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Trip Report New York - Los Angeles

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This'll be working progress as we're currently in NYC :)

At the start of a 23 day trip accross the United States with my 4 year old daughter :)

Tuesday 28th June

We set off from London, England on Tuesday June 28th, leaving wasn't a problem, the temperature had dropped to 20 degrees C (68F) compared to 32 C (90F) on Monday. Had checked in online so that solved having to queue at the airport :) Security was quick and easy for once and we didnt have to wait to long for the gate to be listed.
My 4 year old was disappointed by Virgin Atlantic's inability to provide the activity packs that they claim all children leaving the UK will recieve, but one of the FA's recommended dropping them an email on my return as they don't offer them out of anywhere but the UK :/
Flight was one of the smoothest have ever experienced, my daughter sat happily in her seat for almost the entire flight (6 hours, 40 minutes) only broken by walks around the cabin, she appeared to be watching the same disney cartoon over and over again! On time leaving London and we were 40 minutes early into JFK :)
Happily security at JFK was almost empty, the only real wait was for the luggage, the flight was full and that took a while.
Took the Airtrain to Jamaica and then opted to take the LIRR to Manhattan, after the long flight it was easier to pay the extra money to reach Manhattan quicker!

We're staying at the Gershwin Hotel in NYC, i'd happily recommend it to anyone, its convenient for Manhattan, the rooms are nice and its quiet :)
I opted to take Anneliese (my daughter) to the playground at Madison Square Park after checking in, thanks to the helpful information we found it easily enough, the only thing Anneliese didnt like was that I wouldn't let her play in the water area, but drying clothes would be awkward to say the least! My cousin came and met us there which was nice, he hadn't seen Anneliese since she was 6 months old so a big change there, he treated us to dinner at the ShakeShack another recommendation from people on the boards, it certainly didn't disappoint :)
Anneliese crashed out in the stroller by 8pm so i took the advantage of refamiliarising myself with Times Square, had a look round a few shops but somehow resisted the temptation to buy anything! Returned to the hotel around 10pm where jetlag soon over took me!

Wednesday 29th June

Nice early start! Although waking up after the alarm would have been nice lol. Left the hotel at 9am and went in search of breakfast, decided would be nice to walk down Broadway all the way to the Statern Island Ferry terminal instead of taking the metro, took 2 hours to walk there including stops to buy fruit, drinks and various snacks :)
The original plan was to stay on Statern Island and have something to eat but Anneliese decided that she wanted to go back straight away after the ferry trip across as the first trip across was so much fun!
From the Ferry terminal we walked back to Bowling Green Subway and took the 4 train direct to Woodlawn which made things a lot less complicated! The security guy at the Woodlawn Cemetary remembered me from my visit last year and was very helpful with providing a map and cold water for Anneliese. We visited Woodlawn to pay respects to Vernon and Irene Castle and to Irving Berlin, even with the map finding them all was a little difficult but it all worked out in the end, on my trip last year i paid my respects to the Castle's only and met someone who remembered Irene, as well as paying my respects to Irving Berlin who wrote the music for my favourite movie (Top Hat) i discovered he'd had a baby son who'd died aged 25 days, interesting but sad.

From Woodlawn we took the metro to 14th Street and then walked to the Chelsea Piers, nice playground near pier 62, we spent a good half an hour there, Anneliese happily playing in the water. We then walked down to the Carousel where 4 rides were had, Anneliese was just under the height limit to ride alone which saved some money :) Apparently returning before we leave New York is a must ;)
From there we walked back to Manhattan as the temperature had dropped, although i wouldn't walk it again in a hurry! Back to the hotel for a freshen up :)
Nice sunburn on shoulders for me :( Anneliese totally unaffected

Opted for Wendy's for dinner, it was the first time i'd been to Wendy's since i was 6 and a first for Anneliese, much nicer fries than i've had in any other fast food place and was impressed with the option of fruit with the kids meal, no complaints from Anneliese that i got her fruit instead of fries (that alone was amazing)

Anneliese fell asleep again before we reached Toys R US, so a good excuse not to go in there, however she woke as we reached the M&M's store, and was very excited as we passed the Disney Store, i somehow managed to persuade her that tonight wasn't a good time to buy anything and that tomorrow there will be plenty of time for shopping!
Back to the hotel for bed and then can see what tomorrow will bring :)

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    Thursday 30th June

    Day didnt start quite as early as planned but still made it to the Empire State Building by 9.30 :) The queue was long enough but it moved quickly thank goodness! I'd been up before but this was the first time Anneliese had been up, wasn't quite sure how well she'd cope so just opted for a ticket to the 86th floor ($22 for an adult, children under 6 free) luckily she coped fine, was the first time i'd been up in daylight, views were fantastic much better than going up late at night!

    Spent a good hour at the top getting money's worth :) got back down again at 11 and then went hunting for Jerry Ohlinger's Movie Materials Store located on W35th St between 7th & 8th Ave, got some new Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers photos to add to my collection, they provided Anneliese with paper and crayons while i chose the photos i wanted, was very impressed, they also remembered me from a previous visit!

    With the shopping bug firmly set in we then visited Macy's, one Hello Kitty outfit later and we managed to leave
    We then finally made tracks for Central Park where the Zoo got passed over for the Carousel and a rubber duck. Went the wrong way going back and ended up at Columbus Circle, so had a long walk to Lexington Avenue and Bloomigdales, somehow we didnt buy anything there! A long Walk back to 5th Avenue but found a Barnes and Noble on the way, nice Wallace and Gromit dvd for the train for Anneliese and the Astaire-Rogers Ultimate Collectors boxset for me ;)
    Once back on 5th Avenue a visit to the American Girl store cheered Anneliese up and a couple of books and a cookie later and the smiles were in full force!
    We then found Build a Bear and a Pink Flamingo is now wearing a Statue of Liberty outfit, fortunately the Flamingo was already with us!
    It was then decided that the metro was a better idea than walking :) We somehow managed to get the Express Train so ended up at 14th Street instead of 34th Street, if we'd been half an hour earliar a trip to Chelsea Piers would have been in order but a visit tomorrow morning is still looking hopeful :)

    We stopped at Penn Station to confirm with Amtrak that the bigger bags could be checked tonight to save having to carry them tomorrow, happily they confirmed that as correct, which will make it much easier when we leave for Washington DC tomorrow, so it was back to the hotel to pack and then back to Penn Station to check the bags and then back again to the hotel, but anything to make things easier tomorrow!

    My cousin came and stopped by the hotel again which was nice :) He brought some dvds for Anneliese which will make the long train rides much easier!! (I hope lol)
    He walked with us down to 42 Street as Anneliese was quick to remind me that i'd promised a visit to the Disney Store..
    The new Disney store in New York is fairly amazing, it is apparently the biggest Disney Store in the World! Although i don't think London's is much smaller

    Very tiring day but well worth it, last few hours in NYC tomorrow before we take the train on :) (hopefully we'll avoid any shopping!!)

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    Friday July 1st
    Up bright and early to make the most of the last few hours in New York, checked out of the Gershwin shortly after 8.30am leaving the heavier of the bags in their luggage storage to pick up later on  We then walked to the subway and took the 4 train to 14th street before taking the L train to 8th Avenue and were nicely on the way to Chelsea Piers by 9.15! We walked first to Pier 54, where the arch way is all that remains of the former Cunard-White Star Pier and then we walked down to Pier 62 in search of the carousel. I was hoping (i hadn’t checked) that they’d be opening at 10 and there was major disappointment from Anneliese when the attendant informed us they didn’t open till 11, he explained that sometimes they open a little earlier but I then explained that we had to be back in Manhattan by 11 to catch the train. To Anneliese’s delight he offered to open up to allow her to have one last ride, a private ride on the carousel made for a lovely experience for our last morning in New York, he then refused payment saying that Anneliese’s smiles were payment enough plus her obvious enjoyment of having one last ride on ‘her pony’ ;)
    Saying goodbye to the Carousel and to the Piers was a wrench but it’s definitely somewhere we’d go back to on any future trips to New York!
    We then took the subway back to 14th and then on to Grand Central Station where we switched to get down to Times Square where a trip to Toys R US for a ride on the Ferris Wheel was in order, Anneliese enjoyed the ride, getting to see all of the store from the best of vantage points was great, but having one eye on the clock (it was 11.45am when we boarded) meant that i didn’t enjoy the ‘flight’ as much as i could have done.
    We took the subway back to 28th and Park Avenue before walking back to the Gershwin to pick up the bags, we had 50 minutes to spare before the train departed but opted to take a cab for peace of mind ;) The traffic was pretty busy and it seemed that every traffic light was against us so it may have been quicker taking the subway but never mind!
    Fortunately we’d had to print the tickets the night before in order to check the bags so all we had to do was to find the right track, the big crowd made it easy enough to find!
    Sad to leave New York, short but sweet stay and hopefully we’ll get to visit again soon and visit some of the other places that we didn’t manage to visit on this trip!
    The train was extremely crowded so we ended up having to sit apart, I really hope we don’t have problems on any trains that include overnight travel, spending 3 and a half hours with my 4 year old sitting behind is ok, but I wouldn’t want to have the same on the long distance trains. Anneliese was happy to sit and watch dvds all the way to Washington, once i got food for her, which allowed me to relax and fortunately the person she was next to had no problems with Anneliese making conversation! The train journey passed quicker than I expected, I’d never been on the Amfleet trains and found it strange being on a single decker Amtrak train. Anneliese enjoyed her first journey on Amtrak and got upset when we reached Washington Dc and had to get off.
    We were met at Union Station by my friend Nina, who i met through YouTube and a shared love of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire and emails have been going back and forth for months, she’s very kindly offered to show us Washington DC which should make things a lot easier as the nearest we’ve ever been to DC is Dulles Airport :/ Was nice to be met, was good to finally meet after all the emails and for once Anneliese wasn’t telling me i shouldn’t be talking to strangers!
    Picked up the baggage easily enough, fortunately both suitcases were easily found which meant we were soon on our way to the bus stop for the International Hostel where we’ll be staying until Monday 
    Hostel was easy to find, very pleased with the private room that I had to book due to travelling with a child under the age of 13, we have bunk beds with the lower bunk being a double, a bathroom and a kitchen which I wasn’t expected and is a welcome surprise, especially the fridge!
    By the time had settled everything it was getting on for 7pm and more than time to go out and find dinner, took a nice easy stroll down to Columbus Circle where French fries and cold soda won over ice cream  Anneliese had grilled cheese sandwiches but the hot weather had affected my appetite so i opted for French fries only, although the cheese and bacon burger that Nina had looked good also, but the chips had been recommended and the portion was large enough to think that one would either get one or the other!
    Anneliese seemed to have recharged by the time we’d done with dinner so we took a stroll down to the fountain in the middle of Columbus Circle where Anneliese had plenty of fun throwing pennies for wishes! A trip to the pharmacy was then in order, along with yet more sunburn  I also seem to have been quite badly bitten, if it can happen in New York and Washington i dread to think what it’ll be like in Nebraska and Missouri! Fortunately i brought insect repellent, just wish now I’d used it in New York instead of thinking I’d be fine!
    Tomorrow as they say will be another day, but Washington seems far more relaxed than New York and at the moment at least a lot less busy!

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    Saturday July 2nd

    Day started at a relaxed pace, got up at half 8, grabbed breakfast by 9 (continental breakfast is included in the room price) and were in goodtime when leaving the hostel to get to the metro and take the red line to Forest Glan Station where Nina and I had arranged to meet at 10am :)
    On leaving the hotel we ran into a tour group who were also going to the metro who insisted that we walk with them and chat! This meant the walk took longer than anticipated and we didn't make it to the metro station until 9.40 where we then had to wait 10 minutes for the metro train.
    After having got used to the rush of New York, Washington Dc seemed very quiet to me, it being a holiday weekend and quiet made even less sense to me, at home everywhere gets busier when its a weekend!
    The metro took longer than expected but again i got used to New York and everything being within the city, we were going out into Maryland, but the journey still only took 40 minutes, i hate being late anywhere though but it was ok :)

    I'd bought Anneliese's boostapak (car seat) with us which meant that Nina could bring her car and Anneliese could ride (helpful really!)
    Unfortunately the National Capitol Trolley Museum where we were headed for didn't open till 12, so we had some time before then, attempted to visit somewhere that Nina knew that sells maps, only to find that they were either closed or just not there at all, despite saying over the phone they'd be open! We went to the grocerystore instead, it may not sound that exciting but i can be like a kid at christmas in big supermarkets in the US because of all the variety of products available that I can't get at home!

