New Orleans revisited

When we left New Orleans in September we vowed to come back towards the end of our trip. At that time it was difficult to say whether we were crazy about the place because we’d just arrived in the South and everything was new and exotic, or if the city really was as special as we thought at the time. And after 22 states – yes, it really is that special!

We decided to try out some very touristy things, because our trusted guide book recommended it and because Dane really wanted to. So on our first day, we went on a two hour river cruise on the Steamboat Natchez. A very lovely experience that didn’t feel like a rip-off at all. The Mississippi really is mighty and sailing on her was something special. And on a steamboat. Even if that steamboat was only built in 1978. You should have heard the steampipe organ. It is WAY beyond description!

Next on the touristy agenda was a ride with a mule buggy. We were rather lucky with the driver – he was of Irish descent, but his accent was pure New Orleans – through and through. Dane claimed not to have understood one word he said. And he said a lot! And let Dane drive the mule. He (Dane, that is) was so proud and never realized that the mule knew it’s way through the French Quarter better than most. And also knew to stop at the lights! The driver told one dirty Irish joke after another – among lots of both interesting and juicy (but not necessarily true) anecdotes about New Orleans.

After that we were ready for some food and chose the much recommended Acme Oyster House. Even if it had a queue outside, we were inside in a few minutes. The food was very good – particularly the chargrilled oysters. Mmmmm. But the service. It was super quick – we’d hardly sat down before the waitress was all over us to make up our minds NOW. And the oysters were on the table in a couple of minutes. But – unfortunately – so were our main courses. Which of course meant that the main courses got cold before we could get around to them. And the noise level! Quite stressfull dining experience – in spite of the lovely food at very fair prices.

The black cab driver who took us home was a man who knew how to multi-task. He was on his cell having a very serious discussion with his wife about their finances. And he was discussing with the dispatch about his next ride. And explaining stuff to us. The radio was on too. All this besides driving… But he got us home safely and quickly.

The next day we decided to venture into town (campground is 6 miles west of downtown) by way of public transportation. That’s another first on this trip. So we went across the street to the bus stop. Very soon an elderly black man came, lugging a huge carry-all. He spoke in the dialect I’ve read that the slaves spoke. He said: “Y’all gotta ax the driver”. He was mighty friendly though. Well on board the bus we were approached by a number of more or less strange characters, both blacks and whites. But they were all extremely kind and helpful. We changed from the bus over to the newly reinstated St. Charles streetcar. That was a wonderful experience. The streetcar has only been back in action (after Katrina) for a few weeks. When we were in New Orleans last time, it wasn’t running.

We got off in the Garden District because we wanted to revisit the wonderful flag-shop we visited the last time we were there. Last time Dane got a wind spinner depicting a helicopter, but unfortunately – and the cause of much crying – he forgot it hanging from a tree in Savannah. This time we got two… And a long chat with Brad & Dellwen, the two ageing chaps who run the shop together. They certainly were characters too. Dellwen showed me what Brad had brought back with him after having left him to hike in Alaska for several weeks: A big gold ring, studded with diamonds. So sweet!

We jumped back on the streetcar and continued to the French Quarter again. We’d decided to have a proper meal for once, so had checked out the Zagat guide to restaurants. We’d chosen one and also been in there earlier to book a table. When we came back to claim it, the snotty hostess told us we couldn’t get in, because David was wearing shorts. They could have told us that the first time round, we thought! We trodded on, wondering what to do, because Dane was getting tired. On the way David had the good fortune of being shat on by a pigeon. At the time he didn’t appreciate it at all and was swearing a good deal… But just around the corner was a restaurant with a beautiful courtyard where people were dining. That was exactly what David had been longing for. Sitting outside among palm trees and having a lovely meal. They didn’t mind the shorts or the six-year-old, so we got a table in a corner by a little fountain. In Zagat we read (under the table) that this was one of New Orleans’ top restaurants, Bayona. What amazing luck! David now blessed the pigeon rather than cursed it. We had lovely food and a really, really nice evening. It was expensive for New Orleans, but not at all compared to Copenhagen or London. Just this one example: I had a glass of a wonderful late harvest with my coffee, a wine I’ve tasted before. Reason I remember it, is that it shares it’s name with my brother. It cost 5$ for a glass.

