A thriller

These last days we’ve (me mostly, and David) been watching CNN all day and night long to follow the so-called Iowa caucuses. That’s the pre-elections if you will, among the presidential candidates from both parties. First state is Iowa and that is of course why it’s so important.

The republican candidate who won tonight was Mike Huckabee. I had not even heard of him, when we arrived in the US and I’m pretty sure many Americans hadn’t either. And the democrat candidate who won was the black outsider Barack Hussein Obama. And Iowa is really a very white, a very religious and a very republican state. Those two candidates have very little in common. But they do have one thing: They both speak warmly about a UNITED America – united across the dividing line that has defined American politics for many, many years, a line that started widening badly during the Clinton administration because so many republicans hate him and hate Hillary so much, and which has grown so, so much deeper during the Bush administration, because of the Iraq war.

Even if Huckabee is VERY Christian and is against abortion and speaks about no sex before marriage and all sorts of things that I so not agree with, he said something very beautiful in his thank you speech in Iowa. He quoted someone, I didn’t catch who, but said: “War is not about hating the people in front of you, but about loving the people behind you.” And he drew on that line to talk about how he wanted to unite America across the divide.

Obama’s thank you speech was marvelous – I’m sure you can catch it on one of the networks’ websites or on Youtube very soon. Obama also speaks constantly about healing America and it’s self-confidence. He said: “It’s not about a group of blue states and a group of red states – it’s about the United States of America.” (Quoted from memory).

I’ve just read an article in Atlantic Monthly which elaborates on why Obama can unite America. You should read it… I like Hillary, I always did. But she looks old and worn – not as an old woman, but as an old hand –  and she repeats herself in her speeches.

And why is this so interesting to us Europeans. Well, surely that’s obvious. The president of the United States is half president of the world. What he (or she) does, the signals he (or she) sends, influence us all. If America’s economy doesn’t start to fare better very soon, that is going to affect us all. And if America doesn’t soon start working on healing the wounds in the Middle East rather than deepening them, we’ll all be in trouble. You can continue the litany yourself…

And a bit about us. We’ve been somewhat under the weather with both Emil and me suffering from relatively bad colds. Emil being hit the hardest, lying all of New Year’s day with a high fever. He’s better now, luckily.

Due to the above our New Year was quiet. We had nice food, watched a good film on the computer and toasted in tiny glasses of sparkly to a more peaceful world. It was certainly very peaceful outside our windows, no fireworks whatsoever. Pretty strange – don’t think I’ve ever experienced a New Year without fireworks before! But we watched one million people celebrate in Times Square in New York. They certainly had lots of fireworks!

Today we drove in to San Francisco and parked in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s parking garage. I can recommend that. It’s not exactly cheap, but neither is the ferry. And it’s very central and probably fairly safe. We went and saw an exhibition with Olafur Eliasson, which felt very close to home. David and I liked it a lot, Emil and Ida weren’t so impressed. We also saw an exhibition with an American artist I’ve never heard of before. Joseph Cornell. Very refreshing, very inspiring (particularly to Dane, who’s produced four boxes since we got home…) and very thought provoking. So all in all a very nice day at a very nice – but surprisingly small – museum.

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A family Christmas

The day before Emil and Ida’s arrival, we drove up to the Point Reyes National Seashore. It was a wonderful day with a good deal of hiking (to allow for the food and goodies over Christmas) and fantastic sights. We started out at the visitor’s centre, from where we took the short earth quake hike and the slightly longer hike to a remake of an Indian village. I’m afraid I’d let Dane to believe that there would be a big hole in the ground at the epicentre of the 1906 earthquake. Well, there wasn’t. It had been filled years ago. But there had been a fence, which had been split by the earthquake. This fence had been maintained ever since, so we could see how far it had moved. On the picture you can see me showing Dane the distance between the posts and explaining that I’m standing right on the San Andreas faultline, where the ground split open.

The Indian village even had a herb garden with good explanations of what the Indians used the various plants for. There were teepees for sleeping, food storage etc. Their staple food items were acorns and whatever could be salvaged from the Pacific. The acorns were ground into meal, which was then made into a variety of food stuffs.

Then we took the long, but very scenic drive to the Point Reyes lighthouse. It was 18 miles of up, up, up till we reached the very tip of the peninsula. Then we parked the car and went up again, this time on foot. Only to reach the top, from where the lighthouse is 302 steps down. Going back up corresponds to walking to the 30th floor of a highrise. But it was great fun and good excercise.

After that we drove to another vista point, the Chimney Rock, to watch the sun set over the Pacific. Before the sun set, we saw elephant seals down on the beach. What a peculiar creature!

We’d spent several days of serious Christmas shopping, so we were well prepared, when we could finally drive to the airport and pick up Emil and Ida in the early evening of the 24th. It was great seeing them and we had a really nice Christmas together. They had had a real Danish Christmas dinner with Ida’s mother on the 23rd, so we settled on a leg of lamb with all the trimmings. I love the Danish duck with red cabbage, sugarcoated potatoes and everything, but David and Dane don’t fancy it much, so there really wasn’t much point. The weather was great, so we walked down to the town and along the waterfront before dinner.

