Escape • Explore • Enjoy

While the bodies still can and we still have our marbles!

Category: USA (page 1 of 2)

14/10/16 This Is It!

It’s hard to believe that we have been off the tandem for well over a month.  Fatty 29 has been sitting in a box under cover patiently waiting.  Waiting for us to be reunited again.  Waiting for us to leave the Americas Continent.  Waiting for us to head home to New Zealand.

This is the final blog post from the US.

Tomorrow, we leave to go home.

Now and again, it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

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Our visiting Kevin and Joan and Joan’s Mum Kate has been just that.  An exceptional pause.  The heartfelt hospitality has been on-going since we first hongied (rubbed noses) up until we hongied for the last time.  This time.

We are so lucky.

Many thanks K, J and Mum.  It’s been momentous.  It’s now precious.  Heartfelt at that.

To all that have continued to support us through following, again, a huge thank you to you too.

Love to one and all from the Rurus.

Every ending is just a new beginning.

This is it!

12/10/16 Manhattan: The Heart Of “The Big Apple.”

Manhattan is the most densely populated of New York City’s 5 boroughs.  It’s mostly made up of Manhattan Island, bounded by the Hudson, East and Harlem rivers. Among the world’s major commercial, financial and cultural centers, it’s the heart of “the Big Apple.” Its iconic sites include skyscrapers such as the Empire State Building, neon-lit Times Square and the theatres of Broadway.

Today we took some bites from the apple itself!

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A deep blue sky made for a magnificent skyline as downtown rose up from the horizon from the ferry.  The copper statue of a robed female figure with a torch raised high and holding a tablet symbolises freedom of liberty.  It was the first bite of the apple.

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Wall street led us to the 9/11 Memorial.  Who can remember what they were doing (let alone forget) the morning of September 11, 2001?  We stood in silence at the two pools set in the footprints of the original Twin Towers with thirty-foot waterfalls that cascaded into pools that descended into a center void.  The names of the victims are inscribed in bronze parapets around the pools.  There are nearly 3,000 of them.

A Callery pear tree known as the “Survivor Tree” found by workers in the wreckage at Ground Zero has been nursed back to health.  It’s resiliency a show of respect preserving the honor of those affected by the event in history.

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Taking the underground subway today was not an option.   We walked the umpteen many blocks we clocked up today looking up, down, left and right; it was just a spectacle of old and new, high and low, historical and current, poor and rich.

From the 86th Floor Observatory (320m) of theEmpire State Building, we looked down on what we looked up at.  It was panoramic views for as far as the eyes could focus from the 360-degree open-air deck.  It stood as the world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years from it’s completion in early 1931.  It regained that mantle again after 9/11 till the World Trade Centre surpassed greater height in 2012.

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The old decor is intertwined with a modernisation retrofit to improve it’s energy efficiency.  The box that pulls you up and lets you down gently eased any vertigo thoughts.  If you can manage conquering a fear of heights, the experience was nearly the apple fully eaten down to it’s core.  It’s exceptionally well worth it.

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Times Square was all in your face pulsating lit up bill boards.  It’s okay to swallow an apple pip isn’t it?  The neighbouring streets are where you can find the true glitz of Broadway shows with live theatres.  How old were you when Frank Spencer first appeared in the Phantom of the Opera?  And there it still was, the mask displayed to be the longest running show in Broadway history.

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From below the aching plodding legs, undergrond trains rumbled with vents of steam wifting into the breathable air space.  Yellow Taxi’s honked effortlessly in traffic jams; peddlers selling their wares were plenty beit food stalls, clothing stands or shoe shines.

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We wandered into the lower realms of the green belt – Central Park.  Horse and carts, rickshaws, grit iron balls, runners and cyclists, walkers like us and heaps of people just laid out on their backs basking in the sun.  A little girl tendering to a rabbit she had taken on a picnic stole the camera frame. It was so cute.

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Retracing our direction up Fifth Avenue to the train station, we window perved the high end shops.  Wealth can be exchanged for a slinky fur or bedazzling hand bag; a swanky suit or spit polished footwear.

The Library that appeared in ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ movie was although concrete in colour, splendid and graceful.  TheTrump Tower was a beacon for publicity with protesting placard welding people fronting the entrance.  I guess iconic in it’s own right.

There is always at least one bad apple in a crate!

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9-10/10/16 Vermont to New Jersey: Peaks

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When Sally and Murph communicated the concept of crossing the land of the ‘Stars and Stripes’ by tandem cycle to respective parents, they were surprised with the positive parent responses.  They were prepared for the sinking of such a notion before a single pedal was rotated.

Sally’s Dad offered some advice that there will be valleys and peaks as you travel across.  However, when you reflect back on life, it will be the peaks that you will always remember.  How cool was that?

