Cinder & Thor in the USA – Getting there & settling down

We ended up packing our suitcases a few times to help shuffle the weight around. We had a few big boxes of gifts to give to people while we were in the USA, and then of course we needed to pack clothes, which was interesting because we needed to pack for potentially hot California and really cold Yosemite. So it was a lot of trial and error!

The longest Monday

I don’t know how I managed to sleep on the Sunday night before we left. I think being completely exhausted from work helped a lot! Once I was awake I was well and truly awake, so we had our showers then headed off to catch the bus to the airport.

I like to be at the airport early. I’m not a good flyer, so being there with plenty of spare time helps me to calm down. Having said that, Thor will never let me live it down because we got there so early we couldn’t hand in our bags and check in. Oops! (it was only 10 minutes too early!!) We had a few dramas – for some reason when we tried to put our bags in it said we had 2 too many (which we didn’t). It got fixed fine, but then when we went to put our bags on the conveyor belt thing, the whole thing shut down! Something happened when the man at the booth next to us put his bags in, but the timing of it was unnerving.

So we passed through security no worries and find somewhere to have breakfast. It was only at this point that I started to calm down a little and realise we were on our way to America! eeee!!

Eventually we headed towards our gate, only to find another round of security. Well, kinda. Blocking our path to the gate was a temporary table with some people sitting at it, checking our tickets. Everyone was going through fine, including Thor. But of course it got to me and I was asked to a different area for further processing. Ummm ok? Anyway, it turned out they were doing some new extra security stuff and my ticket had been flagged to go through the process (we think this is why our bag situation got borked at check in). Nothing drastic, but I did have to run around with my little compression socks, looking like a fool.

So I passed through yet another security check and we’re waiting at the gate when next minute my name is called over the loud speaker. I have never been upgraded to business class on a flight, so my heart leapt at the thought that this could be the moment! But no, it wasn’t. I was being called so they could check I had gone through the extra security. Well poop.

Flight 1 was from Melbourne to Auckland and it was uneventful. But I will say this – Air New Zealand has great planes. We paid a little extra (like $15 per ticket) to have a pair of seats together at the back. The pair was the whole row, and we did it because we’re both big people, so this way we were only squishing on ourselves, not random strangers. It was the best decision. The seats were perfect. I could even cross my legs in front of me I had that much room! (And that never happens given my size and height!). So if you fly Air NZ and you get the opportunity for those pairs of seats, do it, they are brilliant.

Our stop over in Auckland was for 5 hours or so. It was a lovely airport. There was loads of art leading us to the international transfer area, and then in the terminal itself there was lots of nice stuff to look at.

We found ourselves a couch and parked there watching netflix on our ipads with the the free wifi. Not the worst way to pass the time!

Eventually it was time for the big flight to LA. It was a doozy. 12 hours all up. I did manage to sleep for a little while. Thank goodness for inflight wifi and downloaded Netflix shows on our ipads! By the time we landed we were pretty exhausted. And had arrived only a few hours after we left (time zones are weird).

Getting through customs was every bit as terrible as people say it is. Despite having visa waivers and being (apparently) able to have a faster process to get through customs, every single person there ended up in the 1 long line, waiting for 3 or 4 border patrol guys to check us all and let us in. It was actually stupid. We were in that line for well over an hour. I felt so bad for anyone who had a transfer, because they were in it too! I was baffled at the stupidity of the system. But it was what it was and we waited.

Then we started playing a game – spot the BlizzCon attendee! We noticed a few people popping up in the line wearing Blizzard shirts. Then we saw Preach and his family in the line… it helped us stay excited and focused. Despite claiming food products on our forms, noone asked what they were or to look at them, and we passed through customs and all the security stuff quickly and easily.

Getting to the hotel was a bit of a pain because I had not gotten around to booking a shuttle bus. Which wouldn’t have mattered because we couldn’t find anything at the airport anyway. LAX really wasn’t that fun lol Being so tired didn’t help either. But eventually we got on a shuttle bus to the hotel… and we were there! We were in LA!

