16 May…Home again, Beaumaris, Australia

Yes, I’m home safe and sound and the trip is finally over.

 

Me, outside our home in Beaumaris

It was wonderful seeing Merry at the Airport! ….She has been so supportive, but lets me know she has earned  several MILLION BROWNIE POINTS!….I suspect I have a lot of gardening and odd jobs ahead in the next few weeks!

It’s a funny feeling being home again after 5.5 months!….I’m back in my comfort zone and don’t have to go anywhere or find a place for the night for Azulo!…. It’s wonderful seeing my home , family and all the familiar things again.

I slept well(ish) on the first night home and the next morning Lucy, Merry and I went out for breakfast.

With Merry again on Beaumaris Beach

later, I went for a coffee and Vanilla slice at my favourite Coffee place in Beaumaris Concourse…Brodams!

A Vanilla slice with Lucy at Brodams in the Concourse, Beaumaris

My two mad dogs, Mister and Maggie recognised me and flattened me. I’ve taken them on two LONG walks to get to know them again.

Me with my two mad (but lovely dogs) Maggie (left) and Mister

I went to watch Merry riding her beautiful horse, Jet

Merry on Jet

So, that’s it. It’s all over!

It has been a wonderful experience and I have met so many lovely people and seen such amazing sights. People overall have been so kind and helpful. I would like to thank so many people for their help and friendship.

Places that I thought may be dangerous turned out to be like any other places in the world. This is not to imply that there aren’t dangers in some of these countries…. but there is danger everywhere….. My view is that  If you are careful and keep to the basic rules of safety, the chances are you will be fine.

I rarely felt in any danger on the trip. This was only soured by the mugging in Quito but that can happen anywhere.

I think it’s true to say that the world is a lot better place than the TV and other media have us believe and the vast majority of people are honest and considerate.

I think it’s a shame we get all the negative news about places that create a  perception in our minds which is often unfair. Also, perceptions last longer than the dangers…Colombia is a case in point. I think most of us still feel Colombia is a drug ridden and dangerous place. …Yet the big problems in Colombia were over 20 years ago and much has changed since then…Problems that still exist are largely restricted to out of the way parts of the country that tourists don’t visit….Why are we still judging the place by the events of  20 years ago? It seems perceptions last longer than reality…Sermon over!

There are so many people who have been kind and helpful to me throughout the trip. I have also met and became friends with so many people from so many different countries….. It’s the people you meet on a trip that make all the difference

To all those who have watched the blog and in particular, all those who have sent email or blog comments. Thank you so much.

These comments, some of which are hilarious, have been a life blood to me. A trip like this can be very lonely at times and the blog has kept me in touch and given me an interest.

The blog, incidentally has had over 38,000 hits. I don’t really know what that means but it shows that lots of people have looked at it!

I would LOVE to know who has watched the blog…If you see this post and have not ever sent me an email or blog comment…please email me on gbransbury @gmail.com and let me know…

Finally, Thanks to my family and in particularly Merry who has been so supportive all along. It has been a very long trip for Merry and I hope she hasn’t got too used to not having me around!

So, this is the very DOPEY OLD BLOKE tuning out and saying farewell.

Bye Bye!

 

 

 

9-14 May, Los Angeles…Final days!

I’ts hard to believe it’s nearly all over. Already, when I look at photos of Argentina it seems like a dream…Was I REALLY there!…has it REALLY been five months?

I had two days to kill  before going to Andy and Melissa Wainwright and family’s place for the weekend, so I decided to find a quiet place near the beach and chill out (Andy, you may remember, is a relative of mine)

Merry, my expert travel agent, found me a Golf Course Hotel for $100.00 per night at Aliso Creek which is  near Leguna Beach, about 75 ks south of Venice Beach.

It’s a lovely place. The room was excellent and the Golf Course is a beautiful. peaceful little 9 Hole Course in a big Canyon.

Aliso Creek Golf Course

I had two lazy days there. I had a stove and fridge in the room  so I bought some bacon and eggs and made a pig of myself!