    We reached the National Capitol Trolley Museum at 12 just as they were opening :) It cost $7 for an adult and $5 for a child and included unlimited rides on the Trolley Car, 3 trips on the trolley car, a guided tour of the trolley cars that they are restoring including a tram from prewar Berlin which was interesting for me as my paternal grandparents came from there, reading all the interesting history, watching a short movie
    about a boy growing up with Trams and how things have changed throughout history and watching the minature tram on the model tramset took a most enjoyable 2 hours and i'm really glad we got the opportunity to visit. I'd recommend it to any tram/train enthusiast, the majority of the people visiting when we were there were families with children :)

    We then went to a diner for lunch where we had french toast that i can only describe as beautiful ;) and pancakes and ham and egg sandwiches (although i skipped that bit) It was a very good meal and i'm glad we made it before they closed :)

    We then headed for the Mall and Build a Bear in the hopes that they'd have something to indicate their location or at least for Washington DC, New York even has exclusive Bears! But sadly they didn't, Anneliese enjoyed the playground at the mall and I got some new clothes for her in the sales for July 4th :)

    We went to Wendy's for dinner, I've fallen in love with their style of french fries, i try and avoid Macdonalds when i'm in the US because its the same as at home, but its nice to visit other fast food places that i can't visit at home and nowhere beats fast food places for good french fries ;)

    A really good day, its been hot but bearable much better than was expecting, much more restful so far than New York!! Looking forward to the rest of our stay here :)

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    Sunday 3rd July
    Got a small lie in, the most have had since leaving home! Got to breakfast at 9.25 just in time before it finished at 9.30, Cereal, bagels, toast and muffins were a good offering for a Hostel but calling it continental breakfast was a bit of a stretch!
    Made use of the free Wi-Fi that was unfortunately only available in the lobby and on the 2nd floor where breakfast had been available. Looked up the Smithsonian museums to see which looked the best to go visit and also opening times before taking the laptop back upstairs and getting the stroller. Getting the elevator back down proved more awkward than I’d anticipated and I ended up carrying it down 8 flights of stairs (our room was right at the top). The elevator it turned out operated so if someone on floors 3-8 was going down and someone on a floor above them had already called for the elevator then it went up before it went down. Good in theory but if the people below had got in the elevator with lots of luggage then it meant a longer wait and after being greeted with a full elevator twice I thought walking down with Anneliese would be much quicker. Plus we were meeting Nina at 11 and the elevator waiting was about to make us late!
    Met Nina in the lobby, she’d brought along the cool map puzzle of the United States as promised so i took it back upstairs instead of taking it out with us while Anneliese waited with Nina in the lobby  Then we were ready to go and explore Washington DC.
    First up for visiting was the National Portrait Gallery, I had googled Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on the Smithsonian Website so i already knew that they featured at least once in the exhibition ‘20th Century Americans – 1930-1950’ and we asked at the desk to see if the Bust of Ginger was back on display. It hadn’t been out on view for a while but happily it was back!! The bust was produced by a Japanese man while he was interred in a camp during WWII, Ginger had talked about it in her autobiography (published 1991) and it was a lovely surprise to be able to see it  We then went into the exhibition ‘20th Century Americans – 1930-1950’ and found a collection of Stills taken from the ‘Let’s Face the Music and Dance’ Number in Follow the Fleet 1936, a lovely collection and lovely to see them as part of the exhibition! We then took a look at ‘20th Century Americans – 1900-1930’ and found a modelling short of Irene Castle taken in 1919, hadn’t been expecting to find anyone i had heard of so it was a plus, was good to see that the information about Irene included a mention of the ‘Story of Vernon and Irene Castle’ 1939 a Hollywood musical based on the life of Irene and her first husband Vernon who was killed in 1918, portraying them in the movie were Fred and Ginger ;)
    Took a look into ‘20th Century Americans- 1950-1980’ as noticed a display of Oscar Statuettes and wondered who they belonged to! Turned out they were Katharine Hepburn’s 4 Best Actress Statuettes that had been gifted to the Smithsonian  Was really interesting to see how much the Oscar Statuettes have changed over the years! A rather good portrait of her was also on display in the same exhibition.
    We then went over to the Museum of American History in the hopes that some of the dresses of Ginger Rogers that they own might have been on display. Sadly not, they confirmed that they’re in the collection but haven’t been on display for many years, we explained that 2011 would have been a good year as its 100 years since Ginger’s birth on July 16th which they didn’t appear to know about. Sadly nothing about Fred either, but we did go and have a look at the red shoes worn by Judy Garland in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ 1938, they had an exhibition on centred around 1939, but the most interesting thing we saw in the Museum was the Dolls House which Anneliese loved looking at and a Dumbo model from the ride at Disneyland in Anaheim in California, the only disappointment for Anneliese was not being able to climb into it, but as we’re visiting Disneyland while we’re in Los Angeles she’ll have plenty of chance to have a ride on the more modern version!
    After that it was more than time to go and find some lunch! Ended up having more breakfast food, just about my favourite American meal ;) Lovely waffle with butter and maple syrup along with helping Anneliese with her bacon, eggs and toast  Anneliese was rather disappointed to find that the front of the menu was displaying what could only be described as a typical English breakfast but it wasn’t actually available to order!
    After lunch we went and visited the Air and Space Museum, really enjoyed seeing the exhibitions on The Golden Age of Aviation (between ww1 and ww2) and the exhibitions on World War 1 and World War 2 in relation to how much of a part aircraft played in both of them! Was also interesting to see the American view of the Wars in Europe before they entered into them, but was disappointed not to see the B17 Flying Fortress although there was a Japanese Zero on display
    We then went and took a look at the exhibition on passenger aviation, took a walk through an old AA Boeing Jet, Nina kindly stayed with the stroller while i took Anneliese through, was odd to see an airplane set out like a train with seats facing both ways with a table in between. There were some really interesting advertisements in the exhibitions extolling people to decide between Train and Air Travel, for a small moment I thought they were referring to today, only to find taking a closer look that they were referring to an age when air travel was a real luxury and offered sleeper service, while travel by train was something that almost everyone could afford. It seemed almost impossible to imagine an age when a single ticket from Chicago to San Francisco cost only $39.50!!
    Looking at the different uniforms from all the different airlines throughout the 20th Century was also interesting and the visit was well worth it, just as good as any other air museum I’ve ever been in 

    There was a festival going on along the Mall i believe as part of the celebrations for the 4th of July which looked pretty good, was the most people I’d seen in Washington Dc so far! We walked along to the Carousel but Anneliese surprisingly showed no interest in having a ride and was far more interested in having an ice lolly! No problems there, the carousel was $3.50 per person, they didn’t allow children under 42 inches tall to ride alone but the only people riding free were infants under the age of 12 months. An ice lolly for $2 wasn’t asking me to have one as well, nice to save a little money ;) From there we took the metro from the ‘Smithsonian’ only to find on reaching Metro Center that the promised rain had finally showed up along with thunder and lightning, so we made the decision to shelter for a little while until the rain had calmed down enough or stopped, it had been really hot and humid and the spray was pretty refreshing but Anneliese didn’t like the thunder or the lightning so much so was thankful when the sky started to lighten and the rain grew a lot less heavy  We decided to go for it while it was still raining if only to take the chance of cooling down, the first place we looked at we decided against for Anneliese’s sake, she can be good at sitting still at the table but like most small children its hit and miss! We finally ended up at Hard Rock Cafe, I knew that they had a children’s menu at the Hard Rock Cafe in London and Nina figured that it had to be the same in Washington Dc. I was very grateful that I have an all access card, the wait time suggested to a couple that didn’t have one was an hour (they promptly left) but while we were told it was going to be a 20 minute wait it was barely 10 minutes which was much better than my last trip to Hard Rock Cafe in London. I was more impressed when I saw the prices of the food, half the prices were the same as they are in London, except the exchange rate means that Hard Rock Cafe in London is even more expensive than it looks :/ the food was really good, I had the steak, Anneliese had hot dog and chips and Nina had Cobb Salad, I did take a look at the Desert Menu because they sounded really good, but one look at the desert menu made me feel more full than i had done previously! Nina walked back to the Hostel with us before she went for the metro and we went in search of a pay phone. Luckily they had one in the hostel as I needed to phone Amtrak to ask about what is going on with the California Zephyr at the moment and what would happen if connections were missed. Hopefully everything will go to plan, but will have to wait and see.
    As Anneliese was still awake and showed no signs of tiring I thought it would be a good time to go for a walk and also see the Washington Memorial and the World War II Memorial at night, specially as it’s our last night in Washington Dc 
    Anneliese walked as far as the White House before deciding that she wanted a ride in the Stroller where she promptly fell asleep! As it was already after 11.30pm it was more than time but she can catch up with her sleep on the train so it’s not so bad.
    Was great to see the Memorials at night and I’m really glad I decided to go  despite the rain it was still warm, but quiet and peaceful. The World War II memorial was especially moving and I was surprised to see how recently it was built.
    Got back to the hostel by 1am and still have to pack before an early start in the morning; luckily the alarm clock is loud!

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    Monday 4th July

    Alarm went off at 6.45, 45 minutes earlier than i had intended so had to climb down the ladder to change it, the extra 40 minutes sleep i got was worth it however!
    Packed everything in the cases that I don’t expect to need before we reach Omaha (hopefully we’ll get there late Tuesday night!) and then woke Anneliese up to go get breakfast before heading out for Metro Center Station to get the train to Union Station to get the Amtrak Passes and tickets sorted and to check the bags in before we were due to meet Nina back at the hostel at 11am. We also had to get all the hand baggage out of the room and check out by the same time, so had left 2 hours to get there and back :)

    Happily we got everything sorted within an hour and were back at the hostel by 10 (after leaving at 8.30) so had plenty of time to pack everything else up and check out of the hostel. It’s strange how much like home one room can seem after 3 days! Especially as this is now the second time in 7 days :/
    I’d got some jelly for Nina and brought it from home, now looking forward to hearing how it compares to Jello! She’d brought some things for Anneliese so she fits in with all the other princesses when we visit Disneyland, including gloves, a bag and a crown (which Anneliese is now insisting she has to sleep in ;)) the bag as Anneliese quickly found out had some lovely sweets and lollypops in it, my hope that they might last the day, died fairly fast, but it kept Anneliese happy :)

    I mentioned that I’d been up to the Washington Memorial and to the WW2 Memorial in the dark the previous evening but that I hadn’t seen the Lincoln Memorial and that it would be nice to see the WW2 Memorial in the Daylight! Thanks to the Smithsonian Metro Station being closed because of it being the 4th of July we walked, the bottle of frozen water i got on the way was possibly the most useful purchase i made all day! It was very busy on the Mall because of the parade for the 4th July, and we had to walk nearly all the way to the Lincoln Memorial before we got into the park where the Memorials are located, security was tight and they were checking everybody’s bags as they went in, I was just grateful that I was going to get to see the Lincoln Memorial :) As Anneliese was showing no interest at all and we could only see steps for access to the Lincoln Memorial, Nina offered to stay with Anneliese and the bags while i went up and took a couple of photos, this made the turn around a lot quicker! I was worried that we weren’t going to have time to visit the WW2 Memorial and get back in time to get the Train, but we worked out that as long as Anneliese kept moving it would all be fine, fortunately it all worked very well and I’m very glad i got the chance to see the Memorial in both darkness and daylight :)
    We made it to Union Station with over an hour before the train was due to depart which left plenty of time to get a bite to eat as we’d missed out on getting lunch.
    Was sad saying goodbye to Nina as she’s been really wonderful with showing us around DC, hopefully one day I’ll be able to repay the favour! Plus it was great to finally meet her after corresponding for so long, although we did say Au Revoir instead of goodbye :) I won’t see anyone I know now until Los Angeles and we visit Chicago, Omaha (NE), Galesburg (IL) and Kansas City (MO) before then!!
    Despite the sadness of leaving Washington as it’s been great few days and definitely would come back again, it is exciting to be back travelling on Amtrak again ;) Chance to catch up on some sleep before we reach Chicago around 8.45 tomorrow morning!
    Unfortunately we didn’t see any fireworks from the train but its been a great day now on to Chicago then Omaha and the American Midwest!!

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    I just want to say how impressed I am with your trip...it would be ambitious for anyone, but to travel alone with a 4-year old...well, wow, just wow! And you are so energetic--I am getting tired just reading about all you are doing.

    I live near Kansas City and would love to meet you, just don't know how to go about arranging that, assuming you'd even be interested. You will get to witness, unfortunately, some very extensive flooding. Will look forward to reading more about your trip.

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    Tuesday July 5th

    Had a pretty good night considering we’re travelling in coach! Anneliese woke up at 6.45am and promptly announced it was breakfast time! It sounded good to me so we went along to the dining car to see what they could offer  We had a little wait before getting seated but the turnaround was quick enough and the dining car wasn’t as full as I’ve seen it on other trains in the past. I had the French toast which was as good as I remembered it while Anneliese had a child’s portion of what claimed to be scrambled egg, potatoes and a croissant, I’ve never seen egg looking so unappealing and needless to say she didn’t eat it, if we eat breakfast on the train again while on our travels she can have cereal!
    Arrived into Chicago an hour later than expected, Anneliese was sad getting off the Capitol Limited and I can’t say i liked getting off the train too much, I’ve never been in Chicago long enough to see much of the city and this layover was no exception! By the time we’d sorted out leaving the luggage and located somewhere with Wi-Fi (unfortunately it was McDonalds but their frozen strawberry lemonade was pretty good) we had just enough time to walk down to the lake shore where Anneliese loved seeing the yachts bobbing in the water and then walk back again getting lunch on the way, retrieve the luggage and head to get the California Zephyr.
    The journey on the CZ was going smoothly enough until we hit Ottumwa, IA where we got stopped by passing freight and sat having to wait our turn for nearly 2 hours. Having watched the progress of the CZ on Amtrak’s Status Maps i was grateful that we were only delayed by 2 hours, only downside now is that we won’t reach Lincoln, NE until 1am and then have to get the bus back to Omaha; hopefully we’ll get to Omaha by 2am but not looking forward to waking Anneliese up to get off the train! A very kind person let me borrow their cell phone to call the hotel so at least I don’t have to worry about the really late check-in being a problem!
    Can’t believe we’ve only been in the United States for a week, it feels so much longer than that!!

