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  1. Default Fredericksburg to amarillo

    Hiya Folks,
    I'm back again with the next chapter of our travels around the USA.

    Last chapter finished with us heading to Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country. Fredricksburg was founded in 1846 and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia by it's early German settlers. It's also the birthplace of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, who was the Commander in Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet during World War Two. There is a beautiful old house in the town that has been made into a museum in his name. There is also a large museum and memorial park commemorating the Pacific war and all who served during it.

    The main street of town consists of souvenir and speciality stores all housed in beautiful old buildings that date back to the 19th century. The park in the centre of town currently has two Xmas trees. One huge modern one and another wooden one called the Xmas Pyramid which is an old German tradition and is erected every year.

    On our first full day in Fredericksburg we decided to explore the Hill Country itself. It is very pretty countryside and we drove through some old towns that had been around since before the civil war. There are several State Parks and Wildlife Refuges in the vicinity that I would have loved to have visited if we had had more time.

    The next day we went to the LBJ State Park and Ranch. LBJ is of course Lyndon Baines Johnson, who became the 36th US President after the assination of President John F. Kennedy. LBJ was born in Stonewall, Texas, only a few miles from Fredricksburg. He and his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, donated their ranch to the state in 1972, and it has been open to the public ever since. We really enjoyed the tour of his home, nicknamed the Texas Whitehouse, and the drive around the ranch, which is still a working property. It was there I saw my first Texas Longhorn Bull at close range. Such a beautiful looking beast with his VERY long horns. Until then the closest I had gotten had been our hotel lobby which had a very large Longhorn steer head above the fireplace. (Not a real one, thank goodness.)

    After spending several hours at the park and ranch we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the Main Street stores. We could have spent another day looking around the town but unfortunately we just didn't have the time. We did see a herd of Indian Blackbuck Antelope as we drove back to town. Apparently a lot of the ranchers in the area keep exotic animals on their properties.

    The next day we headed north west towards Amarillo, Texas, on our way back to Los Angeles for the L.A. motor show.

    The scenery along the way changed from nicely treed hills to flat and barren land dotted with cactus and oil wells to cotton fields and wind turbine farms and.....rain. Lots of rain. There had been a severe storm warning out for the south west Texas which is why we drove north west but we still caught the outskirts of it. Fortunately it wasn't too bad and within an hour or so we had driven right out of it.

    We had left very early as it was going to be a long drive and in some of the smaller towns we saw men at the back of their roadside diners tending big smokers as they cooked the meat for the day. I made a mental note to come back there on our next trip for some genuine smoked Texas ribs.

    We stopped for lunch in the town of Lubbock, Texas, hometown of Buddy Holly, so after lunch we stopped by the museum dedicated to him and his music. I must admit Lubbock surprised me. It was several times larger than I thought it would be. A few hours later we arrived in Amarillo for the night.

    The next morning we headed to Flagstaff in Arizona.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 02-12-2016 at 08:40 AM. Reason: Url typo

  2. Default

    Thanks Mark. :)

  3. Default Amarillo to phoenix.

    Hi Folks,
    I'm back again. I think I left you at Amarillo, Texas, which we only stayed in overnight. From Amarillo we headed for Flagstaff in Arizona. As it was going to be another long day we started very early. Just outside of Amarillo I happened to see Cadillac Ranch all lit up by the early morning sun. Cadillac Ranch is actually a row of old and varied models of Cadillacs planted nose down in the dry Texas dirt of a sprawling ranch along the Interstate 40. The owner of the curiosity died in June this year, but he always encouraged people to spray graffiti onto the "artistic" installation and the original colours of the antique vehicles have long gone, buried under layers of acrylic paint. They did look good in the warm glow of the early morning light, though.

    The drive to Flagstaff was not only long but also a little harder than usual as it was extremely windy and we could feel the car being buffeted as we drove. Peter really had to concentrate on keeping the car going in a straight line, especially when we passed any of the dozens of trucks and trailers on the road. The big trucks especially were struggling in the wind and we could see them weaving from side to side. In fact we passed one that had lost control heading in the opposite direction and his trailer had rolled over, spilling his load all over the place. Fortunately he had lost it on the nature strip between the two highways so the traffic didn't get held up. Because Peter was busy concentrating on the road I amused myself by taking snaps of some of the more interesting cloud formations I saw out of the car window. The weather had started off sunny then changed to cloudy with a few very light snow showers then gradually back to sunny again. All potentially good Kodak moments, even while buzzing down the highway and dodging large trucks.

