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Snow country

25/12/2016 NYC ~ DAY 30 of trip

We wanted to leave early to have a day in NYC. But by the time we got laundry done, went out to dinner, and started re-packing for the week ahead it was ten pm Christmas Eve. We had gotten back to DC from Portland at six pm and we were tired from starting at 4 am as written in the previous blog, ‘Oregon – oh so legal now’.

While planning for this trip in Adelaide we thought it would be nice to spend Christmas day in NYC. It would be nice and quiet, everyone would be indoors with family having presents and dinner. And we thought, let’s book a hotel in the Wall St area, there will be no one there, everything is closed, plenty of parking on a public holiday. HOW WRONG WERE WE! Every ‘man and his dog’ was there. Millions of tourists had swarmed the city. We, also tourists, joined them like sheep. First Time Square. When we lived there we NEVER went to Time Square. “That is just for tourists”. Ha! Here we are, shoulder to shoulder with citizens from all over. Actually, after a short time, it got a bit tiresome, struggling for your spot on the pavement. We found us a nice little Indian joint at 160 E 44th St, called Minar. It looked empty, cheap, scruffy, our kind of place. We ate a delicious Indian meal, topped up with the inevitable mango lassis. Yum. We sat in front, facing the street, and watched the peering tourists reading the menu, then we gave them thumbs up and brought them inside……I recon about 8 people. We’re going back next week to collect our free meal. Just kidding. We have a soft spot for all things Indian as we plan a future trip there..soonish, hopefully.

Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree 2016

Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree 2016

Then on to the Rockefeller Centre and as you can see the crowd followed us. Taking the subway back downtown we checked out the new World Trade Centre, interesting. There is a tree which survived the whole tragedy, standing still, only metres away from the South Tower. Amazing.

The Survivor Tree

The Survivor Tree

A Callery pear tree became known as the “Survivor Tree” after enduring the September 11, 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center. In October 2001, the tree was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. The tree was removed from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. After its recovery and rehabilitation, the tree was returned to the Memorial in 2010. New, smooth limbs extended from the gnarled stumps, creating a visible demarcation between the tree’s past and present. Today, the tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival and rebirth. https://www.911memorial.org

There is even a free children’s poem eBook: http://tinyurl.com/hkldtgj

The new WTC subway stop is a strange, spectacular cross between a super modern cathedral and a high-end shopping mall. Locals complain that there are not enough escalators. We noticed that too. Back in the day when we used this stop there was a bundle of about 8 escalators, side by side taking one down to the PATH stop; now it’s just individual ones. Weird.

 

World Trade Centre subway stop

World Trade Centre subway stop

Our hotel was fine, Holiday Inn Express on Water St, though the heater was bloody noisy, and so I turned it off, and shivered all night.

42nd street Times Square

42nd street Times Square

26/12/2016 Monday ~ DAY 31 of trip

Next morning we negotiated a somewhat mild Holland Tunnel and went to visit Nancy and Larry in Jersey Heights. Nancy, an artist, has a house that looks like a gallery, full of beautiful, funky and interesting stuff. It was a great visit.

So far in our wanders we have yet to meet a Trump supporter. People are still in shock and concerned about the future. Our flight to Europe leaves five days before the inauguration – but we want to see the streets of DC though our airline won’t change our flight. We will have to watch the shenanigans from The Netherlands.

David Bowie on building Hoboken, New Jersey

David Bowie on building Hoboken, New Jersey

Oneonta, Monday 26th Dec, day 31

The next day we started driving upstate and gradually the whole world changed from rust brown to white. There was no actual snow falling, but as we got closer to Oneonta, there was ice. This would have been fine on the highways. They are generously salted, and ploughed, but our GPS, actually both of them, decided to take short cuts, which we, like good little citizens, followed. Several times we had to turn back because the roads were closed., or completely covered with ice. We found out that you really can’t drive uphill on ice.

We finally arrived two hours later than we had promised at the home of Terrell’s sister, Susan.