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    Hey Musicfan,

    If it could be possible to meet then that would be great :) We're in Kansas City (touchwood on the trains doing ok) all day on July 8th and we're in Independence July 15th/16th. Have to say I don't feel so energetic right now after getting to Omaha at 3.20 this morning!

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    Ugh on the 3:20am! Have fun in Omaha, though...I grew up there and still have family there.

    The 8th won't work, but I maybe the 15th/16th...I'll check this thread next week when I am back from my trip next Tuesday.

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    "we took the metro to 14th Street"

    there is no metro in NYC, you should know that by now.

    I would not drive on the right side in London and insist to the cops that I will do so as I am from NYC.
    Neither will I claim to weigh 180 kilos, nor say it's 92 if asked what's the temperature.

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    I'm sorry, but as the train system has been called something different in every city i've been to so far i can't remember the right one all the time :/ There is a major difference between calling the Subway the Metro by mistake than driving on the wrong side of the road and claiming its right

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    Wednesday July 6th

    We finally reached Lincoln at 1.53am, felt really mean having to wake Anneliese up to get off the train but couldn't carry her and the bags so no choice there :/ Bus to Omaha took 1 hour, fell asleep as soon as we started moving and only woke up as we turned into Omaha's Amtrak Station at 3.20am. Had to wait ages to get a cab, but finally got to the hotel at 4.10am and was fast asleep by 4.30 :)

    Missed breakfast and the original shuttle to the zoo by waking up 2 hours later than planned, only 4 hours sleep was clearly not going to work! Specially as i didn't sleep on the train. Got the hotel shuttle to the Henry Doorly Zoo just after 11. The Zoo was absolutely fantastic, and not to badly priced ($12.50 for adults and $7.50 for kids not inc Imax) Anneliese and I really enjoyed seeing all the animals, although maybe not the Tarantulas ;) Somehow we spent 4 and a half hours there, but it was completely worth it :) Anneliese really enjoyed a ride on the carousel and her first sno cone :)

    After trying and failing to contact the hotel to get the shuttle back to the hotel, i thought seeing as we were already on South 10th Street that it would be a good a time as any to go find the house where Fred Astaire was born!! An hour and a half of walking and some help from a kindly passerby and we finally found it!!! Shame that there's nothing to mark it as such but the passerby indicated that people are aware :) Then we walked (well i say walked i walked and pushed the stroller while Anneliese sat in it) down to the Old Market and stopped at Maggie Moo's for icecream :) We also paid a small visit to the Candy Shop but somehow only came away with lollypops, which may be a good thing, was a bit suprised to see a Christmas Shop next door but i guess some people most use it throughout the year

    Managed to get hold of the hotel to get the shuttle back from the Old Market, got pizza for dinner then had the job of repacking the suitcases ready for another early departure! Have to get up at 4am to get to Omaha Station for the time the train should have been scheduled to leave at regardless of how late its actually running and then its bus to either Creston or Lincoln.
    Been really nice to visit Omaha even if it has been really brief!!

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    Thursday July 7th

    Up at 4am, felt really bad again having to wake Anneliese but i didn't have any choice unfortunately. Hotel staff were able to call me a cab to the Amtrak Station (unfortunately at that early hour they only offered a shuttle to the airport) and even though their breakfast hours are from 5.30am they keep some food out for early departures and told me to help myself :) The fruit and muffins meant that i didn't have to buy food on the train and made up for missing breakfast the morning before!

    Got to the station ok, bus again to Lincoln, departed Omaha at 5.18am and reached Lincoln at 6.25am, it rained heavily all the way to Lincoln, had stopped by the time we got there but clearly hadn't stopped anywhere else as it rained nearly the entire way to Galesburg :/ The California Zephyer reached Lincoln at 6.45am so we didn't have to long a wait thankfully, was only running 3 1/2 hours behind, managed to depart Lincoln by 7am and we reached Galesburg at 2.45pm, 3 hours 14 minutes late, which left us a more manageable 3 hours wait for the South West Chief :)

    Because the previous day we'd made the journey in the dark we hadn't seen any of the flooding, going through it in daylight even with the rain was pretty shocking, i've never seen the Misouri river so full..

    Thanks to the late arrival plus having the suitcases and because the Railroad Museum closed at 4 we opted out of going there and walked down to the nearest grocery store instead, we passed a toy store on the way where Anneliese spent a good half an hour playing with the Thomas the Tank Engine train set, they didn't mind however and was nice to see the difference between toys at home and toys in the US :)

    We then had another 2 hours to go at Galesburg's Amtrak station, which then wasn't helped by the South West Chief (SWC) getting stuck behind the California Zephyr (CZ), which made the SWC late behind it, normally they'd have come in on the opposite track but the other track was blocked because of problems with Freight :/

    Nice enough journey to Kansas City, for some reason we got given seats on the lower level, apparently they thought it'd be easier for me with getting off the train, true was a little easier but felt bad even though the lower level was fairly empty, we were only 20 minutes late arrving thankfully but felt bad again having to wake Anneliese up to get off the train, fortunately was easy enough to get a cab and the Residence Inn we're staying at is pretty good :)

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    Hi fredandgingermad,

    Glad to see you exploring parts of America that many Americans don't. I took the California Zephyr back in 2006 Chicago-Emeryville and back. 4 hours late both ways, which, compared to some stories I've heard, doesn't seem so bad. I see you're already adjusting to Amtrak lateness by checking their "status updates". Very wise of you. The California Zephyr is quite a beauty as one gets further west... hope the Southwest Chief is the same.

    Funny. I was going write "Wise man!" above instead of "very wise of you" and then I realized you quite possibly are a woman. Even though I cottoned on to the Astaire-Rogers reference right away, since your name starts with "fred" I read the whole report seeing you as a father, but realize there's a significant possibility you're a mother!

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    Hey,

    I guess somewhere i should have said that i'm female! But am happy you got the Astaire-Rogers reference!!

    I hope to come back one day and take the California Zephyr the entire way, hoping the South West Chief route is good, we're take it 3 times!

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    Flooding has been a problem for Amtrak (and freight railroads) for the past month. I hope that you have been "singing in the rain" on your late trains and buses.
    My favorite stop on the Southwest Chief is Albuquerque New Mexico. My favorite stop on the California Zephyr is Glenwood Springs Colorado. Glad your daughter is enjoying the trip.

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    There was a guy complaining on the phone to somebody on the train to Lincoln on Tuesday that Amtrak hadn't warned him about the flooding and no trains to Omaha, all i could wonder was where on earth he had been :/

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    It's so interesting to read TR's of people from other countries! Whenever we returned from trips, DH and I tried to pretend we'd never been in the States.

    OH, DH and I also stayed at Gershwin in NYC twice. It and the Park Savoy have/had great prices.

    Are you a dancer in real life?

    Thanks and I hope the rest of your trip is a little less hectic than mid-west portion has been.

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    Friday July 8th

    Had set the alarm for 8.15am so we could get up in time for breakfast, thankfully it woke me up this time! The food selection on offer was really good and I enjoyed a waffle while Anneliese had fruit loops, turkey bacon and bread and jam :) Making the waffle was almost as fun as eating it ;)

    We didn't have to check out of the hotel till noon so used the time between finishing breakfast and checking out to repack the bags ready for the train trip to Los Angeles and to catch up on emails and with friends back home via facebook :)

    After checking out we were able to take the hotel shuttle to 3306 Fountaine Avenue where the grandparents of Ginger Rogers lived and where Ginger lived for a time, what i didn't realise for sure until we got there was whether the house was still there or not and so was rather disappointed to find a grass lot between 3304 and 3308, but was nice to be on the street at least :)

    From Fountaine Avenue we went to the Crown Center, luckily the guy driving the shuttle had no problems with that :) Had lots of fun looking round the shops in the Crown Center and for lunch had my first chilli cheese hot dog of the trip :) Anneliese was more than content with a cheese burger. Visited the Crayola Store where Anneliese spent a good hour colouring and admiring everything for sale, somehow managed not to buy anything!
    Went to have a look at Kaleidescope but unfortunately we got there just as they were closing, so we went out to the fountains out front of the Crown Center stopping on the way for Frozen Custard, i had a scoop but couldn't get Anneliese interested, suprising considering how much she loves icecream.

    She had plenty of fun playing in the Fountains however and we spent a good hour and a half there, at 6pm they had what i could only describe as a 'water ballet' performance performed by the fountains with music. Was a real treat to watch and am glad we stayed :) I was reading Fred Astaire's autobiography which helped me lose track of time, not that Anneliese complained at all ;) Although she was pretty good when i told her it was time to get dry and dressed :)

    We then walked over to the Liberty Memorial, I asked directions from a lady hoping to go see the Statue of Winston Churchill and his wife, what i didn't realise is that their statues are by the Plaza which was about 15 minutes drive from where we were so unfortunately didn't have time to do that as had to go pick the bags up from the hotel.

    Had real problems working out which way was going from reading the map so ended up getting a cab from Union Station, as both the Station and the Hotel are on Main St, boy did i feel silly when i could see how easy it would have been to walk it :/

    Thankfully was able to get the shuttle back from the hotel to Union Station, was much easier with the suitcases not to have to walk back, had a good hour to wait before we were able to check the bags but hadn't really taken much notice of the station the evening before so now had plenty of time to appreciate the architecture, was a shame however that I didn't realise before about the model railroad before, but we were able to get a glimpse of it which was better than nothing :)

    Once we were able to check the bags it was much easier, went for a walk with the hope of finding a grocery store but had no luck, got a chance however to see a little more of Kansas City as well as some good views of the station and railroad tracks!

    The South West Chief was half an hour late getting in, the same as the night before and was absolutely packed, we got assigned seats on the lower level thanks to the upper level being completely full, although we may be able to move tomorrow, feel bad once again but there's not much i can do about it!

    Someone enquired why i have an English accent, made me smile, but was happy to reassure them that I have an English accent because thats where we're from!

    Have a full day on the train tomorrow, the first time in this trip where we have two nights on the train in a row!

    Saturday July 9th

    Woke up just before what i thought was 8am only to realise an hour later when i overheard someone complaining on the phone that it was nearly 8am and noone had come and asked whether people on the lower level would like breakfast. As someone who couldn't manage the stairs it was understandable, thankfuly a Train Attendant appeared soon after.
    I would have offered but i didnt like to interrupt his phone call and as Anneliese was still sleeping i didn't like to leave her.

    Woke up with earache thanks to the altitude change :( but at least for the trip back to Independence on Wednesday i'll be prepared, not to mention the train trip back to LA on the 16th :)

    Decided against going to the dining car for breakfast even though it was still possible to be seated, Anneliese was more interested in the snack boxes with Tuna and i was happy enough with chicken wings having missed out on dinner the night before

    Was suprised by how quickly after breakfast was done that they came round asking about lunch and dinner reservations, i made reservations for lunch at 1.45pm and it was barely 10am more than enough time to have a nap and watch a movie!

    Unfortunately i woke up from having a nap to find Anneliese had accidentally spilled apple juice which had gone on her dvd player which of course now wasn't working, it would turn on but none of the buttons were working except the one that turned the volume up :/ I dried it as best i could and then turned it off and put it away and hoped for the best. I had a look at it but it says not to open and to find your nearest Sony dealership.. As its out of warrenty it'd probably be cheaper to buy a new one :( As its a region 1 player and all the dvds i've acquired/bought on this trip will play only on region 1, i'm praying that a miracle will happen and it will work again!

    Fortunately i packed plenty of other things to keep Anneliese occupied, including her drawing pads and pens which kept her happily busy until the announcement for lunch reservations at 1.45pm was made :)

    Lunch on the train was pretty good, i had the angus steak burger with cheese while Anneliese had pizza and icecream (although not at the same time) :) We shared our table with a woman and her teenage granddaughter going west to Arizona :) Was a pleasant meal and not to expensive :)

    After lunch we went to the lounge car taking the puzzle of the United States with us, would think that I'd get better at remembering which state goes where but while i remember a few, the puzzle still takes a long time to complete while i try and attempt to remember the rest, this time Anneliese was remembering quicker than i was ;)

    About half an hour before we reached Albuquerque we saw smoke in the distance which increased in size the nearer we got to it, unfortunately the Train Attendant didn't know where the fire was exactly or how long it had been going on, but will try and remember to keep a look out on the trip Eastbound to Independence to see if its still going

    Soon after i decided to try out the dvd player again, hoping against all odds i decided to try putting it on hold and taking it off to see if that would help at all, the first successful step was that i managed to lower the volume, with a little patience i managed to make all the buttons work, its still being temperamental but its working and thats all that matters! Keeping it far away from any liquids from now on ;)

    At Albuquerque they asked us to move upstairs which i had no objection to as i felt rather awkward sitting in the lower level especially with a 4 year old, although the other people it turned out barely realised she was in there for most of the trip, she was that good and quiet :)
    The Train Attendant complained that he was about to run out of seats everywhere, which puzzled me and other people with the South West Chief being a train where reservations are required and all! Surely having a reservation must guarantee ya a seat afterall

    Had opted not to make dinner reservations so went down to the cafe car with Anneliese around 5.30pm, she opted for tuna again and was very good at eating all of that and the apple sauce, i've found the E.A.T snackboxes pretty good but it puzzles me why they all come with Apple Sauce and Trail Mix, Anneliese will eat apple sauce but neither of us care for Trail Mix so the packets are building up

    Spent a peaceful evening watching Wallace & Gromit with Anneliese, got chicken wings for myself around 8 from the lounge car and finally managed to persuade Anneliese that it was time to sleep by 9pm, she complained about that saying she wasn't tired but i didn't take her to seriously and oddly enough she was fast asleep by 9.15pm.
    I envy her for being small enough to curl up on the actual seat and legrest without having to sleep sitting up, she looks very comfortable in her sleeping bag with my big Amtrak blanket tucked round her :) It feels much colder tonight than it did last night, i'm guessing that the air conditioning is just better in this car!

