28 November 2010

Exploring America

Hi readers!
Finally, I am putting finger to keyboard to update you on my recent wonderful visit to America.  I got home yesterday morning and, as is expected, I am now awake at 4.30am, ready to blog myself into a frenzy.  Photos are downloaded, suitcase is unpacked and resolutions are made - as in, No More Dr Bob's, which I discovered whilst visiting Jonathan, Kim and Dove in LA…  Oh groannnn - it was so good too….
Mum and I spent three days in LA, visiting Nate & Al's deli on Beverley Drive for lunch our first day for a pastrami on rye and a chance to glimpse Larry King, who apparently eats there EVERY day…. except that day.  We spent some time visiting wildflower gardens in Sun Valley and train museums with Dove who at four years old, has a major interest in steam engines and anything that goes "toot tooooot!".  

The photo above was of an amazing scultpure at the Autry Museum of Western Art in Griffith Park.  It was originally constructed of timbers, then cast in bronze, to achieve the final result and is made by Deborah Butterfield.  It was sensational.  The weather was really quite warm in LA so luckily we had a few lightweight things to wear because we HAD been thinking it might be cool, being late autumn and all.  

From LA, we headed off to Austin, Texas for six days.  We needed to spend more time there as we had more people to see.  I used to live in Austin and found myself wishing I still owned the house I lived in back in the late '90's.  Austin is such a cool, laid-back town.  It has a really great vibe.  Mum and I treated ourselves to a stay at the Hotel San Jose, which was a fabulous hotel in a super location, right on South Congress and only about 5 minutes walk to my cousins' house.  

This is my old house.  To be honest, I wouldn't actuallly want to live in THIS particular house for one reason or another BUT something similar would suit me fine.  My cousins and their three daughters, Ivy, Lucy and Ellis were all very busy with school and work etc but luckily my great buddy Jen had some time free and very kindly took mum & I off to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center which is out of town a little bit.  Mum was trying to get as much US flora into her system as she could whilst on holiday.  This would work fine until she'd find the gift shop and start buying HEAVY BOOKS!  

This is a little spring in the courtyard of the main buildings at the wildflower center and the colour is just divine, isn't it?  I wonder if I could arrange to build one of these in my backyard?  Hmmm, dreamin'….  No Texas limestone here.  No Texas flora here.  

For lunch, Jen took us to "Walton's Fancy and Staple", on West 6th Street, a diner owned by Sandra Bullock.  We had a delicious lunch but one of the menu items was Aunt Luddy's White Trash and of course, as you can easily imagine, I became intrigued.  After a taste, I have this to say:  this bag contains 3500 calories of ultra-sweet, sugar-dusted, peanut-buttery, maple syrupy breakfast cereal that WILL definitely increase your waist/thigh/bum measurements within one day.  Eeeeek!  Jen's two little girls were very taken with their new playmate, Kev the Kangaroo, inflated with much enthusiasm and effort by a special pump (thank goodness).
My Uncle Terry and Aunt Trish flew in from St Paul, Minnesota for a few days so we spent some time with them too, visiting the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas amongst other activities.  Trish is a famous writer and took some time to give me some tips about writing my first book, which I was thrilled about!  
On Saturday morning my cousin Peter took me hiking in the greenbelt, a strip of "bush" in Austin, which was truly fabulous due to the autumn foliage.  The colours of the trees on this holiday is what really blew my mind the most I'd say.  You can get an idea from the background of this photo.
I also went off to the Austin Farmer's Market and another morning I went for a run around Town Lake, which was super because it is so pretty and because I saw about ten turtles down near Barton Springs.  I had seen one as I ran across the bridge and became a bit excited about it before I realised there was another one, and another one!  And another!  Fabulous stuff.  They are really mad for running there and I visited one new running store called "Luke's Locker" and while talking away in my usual mad, enthusiastic way, the guy offered me a job!  Okay, so he was possibly deranged but nevertheless….  It made my day!  Saturday afternoon, while mum, Terry and Peter were doing an art trail tour of studios, I went off with Ivy, Ellis and Lucy to watch their friends' band, "Schmillion" playing at Jo's coffee house.

