Day Forty Eight – Heading Home

Last day in the U.S. of A. We still have one ‘must do’ thing and that is to ride the famous San Francisco cable car. We have booked a shuttle bus to take us to the airport at 1P.M. so we have time this morning to ride the car.

We have been told by locals that the best way to get on one on the cable cars is to avoid the two end stops. Every one that visits San Francisco will include a trip on the cable. In fact they are really just tourist rides as the locals do not use them at all. In peak holiday times there can be a two hour wait to catch a ride. They have an interesting way of loading on the people. At each of the end stops the cables are not loaded to capacity. One third of the seats and standing room available is left open for further stops down the line. We lined up at the next stop from the end. Unfortunately a number of cable cars just continued on and didn’t stop and those that did only picked up four people. We only had to wait about 20 minutes and we were off and running. The driver of the cable car works damn hard pulling and pushing the controls. The brakes themselves are wooden and are replaced every three days. You can smell the breaks burning when they are applied. Kate really wanted to stand on the outside running rail but she was not able to on the trip down to the waterfront. She was pretty disappointed. When we alighted at the end of the line the cable cars going back uptown where virtually empty, we decided to pay for another trip and go back the same way, after we did some last minute shopping. Last minute shopping meant me buying another two (much needed) t-shirts!

Kate and Wendy did indeed get to stand on the running rail on the way back uptown. The driver applies the brakes all the way down the steep hills, I would hate to wonder what speed we would get to if the brakes failed. On the way up the hills the cables strain to pull the car up. We were told a few days earlier that horses used to pull the cars up the hills but so many just dropped dead that they had to come up with a better solution.

Well we have completed all we had to do and we were picked up by our shuttle bus driver. Kate lost control of one of her suitcases down the hill as she walked toward the van. Now you may recall way back on our first taxi drive in New York on how scary it was. No way you could beat a New York taxi driver for crazy driving? Wrong we have an even crazier shuttle driver via Mexico City. He was good at telling us how bad other drivers were as he weaved his way in and out of traffic at break neck speed (in the middle of the city.) Once on the freeway he really put the foot down, Kate very quickly buckled up her seat belt nice at tight as he braked and she nearly end up front. We got to the airport in record time.

We had a short trip from San Francisco to Los Angles and then a five hour layover. That gave me enough time to get some blogging out of the way. The trip back to Melbourne was uneventful. We were so glad that we did not have to go via Sydney as we are all dog tired. It is so pleasing to see that we are only 20 minutes from landing in Melbourne (due in at 7:30 A.M.) However this trip had one more little surprise in store for us. An announcement came over that although we were so close to Melbourne that you could smell the Sherrin that we had to turn back to Sydney. The low cloud in Melbourne was stopping us from landing and we did not have enough fuel on board and for safety reasons had to go back to Sydney for more fuel. There were a lot of very unhappy people onboard but nothing could be done. We sat on the tarmac in Sydney for an hour (not allowed to leave the plane.) We finally made it is to Melbourne at 10:30.

So ends our seven week trip. New York, Orlando, Miami, New Orleans, Memphis and San Francisco. We all had a lot of fun and it was good to spend time with the girls showing them around New Orleans and Memphis and to visit cities that I had not seen before.

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