Tonight I’m on a trans-Pacific flight from LA to Melbourne via Auckland. There are kids on this flight who have been on a trip to Disneyland courtesy of the Koru Care charity which is sponsored by Air New Zealand. To continue the Disneyland experience, the flight attendants have all dressed up in fancy dress to serve the kids and make their flight more fun.
Dinner and drinks were served by Minnie Mouse and Tinkerbell, while coffee was served by a CHiPS police officer.
I have to say that he did take it very well when I asked when the rest of the Village People were coming out.
I’m so impressed by the continual efforts of the staff to do everything to make the flight memorable and fun. It’s a great war to promote the charity, too.
They’ve also been wonderful to me after a very long and emotionally exhausting day. After a painful and tearful farewell followed by extended flight delays and an international connection time that was whittled down from 6.5 hours to 47 minutes, in which I managed baggage claim, terminal transfer with all my luggage, check in and baggage drop, security checks and getting to the right gate before they closed the flight. When I realised I had made my flight, I burst into tears of relief. The attendants were just lovely and so supportive, and did everything they could to reassure and comfort me.
I love flying with Air New Zealand and I love the way they treat their clients. They’ve won me.
Although I’ve done a lot of flying,
I’ve never had such trouble trying
Just to reach my destination
Due to airline procrastination.
We boarded the aircraft right on time
And taxied to the runway line,
But there we stopped for almost an hour:
The plane’s hydraulics had no power
And you can’t fly when that’s not working,
So after a lot of excuses and jerking
Around we had to leave that plane
And go through boarding once again…
The company found a new aircraft
For us, but the people in the last
Six rows got bumped to another flight
Leaving a little later that night.
Once we boarded, we sat and waited
And got even more frustrated:
There was a problem with this plane, too.
What a joke! What could we do?
We took off almost four hours late;
By that time things weren’t looking great –
Some had connections they wouldn’t make,
Others had kids who didn’t take
Too well to such extended delay.
Would we ever get to LA?
Down the back, a poor child screaming
Echoed what we all were feeling:
After all this helter-skelter,
Perhaps next time, I’ll fly Delta.
The Philipsburg Pier originated as a wooden jetty in the 1780s which enabled trade with the USA via Lake Champlain ports.
The most common good exported via the Philipsburg pier were racehorses, marble, carriages, logs and milled timber.
When the Champlain Canal opened in 1823, linking Lake Champlain to the Hudson River, trade with New York and the greater New England area of the US opened up. The jetty was upgraded and enlarged by 1836 so that supply, particularly of milled timber, could meet the demand.
Despite competition from rail transport later in the 1800s, Lake Champlain trade continued unabated. By 1872, Philipsburg had a population of 271 and a very lucrative trade turnover of $20000 per annum.
The pier was upgraded again in 1895, and was only downgraded due to lack of commercial demand in 1937.
Today, the pier is used for recreation, largely fishing and pleasure boating. It’s also a really lovely place to sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Today the leaves are positively dive-bombing off the trees.
The sun is shining again and the sky is azure blue, but yesterday’s snow has caused the autumn leaves to give up hope and cast themselves to the ground.
Roads, garden beds and grass are carpeted with those who have already fallen, while other more hopeful souls still cling desperately to their tree.
It’s easy now to understand why North Americans call this season Fall as well as Autumn.
Even on a still, sunny morning, leaves dive and drift, collecting in rather tragic piles beneath the increasingly bare trees that only a week ago were vibrant with colour.
In Australia, I never really had the perception of so many leaves falling and fluttering, or languishing in the breeze. Most of our trees stay green, and the occasional ornamental maple or elm shedding its leaves in a garden or the main street of a country town doesn’t really have the same impact, as beautiful as it may be.
This sad abandonment of Autumn splendour has a beauty all its own. I’m very privileged to be able to sit here in the sunshine and witness it.
Lake Champlain is North Anerica’s sixth-biggest lake. Within the lake, on the Vermont/New York side of the Canadian border, lie a number of islands that were first seen by European eyes in 1609 when Samuel de Champlain led an exploratory expedition through the area.
The islands are joined by bridges and a causeway which make touring the islands very easy. The scenery is gorgeous, and there are lots of interesting places to explore. Tourists can explore military history, gourmet food and wine, walking or cycling paths, and number of towns seeking to attract tourists with different places to stay and things to do.
On the Causeway to Grand Isle is an American flag and a monument to the victims of 9/11 and to the American veterans of foreign wars.