Needless to say, we were approached by more very special characters while waiting for a taxi outside. One guy wanted to make the DJ across the street play Puff the Magic Dragon for Dane, but of course needed a few bucks first, another guy told us not to trust the first guy. And then a biiiig SUV drove up and six black youngsters, all in white, got out, the biggest one of them with a huge snake around his neck… and true to form, our Pakistani taxidriver believed in The Jewish Conspiracy and talked all the way about politics in Pakistan, Iraq and US. Only took a break to marvel over the fact that we actually knew who Benazir Bhutto is…

New Orleans, we will be back!

More pictures and bigger versions here.

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Vote!

Warning: This post is bordering on a lecture…

Tomorrow is election day in Denmark. We’ve had the right to vote for more than 150 years and too many Danes take that right for granted. However – it seems to me that even more Americans take it for granted. So granted that they don’t even bother to vote. Here you have to register to vote – but compared to how difficult it was for a black voter to register in the deep south of the fifties for instance, it’s not that difficult. But I guess, that when you don’t read a newspaper -and I’ve heard and read several times that many Americans have a good reason not to read a paper, the reason being that they are almost illiterate – and only watch the news, or what passes for news, on the local Fox channels, then you may easily lose any interest in voting.

And that’s so, so sad. Because it’s such a core right in a Democracy – think China, Burma, Iran etc. – and I’ve heard many people say: “Oh, I can’t be bothered, they are all corrupt anyway” or “It doesn’t make any difference to me, they are just thinking of themselves, all of them”. And both statements may have more than a little truth to them. But does not voting change that? NO NO NO!

So go and do you democratic duty: Vote!

And to my Danish friends, family and readers who happen to live in Copenhagen. If you haven’t made up your mind yet, then vote for my good friend Charlotte Fischer. She’s honest, hard working and most certainly not corrupt. So there…

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A wedding anniversary in Mississippi

If, on our wedding day, anybody had suggested that we’d celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary in a provincial town in Mississippi, we’d probably have laughed at the thought. But here we are! We’d decided to splash out on some sleeping accomodation that wasn’t the RV instead of presents. And according to various guide books, Nathcez on the Mississippi river in the south-westerly part of Mississippi would be a good choice.

Natchez is a strange place – it survived the civil war without battle, because it’s commander thought it impossible to win anyway and so just flew the white flag. So the town is full of antebellum houses. It does it’s very best to attract tourists, but isn’t alltogether succesfull. Something that’s  evident from the number of empty storefronts in downtown. At the same time some businesses seem to thrive – among these unfortunately the casinos. But also the guesthouses in antebellum plantation houses seem to do well for themselves. The one we chose was inside the town, because we wanted to be able to walk to the haunted King’s Tavern for dinner and on the whole not set eyes on the RV for a short while.

We had a lovely afternoon and evening and slept fitfully in big beds in a room 3 times the size of the RV. Next on the agenda is the “Full Southern Breakfast” which is something hotels and guesthouses take great pride in here – so we’re looking forward to it! I won’t be counting calories though – surely the breakfast will hold enough of them to keep me covered for a day or two…

It’s great to be back in the south – there’s something about it which I can’t define, but really like. And I like the warm weather too! Today we’re headed for New Orleans for a repeat performance. We loved that city and want to spend another day there. After that we’re headed for Texas again to complete this part of our trip by celebrating Thanksgiving with the family. We’re very much looking forward to that.

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Graceland

We emptied the RV of all valuables and carried them on our weary backs all day. You would’ve too, had you seen the RV park and Elvis Presley Boulevard. It’s wide, worn down, ill lit and filled with fastfood places, gas stations, boarded up former fastfood places and gas stations and various businesses in degrees of dilapidation. It is hard to picture what it looked like when Elvis bought Graceland.

We queued to get in there, but not too long. There was lots to look at – fun to see all the different kinds of people who thought it worth a journey to visit Elvis’ home. White people, black people, hispanics, a variety of Europeans, Japanese. Young and old, couples and singles and large families. Amazing!

Graceland is really quite modest in size, but the decor is absolutely wonderful. It’s so seventies that your toes curl. Personnally I liked the bar in the basement best – and Lisa Marie, his airplane.

Corner of bar room and detail from bathroom on plane.

