Couldn't Stand the Weather. Stevie Ray Vaughan

The long haul home starts this morning. After dropping KITT back Lisa dropped us at the airport. Clearing customs into America was very easy.

Tears all round

Tears all round

Our first flight headed south to LA. A quick 3 hours later we were having a quiet drink in the lounge at LAX. 

What smog? L.A. 

What smog? L.A. 

Next up was the long haul back to Oz. The back of the plane had quite a few empty seats which boded well for us. The Qantas hosties were great and soon we were much more comfortable. Zoe had a great sleep, Jaks did not, and I went ok. 

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A frosty Melbourne morning greeted us, but it did not greet Jaks' bag. It's currently somewhere between here and Vancouver.

The only thing we had to declare was in that bag so who knows what will happen there.

Finally, 27 hours after leaving Lisa in Vancouver we arrived in Hobart. To a falling temperature.  

A fantastic trip has come to an end. Thanks to all who made it a great one!

Time for another.  

Eye of the Tiger. Survivor.

 

Bagels with cream cheese and Jimmy caught (and smoked) salmon for breakfast was the perfect start to our last day in the states and our last full day of vacation (see I can speak American). 

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The Border.  

The Border.  

We met Isaac and Tonalhi at the Woodland Park Zoo for a morning of animal spotting and toddler entertaining. The zoo is really well set out with a big variety of animals and lots to see and do. 

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We wandered through Africa, Australia, Asia and The Americas. The highlights for me were the brown bears and the Malayan tigers. 

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Not a real Lion.  

Not a real Lion.  

After lunch we negotiated our way onto the Interstate 5 and headed north back across the border to Vancouver. 

A couple of wrong turns saw us enjoying the Vancouver peak hour traffic. No fun there.  

We spent a lovely last night in Vancouver with Lisa, Pete and Mak.  We may have even had an early birthday celebration for the wee one.  

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Suicide Blonde. INXS.

 

After an American hotel breakfast (complete with waffles) Bryce hit the shops and Zoe and I hit the hotel pool. 

Unusually  Bryce came home from Touratech with only a small purchase and an exclusive sticker that you can apparently only get from Touratech in Seattle. 

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We loaded our increasingly heavy bags into KITT and headed for Jimmy's house. 

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After a tour of the garage and introduction to the bikes, we headed off on Jimmy's tour of Seattle. Jimmy is a very informative tour guide and showed us the local wharf area which is full of Deadliest Catch crab boats preparing for their summer season of fishing. 

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We spent half an hour or so at a lookout with spectacular views of the city, harbour and space needle. 

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What a great city and the weather was once again more than kind to us.

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Next stop was Belltown Pizza for some pints and a slice of Jimmy's famous pizza. The lovely Jessica met us here for another round of cold drinks before we returned to their house for beers, steak, tequila and some rocking vinyl tunes. 

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Who ever knew there was such a thing as nice tequila. Lucky you weren't with us Tim or we may have been in trouble! Thanks for sharing your special bottle with us Jess.

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Daughter. Pearl Jam

 

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Our first wet morning. The fog had settled low over the surrounding mountains. Intermittent rain fell. We woke Zoe from the cupboard and had some breakfast on the deck. She and Jaks headed to the hottub for a quick swim before the long drive to Seattle. The tub proved to be very warm and we were soon on our way. 

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The road just got better the further we went. Very green and Pacific northwest-ish. The rain grew harder the higher we went until we topped out at Washington Pass. A touch over 5000 ft, whatever they are. There was snow on the sides of the highway, much to our delight. 

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As we fell down the other side we stopped at Lake Diablo. From the looks of it blows a lot here but today it was quiet and a touch moist. 

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Beautiful views. 

A lunch stop at Darrington refuelled us and stretched our limbs. We passed the site of the mudslide marked by trees. We had not heard of this but it was a major slide that killed 43 people. 

The lunch stop not the slide.  

The lunch stop not the slide.  

The rest of the way was a run down the 5 into town. A quick stop at REI brought back memories of 2010 but no major purchases. 

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A quick ride north brought us to our stop for the night. 

We unpacked then headed to the Mall to meet Isaac and Hem. We saw them last time we were  here and it was great to meet their kids and catch up over dinner. 

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Pram-jacked.  

Pram-jacked.  

Having a squiz around Seattle tomorrow and catching up with Jimmy. 

