The Burbank Report, Part 1: 
Going to Burbank!

Posted by Erika/Kaj/Lindy/Mel/Pen/Sheila on 2/24/2007
Hi guys,

The first instalment of our preliminary report on the Tour of Duty mini-convention is here!

We tried to do it in an organized way so that you guys could feel like you were with us since day one. Our After Action Report is a long, long, long account. A very long account. Broken down into the following parts:

Part 1: Going to Burbank!
Part 2: Meeting Each Other
Part 3: ToD Guys, Meet ToD Gang
Part 4: Steve Akahoshi
Part 5: Joshua Maurer
Part 6: Terence Knox
Part 7: Eric Bruskotter
Part 8: That's a Wrap! (for now)

Later we'll try to write Part 9: ToDites in LA, about our time outside the convention. (Do we dare?)

We wanted to write something for everybody, trying not to leave a single thing out--not even the minutiae of our travel itineraries. So my advice? Read patiently. LOL The goods you're looking for are in here somewhere. We hope. *gulp*

What's that? Just bring on Part 3, already?

Well, it's in here, trust us! Please have a seat, relax with a cup of tea... and we hope you enjoy our long-winded account of things ToD and ToDite and ToD-ish...

* * * * * * * * PART ONE: Going to Burbank! * * * * * * * *

Erika: One happy morning, on Saturday, Jan. 13th, 2007, we all awoke to an announcement from Craig Blackmore of

"STOP PRESS --- TOUR OF DUTY - Mini Convention--"

And straight away, the boards were abuzz. Who was going? Who of the cast? Who of the fans? With one month's notice, we scrambled to make arrangements.

For some of us, the trip meant taking a day off from work and a weekend from family. For others it meant travelling from the UK and Australia and saying bye to loved ones for half a week. And for a certain Vietnam vet, it meant being presented with money for the trip, raised from throughout the Tour of Duty fan community.

Pen was the first to confirm she was going. I was the second. Then Ernie's gift came through, then Sheila's (thank you, mother-in-law), and then Lindy's (thank you, Bank). Then Mel joined in!

Meanwhile on the cast side, Terry and his manager got Tony on the confirmed list, then Joshua, then Steve, and then Eric. Wow! We just couldn't believe our luck, that all these guys were going to convene on such short notice!

Not that we had much time to marvel over this--we were off making hotel arrangements and car rentals... We renewed passports, advised each other on the weather, and clothing, and what to pack for 5 days, and TSA requirements, and what kind of places we wanted to have dinner at. We retrieved memorabilia for autographing, went shopping, took down each others' phone numbers and "interview" questions, taught ourselves how to use our cameras, and agreed upon a white flower to identify ourselves (a red, white, and blue cap in Ernie's case)...

Soon enough we were counting down the days and it was confusing that some of us were counting down till Wednesday while others were counting till Thursday and Friday, not to mention the international date line thing with Australia, but we didn't care. It was Hollywood, here we come!

Sheila: My only near disaster before the trip was when I thought my passport wasn't the new issue and I needed a visa which would have taken 14 weeks. It took me three hours of talking to the UK Passport Office and the American Embassy to find out that my passport was in fact OK.

Then of course at check-in the automatic machine didn't want to accept my passport, and the check-in agent told me "if it don't accept it, you ain't going". Thankfully, it worked on the next attempt.

The nearly three hour flight delay made me think I'd miss the connection at SFO, and not knowing if there was another flight down to Burbank that night, I had visions of telephoning Erika and asking if she wanted a house guest for the night.

Erika: I got the email from Helfire that morning telling me about Sheila's flight delay, and made sure my phone was handy, ready to take a call from Sheila in case she needed to bunk at my place for the night. I had visions of either driving Sheila back to the airport the next morning... or, more likely, taking her on a tour of San Francisco. Hey, an early start to the holiday weekend, who can complain?

I also called Lindy. To welcome her to the States, and keep her company. Help keep her awake until Sheila showed up. 'Cause I knew she wouldn't want to be asleep when Sheila arrived. Can you guys imagine? Sheila's welcoming party being a room with all the lights turned off, Lindy asleep and rolling out of bed to say, "Hi, I'm Lindy?"

That would have been not an auspicious introduction?

So I called Lindy that evening. And that call turned out to be longer than Sheila's flight delay!