Fortunately for me I had made a large batch of my special cookies (no, not special cookies like they make in Oregon) and that became a large part of my diet on this week’s trip. Narda found other things to eat but I am finding less all the time in shops that I will put into my body. It is not because my body is some spiritual vessel, or that I am opposed to the unpronounceable ingredients on packages under the term ‘nutritional content’, with their funny terms for sweeteners, salts, artificial flavours, factory-created fats, colourings, chemicals that alter texture, and preservatives and just some made up chemical terms that have no specific purpose.

low-carb cookies

low-carb cookies

My cookies are in some random amounts made up of: coconut flour, baking powder, flax seed, almond flour/meal, coconut flakes (pea protein powder in Australia – I have not found that here), almonds, walnuts, any other nuts I have, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut oil, butter, stevia, almond milk (I prefer to make my own by soaking almonds overnight then taking their skins off – adding four cups of water and beating the hell out of them), though today I bought some organic processed milk – a rarity, but there was no time to soak) and if I have vanilla I add that and a half-dozen eggs more or less. My recipe changes at times dependent on what I can grab from the shop. I make about two-dozen rather large cookies at a time and freeze them. They lasted on this week’s trip until the last day when the last two tasted a bit funky. Narda is not opposed to them and says I should save them for me as I am a bit picky when it comes to food. Maybe she hates them and says to save them for my diet to be nice. (N:Truth is he puts peanut butter in them……eewww)

I forgot to bring our bottle of apple-cider vinegar (“with the mother’”) so my diet was already suffering and we did not have Chris’ Vitamix to make smoothies to pour over my cereal which is basically similar to the cookies except for the eggs and coconut butter and butter not included but I did have the nuts and seeds as I try not to eat oats or anything that would make my blood sugars go up or would cause Narda to think I have finally gone ‘normal’.

But that all was just a side-track to our immediate journey.

Our GPS hates us – both of them.

We had left New York City, visited Narda’s workmates from her NYC teaching days and were heading northwest to Oneonta, New York. We were already upset with both our GPS (Garmin) and the Google Maps on our phone. Both had gotten us lost going to New Jersey weeks earlier when we had to go collect my computer that I had left on a bus from NYC to DC (that pitiful, though happy ending, story was in a previous blog) and it would have gotten us lost getting to our visit in Jersey if we had not already known the way.

our GPS hates us and took us off onto this icy road to nowhere

our GPS hates us and took us off onto this icy road to nowhere

But now both the GPS and Google Maps were really mad at us. We were motoring happily along on interstate 86 headed toward Binghamton and yes, of course we would have to head east at some point but first one then the other got us on to some smaller road which led to a smaller road. Because it was getting to be late afternoon and the temperature was dropping to below freezing (-2 C or something below 32 F) and there was some snow or rain or drizzle falling we saw several cars that had slipped off the road and two that had just crashed. We got to another turn off and yelling at our directional devices, which by the way does no good, continued like idiots following their looney-bin directions, until we were stopped by some emergency vehicle and told that we had to turn around and go back because the road we were on was closed due to accidents. By now we were really getting lost and after finding this quaint little town, Walton, we were sent off onto even a smaller road – like one lane. We asked a man walking a dog how to get to Oneonta and he pointed to the road ahead and named a litany of strange sounding roads thereafter. He ended by saying that his mother was from England too. Not quite the right thing to say to an Australian and as Narda was driving and on an icy road she was unable to do a burnout but following the man with the dog and a mother from England and our GPS and Google Maps drove us forward until we got to a hill that we could not get up. We spent a long time turning around inch by inch and slowly headed back to the bit larger road we had been on to begin with. We got up to Franklin and instead of putting us onto the main highway (route 88) our Google Maps (by now we were so mad at our Tom Tom GPS that we locked it up in the glove-box) took us through many winding streets until we got to my sisters fifteen minutes before her son had to catch a bus back home in northern NY (Potsdam I think, on the Canadian border) but I did get to see Dustin before he left.

