Wednesday, 9 March 2016

See Ya Later USA!!!

Sooooo after 8 and half weeks we had arrived back at our starting point in LA California.  We had arranged to stay at the same Caravan Park in Anaheim so we could unload and re-pack all our suitcases...I think Jason was a little worried.

It practically took all day to pack our suitcases and shuffle all the luggage so that we could distribute all the load.  It was a very boring day but had to be done!!! That night we took the kids to all you can eat buffet which really helps everyone's mood.  Then we were able to spend more time with cousin Leslie and meet up with her son Aaron and his partner who is in love with Disneyland.  It was lovely catching up with them and talking talking talking which of course bores the children so we didn't
stay too long as they were getting tired and grumpy.

Luckily they weren't grumpy for the next day ahead as it was home time!!! We had to spend a whole day at the airport as we needed to return the RV by 11am but our flight wasn't until 10:30pm that night! AND with 8 large suitcases and 13 pieces of carry on luggage there was not much sight seeing we could do!  So we set ourselves up for the day in the lounge and watched movies and did exploring and of course just a little more shopping.  The airline was fabulous and charged no extra for the baggage but we were a little worried about the domestic flight from Sydney to Adelaide....however we thought we would just pay as we were soooooo close to home.

The flight home itself wasn't too bad and we were able to get a whole 4 extra seats assigned to out family which was really helpful for sleeping except I didn't sleep the whole time!!! Not too happy about that. - As we were descending into Sydney we were getting very very excited! Unfortunately they announced we needed to make a detour into Brisbane as there was really bad fog in Sydney....A lot of groaning on the plane but what can you do?  Luckily all the kids were in a great mood as they had slept well, so I got two hours sleep whilst we waited.  So many people commented when I woke how well behaved the children were compared to even adults complaining so that's always nice to hear.

Soooo by the time we reached Sydney the airline had re arranged mostly everyone's flights as we had missed our connecting ones home. Although it was a crazy day this was a little blessing in disguise as they really went out of their way to help us and not only didn't charge us for extra baggage but let us put more luggage under the plane or check it in so we didn't have to lug it around all day. Then we were given $20 food voucher each which a lot for a child so they went a little crazy eating but it was sure a fun way to fill in time plus it was Australian food which of course tasted a little better.

Finally made it home!  So nice to be in our own bed but what an amazing, wonderful, fabulous, exciting, memory making opportunity for our family!!!

Las Vegas

Las Vegas Nevada is a world of its own with all the Casinos and bright lights.  We spent a very hot day walking up and down the strip!  We often heard people shouting 'WAAAATER, ice cold water'  for sale so even now as a catch cry we use this at home with our American accents.  A fond memory!  During the day there were many people even though it was still so hot so it all seemed a little crazy but the water fountain displays at the Bellagio Hotel were fabulous.  We were also impressed that the people serving us at McDonalds were the only ones in America who understood our order (our accent)...maybe because they get so many visitors. We were fortunate to find a RV park on the strip at CIRCUS CIRCUS hotel complex with a pool so that helped fill the afternoon for the children after such a long hot walk during the day.

That night we were able to have Johnny Rockets for dinner as we really wanted to show the children that sometimes when the right music plays the workers stop what they are doing and just come and dance in the middle of the restaurant.  Jason and I also went and saw Donny and Marie that night which was actually pretty good.  I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought...then we went home and woke the children with yummy doughnuts and drove down the strip in our big RV at night time which was truly a fun experience.  All the lights were amazing!

The next day was Sunday so we planned to attend an afternoon ward so we could sleep in and as it worked out the afternoon ward we ended up attending was a Young Single Adult ward.  Sacrament meeting was so reverent as there was no children attending - Even Daniel and Joanna didn't come as I put them in Primary with another ward who were meeting in the same building at a different time. I will always remember how special that meeting was.

Throughout the afternoon we spent time around the Las Vegas temple and relaxed - it was lovely.  On the drive out of Nevada we happened to drive through a place called NELLIS (my I had to get a photo with my favourite American store!!!)

On the way out of Las Vegas to LA is a huge roller-coaster that Jason and I went on back in 1997!  It was the highest drop point of a coaster in the world back then but I'm sure it isn't any more!!!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Back through Utah and into Nevada

We had arranged to stay with Jerry Nealey in Roy Utah on the way home.  One amazing person who is legally blind but copes so well and works for the State helping other people with disabilities to function and work in society.  We visited his work place and he took us to an amazing lolly shop where we able to have some yummy candy and licorice.  Jerry visited this place nearly weekly so they knew him well and because of this we got a discount.  It was so nice of him to let us use his home for a base.  (Even though I thought it weird that a blind man was helping with my washing and had to stop when was folding my bra as he felt a little uneasy...very awkward conversation that one)

We had a chance to say goodbye to Uncle Bob again and really reflect on our amazing adventure and get ready for the last week ahead....

Chillin along the way!