    Once in Flagstaff we decided to stay a few nights so we could avoid the traffic leaving Los Angeles for Thanksgiving Day. On one day we drove to Sedona, a beautiful spa town nestled in amongst the red sandstone rocks of Arizona. On the way I stopped at a zoo nearby for a few hours while Peter went off to do a few chores. It was a very warm, dusty day, quite a change from the freezing cold days we had been experiencing for the last few weeks, but I had a ball and was happy with the photos I took. I love taking animal photos, even zoo ones.

    On Thanksgiving Day we headed to L.A. This time there was no wind and the drive was much more pleasant. Along the way we saw a lot of very long freight trains, more than we have ever seen. There must be billions of tons of goods being shunted from one side of this country to the other at all times of the day. We also passed a small place of business that once must have consisted of a service station and a substantial motel and I think a truck stop, but all that was left were a few rusty signs and the falling down remains of the motel. We've seen so many sad little places like this on our travels.

    We arrived in LA late in the afternoon and were surprised by how many cars were still heading out of town as we drove in. The next day we spent the morning in downtown LA at the Auto Show. We got in nice and early before the crowds, but even when more people came in the place was so big that we could see all the cars without falling over anyone, and, best of all, I could take photos without worrying too much about someone getting in the way. It was great looking at all the new cars that we don't normally get to see in Australia. The presentation and displays were awesome with real show business pizazz. Right down to the pretty blonde girls posing beside the cars. Of course we loved the big new Dodge Rams and GMC trucks, but I really liked the concept cars and prototypes that just about every car brand had on display. Also the tricked up vehicles in the After Market pavilions were pretty good too. There's no way you could drive cars like that on Australian roads.

    The next day we gladly left the big city for the wide open spaces again and headed back to Arizona, this time to the desert, with it's large spiny Saguaro Cactus and Joshua Trees and cute little bunnies.

    We drove into Phoenix as the sun set behind us and that's where we are now, for the next few days.

    I hope you all don't mind the flood of Travelogues over the last few days but I was a bit behind with them. I have now caught up and won't send anymore now until just before we head back home. I can't believe we only have two weeks of our road trip left. The last 6 weeks have flown by, but at the same time it seems like we've been doing this forever and Surfers Paradise seems a lifetime away. I can't say that I'm looking forward to going back to the "real" world. I would much rather continue exploring.

    Anyway, until the next, and final chapter, you all take care now and stay safe.

  4. Default Phoenix to los angeles.

    Well, here we are in L.A. with only a few hours to go before we board the plane for home, saying goodbye to the USA once more. I can't believe that our 8 weeks roadtrip has come to an end. It seems such a long time ago since we first arrived in L.A. but at the same time the weeks have just flown by.

    We spent almost a week in Phoenix, Arizona, doing a few day trips out and also caught up with some lovely friends that we have known for a few years and always visit with whenever we are in the States.

    The weather wasn't very kind to me while we there so I didn't get the landscape photos I was hoping for with the Saguaro Cactus, but it was perfect for walking around zoos so I did a "zoo crawl" while we were there. I went to the Phoenix Zoo, the World Wildlife Zoo at Litchfield Park, the Butterfly Wonderland and the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, which was really just another zoo, but really pretty as it was set in the middle of the Sonoran Desert in the natural landscape of cactus and Mesquite bushes. The Butterfly house was good for seeing different kinds of butterflies to what I see at home, but my timing was bad. Two bus loads of very excitable school children got there at the same time and it wasn't long before the noise and the crowd got to me and I left again. The zoos, on the other hand, were fantastic and not as busy and I spent quite a few happy hours there.

    After leaving Phoenix we headed to Las Vegas, stopping at an overhead bridge along the way so I could photograph a freight train as it went beneath me. That was the only way I could get a good photo showing just how long these trains are. Even then I couldn't fit it all in. As usual the shoot didn't go quite as planned. The bridge I chose was just out of Flagstaff at the entrance to the Navjo Army Camp and I was warned by a very polite gentleman that I shouldn't be taking photographs as I was actually on a Government Military Installation. Oooops!! When I explained what I was doing he kindly let me be and went on his way. Just as well as there was a train coming as we spoke and if he had stayed any longer I would have missed the shot.