As we were coming in on the plane I couldn’t get over just how massive LA was. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. It was exciting, but in a way made me feel a bit claustrophobic at the same time! Being on the road was also as daft as people had said it would be, and the hotel ended up being further than we thought. But we made it in one piece.

We stayed at the Double Tree at Anaheim, and I will say this up front – they were fantastic. The rooms were really great, beds SO comfy, and the staff were amazing. Price-wise it was pretty good, really. It didn’t include breakfast, but it was so close to the Convention Centre that we didn’t need to pay for Ubers or anything, so had some trade offs there. So if you’re looking for somewhere for a future BlizzCon, we definitely recommend!

Despite how tired we were, we forced ourselves to stay awake, with the goal of going to bed at a normal time for California. So instead of going to sleep straight away (as much as we wanted to!) we forced ourselves to leave the room and go get some dinner. Thankfully there was a Denny’s across the road from the hotel that would give us our first taste of US food. We learned the hard way that serving sizes are really something else in the US. Thor had ordered a “sampler” plate, thinking it would have a couple of things on it… not the multitudes of food that it did have! And the sauces, oh my good lord they were the size of bowls of soup! I got a nachos for myself that I barely made a dent in. All we could do was laugh and try to learn from the mistake (hint: we didn’t get this right ever during the whole trip!)

With our bellies full and it late enough in the evening, we wandered back to the hotel for our first night’s sleep. To help make sure we stayed asleep we had a sleeping tablet each to knock ourselves out, and I have to say it was the best thing we could have done. We both slept solidly, and woke up the next morning at a normal California time feeling completely refreshed. Huzzah! No jet lag for us!

Tuesday

Our first full day in LA, and our primary goal was to get supplies. We didn’t want to be spending money eating dinner out every night, and we needed breakfast foods, so we headed off to a Target that we knew was nearby. We also needed SIM cards. Another lesson learned here… I had initially planned to have SIMs arranged before we left, but just ran out of time to get us all sorted, so we relied of getting things sorted out in Anaheim. It was a giant pain in the ass. Target ended up being a bust so we had to head off to try and find SIM cards from somewhere else…. but then they didn’t have what we needed. In the end we got the SIM cards from a small convenience store, but setting them up was bloody stupid too. Anyway, the moral of the story is to have this stuff sorted out before you go!

With SIM cards, bottles of water, breakfasts, snacks and foods all sorted, we headed back. It was a LOT of walking on this day, but I think overall it helped us get used to the time. And the sun wasn’t terrible 🙂

Once we were back near the hotel, we decided to have a bit of a wander down near the Convention Centre so that we could have a sneak peak at BlizzCon getting set up, and to get our bearings of the place. This was when I really started getting butterflies. It was nearly time for BlizzCon!!!!!

For dinner we had wandered up towards a nearby shopping mall (?) and found ourselves in a mexican restaurant. It was pretty good!

The mall itself was amazing – it had loads of Halloween decorations (which we aren’t really used to seeing back home) and also had loads of art around the place and fun lights and stuff. I liked it 🙂 Then on the way back we passed Bubba Gumps! That was something new for us.

Last thing for the evening was to put together all of our Aussie treats for people. We made some little goodie bags for friends we knew we would see, and packaged together some little Tim Tam packs for anyone else who wanted them. We also had a really big box of treats for a special friend and her team 🙂

All in all it was a busy couple of days, but it really did help us get settled in to a proper sleeping routine, and avoiding jet lag, which we were really grateful for.

3 Comments on “Cinder & Thor in the USA – Getting there & settling down

  1. Pingback: Cinder & Thor in the USA | cinder says

    • oooh Tim Tams are a delight. They are a biscuit (cookie I guess to US people?) It’s got two chocolate cookie layers with a (traditionally) chocolate filling, and then all of that is coated in milk chocolate. This is a good pic showing what they look like – https://www.istillcallaustraliahome.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/A_Tim-Tam.jpg
      They are available in the USA now, but I’ve been told that they’re not the same over there (likely using different chocolate) and that the original Australian version is way better.

      Unfortunately we didn’t end up going inside House of Blues, but got to see the outside! Perhaps next time 🙂

      Glad you liked the post – there are loads more to come! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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