From this point, you can look west and see the shoreline of New York State and the Adirondack Mountains, and you can look east and see the Vermont shoreline and mountains in the distance. Further north, the lake crosses the Canadian border into Quebec.
It’s no surprise, then, that Isle La Motte, South Hero, Grand Isle, North Hero, Valcour and the remaining islands all served as important vantage points in battles between American and Canadian/British forces during the War of 1812.
If for no other reason, the Islands are well worth a visit just because it’s a really pretty drive along the lake shore.
On the Isle La Motte in Lake Champlain, Vermont is the site of the Fort of St Anne, the first European settlement in Vermont which dates back to 1666. While the French under the command of Captain Pierre La Motte built the fort for defence against the Mohawks, the Jesuits built the altar and sanctuary in honour of Saint Anne.
Today there is still a shrine to St Anne and an outdoor Stations of the Cross which is visited by many people for prayer and reflection every year.
While the fort and it’s defences are long gone, it’s easy to see why this place was chosen 350 years ago for both defensive and spiritual reasons, and why people continue to visit today.
It’s a place of worship and reflection, which is something visitors should keep in mind, both in dress and behaviour.
Ausable Chasm is located at Keeseville, New York.
It’s beautiful. That is all.
These images first appeared on my Maple Leaf Aussie blog in October, 2015.
Occasionally, I like to throw caution to the wind and do something dangerous. Intrepid and adventurous, that’s me. Completely aware of the perils ahead, I put my sassy pants on and set out for an adventure that has long been on the bucket list for this holiday.
The Vermont Teddy Bear Company makes hand-crafted, fully customisable teddy bears that are unbearably adorable.
The bears all carry the trademark labels and eyes which distinguish them from other bears. The eyes have “Born in Vermont” imprinted in the iris. Too cute. Being from Vermont, the Bears all have a chubby tummy that is known at the company as “the belly that Ben & Jerry’s built”.
There are hundreds of different outfits that can be purchased for the 15″ bears, reflecting seasons, occupations, sports and significant life events. Most of the bears have brown eyes, but can be customised with blue, green or hazel eyes. Paws and outfits can be customised with embroidery.
The factory tour is fun and entertaining for all ages. I was really pleased to see the tour being led by a delightful guy who has a disability but is obviously living joyfully despite it.
The bears are very reasonably priced in comparison to other top-quality, hand-crafted collectible bears, such as the Charlie Bears which I also collect.
All in all, I had a wonderful day here. I made the experience complete by adopting a 15″ Maple Bear with blue eyes. It’s fair to say that he had a pretty good day, too.
The abbey of St-Benoît-du-Lac is nestled among the rolling hills of southern Quebec near the town of Magog.
The abbey was founded in 1912 by Dom Joseph Pothier, a Benedictine abbott who came to Quebec from the Abbey of St Wandrille at Frontenelle in France.
The architect of the abbey was Father Paul Bellot, who oversaw the building of the Abbey between 1939-1941.
The impressive looking building is home to about 50 monks who live according to the rules of St Benedict. The decorative brickwork and mosaic tile floors of the foyer and hallways contrast with the peaceful serenity of the church and the smaller private chapel.
The church also boasts a magnificent pipe organ, situated between the congregation and the choir.
Just outside the church is a stone from the ancient abbey of St Wandrille, in France, which dates back to the 14th century. The stone has been carved into a maple leaf, symbolising the continuing heritage and bond between the two abbeys.
This is a beautiful place to visit. It was disappointing that some of the tourists who were visiting at the same time as me did not show respect for the quietness requested by the monks, nor for the reflection and prayer that was obviously being sought by other visitors.
South-east of Montreal in Quebec, there is a collection of small villages and towns known as the Eastern Townships. is at its most beautiful in the Autumn. Rolling hills are covered in colours that draw on every shade from green to deepest red in nature’s palette. Streams gurgle over rocks and along roadsides, pouring into larger rivers it into lakes nestled between the hills, surrounded by forests with houses dotted among the trees. Even grey clouds and occasional misty rain can’t dampen the ‘pretty party’ that the earth is throwing around here.
One such lake is Lac Memphremagog, which stretches for miles south of the town of Magog.
Another lake which deserves a mention is Lac Trousers.
Yes. Lac Trousers.
I saw this sign and thought, “What on earth??”
A quick consultation with Google Maps answered the question.
Given that the province of Quebec also boasts towns named Chapeau (hat), Drapeau (flag), Mayo, Asbestos and St Louis de Ha! Ha!, I guess it’s not so surprising.
The Eastern Townships are just gorgeous, especially in Autumn. It’s a parade of prettiness, everywhere you look.