Just to make it easy for everybody to keep track of my travels I have inserted a link to one of Amtraks national rail maps, http://tickets.amtrak.com/secure/content/routeatlas/index.html
After landing at LA international it was almost flat chat to Union Station for a 2 night, 3 day trip to Chicago by train. Most of the time in the layover was spent trying to get a compatible Sim Card for my Aussie phone but no luck, had to buy a cheap recycled cell phone from AT&T which only lasted a few days. Lost. Chicago cold & windy.
Afternoon aboard again travelling overnight to New Orleans. Spent night in nice hotel after calling JP who was busy chasing bees till the early hours of the morning. Realising I would catch up with JP at Buds decided to catch Greyhound to Meridian arriving there late at night. Picked up rentacar next morning to travel to Macon, Swarm County and Capital, Mississippi and treat Bud to a good April fools experience from the the lost driver in the Little Shitcan of a car.
The next pleasure was a couple of days later coercing with Bud to surprise Beemaster at Meridian airport. Bud could hardly contain himself plotting the surprise for John. These were the first of the great days at Bud3 meeting so many pleasant and knowledgeable people and being accepted into the group as if one had been amongst them all for years. Although not all that physically involved in all the activities it was just wonderful to listen and watch so many people work their skills with the bees from which I have learnt that I am too impatient working with my bees and next work with them will be much, much slower and careful. The skills of Scott and Bud on the end of the .22 and .357 to cut off a swarm in a pine tree is a life time memory. To detail all the wonderful times at Buds would require a book and a lot of time but the opportunity to meet so many of Buds neighbours and acquaitances and friends was something to be endeared forever.
A trip back to Florida with Dallas to meet up with his family again was a treat for a few days even if I did finish up with a handful of blackberry prickles. Dallas generously drove me all the way to Jacksonville to catch the train again on the way to Raleigh, NC. First day spent driving to Lilesville to meet Little John and Brendett, a day which went much too quick and intended to visit Iddee (Wally) the next morning. However the forecasted Tornados were getting pretty close so decided to jump on the train again and just as well as they hit Raleigh that day. We were able to watch that weather following all the way to New York but by the the time we rreached NY it was just torrential rain. Holed up in Toms River for the night and called Beemaster next morning. Another few great days with John and Tracey and a visit to New York found me getting a bit careful as to my travel arrangements which were very Ad Lib and I had a flight to catch in LA first week in May. Very regretfully I gave up the chance to visit Ken, Jen and Josh at Lake Shore, PA. One of those things with a bit more local knowledge I may have been able to manage time a bit better, hopefully next time.
Settled in for a 3 night, 4 day train trip from New York to Seattle. First day train schedules were all out of whack due to train delays in the flooded areas. Was looking forward to a half day look around Chicago but nearly had to run to catch the connecting train but in spite of the hitches this was a time of the most interesting travel. Really enjoyed the ride alongside the Hudson River up to around Albany, a very picturesque part of the country. The ride from Chicago brought floods in North Dakota and snow in Montana. The vistas from here through the mountains and onto Portland were wonderful especially agaain following the Columbia River into Portland.
A few more lovely days spent with Kathyp and Chris in Sandy, Oregon was another eye opener showing the contrasts of the different parts of the US which sort of tilted my choice of the far north east as a place to visit, I think the cold and damp would get to me on a full time basis.
Another overnight trip to San Francisco brought another treat in the comfort of a heated train, snow, snow and more snow. We were held up for 2 hours while snow ploughs cleared the track. Out of the train in Frisco to about 80 degrees, quite a change. Last leg ws a light day trip to LA, spent the night asleep in Union Station, quite safe with plenty of security and if they recognise that you are a bonafide traveller let you sleep in the big chairs and keep an eye out for you. Was able to get flight out next evening after enjoying a last supper in the Dome restaurant at the airport. !4 hour flight home was like about 12 of them in a washing machine as we hit all that weather which hit New Zealand with a moderate tornado. So no sleep for about 40 hours which made the bed at home most welcome although I had got to the overtired state and did not settle too good. Now a week later am starting to wake up and know where i am after a few weeks of waking up and having to stop and think " Where am I today".
So now is the opportunity to thank all those people who made this experience so good. First to Bud for his hospitality and social treat allowing me to meet the people of Macon, Mississippi ( not Georgia) and all the people who attended Bud3. They know who they are and I enjoyed the company of everyone .
To Dallas, Erin, Austin, David and Emma who allowed me to share their home and lives and to John and Tracey, Kathyp and Chris for also allowing me the same priviliges and all the little things which enhanced my visit and travelling.
My only plea to everyone is visit us in Australia to give me a chance to repay the generosity and hospitality that I recieved from all I met this time around. My endorsement is for travelling Amtrak and not Greyhound unless unavoidable. This was a most enjoyable experience.