Might visit a bike shop or two. 

It's a Kind of Magic - Queen

The internet has been scattered, the drinks flowing, the sun shining (mostly), the water warm and the laughs plentiful. 

We spent the weekend in Osoyoos with Lisa, Juliet and their families.   Bryce met Lisa and Juliet when they were backpacking in Australia in 1994. They have remaimed friends ever since. We last saw Juliet in 2003 at Lisa and Pete's wedding. Bryce saw Lisa last year after his continental divide ride and I last saw Lisa in 2010 when we were in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics. 

J, B & L

J, B & L

Osoyoos is approximately half way between Vancouver (where Lisa and Pete live) and Nelson (where Juliet, Thomas, Benjamin and Amelia live). It is a little town that lies between 2 lakes and the perfect location for a weekend getaway.

We spent the weekend beaching, poolside, drinking and eating and enjoying each other's company.  

There's a hole in my bucket... 

There's a hole in my bucket... 

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Row, row

Row, row

Highlights included SUP'ing, wine tasting, food, Bacardi frozen drinks, food, the Osoyoos hardware store, Wizard and the spray park. 

Looking confident! 

Looking confident! 

Trouble

Trouble

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Thanks for a fabulous weekend!

Today we made our way back across the border into 'Merica and along the Northern Cascades Way.  We stopped in Winthrop and wandered among the wooden sidewalks. 

Winthrop

Winthrop

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Our accmmodation for the night is the delightful Freestone Lodge. A large, luxurious Crabtree. What a beautiful place.  

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Tomorrow we are aiming for Seattle for the final stop on this awesome holiday, before returning to Vancouver to fly home... unless we decide to stay. 

It's a long road. Theme from Rambo-First Blood. Dan Hill

We left home around 10 and headed east towards Hope. It was mainly dual lane highway and not super interesting. A quick stop at Tim Hortons to satisfy Jacquie's craving introduced Zoe to more sprinkles. 

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A lunch and playground stop at Hope (where they filmed Rambo part 1) gave us all a chance to stretch our legs and watch some youngsters playing lacrosse. It was quite warm and windy with lots of dust blowing around.

Play School, a drink, something to eat and all is good. 

Play School, a drink, something to eat and all is good. 

Hope

Hope

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Bryce, Lisa, Jaks, Pete, Juliet

Bryce, Lisa, Jaks, Pete, Juliet

After a slightly wrong turn we were back on track and heading up through Manning Park. The girls had a little snooze as the temperature dropped to 7 degrees and snow could be seen at the base of trees still in the shade. Rain, lightning and finally blue sky all came and went in a couple of hours. 

As we descended into Osoyoos the temperature begin climb. 27 ,28, and finally 30 degrees.

Our digs here for the next three days are very pleasant.  After finding our room I noticed Thomas and Juliet climbing out of their car.. It's been 12 years since we saw them last!

Dinner, a few frosty adult beverages and a impromptu swim in the lake finished off a long day. 

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Rock Lobster - The B 52s

Another beautiful day dawns in British Columbia. Slightly later than yesterday as the wee one adjusts to Pacific time.  

Todays entertainment was going to be provided by the Vancouver Aquarium. Negotiating traffic took longer than expected but we arrived mid morning.  

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Along with the entire population of under 12s in Vancouver. Loud and busy to say the least.  

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The first display we came to was the tropical one. Zoe's happiness and delight at seeing these fish made the screaming hordes fade away. We looked at fish from all over Canada, the Amazon, and the tropics.  

Very tall pasta.  

Very tall pasta.  

Scene from Doctor Who? 

Scene from Doctor Who? 

These are not fish. 

These are not fish. 

Outside the huge otters, penguins and especially the Belugas were amazing to see.  

A white whale... 

A white whale... 

What are you? 

What are you? 

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Unfortunatly the attention span of a 2 year old is not long and soon there were signs that it was time to move on.  

I buckled the beast into KITT and returned home to put her to sleep ( not in the animal sense) , while Lisa and Jaks went shopping. 

A bit of kip does wonders and after awaking a quiet afternoon was spent back at the park.  

Lisa and Jaks went shopping.  

With dad in charge of dinner everything went smoothly and all over the place.  

Lisa and Jaks went shopping.  

A quiet night in as tomorrow we head east to Osoyoos. 

