The Ruru's

T.I.M.E. Habits • Minimalists • Travel Enthusiasts

Category: USA 2016 (page 2 of 2)

1/10/16 Old Saybrook to New Jersey: Introduced To The Borat Suit By An English Fella

When the message came through first thing, we were gutted for Ken.

Someone had stolen his bike overnight from his warmshowers homestay in Boston.

Ken had cycled from Seattle to Mexico on it; had shared our journey having crossed Canada on it; and was now tracking south toward Cuba on it.

When you spend cupious amounts of time in solitude on it, the relationship you have with the bike is a not only a partnership, it is a friendship.  Like a pet is to an animal lover, a bike is to a cyclist.

Mind you, there were moments on our ride where we hoped the tandem would get flogged!  It would have been easier to use an excuse to give up versus a reason to keep going.  Hindsight is wonderful and we are happy that it wasn’t.

The key is that when faced with adversity and things do go wrong, do you get better or bitter?  Do I approach it with the glass-half full or keep re-living it as the glass half-empty?  Either way, the choice is ours to make, no matter the opinion or advice of others.

We hit the road bound for New Jersey deciding to take the number one feeder road off the highway for most of it.  We zigged and we zagged  and we stopped and we started (over 500 traffic light intersections!) as we skirted the outer limits of down town New York.

Joining the dots from Old Saybrook New Jersey took over six hours with more neighbourhood suburbia living and business districts navigated.

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Pulling up out front of our friends Joan and Kevin that was a long time in the making, became a reality.  What was significant about this visit is the deja vu timing of it.

fb_img_1475490490421After we cycled the length of New Zealand back in 2007, we decided to take a rest holiday on a small Fijian Island – Matamanoa, whereby we met a group of people including Joan and Kevin.  And now nine years later we were here after our Canadian cycling about to spend time with J & K again.  We were fizzed to say the least.

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By the time we were boated off Matamano, our wood and straw Bure became the ‘happy hour’ place to happy hour at before the resort ‘happy hour’; we attended two hen/bachelor parties and their respective weddings with being the bridesmaid and best man at one of them; coached the whole island the ‘haka’ so as the surrounding islands could hear the nightly performance; was introduced to the ‘borat suit’ by an English fella who won his ticket to the island from entering a shopping mall kareoke competition during a lunch hour and won; and amongst other things, mentored the card game ‘Five Crowns’ to the group who have become close friends regardless of their geographical residence.

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We expect the next couple of days will be much like the time spent with them before out in the Pacific … happy hours, banter, laughter, five crowns and a haka or two.

Listen for them!

Before we knocked on the door, a pause was taken to remember the others from Matamanoa.

And a short “keep going Ken” under the breath.

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30/9/16 Newport to Old Saybrook: Not Sure Living In Confined Spaces Under The Surface Is Us.

A combination of co-pilot rally driver and rally driving like the rental car was stolen had us keeping up with the rest of them in the traffic flow.  It was when we entered the little towns with narrow one ways that had the team work go pair shaped!  You can truely see the whites of peoples eyes in on-coming traffic sharing the same bit of roading from opposite directions, ahem!  We got through the day un-scratched and still in love!

What the hell do they mean by ‘Gilded Age?’  This term is used for illustrious mansions a top the cliff walk. They were massive and pompous and just the gate lighting itself on one property was longer than Claire in height.  The in-shore wind breeze blew the grey’s from the scalp, sometimes wettened from the salty sea spray as waves crashed over the rocks shouldering the walkway.

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Newport itself has America’s Cup history.   Not much memorabilia about good ole New Zealand’s moment in time when we lifted it off the Yanks neither!  In fact, none at all.  The shipyard had yachts fully exposed on gigantic hoists with bodies of people doing maintenance.  Some of the masts were thirty times longer than the gate lighting from our ealier walk, the masts just went up, up, up.

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As did the Claibourne Pell Newport Bridge.  At 3,428 metres in length and 120 metres high, it’s older than Claire having opened 28 June 1969.

They certainly build things big here!

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We went off route to try to spy on the US Submarine Naval base prior to our end destination.  The museum would have made for an interesting visit had we taken the correct turn – some misunderstanding between instruction and listening.  However, the submarine we could see from an observation point parked up beside a dock was again big.  Not sure living in confined spaces under the surface is us.

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From Rhode Island to Connecticut.  It was fast, fanciful and fun.

New Jersey … here we come!

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29/9/16 Hampton to Newport: The After Sex Chat Went On A Lot Longer.

