Wednesday, October 18, 2017
WHAT A RIDE… At Hogwarts there are many interesting things to be seen, including a ride that takes you into another dimension using 3D screens.

Sailing to America part IV

Editor July 21, 2016

WE have arrived in Honolulu. Hawaii is such an enchanting place and there are more skyscraper buildings than I remember from my last visit, but it’s still a very pretty place.

The beach at Waikiki is always spectacular and everyone flocks there to swim or just lay on the sand.

Hawaii has seen many changes over the years but none so dramatic as the morning of December 7, 1941 when the Japanese declared war on America and bombed Pearl Harbor. The mass devastation was the turning point in the war as America was dragged into the fighting.

The Pearl Harbor Memorial is a must see. The battleship Missouri, Arizona Memorial, is a solemn reminder of the attack and the battle that followed.

You can enjoy a tour of the island or if you are after a bargain you can go shopping. The shopping malls abound and all the big brands are here, if you want to spend some dollars, but I always find Macy’s good value for money; brand names at a reasonable price.

The next day we sail on to Lahaina at Maui. They offer whale watching, so off I go on a huge catamaran. The wind is up and so are the white caps, the sailing is a lot of fun but not good for whale watching. It seems I will have to wait for another day.

There are lots of other activities on offer, from viewing the coral from a submarine and snorkelling with dolphins to an evening luau. The call of the conch shell welcomes you and as the young women dance and sway, the perfect sunset is accompanied by roast suckling pig and other goodies cooked in the traditional way under leaves in the ground surrounded by hot rocks.

Satisfied at every level at the end of our third day in Hawaii, we again set sail, but this time for our final leg over the Pacific Ocean for Seattle Washington.

It’s the final leg of my journey. 24 days sailing from Sydney to Seattle. It’s been an interesting experience with all that we saw along the way.

Seattle, our stopping off point in America, is a very interesting city with a population of just over 600,000. It’s easy to get around and quite close to the Canadian border.

Highlights include the Pike Place Market, Space Needle and The Boeing Factory, where you could spend a whole day because the factory is so big it is said to have its own climate.

The hop-on, hop-off bus is always a good way to see the city highlights and like many cities near the coast you can ride the ducks. These amphibian vehicles can tour the city and drive down a boat launching ramp to take you on a water-born experience.

Seattle features a number of homes both floating and on stilts and, of course, the most famous was the home in the movie Sleepless in Seattle starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

The duck takes you right past the floating home used in the movie. It recently sold for some $2M. The river homes both float and are on pylons and some of the newer ones go down two storeys under the water, so you can have dinner while you watch the fish go by through huge round windows.

After some time in Seattle, I decided to travel by train to L.A. It’s called the Starlight Express, a sleeper train that travels along the coast through San Francisco and arriving in L.A. 36 hours later.

The journey is very interesting from Washington. You travel through Oregon and then into California, and as well as great views along the shoreline, there is a huge irrigation area that runs through a massive valley.

They grow just about everything and it’s known as the edible garden of America. It’s so big it took over an hour to travel through the valley.

Buses brought in pickers who worked out in the hot sun harvesting the bounty. The planted area is so big that each bus towed a trailer with portable toilets for the workers. I wondered if these might have been some of the illegal workers who keep the economy going with cheap labour.

Finally we arrived in L.A. It’s been years since I have been here and there is much to experience, but I found myself being drawn to Universal Studios, where they have just opened their latest adventure, the Harry Potter experience.

There were people of all ages wondering around in Harry Potter outfits and many with wands. You are taken to the wand master in front of a huge wall of wands in their boxes that start jumping out at you until a wand selects you. They are interactive and as you walk around the exhibit a wave of your wand can make flowers open, frogs appear, make Quidditch balls rise into air and perform all manner of magical things.

You can spend a whole day there. It’s fun for all ages and so is Disneyland and L.A.’s nightlife, but for me the experience is over and it’s time to catch my Qantas flight and head home. It’s good to be back.

Until next time,

Safe Travel’n,

Geoff Vallance