Sunday, July 14, 2013

reLAX Lounge

Now THIS is the way to fly - or at least the way to cool your heels whilst waiting 8 hours for your next flight anywhere out of Los Angeles Airport.

The reLAX lounge - situated in the Tom Bradley International Terminal is an oasis in the centre of this busy airport.
This quiet 'pay to stay' lounge is a wonderful option for the ordinary traveller and well worth the fee of $15 per hour (less if you stay longer - capped at $50 for the entire day)  There are large recliners that you can grab some needed sleep - or comfortable chairs that are large enough to curl up in.
Internet access, Food and Drinks are included in the charge. (so when you factor in the cost of food for your lay-over it makes the option even more enticing).

With the reception desk attended at all times, this makes a weary traveller feel safe enough to close your eyes or leave your bag for a few minutes while you grab another cuppa - and yes they have tea....and Danish... and really nice small rolls.

Would I come back - Definitely ... next time I'm transiting through LAX

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Conference - Traverse City Michigan

The reason we went to the US was to attend a Chemistry Conference at the very lovely Grand Traverse Resort just out of Traverse City Michigan.
I had never been to anything like it and it was interesting to sit on the sidelines and observe.

What is the collective term for a group of people in this field?... 
no one seems to know,
so we decided that 
"An Explosion of Chemists" - seemed just about right.

I must admit being a little concerned, and bemused at the same time to observe this exchange.

I do wonder what exactly they were so intrigued about!

I left them and DD to their conference and spent a bit of my time wondering whether I could 
"Quilt the Carpet".  
There were certainly elements that are do able. 

The rest of the week was - just resting and walking the extensive grounds - I could have even taken up Golf if I had wanted to!  With THREE Courses at my fingertips it was tempting.  
But WHO needs another hobby?

All in all it was DD's time and a very successful one for her - 
She returns back home having met and talked with some of the top people in her field and with lots more ideas and techniques to explore. 
She also collected the
Prize for the Best Scientific Poster! 

(Makes it kinda worth dragging it half way across the world and back.)

(Footnote: DD is standing in front of the Conference Poster - 
Her's is in the Cylinder she is holding.)

Sleeping Bear Dunes - Michigan

With the title of "The most beautiful place in America" Sleeping Bear Dunes and National Park was our choice for the Conference Excursion.

So we eagerly climbed aboard the coach, delighted to be out and about and able to, at  last see something more of Michigan, other than the inside of a (very lovely and comfortable) Resort.

The sight of this Dune was breathtaking - Oh WOW - that IS big. Photos just can't give you the scale of this sand cliff that goes all the way to the fresh waters of Lake Michigan.
I researched the area before leaving home and was familiar with the Legend of the Mother Bear with her 2 Cubs that fled bush-fires by swimming across the Great Lake, only to get to the other side and see her Cubs had drowned in the water behind her.  So devastated was she, that she laid down and cried great tears before dying herself.  Thus forming the Great Dune and two smaller Islands within the lake.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Catfish Cabin - Albertville AL - USA

That's right folks - Alabama USA!

I have taken to the Air and landed in North Alabama where DD & I have been treated to some "Southern Hospitality", and a special treat was to be taken to Catfish Cabin.

I could easily become a fan of the delicate flavour of this fish, and the accompanying Hush Puppies (Cornbread balls) which are so moorish that our hosts ordered a second helping.

With a side of 'hand-cut' coleslaw and French Fries it was a perfect meal to round off a very long and adventure filled day.
Hush Puppys & Coleslaw

Thursday, July 4, 2013

What a Day in Alabama USA -

I am sitting in the quiet on the back porch of my Hosts home, watching the gentle rain just drop out of the sky, only broken by the leaves on the trees of the Oak 'Forrest' that is in front of me.  It is very peaceful, but I am afraid it has put a dampener on a lot of folks 4th July plans.
BUT - yesterday was a different story.  It was a cool day for the middle of Summer and we set off to go down a few 'rabbit holes' - Just like Alice, we found so many wonderful things that left us in awe, and gave our cameras a good work out.

First stop was Noccalula Falls, where it is said an Indian Princess threw herself over the edge rather than being forced to marry someone she didn't love. It was a pretty place to stop and stretch our legs before driving the Little River Canyon Ridge Road, where we stopped at all the lookouts for more photos.

One of the things I like to do when out and about is collect interesting signs.  So I snapped this one.  Expecting it only to warn us of a traffic Island, we were stunned to round the bend to be confronted by these massive rocks that would have been very comfortable guarding the entrance to Middle Earth or perhaps they were Trolls caught out in the rising sun?

Either way they would make a fantastic movie set!
I couldn't quite work out where thay had fallen from, so decided that as they were indeed  ancient, and quite possibly had just had the surrounding soil errode away over the passage of time.

I wonder what interesting things I will see today - if the rain lets up?

And to all my American readers - Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cathedral Cavern - Alabama USA

I don't like being underground, but I will put that fear to one side when I have the opportunity to see inside a Cave.
Not your 'garden variety hole in the cliff' type cave - I mean the one's with the most spectacular formations made over millennia by the constant trickle of water through Limestone.

North Alabama USA is said to have the one of the highest densities of these caves in the world. Whilst we were visiting, we were fortunate to be taken to Cathedral Cavern.

Entrance from Inside the Cavern

To say it was HUGE is putting it mildly - not the largest cave in the area - but the largest we have been in. With 1.3 miles (round trip) of paved walkway to a point in the cavern where they just could not go any more - and still there were formations and tunnels ahead.

It is very difficult to get a decent photograph in these conditions and keep up with the tour group but I managed these few to share.

This formation was used in the filming of the 1995 Disney movie "Tom & Huck".

The Cavern is also home to what is said to be the largest Column in the world "Goliath" measuring 14m tall x 74m in circumference.
(that's big and very, VERY old).

We got here!

Hi everyone and greetings from Huntsville Alabama!

What can I say?  The trip was VERY long and we were VERY tired by the time we got here.
Arriving in Nashville airport was a treat - It has got to be the most beautiful and comfortable airport we had passed through to date. (Although Auckland was pretty spiffy too!)

Huntsville is a very pretty town with the most beautiful streetscaping.  The sight of sweeping lawns and Crepe Myrtle in full bloom down every street and in every carpark is just breathtaking.

Our Hosts have spoilt us with sights of Chipmunks and Squirrels and Fireflies... and that was without leaving their house!

I have missed my promised Photo a day, as I have had issues with my small tablet not wanting to talk to my Camera, so unfortunately I will have to post without photos for the moment.
(I'll come back and put them in later when the issues have been sorted.... PROMISE!)

.... and I do have some wonderful photos to share.

* * * * * *

Promise kept. . .
 It has taken me a while but here is the promised photo - Red Crepe Myrtles in the streets.