Through the Rockies, onto Pittsburgh & Cleveland … plus some roadbumps … USACANADA Adventure 2018 … blogpost 5

Hi

When I last blogged we were at gorgeous Lake Louise. Our journeys since have taken us further into the Canadian Rockies.

En route to Jasper, Alberta, we enjoyed a whole day tour along the Icefield Parkway, amid stunning scenery, my highlight being the Ice Explorer tour of Athabasca Glacier … part of the Columba Icefield. Amazing.

Having overnighted it in Jasper, we set off the next morning (overnight in semi-arid Kamloops) on a much- anticipated two-day Rocky Mountaineer journey through to Vancouver. Easily the most expensive touristy thing we’ve ever parted cash for … but no regrets. We were treated big time … with wonderful scenery seen through large glass windows along with wonderful hospitality, meals and commentary by our carriage staff. Here’s a few pics chosen from many …

We overnighted in a nice harbour front hotel in Vancouver, tried to find a reasonably-priced restaurant in Gas-town, but apart from enjoying the clock there, ended up at A&W for dinner. They do nice burgers!

Tuesday morning, we were able to take our time waking. Nice after the early starts of the two previous mornings. Then it was off to Vancouver airport, via Salt Lake City to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – home of Diana and Tom, Dale’s sister and brother law and other family members Maria, Mark and Max. Great hospitality was their gift for the next three nights.

Highlights included

  • Seeing Mark and Maria again. Maria is Dale’s niece … I was privileged to preside at their wedding in the woods of Pennsylvania back in 2013.
  • Checking out the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburg
  • Delighting in the wonderful Conservatory greenhouse
  • Noting a memorial to Stephen Foster – who lived the sad final years of his life in Pittsburgh
  • Having dinner at an upmarket hamburger restaurant called Burgatory. For Aussies, think Grill’d up several notches.
  • Hearing some of my nephew Max’s music and seeing some current artwork of his. He is so gifted
  • Indulging close to the stage of an Elton John concert – part of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. He and ban were superb in their no-interval 160 minute set!

That’s some of the highpoints. Two low points

  • Our breakfast experience at a pancake restaurant ( a national chain) which will go unnamed, except to say it rhymes with “bus stop”. It took several of us 70 minutes to get the entirety of our meal. Service and management systems were non-existent (not my past experience to be fair). Really sad. Lots of complaining to management by me. They did not charge. Sigh.
  • That was nothing compared to our experience six hours later when Glenn and I went to the downtown office of the rental car company with whom we had booked and prepaid for the use of a vehicle for the final fortnight of our eastern USA road trip. Can’t say too much as a claim is currently “live” for refund compensation. Just know that the rep there (the rental company rhymes with “fudge it”), after all sorts of accusations being levelled at me by the rep, including disputing whether as Australians we could even rent a vehicle in the U.S. or have insurance (I could say more but better not (:- … the rep proceeded to cancel the prepaid booking on us … but only after putting a formalised rental agreement in place. We were shocked, staggered, angry, bewildered and much more. We were due to leave for Cleveland Ohio at 7 the next morning. Thus followed (no exaggeration … a two hour dinner break aside) four hours of repeated (say … 10) calls to this company, each time regurgitating the story, inevitably being put through to another person over the phone … the line invariably going dead.

Well … I’m mildly confident I’ll get the refund … eventually. The only sour note on what has been the holiday break of a lifetime.

Well .., we ended up getting a good deal on a larger vehicle with Thrifty and were able to head off to Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this morning. The RRHOF is a great place to visit. A real must. A nice dinner (along with Tom and Diana) Bonnie and Jim made for a nice conclusion to a satisfying day.

Tomorrow we head east to that part of Ohio where Dale grew up. Looking forward to that.

Blessings

David

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