Enough said about that – we got a great magnet for our collection and some super cool postcards and then went on into Memphis. What a lovely city that is! People of all colours and ages were extraordinarily friendly, even the hustlers on Beale Street were friendly! We had great lunch right there on touristy but still very bluesy Beale Street and then went to the Civil Rights Museum, which is inside the hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot in 1968. It was a good museum holding loads of information that was new to us, but is was a hard one for Dane because there was very little interactivity and a lot of reading to do. However, the best bit was the remake of the bus, where the famous Rosa Parks stood up to the white bus driver and two policemen in Alabama in 1955. Standing inside the bus I translated and explained the whole story to Dane, and that made a big impression on him. What made the biggest impression on me was to actually stand there outside the hotel room and the balcony where Dr. King was shot. Sometimes history works best that way – see it, feel it!

We had a look inside the lobby of the famous Peabody hotel and then had dinner in the Flying Fish in downtown Memphis. I had a large Margarita, large enough for David to share, so when we’d finished that, we’d had it and took a taxi back to the tacky RV site. But that didn’t matter, because we were tired and happy after a nice day in a very friendly place.

There are more pictures and a few side stories on Flickr.

This morning we got up early and drove south through most of Mississippi. That was sad and dreary and bleak. We drove on a road, marked on the map as scenic. I just don’t get it! We’re driving in the Mississippi delta so everything is flat flat flat. But not close enough to see the mighty Missy. And there is such poverty – right in your face. And poverty is never pictoresque, it’s always ugly. So we were happy to cross the Mississippi into Arkansas where we quickly found our nice RV park. It’s just the kind of place, which I’ve mentioned earlier that David and I like. Big shady Pecan (pronounced Pe’can) trees, no fancy trimmings, a lovely lake and room between the campers. And friendly people. Dane was lucky again to find a really sweet boy to play with, so it has been a very pleasurable afternoon and evening. And it’s nice and warm outside!

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We have officially re-entered the South

as we are now in Memphis, Tennessee. More about that tomorrow, when we’ve actually seen something other than this, the bleakest of campsites.

Yesterday morning David got up very early again – despite the freezing cold.

Inspired by the catch the night before, he litterally flew out of the RV and down to the river (Ohio River, Indiana) where he started pulling out fish. It was quite the reverse of the previous week. When Dane woke up, he quickly joined David to catch some fish of his own.

We drove further along the Ohio into Illinois and then into Kentucky. I’d made a “slight” miscalculation reading the map – not noticing that the crossing of the Ohio I’d chosen was actually not a bridge, but a ferry! We debated a little whether we dared chance it and go for the ferry – not having any idea how wide the river was going to be at that point, what kind of ferry it was, if it would let RVs on board, how often it sailed. And sunset was approaching fast, with another 30 miles to drive on the other side of the river – or 60 if we couldn’t get on board. We decided to chance it – and – if we weren’t lucky once more!

And so – besides having saved around 30 miles’ driving, we had this quite fantastic experience of being ferried across the river on this little pram together with 3-4 other vehicles (=pick-up trucks), that clearly made this journey every day! Check out that sunset! More pictures here. Furthermore it was free!

And speaking of luck, check the weather forecast for Memphis!

On today’s journey I was the one with a song in my head. And it’s not by Elvis. It’s probably one of my 20 favourite songs. Paul Simon’s Graceland.

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The mother road

 

Yesterday and today we’ve been travelling the Mother Road – Route 66. To be perfectly honest, it doesn’t distinguish itself a whole lot compared to so many other roads we’ve travelled. But the part we’ve been on (along the Ohio River in Indiana) is both hilly, forested and curvy, so fun to travel. Yesterday afternoon we found a cute little campsite (more like a parking lot with electric hook-ups, gas station and trucker restaurant). Again we had an undisturbed view of the river and again David went fishing. And this time he got lucky – that’s after a week of complete draught, not a fish in sight for many days. In the dark and cold evening he caught a beautiful walleye.

That sure made his day!

We had dinner at the above mentioned restaurant. We were the only customers – alone with the two sweet waitresses and a huge tv. We watched some CNN to catch up with world news, but didn’t really figure out whether anything really important has happened out there.

Check more photos here.

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Rising Sun

I like it. Most of the time the Americans seem very unoriginal when they name their towns. We must have passed at least a dozen Madisons, Columbus’, Fredericksburgs, Hoovers and Lebanons. We’re wondering a little bit about the Lebanons. Why is that name so popular? But Rising Sun, isn’t that just lovely? We also passed a town called Satan’s Kingdom (Vermont) – I don’t really believe in Hell or Satan or any of that, but still wouldn’t like to live there! And try to picture this: I arrive at an isolated spot by a beautiful lake in the mountains and say: Oh, it’s lovely here, I’ll settle with my family and I’ll call it Satan’s Kingdom???

By the way, early on in our travels I believe I wrote that my American family lives out in the sticks in the Texas hill country. I take that back. Where they live it’s litterally urban compared to rural Vermont or rural Ohio!

Today’s campsite is lovely. It’s right on the Ohio River (which forms the state line between Indiana and Kentucky) and David is thrilled to bits. The people here are very nice and friendly – they haven’t had any real Europeans (as opposed to Americans with a German grandmother) before, so we are a real novelty, totally exotic!

We just drove past Seagram’s Distillery, a huge factory complex which let out an awful smell and had stood there since 1857. That made us wish for G&T’s, but would you believe it? In Indiana they won’t sell you alcohol on a Sunday! Must be because we’re now in the bible belt, all though I don’t seem to remember any such restrictions in the Carolinas. Anyway – we’ll stick to the beer we already had in the RV and hold our gin-craving till tomorrow.

Dane is also very happy today. In the camper next door is a little boy from Tennessee, who’s just as thirsty after a playmate as Dane is. So they are playing away – it’ll be hard to get them to bed, but luckily they can play again tomorrow.

Huge barges sail by all the time. This river isn’t just for fishing and fun!

We’ve had an ongoing thing on our trip. David seems to have a hidden repertoire of old pop songs with references to American states, towns or rivers. And he drives along and sings happily. For those of you who know him well enough to have heard him sing, feel free to imagine.

The first time he burst out in song was when we were headed for Galveston. And today he remembered Olivia Newton-John with The Banks of the Ohio. This clip is just so funny!

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Amish country

Today we drove half way through Ohio. That was a pretty uneventful affair – the countryside is not terribly interesting. When we came to the Amish country which is the area northeast of Columbus, all that changed. That part of Ohio is more hilly – you know, “the good old rolling hills”, and full of old fashioned farms. Big fields with scattered cows and sheep. And then we began to see the first people in strange clothes, people pushing old fashioned lawn mowers and of course the buggies.

A buggy in the rearview mirror. Imagine being overtaken by one? That’s what happened to us – but must admit: we were parked in a lay by.

We went to the town of Walnut Creek where there was a big antique market/flea market. It was such a mix – heaps of corny old souvenirs (I just love souvenirs from the 50ties), porcelain, glassware, old toys, quilts, books and ancient tools. And loads of trivial knick-knack. And every item (and that is EVERY item) was carefully marked with stall number, description of the item and the price. At the exit two Amish women meticulously noted everything down and put little sales slips into pidgeon holes for each stall holder. And rang up the sale on a modern and absolutely electric cash register… We escaped without buying anything, all though I’d set my sights on a Niagara Falls nailclipper at 3$…

The local “Real Amish cooking” restarant had a long line outside and was packed to the brim, so we left town with just our obligatory magnet* and a few postcards. The next town, Berlin, is known as “the heart of the Amish country”. But honestly, that must be the tourist heart. It was absolutely awful – full of touristy shops with Amish-this and Amish-that and not an Amish in sight anywhere, only busloads of tourists. We drove through it without stopping.

 

 

Tonight’s campsite is far away from everything. We truly wonder how they attract people to this place, even if it’s very pretty and nice. But it must be the closeness to the Amish and the extreme peace and quiet that does it. Or maybe it’s something with religion. At the camping office they had a quote from the scriptures in a very prominent place and our neighbours here are a mormon family.

Normally, campsites are a little bit too close to the action (action = Interstate highways).

* We decided early on that we wanted a souvenir from each state or attraction we’d visited. And the choice fell on fridge magnets – inexpensive, small and possible to pack in a suitcase. We have got some pretty cool ones, I can tell you. When we find a new home, it just has to have a very large fridge, so that there’s room for all our magnets.

