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Day Next 6 – 14 /December/2016
After too few hours’ sleep we positioned ourselves into the morning breakfast line at the only eating place open at 7 am in JFK where we were rewarded with a couple of eggs and a slice of tomato for fifteen bucks; they tossed in a bit of fish scraps with Narda’s eggs for an extra few dollars. After blowing our food budget for the day on the first meal we joined the Qantas flight that had originated in Sydney and fortunately had a half-empty full plane to stretch out and get a bit of sleep in.
Actually the breakfast was really good, and the fish scraps where smoked salmon and capers. Nice and salty. Can’t beat that!
Our New York days. We started off with no luggage. Somehow between Hawaii and NY our luggage went awol. So after settling in our back-of Brooklyn apartment (it was a hood, but hey, welcome! brought back wonderful memories of Joisey!) we walked to our local Sears and bought some stuff…coats..much needed, undies, sox and Terrell bought some gorgeous softie pants, made of some wonderful microfibre. He will no doubt live in them as much as possible. I will steal them when I can! Our luggage turned up the next day. So now we’re not sure how much Qantas will contribute to our spending spree. Got some nice stuff though, also in H&M in NYC. Winter clearance sales. (concerned with the fact we could barely close our suitcases and here we are with bags more).
I love New York. I love America and Americans. The two days in NYC were a treat. On Saturday afternoon we spent a couple of hours drinking Blue Moon beer (my favourite…with a slice of orange) with two wonderful friends and colleagues from St Lukes. One of whom has a gorgeous historic home in the middle of West Village (Greenwich Village), one of the only remaining wooden houses, pre-dating all the brownstones in the area.
We did spend quite a lot of time with our NY friends discussing the-end-of-the- world AKA the-president-elect. Grief counselling mainly!
And then there was our lovely lunch with Kay in a nice Brooklyn café on Henry St. So much to talk about. (We taught with her in Dalian, China; visited her and Frank in Yangon, Burma; and stayed with them in Chiang Rai, Thailand earlier this year.)
We have always found New Yorkers to be helpful to strangers, the guy in the subway who was listening to our conversation, and told us that we could not get off where we wanted to as we were on an express train. Or the guy at the street cart who made us coffee (good coffee), and 2 sandwiches for $8 in record time with a friendly well-wish. Or the guy on the street who asked us “how ya doooin”, not expecting to be told how. I thought they only did that in Jersey. Then there was the guy, one of the guys who walk very fast, saying, unprompted, the shuttle is this way. New Yorkers are again in post-disaster mode, the previous one was post 911. Think about it! They are looking out for each other.
The next day we went to the school. I got so many hugs and well wishes. I also met the new music teacher. His class remembered me; it was lovely. They remembered that I had banned the word “like” in the music room. I asked them if they say the word now, and they replied “yes”. So that was my profound impact on St Lukes!!!
The Air B&B apartment was nicely decorated, posters, candles, but lacked some basics..salt, sugar, a coffee maker, a TV, even no towels when we first got there. But it was a good spot in the back of Flatbush, close to Beverly St Station on the 2 and the 5 trains.
I feel really good today; sitting on the bus to DC. Can’t wait to see our loved ones there. This bus is nice, plenty of room, smooth driving. We were told by a consular office from Spain, while waiting to board, that this beats the train by miles. She says that the train is dirty, in need of repairs, and unsafe! Blimey. And the bus saved us quite a bit.
Had a great ride, that did not end so well as we left the good computer on board. BUGGER
When we got to our stop it was raining. Seeing our suitcases unloaded onto the curb to soak up whatever was falling from the sky we grabbed our coat and whatever crap we had taken onto the bus; and alighted. Running across or dragging our sorry asses more specifically with too much stuff to the other side of Dupont Circle to huddle beneath a bus stop we waiting for Narda’s son Chris to collect us.