Agreement was reached that they would phone home (back in 1988, the only telephone technology were landlines) to let them know that they had arrived at their daily destination safely.  Parents need that peace of mind to sleep easy at night.

And so they crossed the US safely through phoning home.  Regularly.

During the coast to coast adventure, Murph proposed to Sally at Jenny Lake.  With a resounding “Yes.” it would prove to be a peak of the journey.  How could it not be?

Sally purchasing two wedding magazines each weighing a tonne was a valley.  Let’s focus on the peaks!

Huh, remember Sally’s Dad being comfortable with them cycling across however, keep in touch by phone.  Well, unbeknown to Sally and Murph, he called ahead to the local Police enforcement regulary asking them to keep an eye out for them.  And so they did.

Sally’s Dad was in Central Intelligence.  Kid’s need that peace of mind that parents do care so as kid’s too sleep easy at night.  A peak on top of a peak.  How cool was that?

The weekend spent in Vermont was certainly amazing.  Whenever we get asked what is a favourite spot on the planet we have travelled to, the autumn fall kaleidoscope in Vermont has to be up there.  It’s was certainly a peak.  Our peak.

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The people we shared the view from the top, precious.

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8/10/16 Vermont: When Will I Be Holding The Book?

We stood at the back so as not to stand out.  Wearing jandals and shorts, I stood out.

When the fella at the front of the room welcomed everybody, the buzz of noise abated and only his voice was to be heard.  Welcome salutations were short and sharp and then bam, straight into it.

“Lot 1, an Oak table that extends to seat six in excellent condition, it’s value is three hundred, who will give me a starting bid of three hundred?”

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We had ventured down to a local shed in Newfane where the weekly auction was taking place.  Having arrived a bit earlier to follow the line of people shuffing to look at stuff to be put under the hammer, the only piece that stood out as being something worth a raised paddle wave too was a trombone!

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In quick fire precision, item after item was bid for and when the successful “sold” sounded, the item was exited outdoors to another area for the lucky purchaser to uplift when proceedings concluded.   There was no way my weekly allowance in my wallet was ever going to see the daylight.   One buck doesn’t go far these days!

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Great to see stuff getting repurposed versus ending up in a landfill somewhere.  We departed before my dream piece of brass made it to the front of the crowd leaving the hill billies to it.

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We returned home to help with stacking wood till the first creepy thing wiggled.  Orange midget snakes had me drop a pile of wood and scream.  Had the others pissing themselves when they turned out to be Salamanders.  They may have been innocent.  So the hell was I trying to be put to good use and contribute to our lodgings!

Later, aroma’s from the kitchen  where Red Wine Braised Five Hour Short Ribs were being prepared.  Kevin and Ken are reknown for their apron teamansmanship and culinery area of ‘enjoy cooking for others’ pursuits.

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Kevin once tried out for second season Master Chef USA and our senses from the lounge were being confused with what was being infused.  All was defused later.

Rumours were afloat that both  were keen to write a cooking book based on the signature dishes they have had glasses raised to in salute, many an occassion.

When the dishes were plated and served up, glasses again were lifted together around the table.  The 1999 Te Motu red wine from New Zealand just another smiley face collected from their extended hospitality.

The meal was just equisite; the wine to savour trying not to swallow so it lasted; and the conversation not as horrible as the night before. Serenading music with the trombone was the only thing missing!

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As the last of the meal morsel was lost to the mouth, I so wanted to lick the plate for every last residue remnant but knew that would result in a slap.

Instead, it was high five’s all round.  Then the question asked.

When will I be holding the book?

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7/10/16 Vermont: It Was So Easy To Be Lost In Thought.

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dsc07643-1280x853The girls were a good 200 metres out in front.  Every now and again I would catch a muffle of their voices conversing.  Lola was running and darting and sniffing. I wondered if the pads under her paws would ever get sore from so much distance covered through nose to ground exploration.

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dsc07652-1280x853I was in my own little world trailing behind and although we knew the route taken would lead us back home, it was so easy to be lost in thought.  Cloudless blue and pungent autumn.

We had to step into the undergrowth off the road as vehicles passed so as not to become road kill.  Care had to be taken not to tread on anything living within.  There are snakes in these part of the woods. Bears too.

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Once off the tarseal and onto the gravel road, it cut through forest and small pockets of farmland.  Black coloured sheep spoke to each other that echoed across the valley.  A couple of pick-up trucks passed us and sadly, one of them had flattened two snakes at different parts of the road being trodden.   No bush wee’s this walk; hold and burst!

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It was a magical five miles of beauty and had the mind, body and soul energized.

