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
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
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
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
Hanging out on
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
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
Los Angeles and
Pacific Ocean from Museum