It's My Birthday Today (Justine Clarke)

Happy Birthday Lisa!

First stop for the day was Hertz in North Vancouver.

Introducing KITT a black Crysler 200s. Everyone who knows something about cars seems to be excited that we were upgraded to this from a Toyota Matrix. 

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Heading out the 99 towards Horseshoe Bay and the Whistler turnoff bought back memories of trips during the Olympics - only this time I wasn't drinking port out of a purple fanta bottle (classy I know!). 

Second stop - Bluebell Drive in West Vancouver.

Lisa's mum and dad had kindly invited us all over for birthday pancake breakfast.  Of course I had Canadian maple syrup on mine. Yummy. 

Having a nearly 2 year old toddler and a 10 month old Great Dane in the same room proved interesting until they both got over the initial excitement and decided to be best of friends. 

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Third stop - Park Royal to purchase a birthday cake for celebrations later in the day. Stopped at Whole Foods Market. What an amazing shop. So much yummy fresh food. Pete calls it whole pay cheque but I didn't think it was too overpriced. 

Fourth stop - back to Lisa and Pete's for Zoe to have a sleep. She decided to start the day at 5am still operating on New York time (3 hrs later) so she was well and truly ready for a rest. 

Fifth stop - the local neighbourhood park in North Vancouver.

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Sixth stop - back to Lisa's for birthday celebrations. Cake and Bacadri Daquari's.

Seventh stop - bed.

Sweet Child of mine. (Or hers)

Today we head west to Vancouver. Tim drove us through some fearsome traffic, 2 hours backed up, to get us to Newark Airport.  

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Leaving the U.S. Is still a pain. TSA gremlins who think they are Gods gift to security still abound.  

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Thankfulky customs in Montreal went very smoothly. After a short break we boarded our flight to Vancouver.  

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 Now here's a storey. The wee one usually flies well but today she released all that pent up anger. 

In her defence She had been awake for a while. Feral is the only word. 

Landing in Vancouver after a seemingly 50 hour flight we are met by Pete and now we are in third home for a week or so. 

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So much good stuff to do and great friends to see.

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My dirty little stream. The Hudson River song. (Pete Seger)

Our final day in America, for a while, began with packing up our great guesthouse. Zoe, Jaks and Kelly headed back down to Tims so Kelly could get off to work in the city.

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Tim and I rode up into the town of Woodstock for a quick look around and a coffee. Well refreshed we headed south east towards the Hudson.

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We rode along the Hudson and crossed over it four times following the smaller and greener roads.

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We passed luxurious homes on the banks of the river that looked like they came from movie sets. The Vanderbilts summer home was a touch smaller that we are used to but it would suffice in a pinch.

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Marist university had beautiful grounds and is where Tim went to school. We parked up next to his old rowing sheds to get water level view of the Hudson. 

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A quick spin up Bear Mountain, and blast through Harryman Park brought us back to Tim's place in Mahwah. 

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We cannot say enough about how generous Tim, Kelly and Huckle  have been during our stay here. To ride up and around Woodstock and the Catskills has been a longtime dream. Many bucket list items have been ticked off.

To finish on a high note Micah has just phoned to say he has flown into NJ and is on his way to see us!

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Swing Low Sweet Chariot (Joan Baez)

Today we were venturing north to Woodstock. Jaks, Kelly and Zoe took the Cruiser and Tim and I took the bikes. 

We started off with a quick tour of Harriman Park. Great roads and nice scenery. We came across the bike leg of a triathlon and mingled with the riders for a few miles. 

Our first stop was Orange County Choppers. Not really my sort of bikes but seeing the ones made in the series on display shows how much work goes into them.

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Orange County Chopess

Orange County Chopess

Then it was off into the sticks. 

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With the gunks in the background. 

With the gunks in the background. 

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Lunch stop.  

Lunch stop.  

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The roads were all great and the green had to be seen to be believed. We have nothing like these forests in Tassie. The houses are nestled in amongst the trees, not like at home where bushfire risk makes us clear around for 30 meters.  

We arrived late in the afternoon and found the girls had set up camp in our house for the weekend.  

A quick wander to get some beers led me down more leafy, green streets.  

As it was still quite warm the nearby river provided lots of entertainment. 

Some noodles for dinner and off to bed we went. 

Sunday dawned a bit moist.  

