We arrived at Cousin Inger Ladegaards little house on the New Jersey Prairie in the town of Dunellen at 5pm Thursday the 25th of June. We received the warmest greetings from Inger and she seemed to be happy to see us. Good start !!!She welcomed us inside and Km followed Ingerinto the house. Although Inger had said she had a cold beer in the fridge, I decided to drive down the road anyhow to grab some cold ones. It was quite hot that day. I also heard that American beer was not worth drinking. I found some good ol´ Canadian Labatts Blue at the local liquor store. Nice to know that one is not so far from civilization anyways.
When I got back to Inger´s we began to take our baggage inside the house. Just as we were finished it began to rain. Very typical on the eastern coast of USA. That's what we have experienced anyway. Inger prepared a splendid dinner that evening. She said it would be a light supper.Not sure what happened to those plans. We spent the evening talking and of courseI found the internet. Inger asked us what our plans were for the next day. We wanted to see New York was our response .She said she would drive us there in the morning after breakfast.
After breakfast we headed for the Big Apple. Forgot to ask why people called it that. Inger was an amazing chauffer in town. You have to be in this city.Apparently it´s customary to beep your horn and call people idiots. Not the Inger ever did this. She´s much too sweet for that ;-))). She stopped at places along the side of the street to let us out so we could look around and then return to the car after about 15 minutes. First stop was at Times Square. We got out and looked around. They closed off one of the streets there and made it into a walking street. I couldn´t stop smiling as I´m looking around New York.Wow!!!We´re actually here.The feeling was amazing. The atmosphere here was indescribable. You have to experience it to believe it. I understand now what the T-shirt is all about." I Love New York."We jumped back in the car and the next stop was Rockefeller Center. This building is big. Twelve hundred companies are paying rent for office space and there are 65,000 employees in the building. We jumped out of the car and agreed to meet back here in 20 minutes. Inger would just circle around and be right back. We began to get a little worried when after an hour and 15minutes past and we´re still standing there. Then out of the blue, there was the honk of the horn and Inger was there to pick us up. New York traffic was the problem there.Next stop was the Staten Island Ferry at the very end of Manhattan. We werefeeling at little guilty about Inger just driving us around and waiting for us so we told her we could just skipthe Staten Island Ferry. Inger would have no part of this and we were ordered out of car. The ferry ride to Staten Island is free of charge and it sails past the Statue of Liberty. It was a nice sail on the Hudson River. When we hit Staten Island, we jumped on the return Ferry and were back in the car after an hour.Inger once again, zipped in and out of traffic through the streets of NY showing us the sights around town and by 6pm we were headed back for Dunellen. We ran into a big storm on the way home.The blackest clouds with rain and hail. Did a quick bit of shopping for dinner and then home. It was a fantastic day we had with Inger and got a real taste of The Big Apple. The plan now was for Km and I take the train into New York the following day and check it out on our own.
Inger made us breakfast the followingday and drove us to the train station just 5 minutes down the road. She equipped us with her cell phone and some phone numbers. Wished us a good day and we were off by train to New York via Newark. The trip took 75 minutes and we arrived at Penn Station in downtown Manhattan. We came out of the station and bought ourselves a Hop on, Hop Off,bus ticket. For 44 dollars/ticket, we could ride the tour bus around Manhattan. It was an open top bus and they had a guide who told about Manhattan and if something sounded interesting, you could just get off the bus and look around.They had special places where they stopped. When you´re finished seeing whatever it was you got off the bus to see, you just go back and get on the next bus that comes along. Nice way to see Manhattan and learn about it at the same time. Saw most of the sights we wanted to see. We ended our day with a stroll in Central Park. Once again, I´m walking around with a smile from ear to ear. All good things do come to an end and the clouds moved in and yes, it started to rain once again. We found some cover under a tree and after a half hour, the sun came out again. Found ourselves a New York Deli to eat dinner and by 9pm we were on our way back to Cousin Inger. Although we felt we saw a lot of New York, we could have used a month. We are not big city people but agreed that this is not the last we´ve seen of New York City. As Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Mayer of California once said, " I´LL BE BACK"and we will.
