

and the 'facilities':

and a warning sign:

but fortunately did find a way in as well:

and with 'facilities' available, had another coffee and bought some souvenirs.

Then off to admire the views:

And here it is, unobstructed by grinning tourists:

This is just a little corner of the lake, the whole panorama is simply wonderful, and awesome to consider that this is the stump of a much bigger volcano which blew its top off.

Walking around, there are some interesting points such as the poles to mark where the roads are when it snows in the winter:

And although it's summer here, snowy activities are very much a possibility. Here's a hiker with crampons on coming down from higher ground while Barbara was washing the car screens:

And we discovered that they weren't joking when they said that some of the roads were still closed by snow:

So we had to go back down south before we could go north again, which meant going past our eclectic little café again with its unusual salt & pepper pots:

But most interesting, apart from the chat with the owner, was the collection of over 1,000 caps and hats of all shapes and sizes donated by visitors from all over the USA and other countries:

Having deliberately bought myself a new cap up at Rim Village, I was very pleased to donate my faithful blue Team-Subaru cap to his collection, and was given free coffees in return. :-)

A long and sometimes boring drive, but scenic in parts, up to Eugene for the night.

permalink written by  Saros on May 30, 2009 from Eugene, United States
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Great Uncle Charley found!

Klamath Falls, United States

Day - 38 Thursday 28th May 2009

Our cheap motel was okay, but some of the neighbours were early risers. It's got air-conditioning and good, free WiFi Internet so it gets a good rating from me.

After our free breakfast, we set off up Main Street for the County Museum where we'd been told that we could find cemetery records, and lo and behold, after a relatively short search through our first book, Barbara found where Charley should be.

Charley was her granny's brother and emigrated to Canada in the early part of the 20th century then moved to Klamath Falls, where he married the widow of a friend.

Barbara knew she'd found the right burial record when she found both Charley and Alta next to each other. We couldn't find anything else out until we'd looked at the graves, so after a short drive, we got to Klamath Memorial Park.

Once we'd figured out the numbering system, we went straight to their graves, which made Barbara very happy:

And here they both are:

Armed now with their birth and death dates, we went back into town and looked through further records in the museum, library and county clerk's office to try and find Alta's previous married name which we hadn't known.

We found a rather complicated set of records with some confusion over the names, but interestingly, we found that Charley had served in WW1:

And a photo of him:

And that's about it for today, apart from joining a meeting of the Klamath Falls History Society this evening, which may be interesting.

P.S. the meeting was interesting, and we were able to thank many of the people who'd spent many hours recording grave details in all the local cemeteries, and some of those who'd helped us today in other ways.

On the way out, the sky appeared to have caught fire, and a good storm seems to be brewing:

permalink written by  Saros on May 28, 2009 from Klamath Falls, United States
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Summer in the city

San Francisco, United States

Day 36 26th May 2009

We sat around in the airport after a few hassles with the luggage and getting it transferred from the Quantas flight to our brief hop on an American Airlines flight to San Francisco. The flight was absolutely full, so there'd been no chance of getting better seats, or even seats together, but it was only an hour or so, so we could cope.

Our plane, a McDonnel Douglas DC80, arrived at bay 40 and we all waited patiently for it to be cleaned before we could board:

Eventually, everyone was jammed in, and all the commuters' big wheely-bags jammed into the overhead lockers and the world changed from boring, static and horizontal, to exciting, fast moving and angled:

Some nice views of sea, coastline and big hills later, we were descending fast towards what appeared to be the sea. When we were about 50 feet above it, the end of the runway mercifully came into view and we touched down and taxied rapidly into our parking spot, and the usual scramble to get out ensued. As we had bags in the hold, we didn't bother rushing as they always take that bit longer to unload. The carousel eventually disgorged all four of our bags/boxes safely and we staggered off under the weight of all our bags to find the car rentals, because the trollies cost four dollars (unlike any other airport we'd so far visited) and we didn't have the relevant change (black mark for SFO).

The driverless rapid transit system:

took us efficiently to the car rentals and eventually we got a car with Avis (partnered with BA for the air-miles) but they only had a choice of one for a one-way drive to Seattle – a Mercury something-or-other. Much bigger than we'd have chosen it is at least comfortable but probably drinks petrol in typical American style, so very un-green – sorry planet, we'll make up for it when we get home.

Found the car in the multi-storey parking lot and then spent quite some time trying to figure out the multitude of controls. Barbara's first problem was that the passenger seat was so far forward, she couldn't even get in and it wasn't at all obvious how to move it back. When we found the electronic controls that moved the seat up, down and round-and-round, normality returned and I gingerly set off, trying desperately to remember to drive on the wrong side and figure out all the confusing signs as to who gives way to who.

Barbara said we must see the Golden Gate Bridge, so we programmed that into the GPS and set off through the San Francisco rush-hour traffic – unnerving is something of an understatement!!!

We drove a good few miles with hitting anyone or being hit, though I'm still not sure how we managed that, and found ourselves on one of those hills where they film the car chases, with the steep bits punctuated with horizontal intersections:

The steep bits are seriously steep (not like Baldwin St. in Dunedin) but not far off, and the intersections are worrying as you have to stop and give way, which means multiple hill starts, and despite being an automatic, this car did have a tendency to roll back, even in forward drive.

