Saturday, 19 April 2008

13/04/2008 - 29/04/2008 - The Pope comes to visit

Dave has had control of the Blog for a while so unfortunately no Big Dave stories. But hey I got control for a while so here we go..... When we were in DC, we decided to take our passports into town (for extra id). Well Dave wanted to take in a separate Backpack that he would carry and look after the passports - he didn't trust me with them out in public - I think his comments were 'If you loose them - you will be lining up to get new ones' - okay so with the support of my husband I packed them in my handbag and off we went. I decided that Dave could look after the tickets for our tours and train/bus fares (not the brightest idea I've had - Dave being so good with details and the little things.) Anyway off we went - first stop of the Tour we get off the hop on hop off bus and have a look around - when we get back on the bus the tour operator asks us for the tickets - Dave goes into each pocket - but guess what they are not there. Luckily for us a lady on the same bus had picked up our tickets and handed them over, so they are now back in my wallet. Okay so after a long day of travelling and sightseeing we decide to head home. We get on the train successfully, then we go to get on the bus home and someone has now lost his bus ticket - so after we get one of the station masters attention and permission to go back into the train station and begin to search (luckily their train stations are immaculate) it wasn't long before we picked up the ticket, needless to say we had to wait for the next bus (Dave has not mentioned one word about me losing things or the passports - go figure.)

Travelling in the RV is really a great experience - better than we both thought. We are getting better prepared when we leave or enter a site - but it is still a bit of a comedy show. Today when we went to set up the site - we forgot how to extend the annexe - after a while of trial and error we finally got it extended and it looked like it should - time to celebrate - bring on Happy Hour. We are having many laughs and are obtaining many wonderful memories.

14/04/2008 - Today we headed into town in the afternoon to go to one of the shows at the Art and Space Museum and also to see the city at night. The city is a spectacular sight at night, seeing all the Monuments, Capital Hill etc all lit up. Dave and I both agreed that this is a great city and one we could both live in. The majority of the people are extremely friendly and helpful, you feel safe without feeling intimidated and the city is well planned out and very clean and their is always something going on.

15/04/2008 - Pope Benedict came to town to say hello so we decided to stay and go to the parade. We watched with great interest the pomp and ceremony on the White House lawn (21 Cannon salute) along with happy birthday. It was actually a bit disappointing how speedily he drove past us (we think this was a bit of an error) - because once he had passed us he slowed right down to something like Dave drives in the snow - so the security were able to keep up easily and walk beside the Pope mobile.
16/04/2008 - We spent the day pottering around. We also went to the Gym for the first time in a long long while - we think we may have been a bit keen and done a bit too much - tomorrow will tell.

17/04/2008 - And boy did it tell after we both fell out of bed, and crawled to the kitchen (only a few metres - the advantage of having a 32ft home) - the muscles and backs were extremely sore. We packed up and said goodbye to Washington DC and headed off to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

18/04/2008 - We have had just a marvelous day. We spent the morning in Lancaster which is the oldest settlement of Amish people. (Remember the movie of Tim Allen (the tool man) and Kirsty Alley). Truly an inspiring religion. They only go to the eighth grade, they work on the land, they do not use electricity, they own farms and use mules and horses to plough the fields. They don't have cars (they use horse and buggy) and they are completely self sufficient. An interesting fact is the younger generation are not baptised into the church until around 20 years of age. Until then the boys can drive cars smoke and drink etc. Once married they have to give it all up.

They are just very friendly people who have no interest in the outside world. They do not look for recruits to their religion and the family is the absolute center piece of their world. Truly remarkable.

This afternoon we drove to Gettysburg where the famous Abraham Lincoln gave the famous Gettysburg Address. The place is full of battle fields and cemeteries which was once again very moving the way the Americans celebrate their history even though it is Americans killing Americans.

Tonight we decided to stay in an RV park in Gettysburg and it was just unbelievable the people that have got away for the weekend. When we drove into the park the line up was two lanes wide and there were about four rigs in each lane. There was a couple of people managing the line ups.

It's been great over the last few days we have actually been able to wear just one layer of clothing - so nice for a change not to feel and look like the Michelin Man - now I only look like one.

Another thing that we have realised is just how much we missed seeing greenery especially green grass - it has been really great to see something other snow or brown grass.