Just as well.  New folks Ken and Danielle arrived, as did Paul a little later.  Great friends of Joan and Kevin, they were joining us for the weekend.  Ken is a Life Coach; Danielle a full-time Mum to their son Cai; and Paul a writer for a Corporate.  Paul and his late wife Sally cycled across America on a tandem back in 1988.

With the opportunity to associate with a cool bunch of like-minded people, woven conversations were enthusing and enlightening and full of banter and laughter.  Especially when we were introduced to a game called Cards Against Humanity – a party game for horrible people.

Unlike most of the party games we have played before, it was as dispicable and awkward as we wanted it to be.  We have learnt some new vocabulary!  The Rurus were outright winners and let me add, it’s not for the politically correct nor mamby pamby person – so be warned.

We will be bringing one home with us!

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6/10/96 New Jersey to Vermont: Mother Nature’s Canvas

Our noses were pointed toward part of the New England region as we headed into the wilderness for the weekend.  Joan and Kevin wanted us to experience a piece of the countryside where the colour of seasonal change would take your breath away.

That had nothing to do with their driving on the inter-state neither!  That was a separate gasp of breath encounter.

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Our leg stretch was at Woodstock made famous for a 1969 music festival that attracted over 400,000 ‘love and peace’ counter culture generationals.  Creedance Clearwater Revival, The Who, Joe Cocker, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin just to drop some names of musicians who attended over the three days of drugs, mud (from downpouring rain) and hippie-ivities.  It’s one of the 50 Moments that changed rock and roll as stated by Rolling Stone.   No magic mushrooms for us during our stretching!

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Vermont, known for it’s natural landscape with thousands of acres of mountain terrain, it is the capital for the production of the gooey sticky stuff, maple syrup.  The first spring thaw signals the beginning of harvest season, from tree to table pancakes; it’s the place where is all begins.

Today though, the foilage is reaching the full aging cycle turning crimson, orange, and yellow from the once lush green.  Eventually, everything turns brown.  The sap went indoors to hibernate long ago.

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As suburbia lessoned, the forrest lands strengthened.

And so did mother nature’s canvas of water colour or pastel or oil or acrylic.

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No artist could ever capture what we were experiencing.

The sound of a leaf drifting toward gravity and it’s touchdown spot like a space capsule returning to earth is a soft silence.  There were literally millions of touchdowns already.  And a whole universe still to go.

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As we sat on the front deck over looking more of the same, the shadows became twilight as the sun disappeared over the horizon.  It was just picture perfect.

It really did.  It took our breaths away.

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5/10/16 New Jersey: PMJ at Count Basie.

PMJ at Count Basie … it was the ‘Americ’a Got Talent’ automatic gold buzzer!

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As we sat in our seats 103 and 104 of row F, we had no idea what we were in for.  We thought we were just going to a pub to watch a band however, we were in the Count Basie Theatre on Red Bank, New Jersey about watch a live stage performance of Postmodern Jukebox.

They jazzed up a collection of songs both new and old to deliver them with such voice and engagement that had heads in front bobbing to the beat of the tunes ringing out.  Lady Gaga’s prop with a tap dancer, just brilliant.

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We too jiggled in our seats like no one was watching.  Claire was happy the lights in the audience were dimmed.  Something to do with my style of floppy chicken dance style sitting down!

Such raw talent was inspiring; check out there presence on youtube – Postmodern Jukebox.  I’m quietly confident you too would jiggle in the confines of your own computer space.

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A must see if they tour near you.

Theatre attendances are a rarity for us … we must get out more!

4/10/16 New Jersey: What Is Ireland’s Official Colour?

What is Ireland’s Official Colour?

a) Blue

b) Orange

c) White

d) Green

I have no idea! But aren’t Leprechaun’s lemon colour?

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The question and optional answers were on a external wall of an Irish Pub that we stopped at after breakfast at a re-known diner – Frank’s Deli and Restaurant.

The pub had all sorts of paraphinalia plasted to the frontage, there was no rhyme or reason.  However, some of the objects put a grin on one’s dial.  Some objects, a shake of the head.

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Making pleasantry conversation with the waitress at the diner resulted in being served up a complimentary ‘world-famous’ jellie donut.  A nice sugary sweet after the pork roll that was the breaky feast.

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An original framed menu hanging from it’s wall showed the joint had been around since 1960.  The number of people who where frequenting it indicated it’s popularity.  Quite a few looked like they had eaten a tonne of the jellie donuts since then too.   Just an observation!

We had entertaining enlightenment of watching the Vice-Presidential debate on television!  As someone who is visiting, it’s not for us to give an opinion on another country’s political process system but OMG, what a debacle the U.S. back yard is in with electing a new President.

When it comes to foreign policy toward other countries affairs,  perhaps a suggestion could be that they should stay home to sort themselves out before trying to tinker beyond their shores.

It had the head shaking for a second time today.