If you woke up in the early hours of the morning and heard the neighbouring motel room active with sounds of sex, would you:

a) try to ignore and think of a happy place yourself to try and drift back off to sleep?

b) listen and imagine life on the opposite side of the wall?

c) listen and dream of life on the opposite side of the wall?

d) if you are already in bed with your loved one, get frisky with them in the hope for the best although you know you have to prepare for the worst?

d) get angry that it’s disrupting your beauty sleep?

e) none of the above?

The muffled noise was obvious; the after sex chat went on a lot longer.

Sleep did prevail and although somewhat tired when the minds and bodies did come fully conscious, we had to carry on with life remembering that if your neighbours are too loud and keep you up at night, it means your ears are still functioning properly!

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Cape Cod is separated by a canal constructed for ships to passage through so as not to go the long way around.  The bridges connecting the mainland are magnificent structures, especially the train one that was hoisted high up into the sky.

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To view the vast motorway and side road systems from above would be interesting to see.  Four lanes for the traffic volume leading into central Boston kept ones wits about them.  Road signage is just brilliant so as to stay true to the line of destination and when outer city limits met inner-city neighbourhood to then become the concrete jungle, perspective of how large Boston actually is became reality.  It was scary!

The underground tunnel was just as hairy and before we knew it, we popped up the other side not having taken one photo of downtown itself.  Hairs on the back of our necks subsided temporarily.  New York City has to be crossed over in a day or two so they will be back.

Them and goosebumps as that jungle is a bigger beast!

More antique shops,  orange pumpkins and fast food joints held hands along the route today.

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The motel we found was the first one to present arriving guests with a goodie bag full of treats; Claire taking ownership of consuming the chips so as I stay strong to the ‘no chips and no beer’ goal.

We knew that we would be safe with better sleep tonight.  Our room is next door to the motel laundry.  Surely they don’t wash and dry bed linen under the cover of darkness.

What would you do if they did?

28/9/16 Portland to Hampton: With Hesitation, They Are Beautiful.

Our introduction to Airbnb accommodation was brilliant.  It was no different to the home-stays we experienced in Canada with amazing hospitality.  Being able to scramble eggs that were freshly laid made for a better taste than the factory produced caged ones.  Even the cats got into rapport as if we were part of the furniture.

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The plan is to be hugging our friends Joan and Kevin in New Jersey by Saturday arvo.  It’s approximately 700 kms to drive to them give or take a wrong turn or several and so we have some time to spend time off the main highway to meander and stop.

Pumpkins and scarecrows and more customary Halloween traditions are rampant as were the number of Antique Shops fronting the road travelled today.  Fall (Autumn) has started and it won’t be long before play leaf fights will be in motion.

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The first known enslaved African, a man from Guinea, arrived in Portsmouth in 1645.  He was among hundreds of African captives to live in slavery in New Hamshire.  Standing at the African Burying Ground Memorial (in Portsmouth) where the spirits of those forceably removed from their homeland to become enslaved in America laid was naturally gloomy.

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It’s a site to remember those who were forgotten and acknowledges their humanity.  Those buried there are not part of a black history or a white history; but a collective one.

Further down the road however, the historical society have preserved the old town where the owners of the enslaved lived.  The buildings date back over two hundred centuries and the oldest headstone we could find in a cemetary close by was dated June 2nd 1796.  With hesitation, they are beautiful.

 

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There is some mild understanding now as to current events happening in America over race relations.

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There is no evidence of the Native Indians who once roamed these lands neither!

27/9/16 Portland: The Only Golden Thing About Them Would Be Their Pee.

dsc07107-1280x853The Portland Head Light is an automated historic lighthouse on the Cape at the entrance into Portland harbour.  Completed in 1791, it’s stature is one of the most photographed across any US foreshore.

It certainly is a tourist attraction by the bus load hordes of folk congested around it’s base and surround.   There was a cruise ship in harbour, even parts of down town were shoulder to shoulder walking room only.

Most of them were near death; some could hardly walk; nearly all spoke with ‘Downtown Abbey’ poshness; and later stage of life obesity meant wide berthing frequently.   Huh, the golden years.  The only golden thing about them would be their pee!!

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Converted warehouses into funky eating establishments and boutique shops allowed for browsing.  Our favourite shop, ‘The Good Life’ which came about from two brothers selling t-shirts from the back of their car.

