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!

Share

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!

Share

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.

Share