    Was raining when we reached Flagstaff, we were a little late but we're still expecting to be early into Los Angeles (we're due at 8.15am) so time to turn in and get some shut eye!

    Looking forward to Los Angeles and not moving about for the next 4 days! (specially looking forward to a few nights of sleeping in a bed!)

    Its been a long and busy but exciting week!! :)

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    Sunday July 10th

    After spending most of the night awake with ear ache :( i finally dozed off around 3 only to wake up suddenly at 7.09 when someone nudged me to find that we'd arrived in Los Angeles and that i needed to wake Anneliese, pack up and get off the train ASAP! Somehow we managed it by 7.20! Was more amazed how quickly we managed to pack up and get off than by the fact that we were over an hour early into LA..

    We were being met by my friend Jeff who i'd met in Los Angeles on my last trip and i had no way of contacting him to arrange a more convenient meeting place, by the time he found us at 8am he was more grateful that we'd even stayed at the station so it all worked out ok :)

    Took the Red line down to Hollywood/Vine and went to the Hotel that we're staying at for the next 4 days and thankfully was able to store the luggage, i would really not have wanted to have to drag it round Los Angeles till 3pm, so am very glad they were able to store it.
    Then we walked down to Holywood Boulevard to find that the only place open and serving breakfast was Mcdonalds, with no other option in the vicinity and increasing hunger i conceeded that it would probably be ok and found myself pleasntly suprised by how much better breakfast is at Mcdonalds in the US than it is in the UK and also cheaper :) Sausage, bacon, pancakes, english muffin, egg and hashbrown for $4 fed both Anneliese and myself, i'm not sure i'd eat breakfast there again but it was much better than i dared hope it would be!

    After Macdonalds we went further down Hollywood Boulevard to the Disney Soda Fountain Store where i increased my pin collection, when i visited last year they had no pins exclusive to them but this year they have plenty, but somehow i managed not to buy them all!

    Then we paid a trip to Build a Bear as promised to Anneliese, I was once again hoping that we'd be able to find an item of bear's clothing showing where it came from and this time was not disappointed, finding a t-shirt with LA on the front, we also made good use of the sale getting a 3 piece outfit for $5 (from $12.50)
    Strolled out into the area above the Kodak Theatre and found some fountains that Anneliese enjoyed watching, was a bit to warm and sunny to stay outside however so we didn't stay there for to long.

    Spent a while longer looking at Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame before walking down to the big music and dvd store. I was most disappointed to realise that the 2010 Astaire- Rogers boxset does not include all the extras that the 2006 boxset does :( Had to be talked out of buying the 2006 boxset just for the extras which include photos, replicas of press books and a cd), but am now considering selling the boxset that i own so i can get the 2006 boxset instead :) Aside from that I found Old Bear and Friends on dvd for Anneliese so she has something else to watch on the train :)

    After the dvd store we went to Denny's for lunch, was the first time i'd been in a Denny's since last September and as that Denny's was in Minot, ND, i guess there could be a chance now that its underwater :/ Was impressed by tbeir children's menu, i chose more breakfast items but no pancakes :) Anneliese was rather taken by the sports cups they were advertising on the children's menu, we asked for one but were told they had none left :/ when they brought the drink out it came in one of the cups, they said they'd been able to find one more and kindly didnt charge for it :)

    After Denny's we first went and did some grocery shopping to save having to eat out all the time (perhaps) and then went and bought swimwear with the hopes of going to Santa Monica tomorrow!

    Amazingly that took up all the time before dinner ;) and so opted for Wendy's, they had a different toy with the kids meal which Anneliese appreciated, maybe a bit to much of the same sort of food in one day, but will hopefully make up for it with more variety tomorrow :)

    As the bites on my legs have been getting worse not better :( We went to CVS to try and find some different cream in the hopes that it might actually work.
    From there we went to Graumans Chinese Theatre and saw some of the hand and foot prints, I quickly found Fred and Ginger's which are handily right next to each other. Also saw Jennifer Aniston's whose are the newest hand and foot prints to be laid down :)

    As it was by then dark and getting slightly cold (about 64F) we opted to go back to the hotel and get some sleep! The room is pretty nice although describing it as having a kitchen and then it only having a fridge and a microwave is rather a stretch but its definately not bad :)

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    fredandgingermad:

    I just came across your trip report. It is very hectic and fast paced with a 4 year old. What an adventure you are both having.

    What do you think caused the bites on your legs?

    Keep it coming.

    Sandy

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    Monday July 11th

    Nice relaxed start this morning :) Left the hotel about 9.15 and walked down to the Hollywood/Vine Metro station, i bought a Metro day pass at the station even though we're only taking buses today because you can only buy single rides on the bus or use a Tap Card. We met my friend Jeff at Vine and Sunset and went to catch the bus, the plan for the day was to visit the beach at Santa Monica :)

    Upon changing buses I spied a KFC, i'm a big fan of their mash and gravy and hadn't yet had it on this trip so as it was already 11am we decided to stop! Was well worth it ;)

    After enjoying lovely mashed potato and dr pepper while evefryone else had chicken and potato wedges we went to catch the bus to Santa Monica :) It took around 45 minutes to get there which was longer than expected, so glad i didn't ask to attempt to walk it!
    We got off before Santa Monica as Jeff wanted me to be able to see all of Venice Beach and all the vendors that have been set up :) The best part of the walk along the ocean front was the Hawaiian Shave Ice i found! I haven't had it since Hawaii New Year 2007/08, Anneliese didnt think much of it which left more for me ;)

    We finally reached the Carousel, Anneliese was definately up for riding it! Had bought the tickets ($2 for an adult $1 for a child) when discovered that Anneliese's shoes were missing, they had clearly fallen out of the stroller after she'd taken them off :/ So had a nice walk back to find them, which thankfully we did, could not imagine having to explain to my mother who bought them if we'd been unable to find them :/

    The Carousel was pretty good, although Anneliese was dsiappointed that the outside horses didn't go up and down.. I'd unsuccessfully tried to persuade her to move to the middle so was unfortunate but she wasn't bothered enough to want another ride! We then went onto the pier itself and walked through all the rides and entertainment, all lovely and expensive so didn't go on anything, did treat myself to a go on the dance machine in the arcade but that was merely $1 :)

    Then went don to the beach itself :) Anneliese was really excited until we went down to the water when she got all scared :( The tide was coming in and she didn't like the way the water rushed at her and tried to knock her off her feet, she was much happier playing in the sand! trying to get the sand off her was a pickle, apparently bathing suits aren't supposed to get wet ;)

    We stayed on the beach for about an hour and then decided that it was more than time to head back and try and find something to eat! Was amazed to discover it was already 3.45pm, time clearly does go fast when ya having fun!
    Got the bus back from Santa Monica Bvld and then on the way back got off by the Farmers Market :) Had promised Anneliese a visit to the American Girls Store if there happened to be one in LA after she saw some of the dolls on the train from Chicago to Omaha, was interesting looking round the Farmers Market on the way, i'd seen it from a tour bus last year but had never actually been, enjoyed looking at the history and the photographs of it since it opened in 1934 :)

    Found the American Girls Store, managed to persuade Anneliese that noway was I going to buy her a doll costing $100! But took her upstairs to look at the Bitty Babies and the Bitty Twins, have promised to back again before we fly home and buy her a baby doll, we spent a good hour in the store, but Anneliese was having fun and it was much quieter than the store in New York!

    Anneliese had picked up the catalogue which kept her occupied between leaving the store and getting the bus, we went into a toy store so i could see if i could find anything small for the train to Independence on Wednesday and she didn't even notice we were in there, let alone that we'd left! Took the bus back to Hollywood Bvld and as far as the Disney Soda Fountain Store :) Went and had a look inside and briefly considering stopping for food but decided against it as wanted something a little more sustainable.

    Decided on IHop instead where Anneliese ate free, i had the International Crepe Passport which came with Nutella and Bannana Crepes with Strawberries, 2 eggs, bacon and sausage :) i've heard the pancakes there are really good, but as the crepes came with both bacon and sausage they won out ;)

    After IHop we walked back to Hollywood Bvld and then walked back to the hotel via CVS, Anneliese fell asleep on the way, boy am i glad we bouught the stroller on this trip!

    Looking forward to a slower paced day tomorrow and a lie in!

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    Tuesday July 12th

    Nice relaxing day today, slept in till 9 although Anneliese was awake earliar but entertained herself very nicely with her toys and the food from the fridge :)
    We stayed in the hotel till about 11, went down to breakfast after the morning rush, really appreciated the choice of fresh fruit they had on offer!

    I'd purchased the CityPass allowing us to take a tour (on foot) of Hollywood, Starlines tour of Film Stars Home (bus), Madame Tausurds and either The Kodak Theatre (which is closed till after we leave) or The old Max Factor Building which is now a museum.
    Decided to take the walking tour while it was still fairly cool, was really interesting and learnt a lot about Hollywood in its early days, was impressed on visiting Graumans Egyptian Theatre to see that they are having their own salute to Ginger Rogers for her centenary on the

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    Clicked submit accidently before I'd finished :(

    Tuesday July 12th


    Nice relaxing day today, slept in till 9 although Anneliese was awake earliar but entertained herself very nicely with her toys and the food from the fridge :)
    We stayed in the hotel till about 11, went down to breakfast after the morning rush, really appreciated the choice of fresh fruit they had on offer!

    I'd purchased the CityPass allowing us to take a tour (on foot) of Hollywood, Starlines tour of Film Stars Home (bus), Madame Tausurds and either The Kodak Theatre (which is closed till after we leave) or The old Max Factor Building which is now a museum.
    Decided to take the walking tour while it was still fairly cool, was really interesting and learnt a lot about Hollywood in its early days, started at Graumans Egyptian Theatre where we got to go inside went up Hollywood Boulevard as far as Graumans Chinese Theatre spent a fair amount of time there and then came back again to where we started with a running commentary the entire way :) Was impressed on visiting Graumans Egyptian Theatre to see that they are having their own salute to Ginger Rogers for her centenary on July 15th-17th showing 6 of the movies that she made with Astaire. We'll be Independence, MO but nice to see that they are doing something!
    The tour lasted just over an hour which was easily manageable and Anneliese coped very well, mainly reading her magazine ;)

    After taking the tour we went down to Build a Bear, in a moment of weakness i had promised a new outfit for being good! As all she wanted was the same outfit from before as sadly she'd lost the trousers was all good as that outfit had been in the sale :)

    As it was by now 2pm, lunch was definately in order, i asked Anneliese where she wanted to go and she asked for the place with the cups, so Denny's it was ;) Fortunately i remembered where it was but unfortunately they didn't have any of the sports cups :/ Food was worth it however!

