Our day started early… its going to be a long day! The alarm went off 5.30am. Just for a moment, we all stood together in the early twilight to celebrate and soak up the journey we have just completed through USA and Canada. It is quite surreal. It feels like we have been on the Amazing Race, averaging 2-3 nights in each location it is incredible how much we have seen and done. We think about the best bits. The list is long as we have just done so much from building snowmen in BC, picking up dinosaur bones in Drumheller, walking through deserts, swimming with dolphins and turtles in Hawaii, catching salmon with our hands in Squamish, watching black bears with tears in our eyes, climbing a crater, mountain biking, watching killer whales doing backflips in San Diego, snow falling on our faces, a wolf walking through the woods, ice carving 600 year old glacial ice, helicopter ride with the doors off looking at lava, horse riding in the Rocky Mountains, staring at the Grand Canyon, walking through redwoods in Oregon, climbing The Chief, watching ice calving off Hubbard Glacier in Alaska, wild grizzly bears eating berries in Denali, cruising The Strip in Vegas, jumping out of massive trees on a zipline, riding gondolas in Whistler, walking through a water filled canyon in Zion, ocean kayaking to the Captain Cook Memorial and looking for yellow banana slugs in Fern Canyon. We have created our own unique fun filled Lonely Planet. It contains also a healthy mix of blood, sweat and tears, as any adventure traveller will appreciate. The more multilayered the task the greater the personal reward.
Johnny, from Hong Kong who has called Big Island home for over 20 years, dutifully collected us for our last taxi run to the Hilo Airport. His accent is still so thick he is difficult to understand and talks a million miles an hour about life, how big the mountain is and tells us about his last passenger who is here to import fish cakes. Taxi drivers are like a box of chocolates.
The first leg of our day was from Big Island back to Oahu Honolulu. We had a three hour breaky layover then boarded for Sydney. Now just as we sat in our seats on the Sydney bound flight in our row of four centre plane the strangest thing happened. Listening to everyone finding their seats, passing overhead luggage and organising themselves was weird. It was the first and only moment I can recall hearing how thick our accents are. It was like when we first arrived to America and we notice how unfamiliar the words and sounds are. Well we just had it in reverse and notice the Aussie accent. Geoff, Bailey and I just lost it laughing realised how strange Aussies must sound. We are truly like the Castle movie.
Any flight for the kids is about the inflight movies. They have the square eye and melting brain stamina to last any long haul watching none stop movies. So soon as we were in the air off they went doing their best to smash every movie on offer. Food and water comes second.
We landed in Sydney and made it through customs at warp speed to be met by Grant. Yippee back to Ben and Tanyas for the final little leg of our world tour. It is so lovely to be with our special friends again, and a comfy clean bed we didnt have to find or pay for! It is so welcome and we are well and truly ready. We worked out its been two years since we were all together last at our 20 year Gnaraloo reunion in WA. Bailey and Gracie got straight into playing with Mia and Ned, those four kids were happy as larry.
We have been away from Australia for 99 days, taken 7000 photos, stayed in 40 hotels, 10 plane trips, 2 trains, 3 buses, 3 hires cars, brought 1 car, 1 helicopter charter, 1 luxury cruise and 2 ferry trips. We travelled about 9000kms by car and thousands more via air and sea. Plus many public buses, taxis, trains and skyrail rides. We have been a family of four with our four backpacks who visited the new destinations of Western USA, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii.