we are back in Seattle after nearly three weeks on the east coast. We’ve actually been back for a few weeks, but we have all
been getting over a mild dose of the flu (yuk).
We chose to go in early June to miss the summer vacation traffic.
What a good decision that was. Firstly
we did not have too many problems with long lines at security, only about ½
hour. Buffalo airport was the only place where the computer spat
out a “sss” on our ticket, which meant we were chosen at random to have a
full security search of person and bags. By
this time, I had gotten smarter and had taken all my jewellery off, so
that was cool and Rod did not wear his walking boots that have some metal in
there somewhere. They make you take
your shoes off and send them thru separately.
What fun, I wonder how many socks with holes they get to see!!
As the summer vacation time came on, Seattle International Airport found
a great way to piss travellers off, by making them wait in long lines, take two
hours to get thru security and for some, miss their planes all together,
needless to say the place has had a battering in the press.
This coming 4th July holiday they are “importing” security
people from elsewhere. Glad we are
not travelling now.
days of airplane food no longer exists, except for the first early flight from
Seattle to Cincinnati, where you got a “paper bag breakfast”.
All other flights only serve drinks and pretzels.
Did you know you can get too much of pretzels?
We certainly did! We also
became adept at asking for the exit seats, which give you a bit more room.
And we figured out that you need to buy your food at the airport before
boarding the flight. Despite all
the stuff over here about possible terrorist strikes over the Memorial Day
weekend (we were in New York that weekend) the planes were quite full … drat!
York was just awesome (a favourite American word, pronounced aaarsome), we
chose to take the bus and then the subway (silly us with our bags) to our hotel,
which was just off Broadway Avenue, not far from the middle of Central Park.
We did all the tourist stuff, Empire State Building, Museum of Natural
History, Ellis Island and “the Statue”, even stayed on the train out to
Coney Island. Security was a bit of
a drag because of Memorial Day weekend and the Navy Fleet being in town.
If you are a person who likes a man in uniform … it was smorgasbord
time !!!. For each place you went
it was the line and the metal detector and bag check stuff.
We found going early made a difference.
At the Guggenheim Gallery … the exhibit they had on was weird and
distressing, so we did not stay very long, the bucketing rain outside was a
better option! The World Trade
Centre site, known locally as Ground Zero, was a sobering experience.
We even had to go back for a second look, because Rod was so blown away
the first time that he forgot to take any photos.
Fortunately, the site has not been “improved” in any way, with a
simple wide footpath & high chain fence overlooking the construction works.
Very low key & no vendors on that side of the street.
The shopping in NY is to die
for, put a limit on your credit card, all the retail therapy your heart
desires!!! Get rid of your
therapist and come shopping!! The
outlet stores are just something else. Here
each season has “a look”, and it changes each season, so there is a lot of
stuff in the outlets at 75% off.
Square was everything you expect it to be !!
All the colours, lights and buzz you see on TV, right down to the giant
Toys’R’Us on one of the main corners – it has a mini Ferris Wheel about 2
stories high, in the foyer. The
Rockefeller Centre was also fantastic, you can look in the window and see them
produce the CNN News, and just off this street is another danger zone for credit
cards … The Diamond Street, where all the diamond traders are, it was almost
too much for a girl to take. No, I
was good, no purchases, but boy it was hard.
was pretty tough. The US has a
5-level threat alert system – low (green), guarded (blue), elevated (yellow),
high (orange) & severe (red) - their website.
The whole time we were away, it was at orange, although we had reason to
believe that during the Memorial Day long weekend, it had been raised to red,
but the public hadn’t been informed. It
remains at yellow at present & is unlikely to go below that.
don’t get many long weekends over here, for that matter they don’t get many
public holidays – only about 4 a year.
The next big one is the 4th July, when it seems the whole
country takes to the road.
Falls was everything we expected it to be.
We crossed the border to Canada & stayed there for 2 nights, in one
of the hotels that overlooks the falls. The
Canadians have certainly done a lot of work to make their side attractive to
tourists, while maintaining a balance with the natural beauty of the area.