We (and the car) survived that as well and eventually found the impressive bridge, and fortunately drove north over it which didn't involve having to pay. I insisted on a photo for the blog, so we drove around in circles for a while until finding the best road up a nearby hill, which was being used by cyclists for suicide practice at the time.

We stopped at the first parking spot and got out for the photo:

It was windy! And relatively cold. Up until then, San Francisco had seemed very comfortably warm and the air-con in the car was in gratefully used.

So when we'd driven a bit further up the hill and found an even better spot for a photo, this was the most Barbara was prepared to expose:

By then, it was mid evening and time to find a bed for the night, so a random choice of motels on the GPS got us to Novato and a pleasant enough place for the night with free WiFi internet access – full marks on that score.

Tomorrow, time for some serious mileages.

permalink written by  Saros on May 27, 2009 from San Francisco, United States
from the travel blog: The Hairy Animal 2009 World Road Trip
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The search for gt. Uncle Charlie begins ...

Klamath Falls, United States

Day - 37 Wednesday 27th May 2009

We had a comfortable night in our expensive motel. This is the pool from our room and it's not obvious, but the tree on the left is a lemon tree with fruit on and there was an orange tree with fruit on as well on the far side of the lawn:

After breakfast in the adjoining restaurant, we set off north in our Ford Grand Marquis (note the nice bougainvillea bush outside our door):

Barbara thought that the coast road looked nice, so I programmed that into the GPS. What a bore! Yes it was on the coast but the land was flat and boring and mostly mudflats. It eventually got more interesting but then we got onto various Interstate Highways for some 250 miles ...... yawn. The driving went from nerve wracking to being a struggle to keep awake. Regular coffee stops helped and at times the scenery actually started to get interesting as well:

This was a little part of Lake Shasta, which seemed to be well down on its normal levels.

Getting out of the air-conditioned car was a bit uncomfortable though:

that's 38.3°C for anyone who thinks in Celsius/Centigrade. The sun was every bit as hot as might be expected – I dashed from one bit of shade to another to avoid getting sunburnt. At least the nice rest areas on the interstates did have some shade:

Getting nearer to Klamath Falls, we went over a mountain pass at about 5,000 feet and had many good views of another volcano, Mt. Shasta (the leftmost peak) at over 14,000 feet:

There were a few dramatic thunderstorms in the area, but it was so hot at ground level that we could see the rain falling but evaporating before it got to the ground:

We got to Klamath Falls in the early evening and eventually found the cemetery where it's likely that gt. Uncle Charlie may be buried, but it's rather big and we didn't find him. However, the local ladies we spoke to were very helpful and we may well be able to get some better information tomorrow. We did also find the address on High Street where he used to live, but there isn't a house there any more.

Then off to find a bed for the night and a nice meal in the Chinese Restaurant opposite the motel.

permalink written by  Saros on May 27, 2009 from Klamath Falls, United States
from the travel blog: The Hairy Animal 2009 World Road Trip
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Two days for the price of one!

Los Angeles, United States

Days 35/36 26th/26th May 2009

The days/dates above are right by the way. Day 35 was our last day in New Zealand, and day 36, our first in America, but both days have the same date. It was interesting watching the GPS change from 179°E to 179°W as we crossed the International Date Line, but apart from the numbers changing, nothing else happened to tell us that we'd just lost a day.

Back to day 35. We had tried to plan our food so that we would be able to use up the last of it on our last day in New Zealand, and we did quite well apart from having rather a lot of fruit left over. The campsite in Manukau City was obviously very popular with departing travellers as the kitchen had a well stocked surplus food container, and an even better stocked surplus condiments container:

We hoped that we might be able to finish the fruit at the airport so decided to take that with us, and left a few bits for other travellers. With the motorhome's tanks filled and emptied as appropriate, we left our campsite and headed for Wilderness Motorhomes. However, we hadn't packed so found a suitably quiet car park to sort everything out.

Once all the nooks & crannies had been emptied and all our accumulated stuff forced into bags various, we found Wilderness Motorhomes very easily and were welcomed by a sign with our names on and by the delightful and friendly Hannah. There wasn't much to do in the way of formalities, but we had a relaxed and pleasant chat with Hannah over a coffee before she drove us to the airport.

We couldn't have been happier with our choice of motorhome and company. Everything was as near perfect as we could have wished and everyone we dealt with at Wilderness was very helpful.

We deliberately got to the airport early in the hope of getting a better choice of seats than those we'd been pre-allocated, which were awful - we weren't even sitting together and would each have been trapped in between two complete strangers.

The kind man on the Quantas check-in desk took pity on us though and tore up the boarding cards he'd printed and did some new ones. I thought I'd misheard when he said "upgrade" and "business class", but no, there were our boarding cards in row 4 clearly printed. As in most planes, the rows are numbered from the front, and that applies to a Boeing 747-400 as well, so there we were, in the very frontmost cabin (normally first class):

sitting underneath the pilot.

As comfortable a flight as we could have hoped for with as much champagne as we fancied:

and very nice food, not to mention the fully reclining seats. Bye bye Auckland:

The flight was rather bumpy at times, but that wasn't Quantas' fault.

Eventually, after a brief night with minimal sleep, we came down through the clouds to land in LA. First impressions were that it was a little bit different to NZ, the roads for instance are a bit bigger:

Then after a bit of a wait, on to San Francisco.

permalink written by  Saros on May 26, 2009 from Los Angeles, United States
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