Denise arrived for her introduction to Zoe. She was going to babysit for the day so we could all go for a ride. Zoe took to her immediately and did not even wait until we had left before wanting to be taken inside to resume colouring. 

Denise and Zoe

Denise and Zoe

Fortunatley the rain stayed away but the day warmed up quickly. That sticky heat that's not much fun in heavy bike jackets.

Dawn arrived as we were getting ready to head off and after introductions we set off to tour the Catskills. 

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More brilliant roads surrounded by green trees set the scene for the day. Mile after mile of amazing scenery. Jaks was so mesmerised that she forgot to blink. Dry eyes are her highest compliment. 

A lunch stop in Tannersville for some Mexican split the day. Margaritas for the pillions!

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Kelly and Tim planning our trip back to Woodstock. 

Kelly and Tim planning our trip back to Woodstock. 

We decided to head back down Frost Valley road (which Tim and I had come up yesterday) and do a loop back up to Woodstock. 

Covered bridge

Covered bridge

Covered bridge

Covered bridge

266 km ride today.  

266 km ride today.  

Dawn left us here and headed home. Another great hours riding brought us home and another splash in the creek.

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There was even a white whale spotted at Woodstock. Probably a little more common here than most of its previous habitats. 

My Hometown. (The Boss)

Today we sadly said goodbye to NYC. There is so much to see here that we could spend ages just seeing the neighbourhoods before even seeing the sights. We spent most of our time getting to know a small section of the Upper West Side. We would love to come back spend more time here. 

Tim picked us up in his 200 series cruiser which was familiar but also a bit strange as its a mirror version of Jacquie's dads car. 

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A quick spin up the highway to New Jersey saw us in a very green neighbourhood. Flash car dealerships lined the highway, with 20 plus Porsches, Maseraties and such sitting in the lots.

Tim's house is a beautiful stone and wood craftsman cottage. Big stone fireplace and high ceilings. 

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After getting settled Zoe suggested a swim in the recently opened pool. Despite the fact that there was snow on the ground a month ago she jumped in with much gusto. Briefly.

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This afternoon we popped over to meet the neighbours, Steve and Tracey, their twin sons and Molly the labrador.  

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Retuning home more swimming was suggested and an afternoon by the pool was enjoyed by all. 

Tim had purchased some huge steaks for dinner which we have just finished. 

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A great intro to NJ and we didn't even see Bon Jovi.  

New York State of Mind

Our last full day in the Big Apple dawned bright and clear. Not that we were up that early but it sounds good. 

We were running a tad late as we bolted for the subway to catch a train to Times Square. Not quite as glamorous during the day, it was our kick off point to head west to the Hudson River.

After brisk run down 42nd street we arrived with time to spare. A very helpful gentleman helped us out and printed the tickets that Jaks had purchased the night before. 

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The boat trip headed south down the Hudson, around the Statue of Liberty, back up the East River (actually a tidal estuary, the things you learn) around the northern end past the Bronx and back to our starting point. 

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The skyline looks so different without the twin towers. Hard to imagine that day. 

It was a great morning out with perfect weather, a highly recommended trip.

After a bite to eat we went our separate ways, Jaks to Macy's, the largest store in the world and me to our hotel to pop Zoe down for a sleep.

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Another fun ride ride on the subway!

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It seems that back packs are rare here.. Lots of people commenting on what a great idea it is.

After Jaks return from shopping they headed to the park and I went for walk around the Upper West Side. It's a very easy place to get around and lots to see as you wander about.

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A very NY purchase of a tarp for under the tent rounded out my shopping.

Jaks had a highly recommended Lobster roll for dinner and now we waiting for the wee one to go to sleep.

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Tomorrow we are New Jersey bound to spend the weekend with Tim and Kelly, and his mini.  

Everyone should come to this city. It's brilliant. 

New York Groove.

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NYC. 

The famous Carosel of Central Park beckoned this morning. It is quite a stroll to get there through the Park. There are lots of winding paths to ensure that getting a bit geographically embarrassed is an option. 

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After stopping at several small parks on the way we homed in on the music coming from behind some bushes and found the spinning Carosel. We were not sure at first that Zoe would like it but on conclusion of her first ride she announced 'More!'

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After the second ride we started home. We popped out of the park at 74th street and headed 2 blocks in to Amsterdam, then cut across to Broadway to visit the North Face shop. 

