The Vallance brothers and the Morrison brothers

Last weekend the boys had the chance to spend some time with John and James Morrison, and to perform with them at Jazz on the Green at Palm Cove. John and the Tablelands Regional Youth (TRY) band leader Jane run an instrumental music program on Cape York Peninsula. The kids from the Cape came down to Tablelands, and the TRY band kids did a workshop with them, The Morrison brothers, people from the Queensland Music Festival and students from the Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts. There was a concert that night, and James Morrison then asked the TRY band to play the next day with him and his band. Big honour!! (If you’re looking for the boys, during the performance they’re both on the stage, either side of John Morrison on drums!).

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Long time between drinks…

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. A very loooong time. I’m going to go back through the photos I have missed (a whole year’s worth) and dig out a few to post but, in the meantime, here are some photos of the boys at Cairns Zoom. Pat and Graham gave the kids a voucher for Christmas so we met them in Cairns to watch the boys on the ropes course. They zip lined all over the place, including over the top of Goliath, a giant estuarine crocodile. They climbed around the outside of the building (and mustn’t have been able to see us inside because Finn was happily picking his nose!). And then they did the big drop from the high tower and climbed all the way back up.
Pat and Graham then took the kids to Innisfail for the night and Terry and I stayed at the casino (thanks to another voucher from Pat and Graham!).

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Last but not least

Our last stop on the way home was the big island of Hawaii. We landed in Honolulu and jumped on the short flight to Hawaii. Terry organised a convertible mustang as our hire car, as a surprise for the mustang-loving Finn (first we had a red one but, after issues, it was replaced with a grey version). After some luggage juggling we made the short trip to our lovely accommodation on the waterfront. The next day we explored the coastline north of Kona, stopping at Lapakahi State Historical Park, which was really interesting. The following morning saw us up early and heading south and around the bottom of the island to the eastern coast and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It was lovely and the eastern side of the island is a lot greener and wetter than the western side. We travelled back through the middle of the island to get back to Kona, driving part way up Mauna Kea. Our plan for the last day was to relax. We thought we’d do a little shopping, wash some clothes, charge up our devices for the flights home, pack our bags etc etc. We slept in…and then realised that we’d already had our ‘last day’ and that our flight left that morning. Less than 1.5 hours later, we were boarding. Somewhat dishevelled but we’d made it. Looking back it is hilarious, but definitely not how we’d planned to end our amazing holiday!

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Los Angeles

Day 1

This morning we returned the RV and picked up a hire car. It was too early to book into our accommodation in West Hollywood so we went for lunch at a nearby bar/restaurant. The meals were huge and delicious, and the boys were given a complimentary 3 foot of fairy floss!! When we were booked in we were “upgraded” to a pool room. It’s kinda cool. We open the doors and take 3 steps and we’re in the pool. Well, the boys are. Terry and I are sitting just to the side of the pool, with a bottle of Californian sav. blanc. This afternoon we walked a few miles to see the stars at the Walk of Fame. We stopped in at Madame Tussaud’s (the photos will make you laugh) and then spent an hour or so in the nearby lolly shop (Sweets, formerly Lollywood). The boys made custom chocolate bars and played on the piano steps. We caught a cab back to the motel and the boys had room service (Terry and I were still full from lunch). They’re now fast asleep, charging their bodies for a big day at Universal Studios tomorrow.

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Day 2
What can I say? Universal Studios. Fun. Much. I hardly took any photos because I was having such a fat time! In the end I had to get some of Riley’s photos to post.

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Day 3

Today we had a sleep in and then piled into the minivan for a trip south to Santa Monica and Malibu. After morning tea on Malibu Beach we met Jomo (another one of Joan’s sons) and Indio (his son who we met when Joan visited last year) for lunch. From there we headed back to Hollywood in search of the prime location to photograph the Hollywood sign and then we went on a pilgrimage, via Beverley Hills, to the Diddy Reise cookies for more food that I didn’t need but felt that I had to eat. The evening was spent battling traffic back to our motel and packing for our flight to Hawaii tomorrow. We’re homeward bound.

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The last of the roadtrip

Day 14 (Virgin to Vegas – hehe!)

