We have been in the USA just over 3 weeks visiting family and friends and taking a break in central Iowa to see the bridges of Madison County and the Amana Colonies.
More details on our adventures in later posts.
The flight over with Virgin Australia was excellent. The fourteen hours from Sydney to Los Angeles passed fairly quickly with nice food, good service and reasonably comfortable seats.
Both United and QANTAS definitely have some competition on their hands with this new airline.
Despite a 7 hour layover in LAX and a rather uncomfortable flight on Northwest's redeye to Minneapolis, we arrived in good condition jetlag wise.
After a few days there, we picked up our rental car and drove the 5 hours to Sioux Falls and began our round of surprise visits. All went according to plan with everyone reacting in the expected way to our sudden appearance on their doorsteps.
But we have been warned not to do it again!
PHOTO: Gerry Ricketts / September 2nd edition of Milton Ulladulla Times
Our departure from the south coast was delayed by another bushfire emergency to the north of us. This one got to within a few kilometers of our home and again we were on evacuation alert. Thick smoke covered our valley and there was the incessant throb of water bombing helicopters overhead all day. The highway north had been cut. We were wondering if we would be able to leave on our trip and maybe would have to give up our non refundable tickets. However the fire was brought under reasonable control on the shores of Lake Tabourie the following day.
We made the decision to leave with the support of our neighbours but our trip to Sydney was a long affair due to the enforced detour south and west around the fire area. Reports from our region in the following week indicated that things were ok in our immediate vicinity and there was even a small amount of rain. However there were two more fires in the Batemans Bay area to the south of us which had also endangered property.
The hottest driest winter on record was certainly producing unwanted consequences.
As an epilogue to "our fire", a grazier in the area has been charged with letting a hazard reduction burn get out of control and will face court in October.