But now both the GPS and Google Maps were really mad at us. We were motoring happily along on interstate 86 headed toward Binghamton and yes, of course we would have to head east at some point but first one then the other got us on to some smaller road which led to a smaller road. Because it was getting to be late afternoon and the temperature was dropping to below freezing (-2 C or something below 32 F) and there was some snow or rain or drizzle falling we saw several cars that had slipped off the road and two that had just crashed. We got to another turn off and yelling at our directional devices, which by the way does no good, continued like idiots following their looney-bin directions, until we were stopped by some emergency vehicle and told that we had to turn around and go back because the road we were on was closed due to accidents. By now we were really getting lost and after finding this quaint little town, Walton, we were sent off onto even a smaller road – like one lane. We asked a man walking a dog how to get to Oneonta and he pointed to the road ahead and named a litany of strange sounding roads thereafter. He ended by saying that his mother was from England too. Not quite the right thing to say to an Australian and as Narda was driving and on an icy road she was unable to do a burnout but following the man with the dog and a mother from England and our GPS and Google Maps drove us forward until we got to a hill that we could not get up. We spent a long time turning around inch by inch and slowly headed back to the bit larger road we had been on to begin with. We got up to Franklin and instead of putting us onto the main highway (route 88) our Google Maps (by now we were so mad at our Tom Tom GPS that we locked it up in the glovebox) took us through many winding streets until we got to my sisters fifteen minutes before her son had to catch a bus back home in northern NY (Potsdam I think, on the Canadian border) but I did get to see Dustin before he left.

then our loving GPS took us into even deeper snow

My sister… I was adopted in 1950 (already I was a bit old – like three) and did not locate my blood brother and sister until 1988 through a series of long and complicated adventures. See Leaving Australia, ‘Again’: Book 2 ‘After’ @ http://tinyurl.com/z6mzxof. My brother (in Hawaii) and my sister, Susan in Oneonta, and I shared the same mother. I have seen Susan four short times previous: 1992 with my two boys in Herkimer, New York, and in 2003 and 2010 or so with Narda in Oneonta. This was the first time Narda and I stayed with her and her daughter, Nikki. Her other daughter, Amanda and her two children came over while we were there.

family

Oneonta is a college town with the State University of New York College and Hartwick College flooding the city with hordes of undeveloped prefrontal cortex humans (there is an interesting article online “Understanding the College Student Brain” you can read after reading our blog). What is interesting in my world is Hartwick College.  I know one of the professors there whose daughter went to school with my sister’s daughter. He is the cousin of my friend Dell (who lived in Guatemala and we visited him a few years ago. I have the blog “Dell and life in general” @ http://tinyurl.com/zj6ppfr). I have always seen life as connections and links; synchronicity in real-time. The World Wide Web, invented in 1991, illustrates this so well. We live the future in the moment by links made in the past. Of course, no one knows how far ‘the past’ is. An immediate past, or a past forged in another time, perhaps in another life time even. No one knows. We go through life never knowing why we have such connections. Perhaps it is all just random stuff with no interpretation needed. Or maybe not. Whatever the caper I found myself at my sister’s who I did not know of until I was in my forties who lives next door to the cousin of my friend from my 1972 – 1974 New Orleans days. I find these connections all the time. Even at this moment as I write about my sister and her family they are all on Messenger-group texting back and forth and they would not know I am writing about them or that I have my phone next to me with their texts going back and forth. Life is cool.

I left Terrell with Susan in Oneonta and met with Diana, Cathy, and Ann for lunch in Cobbleskill. It was a really nice restaurant with a gift shop, taking up lots of rooms, a wine tasting cellar downstairs. So great to catch up with 3 wonderful women that I used to work with more than 10 years ago. We had so much to talk about, and yet everyone was the same, despite lots of water under the bridge.

Narda's teaching mates from Albany Academy

Narda’s teaching mates from Albany Academy

In the process of looking for fulfillment of our state of hunger Susan told me about the cult group The Twelve Tribes (http://www.twelvetribes.com/) and their restaurant, the Yellow Deli (http://yellowdeli.com). Being an escapist myself from a cult back in the 1960s-1970s I was curious how a hippie-cult still existed. The restaurant was great; a creative and natural looking place, with great food, especially vegetarian. I had soup and declined the bread due to my low-carb diet and my sister and niece had a salad and some other eatable matter. They have these Yellow Deli restaurants in many places including Australia (Katoomba, the hippie area in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney).