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It resonated with us just how good we have got it still being middle aged and having the ability to do cruises ourselves except, by pedal power.dsc07079-1280x853

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Watch out for your footing on the cobblestone streets.  A reminder of yesteryear surviving the devasting fire on Independence Day, 1886 that wiped out most of the downtown commercial buildings.

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The fence with hundreds of locks bolted to it was tempting to try to open a combination one and the piece of the Berlin Wall had us stop in awe at a piece of history from another part of the planet.

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Being a city, beggars are frequent on street corners holding signs for that loose nickel or dime you have weighing you down.  With last nights debate between the two Presidential candidates, we wondered if the millions spent on campaigning could be better put to a great cause use.

A stark reminder how grateful we have got it.

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26/9/16 Yarmouth to Portland, Maine, US: I Could See The Yellow Glove Treatment Emotion In The Officers Expression.

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The monstrosity of the ferry had to be boarded by bus and so we bundled into one with our luggage, first on best seat.  The Cat named ‘Alakai’ was just as massive on the upper deck where we found a seat with surround views.

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dsc07039-1280x853Who should join us on the voyage across the waters to America but our American cyclist friend too, Ken.  He had cycled back from St John’s to Halifax and then shuttled to Yarmouth.  The ferry sailings are numbered as winter approaches.  Not a good situation missing the last of the ferries to then have to go back the long way round through New Brunswick!

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As more seats became occupied, it suddenlty dorned on us as to whether we needed a ‘visa’ given we were only going to be in the States for nigh on three weeks just passing through.  Oh shit!  The fine print said we did, even though there was some confusion whether our entry was classed as a land entry versus sea!!!!

Claire was frantic pushing mobile phone buttons applying for the waiver document they call ESTA.  Once the ferry was beyond the shores of Yarmouth, service would be lost and with it the possibility we would be returning because of being turned around at Customs and Immigration on the other side.  Eeeeeeek, stay calm Claire but hurry it along.

Huh, Ken said they have holding cells dockside for illegal immigrants like us without the proper clearances!  We’ve watched documentaries on prisoners in US detention centres … hurry Claire hurry, the ferry is moving.

With her application sent, there was only me to do.  The fine line between pressing the send button and and the no service signal  going ping was a split second.

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We were in no-man’s land as the ferry powered from the shores of Canada destined for the beaches of the US.  Five and a half hours to cross the open Atlantic sea.  Within a couple nautical miles from disembarking, the ferry pulled up and started reversing.

Did they too forget something and so were backing up to get it?  Nup, something had got sucked into the Cat’s intake turbines and the Captain was trying to spit it back out.  Everyone’s eyes were on what would bob up to the surface – a whale, a fishing boat or net, a container?  Or were they just flushing out the toilets before land fall.

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The short bus ride to Customs and Immigration when we did dock at Portland, Maine was tense because we had no phone service to receive a magical waiver form confirmation.

“Welcome to the States, what is your purpose of your visit?”

“Where will you be staying?”

“How long will you be staying?”

They processed Claire first; checked passport, took finger print scans and a photo.  The printer rattled out a form, it was the ESTA one.  A relief of “Yay.”

When it came to me it was passport checked and then, “Have you got your ESTA?”  At first I looked dumbfounded as to what to say.  Claire represented me with our frantic panic application over the waters some ways back explanation.  Apparently, mine wasn’t confirmed.

Oh great!  I could see the yellow glove treatment emotion in the Officers expressions on the other side of the terminal counter and standing there I jiggled with what happens now nervousness.

A Supervisor was called over, all the remaining bus passengers had been processed and were now on the bus waiting for us.  A conversation and a form filled in, finger prints and photo and then a rubber stamp versus a rubber glove.

“Welcome to America, please enjoy your stay.”

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We picked up our rental car, navigated to our Airbnb accommodation, found a Walmart to purchase a phone with some access to Google Maps and over a glass of Australian Merlot, sat around a breakfast bar with our hosts getting to know them.

Helping Tom put the cast iron furnace chimney back together signalled it was time to rub sticks together for a fire.  The first for this new winter season approaching.  It was just lovely as the naked flame behind the glass glowed and the homestead warmed up.

Strewth, what another day in the lives of the Rurus!

The statement of the day had to be the one made by the receptionist at Enterprise cars when a customer asked if they had GPS for hire.

“We lost our privileges and therefore, our customers did too.”

Thank goodness the good ole US of A gave out a ‘get out of jail’ pass privilege.

To have been sent back to Canada or be held in a detention cell, no correspondence necessary!

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