    From Denny's we walked back to Hollywood Boulevard, we then found the Max Factor Building only to find that they are only open Wednesday-Sunday.. Something to do for tomorrow :)

    I had a look on the maps to try and work out how to get to Beverly Hills from Hollywood Boulevard as would love to go and get a glimpse of 1605 Gilcrest Drive (for many years the home of Ginger Rogers) but as was almost 5pm decided that it would better wait until we get back to Los Angeles on July 18th.
    Then went to the Disney Soda fountain Store, considered having icecream soda but it then occured to me that taking the bus tour in the evening would likely be much more pleasant than taking it in the middle of the and a good chance to sit down, so decided to leave the Soda Fountain Store till tomorrow and just bought yet another pin (in the sale at $4)

    Had to wait a little while for the tour after arriving at their kiosk at the back of the forecourt at Graumans, thankfully they were able to store the stroller safely and provide a booster seat for the bus :) The bus tour was really really good, Anneliese enjoyed it which was a bonus except when the wind picked up, but i'd brought her wind proof jacket just in case! We saw quite a few houses of the Stars including the Playboy Mansion, the house where Michael Jackson lived and died, Ol Blue Eye's house (Sinatra) and the former home of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt being the most memorable. I had been hoping to see Pickfair (the former home of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks) as i know that the house where Fred Astaire lived is close by but needless to say it wasn't included :/
    The best part of the tour was going up into the Hollywood Hills and being able to stop and see Los Angeles from above! Also got a really good view of the Hollywood Sign, but unfortunately my camera decided to die just at that moment :(

    Decided as it wasn't to busy and we were virtually right next to it that the Hard RocK Cafe would be a good place for dinner, despite it being 8.30pm by this point Anneliese was still wide awake but thought it would be better to eat sooner than later! Thankfully with the All Access Card we were able to get seated straight away and drinks and food were ordered pretty quickly.
    It was then the bad luck started :/ For some reason the kitchen 'Crashed' no idea why it didn't seem anymore busy than in Washington DC and we had to wait an hour for the food to arrive, was not impressed at all :/ By the time the food finally arrived Anneliese was showing signs of tiredness and she'd barely eaten any of her dinner before she actually fell asleep. For me having Steak and smashed potatoes again ;) I was not happy that the potatoes were cold, luckily once i mentioned it fresh hot 'smashed' potatoes were brought, only calling them 'smashed' poatoes was stretching it a bit, i've had smoother jacket potatoes :/ I complained as really wasn't happy with the service recieved, if London (which gets really busy) can manage then surely everywhere else can! They were really understanding and gave me a 50% discount off the bill which calmed my ruffled feathers :) Meant that i couldn't use my All Access Card but was only going to use the points to get money off the bill anyhow so now can use that money another time! And 50% off was more than i was expecting :) Plus they kindly boxed Anneliese's food for me :)

    Got Anneliese back to the hotel as quickly as possible. Had a really nice relaxing day, its been hot but nice breezes!
    Tomorrow we take the train back to Missouri, apparently its much warmer in the Mid West could be interesting!

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    Wednesday July 13th

    Woke up nicely at 9am just before my alarm went off :) Needed to have enough time to pack up and get out of the room before checkout time of 11am, was nice to have enough time to get everything packed and relax a little at the same time!
    Got the luggage out nicely, somehow only had 6 bags including the car seat and the suitcases :) Will make it easier for taking the train from Kansas City to Independence on Friday Morning!
    Anneliese had left a book in Nina’s car by mistake and she very kindly had agreed to mail it on to us in LA, we weren’t expecting it to reach LA until Saturday and I had explained it to the hotel staff while checking out who were fine about holding it till our return, the book must have wanted to come to Independence with us as somehow it arrived in this morning’s mail! Am very impressed with the mail system in the US, it only took 2 days to reach us! I’ve known mail in the same city to take longer ;)

    Was able to store the luggage at the hotel which was great as we had 5 hours to go before taking the metro to Union Station
    Decided that the Hollywood Museum in the old Max Factor Building would be a good way to end the first segment of our time in Los Angeles, more so because its only open on certain days and unless we were going to visit on the day we go home this was the only chance, the history of the Max Factor Building was probably the most interesting part of the museum although they do have some good artefacts on display. Was interesting to learn that Ginger Rogers opened the Redhead’s Room, despite the fact that when the Max Factor Building opened in 1935, she was a blonde! The main person featured in said room today is Lucille Ball; Max Factor created her red haired look!

    As usual was keeping my eyes peeled for anything Ginger or Fred related, was a fair number of photos of Ginger mainly advertising Max Factor but only two of Fred :/ Was disappointed to find that even though they are celebrating the Centenary’s of both Jean Harlow and Lucille Ball they have nothing for Ginger :( I did ask at the end and they explained that most of the artefacts have either been donated or are on loan from people who mainly live in the local area, they asked if I knew anyone who’d be interested in helping with such an exhibition on Ginger but unfortunately i had to explain that I’m only a fan ;)

    Loved seeing Cary Grant’s Rolls Royce and also Jean Harlow’s Packard Car, am a big fan of old cars and it’s nice that people are willing to loan such lovely things, although I didn’t ask how they got the cars up to the top floor of the museum!

    I’m not sure I’d have paid the $20 asked ($15 for an adult, $5 for a child) if It hadn’t been included in the Citipass or if I’d been able to choose between that and the Kodak Theatre tour but it didn’t disappoint and we spent a good 2 hours going round :) Liked reading the list of Marilyn Monroe’s favourite actresses and actors!

    As Anneliese had been so good during the time spent in the museum, I took her to the Disney Soda Fountain Store for lunch where we had waffles shaped like Mickey Mouse, what i didn’t realise until ordering was that they offered child sized portions which was much more convenient and the child meals included a drink which i didn’t find out till i paid the bill! (Anneliese was to bust colouring in the picture on the other side of her menu!)

    After lunch we took a walk down to the start of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and saw the statues of the four women, we’d seen it from the bus the day before but had never seen it up close, was nice to see it and took up some of the time left that we had before going back to the hotel.
    The walk back took longer than expected as was very busy on Hollywood Boulevard but after a stop at a CVS to get Anneliese some sweets for the train we got back to the hotel to pick up the baggage by 4pm, plenty of time to get to Union Station :)

    The walk to Hollywood/Vine was pretty good, Anneliese had to help with pushing the stroller as i had my hands full with the suitcases but a nice young man took pity on her when we got onto Hollywood Boulevard and very kindly came down to the Metro Station with us which made life a lot easier all round. Fortunately we didn’t have long to wait for the train, journey didn’t seem to take half as long as it did when we arrived on Sunday! Got to Union Station with enough time to check in where seat assignments were given as the train is completely sold out today, we also thankfully had enough time to check the big suitcases so won’t have to worry about them until we reach Kansas City on Friday Morning :) Unfortunately we’ll have to deal with them for catching the Missouri River Runner to Independence

    All we had to do after that was wait for the track number to be announced, 45 minutes before the train was due to leave it was shown as being delayed, which as it starts in Los Angeles I didn’t really get.. We met a couple from Southampton, England whose sole purpose of the trip had been to take the Empire Builder from Seattle to Chicago; thanks to the flooding they had been rerouted first on the Coast Starlight and then on the South West Chief, slightly unfortunate for them, but it made me appreciate all the more that despite the flooding we were still able to get to Omaha, had the trip been about a month earlier then we wouldn’t have been able to go.
    At 6.05pm they finally announced that boarding for the West Bound South West Chief would start in 20 minutes, the train was only due to depart at 6.15pm ;) Anneliese had enjoyed the wait playing with the giant teddy bear of an older girl who fortunately didn’t mind that teddy was being included in Anneliese’s picnic, as the teddy bear was bigger than Anneliese it was more amusing to watch than anything else!
    Fortunately despite everything including having to move seats after settling thanks to the imminent arrival (at Riverside) of a second large group of Boy Scouts (there was already one group on the train) we departed Los Angeles at 7pm, only 45 minutes late..

    The new seats we have are probably better than the seats originally assigned, in the middle of the car rather than towards the back and at least now we’re not between two groups of Boy Scouts!
    Unfortunately after they announced the lounge car open, they prompted closed again for the dinner break meaning I had to wait till 9.10 for dinner, slightly unfortunate, but while Anneliese watched Dumbo and Swan Princess I watched Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn in ‘Stage Door’ (1937) which lasted long enough for me to able to go get dinner in the middle of it :)

    Looking forward to another full day on the train but looking forward more to being back in the American Midwest even if the temperatures are much higher than in Los Angeles! Its a different sort of heat after all ;)

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    Thursday July 14th

    Woke up at 2am after 3 hours sleep with really bad ear ache  dozed on and off but the pain didn’t want to go away, had the remainder of the chicken wings I’d got for dinner the night before and found that chewing helped a little so I looked through my backpack to see what else i had and luckily found some chewing gum which helped enough with relieving the pressure to allow me to drop off back to sleep by 4.30am.
    Woke up next at 6.30am to hear the dining car making their first announcements for breakfast but as i was still tired and Anneliese was still asleep I thought it would be better to skip breakfast in the dining car and just get cereal from the snack car :)

    Didn’t wake up again till nearly 9am, feeling much more rested than I had at 6.30! Anneliese was still asleep but she woke up soon after so I went to the snack car with her and got an E.A.T snack box for her and cereal and milk for me which did us fine and was cheaper than the dining car.
    After that Anneliese watched Dumbo and then Wallace and Gromit and I read ‘Ginger – My Story’ while we waited for someone to come round to make lunch reservations. Everything seemed to be running a little behind as they didn’t come round until nearly 11.30am, if I’d known that it was going to take so long we would have gone into the lounge car as it’s nicer to sit in there than to stay at your seat all the time but never mind. Got lunch reservations for 12pm, on this trip the later reservation times had gone first leaving the early sittings still available as opposed to the west bound trip when it had been the other way round! Much nicer to have lunch earlier rather than later :)
    We reached Albuquerque at 11.35 so had a chance to step off the train and get a breath of fresh air before lunch. Took a look at the vendor’s offerings but didn’t buy anything. At lunch we sat with two Boy Scout leaders, there is around 60 boy scouts on this train going to the same place as the boy scouts we saw on the way out west, apparently different groups of boy scouts go every day for 2 weeks throughout the summer to a camp about an hour’s bus ride from Raton and go hiking, it explains why we’ve seen so many of them! When we reached Raton there was another big group getting on, going home, uniforms didn’t look half as pristine as the group getting off ;)

    We spent some of the afternoon in the lounge car helping with a jigsaw puzzle, then Anneliese complained that she was tired and that her tummy hurt so i took her back to our seats and gave her some calpol (child paracetamol) and then she fell asleep for a good two hours while I first watched part of ‘Roberta’ (1935) then read some more of ‘Ginger – My Story’ before deciding that there was no harm in having a nap myself ;)

    On waking up the 14 year old sitting across from us offered to watch a movie with Anneliese which was really nice of her, it was a Disney cartoon movie that I’d never heard of let alone seen but Anneliese really enjoyed watching it :) The other 4 people sitting by us including the nice 14 year old girl had opted to go for dinner in the dining car so at 6 they went off to dinner and i tried to persuade Anneliese that she should have something to eat, however no success, she was far to engrossed in the movie. I put time to good use by watching some more of Roberta until everyone else came back from dinner
    When everyone else came back from dinner, Anneliese and the other girl watched Beauty and the Beast while i was able to go to the cafe car to get myself some chicken wings for dinner :) As the attendant was quick to observe it was my second portion of chicken wings on this train trip but they are officially my favourite food on Amtrak and I’ve yet to see them anywhere else :(
    Spent the evening chatting to Jeff and Mary sitting across from us about the different types of food that are available in England and the United States, the discussion around breakfast was the most interesting, the comparison is very different! Tidied away everything that won’t be needed tonight as we reach Kansas City early tomorrow morning, looking forward to getting to Independence and exploring the place, also very much looking forward to Saturday, just hope i get to meet other fan’s of Ginger’s with this being Ginger’s Centenary and the main reason for our trip :)

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    You two make quite the travelers! I love reading your adventures and am glad you seem to be having a good experience so far. Beware--it's supposed to be beastly hot here this weekend so take care out there!

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    Friday July 15th

    Woke up at 3am to find the train stopped, have no idea why as we weren't in a station but we must have been stopped for around 45 minutes, was really warm on the upper level so went downstairs to the lower level where the air was cooler :) luckily Anneliese stayed asleep!

    Woke up again at 6am to hear predicatbly that we were running half an hour late, they must allow plenty of cushion time however as we only got to Kansas City 5 minutes after our scheduled arrival time of 7.24am :) Was hard saying goodbye to the nice people we met on the train, Anneliese especially was sad about it, very warm in Kansas City, wasn't totally prepared for how warm it was going to be specially at this early hour!

    Had to wait a while for the luggage to be brought off the train and shortly after was heading back down to the platform for the 8.15am Missouri River Runner and for the short trip to Independence!!

    Took about 15 minutes to get from Kansas City to Indpendence, left the mugginess of Kansas City behind and were greeted by Blue Skies and Sunshine, unfortunately one thing i'd neglected to obtain beforehand was a map so while i knew the address of the hotel i didn't have a clue how to get there :/ I figured the easiest way to find out would be to walk to the main road and see if we could find anywhere open to ask for directions!
    Luckily there was a bike shop at the end of the road and the owner was able to give us directions, only a mile to the hotel thankfully :)

    We'd got about halfway up the road and was just passing some type of place of worship when a lady stopped coming out of whatever it was and asked if she could give us a ride anywhere :) Thankfully she knew exactly where we were headed, was very grateful, it wasn't far to go but in the heat (and it was only 9am at this point) and with general tiredness it would have taken an awfully long time to get there on foot.. She was very kind and offered her number incase in need of any more assistance :)

    It appears that the hotel we're staying in is just opposite the former house of Harry S Truman, we're just over a mile from where Ginger Rogers was born!
    We got to the hotel around 9.15am and explained the dilema of wanting to leave the bags at the hotel while we waited for the room to be ready and maybe have a look round Independence, they then asked if we'd mind instead of having a room with two king sized beds having a room with one queen, as its only for one night it wasn't a problem and meant we were able to settle in straight away :) With it being so warm outside decided to spend a few hours relaxing before venturing outside.

    As it turned out we both fell asleep and stayed sleeping for most of the day, woke up at 4pm feeling much more relax although it seemed much longer than 8 hours since we'd arrived, odd to think that only a week ago we were in Kansas City!