We then drove into Nevada looking and asking for places to set off our fireworks...eventually we found out about an amazing place called the 'Valley of Fire' - sounds very fitting.  However this was Native American land so we weren't sure if we would be able to go in there so didn't want to get the kids hopes up too much. Luckily we found an area just before the gated land that allowed anyone to let off their fireworks....We had a fabulous time letting off all the fireworks and some of the children have a go at lighting them themselves and having a blast watching what each one did.  It was fun watching other fireworks go off around us too.  Daniel was a little scared at first but he got used to it pretty quickly!
Valley of Fire

Wonderful Wyoiming

After leaving Omaha we took our time time to slowly drive into Wyoming which we heard wasn't the most beautiful of places and boy were 'they' right.  We only really drove along the I80 and found the scenery very boring and well pretty ugly actually.  (Obviously we weren't there in winter when the mountains and surrounding areas are so beautiful.) So with this negative view of the area I wasn't expecting so much fun that we had at the Martin Cove Mormon Handcart Historic Site.  To me this was one of the best church historical sites. 

The visitors centre is set up so well and we watched an amazing family movie and listened to experiences of pioneers that really helped us feel grateful for one another and our own lives!  Then for nearly another 5 hours we had the opportunity to take real handcarts and go on a mini trek ourselves. There are so many handcarts to choose from and also mini ones for little children. It was soooo much fun and then obviously we had a chance to wander and explore the wonderful surroundings. The children had a fabulous day and we were virtually all by ourselves which made it even more special.

Another reason we thought Wyoming was wonderful is that the state still allowed the sale of Fireworks!!! Woohoo

Sunday, 28 February 2016

North to Nebraska!

After Kansas City we drove up to Omaha Nebraska.

We got there quite late and couldn't really find any reasonably priced places to camp our big RV or even a Walmart and we were a little worried as the weather was pretty dark and started raining and sounded as though a big storm was coming so we needed to settle ASAP. We decided to try our luck at the nearby caravan park for Department of Defense...which officially is only for families of the department of defense.  It took Jason a good while to convince them and if it wasn't for the terrible weather the people in charge would have moved us along! So we got settled and button down the hatches as they say because the weather warnings were for a tornado!  It was a pretty rough night with howling winds and rains so we said quite a few prayers!

In the morning we could see the affects of the night before.  Loads of puddles and mud and a few trees lying on the ground.  A couple of families areas were wrecked and awnings knocked over so overall we were really lucky.  No tornadoes as such but in the two states below us Kansas and Oklahoma there were loads of tornadoes and a lot of devastation for families so we were very blessed.

We attended church that day with grateful hearts!

During the day we were able to visit the church visitors center that represented whats known as Winter Quarters.  Brigham Young secured an area for pioneers to wait out the very cold winter before trekking on to Utah.  In Christmas in 1846 there was over 4000 saints.  The kids had a lot of fun here especially dressing up as pioneers.  I was really glad it was open on a Sunday. We were amazed to meet a couple that stopped us because of our Australian accents to ask where we were from as her brother was serving a mission in Adelaide Australia!!! We hadn't met him as yet but at that actual time he was serving in Port Pirie where my sister Sarah lives.  Small world!

That night we were able to share a meal with some lovely members, the Kauer Family who just invited us that day for dinner.  We had a very yummy dinner and Jordyn was happy as they had an adorable doggie!

Many blessings coming our way in the past 24 hours of this trip!

Liberty Jail

On December 1st 1838 Joseph Smith and other church members were taken to Liberty Jail in Clay County Missouri as there were no jails in the counties of where they're alleged crimes took place.  We were able to visit the visitors centre here that tried to recreate the actual size of this dungeon like prison in May 2013.

The sister missionary who took us on the tour did an amazing job trying to describe how conditions were like for prisoners and especially Joseph Smith.  I really felt the spirit of this place and felt grateful I was able to be there! The four month confinement took a heavy toll on these latter-day saint members who were prisoners for basically not denying God and denouncing Joseph as a prophet.  A lot of emotional, spiritual and physical pain and anguish that they suffered is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 121, 122, 123.  There is also revelation given in these scriptures whilst Joseph Smith was in this jail.  As I read them now the words definitely mean a lot more to me. 

I will also remember this day because while we were there the sister missionaries found out that the prophets beloved wife had passed away the day before. 

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Jacks Stack

So although Kansas City has a relatively new beautiful temple that we could visit - the main reason we detoured down to this beautiful city was so that Jason could share with us a beautiful meal that he had over 2 years ago! Jason has been fortunate to travel a couple of times to America for buying houses and also visiting family.  During one of the tours they took him to have a wonderfully slow cooked pork rib meal!  He was dying to taste it again except he didn't remember the name of the restaurant....WHOOPS

So after ringing around a few restaurants we were so lucky to find it and book in as being a Saturday night it was soooo busy.  And now I know why....The food was soooooooooooo yummy.  We ordered about 4 different mains to share and 3 different desserts to try. All the meat must have been cooking all day as it was so moist and melted in your mouth and the brownie and ice-cream was to die for! I can taste the food now just writing about it!  It would have to be the best food I have ever tasted and I can now understand why Jason wanted us to drive down to have this food! I bought about 3 jars of the marinating sauce to bring home and boy did I try to make that last!!!