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Niagara Falls

I’m so tired of seeing myself write “beautiful”, that I’ve promised myself not to use that word while describing the Niagara Falls. My thesaurus gives me (among many more, of which many are totally inappropriate) these alternatives: attractive, pretty, alluring, lovely, delightful, gorgeous, stunning, arresting, beguiling, exquisite, magnificent, drop-dead-gorgeous, devine…

We got up early and were at the falls around nine. The weather forecast the evening before had not been uplifting, it promised severe winds. But we were so lucky. The severe winds came during the night and really rocked the RV , so we woke up several times. But in the morning it was all over, and the sun was shining from a blue sky. We started on the American side which is the “less fantastic”, our guidebooks informed us. That was true – the view from the Canadian side is much more stunning. The two photos above are both taken from the Canadian side, the top picture is of the so-called horse shoe fall. I never understood why they call it that till I actually stood there. Guess what, it’s shaped as a horse shoe…

A rather strange thing is that it’s the Canadian side that’s the over-commercialized one. On the US side the falls are in a state park and it’s all very neat and there’s just one souvenir shop, the same kind as you find in all state parks. On the Canadian side it’s all glaring commercialism in ghastly colours (casinos, chain hotels, huge adverts, souvenir shops etc.). Luckily your back is to the glare when you’re looking at the falls. So the funny thing was that this probably was the cheapest touristy thing we’ve done yet – even the parking was free (but that was because the meter was broken). We had lunch in Canada in a restaurant that would’ve been absolutely terrible in the high season. Today there were only a few people in there and we could choose a table by the window and eat our sushi (so many Japanese tourists) with a view of the falls. We crossed the Rainbow bridge to Canada on foot, since the RV cannot leave the US. That was fine – it was only a short walk and it was much easier to find parking on the US side. And the customs officers on both sides were nice and polite – a novelty after the ones in the airports who all seem to suspect you of harbouring terrorist sympathies.

At two we were on the road again, still heading west. So now we’re in Ohio, although still on Lake Erie. We were lucky and found another open campground – right by the lake.

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Gone west

First we went to Vermont, to a campsite in the Green Mountains. We didn’t particularly like it, but we can’t be picky at this time of year, where open campsites are few and far between. As a family we’re not quite in agreement about the quality of campsites. David and I don’t like the ones with lots of “entertainment”, whereas Dane loves them. We like the quiet ones where the love of nature is the reason for camping, rather than playing party games with other campers. The campsite in Maine (outside Freeport), where everything was taken care of by one person, Missy, who also had a job at L.L. Bean, was just for us. Undisturbed in the woods, small, few amenities, nice and friendly staff (in this case only Missy).

But there was nothing wrong with the surrounding landscape. In the neighbourhood there was a so-called hidden lake. In American terms that’s a lake that’s not accessible by car. It was a four mile (6,5 km) hike up there and back, a very suitable distance for us. On the way up there was a lovely little waterfall and the weather was good, even if it was cold. The lake was beautiful and David naturally had to fish it. Dane and I lasted one and a half hour, then he had to come down again with us. Very reluctantly!

There was no Internet connection at the Vermont camp and we were only online for a few hours at a café in the nearby college town Middlebury. In that time we couldn’t find a single campsite on the route from Vermont to Buffalo, N.Y., so we decided to give up seeing the Niagara Falls. But, when we got back to camp that night, we had second thoughts. So close, and then not going!!! So we decided that we could “rough it” if we had to. By “roughing it” I mean parking the RV somewhere and not having access to electricity and water. And we decided to do the whole trip in one day. By far our longest journey – 400 miles (650 km). That may not sound like a lot, but when the first 100 miles are on little roads in the mountains and all of them are in an RV with a march speed of no more than 58 mph (95 km/t), it’s quite a distance.

Having decided that, we jumped into bed and enjoyed the fact that the furnace could keep the temperature at a steady 60 degrees (15 C) throughout the night. At six we got up and at seven we were on our way. We were well rewarded for getting up early, with little traffic and beautiful vistas.

After a long, long day’s drive with a very patient and good Dane, we arrived in Buffalo, safe and sound. Most of the day was spent on the New York Thruway, a tollroad going through the entire state. It cost 18 dollars to cross almost all the way from east to west. That may be expensive, but I’m all in favour of tollroads, so I don’t mind. And particularly not when every plaza on the way offers free Wi-Fi! That was how we found a campsite that was actually open today (but not tomorrow). And that is why I can sit in the RV and write this. With the lights on and water in the taps.

Tomorrow, it’s the falls!