Zoe is very happy with her purchase!


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This afternoon we had a trip the museum. A brave thing to do with a feisty 2 yo. Still, could be worse. We wandered around looking at animals from North America, lots of plant info and finally a bit of space stuff.

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Dinner at Chipotle continued our quest to go home much heavier than when we arrived.

New York, New York

We decided to spend the morning exploring around the hotel, get our bearings and upper west side groove on before venturing further afield this afternoon. 

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Our hotel is located less than a 2 minute walk from Central Park so after popping Zoe in the stroller (pram for those Australians) we made our way down the street to the Diana Ross Playground. Pre- Zoe we would have looked for the nearest pub, how times have changed!!

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After Zoe aquatinted herself with some local kids and their nannies she then decided the water feature was a great place to have a swim. At least that was safer than her previous efforts to swim in Niagara Falls. 

The park was bustling with people - playing, relaxing, exercising, dog walking, riding... I could have spent hours people watching and would have being quite content.

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With no time for people watching and plenty of sights to explore we wandered around the upper west side streets, chatting to passers-by, shop assistants and meeting the local dogs of the neighbourhood.

We returned to the hotel for some lunch and for Zoe a nap. Meanwhile Bryce just happened to happen upon the Apple Store but came home empty handed. Quite surprising given he had been looking at the Apple watches. 

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The afternoon saw us negotiate the subway to and from the Rockefeller Centre. We had lots of recommendations to venture to the Top of the Rock and the views were not disappointing.  All the big name landmarks were visible. 

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This is one BIG city. 

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Tim and Kelly joined us for a Shake Shack dinner and helped plan the next few days to make sure we make the most of our time in the city. 

T.dot too.

Saturday was spent having a tour around Toronto with John and Valerie. A quick spin down to the local BMW-Ducati dealership to pick up some things for John's road trip to Arizona was first. Zoe managed to crack her head and is sporting the best bruise of her career yet. 

The distillery district was next. It is a restored precinct around the wharf area full of trendy shops and restaurants. We partook of some yummy gelato and sat in the sun. 

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A drive around downtown to look at the trendy spots and the old buildings finished off the day. Toronto has a huge downtown area, we think it's much bigger than Sydney. 

At home we reminisced while looking at photos from Africa and sipping on Amarula. 

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On Sunday it was time to head west towards Rick and Robin's. An hour long drive down big wide freeways deposited us in Burlington, Ontario.  As the rain poured down we bade farewell to John and Valerie. We had a great time with them and will look forward to meeting up again somewhere in this big wide world.

After prying Zoe away from Lilly, the Young's Labrador, we drove down to Niagara Falls. On the way we stopped at a beautiful winery to partake in some ice wine. The grapes are picked between-10 and -12 C then made into a sweet wine

The clouds parted as we arrived and the falls glistened in the sun.

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As it is a very touristy area it was crowded but walking around the falls was very pleasant. 

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A wonderful steak dinner finished off another great Canadian day.

Tomorrow we head east and south on the train to New York City!  

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Thanks for the fabulous hospitality John, Valerie, Rick & Robin. 

Train to NYC

An early start, well 7ish, was needed to get us to the train and off to America. After working out which platform we needed we said goodbye to Robin. Rick helped drag our many bags up onto the train. Thank you!

It was a slow ride to the border at Niagara Falls. The train backed into the station and we all got off and headed into Customs. It only took a couple of minutes and we were free to go back to the train. Much easier than flying. Our passports were stamped at LAX so that sped things along. We waited around for an hour for formalities to conclude and then headed onto Buffalo.

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After becoming stuck behind some freight trains our scheduled arrival into Penn Station was revised to10.45pm. 

It was a long ride through very wet and green regions of upstate New York. 

After a long day on the train we arrived into Penn Station, managed to negotiate our way into a cab and arrive at the hotel with no issues. 

Zoe decided her first cab ride in NYC was too exciting to sleep through and began singing beep beep yeh for the duration of our ride.  The touch screen in the back of the cab with fare info, payment options, weather forecast and multiple channels leaves our cabs back home with a lot to be desired. 

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Tim and Kelly had kindly arranged for some late night snacks for us. After enjoying a peanut butter insomnia cookie it was time for bed.    