Lindy: Sheila... I would have panicked with a flight delay too! I left Melbourne, expecting quite a few dramas at the airports. (not being a seasoned traveller LOL)

I was terrified of having to go through customs and was sure as hell Id wind up getting lost at SF airport and probably miss my flight to Burbank.

But it all went pretty smoothly for me. I guess I was just lucky?

Except for my inability to sleep on the plane, I had no problems on the way over, whatsoever.

My dramas only began on arrival at the Marriott hotel.

I almost had a small heart attack. I was under the assumption payment for the room was on checkout, and not check in. WRONG!!!! That was for visa credit card holders only LOL.

Here I was in the lobby. All by my lonesome. And just wanting to get to my room and freshen up a bit before meeting Sheila.

I took out the printed copy of the room reservation that Erika sent me. and handed it to the check in lady.

Explaining I was there for the Tour of Duty mini convention and that I'd be sharing a room with Sheila for the first night, and then with Penny for the other 3 nights..

Thinking it would be only a matter of minutes and Id be taking a nice hot bath.

"Can I see some photo ID Mrs Whelan"


"Miss Prince has not yet arrived."

"Yes I know. She'll be arriving a little later on."

"How would you like to pay for your room Mrs Whelan? VISA? Debit card, cash?"

"I'll be paying by visa"

"Your card please Maam?"

"My card? OH??? You mean you want me to pay right now????? OH GOD??? G.U.L.P.???"

I was not expecting to have to pay straight up.

I had my visa debit card, but my husbands wage cheque, (which is what I was to use for the five days I was in LA), wasn't yet in the a/c and wouldn't be until Thursday morning.

The only money I had on me, was $100 US cash.

The lady behind the desk was Puerto Rican I think and not at all pleasant to deal with, nor was she helpful with my situation at all. I explained my financial situation to her, and offered to pay at least that first nights accommodation in cash, explaining Id have money on my visa by morning to pay for the remaining 3 nights accommodation. But NO! She wouldn't accept that.

"I'm sorry Mrs Whelan. But we cant let you into the room until full payment can be made."


It was only 4pm. I was pretty beat after the long flight over, and Sheila wasn't due to arrive for another 6 hrs. JUST LET ME INTO MY ROOM!!!!! GOD DAMN IT!!!!!

I figured Id have to take a seat in the lobby and just wait for Sheila to arrive and pray she had enough to pay for the room in full? And Id reimburse her the following day? If she didn't, we were totally screwed!

Then I got the idea to just call Gerry at home. (reverse the charges) pray he was home at the time I called, and see if he could get some funds transferred across and into my account STAT!

Luckily he was home when I called. And although not amused with the situation, he transferred some money across from our bills account, onto my card. *kisses and hugs for my hubby* what would I have done had he not answered???? PERISH THE THOUGHT!!!

I then went back to the check-in desk, relieved as all hell.

The lady took my details, then handed me 2 keys to the room and off I went to the elevators.

Our room was on level 5 in the West tower.

I found our room easy enough and go to swipe the keycard as directed.

I pull on the handle, expecting the door to open.


SHEESH??? I insert the keycard again. And remove it quickly, as it said to do.

Pulled the handle again.

Still wouldn't open.


I looked around for someone to help me. And saw a baggage guy down the hall.

"YOOHOO??? Could you help me please? I'm new here. And I cant get this damn key to work. I just wanna get in my room"

The man was doin' all he could not to laugh.

He oh so calmly inserted the key into the door and VOILA... It opened.


he smiled "I work here a long time miss," he replied.

Plus he's not blonde, LOL.

I tipped him. "Thank you so much"

The room once I got inside, was nice enough. But where was the complimentary fruit basket and bottle of champagne? Where was the bar fridge? AND no VCR??? What kind of Hotel is this?

I got myself settled in and then ordered myself some room service.

A nice big chicken parmagiana with angel hair spaghetti

I had only just started eating it, when the phone rang.

Who on earth could be calling? My guess was it was my husband, check-in up on me LOL.

Erika??? OMG????? How nice of you to call????.

She'd called to explain Sheila might be late, as she'd had some flight delays.

and more than likely would not arrive until around midnight Wednesday

And I went whut?? You mean Ive gotta stay awake another 2 whole hours???

Oh MAN????

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