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David is in love

It’s not that he’s fallen out of love with me (I hope), more that he’s fallen head over heals in love with coastal Maine. And it is indescribably beautiful here. Except for one day, when it poured down all day, we’ve been blessed with fantastic October weather. A sky that reaches, well, to the sky I guess… as blue as anything, a few wisps of cloud, and the rivers, lakes, bays and the sea in a million shades of green and blue. And then there’s the foliage. Actually, Bill Bryson describes it marvellously in A Walk in the Woods:

(…) when the world is full of autumn muskiness and crisp, tangy perfection and the air so clear that you feel as if you could reach out and ping it with a finger. Even the colors were crisp: vivid blue sky, deep green fields, leaves in every sharp shade that nature can bestow. It is a truly astounding sight when every tree in a forest becomes individual; where formerly had sprawled a seamless cloak of green there now stood a million bright colors.

On David’s birthday (28th) he got to set the pace for the day. We started with breakfast and presents. He got two long sleeved smartwool microweave t-shirts that he wanted badly after having bought one a couple of days ago. David is very particular with fabrics – he’ll only wear certain kinds and they have to fit him in a certain way. Dane is exactly the same, it’s funny, but makes it hell to shop with them. He also got some Red Sox paraphernalia, a reading light and a book about autumn in New England. And for dinner David had lobster – his favourite food. It’s still the lobster season here, so we saw the little lobster boats going out by the hundreds and in every bay you can see the little buoys telling of the lobster trap beyond and you can see the traps stacked in front of every other house out on the peninsulas. While writing this, we were at a place called Land’s End in an area called the Harpswells – it’s on the very tip of one of a hundred peninsulas in this part of Maine. From here, all you can see are the tips of other peninsulas and the Atlantic – glittering in the sun.

You’ve guessed it already; David and Dane were fishing while I sat inside the RV on the sunny side writing this. Even if I’ve got my life’s first classy outdoor wear, I still find it too cold to just stand about. I’d much rather go for a brisk walk.

Me on the Internet – only place at Maine campground where it was accessible. And Dane in front of lobster traps.

A note about Halloween

We went to a Halloween party at the local YMCA. It was very well done. The entertainment was excellent, the games fun and for everyone, the costumes funny and many of them very inventive. And the parents were all very nice and the children generally very well behaved. There was a haunted house so scary that Dane wouldn’t even go through it together with me. Actually, it was pretty scary! Very well done. Dane looked great in his wizard outfit with a magic wand and pointy hat. But the thing that he wanted the most was to meet other children and play with them. And we had no luck with that, unfortunately. So it wasn’t the success we’d hoped for.

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In a library, finally

I wonder what they mean by that, “The Way Life Should Be”? Must be something with reddened leaves, fresh-cheeked youth, noisy snowmobiles and lobsters for dinner???

I’ve spent a good part of today in Freeport Community Library and it has been lovely. Outside it’s sunny but cool, and Dane and David are fishing. In here it’s quiet, comfy and… eh… bookish! Haven’t read a single page though, been busy on the computer.

Freeport probably wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for the extraordinarily well run and well stocked out-door department store L.L. Bean. We spent the best part of yesterday in there and got some good autumnal clothing for the three of us. David is now a record-holder in the number of fleeces owned by one person (who’s not a mountaineer).

I bet that stockholders in L. L. Bean have a lot to say in the town – it’s got the fiercest anti-sign-pollution policy I’ve come across over here. Look at this McDonalds:

It looks so nice you’d almost consider going in there to eat! And the whole town looks like that. Real neat, as the Americans put it.

We think we’ve solved the Halloween problem I mentioned yesterday. We went for gas at a little gas station out in the woods. In there everybody were talking about baseball, baseball, baseball and then a little bit about Halloween. It turns out there are several public arrangements, so we’ll go for some of that and hope that the usual American friendliness will extend to our little Dane. Will tell you how it goes.

And so, don’t you want to know if the Red Sox won the game last night? I bet you don’t give a toss. But they did. They wiped out the Colorado Rockies 13 – 1. We’re already readying ourselves for the next game tonight. Can they do it again?

(picture of master pitcher Josh Beckett borrowed from the Boston Globe)

More commented pictures (not of baseball stars) here.

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Halloween help!

As some of you readers know, we’re travelling through the US in an RV for three months. Right now we’re in New England (right now, southern Maine), planning to see as much of it as we can, before it gets too cold. Then we’ll make a U-turn and go south again, this time a little bit inland.

In a week’s time it’s Halloween and no child in America cannot know this. Every front yard, every house, every shop is full of orange. From lovely hand-carved pumpkins and nice autumnal decorations to awful plastic stuff and Halloween-packaged candy. We’d like 6-year-old Dane to experience Halloween in America – it’s a tradition that’s only now reaching Denmark, where Dane grew up. But how can we do that? We don’t know anybody here with children except the family in Texas and Louisiana, and they are too far away (we’ll be back there for Thanksgiving).