19/04/2008 - This morning we woke up and decided to go for a quick bike ride to try out our new bikes (the first bit of exercise either of us could face after out gym workout) before heading off to Pittsburgh. For my ironmen and bike riding friends at CorpTech I have a new found respect for the relationship you have with your Bike Seat. Also helmets over here in Pennsylvania (not sure on any other states) but helmets are not compulsory for anyone over the age of 8. Also I don't believe that when you ride a motor bike helmets are compulsory - because out of all the bike riders we saw today only about 20% were wearing helmets. Also another bit of useless information but which may be interesting (especially to my brother) is that only 18% of drivers wear seat belts.

20/04/2008 - Today we headed off to Monroe, Michigan just outside Detroit. When we arrived at the RV Park we noticed a Golf Course right next door and since the sun isn't going down until about 8:30pm we decided that we had plenty of time to get 18 holes in - so we hit of at around 4:00pm to my disgust I lost the bet with Dave who beat me on the last whole - I choked I 3 putted the 18th.

22/04/2008 - Today we visited the Ford Museum at Detroit. The museum was a lot bigger than what we expected. Not only did the Museum have many many cars incl. the Model T Ford, the museum also had the chair that Lincoln was shot at in the Ford Museum, the Bus that Rosa Park refused to give up her seat to a white man. After we finished at the museum we set off on our way to Chicago.

23-25/04/2008 - We arrived at the Chicago RV Park that we were going to be staying in for the next four days - and would you believe it the RV park was part of the Empress Casino. Could not believe my luck. After getting a few things sorted out we headed off to the Casino for a night out - well let me cut a long story short - Dave and I both had a win.

26/04/2008 - We headed into downtown Chicago to have a quick look around and get the feel for the city. Chicago is noted for it's tall buildings and windy streets and it lived up to both. Legend has it that they got to rebuild the city due to Catherine O'Leary's cow kicked over a lantern and burnt the old city down. (Great Chiago fires -1871) and hence they had the opportunity and ability to rebuild the city and that they did. (Up, Up and Upwards...)

For lunch we stopped at a restaurant that was recommended to us - to try their famous Chicago's deep pan pizza. Well the Big Fella and I just ordered the medium size and all I can say is that we struggled, we couldn't even finish the pizza - believe it or not there was still two pieces left when we had finished. The Big Fella got through 4 pieces and I managed 2 pieces. There was just so much cheese on the top that neither of us felt like dinner. After the pizza we walked to the Sears Building (the tallest Bldg in the USA), where we were told that there was a 1 1/2 hour wait just to get to the video room - so we passed. We had also been told to go to the John Hancock building (96 floors) which is the next tallest bldg in Chicago.

27/04/2008 - Today we had an early start and got into town in time to go to the John Hancock Building. The view was absolutely spectacular and we got to see a really good view of Chicago. After a stop at the Hancock Building we headed off to see the Blue Man Group. They were really great. After the Blue Man Group we then headed off to the Navy Pier for an early dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant. (Remember run Forrest run...). After a great day we headed for the train station - and for the first time we got lost and missed the 6:40pm train so we needed to wait for the 8:30pm train.

28/04/2008 - It was sad to say goodbye to Chicago - we really did enjoy the city and we both decided that though it would be just too busy and big to live there permanently - we could both go back and visit for a good couple of months. We headed off to Indianapolis, Indiana. Today Dave and I put ourselves on a diet - we have bets on who will loose the most % of weight - we are hoping that the competitive side of us will help us loose those few (okay more than a few) extra kilos.

29/04/2008 - We set off this morning to go and visit the Indy Race Track. Even though Dave and I are not into car racing - it was great to be able to drive around the whole track and understand the history of the 2.5 mile venue. The town was starting to gear up for the Indy 500 which was on at the end of May. Whilst the tickets to the event were very reasonable we decided it was time to move on.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

01/04/2008 - 13/04/2008

02/04/2008 - This morning we found out that we couldn't insure our RV in NY state without a NY drivers licence. After much Internet research from Lisa, we managed to find a state that would allow us to register and insure our motor home with an out of state address. Finally we were able to Register and insure in Vermont.

03/04/2008 - Today we took ownership of our new motor home. We spent our first night at the dealers yard which gave us a chance to find out how to operate the motor home. The next morning we decided we knew enough and headed off down the highway. As I drove, Lisa was busy in the back closing cupboards and stuffing stuff back in so it wouldn't fall out again. Needless to say it was a bit of a comedy show. We made it through the first day even though we had to return back to Albany to collect our mobile phone. We spent our second night at a Flying J road house along with many other sophisticated RV'ers. It snowed during the night which tested out our furnace. All is well and we are now heading down the east coast looking for some warmer weather.

