4 friends, 2 kids, 3 dogs and a couple of Harleys

Trip Start Jul 24, 2009
Trip End Jul 31, 2009

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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

With our round-the-world ticket we had a flight from Oz to LA and LA to home; it was an eventful side trip that took us south from LA to South America, but to get home we pass through LA once again.  This time round we met with some old friends and their families, tried a proper pancake breakfast, stuck our feeet in the Californian sea and had our second American road trip, only this time on Harleys!  All this was the most amazing way to end our travels, and we will write about that in a mo, only first we should fill you in on the trauma we had getting here...

It all started with an inocent question from a couple of fellow travellers in Mendoza, Argentina - we were asked, 'have you had any trouble with travelling around, you know, missed buses, flights cancelled, boarder patrols etc?'.  We answered honestly, 'no'... then it all went horribly wrong.  First, a massive snow storm hit the Chilean Alps making the roads dangerous, then the boarder into Chile was closed and our bus cancelled on the day we were to leave.  This meant a frantic taxi race to the local airport before everyone else got there to try and buy last minute tickets to Chile - the problem being we had flights from Chile to LA pre booked for the following but one day.  Happily we got our tickets and eventually boarded a flight to Santiago, a little turbulance but otherwise ok.  We head through customs and await our bags, at which point a sniffer dog takes a keen interest in our bags... Because we had bought our bus tickets to Santiago a few days previous and knew it was a long journey, we bought our selves some lunch; because we had the distraction of ditching the bus, getting a flight and worring if we would make our connection, we forgot what we had bought for lunch... a couple of apples.  Apparently you are not allowed to bring fruit into Chile and the dog knew this.  We are marched off to the customs police and ordered to wait, where upon they chose Jon as the culprit allowing Ali to pass through to a waiting room.  Jon was asked to explain why he had not declared he was bringing 'goods of a plant or vegitable nature' into the country and 'we forgot we had them' does not seem to be a valid excuse, the result being a citation on his passport and a $220 fine... for a couple of sodding apples!  We could whine and moan about the stupid jobsworth a%#$holes but we have put that behind us now (or at least try to).  Finally we get released, 2 hours later, to be greeted by pouring rain.  We are tailed by two opportunists through the subway as we carry all our bags to the right platform and only shake them when we befriend the security guards.
The actual free day we had in Santiago was nice and rain free, infact the previous day's rain had cleared the normally present smog and gave us pretty good views of the city.  A meal out and a nice bottle of wine and we are all set for our onward journey to LA.  The first flight from Santiago to Dallas went without a hitch, but the following connection from Dallas to LA was delayed for 2 hours due to a problem with one of the engines - only discovered once we had started taxiing for takeoff, meaning we all had to disembark and wait for it to be fixed.  Thankfully it was and we made our final flight to meet Tracey in LA only 3 hours late.  To top it off Jons bag had been opened by US Customs by destroying his padlock leaving his bag in a slight mess and open to all as it passed around the bag collection carrosel...

But now we are here, safe and sound, enjoying the company of some friends.  Tracey and Adam have a growing family in the name of Jack and Maisie and seem to be settling into the Californian lifestyle.  They introduced Jon to his first pancake breakfast at a diner and settled Ali's brooding instincts by letting her free with Maisie.  Just a couple of days with them but a really nice relaxing time, especially after the turmoil of getting there, topped off with an evening bbq and a few beers with Garth and Ellie invited round.
From Tracey and Adams we joined Garth and Ellie for the epic ride to their place in the mountains and to join their 'family' - three labrador pups, Fred, Ginger and Olivia.
Apparently Garth had been excited over our visit as he knew Jon had a bike license, and what else should you do in California with a bike license than take a couple of Harleys for a ride.  We picked up our Road Kings in San Diego and headed out into the mountains to enjoy the slightly cooler air, the alpine scenery and the winding roads.  With Ali and Ellie riding pillion, we stopped at a few choice little townships for a bite to eat, some apple pie and on to the coast for an overnight stop.  The morning saw us negociate some city traffic and freeway and a sad farewell to the bikes.
A day at some of the beaches of California, a cable car ride to the mountains over Palm Springs, a dip in a hot tub and a relaxing saunter around the mountain retreat town of Idylwild and we are now facing our last night of travels.  Tomorrow we make our way to the airport and our flight home.  Are we excited? Of course we are, but as for the reality of normal life... well that is just something we will have to face when it happens! 
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