What can we do? Are there communities with arrangements throughout the day, so that Dane could get to know some children, before the actual Trick or Treating? I hesitate to buy him a costume, worrying that he’ll sit at some campground all dressed up, surrounded by retired people in big campers and being too timid to go trick or treating among them, all alone (or with Mom hovering in the background).

American readers, please come forward with suggestions!

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I went to Harvard

I wish.

I’m a great spokeswoman for not regretting. If I didn’t already have another motto, it would be “je ne regrette rien”. Regret is futile, a complete waste of time. Only thing you can use it for is saying, like: “Oh, that turned out to be a really stupid idea. What can I do to get out of this jam and/or what can I learn from it, so I use better judgement next time ‘round.”

So – I don’t really regret anything. Except not finishing university, when I was young. Sure, it would have changed the course of my life completely, and a lot of funny, interesting and wonderful people wouldn’t have crossed my path. But still…

And trotting around Cambridge and the Harvard campus for the better part of a day certainly made me think of that every other minute. I wonder if these young people, carelessly sitting around studying in the park, on their computers in chic cafés, jogging with their I-pods or going out with their friends realize just how privileged they are? Not only are they going to university, and for most of them, Daddy is paying, they are also going to one of the most prestigious universities in the entire world, and their futures look more than promising! Oh well, it would be a pity, I guess, if they had to drag a guilty conscience around with them for being so privileged. The rest of us are ourselves trying to not have a guilty conscience over not starving in Africa, aren’t we?

Anyway, we had gorgeous weather and fantastic circumstances to experience Cambridge and Harvard. There was a regatta going on, so the entire town was crowded with an additional bunch of privileged, beautiful youngsters – they came from all over America with their sleek rowing boats on top of their expensive cars. Everybody were out, strolling along Charles River, taking it all in. We spent an hour or so (could have been much, much more) in the Co-op bookstore cum café. I wondered if I could be happy working in a place like that? Talking to all those brilliant young people every day, helping them find just the right book for whatever purpose? I don’t know. I get bored so awfully easy…

That same evening we sent Emil back home. He had a (too) long and tiring journey because of a cancelled flight from Germany to Copenhagen, but got home safely. We’re looking forward to seeing him again, next time together with sweet Ida, at Christmas in San Francisco.

Also, on that same evening, the Red Sox won the decisive game in the seven game stint against the Cleveland Indians. Our friend Matt grinned, when we told him this: Dane was sleeping outside the RV in his new tent. We were inside, watching the game. A while into the game, it looked like the Red Sox were running out of luck, they were only one point ahead, and the Indians were doing well. I noticed Dane’s Red Sox shirt on the chair and jokingly said to David, that it was probably because Dane wasn’t wearing his shirt, which he’d worn for the two previous games. David took the shirt and went out to the tent and put it on top of our sleeping mascot. And from that moment on, the Red Sox were just unstoppable. And so, why did Matt grin? He grinned because when he heard that, he knew we were hooked. It’s a sure sign, he chuckled, that you’re hooked, when you become superstitious!
There’s something about baseball that I haven’t seen in any other sport. It’s such an interesting combination of skill, talent, technique, cunning and tactics! Some players are like most other professional sportsmen, young, trim, skilled. But a good deal of them could definitely lose a few pounds without becoming skinny exactly, and some of them are close to our age. Try it! We’re trying it again tonight, when Red Sox play the first game in the World Series. Matt and Jackie got tickets – we’ll be looking for them throughout the match and hoping they won’t be hit by a home run.

Good luck, Red Sox!

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Not enough online time

In case you’re worrying about us (as if!!!), we’re fine. The campsite we’ve been in the past week while Emil has been here, had Internet, but only when you were at their office. Not a place you really wanted to spend a lot of time!

I’ve uploaded pictures with comments though, so check them out in the meantime.

What I can tell you now (in a café in Portsmouth, New Hampshire) is this:

Emil is home safely after a trip with rerouting and delays.

Red Sox won the last three games and are now in the World Series. Ain’t that great?

We’re having problems finding open campgrounds in New England and even more problems finding open campgrounds that have Wi-Fi. When we run out of campsites, we’ll make a big U-turn and head south again.

Today we’re headed for Maine, to this place.

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