Category Archives: USA

Day 3 of #Laxico2016 – Heavenly Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe

See my strategy is to have you all on the edge of seats wondering “What did Emma do on her holiday??” It has noting whatsoever to do with the fact that I haven’t made time to post these… or perhaps even write them. Suspense dear Watson. That’s the name of this game! ENJOY!

Day 3, Wednesday 24 February 2016.

SKI DAY!! Snow Snow Snow! Woke up and leapt out of bed, pulled back the curtain and greeted by snow covered rooftops, tall mountains all around, a lake view and blue bird skies. Perfect day!

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I was like a kid at Christmas and jumped on Matt to get up asap so we could get snow ready. We planned to go to Heavenly on this day so that we didn’t have to travel far. It’s also the mountain we had heard the most about. I went online though to checkout tickets and see how we did that… $125 USD!! I was in shock. I mean I know it’s a famous mountain, but what, that’s about $170 AUD – almost 1.5 times what we pay in Australia. Well in Australia it’s about $110 – $120 at most mountains, but with the sucky dollar, this was hurting!

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We got out into the town and It was fresh but really not too cold. It’s a really lovely little area and we had everything we needed within walking distance. Matt hired his skis and decided to give some demo skis a go, why not! It was then off to the ski lifts. Both of us were getting excited now.. we almost forgot about the pain that was about to hit our credit cards!

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The first thing you do is hop on the Gondola and head right up, turning around to see the most incredible views of the Lake.

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Ok! I can see where the expense of the ticket comes in, this was absolutely spectacular. We were two very happy ski bunnies.

 

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Matt hadn’t been skiing for about 5 years and when we got to the top of the Gondola and actually onto the snow, he did a little happy dance. It was adorable! We asked the helpful man near the giant map where we should start. He gave us great advice on a cruisey area to begin on and where the sun had already hit so the snow will have softened up. We were off.

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We got to the run and Matt said he was going to just take it easy to start. I said “sure, ok see you at the bottom.” And took off down the run, cruising along and loving being back on my board. Then out of the corner of my eye goes a flash of yellow pants and then Matt skis off in spectacular style down the hill. WHAT! I mean he said he was good but seriously, the boy can ski! I was attracted to him before but this just added a whole new level. Talent on snow is sexy. Yes, I had a crush on my boyfriend!

 

 

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Absolutely perfect skiing conditions. Couldn’t have asked for better weather with warm sun, bluebird skies and the snow was soft and even. The California Run down with the lake view was absolutely epic. Pretty cruisey and flat, but just to be able to look at that view the whole way down, worth it!

But now, I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves.

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We took some time out to chill out a couple of times on the deckchairs in the sun. It was a perfect day for people watching and such a great setup by the lifts. We spent $20 on coffee, Gatorade and two chocolate bars. Definitely need to pre-plan food and shop at the market. Good to be able to take a rest and enjoy the scene.

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We lasted until about 2.30pm. We ski hard and fast, and pretty sure we were still jetlagged. With five days ahead of us, we decided to take it easy. The gondola ride down facing the lake was just incredible. Seriously how has it taken me so long to get here. A friend of mine in California goes every year and has been raving about the region. Since staying with him 4 years ago, it’s been on my list of ski holidays. To share it with matt and to be able to enjoy skiing together was a dream!

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Shattered from our day on snow, we really appreciated being able to walk to our hotel and having all the facilities within the complex. We opted for an easy dinner again. Showered and fresh, we walked to the lift, out of the lift and about 30m into the Hard Rock Café!

 

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We knew this would be a more expensive dinner but we also know what to expect, we knew it would be all American food and just easy. Big burgers, lots of fries and beers. We then were tempted by the dessert menu. We chose a hot fudge sundae after a tough decision making process… aka scissor, paper rock.

 

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This happened. Urghhhh we dug through the mountains of whipped cream and discovered ice cream, hot fudge and not one, but TWO brownies under all of that. Needless to stay we waddled to bed and slipped into a food coma!


#Laxico2016 – Day 2 – Driving from LA to Lake Tahoe

Yes… this may be a month overdue… shoosh!

Tuesday 23 February, 2016

The day of the big drive! We were pretty out of it in the morning, our first night in the US, so the jetlag was kicking in pretty good. We packed up and had a nice breakfast with my Cuzzie and a cuddle with the dogs. Our goal was to hit the road after the traffic around 10am and then get there just after dark or not too late.

