Tuesday 27th April, 2010
Today we are scheduled to leave Las Vegas and fly to Jacksonville, Florida to meet up with our friends Jim and Bette.
Tue April 27 South West Airlines 0131
Depart LAS VEGAS NV (LAS) at 9:40 AM
Arrive in JACKSONVILLE FL (JAX) at 4:55 PM
Day 5- 27th April - To Florida
So here we are in Florida. The 48th state of the USA we have been to. Just 2 states to go and one of them we will do in a week or so. Alaska will be the only state missing after this trip.
The east coast of the USA is exactly 12 hours behind Perth time, so 6pm there is 6am here.
We left our hotel in Vegas fairly early, South West airlines have this very strange (to me) boarding system and I think the earlier you check in the better chance you get of good seats.
The Bellagio in Vegas is without doubt the best hotel we have stayed in and we really did enjoy our two nights there. Hopefully we will be back and we thank our son Scott for his wonderful Christmas gift to me of the accommodation there.
Rayls has this wonderful knack of being able to pack very efficiently! There are things strewn everywhere, I go to have a shower and a few minutes later the bags are packed and we are ready to go (I could go on with those lyrics but.....).
Down through the Casino - 7am and people are gambling, drinking etc - then to the car and off we go to the airport. I followed Scott's directions and we were at the rental facility in 10 minutes. The airport at Vegas is very close to the city. You leave the car at a parking garage type place where all the rental companies are housed and then onto a shuttle bus to the airport.
Getting through check in was easy enough but then comes that monster........ Security!!!!! Most of the airports I have been to in the USA were built pre 9/11 when security was not such a big deal. Now it is a major deal but the airport is no bigger and they have to add this large security area where it was never intended to be. Actually Vegas is OK but still tough going. I was singled out for further security and had to wait in this glass room whilst another security guard was called over. She was actually quite rude, I had done nothing wrong but was just a random check, if I had done something wrong then be as rude as you like. Anyway she checked my shoes for explosives and secret compartments and then she just thrust them back at me and off we went.
We went to a Wendy’s for breakfast - cinnamon scrolls. Then we wandered our way down the corridor to C9 our gate.
South West flight 131 started out in San Diego, second leg to Jacksonville, then to Tampa and finally to Buffalo, quite a day’s work.
Day 5- 27th April - To Florida - Part 2
Before I go on I wish to make another comment on Vegas and in fact the USA in general. There is no litter and no graffiti! The only place in Vegas where there is litter is on the pavement just after these annoying dudes who try to hand you these cards advertising things I have little interest in - I think it may be strip shows but as I said I have no interest in what it is. These dudes click these cards together and thrust them at you as you pass, I gather some people take them and then drop them immediately and that creates a minor issue. Personally I would like to tell these dudes with the cards to shove it wear it hurts but this is the USA and you never know what these people might have in their pocket.
Anyway, Australia could learn a lot from the USA in relation to litter and graffiti - there just isn't a lot here.
Our flight arrived on time and Rayls and I managed seats together. Over the wing, but together. I think we left a few minutes late. You could see the Vegas strip as clear as a bell as we taxied to the runway but once you take off there really is not a lot to see out the window. It’s pretty barren out there.
The flight attendants on South West flights are pretty cool, much joking and fun, even through the safety talk. Had us all laughing. I might add the person sitting on the aisle seat never said a word through the entire flight much to Rayls' relief - no scared stiff passenger to ease through the flight.
It took just a few minutes short of 4 hours to make it to Jacksonville and the flight was pretty uneventful.
Upon landing, it was 7 hours later - Florida is 3 hours ahead of Vegas time. Nice airport, small by US standards but bigger than Perth.
We got our luggage and encountered problem number 1. Apparently I was supposed to call our friend Jim when we were ready but I don't recall that. Luckily Jim and Bette are well aware of my memory problems and soon after we walked out of the terminus there they were. There was quick hugs and handshakes as we loaded the car - the security dude was on his way and then we were off. I expected a concrete jungle out there but it was all very open, almost rural.
It is good to see Jim and Bette again; they are good people (Jim's reads this blog). It has been 2 years since we were last together and the laughs started pretty well as soon as we got in the car.
We were soon at a Cracker Barrel for dinner - love those restaurants. We were served by a lovely lady who suffered from much banter around the table. She was led to believe that Jim and I were married and played along. Nice time, good food.
Then we drove from Jacksonville around 50 miles to St Augustine where we did a 'nickle' tour of the town. It is arguably the oldest town in the USA. We even had time to stop at a Sonic Restaurant for desert. I was the only one to have one, a nice banana split - yum.
Just as it was getting dark we ended up at the house which is part of a complex for oldies, so we fit right in. Nice spot with a lake 10 metres from the house - this lake has alligators in it!
We aren't here long and hit the road on Thursday but we still unpacked, managed a load of washing and we all chatted some more before the wall hit me big time and I had to go to bed. It was actually raining a bit as I lay in bed that was nice, I think - it only took a few seconds and I was gone.
As usual I only managed a few hours sleep before I was up again, kind of good as it has allowed me to sit in bed and update this blog.
Today is the Kennedy Space Centre (OK Center) which is around 100 miles away - when the space shuttle launches they can see it from the back yard here in St Augustine. Of course I wouldn't see it, no way am I going out there with alligators in the lake.
Day 6- 28th April - Florida
Today we travelled to the Kennedy Space Center, around 100 miles away from Jim and Bette's house.
Before we left Jim and I went to his morning gathering of slightly past middle age men known as the Liars Club. Interesting experience.
We breakfasted on the road at an IHOP, unusual poor service, Jim and Rayls orders were mixed up.
Got to the Space Center just after 12 noon. They put you on a tour bus and take you out to a viewing area where you can check out the launch pad. Then the bus takes you on to the mission control area. Here they talk you through much of the lead up to the Apollo 8 mission and then you go into an area where there is a saturn rocket, what a monster this thing is. We wandered around there for a while, then back on the bus and back to the visitors area. We tried out the shuttle launch simulator, that was kind of cool - much shaking and noise.
We also checked out the astronaut’s memorial.
All in all a good day.
On the way back w ehad to side track to a post office so that Rayls could post a package. Apparently a Florida resident went on Rayls works web site to order some fabric. To save on shipping and time Rayls offered to post the package from Florida and this was done today.
We got home around 6:30pm and enjoyed a nice chicken dinner that Bette had made.
Now there is much packing going on, Jim and Bette are heading up to Maine tomorrow, they will be there in their RV till September. We will be with them till 16th May.
Tomorrow we start out on the road trip and head for Savannah, Georgia, around 300 miles and then end the day in Summerton, South Carolina.