    Went to the front desk and asked about directions to a playground with water fountains that was listed in the hotel directory, was warned that it was a bit of a walk and that it was very hot outside still but it didn't take that long to get there. After the long walk from the Zoo to Downtown in Omaha nothing is that long a walk!!

    Anneliese had lots of fun playing in the fountains, fortunately we remembered her bathing suit so no problems with getting soaked this time! Unfortunately I'd forgotten to take anything to entertain myself but managed ok, nothing more entertaining than listening to a little of Ginger and Fred ;)
    My music got interrupted when we'd been there about an hour by music which sounded to my ears awfully like an icecream van, asking somebody if such music meant the same in the US as it does as home in England confirmed that yes it was an icecream van! One much excited Anneliese ;) She had an icecream shaped like Tweety and I had a watermelon Snocone which was much refreshing. Even though it was very hot and sunny even after 5pm I much prefer the heat out here in the Midwest than i do in Los Angeles. Plus here it stays warm even after then sun has gone down :)

    Went for dinner at Wendy's and found a grocery store on the way, much appreciated the drinks machine by the grocery store that decided to give us two cans of Sierra Mist for the cost of one, sadly it wasn't quite so willing with the Dr Pepper (my choice of drink)
    At Wendy's the guy heard me order a meal and repeated what i'd ordered and then somehow only charged me for the burger, on checking the order i pointed out that I'd ordered a meal, he aknowledged that it was his mistake and added the drink and fries at no extra cost to me :) The food at Wendy's in Independence was just as good as it was in New York, Maryland and Los Angeles!

    We then walked back to the hotel, had difficulties getting in but it turned out that they change the door code at midday after checkout but as we'd arrived so early we'd been given the doorcode from the previous day
    The Hotel layout is kinda strange, the first floor is technically the basement, the second floor is where the checkin desk is and the 3rd floor is up the first flight of stairs, this puzzled me greatly when trying to find the ice machine which was on the first floor, downstairs..
    One thing that is a really nice touch is that on every floor there is a general tv area that guests can use to watch dvds/blurays in!

    The main disadvantage of having slept all afternoon clearly was that Anneliese didn't get tired till 10.30pm but she sat watching her new dvd quietly which is good :) Now thankfully she is fast asleep and soon hopefully i'll be doing the same. Tomorrow is the Centenary of Ginger Rogers, she was born at 100 W.Moore Street on the 16th July 1911 :) Tomorrow hopefully we'll be able to find the house, the directions from google maps look simple enough ;)

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    Saturday July 16th

    Woke up a little later than planned but was still only 8.25 so had plenty of time to grab breakfast before they stopped at 9am. Persuading Anneliese to get up was a little harder but she perked up once she'd had something to eat, plus i'd promised she'd have time to relax a little after breakfast ;)
    While Anneliese was happily watching her dvd, i put everything away and then went and asked at the front desk about storage of bags during the day, I didn't want to have to carry everything round Indpendence and thankfully there was no trouble with that :)

    At 10.24am we left the hotel in search of 100 W Moore Street, even at that time was already 95F with blue skies and sunshine, luckily the directions from google were easy enough to follow but took a bit longer to get there than expected. Had just found the house where Ginger was born at 2am on July 16th 1911, when was stopped by a red minivan with Alabama plates, i had been looking out for it so was happy to see had timed it right, one of the occupants of the vehicle was VKMHuey, author of the Gingerology Blog and a follow Ginger fan :) We agreed that 4 people were better than one and bravely knocked on the door of 100 W Moore Street! Fortunately when the current owner of the house answered he understood the importance of the occasion and was very understanding about us knocking on his door :)
    Was great to see the Plaque that was put up on the 16th July 1994 with Ginger herself in Attendance marking the house as being the location of Ginger's Birth and was great to be able to walk round the outside of the house and take photos without feeling that we were trespassing.
    He was also very kind and let Anneliese use the bathroom which allowed a glimpse into the actual house, its changed a little since 1911, the guy who lives there now believes that the one big room was once two rooms and he said that another room originally had a door! But apart from that it would have been little unchanged since when Ginger was born 100 hundred years ago.

    Was immensely grateful to the guy for being so understanding about everything and was fabulous seeing the house Ginger was born in on what would have been her 100th Birthday. Was sad to find that the Independence Historical Society isn't willing to do more to help with its upkeep, but interesting that the contact for the house included the agreement that the general outlook of the house is not to be changed in anyway as the house is of historical importance!
    The guy said in the year they've been there about 3 other people have knocked asking about Ginger so that brings it to 6 and hopefully more people might have been and seen the house today. Apparently there is a tour bus that goes by the house and mentions its significance which is better than nothing!

    Was also good to meet 'VKMHuey' i had hoped would have the chance to meet another fan of Ginger but had no idea if the timing would work out or not so we were lucky there :)

    After leaving 'Ginger's' with some great photos of the outside of the house we headed for the highway and found 'Poppy's' the donut place, didn't try any donuts but got water and dr pepper with plenty of ice which was extremely welcome and reasonably priced, they were kind and offered refills at no extra cost :)

    From there we walked to the main square, we went into the Harry Truman Visitors Centre, as we're in Independence theres no harm in finding a little about its other famous past resident! We visited an antiques shop just past the old jail where i found another of the American Girls Collection Books for Anneliese and then crossed the Street to 'Clinton's Soda Fountain' where Strawberry ice cream was enjoyed by Anneliese and Peanut Butter Fudge Icecream by myself ;)

    We hopped across to the cinema after that in the hopes that they might be showing one of Ginger's movies considering what day it is today ;) but no luck :(
    Anneliese did enjoy a visit to a shop selling mainly knitted items and came away enamoured with a red dressing gown for Minnie Mouse :) (although the thought of anyone even a soft toy wanting a dressing gown on in this heat is past thinking about :/)

    After that I thought as I'd seen everything in Independence that i wanted to see that it would be nice to go back to the playground with the fountains that Anneliese enjoyed so much yesterday and spend a couple of hours there as it was so hot and Anneliese had been so good while I'd seen what i wanted to see :)

    We spent a lovely 2 1/2 hours at the playground, I'd taken Anneliese's bathing suit out with us just in case and she made good use of it :) A few of the children she'd met yesterday were there again and she had a lovely time, including having another ice lolly when the ice cream van appeared ;)
    When we got there it had been muggy but overcast with a fairly pleasant breeze, clearly i was enjoying it to much as the sun reappeared just after 4pm

    It was sad when 6 o clock came along and I had to tell her it was time to leave when she then asked if we could come back tomorrow, had to explain that we take the train back to Los Angeles tonight and that we won't be back in Independence again at least not on this trip.

    Got back to the hotel and realised just how much had caught the sun, had had my sun hat on most of the day but had still caught it more than I anticipated :/
    Explained that we had to get the River Runner back to Kansas City at 9.06pm, they were very kind and offered us a lift and suggested that we might like to go downstairs and watch a movie or go get something light to eat, thinking of the snacks i have in plenty in the bag watching a movie sounded like a great idea, good opportunity to cool down and relax and not have to worry about getting to the station with the big suitcases. Anneliese chose Pinnochio and we headed downstairs where they have big comfy sofas with tv and blu ray machine, they were also kind enough to set it up as i wouldn't have had a clue!

    Was great being able to relax in the cool room, 95F at 10.24am clearly hadn't stayed around as the hotel owner pointed out with the humidity and everything it had hit around 117F in the afternoon which of course was when we were at the playground..
    And to think at home we complain when it hits 80F ;)

    Fortunately we had enough time to watch all of Pinnochio, i have no idea how i'd have persuaded Anneliese to leave if not! But it timed nicely and we reached Independence's Amtrak station with time to spare :)
    There were some people already waiting who expressed surprise at the amount of luggage we were carrying, i quickly explained that we're visiting from 'Across the Pond' very quick understanding and comments that big suitcases are necessary for such big trips! One of the guys noticed my t-shirt (with Ginger on) and said there was no need for me to explain why we were in Independence it was clear from my shirt why! He also said how much he liked it, he's only the second person to comment on my t-shirt since this morning, the other was the girl who served me my ice cream cone at 'Clinton's' who also said it was clear why i was visiting Independence :) Its nice to know that at least a few people are aware that Ginger was born in Independence :)

    Unfortunately the heat coupled with getting in and out of the air conditioned car within a short amount of time plus not having eaten much made me feel rather sick although luckily it came to nothing. Anneliese was entertained by an 11 year old waiting with his dad (the guy who liked my Ginger t-shirt) which gave me a moment to sit down and remember to breathe..
    The train was running late thanks to a freight train in front of it that to me seemed to go on for ever, but apparently compared to some the freight train we saw was fairly short and that some can be over 200 cars long, i wasn't counting but apparently the freight train that passed us was no longer than 50 cars! The 314 River Runner finally made it to Independence at 9.25 only 19 minutes late, i just hoped that we'd reach Kansas City in time to check the big suitcases to Los Angeles.

    Was sad suddenly saying goodbye to Independence, hopefully one day we'll be able to go back. The Higher Ground Hotel where we stayed was really good and would happily stay there again if we ever go back :)

    The train back to Kansas City took slightly longer than expected and we didn't get there until 9.55pm about 10 minutes after they'd estimated, got upstairs to find they'd closed for checked baggage but i clearly was wearing a look of despair as the man came out of the ticket office and asked if we wanted to check any of our bags! Made my life so much easier even though despite Anneliese complaining she was tired she seemed to be displaying a fair amount of energy ;)

    Fortunately we only had half an hour to wait for the South West Chief, most of the people waiting for the train at Kansas City were Boy Scouts heading for Raton (no surprise there)
    Got down to the platform and here i learned for the first time (amazing considering how many long distance trains we've been on in the last two weeks) that it is possible for the long distance trains to get over booked, as you have to have a ticket in advance of travel i don't get how its done but it turned out to be a problem and for a couple of moments i seriously wondered if we were going to be able to board the train :/ And we weren't the only ones worrying, there were another 8 people also waiting but fortunately they decided they had to fit everyone in somewhere and to hurry and get on the train so as to be able to leave on time which amazingly we did!

    Odd to be leaving Kansas City for the 3rd time in 2 days, bit sad that we're on our last long distance train of the trip. At the start it seemed like we had an awful lot of LD train travel and now its almost at an end :(

    Nice to be able to settle down and relax, Anneliese decided she wasn't tired and asked for her dvd player, anything for a quiet life ;) she fell asleep in the middle of her dvd and i settled down first to watch 'Primrose Path' (1940) but it kept freezing so i swapped for 'In Person' (1935) instead :)
    Nice peaceful day on the train tomorrow ;)

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    Sunday July 17th

    Woke up around 6am Central Time and wondered what time zone we were in, got confused as there were no Amtrak employees about and no announcements yet being made so was unsure if this was because it was still quiet time or just no need to make announcements!
    There were people however moving around when i next woke up at 7, the cafe car was open and as someone told me we were still in central time, i then heard an announcement from the dining car saying that they still had 12 spaces left for breakfast if anyone wanted to come and eat  So as Anneliese had woken up i persuaded her to come with me so I could at least eat even if she wasn’t hungry. Luckily they still had spaces in the dining car when we got there so we were seated quickly and knowing what i wanted for breakfast made things easier! Persuaded Anneliese that having something to eat would be beneficial for her so we both got the French toast  was very good and was able to take Anneliese’s left over’s back to our seats with no problem.

    We stopped at La Junta in Colorado at 8.57am, thought would get out for some ‘fresh air’ and boy was it hot! Even hotter possibly than it had been in Independence yesterday afternoon :/
    They came round for lunch reservations shortly after leaving La Junta; I opted for the 1.45pm reservation as i thought that would give plenty of time to work up an appetite! I chatted to some Boy Scouts and one of their leaders about England and also about American History, i told them about the trip we’ve been taking and they asked about my plans once we get off the train and then we chatted about the different Disney parks and which ones are better to visit! Then i dug out some English money which none of them had seen before although they’d seen the Euro coins, the 50 pence piece with the design on the back for 100 years of Girl Guiding was the favourite, this led to more interesting conversation about the difference with Scouts in England and America.
    Anneliese watched more episodes of ‘Old Bear and Friends’ and had some of her French toast but complained that her neck hurt and that she was tired.
    She had a nap before lunch and seemed a lot better by the time we were sat in the dining car although she asked only for water to drink, but she said she was hungry and asked for grilled cheese sandwiches  I had the Angus Steak Burger, just as good on the west bound as it was on the east bound!
    Had a nice quiet afternoon, I watched ‘Holiday’ while Anneliese watched ‘The Swan Princess’, as Anneliese was occupied, I decided would be a great time to have a nap, waking up conveniently as we reached Albuquerque, NM, we were late getting in and then delayed as they discovered someone on the train was carrying stolen goods inside their boom box, had thought it a bit strange that the guy was carrying the boom box everywhere with him but they do say that it’s not wise to leave any valuables that you wouldn’t want to lose so i didn’t think that much of it but would explain why there was a police officer aboard asking people for tickets and what bags were theirs, apparently with the guy they pulled off the train the dogs sniffed the goods out and the attendant said that he called someone on his cell saying that his boom box had been found out when the police arrested him...