Success! On the road at 10am and we had minimal traffic heading out of LA on the freeways. As soon as we got past the major areas, it opened up into rolling hills as we entered the “…” valley.

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It was such an interesting area, kind of mountainesque but not quite. There was a massive lake on one side and just an interesting scene. The first few hours went really fast.

 

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Lunch stop, our first tiff of the trip. I had predicted that the two things we would fight about if we fought were driving directions, and what to get for lunch, Of course these two things combined when you’re driving around trying to find something to eat. Carls Jr, Del Taco, Starbucks… urgh is it better the devil you know. I said I wanted something “healthy” and my boyfriend was leaving it up to me…. Hmmm. A deli! That’s “healthy” right. It was pretty much a fancy subway. We got a small… 8 inch sandwich! What is a large then – look at this monster!!

 

Tasty lunch and back on the road. Loving this ‘Winter’ weather here in California. It’s such an interesting state. Around Bakersfield we drove past what we thought might be cherry blossoms, we later realized they were probably oranges. I decided to save the debate but tweeting the photo and a friend came to our rescue with an answer, almonds! Fascinating.

 

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Driving in the USA is totally fine. My boyfriend was doing really well with the whole other side of the road thing and as long as it’s not LA, you’re all good! I felt safe in his abilities. After lunch, with the warmth of the sun and the gentle humming of the car, my jetlag took over. My darling man decided this was an opportune moment for a happy snap. Yep… I was tired! Passed out cold for a good hour and a half and this is the result.

 

We got into the mountains area after Sacramento around 5ish. The drive slowed down from there as you wind around single lane roads through the mountains and around the enormous pines. I nearly made Matt swerve off the road when I saw the snow capped mountains for the first time and pointed out across the steering wheel …. My bad!

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Arrived into Lake Tahoe around 7pm. Lovely little town with twinkle lights around and wooden cabin like buildings. We were staying right on the Stateline in South Lake Tahoe and as our hotel, Harveys Casino is one of the tallest buildings in town, it was easy to spot. Couldn’t see the lake or mountains, as it was too dark, keen to explore the town the next day.

 

Check in was unpleasant at Harveys I must say. We booked through Expedia and I was happy to have booked and paid for the hotel upfront so we wouldn’t have to worry when we got there. Not only was the front deskman gruff and short with me, perhaps been in the service industry about 30 years too long, he also informed me of a $22USD per day charge for resort fees, including internet and the health facilities. I wasn’t happy but accepted it as apparently it’s mandatory.

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We went to our room, which was lovely and spacious and we had a decent view over the city. Big bathroom, walk in closet and change area and a nice big bed. I then checked my bank and had $424AUD gone! I was outraged! Luckily I had a large amount on my credit card. I also checked my booking to see where it said about resort fees, and it didn’t.

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Back to Grumbly McGruffman who looked equally unimpressed to see me again. He couldn’t understand my accent or was hard of hearing as I had to repeat everything I said. I asked why such a large amount was taken off, he said that’s the damages they hold on my card of $50 per day… umm ok. Maybe it’s good to tell me that when you’re taking that charge off my card. And then I discussed why there is a resort fee when I had already paid in full. He explained that this was the issue of the company I booked through for not telling me, not their’s so, nothing they can do. Excellent service… America and its hidden charges drives me crazy! And it’s only Day 2!

 

Tired, weary and now a little hot headed, we went out to seek food. The good thing about staying in a casino, plenty of choice and you don’t have to go far. We had $2 beers and some tasty burgers from Straw Hat. It was easy, cheap and good food. Served us well! P.s. O love RANCH! So much Ranch! Give me all the RANCH!!!

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In bed by 9pm, absolutely shattered and now ready for our first big days at the snow!!!

 

Oh and because I love them, sunset from the drive!

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Arriving in LA, In-N-Out Burger and a Magic Show!

Very excited to have started my incredible 20 day holiday with my boyfriend in LA, Lake Tahoe and Mexico. We’ve named it #Laxico2016. You can follow our adventure with this #tag but I also plan to blog everyday (says she on Day 3!) Here we go!

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We started with a 13 hour flight with Virgin Airlines from Sydney to Los Angeles. Can’t lie, I was excited! Travelling to LA to see my Cousin and friends for an amazing holiday. I travel a lot but this time, I am travelling with my boyfriend! It’s been a bit of a dream of mine to take an epic adventure with someone I care about, it’s going to be awesome!

