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Old Jul 16th, 2011, 12:02 PM
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Old Jul 17th, 2011, 02:58 PM
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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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Old Jul 18th, 2011, 03:11 PM
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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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Old Jul 18th, 2011, 03:27 PM
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A troubling development! Hope your little traveler is feeling better today.
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Old Jul 18th, 2011, 03:31 PM
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The antibiotics are kicking in and they got her temp down so were ok to discharge her but its been a long night/day
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Old Jul 19th, 2011, 12:49 AM
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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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Old Jul 19th, 2011, 01:38 AM
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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 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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Old Jul 19th, 2011, 08:05 PM
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Hey,

Am glad to know that Fred and Ginger have inspired ya! Like your idea for the end of the year!
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Old Jul 20th, 2011, 08:00 AM
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Sorry A. not well. Hope all gets back to normal.
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Old Jul 20th, 2011, 08:41 AM
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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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Old Jul 20th, 2011, 09:56 AM
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She's much better than she was Appetite is finally returning! Just got to wait now for the medical certificate stating she's fit to fly
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Old Jul 21st, 2011, 10:40 PM
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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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Old Jul 22nd, 2011, 02:26 PM
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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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Old Jul 23rd, 2011, 08:46 AM
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My goodness, Anneliese and you are both troupers!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2011, 11:56 AM
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I am just catching up with this amazing (!) trip report. I admire your spirit enormously and hope you end up back at home with no further trials and tribulations.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2011, 09:00 PM
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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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Old Jul 24th, 2011, 07:04 AM
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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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Old Jul 24th, 2011, 10:31 AM
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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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Old Jul 24th, 2011, 12:14 PM
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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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Old Jul 24th, 2011, 12:48 PM
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I haven't but will see if can find it, most movies i've seen with trains (US train travel only) have shown limited screen time where the train is concerned
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