This is Schmillion.  They are are group of really talented girls, all only about 17 or 18 years old (I think), which makes it even more amazing watching all these adults enjoying their music and then probably going home to tell their teenage daughters to clean up their rooms!!  
The final little bit of America that I wanted to experience was a football game and Jen kindly obliged by arranging to take me along to the UT Longhorns versus Oklahoma State University game.  WOW.  It was quite mind-boggling.  Jen had warned me there wouldn't be much a crowd as the Longhorns have not had a good season, but there were still about 70,000 people there, 20,000 more than fill the Suncorp Stadium here in Brisbane!  They had about 100 players in the team and the stadium was awash with burnt orange, the famous Uni of Texas colour.  This is the crowd doing the "Hook 'Em Horns" signal while they sang the team song.  What a hoot!  The atmosphere was phenomenal so I can only imagine what it must be like when the team are playing really well.
After tearfully leaving Austin (I love that town), it was off for more adventure in New York City!  We had a really scenic flight, once we got in the air as mum had accidentally left her lovely French picnic knife, with its 4" blade, in her handbag, much to the distress of the TSA.  Below is a view as we arrived in New York.  It really was special to fly over America and watch the ever-changing landscape below and the rivers, coloured trees, and waterways.
We stayed at a hotel in Brooklyn, which made it easy for me to take a chilly early-morning run across the Brooklyn Bridge and to catch the "F" train to Manhattan each day.  My cousin Stephen lives in Brooklyn too, so we were able to spend a bit of time with him and his family - but not nearly enough! 
This is mum sweet-talking the authorities at Battery Park.  That is a police "command center", which is getting all its important power from a yellow extension lead, plugged in to that light pole.  It's very high tech!

At the Museum of Modern Art, which was absolutely SENSATIONAL!  

One of Santa's elves (there were about 20) about to make his way up to the top of the Christmas Tree at the Rockefeller Center with an armful of fairy lights.

Times Square and the very obvious anti-president of Iran huge poster which I found a bit inflammatory for such a public place.  What do you think?  isn't that sort of sign just going to ignite further tension?

Mum and her hip replacement totally refused to try ice skating in Central Park.  No guts, no glory I say!

The colours of Central Park.  Isn't it magnificent?  I found the coloured trees to be one of the highlights of my holiday.  

What all well-dressed New York dogs are wearing this autumn.

The rubber chicken handbag ($29.95) that mum REFUSED outright to allow me to purchase - and I just don't understand why.  What a fashion statement! 


My Brooklyn family minus the folks and the dogs, Elvis and Alice.

I figured, in the name of getting this blog FINALLY ready to publish, that I would just give you a photographic view of our New York experience.  It really was fantastic.  What a town!  We also saw the Frick Collection and went to the matinee of Billy Elliott, which was totally super.  I can't wait to go back to NYC and see more because we certainly ran right out of time.  The one thing that really struck me about New York City however, was the friendliness and kindness of total strangers.  We received nothing but good vibes from everyone we met.  We were chatting to people all day, on the subway, in the shops, in the park, in restaurants… My cousin Stephen laughed nervously and told us to watch our wallets, but I know he was only joking…. right?  I was so impressed with the friendliness that I have felt compelled to write a letter to the Mayor of New York, but I don't know his zip code.  Can anyone fill me in on that? 
Okay, I MUST post this now or it will NEVER be done.  I could go on and on and on about my fabulous holiday and how much I love America and I miss all my family and my friends but to avoid the ire of my regular readers, I really DO have to press "Publish Post" at some point, so it may as well be now.  Cheerio! 


swellgal said...


Anonymous said...

and I hope Lil got her dog coat...