At one of the sites, you go down a lift (sorry, elevator) & through a
tunnel in the rock, to come out at the river in the gorge below the falls, then
walk along a boardwalk on the bank. Having
nearly drowned in a Grade 3 rapid, Rod really appreciated seeing a Grade 6 one
from the safety of dry land. The
Maid of the Mist boat really is all that it’s touted as – it charges right
up into the base of the main falls – the power of all that water just takes
your breath away & that’s while you’re been drenched.
There is also a walk that takes you behind the Falls, so that you come
out at the base on one part and actually behind the water, down a further tunnel
explored over to the US side of the Falls – to find a tired looking area with
many shops and stores shut, it looked very sad.
Especially when you go back - thru customs … yes, you guessed it, more
uniforms asking questions in that abrupt voice
- back to the vibrant Canadian side.
Our next stop was to the city
of Orlando in Florida. What a
difference, from jumpers to hot and humid.
We got in at midnight, got our rental car and did not get lost on the way
to the hotel. How come? – Because
the car had one of those little boxes with a nice lady trapped inside that told
you that “in 0.5 miles you are turning left”.
What a blessing the GPS system turned out to be.
Got us down to Daytona Beach, Coco Beach and a drive thru the Florida
swamps without getting lost. Only
one thing though, did you know they don’t work in a gale force thunderstorm?
We found out the fun way – in winds that almost blew the road sign
came to Orlando to play, and that we did. We
chose not to go to Disneyland this trip (that’s for California). We went to Universal Studios – what a blast, the rides are
fantastic. Rod and Stew did the
Rollercoasters (seats were size challenged for me J).
The Men In Black and Terminator 3 rides where thrilling.
It was so hot that you didn’t mind the “getting wet” rides like
Jurassic Park. Again we learnt that
getting there early means less time in long lines that can take 75 mins before
you are on.
also went to Seaworld, where Doris could have stayed almost forever.
We spent ages at the baby dolphin pool & saw the Orca show.
was awe stuck to see these wonderful whales at such a close range, but was torn
about it as well. She felt that
after seeing them in the wild, that was where these whales should also be.
It is a bit of a payoff – at least here they can help to teach people
about our world and all its blessings and treasures.
short drive to Kennedy Space Centre was Rod’s choice.
The amount of resources that go into the space program is thing that
actually gets to you after a while. Of
course you don’t get to go NEAR anything, but it’s nice to at least see the
good stuff from a distance.
Beach was “interesting”. Stewie’s
rally navigator description of the speedway is, “Go fast, turn left,
repeat”. We did at least get to
drive on the beach on the other side of the continent & rescue some damsels
in distress who had driven off the “road” a bit too far.
We had only just pushed them out when a Beach Inspector came along (capitals
included to denote importance). Instead of simply admitting that they had made a error in judgement, he
came the heavy with them first, babbling on about it being a felony to drive on
the turtle eggs, then backed off to a warning. They were just glad to get out of there & get their feet wet.
has proved to be much harder that any of us could have imagined. You seem to need to be prepared to go through the bullshit
processes before you can do anything. Maybe
it’s to prove that you REALLY want to help them.
It’s certainly given Doris a lot of thinking material on how to treat
people when they walk through that door. Have
we mentioned yet that Americans in general find it hard to think outside the
square? Combine that with up to 4 levels of government, Federal,
State, County & City, and you finish up with enough bureaucratic crap that
it’s no wonder they have to go to war to feel good about themselves.
Did we say that, out loud? Oops.
far, Doris has helped out a few times at the local Thrift Shop & managed to
be treated like a piece of furniture, Stewart has played for a local High School
Rugby team & not made any new friends out of it, and trains with another
Rugby team who have even less regard for him.
There are, however, a couple of faint glimmers of hope.
Stewart is about to start as a volunteer Gym administrator, helper, type
person at the local YMCA & both have started the 4-week training program to
become Zoo Ambassadors at the Woodland Park Zoo, which is one of the best that
we have seen.
Rod continues to go to work 9 days a fortnight & can’t tell you any more
than that or he’ll have to arrange to have you shot, because he can’t do