Another quote etched onto the Irish Pub’s door window glass read:

“Congress – the  loudest most dangerous obnoxious viscously aggressive least intelligent of all primates.”

To be sure, to be sure, to be sure … I have checked and that is exactly what it read.

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What an exciting time ahead for the American voter!

Keep breathing people, it’s not worth holding ones breath.

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3/10/16 New Jersey: Everything Was Going Well Until We Heard The Screech & Clunk.

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Our eyes were affixed to the mobile phone trying to determine which direction to go to find the streets we drove through last evening.  Kevin had sourced us some bikes and we had taken off on them for a blat, the first since we disembarked Fatty 29 (our tandem!).

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dsc07458-1280x853Just like the good old times, bum on bike seat, rotating knees, firm grip of handle bars, head scanning the ground infront for smooth terra firma, and no weight being towed.  Or in Claire’s case, being pushed!  Everything was going well until we heard the screech and clunk to look up and see another cyclist in a heap on the road having been knocked off by the car now stationary.

We scrambled.  Lifting the bike off the chap groaning underneath was the easy part.  Shouting my name and so he was conscious of who I was, it was a flood of A-B-C first aid administration simultaneiously as Claire directed traffic that had slowed to gawk and the driver calling the ambulance.

Once calmed down, the externals were grazes with some claret.  His breathing became more regular and every effort was made to try to have him remain lying down to no avail.  He got up and rubbed his leg to limp over to his bike now with a buckled front wheel and pleading with the fella to wait for the ambulance went on deaf ears.

He just wobbled up the street litterally, pushing his bike that also had a wobble!  Huh … and the driver was dumb founded!

A Police car showed up and we pointed in the direction of the cyclist so off they went in pursuit; then the ambulance and the same thing; and then two more Police cars to question us.  Because we didn’t actually see the accident, no statement was taken.

The cop pointed us in the direction we were googling for earlier, we got back on the bikes and pedalled off.

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Old photographs along the Ocean Avenue boardwalk intermingled with modern day art.  Being a week day, the crowds were sparse and no one was roller blading the boardwalk in stubbie shorts with top off jiggling to the music being played in big ear phone ear muffs!  I’ve watched too many movies!!

A lovely time from a bike seat, where city meets the sand and the future has been crafted from the past.  It was cool.

Police escort and all.

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2/10/16 New Jersey: The Freedom To Run Without Human Rules Giving The SeagullsThe What For.

dsc07323-1280x853The beach is no more that a couple of hundred metres walk up the road to the Atlantic Ocean.  If you get a clear day, you can see the shores of Spain!  Today wasn’t clear but overcast.  Maybe tomorrow.  Just beyond the breakers, hunting Porpoises in numbers surfaced to breath in a clockwise direction.

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Joan and Kevin’s dog Lola had the freedom to run without human rules giving seagulls the what for.  Debris was strewn at the high tide mark washed up from the boisterous weather earlier in the week.  Being good global citizens, we picked up as much as we could hold or squeeze into a bucket that was half submerged into the powdery grit.

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We took a drive out onto the Sandy Hook point where old barricks and battery enscarpments have laid silent for some time.  Once a hussle and bussle military presence, it now lays in decay.   There has been some effort in rejuvernating some of the old officer homesteads for public habitation or holiday homes.  It’s quite a tranquil spot.  On a calm day.

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We climbed by car up to the Twin Lights State Historic Park.  On a fine day you can see the Statue of Liberty.  Again, the haze of grey dampened that opportunity.  Weighing 10 tonnes and measuring 9.5 feet in diameter, the light house lens on display is powered by three 40 watt energy efficient light bulbs, that’s advanced technology for you.

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The site is also the spot where Guglielmo Marconi on 30 September 1899 tapped out a message to be the first practical demonstration of wireless telegraph.  We have experienced a lot of historical first’s to better mankinds existence which has been interesting.

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The wander down the Ocean Avenue Boardwalk further up the road from home was the best though.  We found a ‘Retro Arcade’ that had us challenging each other in Skee Ball which we had never heard of.  A Kiwi came out on top as over all winner, well done Claire!

An Arcade isn’t an Arcade without the backbone machine that tests your hand and eye co-ordination let alone your character – the mighty pin-ball machine.

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And there they were, a whole four rows of them dating back to before I we born.  Fully lit up, fully operational, ready to play.  It was Arcadian heaven!

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As the shiney silver ball bearing bounced off cushion walls with dings and chimes, the push-button gates tapped frantically to keep the ball in play, the score board flipped over like the airport arrival/departure boards of the same era before the arrival of the electronic lettering.

Ching ching ching ching, tap, tap, tap, dong dong, ding, dit dit dit dit, flip, flip, ching, ching …

Amen.

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