Liking to have some say in dinner, Narda and I made a spinach soufflé and happiness was experienced by all. I got to know more of my family, my sister and her family. The fact that it has taken me sixty-nine years to hear stories of my mum and other members of my origins was good. Susan reckons we are one-eighth Chippewa Indian but without one of those DNA tests that are floating around the world I am not sure. I thought for a few days of doing a test to discover my heritage then decided against it. The reason being is that until I was in my forties I had no idea about my blood family and never identified with any nationality. With two passports I consider myself a world-citizen and that is all I need to know. Narda is a world-citizen too; born in The Netherlands, raised in Australia, lived in the USA for nine years and married to a Yank. Though she is Dutch through and through with about five-hundred years of pure heritage until I came along. So perhaps my people sold Manhattan to her people for some shiny trinkets – it makes sense; land for sparkly jewellery. I have five planets in Leo, I do understand. Of course, being of the Twitter – Internet generation (OK a grandparent of the Twitter – Internet generation) and having observed in horror the news of 2016 that especially the Republicans spun, without fact-checking I am sure the Dutch gave the Indians $24 worth of useless glass beads for Manhattan. After all it would have been on the World Wide Web if it had existed and Trump was tweeting. Luckily, I am not political and have no opinions about politics or its aftermath.

28/12/2016 Wednesday ~ DAY 33 of trip

We had the top floor, not the attic, but the top of the house with skylights which Narda pointed out were covered with snow when we awoke. I checked my phone to see if was or had been or would be snowing and no, no chance of snow. In fact, my phone said it was a sunny day. Luckily Narda was OK with going out and shovelling and warming up the car. We used to call it ‘hero of the dawn’ when we lived in upstate New York for four years and one of us had to go out and shovel out the car and defrost the windows so we could drive to Albany for work. And yes, I had plenty of ‘hero of the dawn’ episodes.

hero of the dawn

hero of the dawn

I like texting as much as the next guy but I think we take it to a new level when we text someone in the same house. Susan texted me to see if I was awake and what were we going to do for breakfast. She was downstairs and we in the upper room. Narda has texted her son too from our home in the basement (a nice little apartment) all the way to the third floor. When I see a couple having coffee at the local hip-shop I wonder if they are texting one another.

We left Oneonta and family at ten am and visited the last of my family, Jason, my nephew, from my mother’s side, in Albany. After checking in at the Albany Hilton Garden and leaving our crap we went to visit my cousin from adoption, Joyce and her son Derrek. Knowing they no doubt had different political views than us we avoided all political talk and had a nice time. Joyce had looked after my (adopted) father for decades and we were often in contact with her and her friend, Bud, as my father aged from 97 to 102. We had a few difficult times after our protesting about the war in Iraq and they’re in favour of it, but at the end of the day family is what matters and we sort of got past our differences. Joyce being five or so years older than me remembers me as a troublesome teenager. It is intriguing to look at someone and wonder what they remember of you.

We had dinner at a nice restaurant in Albany with my friend Kathy and her husband. Kathy was my first girlfriend when I was a teen and we have corresponded with her over the years. Being a real-estate person she helped us with our houses in Round Lake and now that Narda and I are becoming grey-nomads we are asking questions of others who have been travelling around doing the same. Kathy and Jim have a new mobile home setup and had spent the better half of last year in their caravan (RV to Yanks). Again, what do people remember about us? Do we change much in fifty-nine years?

29/12/2016 Thursday ~ DAY 34 of trip

We got an early start because it was starting to snow. An early start for us now that we are flirting with retirement is ten am. We were on the way to Woodstock, New York to see Marta (http://martawaterman.com/).  Marta too knows me from my teenage years as she was the girlfriend of my adopted brother, Robert. Marta has written and published a book about Robert along with the author Marc Seifer (http://www.marcseifer.com/), and me (though I am on the cover as one of the authors it was really Marta and Marc who put this together. I just offered some poems and photos and other artefacts).

book-covers-resized

Before heading south, we had to go see Liz, the real estate lady who sold our house in Round Lake, New York (http://neuage.org/house/) five years ago. She had found four boxes I had left in the shed. For years I thought they were some small boxes, perhaps of papers so I said the next time we were in New York we would collect them. Holy Cow! Four large boxes. Seventeen carousels of slides (each with 140 slides) plus lots of old books and papers. We put them in the boot (trunk) and drove off. Now we are not sure what to do with them. As we are on this little four-month world-retirement-visiting-folks-tour we have no room for anything more. I am sure there will be some discussion between the wife and me about this little matter in the sweet bye and bye.