    In Las Vegas we stayed at our favourite hotel, the Bellagio, in a room overlooking the strip. The Bellagio had decorated their conservatory in a Xmas theme and there were always crowds of people there no matter what the hour. It was hard getting photos without people blocking the view but I managed to get some. We did the usual walk around town to see the pretty lights and the crazy people. Some of the crazy folk are the colourful buskers posing for photographs for a tip, but there are also some serious nutters out there. Those we kept a safe distance from.

    While there we also went to another Classic Auto Show at the Linq Hotel. A lot of the cars on display were for sale, and you could spend as little as $9,500 on a 1955 Cadillac fixer upperer or buy a rare classic for well over a million dollars. The rare classic was a 1919 Tourer that had been custom built for a star of the silent screen, Fatty Arbuckle. There was also a 1939 Chrysler that had once belonged to Johnny Carson's father and which Johnny himself had driven to his Prom Night as a pimply faced teenager. That one wasn't for sale but the history of it and the old movies of Johnny Carson and his family driving it were really interesting. We also saw Liberaces' Roadster displayed in the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Of course, being his car, it was all blinged up with millions of Rhinestones all over it.

    We really like Vegas. We never do any of the shows or play in the Casino as we get enough free entertainment just walking up and down the Strip. The tourists' Vegas is mad, noisy, over the top, extravagant, exciting and fun. It's when you go off the beaten track, which we did occasionally, (stupid GPS) that one gets to see the sleazy, dirty and sad side, but I suppose that's the same in any town all over the world. Even around the flashy hotels, with all their bright lights and ridiculous luxury, there were homeless people huddled in the corners with their pieces of cardboard covered in begging messages. Some of the messages were amusing but most of the time they were just sad and hopeless. They made me realise just how lucky Pete and I are.

    After Las Vegas we decided to head straight for L.A., only stopping at Peggy Sue's 50's Diner for lunch, as there was a severe storm coming down the West Coast and we didn't want to be caught in it.

    I had planned to go to Santa Barbara for a couple of nights but the bad weather ruled that out. We arrived at our motel in plenty of time to get the car unpacked and returned to the car rental place before the rain started. For our last couple of days Peter rented a black Chevy Camaro soft top so we could cruise around the streets in style. After the big Yukon SUV we had been driving the Camaro was a bit of a come down, literally. We felt like we were only about six inches off the road, which is a bit scary when you're in the middle of peak hour traffic on the L.A. Freeways. It was also a bit hard to get in and out of. Definitely not a car for oldies like us.

    The storm came through as expected and did do quite a bit of damage, with some homes being buried under mud slides, but by Friday lunch time the sun was back out and we emerged from our motel room to explore some more. We headed to Manhattan Beach, about 20 minutes away, and really liked it. Another expensive and upmarket beach town but very pretty. I was surprised to see how the pretty little lane ways between the cottages that ran down to the beach were quite hilly, reminiscent of San Francisco. The beach itself was almost empty of people although the Pier was pretty crowded as people came to see how wild the sea was after the big storm.

    Friday night the storm came back, with a Tornado ripping through one of the suburbs, but Saturday dawned fine and sunny so we headed to Santa Monica for a few hours and walked around the shops and the park overlooking the beach, enjoying the warm sunshine.

    Sunday we spent at the L.A. zoo, then finished the day at Santa Monica Beach again for sunset. Such a beautiful way to end our holiday. That night we took the car back and now here we are, doing some last minute washing and repacking the suitcases in preparation for our flight home tonight.

    Once again, it's been a fantastic holiday and if we never get back here we've got lots of wonderful memories which we have shared with you all. I hope you have enjoyed reading about our trip as much as we have enjoyed telling you about it. Hopefully we will be able to return in a couple of years and explore some more. Until then, Goodbye America. It's been a blast.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Hat's off to Keith!

    Our thanks to RTA Contributor Keith G. for adding Ann's field reports from her 2014 epic journey!


  6. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia


    No problems at all Mark. It was my pleasure. Ann gave us a great description of where and what they did. I'm looking forward to the travelogue she does on the current trip. She has promised she will post that one. :)


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