This morning we headed to Zion National Park and parked the RV. At this time of the year the park is only accessible by shuttle bus…which we soon discovered sucks. You can’t see anything as you’re driving, and the buses were really crowded. We stayed onboard until the end of the gorge and then travelled back, hopping off for a walk here and there. It wasn’t that spectacular, really, but some of the longer hikes would’ve been breathtaking. I think we’ve been gorged, canyoned and springed out. Interestingly we ran into some Aussies (which are reasonably rare over here) and, TERRY KNEW THE GIRL!! What a laugh. Terry said, ‘Hey’. And the girl said, ‘Terry!’. Too funny! From Zion we headed toward Vegas, stopping at a nature refuge for lunch and a quick look at Hoover Dam on the way. We’re now “camped” ON the Vegas strip, about to head out for a late father’s day dinner at Bubba Gump’s and then a 2.6 mile walk along the Vegas strip, stopping here and there to look at fountains, gold nuggets, massive aquariums and other Vegas-type stuff.

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Day 15
We had a nice dinner last night but the service was very slow so it was quite late by the time we started heading back to the RV. We could see the Belagio’s fountains from our table at dinner, but we stopped for a closer look on our way home. Unfortunately we missed the Mirage’s fountain show by a few minutes. The lights were amazing but we were exhausted by the time we got home and enjoyed a big sleep in this morning. Once on the road, we went hunting for the Silverton Casino as it was the one with the giant fish tank and we had failed to find it the night before. Ha! No wonder, it wasn’t anywhere near the strip! It was, however, connected to a massive Bass Pro store and, hours later, the Vallance family exited with several bags of goodies. Sorry Cabela’s, but Bass Pro kicks your butt!! We’re now on the road between Vegas and LA…booooring (except for the majorly cool Ivanpah Solar Power Facility)! Our camp tonight is at Long Beach and we swap the camper for a hire car in the morning.

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The Grand Canyon!…and polygamous Mormans.

 Day 13

Today we spent the morning and a good part of the afternoon exploring the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. Of the 5 million visitors that go to the Grand Canyon every year, only 10% go to the northern rim and it was surprisingly quiet (comparatively speaking). The canyon itself was…well, grand, but I’m starting to think we’re all canyon and gorged out. Needless to say, we’re camped tonight not far from Zion National Park (in a town called Virgin which is kinda ironic given we are in Utah…where pockets of polygamous Mormans still rule the world…apparently). We have to go on a shuttle bus to see the main part of the park tomorrow, private vehicles are not permitted. We drove through part of the park to get to our campsite and it included a $15 fee because our motor home was too big to fit through the access tunnel so they had to shut down the traffic from the other direction so we could drive in the middle of the lanes. Money well spent I say. Tomorrow we’ll have a look at Zion and then head to Vegas, via Hoover Dam. We’ve booked ourselves into an RV park right on the Vegas strip. We’re pretty sure it’s just a bitumen carpark but when in Rome…

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Last photos from the cruise

Cozumel

We had no hard and fast plans for our day in Cozumel, other than to sample the sights and smells of this very touristy coastal Mexican town. We headed past shop after shop of people trying to coax us inside with “free gifts”, and into the backstreets of the town. We looked through a food market with meat from a variety of animals hanging in the stalls. We managed to order ourselves some icecreams and home-made lemonade, despite the language barrier, and then eventually wound our back to the tourist strip. The boys got a henna tattoo each and, because they were so tough, had to get photos swigging beer, tattoos on show. We found a little traditional Mexican restaurant and had the yummiest platter of Mexican food before heading back to our cool room on the ship.

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 Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas

This stop was purely for dumb-arse tourists to work on their skin cancers and the last chance for the cruise line to fleece as much money from us as possible. The island is owned by the cruise company so there’s not much on it. Not to say it wasn’t beautiful. We left the crowds of roasters on the beach and hiked to the other end of the island to the lighthouse. We saw black iguanas and these cute little green and yellow dragons. It was a really hot day so, after the lighthouse, we headed back to the beach and found some space in the total crystal clear water. Despite the people, it was gorgeous. Then the boys spent an hour or two sliding down the massive blow up water slide before we headed back to the ship for an afternoon cocktail and swim.

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Onboard photos

These are just a selection of photos taken while on the ship.

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