Being in the dog-house is an expression of where one should be put. Chris texted and wanted to know if we had used the stove before leaving on our week’s adventure. They had gone to Tennessee for Christmas and we were the last in the house. Well it was me. I had eggs for brekky and somehow left the gas on and when they got home after five days away the house was full of gas. They had to wait outside in the cold with baby Liam for an hour. I would not be surprised if I get shuffled off to a nursing home soon.

By the time we got to Kingston the snow was falling at a steady thick rate. For a while there was almost a white-out, with the snow making visibility non-visible. We had Narda’s son’s car. We had managed to demolish his car several years ago in a freeway accident in Alabama, not our fault but still it happened coupled with the fact we had not driven in snow for five years made us nervous. Marta was unable to drive from her unploughed home on the back hills of Woodstock so we bunkered down at the Best Western just off exit 19 on the New York State thruway. Being hungry again, perhaps because we hadn’t eaten since morning, we found the Kingston Buffett. I usually am not too keen on Chinese all-you-can-shovel-down eateries but having had limited food choices for the week my needs for vegetarian low-carb matter was adequately fulfilled though perhaps not of organic status and we slept the night away dreaming of fulfillment. Well at least I did.

Woodstock not summer 1969

Woodstock not summer 1969

30/12/2016 Friday ~ DAY 35 of trip

We met Marta at a diner for breakfast and she brought us a set of Robert’s books. We do not get to see folks from our past that often as we all get so scattered over the place. We saw Marta about six years ago and before that in about 2005 and before that I knew her as my brother’s girlfriend in Clifton Park, New York, in the mid-1960s. I like the fact that time, friendship, spaces, have no boundaries.

So far in the first thirty-five days of our trips we have seen eighteen people from our (my) past. Four from when I was a teenager more than fifty-years ago, others since Narda and I have been in the States (2002 – 2010) and we will be seeing more from our working days in China that we will visit with here and in Thailand and Narda’s son in Cambodia and here we are living for six-weeks with Narda’s son and daughter-in-law in DC. We are getting snippets of people’s lives. We are re-entering lives. In a sense, there is little difference between going from room to room; there are these years in between but they lose all significance when we are together. Sometimes the initial moments are a bit awkward but soon we could have seen one another yesterday too, instead of years ago. Perhaps having social media connections helps us keep up with one another’s lives and it is more like we have never left.

We stopped at the Woodbury Outlet Malls at exit 16 on our way back to NYC. Crazy day to go, so many people there, it took us ages to get a car park, and even longer in a queue for a pair of trackies. But are nice trackies and I get to leave my old worn out ones, also bought in the states, here for car polishing cloths! ($20USD for nice Nike trackpants….maybe ..not sure…..if it was worth the wait).

After a way too short of a time with Marta and sharing stories of the past few years we got back onto a well salted and ploughed highway and got to Millburn, NJ in the early afternoon to see our lawyer, Marilyn, who had two stained glass pieces we had made. Narda and I had taken stained glass window classes about a decade ago in upstate New York and had made these two groovy pieces which were in the window of our house in New Jersey. When we sold it we forgot to take our pieces and realised when we were in Australia, that we wanted them. Marylin who was involved with our house because of some horrible tenants, rescued them for us and kept them for whenever we would return to the States. We have no room in our luggage for them, but we’ll see. The de-clutter course we took many years ago is just a fading memory now.

two-stained-glass

Being too tired to brave the last couple of hours to DC we stayed at the Clarion Hotel The Belle, 1612 N Dupont Hwy, New Castle, Delaware. We stayed here a couple of weeks ago. Nothing exceptional except the room was cold until we figured out the heating system so Narda rang the front desk and asked for a blanket. When Narda was told that housekeeping was closed (at 8 pm – never heard that one before) she asked Bobby, the front desk person, where she could get a blanket and he said at Walmart. I thought this was so rude that I wanted to write it up in TripAdvisor’s judgemental-thingy but Narda thought it could have been just a misunderstanding. I am not so sure. We were not going to run out at night and purchase a blanket while travelling because the motel would not provide one. My friend Randy who we stayed with in Eugene the week prior has never been in a Walmart in his life due to philosophical reasons. Where would he have gone?

