Page One of our daily Tour Journal   

The Assembly Area - It's "H hour" minus 1.
We're disorganised and still in total chaos.

6th May 2004
Departure day has dawned and it's a wonderful sunny autumn morning. It's high tide on the river and the sun is sparkling on the ocean. It seems crazy leaving this place to subject both our bodies and bank account to so much wear and tear.

Our second bedroom has served as an assembly area for the last week as we worked our way through a huge written list of things to pack and things to take care of prior to departure. It's a customised cut down version of a massive list we have long utilised as an aid to holiday planning. Brian in particular doesn't like surprises coming out of left field to create extra stress when we are on the road. If you'd like a copy of the list to customise for your own purposes, feel free to ask.

At 7.45 am friends Greg and Carmel arrive to transport us up to Coffs Harbour Airport. We breakfast on the deck of the Shearwater Restaurant overhanging Coffs Creek and feed scraps of bread to the huge number of large mullet and bream swimming below. It's an idyllic morning and a prime location. We ask ourselves yet again, why are we leaving this small piece of paradise?

Our flight to Sydney and transfer to our United Airlines flight was uneventful. It was the first time we had ever used the underground railway between the various terminals and it proved to be a convenient and easy method.

What can we say about our flight to Los Angeles? It was an overnight nightmare as usual. The flight was almost full and we had badly situated centre aisle seats. The cabin Staff were pretty good on this flight however and a very strong tail wind reduced the flight time to a mere(?) 12 hours. Once again we envied those passengers who are capable of sleeping through the entire flight.... unlike the wide awake Tonkins who count off every excruciating minute of entrapment.

We arrived in Los Angeles before leaving Australia.... always a spooky experience. LAX Airport has never been a fun place to visit and it sure hasn't improved since 9 -11. It's a major exercise moving through any airport in the USA nowadays. Our old friend Victor Liu collected us from the Airport and transported us to his home in Walnut.

The Liu home in Walnut California 

Notwithstanding the fact that Victor and Yiuly Liu's home is well within the Los Angeles sprawl, they have a rather serene location and the benefit of an acre of land. All of the many rooms in the home are massive by any standard and our bedroom had a serene view over a nice swimming pool, gazebo, garden and waterfall. It was a lovely place to recharge our batteries and to catch up with Victor, Yiuly and their lovely children Kevin, Catherine and Christine.

Brian and Lynn in the Liu's rear garden

After lunch Victor took Brian to the Los Angeles office and warehouse of Speedy Wheels Inc. It's a strange feeling seeing the company logo in this "foreign" land and Brian was very touched to be received with such respect and deference by the Los Angeles Staff. He'd never previously thought of himself as a kind of patriarch and he can't help thinking about what his late father would have thought of the company's development. Keith Tonkin founded Speedy Wheels in 1957 but sadly died in 1968. Brian and Lynn's son Luke not only followed his father into the wheel business but he is also the in-house webmaster for Speedy Wheels' US and Australian websites. Click here for a peek.

Hard Rock Cafe?? No, it's Victor's bar!

Yiuly Liu served a delightful dinner of at at least eight dishes. Oh, if only we could get Chinese food of this quality in Nambucca Heads! This was followed by a brief piano recital by teenager Kevin and 12 year old Catherine. By this time we were feeling really comfortable and mellow. 

The Liu family were all on tenderhooks to view the final episode of the TV series "Friends". However, having been sleepless for 36 hours or more, your correspondent happily skipped this apparently  landmark event and hit the hay at 8.30 pm.

7th May 2004
Today Victor took us to Hollywood to the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre and then to The Kodak Theatre, venue of this year's Oscar Awards.

Hanging out on Hollywood Boulevarde

After a brief sojourn in Hollywood we jumped back in the car to escape the heat and headed up into the hills to visit the J. Paul Getty Museum for a picnic lunch before embarking upon an inspection of this incredible museum.

A picnic in the forecourt of J Paul Getty Museum.
A cooler bin full of goodies thanks to Yiuly Liu.

The new Getty Museum is a beautiful modern design and incredibly lavish in every respect. You can see that not a penny has been spared. 

There was a special exhibition of very old hand illuminated documents in taking place during our visit and this is an artform which has always fascinated Brian. Although we couldn't spend the necessary time to see the whole museum in an afternoon, a couple of visual impressions appear below. Fortunately the museum allowed photography provided no flash was used.

It's an impossible task to optimise the photos for web viewing using a laptop screen but hopefully they will look reasonably satisfactory on your monitor. 




Los Angeles and Pacific Ocean from Museum




Nambucca Graphics -  All rights reserved