    After we left Albuquerque chatted to a girl from Arizona who’d never met anyone from England before and wanted to know how it compared to what she’d seen in the movies  Anneliese was trying to persuade me to watch ‘Top Hat’ not to bad a movie to see what London is like ;) there are parts of London that live in that type of ‘world’, watched a little before Anneliese started complaining that she was really hot and that her neck and tummy really hurt, I’d given her some calpol earlier in the afternoon because she’d complained her tummy was hurting so wanted to wait a bit longer before I gave her anymore, I did go down to the cafe car and get some ice as was having problems persuading her to drink anything that wasn’t water and she just wanted something really cold, not much better than ice for that! When the conductor came by I passed on that I was worried about her because she was burning hot and that i was worried because her neck was hurting her, he spoke to someone downstairs who is a doctor in some field but not the type i could have done with but who recommended that i just keep her as cool as possible and get her to drink plenty which was proving easier said than done..
    Gave her calpol around 8pm MT, giving her it turned out to be a mistake as she was then sick 5 minutes later  I’m the worst person in the world when it comes to anyone throwing up but luckily other people on the train were most helpful with helping me deal with the situation. The conductor advised that I get her checked out at the next stop of Winslow, Arizona by paramedics, which I agreed was the best idea as was getting worried specially when Anneliese mentioned that the light was hurting her to look at.
    The other conductor then said that if I wanted to get her checked over then I’d have to detrain, felt that I really had to get her checked, for as much the other people in the car’s sake as well as Anneliese’s and so agreed to detrain. Unfortunately they only managed to find one of our suitcases, the other they thought they either had failed to find or that it had been left behind in Kansas City, either way we’ll get it whenever we get to Los Angeles.
    They were really really helpful on the train with getting everything together and returning the tickets, the conductor gave me his card and said if there was any problems with taking the South West Chief onto Los Angeles when we’re able to then I was to ring him and he’d sort it, most worried at the moment as the rail pass runs out tomorrow but fingers crossed everything will be ok and apart from the missing suitcase we got everything else off the train ok. Was interested to see the method they used to disguise the smell, fresh coffee grounds, was reassuring to know that it happens a lot, but would have preferred it not to happen at all for Anneliese’s sake.
    The Paramedics were waiting when we got into Winslow, they were also able to negotiate with the hotel at Winslow about storing all the bags, the hotel was also really helpful, giving me their card and saying i can contact them or pick the bags up at anytime. Rode to Little Colorado Medical Center in the Ambulance, one scared but brave little girl, at the hospital they took her temp and did x-rays and took various samples, verdict Pneumonia, dehydration and a couple of other ailments my poor baby girl, luckily the antibiotics they gave her kicked in pretty quickly and I managed to get hold of the insurance company to let them know the situation, of course they complained that i should have let them know first, before i went to any hospital but when travelling on a train across the Western United States its hardly the ideal time when cell phone coverage is more off than on. Not to mention they only gave a UK number :rollseyes: They’re keeping Anneliese in until at least tomorrow when they’ll review the situation and we’ll see about making the trip onto Los Angeles before I even think about whether we’ll still be able to fly home on Thursday or not.. Not the way I envisioned spending my Sunday night but Anneliese’s sleeping peacefully enough now, hooked up to an IV and at least now I know what’s wrong with her  Nothing worse than having a sick child and not knowing what’s wrong or what to do to make it better.

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    Poor little thing, and poor you too. I'm glad you were able to arrange care for her and that she is beginning to feel better. I hope you are able to continue on with your trip.

    I also wanted to let you know that all your talk of Fred and Ginger inspired me! I run a volunteer program at a mental health center. We give each of our volunteers a small (very small) gift at the end of the calendar year and I like to tie it somehow to our mission at the center. I was trying to figure out what that might be this year when I started reading your trip planning posts - and later your trip report. They made me curious so I looked up Fred Astaire and read about his difficulties starting a movie career, even after he'd already proved himself on the stage. These lines about his screen test particularly stood out: Can't sing. Can't Act. Balding. Can dance a little.

    So, this December, I'll be handing out packets of local grown popcorn along with a card that has a picture of Fred and Ginger on it, the story about the screen test, and a few lines about potential and how our volunteers help the Center meet ours.

    Just wanted to thank you for bringing Fred and Ginger to my attention :)

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    Monday July 18th

    Got woken up at 2am so they could take the IV out of Anneliese's hand, she really didn't like that, but she was very brave and fortunately she fell asleep again fairly quickly, they also were kind enough to give me a couple of blankets and a pillow as well as switching the lights off :)

    Didn't wake up again until nearly 11am, the latest have woken up for the entire trip, Anneliese was still asleep, most unlike her :( The Social Worker for the hospital came and saw us, he was really helpful with helping me contact Amtrak to sort out the tickets, Amtrak were really understanding once I mentioned that an Ambulance had been called while we were still on the train before we'd even reach Winslow, unfortuntely though we're stuck in Winslow until tomorrow as tonight's train was completely booked out :/ I then was able to call the hotel we should have been staying at in Los Angeles, technically they should have charged me for one of the cancelled nights but thankfully they agreed not to, a sick child is a legitamite reason, although i had to call Booking.com in the UK to confirm cancellation as i booked through them.

    I asked the doctor about Anneliese being able to fly on Thursday, he originally said he thought it would be ok, then backtracked saying at least 3 days rest would be beneficial.. I then had to phone the travel agent in the UK that i booked the tickets with who suggested phoning Virgin, phoned them only to find that the US number given transfers to the UK and that medical enquiries can only be dealt with between 9am-7pm UK time, being 8 hours behind UK time means that getting hold of them could be rather awkward, baffled as to why on the phone they said they were open 9am-7pm EST and on the Virgin Atlantic US site they say open 24 hours..

    The social worker was really kind and went and picked up Anneliese's prescription for me, he also sorted out a hotel room for the night and paid for the cab fare for us to get there. He was also good with asking Anneliese if there was anything she really fancied eating (a jam sandwich as it turned out) and managed to get one for her :) The doctor had complained that she wasn't eating, puzzled me rather as she'd just been sick again, not to mention he clearly had no idea of how hard it is to get a child to eat when they don't want to, as i'd been allowing anything she felt like eating yesterday in an attempt to get her to eat anything it didn't exactly help with my confidence in how I was coping :(

    Finally got everything sorted by 4pm and was able to leave the hospital :) Anneliese got given a stuffed toy for being such a brave little girl which made her smile, something that i haven't seen her do since yesterday lunchtime :)
    The taxi was very good at going via the hotel that was storing the luggage who were also really helpful, the guy on the desk was on last night when we asked about them storing the luggage and asked how Anneliese was doing whih was nice, got to the hotel fine, never stayed at a Quality Inn before, if they're all like the one in Winslow, AZ then i'd happily stay in one again, room has kitchen and bathroom and plenty of space in it :)

    Sorted out all the clothes from yesterday, glad we've only got the one night on the train as two of the blankets are now in need of a wash but will have to wait till we're back in the UK along with the clothing :(

    Went out to look for some food about 6 as Anneliese finally decided she was hungry :D Was hoping for KFC but we got there to find a sign saying closed to the public :/ So went to Macdonalds instead. Anneliese happily managed half a happy meal :) Although the play area was a distraction, was nervous about how she was going to find the antibiotics but fortunately she likes the taste!

    Got back to the hotel to return the medication to the fridge before heading out to Safeway to have a look round, while there Anneliese complained about feeling hot again, poor little girl, Safeway didn't have the one medicine that i remembered being on the discharge instructions to get fever down and made it more expensive if you didn't have their card, so went back to the hotel to check the other type before heading for Walmart who thankfully did have the medicine i wanted at a lower price. Took the opportunity at Walmart to allow Anneliese to choose any food that she found tempting just to get her appetite going again :) Although she was more interested in the Sesame Street Dvd we found and the tinkerbell dress.

    Stopped at Denny's on the way back so i could grab something to eat, but while Anneliese was excited to see the Denny's sign i couldn't persuade her to have anything to eat

    At the hotel found that Anneliese doesn't like Montrin, but need to get her temperature down :(

    She went to sleep quite quickly but if anything she's got hotter, can only wait and see what tomorrow brings, specially as we're supposed to be taking the train..

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    Tuesday July 19th

    Woke up to late for breakfast unfortunately but thankfully before checkout time, had a real rush to phone Virgin Atlantic for medical enquiries, had to fax the entire discharge information from the hospital to them, very kindly thr hotel didn't charge me despite the fact they had to be faxed to the UK, is odd you call a US number and it puts you through to Virgin in the UK :)
    They were helpful and understanding but they'll need a certificate to state she's fit to fly so had to get onto the insurance people, not fun as they only give a UK number who promised to get onto the people dealing with the medical side of things so we can get this sorted before Thursday, although currently i'm not holding my breath, but can only hope. Unfortunately the discharge instructions didn't mention anything about travel on airplanes only trains :/

    With all the problems I had with phoning people and trying to pack everything up we ended up checking out late of the room but the hotel was most understanding and only charged me for the room, at the rate they'd provided me with on check in.
    They also very kindly were able to store the bags, the hotel we stayed on is the opposite side of town from the Amtrak Station but with the heat and everything i didn't intend going far before we had to.
    Went to Denny's for lunch as Anneliese decided she'd like that, i had pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs and a puppies sundae while Anneliese only managed some tomatoes and half her chicken but at least she's making an effort to eat :) it started raining just as we were finishing but Denny's had no problem with us lingering while we waited for the rain to stop, tried tempting Anneliese with some icecream but she wasn't having it.. She's still got a temperature but the Motrin seems to be working finally!

    Spent the rest of the afternoon in the hotel lobby, Anneliese had a nap in the stroller while I checked out various websites and did my best to stay awake, but was nice to sit in the coolness of the hotel and not have to worry about things for a while. Anneliese was disappointed that I wouldn't take her back to Macdonalds so that she could have a play on the play equipment but i wasn't hungry and she wasnt and i didnt think they'd be so happy about her playing on the equipment if i hadn't bought anything, plus by the time she woke we had less than 2 hours before we had to get a cab to the Amtrak Station. Went out and found an ATM as needed to get some money for the cab (pretty good $7 for a one way trip) i don't get why Wells & Fargo didn't charge me anything to withdraw money in Winslow but wanted to charge me $5 in Los Angeles

    The hotel kindly organised the cab for me, very helpful as my cell phone wouldn't call out on the network it was picking up, awkward to say the least ;)

    The 'Winslow Shuttle' people were fairly quick and we arrived at the Amtrak Station with an hour to spare, went in to the hotel that had so kindly stored our bags on Sunday/Monday, the same guy was on duty again and asked after Anneliese, he also very kindly checked on the progress of the South West Chief, running a mere 10 minutes late, as it was running over 2 hours late yesterday 10 minutes is nothing!

    Train arrived nicely :) Train attendant was very helpful with the luggage, had a long walk down the platform as only the final coach car had space so was grateful for the help! The train attendant for the car we are in, remembered me from the West Bound Trip we took from Galesburg to Kansas City on July 7th, was nice to be remembered :) I then had to explain why i had no ticket and how i was travelling on a rail pass that expired on July 18th, fortunately the conductor knew all about it and all was ok :)
    Soon as Anneliese was settled with her dvd player, i headed for the cafe car to grab something for dinner, had managed to get Anneliese to eat something while we'd waited for the train but I hadn't thought about myself at the time of buying food. Sadly they were out of chicken wings :( which means i probably won't get any now until we next travel on Amtrak LD, no idea when that will be :( Will have to keep an eye out to see if can find said chicken wings anywhere else!

    Its only our 4th trip on a West Bound SWC, odd now to think that this is the last night we'll spend on the train, even with the absence of chicken wings i cant say i'm that sad, was more sad on Sat about LD train travel coming to an end and of course it didn't end up quite as planned..
    I had picked up a cheese and cracker tray from the cafe car and was happy to see Anneliese eating her share :) Was babybel slightly more decent brand than the processed cheese that was in the lunchables pack, but glad to find something she wanted to eat :)
    I was finally able to watch the rest of Top Hat (1935) followed by the rest of Holiday (1938) once Anneliese had fallen asleep.
    We're due into Los Angeles around 8am :) Might as well make the most of it if we can!

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    Wednesday July 20th

    Woke up around 5.30am to an announcement telling me how long it was going to take to get to each of the remaining stops before Los Angeles so decided i had enough time to get a bit more sleep! The lovely train attendant woke me up at 6.30am to tell me that we were due into Los Angeles in the next 20 minutes so that gave me enough time to get everything packed up and to wake Anneliese, much better than the mad rush we had the last time we arrived in LA!

    Had been a bit worried about my suitcase but thankfully it was waiting for me in the office at baggage claim, have no idea whether they just couldn't find it on sunday or whether it left Kansas City on Sunday but as have it back, its hardly worth bothering about!

    Anneliese was annoyed with me because i insisted she wait to change out of her pj's, she's clearly on the mend ;) we made it quickly out of Union Station to the Red Line and the metro to Hollywood and Vine, which we reached at 8.15am, the time the SWC was due into LA :) We then walked to the hotel where thankfully they allowed us to store the bags, which meant i only had the food bag, my backpack and the stroller to deal with. I am so glad now especially that we brought the stroller, at home Anneliese walks everywhere but even more since Sunday she hasn't wanted to walk at all, and if i was having to carry her it wouldnt work at all..