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No sleep! Tried. Maybe I got half an hour. It was a day flight, leaving at 11.30am Aussie time and arriving 1am Aussie time, so it was a bit of a difficult time to sleep. It was 6.10 am in America and we were wretched. Dealing with LA customs and security was not on our list of fun things to do…. but, we got through in an hour! A record for LAX it seems.

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We hopped a shuttle to the Alamo car rental shop. We booked our car for the LA to Lake Tahoe roadtrip through DriveNow Rental company. They were super helpful in securing an SUV for us with all weather tyres, suitable for driving at the snow. We were directed to the SUV aisle and then we could pick any car we wanted in that class… crazy!! It was a tough choice but I went with the red one! If in doubt, go with colour.

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Next stop, my friends house in San Gabriel! Peak hour traffic was hectic but we got through in pretty decent time and it was lovely to be off the main roads and into more suburban areas of Los Angeles. I was SO excited to see my cousin Bill! Cuzzie Bill happened to also be turning 93 that day and it was so lovely to be there.

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After much needed breakfast and a nap! We went out for the second highest priority on our list… IN-N-OUT Burger! We had been talking about it and craving it for weeks!! So off we went, there happened to be one just 7 minutes away! Bliss. Hamburgers, fries and shakes. Simple yet oh so delicious. After lunch a spot of shopping at a discount ski outlet and then home for some rest again.

Stepback! How is my cousin 93? He’s my Grandma’s cousin. So he’s my first cousin, twice removed. Confusing right? Yep, that’s why we just call him Cuz! He also happens to be an incredible magician! Bill “Magic 500” Hunter. He’s been performing magic for a living for more than 47 years and on our first night in America, he performed a show for us! I’ve seen some of the tricks before, many times actually, but it still brings me such joy. I love seeing the reactions of others and my boyfriends laughs and facials were priceless. The newspaper trick is a winner!

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Oh we also got to stay with these super cuties and will take care of them for a few days during our trip at the house we stay at! What a trip!

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Austin Texas in Pictures

Austin, Texas is a cool, funky and clean city in the South of  the Unites States of America. The capital is rich in history and political stance in the country but has incorporated a young vibe with the many universities of the area. There were lots of bars… we found many of them. Cheers Texas!

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I was there for just 3 days and over the holidays as it was thanksgiving which did somewhat affect the normally bustling areas of 6th street and downtown. However, we still found places to party, experience the atmosphere and with only mild winter weather, we enjoyed being out and about.

 

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Thanksgiving Cheers!

 

Here is a summary of the trip in photos:

 

Rainey Street- alternative bars, restaurants in old houses

 

 

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Doing the tourist thing at the Austin CapitalIMG_3894 Drinking out of Jars, novelty!IMG_3892

 

Staying at Motel 8… Stay Classy Austin!
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USA Shot! Captain America! Shots were $1 to $6 max and that’s our amazing bar tender AlanIMG_3363

 

Jackalope the Rabbit – you can’t take a drink up here!IMG_3356Welcome to Texas!
IMG_3352 This building looks like an OWL! Can you see it!!

IMG_3347 Making new friends with the locals, ChrisIMG_3369

 


Nawlins! Photos of New Orleans

New Orleans is famous for All That Jazz! It’s the birth place of Jazz after all.

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We had a wonderful time roaming the vintage streetsof the French quarter, window shopping in the boutiques of Magazine Street

 

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and dancing away to the wonderful music in the jazz bars!!


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I recommend staying in the French Quarter to get the old fashioned and famous vibe of Nawlins!

 

 

 

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Taxis in the USA are hard to get

Now I’m not sure this is the norm in the USA, but we certainly found we had bad luck on this trip with getting Taxis.

 

In New Orleans the taxis are actually very hard to identify. Soe are big yellow and black checkered things, some look like cop cars and others are large SUV’s which you can’t believe would be a cab.

 

French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

We found the best bet was to get the cabs booked by the hotel or to get the numbers of them and call them when you’re out. Trying to hale one off the street proved difficult. One night we looked out for one and ended up walking home 40 mins as we just couldn’t find one. Another day we did a similar thing where we kept our eyes open and walked to an area where they should be but failed miserably. Our first experience if actually getting a cab – we had a Horror incident where our cab driver got into a fight with two guys we’d met on the street. Perhaps walking is safer?

 

In Austin, Texas we tried to hale cabs to save ourselves walking home a couple nights but they just didn’t seem to want our business or we weren’t doing it In the right place? We found it hard identifying if they were free or not, they always seemed to be taken or on their own agenda.