On Friday, I checked out and headed for Andy and Melissa’s place, which turned out to be only about 12 kms from my hideaway!

I’ve had a lovely stay with them. They have two kids, Jordan (18) and Alex (8) and live in a gorgous house in a quiet suburb

Casa Wainwright

Andy and Melissa Wainwright

Lovely sunny Patio

Andy,Melissa, Jordan (18) & Alex(nearly 9)

So far my stay with the Wainwrights has achieved several “firsts” for the trip!

Firstly, We went out for dinner on Friday night to a restaurant called “Chart House’ at Dana Point. It was the BEST meal of the trip! ….. I had fish with a sauce to die for!…….We also enjoyed several bottles of wine including one bottle from a Vineyard  called “14 Hands”….Our little hobby Vineyard in Melbourne is called “12 Hands”…Two less!

14 Hands

Secondly (and thirdly), We had a very late night sitting on their patio chatting and downing more bottles of  fine wine…Most enjoyable… and we had lots of laughs…..This was not only the latest I have been to bed on the trip but also the “merriest”…However…I must say, we didn’t feel so great the next day and Melissa had to go out fairly early for a walk and breakfast with some girlfriends!

Fourthly…I have had several games of soccer and other board games with Alex…Great fun. It’s so nice being with a young family!

Geoff "Beckham" showing how it's done!

i lost every game!

On Saturday afternoon, Andy suggested we have a game of golf to clear the head…Guess where we played…Yes, back to Aliso Creek, my nice little course in the Canyon…… It seems Andy’s parents Michael (who is a regular contributor to my blog) and Valerie love this course.

Aliso Creek Golf Course

Cheers from the Gallery for another brilliant drive!

It’s quite challenging and very pretty but it’s wise to stay out of the rough as there are rattlesnakes just waiting…

Better to hit straight here!

Andy strutting his stuff!

On Sunday. it was mothers day so Andy bought some doughnuts and I cooked my special scrambled eggs!

Master "small order" Chef at work!

Great Doughnuts!

After another game of soccer with Alex we went out for Mothers Day lunch. We went to a BBQ Restaurant like nothing I have ever seen.!

Melissa and Jordan enjoying Mothers day lunch

Andy and Alex

I had St Lewis Ribs, Baby back Ribs, plus a quarter of chicken plus lots of tasty sauces. Lovely. Stuart (my son) would be very envious!

We then staggered back home for a snooze!

What Cheek! Wearing Grandpa's "Michael's" Slippers!

It’s been the perfect way to end my trip

Tomorrow, I head home. I’m ready to go home after this amazing adventure which has been the trip of a lifetime. I’m excited about seeing Merry, Stuart and Lucy and the two dogs!. Merry has bought some new ear plugs as she claims, quite incorrectly that I snore!

I’ll do one more blog entry when I get home. so don’t switch off yet!

 

7-8 May, Bye Bye Azulo

The ride is finally over. I’m in Los Angeles

In all, I visited sixteen countries and covered 26,457 kilometers on the clock!

Azulo has been absolutely wonderful and has faithfully lugged me and much too much luggage around without any mechanical problems at all. Mr Kawasaki makes a great motorbike!

During these 26,457 kms i have had to change the rear tyre twice and the front once. I have only had minor problems with the arms holding on the panniers snapping twice, and the battery terminal coming loose (because it was incorrectly attached in Buenos Aires)

I have had only one puncture and that happened directly outside a tyre repair shop!!!!

I have been very fortunate. It’s almost as if someone has been looking after me!

Today, I said goodbye to Azulo and  left him with the Shipping agent….. It feels strange not having Azulo around anymore. In fact, I feel quite lonely! ….After having looked after Azulo for five months, it seems very strange NOT having him around…..More about that in a moment.

I had a nice easy ride from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. En route I saw a sign for “PEGGY SUE’S DINER!!!!….. I just had to stop!

Great eggs and bacon and heaps of hash browns!