Day three started with Brunch at 10am. We were to have brunch with Inger´s daughter Nicole.Unfortunately, Nicole slept in but did come over at 11.Our plan today was to visit Ellis Island.This is where all there immigrants landed after sailing past the Statue of Liberty. The start of their American Dream.Nicole just couldn´t wait to get started. It was only her 62nd time showing friends and family. She hasn´t been this excited since the yawning festival of 2008 . I will assume she came to be with us.It was so nice to have her. We talked about her mom and the days we spent with her and laughed about how she ordered us out of the car to see New York. Nicole said it sounded a lot like her mom and somehow acquired the nickname " The General". A lovely General at that.We visited the museum at Ellis Island and then the troops followed the General to the car and returned home for dinner. Km helped Inger prepare dinner while Nicole went home for an hour and I cut the grass. When I finished, the General asked me if I did this because I was feeling guilty for calling her the General. I informed her that I wasn´t feeling the least bit guilty. I should have saluted and gone my way.
We had such a wonderful time being with Inger and for me it was so nice to get to know her better. The same goes for Nicole. I met them briefly in Denmark 2 years ago but it´s not the same as spending time alone with them. We decided to spend an extra day with Inger. There were some things I wanted to help her with while relaxing at the same time. We were trying to get over a very busy three days. This day was a day of relaxation and it was !!!
We planned to visit the City of Lancaster the next day on our way to Washington. It was a little out of the way but felt it was worth it. For those of you who don´t know Lancaster, this is where you will find the "Amish People". On the out skirts of town is where they have their farms.As we arrived in town, we just made it to a gas station when the black clouds above us emptied themselves of the water they were carrying. After a 40 minute wait, we were on our way again.We pulled into the tourist office and found the best places to experience the Amish people. We were both pretty hungry and wanted to try some of the local foods so we drove in the direction we were told. We pulled into a parking lot where I spoke with a couple of bikers. They asked me what I planned to do about those black clouds behind us. He heard on the radio that they were filled with rain, hail and 60mph(100km) winds. They shortly after zipped on out of town and Km and I started to look for shelter. We did find a storage building at a hardware store and they said we could drive the bike in if we wanted. They said there was also a store close by if we were hungry. They were so kind. We were there for 2½ hours and then the rain let up and the sun appeared once again. While we were waiting, it was fun to watch the Amish people drive up on their horse driven buggies and doing their shopping. They even have a special place to park the horses were they (the horses) could relieve themselves. They were also some on bikes without pedals. They were more like large scooters. One foot on and the other used for pushing. I guess that the mechanical part with the chain and pedals is not allowed.
It was gettinglate and there was still a 4hr drive to Washington so we headed on out. Arrived at our camping place in Greenbelt, just 15kms from Washington. It was a State Park campsite . There was a serious Tic and chigger (tæge) alert at the park. We decided to take our chances and it worked out okay. We didn´t take any with us when we left. The next morning we headed for Washington. We wanted to meet up with Morivan. She is Inger´s daughter-in-law. Morivan and Erik live in Washington. She was off work today and we hoped we could find her so she could show us around town.We tried phoning without any luck so we put there address in the Gps and headed to their apt. in town. We did hook up with her and she guided us through the streets of Washington. First stop was Bens Chili.This was, believe it or not, A Washington landmark. If you look closely at one of the pictures from this place, you will see a picture of Km and on her left side is a picture of Barrak Obama hanging on the wall. This is not the reason it's a landmark. Nobody knew Km. The reason being is that this restaurant is always packed with people coming to taste some chili. Everything on the menu is topped with chili. Had my first cheeseburger… with chili on top !
After lunch we headed on to see the sights. I was quite surprised that we got to see as much as we did. This is the second Big city that did impress us both as non big city people. I was also surprised to find out that Washington is not a part of any State. It stands alone. Always thought that it was a part of the state of Maryland.Live and learn !!I now understand what they mean by… NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION. To be represented in government, you have to be a state and the citizens of Washington city are not… Live and learn again !!!!
After our wonderful guided tour, we met with Erik who after my request, found a place where we could have a nice beer. He then recommended that we went out for Ethiopian food. Very good food here in Washington. It is kind of a close family thing. You eat with your hands from one big plate so you kind of hope that everyone has washed their hands at least once that week.The food was great. Would love to try that again sometime.
We made it back to their apartment and said our goodbyes. Once again, it was so nice to be able to spend time with Erik and Morivan. Looking forward to our next encounter.