 

Streets of Austin, Texas

Streets of Austin, Texas

Last but not least, I’d ordered a cab for the last morning at 5am in Austin to get to the Airport. I had done this with the counter at my Motel. They never showed. Fortunately my new friend Chris had offered to drive me so I no longer needed the cab- lucky or I’d have been late.

 

So, Taxis in the USA. Tricky. My recommendation would be to read up about the city before you get there and identify a few taxi companies. When you arrive, speak to your hotel about the best way to approach them.

 


Bill Magic 500 Hunter and Slither the snake

Bill Hunter – Magician also knows as Magic 500 or the Indy 500 magician.http://www.youtube.com/user/MagicB500 see more here. And his websitehttp://magic500.wordpress.com/

Here he works with Slither the snake to find my card.

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Bill has a website, known as Magic 500: http://magic500.wordpress.com/

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A Facebook page:  Bill Hunter Magic 500

 

He also has some videos on Youtube including: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LRmum_xIDU

 


Cancun – Playa Del Carmen – Tulum (how to)

  1. Travelling in the Quintana Roo is very easy with lots of buses and plenty of signage all around.

 

For me, although fun, Cancun is not the place I want to spend my time in Mexico. It’s a party place and great fun, but I’m not going to spend loads of time there. So for us it was 1 night in a cheap hostal and then off to the bus station in the morning.

 

Cabanas in Tulum

Cabanas in Tulum

Wr didn’t make any prior reservations as there are lots of minivans as well as the main bus company, ADO, operating between Cancun, Playa del Carmen and onto Tulum.

 

I thought we would have to take two separate buses as I was under the impression there were no direct buses to Tulum from Cancun. I was pleasantly surprised. The bus stops in Playa Del Carmen but there is no need to buy two separate bus tickets or wait at all. The bus was 74 pesos ($8 US) one way to Tulum on an air conditioned bus.

 

Tulum

Tulum

If you do wish to go to Playa Del Carmen, it’s easy as buying the ticket for there and hopping off at the very central bus station and heading to one of the hotels close to the 5th avenue, the main plaza and street of Playa.

 

For Tulum, if you wish to head to the beach. Simply walk straight out of the bus station, ask a cab driver for cabanas or hotels near the pyramids. We’re staying at Mariachis Restaurant Caanas, or Pescados. They are the most economical and natural with very basic structure but incredible views. The cost is approx 350 pesos ( $29 US ) per night. A cab to the beach or pyramids will cost you 50 pesos. Very easy!

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chichenitza

 

Enjoy Quintanoo Roo, in my opinion one of the most beautiful areas of Mexico.


Introducing my MAGIC cousin Bill Hunter – Magic 500 Magician on Youtube

Intoducing Mr Bill Hunter. My Grandma’s cousin, making him my first cousin twice removed. He always likes to joke he wishes I would be removed further, but we areactually extremely close considering oour 64 yr age gap.

 

 

Cuzzie Bill and I

Cuzzie Bill and I

 

Bill is 89 years old and a well known Magician in the USA. He’s been practicing magic since WWII where he learnt from a well known Boxer, Steve Belloise, when they were in hospital together in Sydney Australia. He since that time kept up the skill and  later turned it into a profession.

 

 

 

A stroke of luck, or a sprinkle of magic, got him in to the Indy 500 crowd where he has now performed magic in the suites for drivers and their famous friends for more than 43 years.

 

 

 

Bill has a website, known as Magic 500: http://magic500.wordpress.com/

 

A Facebook page:  Bill Hunter Magic 500

He also has some videos on Youtube including: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LRmum_xIDU

 

 

I do hope you get the pleasure of enjoying his magic vicariously through these photos and videos, however in person is always much better. I’m blessed to call this delightful and truly magical man Family.

 

 

 

Bill Magic 500 Hunter – magician for over 72 years. Visit his website:http://magic500.wordpress.com/


Christmas with the Mayor of Warren, Illinois, USA

Repost from Bill “Magic 500” Hunter’s blog, magic500.wordpress.com

 

 

Bill’s young cousin Emma visited his dear friend Wayne Raisbeck, the Mayor of Warren.

 

 

 

See a tour of Wayne’s wonderful house decorated for Christmas!

 

 

 

Bill Hunter has amazing friends all over the world due to his kind, generous and loving nature that is simply infectious.

 

 

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!

 

 

bill emma wayne


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