Our travels of the past fifteen years have changed from doing a city; sometimes a country, in a few days to weeks in the same place. We get a chance to become locals. There is also my diet which is always a project. Having a low-carb diet is difficult but add the vegetarian trip and other sides then it is a project. Staying in the same place gives me the opportunity to put together my wholesome-time-consuming world. We start mornings with my cereal which is really seeds and nuts and Narda’s is oats and stuff then comes the smoothie. Earlier this year we travelled with a small ninja smoothie bullet setup (as seen on TV) so I could make veggie drinks in Thailand and Cambodia. We could not fit it in this trip as we are carting winter gear which fills every nook and cranny. But there is a proper large mixer for our usage here. Our brekky smoothie consists of yogurt, frozen blueberries, spinach, apple, orange or a grapefruit and a banana which gets poured over our cereal. I use what is left and add my day’s drink which is an avocado, almond milk (I make my own: soaking almonds 24-hours then taking the skin off and adding four times the water to the almonds), kale (I cook up a batch then freeze it and take a healthy amount each day), chia, LSA (not LSD – that was the 1960s – 1970s) and coconut milk/water. BTW, LSA is a blend of ground linseeds (flax seeds), sunflower seeds, and almonds. I haven’t found it in the states so I make my own blend of those things. Then of course to be healthy we need a litre of water a day so I have a one and a half litre bottle I fill and squeeze a lemon in it. All this preparation does not include making meals. Bottom line, we need to stay in a place more than a few days to purchase all the stuff to make my high maintenance diet. I made cookies my first day here in D.C. My low-carb cookies using almond and coconut flour with lots of seeds and nuts and stevia for sweetener. I think I am becoming a difficult traveller. Sitting here this morning with the flu or a bad cold from trying to switch from Australian summer to east coast freeze I am not sure how effective my diet really is. I have been on it for a year now and my blood sugars are often normal giving me that ‘hey, I am normal’ euphoria.
So I realise sometime in the evening that I did not have my laptop. Holy Cow! Utter and sheer panic we ring the Best Bus company and fill out their lost property form online. We stay up half the night changing pass words and I am trying to track my computer with my phone which shows where it was last – Dupont Circle. I had left it on the seat when I put on my cumbersome winter coat dragged from Australia through a week in Hawaii to NYC. I watched all next day, Wednesday, 7th of December, but no one went online with the computer so I started thinking maybe no one pinched it and possibly it got turned in. But where? Best Bus has several depots and as of Thursday, two days since losing it no one seems to have a clue where it could be. Another night of little sleep as I worry about my laptop and whether anyone could get into my bank accounts or webpages and of course not being able to work in Photoshop or play with video creations is a bit of a letdown. But hey, we are in D.C. and what a great place to be.
We went to the police station nearby and reported it as lost/stolen for our insurance company. The police lady was really polite and a nice human being. She asked if there were any government files on it, this is D.C. so I supposed that does happen. I said no there were only some not nice comments about the president-elect which caused her to smile. Did anyone actually vote for this clown?
Friday Narda, Chris and baby Liam (see ‘Finding Liam’ in ‘Liam’s Secret’ @ https://youtu.be/Oy-g3Rpdibo) and I go to the Lincoln Memorial (which also featured in ‘Finding Liam’) then while at home, when Narda and Chris are off to the local playground with Liam I get that exciting email
Holy (organic-grass-fed) Cow! Life is good. People are honest. It was not a cheap throw-away laptop. We paid $2100 for it and the software is worth more than the computer. Usually I save stuff to three backup external drives and on cloud-servers but not for the couple of days before leaving it on a bus bound for New York City.
DAY 8 – 14
But wonderful to be living underneath Chris and Jess, our own little pad, we did shopping, twice, took a nice autumn walk, discovered the Ethiopian store and best of all made friends with Liam!!
What a little honey bun. He learnt his first Dutch word, Oma! And he calls Terrell “Rell”. Yesterday Chris and I went with him to the playground after picking him up from the day-care. Chris throws him up into the air, Liam laughing and then saying “more” or was it “again”? Me standing to the side hardly daring to watch!
Last night we took their little car, very nice actually, to….you guessed it Walmart. I had no problem with the right-hand driving, but there were a few challenges; lots of traffic, darkness (it gets dark around 4.30pm, blimey) 4 way stop signs on intersections, impatient drivers honking…a lot. And in the car park not being able to engage Park, until Terrell figures it out. Phew…didn’t have to ring Chris.