Surprisingly enough the motor home is very easy to drive and is extremely powerful. The only real difficulty is the width. When we get on tight roads it gets a bit scary however we are now managing to get ourselves around the shopping centres etc... I'm sure we will get smarter with our driving and directing - like not asking the height restrictions of a bridge after we've gone under it.

04/04/2008 - 07/04/2008 - We have spent these couple of days getting used to our new home and stocking the shelves.

08/04/2008 - We spent this day driving to Washington DC. We travelled over the longest bridge-tunnel structure in the world Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, whilst going over this bridge we noticed the speed signs have a maximum and a minimum speed. (Chesapeake is also the name of Brant's business back in Canada...) On the way we were learning about the history of the US. We have now called into a RV park that is fairly close to Washington DC city. After settling into the park we have given our motor home the name 'Stubbie' - what we thought was a large motor home (just over 32 feet) seems quite small in the park. You know how they say to have the worst house in the best street. I think RV parks allocate sites according to value of your motor home. We seem to be upper class however we are in the bottom end of upper class. Some people drive some amazing motor homes.

09/04/2008 - Today we headed off on a hop on hop off bus tour of Washington DC. Our first stop was the White House - we were bit disappointed that we couldn't get too close - but apparently you need to book about 3 months in advance. Our next stop was the Washington National Cathedral - St Peter and St Paul Protestant Episcopal Cathedral. Although this was not one of our planned stops - the bus tour advised us that this was worth seeing - so off we hoped. We were really glad that we did, the church was really interesting. The centre piece of one of the stoned glass windows was a piece of rock from the moon - representing an eye. Our next stop was the Arlington National Cemetery, the home to the grave sites of some of America's service men, women and their families including JFK his wife Jackie and their two young children. Also at the Cemetery is the grave of the unknown soldiers. At this sight they have a changing of the guard every 1/2 hour - this changing of the guard is done with absolute precision and includes the inspection of both uniform and gun. After the Cemetery tour we visited the National Air and Space Museum, one of the sights to see was the pod of Apollo II, this museum is dedicated to the many forms of flight and space exploration - unfortunately, due to time limits, we didn't get to see all that we wanted to see here - so we will be back.

10/04/2008 - Once again we were up early (Dave is struggling to get out of bed at 5:45am to catch the 6:45 bus) and heading of into the city. We decided we would like a bit of exercise so decided to do mostly walking. Our first stop was the Capitol Building, well the movies etc. that I've seen don't do this building justice, it really is an impressive and large piece of architecture. The building is guarded by many police some of which carry machine guns. Whilst there is a lot of security and police present - it isn't intimidating. After the Capitol we headed off to see some of the many monuments present in Washington DC. Our first was the Washington Monument built for George Washington other monuments included the World War II memorial, Korean War memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln memorial. As well as these memorial we were able to stand on the same spot that Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous speech 'I have a dream ....'. Some of these memorials made you stop and think about the number of men, women and children who have been killed in the wars. One that I loved was seeing the pool of reflection - this is were from Forest Gump - Jenny comes running through the pool to see Forest. Whilst other memorials are inspiring like the Lincoln memorial. From these memorials we headed to the Ford Theatre, this is the Theatre were Lincoln was shot, unfortunately this theatre was not open. We then crossed the street to the Petersen House, the house were Lincoln was pronounced dead. From here we headed to the Arts Museum to see some famous paintings from Da Vinci, Renoir and Monet. From here we headed to the Natural History Museum where we saw such items as the Hope Diamond, Dorothy's shoes (from the Wizard of Oz) and the original sign post used in MASH. We then headed back to the Air and Space Museum were we sat and had a coffee and our legs let us know that enough was enough.

11/04/2008 - 13/04/2008 - We have spent these couple of days enjoying the motor home and pottering around.

After looking back at the stress (and cold sores) and numerous discussions (that's what Dave likes to call them) and with the problems of the US Visa -we have decided that it was all worth while - we have learnt many things about travelling and Visa's and will be a lot more vigil next time we travel. To my surprise I have been interested in learning about the American History, it's a pity I didn't have this thirst for knowledge of history when I was back at school. We are having an absolutely fantastic time and are looking forward to seeing more of the States and then catching up with the Gantt family in Texas in June / July.