31 December Saturday DAY 36 of trip

Left after breakfast about ten am drove around Wilmington – got lost thanks to our GPS from hell.

Took country roads until Baltimore then onto i-95 stopped at a Spanish supermarket with little written in English (in Washington DC) and got our sorry asses home in time to babysit Liam so Chris and Jessica could go out for New Years. First Liam then us – all asleep long before midnight. How can tomorrow be a new year? What nonsense. It is really just tomorrow. The first day after today. But many people do go bunkers about it all being a turning point. To us tomorrow is just the next new day to explore and be opened for an amazing time.

salt-and-train

To DC about 2:30 pm

Made cookies and zucchini spaghetti had vinegar (with ‘the mother’) in my freshly squeezed organic lemon water and made a smoothie with almond and coconut milk, avocado and other nutritional stuff. Then I felt wholesome.

liama-and-us

img_1564

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/
new photo-textual fun – HERE

http://neuage.org/e-books/

Liam meets Maggie and Mabel in Washington DC in the epic tale ‘Liam’s secret’ http://neuage.org/MM/ (free)

NYC – DC days 6 – 14 of retirement world tour reunions

E-book storefront http://neuage.papertrell.com/

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).

Information girl at Grand Central Station New York CIty

Information girl at Grand Central Station New York CIty

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.

Narda on The Best Bus

Narda on The Best Bus

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

we have your computer

we have your computer

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.

Milford Mill, Maryland

Milford Mill, Maryland

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.

Wooddale Bridge is a covered bridge over Red Clay Creek at Wooddale in New Castle County, Delaware.

Wooddale Bridge is a covered bridge over Red Clay Creek at Wooddale in New Castle County, Delaware.

The ‘to-do-list’

It is one of those moments when one realizes the suitcase is still ten-pounds overweight, the last-minute list has few things crossed off of it: ‘Go to Hoboken and change the insurance policy from home-owner to four young computer guys from India are renting our house’, ‘redirect mail to Australia’ which would be fine if the post office actually redirected mail. Since having redirected to our apartment in Harlem from our home in Jersey City 15 days ago we have not received one redirected piece of mail and I am now off to meet up with one of the Indian dudes who is bringing all our non-redirected mail into Manhattan to save a trip to Jersey City – though it does not save us a trip to Hoboken because our insurance company said they will not send our policy or any correspondence to Australia or to China, then that pesky ‘last-minute-list’ of Narda’s (she has been hanging last-minute-lists on doors and walls for the past 11 years, as we always seem to be packing and headed to an airport somewhere): close T-Mobile – we hate that company, return scales to school – probably because we are always over weight, not us, just the baggage – and to think the shipment to China which was like 800 pounds over weight is waiting for a ship that won’t sink to drag it over to Dalian, mail packages – that is because we are overweight so we are posting stuff at $58 per 12X12X5 inch box, book town-car for Friday, good golly that is two days away then we are off to JFK, cancel New York Sports Club – which I can’t get to today because of this damn last minute list, something about changing something with the airlines, order my vegetarian meals for China Eastern – oh no – they take out the meat and give me an extra serve of sticky yucky white rice, purchase excess luggage from Melbourne to Adelaide… and I just do not want to read on. I just wanted to go to the gym and work on my six-pack-not and biceps and those other saggy 63-year-old bits.
So what does one do when they get overwhelmed by ‘yes we are leaving the USA after nine-years, hoping renters in three-houses will behave and pay rent and not party too hard, and all those things we were going to do in NYC and the rest of the USofA and never did and all the people I was going to look up and say hi-bye to and all I did was get nine-years older with yet another to-do-list in front of me? Well what I do in these situations is work on my webpages and blogs and think OK I will give the gym a miss and this list will just get done through some cosmic virtual abstraction.

Just looked in the mirror – something I usually avoid – and saw two grey hairs – oh no! I had planned to wait until after 65 for that… This is what leaving the USofA has done to me.

got to tell ya about this

was me

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yesterday perhaps before