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Our hotel is in the perfect location for exploring the city sights tomorrow. 

T.dot (Toronto)

Toronto has turned on the fabulous weather for us. Magical.  

Our first destination for the day was the CN Tower. It was a little hazy when we first reached the viewing area but the view improved as the morning went on. 

Looking up the Tower.    

Looking up the Tower.  

 

It takes nearly a minute to travel  to the first viewing area by lift. The buildings stretch to the horizon in all directions.  

The view west.  

The view west.  

We visited 3 viewing levels, the observation deck, the glass floor and the skypod. 

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Trying to figure it out.  

Trying to figure it out.  

Lying on the glass floor.  

Lying on the glass floor.  

Having a walk.  

Having a walk.  

This city is big with lots of pockets of sky scrapers for as far as the eye can see, a huge lake and lots of green areas in between.  

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When we were all touristed out we headed down to the lake for some lunch. 

We wandered along the foreshore past a pool which becomes an ice rink in winter. Gets properly cold in these parts.

Bit fresh in the defrosted ice rink.  

Bit fresh in the defrosted ice rink.  

Someone was a bit tired from the mornings activities and couldn't wait for lunch before her nap.  

Beered out.  

Beered out.  

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Amsterdam by the Lake.  

Amsterdam by the Lake.  

Local brewery  

Local brewery  

After lunch, some beers and excellent service  at Amsterdam, we wandered around the lake front before making our way back to John & Valerie's.

Charlie the dog returned much to Zoe's delight. Poor Charlie is going to be well "loved" over the weekend.  

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Rick and Robin joined us for dinner and we reminisced about previous adventures and discussed plans for future bike trips. 

More sight seeing tomorrow!  

LAX-YYZ (Toronto).

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After a very ordinary nights sleep, or awake as it should be called we enjoyed our first American breakfast. I guess all those kilos will be coming back. Hopefully not the 10 that I put on on the Winter Olympics trip.

A night on the couch. 

A night on the couch. 

We boarded the shuttle bus at 7:00 for the short ride to the airport. Still not up on our tipping as the driver walked off in disgust. Oh well one day we will get it right. 

Quick breeze through security again and into the American Airlines lounge. God bless Qantas club.

Zoe's fascination with planes and airports continues and she happily stared at the very busy runway out the window. Cuddles and kisses for planes abounded.

Flying in the U.S. is very different to Oz. No seatbelt required for Zoe, move around to find a spare seat before takeoff, seatbelt light on ignored, little dogs in the cabin and everyone has carry on bags as paying for bags is expensive. It cost us $85 for 3 bags. 

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We were delayed half an hour as there was a backup on the runway. Currently in the air on the way to Canada.  

Someone got sleep

Someone got sleep

We cleared customs with no worries apart from a chat about beef in baby food. 

John and Valerie whisked us away in the big black car to their very nice townhouse. 

John and Valerie

John and Valerie

Tulips

Tulips

A quick pizza for dinner and off to bed. 

Oh and my new helmet was here too!  

New Lid.  

New Lid.  

HBA-SYD-LAX.

My mother recommended the traditional Denny start to a holiday so following her instruction I downed a few g & t's in the Sydney Qantas club. I may have also thought they would be required to endure the 13hr flight with Zoe on my lap. 

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One of these people has had 6 hours sleep. The other not.  

One of these people has had 6 hours sleep. The other not.  

The Qantas staff were fabulous and after moving us so that we had a spare seat we settled in nicely.  

The flight was uneventful (just how they should be). Zoe slept for about 6 hrs and made less noise than the large lady sitting next to me snoring away for the entire flight. Did you ever do that imaginary line thing with your siblings where you divided the back seat up and in my case my brother wasn't allowed to have any body part cross the line? Well I was doing imaginary lines with this lady. She had her bingo wings well and truly in my space. We however were no so lucky in the sleep department. 

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Zoe was very fresh off the plane after her restful flight and had a ball running around the airport.  

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After 'Merica welcomed us with rapid customs and quarantine queues (there are advantages to travelling with children) we got the shuttle to the hotel, had a swim and are not far out of bed.  

Bryce popped down to the 7/11 for some sandwiches for dinner and came home with a pint of Carona and a Mike's harder cranberry and lemonade.

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Hopefully we all have a long and restful sleep ready for more airport and plane travels tomorrow. Toronto here we come.