Just before our American Invasion kicked off we returned to Oz once more and went back to Adelaide to spend Christmas and New Year with friends before heading to the states.
We had a great Christmas, enjoyed the sunshine, spent time chilling out and generally recharged the batteries ready for what would be the final leg of the trip.
We left Oz in early January and boarded the flight to LA, which is one of the weirdest flights I have ever been on, it was 17 hours long, we took off at 6:50am and landed at 6:30am the same day having crossed the international date line on route, the jet lag was bad to say the least!
We stayed in a motel near Hollywood and took in the sites of LA. We did an open top bus tour, walked down Hollywood boulevard, want to see the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, visited Universal Studios and went to Disney (which was a big disappointment). It was nice to be on "holiday" for a change rather than just backpacking. It was also a little bit of a culture shock after so long in Oz and the food in America left a lot to be desired after the fresh seafood and great restaurants we had left behind in Oz (although I was a fan of the doughnut breakfast!).
After we had sampled the delights of LA it was off to Sin City and after a short flight and cab ride we were checking into Circus Circus on the Las Vegas Strip. We spent a few days eating fried delicacies from various all you can eat buffets, meeting entertaining characters like Prez, our favourite blackjack dealer in Vegas. He taught us the difference between a bitch and a whore, apparently a whore sleeps with everyone, a bitch sleeps with everyone but you :-)
We also took in a show at Ceasers Palace where we saw Bette Middler live which was very entertaining. We saw very tired looking lions on display in the middle of a casino, saw dolphins who were apparently being kept for conservation reasons learning tricks and performing for onlookers and a very cute leopard cub called Java.
We tried to do a day trip out to the Grand Canyon but this got cancelled last minute (after a 6am start) as the other people on the trip had got their dates wrong and would not be in Vegas till the next week. After a few hours back in bed we hit the tables again and lost the remainder of our spare dollars before packing up ready for the next stop, San Francisco!
We arrived in San Fran and checked into a hotel near Fisherman's Wharf. Fresh seafood and good food were once again on the menu and we ate our fill while we were there. We visited Alcatraz and toured the city on Segways (you know, the weird two wheel standy up things that were a big fad years ago) which is a great way to see the city and not have to walk up all the hills. We also made sure we visited the sea lions and ran into an old friend from home while we were there, it really is a small world after all (a ride that was not even open when we went to Disney in LA!)
From San Fran it was on to Seattle to stay with my better half's family for a while. We enjoyed home comforts once more, visited the Space Needle, went on a food and, you guessed it, wine tour and learnt about the history of Seattle.
After Seattle we flew to New York and jumped straight onto a connecting flight to Bermuda (along with one of our bags, the other followed about three days later!) where some old uni friends had moved to a few years previously. This strange little island in the middle of the ocean has some interesting little querks and is well worth a short visit. We toured the 22 sq mile island on a hired scooter, visited historic sites, marvelled and the limestone roofs designed to capture and filter the rainwater (the only source of fresh water on the island), enjoyed the night life and had minor heart attacks at the prices of everything ($7 for a pint of fosters!). We stayed a couple of days longer than expected as a gale force win closed the airport but we then took our penultimate flight to New York for our last stop on the world tour.
In New York we visited the out of town factory shops, wondered through Time Square, went up the Empire State Building, visited Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, caught up with a friend we had met in New Zealand and visited some spectacular restaurants, including one where I had a burger that was stuffed with ribs! So with full stomachs, a new wardrobe and a tear in our eye we boarded the final flight home.
After 18 months on the road, 23 countries and some of the most amazing experiences it was time to go home, I hope those of you who have stuck with me throughout this story have enjoyed reading about it, I know I have enjoyed writing about it. I am sorry it has taken so long to finish but finished it is, the next post will be a quick summary of from when we got home to present day and then....who knows, I have not quite decided on what the future of the OzBus Diaries will hold but I am sure there are still adventures to be had and I plan on having them at some point in the not too distant future....