    Anneliese decided that Mcdonalds for breakfast would be a good idea, free wi-fi sounded good to me and the breakfast i had today was better than last week's and last week's was good enough :) if anything Anneliese ate more of my breakfast today than she did last week, so all looking good :)

    Decided as we saw most of what Hollywood has to offer last week, that a trip to Chatsworth would be nice, it was on the original wanting to visit list as Fred and Ginger are both interred at the Oakwood Memorial Park at Chatsworth.
    Plus despite having got off the train only this morning, Anneliese was keen to ride again!
    We took Metrolink out which saved money, Anneliese had been hoping for Amtrak but i wasn't running for anything so offered the alternative of taking Amtrak on the way back :)

    Thanks for the numbers of both cab services being no longer in service we ended up having to walk to the Oakwood Memorial Park, luckily it was only 10 blocks from the station but a very long 10 blocks, Anneliese sat patiently in the stroller and we found a store selling ice drinks along the way which was very welcome!

    The Memorial Park was easy enough to find luckily, I'd looked up on the internet the areas where Ginger and Fred are Interred. I read once that they are only a few yards away from each other, i don't know whose idea of a yard it is but up a hill is not my idea of a few yards ;)

    I was working on memory as was unable to get hold of a map, finding Ginger (and Lela her mother they're interred together) wasn't as easy as i'd hoped, I was just about to give up and go and find Fred first when it occured to me that what with last Saturday being her Centenary someone might have come and left flowers, my instict was right, turned round looked for flowers and found Ginger's final resting spot seconds later! Fresh flowers still at the grave :) Very nice to see and the area around is well kept :)

    After taking a couple of pictures and telling a suddenly upset Anneliese that people are never truly gone until we forget them, we went and found Fred, i had a slightly better idea of his final resting place, but had underestimated how low down the hill it was, its clearly a family plot, also interred there are Adele Astaire (Fred's sister), Ann Astaire (Fred & Adele's mom), Phyllis Astaire (Fred's first wife) and Phyllis's uncle and aunt. A mole had decided to dig right next to Phyllis's aunts grave and there were leaves all over Phyllis's to the point it was unreadable, so did a bit of tidying up until could read them and get a clear picture
    Was glad to be able to get out there and go pay my respects, maybe next time i'll even remember exactly where to find them ;)

    The walk back to the Amtrak station was hindered by firstly going the wrong way, the memorial park is on a crossroads and typically we walked down the wrong road, we did however see some horses which Anneliese liked :)
    Once we got back onto the right road the walk back to the Amtrak station wasn't to bad, took just an hour including a second stop for drinks!

    Got back to the station however and found we had a 45 minute wait for the train, in true Amtrak fashion the train was then another 30 minutes late, was disappointed when it finally turned up that it had Amfleet Coaches instead of the double decker Pacific Surfliner coaches, but nevermind, had been hoping to get some food, but the cafe car had closed on arrival into Chatsworth :/ Odd to think that its the last trip on any Amtrak train that we'll take for some time, Anneliese disappointed by this ;)
    We picked up a couple of Wetzler's dogs, not half as good as Aunty Annie's Pretzals but guess can't have everything

    Took the redline back to Hollywood/Vine and then got to the hotel around 9pm, got a bigger and more accessible room this time, shame we're only here for the one night!
    Was going to stay in and then thought, last night in Los Angeles (as far as we know) might as well go out and enjoy :) Ended up at Hard Rock Cafe again, thankfully on this visit the food was much quicker than on the previous visit, had the chicken tenders with smashed potato, sadly ya need gravy for them to be really good (or at least i need gravy) Anneliese suprised me by asking for food but was more than happy to get it for her, here Hard Rock Cafe were really good as when she didn't like the mac and cheese she originally asked for they replaced it with the kids cheeseburger at no extra cost :)
    Back to the hotel just before midnight, tomorrow we may or may not fly home, oddly enough i actually want to go home although i know i'll miss the US once we're back in the UK!

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    Thursday July 21st

    Woke a little later than planned but was able to negotiate an hour later checkout with the front desk (12 instead of 11) Got on to the phone to the insurance people to see whats happening with the fitness to fly certificate for Anneliese, turns out that the Medical Center in Winslow is refusing to hand over Anneliese's medical records to the insurance company or provide a fit to fly certificate. Why they wouldn't i have no idea, didn't help either that there was nothing about clearance to travel in the discharge notes, which i had to scan and email to the insurance company, unfortunately the hotel refused to fax documents outside the US. Luckily they were able to arrange for Anneliese to visit the nearest walk in clinic for her to see a doctor there and for them to be able to supply a fit to fly certificate. Then had to ring Virgin Atlantic and explain the situation. They said unless they hear different they'll expect us at LAX around 6, but they have the final say on whether she can fly or not..

    Visit to the clinic went well, enjoyed reading a book on America's 200 Greatest Icons, was glad to see that Fred Astaire was included and amused to see Cary Grant (he was born in Bristol, UK afterall ;)) Anneliese still has an infection and they had to give her a couple of shots, which she didnt like at all, but she was very brave and we are now in possession of a fitness to fly certificate!!

    I was hoping to still be able to go and see 1605 Gilcrest Drive but was unfortunate to get a cab driver who didn't have a clue where that was and as i didn't either (hence why i got a cab) and we only had a couple of hours before needing to go back to the hotel, i decided it wasnt going to happen and asked for the Farmer's Market instead so we could pay a rather important visit to the American Girl Store!
    Anneliese is now the proud owner of a bitty baby doll plus accessories and has the matching pyjamas :) Luckily for me she wanted the baby doll and wasn't really bothered by the bitty twins or the 'proper' American dolls ;)

    We then got the bus back to Hollywood Bvld and were able to go to the Disney Soda Fountain Store one last time where Anneliese was happy because i bought her the Mickey Mouse club House, 'Minnie's Masquarade' dvd which she's been asking for since we first saw it in NYC, oddly enough its cheaper here than we've seen it anywhere else! I also picked up some more trading pins in the sale at $3 each, cheaper than they were when we were last in the store!

    We got back to the hotel ok and retrieved the bags fine, decided it would be easier to get a taxi to the airport rather than struggling with the metro and then having to take the Flyaway, with the tip it was $75 which considering the traffic was pretty good, unfortunately i spent most of the ride feeling very sick :( but Anneliese was fine playing with her baby doll which was good :)

    Got to the airport and after checking Anneliese's forms and checking her out they decided that it would be better if we didn't fly today and rebooked us on tomorrow's flight :/
    Was really hoping to fly today but its up to the airline, luckily my travel insurance will cover the cost of a hotel

    Virgin were able to get us a cheap rate at La Quinta ($133 inc tax instead of $299) nice room but no fridge or any offer of breakfast :/ Despite the disappointment of not being allowed to fly today I'm really tired and a good nights sleep is very attractive!

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    Friday July 22nd

    Woke up just after 9am feeling much more relaxed than i had the previous evening, although undid all the work that a good nights sleep had done by repacking both cases and throwing out everything that we didn't need to take home, i had absolutely no wish to be overweight at the airport ;) Specially not after being not overweight on Amtrak mere days before!

    Was slightly late checking out of the hotel, packing is more tiring than it should be ;) luckily reception was ok about that. Was supposed to fax Anneliese's MEDIF form to Virgin Atlantic but the hotel's fax machine was down and they don't have a scanner :/ hopefully will be ok just to hand it over at the airport :)

    As was nearly 1pm decided would be easier just to head straight for the aiport and checkin, luckily the shuttle didn't take to long arriving, except when we got to the airport it turned out that the driver hadn't been listening when i told him we were flying Virgin Atlantic as he stopped at the Virgin America Terminal instead (T3 instead of T2) which the other lady on the bus was travelling from, so we had to walk back :/ Thankfully we found a trolley on the way, 2 suitcases and a stroller are a bit awkward to drag/push at the same time..

    Went to the ticketing desk to hand over the MEDIF forms, no problems today thankgoodness! they were also able to check us in from there which was helpful, they combined the weight of the bags thankfully so at 87lbs for two bags we were not overweight so no charges for that and no charges for having the flights changed as it was their decision not to let us fly yesterday
    All we had to do was pass the time till boarding, only 3 hours to wait ;)

    We spent the time having lunch and browsing the limited shops in duty free, was disappointed by the lack of snacks available to buy but suprised to see Mtn Dew available to buy as hadn't seen it at the airport before
    Bought Anneliese some m&m's luckily she had no problem with the cheaper tin over the more expensive fan :)

    Flight was ontime! Boarding went smoothly, was nice to find that we had been assigned the bulkhead seats, nice extra legroom there ;) clearly no infants on the flight today as the other bulkhead seats were occupied by adults.
    Not so smooth a takeoff unfortunately, nearest have ever come to being sick on a plane :( the cabin crew were really good though and got me some water as soon as they were good to move and also some ginger ale with ice which helped a lot :)
    Flight time approximately 9 hours and 43 minutes, meal service was good although there came the one downfall of flights being changed as originally had booked Anneliese a kids meal which of course on this flight she didn't get but she was fine with the choice of salmon with pasta, which was pretty good!

    Saturday July 23rd

    Fell asleep for the last few hours of the flight and was woken up by the cabin crew when they brought breakfast round :) choice of cheese and ham or egg and cheese plus lemon cake :) went for cheese and ham for both myself and Anneliese even though she was still asleep at that moment.
    Had been a pretty good flight, only one bout of turbulance :) Somehow miraciously for the first time in 5 years i did not get ear ache on the descent!!
    Not a very smooth landing however, very bumpy and took a long time not only to reach the terminal but to get off the plane when we landed, all exits through the upper class cabin, looks quite cramped in there :/ more seats there than in the PE cabin.. I hope its less cramped than it looks!!

    Unfortunately they were delivering strollers at baggage claim, although this is where Trunki is wonderful as Anneliese was able to ride on that rather than having to walk and luckily she didn't get sick like two other kids did (and that was after getting off the plane)

    Busy at passport control but thankfully didn't take to long :) Baggage came through suprisingly quickly which was good, got through the duty free store ok, although was disappointed that they didn't hve the big bags of cadbury's fruit and nut minatures as they had them on offer, were cheaper here than they were in duty free at LAX ;) before going through into the reality of vacation time really being over

    Unfortunately wires had obviously crossed as my mother told me my dad would meet us at Heathrow which it then turned out he wasn't.. But we got across London with the bags ok and then got the train to Cambridge with problems :) Both my parents were thankfully waiting at Cambridge station for us!!

    Glad to be home, really tired but have had a fantastic vacation, even if the last week has been more stressful than anticipated, nice week to recover then going away with a load of kids ;)

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    As I mentioned earlier, I think you get a medal for traveling solo with a child! I do hope she continues to improve healthwise.

    I grew up on Ginger and Fred movies (not to mention Shirley Temple-what a great little dancer) and took years of tap lessons because of them and the more modern show, "A Chorus Line."

    So many of us U.S. Fodorites are snobs about the chain restaurants in this country but it sounds like you got along fine with them and kept Anneliese happy. Are there Denny's in the U.K.? I used to like the Whimpy burgers in London back in the 60s but didn't see them 30 years later-did the McDonalds "take over"?

    I hope you send a copy of this report to Amtrak. Maybe they will make an attempt to improve the rail system here in the U.S.!

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    She's doing just fine :) Appetite not quite back to nornal and she doesn't have so much energy but apart from that there's no sign that she's been ill!

    I find it plenty easier to take kids where people won't worry if theyre making noise ;) plus am a big fan of breakfast in the US, places like Dennys seem to be the best for that! No Denny's in the UK sadly, i don't actually know anywhere where i can get a decent 'US' style breakfast, there are a few Wimpy's still around, but they are few and far between. Mcdonalds, Burger King and KFC are the biggest chains over here now

    The delays we suffered on the California Zephyr have been mild compared to some recently, i hear that in the next 20 years high speed travel may make it to California ;) But it wouldn't stop me travelling on Amtrak, i still found it much less stressful than air travel :)

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    And speaking of trains, have you ever seen the movie "The Silver Streak"? Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Jill Clayburgh, Patrick McGoohan were great-as was the music.

    I have to agree about the stress levels!

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    Just about recovered from this trip now ;) missing the US and its food awfully :( never thought i'd miss corn syrup lol but Dr Pepper with Sugar in it doesn't taste quite right anymore :(
    Anneliese's coped far better than me with the return home!

    But have recovered enough to book the next trip away ;)

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    Can send it to me ;) I've wondered for a while why Coke and Dr Pepper taste different in the US to the UK, but it never occured to me to check the ingredients :rollseyes:

    Going to Prague at the end of August, just me this time, my parents are taking Anneliese to the seaside :)

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    fredandginermad:

    I just caught up with your report having been away on holiday myself.

    You seemed to handle the excessive heat in the Midwest very well indeed.

    Very sorry to hear that little Anneliese was ill.

    Glad you made it home safely to Cambridge. I grew up in a small village about 70 miles from Cambridge.

    Thanks for sharing your adventures.

    Sandy

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