We returned to our base camp and got into bed. I wanted to get an early start the next morning. I woke at 7 and had a quick shower and then got Km out of bed. Things were still a little wet so it takes a bit more time to pack. As we´re packing, people are coming by and wanting to talk with us. I´ve heard so many times from people that Americans are not very friendly. Just wait until you get south of the border they say. We´re not sure what they have experienced. We ourselveshave met nothing but the nicest people on our trip so far. Both north and south of the border. I say so far because we´ve only been on the eastern coast. There were so many people coming by to talk that we finally got out of the campsite at 10:45am. As we are packing that final things, this man appears and is holding my belt bag over his head asking if this was mine. It contained our passports, my credit cards and money as well as 3 USB memory sticks. All my worldly possessions. The man looked as though he could have used everything himselfbut nothing was missing. How nice was that.
We were a little unorganized this day and I began to feel a little stressed. Here it was the middle of the day and we´re still 10kms north of Washington and I still need a map of the eastern USA to find our next highway to our destination. Finally turned in to a shop called Staples and found the map and more DV tapes for our video camera. Now the video camera won´t work because the video head is dirty. I´m hoping to clear that problem up today.
We chose interstate 81 from Washington through to Virginia. What a spectacular part of the country . Virginia is a lush and mountainous region.At one point at a gas station, we meet this retired police officer who asked us where we were headed. We told him that we´re headed in the direction of Nashville, Tennessee. Well he said. If you´re headed in that direction, you have to stop into the town of Floyd. It's about an hours drive south of Roanoke just off of Hwy 81. It´s Thursday now and you should be there by Friday afternoon. He said that on Friday around 5pm, all the musicians come down from the mountains and set up and play in the streets. It´s all Bluegrass music.I´m wild about the banjo so we decided to check it out. We arrived in Floyd the same day around 6:30pm and found a little restaurant to feed our bellies. We walked in and found us a table.The waitress came over and asked us in her enormously sweet accent.Where yallcum from.Wad yall liketaeeet. We got some great corncakes. Yes they did but I wasn´t too impressed with them. She said you goota use a lawt a butter. They were so nice that they phoned the nearest campsite for us to see if they had room for us up to July 4th weekend. They had room so we head down route 8 south to Daddy Rabbits Campground, 2015 Union School rd. s.w. Willis VA 24380. One of the nicest campgrounds we´ve visited. Thirty-five campsites located in the woods. Trees all around and not much sunlight gets through in the morning or late afternoon. My first thought was that we´re going to be eaten by a lawwwt a masqueetter´s. Turns out that this is our third day and we haven´t seen one yet.
Our first day here we decided to relax and I could get caught up on our Journal. We would be here for a few days because it´s difficult to find a campsite on the July 4th weekend. United States Independence Day.Friday afternoon we went into town a 4:30 to look around and then find some place to eat dinner. We found a place called United Country which specializes in Organic Foods. Km got the Bean Mix with the rice pyramid and I went for the Salmon with citrus sauce and the other rice pyramid. Really fine food. While we waited, we took advantage of the free WiFi and phoned those who were home and checked our mails. After dinner we strolled though town and the different Bluegrass groups were setting up and warming up for this evenings performance. There were people of all ages involved. From a little girl about 7or 8 playing the mandolin to an elderly lady75 singing harmony and playing some sort of Harp instrument. Quite a nice tradition. Lots of people and lots of motorcycles arriving from around the town. We met one of the locals who had obviously lived there for centuries. He was not at all impressed with this town anymore. He said that there was a time you could fall asleep in the middle of the street and no one would bother you. The next thing you know he says the´ll be putting up a Walmart. If they do… He´s leaving town. After a nice stroll through town, I dropped Km off at the local supermarket. She just loves walking around checking out all the different things you just don´t find back home. Me, well. This is where my patience runs out.I returned to the parking lot by the WiFi restaurant and used the internet for a half hour to try to phone my sister Suzanne again. Not much luck so I returned to the supermarket and picked up Km. We returned to camp and Km made a campfire and we both relaxed over a cold one and coffee. Tomorrow which is now today, I will be doing this and later we will head into town and celebrate The 4th of July with our American friends. The weather is sunny with a temperature of about 23 degrees. Danish summer at its best. We will be heading out tomorrow for Nashville, Tennessee as our next destination. Who knows what will happen in between.Once again…I WONDER WHAT THE POOR PEOPLE ARE DOING ???