Terrell and I are both down with the dreaded ‘lurgy’. Sore throats, a bit achy, and no voice to speak of (haha, pun intended). On Sunday we went to Chris’ church. Wonderful sermon I say without bias. A great community of young people and some older ones. We sat next to this interesting couple, she was dressed in gorgeous colours, I wish I had taken a photo, and was writing notes with interesting illustrations. Chris later told us they come from about an hour away and have 7 kids. I would like to meet them again. Last night Chris had another church friend over, we insisted on him eating with us, had some lively conversation. A nice lad, who had come to Chris’ church because of two, separate recommendations. So that’s pretty cool. When Chris left the room, the visitor spoke very highly of him as his pastor.
So here we are, snot, tissues, cold and flu tabs, and many naps. Nice little break to rushing around. They expect “artic vortex” weather later this week. We’ll see. If this is our last blog, then you will know that it was not good. J
Saturday, the tenth, up early and out the door, packed for an overnighter, heading to Hoboken to rescue my laptop from a life of ill fortune. I had this great notion that we could save lots of money by not paying tolls. Just a short nod to Pennsylvania over there to the left then swing back and plough into Jersey with dollars still in our pockets. I mumbled something about ‘just fifteen to twenty minutes out of the way dear’, ignoring Narda’s slight groan from somewhere off in the distance with some barely perceivable hidden though clearly intended thought pattern that suggested a not fully belief I was right. ‘We’ll be there easily by one thirty’ I proclaimed; another groan in the distance. After all the distance, straight to Hoboken from DC is less than four hours on some hyper-freeway with tolls and aggressive truck drivers so how could a little detour be anything but short? I drove the first section heading out of DC up through Maryland toward Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It was great driving again in the States. We had recently driven to Melbourne from Adelaide and the ten – twelve-hour trip is so boring with little scenery beyond the common outback stuff one wishes they could avoid. There is a town every few miles here in Maryland and all the other States in the area.
We felt in need of a map. A GPS on the phone is great but nothing beats seeing a real map with all the towns and rivers along one’s way. Seeing a sign for a visitor’s centre I got off the main road which was not really a main road to begin with and drove and drove looking for the bloody visitor’s centre. I did discover we were in Carroll County and we eventually came to some outskirts to what seemed to be a large town. Most signs pointed to a Farmers Museum which for unknown reasons we were not a bit interested in. Once in a seemingly town centre we went to the library to ask for a map and take a pee. A friendly librarian sent us off to the ‘official visitor’s centre’ though of course being the creators of their own language in this country spelt it ‘center’. We got our Maryland map and I said, ‘and more importantly – where is a Dunkin Donut shop’? Being morning tea time it made sense to go to the ultimate American morning tea icon. Granted I have lived on this strict low-carb, no sugar diet for this year and I should know better but we did get our donuts and I did feel guilty and a bit ill but the quickly passing pleasure was kind of groovy. We left this ‘historic civil war’ town with their farmer museum and headed toward Harrisburg. It was early afternoon and getting to Hoboken by one-thirty seemed a bit of a stretch considering it was past one now.
Narda took over driving and I the navigation. Harrisburg suddenly looked out of the way so we took Route 27 through Cranberry/Manchester, Maryland and in Pennsylvania took Rout 194 until we got to toll roads going into Hoboken – long story short. We got lost because our GPS did not know about all the roadwork in Jersey and we rocked up at the depot, collecting our prize after six pm.
Having dinner not far from Hoboken at a turnoff from the interstate (toll road) we decided to get to Delaware and booked Clarion Hotel The Belle in New Castle, a fairly adequate place. We got there around 10:30 pm putting to rest my thought of getting to Hoboken at 1:30 pm and to a local country motel by five or six pm. Oh well.
What we remember from our old tromping around the States days is the included breakfast. With my diet I am quite limited to an apple or some such nonsense though Narda liked the bacon and other brekky stuff. Being a lover of covered bridges; we used to search them out when living in upstate New York (2002 – 2006), and found Wooddale Bridge over Red Clay Creek at Wooddale in New Castle. From there we managed to get home by 2:30 pm Sunday taking toll roads so we could go to Narda’s son’s church thingy.
Feeling ill from colds we lay about and had lovely retired days for Monday and Tuesday. Today, Wednesday, we are headed out to Baltimore; taking country roads, looking for covered bridges, seeing some of the places I lived in 1975 – 1979.
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