I had THE BEST eggs and bacon American style, with a huge helping of hash browns and toast! Lovely

I arrived in LA at about 2.00pm so I called Philip Gallanders, my shipping Agent at Scan-Shipping. He was terrific and within the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, it was all organised and I am going to drop off Azulo on 8th (ie the next day)

Philip is a Scot and has been extremely responsive and efficient…He is also a good bloke too!

Philip Gallanders, Scan Shipping. Highly recommended!

It all seems like magic to me…you drop off the bike and amazingly (hopefully) it arrives in Melbourne!

After leaving Phil, I phoned Andy Wainwright (my relative).

Unbelievably, Andy works less than 1 mile from Scan-Shipping!….. He told me to go across the road to Starbucks and he would be with me in five minutes!

You just would not believe it. LA is HUGE yet the two people I had come to visit work within 1 kilometer of one another!

Andy arrived and we had a good chat for an hour and a half. I’m staying with Andy and his family this weekend, till I leave on Monday

Andy Wainwright

As mentioned, I dropped off Azulo today. The packing  agent seems to ship motor bikes to Australia (along with other things of course)  There were dozens of bikes in the shed!!! Azulo will have company on the voyage!

Armondo receiving Azulo

Azulo's shipmates!

So, now I have time to kill till I descend on the Wainwrights on Friday afternoon!

I think I’m going to find a place near Newport Beach and chill out and do absolutely NOTHING!

 

 

 

 

4-7 May, Las Vegas

One of the great things about this trip is that I’ve kept on bumping into people I met earlier on…

A few days ago I got an email from Jeannie Panchal who I met in a Hostel in San Pedro De Atacama in Chile. She also came on the fabulous 4 Wheel Drive trip I did to Bolivia. (Actually it was Jeannie who told me about the trip in the first place!)

Jeannie is a tour guide with Intrepid Travel in USA. She had seen my blog and saw I was near USA and emailed me. Amazingly she is between tours and is here in Vegas. What a co-incidence! More later.

Jeannie Panchal and me enjoying a Latte

My Hotel, The Imperial Palace. is right opposite Caesars Palace on “The Strip”. Not the best Hotel and it is crawling with people as it’s the weekend.

Las Vages Strip near my Hotel (Imperial Palace)

I must admit, this place makes me feel very old!….. The people on the street seem to shout and scream all the time and there is rock music blairing out of every doorway. The street is packed and people are drinking and it’s all pretty awful

I wandered about and looked into a few of these bizarre casinos like “The Venetian” and “Caesars Palace” and there is this half sized Elfel Tower which is huge!

It’s very colourful but after being blown away by the noise and jostled about by all these drunk or noisy and loud people, I scampered to my room and had a drink! Peace!

in fairness. It’s the weekend…Rio was awful on the weekend and lovely during the week…Maybe Vages is nicer during the mid-week.

However, my tip is that..If you come at the weekend…Either stay in a good place like Caesars Palace or stay outside the strip!

Huge fish in this tank!

The blokes all like Victoria Secret shops!

UK Phone Box

Showing my age...I remember these!

The next day I visited a Car Museum in the Hotel. it is excellent with over 100 beautiful old cars including about 20 huge Rolls Royces.

Beautiful Rolls Royce (Sorry, forgotten details!)

There was this old ‘Rocker’ sitting there trying to sell his CD and books.

He had photos of himself with Elvis, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash and The Everleys. His name is “Jimmy Velvet” …..Have you ever heard of him…? what about you, Pete Casey? Bruce Loveday? ?..Can’t say I have but I know his songs….

I had a good chat with him about Elvis and Co. He reckons Elvis was a top bloke! Anyway I bought his CD…I’m such a soft touch!

Later that day, I met Jeannie… She picked me up in her big mini van and took me to her Hotel. She had just finished a trip with 13 Japanese and had all this food left over. Heaps of beautiful cheeses and dips and things!

Jeannie setting up our feast on her leftovers!

Her Hotel was also serving Margaritas for $1.50 each!….. We had a party! We were joined by a couple of other Intrepid Guides.

Jeannie put on this “interactive” radio station. I don’t think we have it in Australia. It’s amazing. You select a singer…eg Elton John… The radio then plays Elton’s songs plus similar music by other singers…you can delete a song if you don’t like it and it gradually builds a profile of the music you like! Very clever!

At 6.00 I staggered to Caesars Palace to see the Elton John Concert. It was terrific. He did all his old songs and the staging was fabulous

Elton John Concert at the Colosseum, Caesars Palace

The Man himself!

Today, Sunday,I took a helicopter flight to the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. I got a last minute deal so the cost was reasonable.
This is DEFINITELY the way to see the Canyon. The flight went over the Hoover Dam and then over and into the Canyon. We landed and had a snack and Champagne and took photos and wandered around for half an hour.

There was just six of us in the middle of this HUGE Canyon with nothing else in sight. fabulous. The view from inside the Canyon is awesome.

Hoover Dam and new road bridge...Azulo went over that!

Inside Grand Canyon

We then flew back and had another drink and were then taken back to the Hotels…..It all took four hours compared to 12 hours on a bus! Well worth the extra $150.00 I think

Tonight Jeannie and I are hitting the town and then tomorrow I saddle up Azulo for the last 450 k ride to LA

I am spending a few days around Manhatten Beach where I will try organise Azulo’s passage home. Hopefully it won’t take too long!

I am spending my last weekend with Andy and Melissa Wainwright and family. Andy is a relative who I have not met and he very kindly asked me to stay. I’m very grateful and it will be a nice way to end the trip

I fly home on Monday 14

1-3 May, Scottsdale USA

I’ve been having a wonderful time and rest in Scottsdale at the home of my old friend and Business Partner, Jim Josephson and his wife Susan.

I crossed the border from Mexico to USA in remarkable speed on 1 May.

The only potential problem is that l didn’t receive any papers for Azulo…… I’m sure I’m meant to get papers but there was nowhere that I could see to get them and the Officers told me I didn’t need any papers anyway.

I double checked with another Officer and received the same answer.

Nonetheless, I’m SURE I should have papers, and I bet I get asked for them when I try to ship Azulo from LA!….. Time will tell!

Anyway, I arrived at Jim and Susan’s lovely home in Paradise Valley at around three PM and have enjoyed three lovely nights here.

Jim and Susan's home

I have known Jim since 1973…39 years! …..Initially I was a Sales Manager in his Company, Computer Resources. Jim already lived in USA at the time…… later, Jim joined me, Brian Hacker and Arie Baalbergen when we started Applied Learning Australia in 1983.

Jim and Susan

Jim and Susan’s house is simply amazing and my bed is so comfy I could move in!…. It’s so nice to be with them and to relax in this beautiful place after all my long journey.

The weather is perfect. Warm but dry heat

Jim and Susan cooked a magnificent steak which was just what was needed after my less than terrific experiences with food in Mexico

Yesterday, we went shopping and had lunch in a very nice shopping mall. The kids were playing in this terrific street water feature in the Mall. The water kept rising and falling. I could have joined in!

Water feature in Mall

Today we visited”TALIESIN WEST” which was the winter  home and Architecture College of the famous American Architect FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT. The guided tour through this home in the Desert was very interesting.

Taliesin West...Home of Architect Frank Lloyd West

Afterwards we had lunch at the Hyatt Scottsdale which is a huge and amazing Hotel Resort

Hyatt Resort Scottsdale

It’s been a lovely and restful three days and I have almost forgotten I have been riding around South America for five months!

Tomorrow it’s back to business and Azulo has to come out of his luxury garage and hit the road for Las Vegas!

I am spending three nights in the  Imperial Palace, las Vegas  and on Saturday I’m going to see Elton John perform at Caesars Palace………… Then it’s on to LA on Monday 7th
I then have to ship my bike…. Hopefully I don’t have hasstles with US Customs regarding no papers…

I spend my last weekend with my relative Andy Wainwright and his family which will be a nice way to finish my trip, …then I hear the big Qantas engines roar on monday 14 and head for home to see Merry!