The following days we went to the top of Mount Tam (again) and took the boat to San Francisco. Today the four of them have gone fishing, while I’m in the local library writing this and researching for the next leg of our trip.

More pictures here.

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Happy Holidays

That’s what they say over here, so as not to offend anybody with the Christ-word.

We’re doing the last bits of frantic Christmas-shopping just like almost everybody else and enjoying it. We’re looking so much forward to receiving Emil and girlfriend Ida here tomorrow and are trying to guess what they’d REALLY like to eat and drink…

Dane is producing Christmas decorations as if his life depended on it.

The little Christmas tree stands gleaming with decorations and glittering lights in the living room; will post photo later.

We hope you all have lovely and peaceful holidays!

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My birthday

Together with a phone call from my Mom & Dad and a sweet e-mail from Emil, Dane and David made my birthday into a lovely day of indulgence, Néné style.

It was a beautiful sunny day – don’t usually have many of those back in Denmark! – and I had yummy brunch with cards and presents. From Dane the necklace he’d made out of beads we’d bought earlier in San Francisco and a pair of Merino wool extra warm and soft socks. They came in very handy when we went to Yosemite. More about that later. And from David a book that could change my life – or maybe at least make my blog posts more pleasurable to read: Read like a writer.

We went into Mill Valley so I could indulge in one of my favourite pastimes – drinking coffee and doing stuff online. In the Depot Bookstore and café you can do both – and the bookshop, though relatively modest in size, is very well stocked. Restrained myself and bought only Vanity Fair and Atlantic Monthly

Then we drove up to Sonoma County to try out some wine tasting. The previous afternoon, in the above-mentioned café, I’d talked to a young man who’d recommended a couple of smaller places for wine tasting and a restaurant. So we went along according to his instructions and found the Family Wineries where we tasted a variety of whites, reds and dessert wines. We found most of the wines a little bit “young” tasting, but loved a red dessert wine and bought a bottle for our Christmas dinner. It will go well with the Danish Christmas dessert with the French name: Ris (rice) a l’amande.

Then we drove on and saw several other alluring places to taste wine, but even if we didn’t drink all the wine, we’d really had enough. Maybe not alcohol-wise, but certainly taste-wise. Then we went in search of the restaurant, which proved as easy to find as everything else the young man had directed us to. Thanks to this young man for his great advice! The restaurant was in a little quaint looking town called Graton. Underwood turned out to be one of the best restaurants we’ve been to on our trip. Only the restaurant in New Orleans equaled it. It was a nice and cosy place full of people. The service was excellent, the menu varied and the food lovely.

A great finishing touch to my birthday.

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Thanksgiving with the family

We’re now back in Texas and today is Thanksgiving. The whole family is together and it’s very lively. I think there are twenty of us. Dane is having the time of his life with four older boys to play with. And they’re so good to him too! The turkey is cooking in the oven and dirty rice are being prepared on the stove. Desserts are pre-prepared and tucked away around the house where there’s room. The tv’s are on in every room and people are watching the traditional Thanksgiving parade.

It’s all very homely and strange at the same time – at least for us, the Danes. Dane finds it pretty funny that they call us all the Danes – he thought he was the only one!

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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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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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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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Baseball

Yesterday was about baseball. Our host Matt is a devoted fan of local team The Boston Red Sox and has been since he – like all good American litterary heroes – as a little boy was taken to the stadium on hot Saturdays by his father. Matt took us on a tour of the old (1912) stadium Fenway Park in the middle of Boston, and it was great fun to get an insight in this sport, which you invariably come across if you ever watch an American film, read an American book or browse an American newspaper.

The weather was lovely and the female guide far above average as American guides go, she clearly wasn’t paid on a words-per-minute basis. We browsed around the Red Sox merchandise shop, approximately the size of a middlesized supermarket back home. There really is no end to the fan gear you can purchase there. And there’s something in the air that really makes you want to buy the stuff, heavily overpriced as it is. We resisted the urge, having already received Red Sox-stuff as presents from Matt and Jackie and having bought a few caps and a t-shirt earlier in the day at Wal-Mart at a far lower price.

The air was heavy with anxious anticipation, because later that evening The Boston Red Sox were playing a very important game in Cleveland, Ohio, determining their fate in the series. They’d apparently done pretty badly in the previous games, so spirits were a bit low. But lo and behold if they didn’t win! For David, Dane, Emil and me it was our lives’ first baseball game and it was fun to watch it in the RV, eating crisps and drinking beer. Dane fell asleep after a while and a little later also Emil. I couldn’t fall asleep, since my seat was so bl…. uncomfortable, and I could surf a little and read a little during all the commercials (which really is what kills you) and David almost managed to sit through it, only dozing off during commercials. As David put it, half of the commentary was double dutch to us, but the general idea of the game dawned on us. And we had to admire the Red Sox pitcher who saved the game. He was SO cool! Watching him chew his gum, spit, look completely stonefaced and then throw the ball with astonishing speed and curve, so the Cleveland Indians practicallly never hit it, was absolutely worth the sore bum I had afterwards.

If any Americans with baseball knowledge read this: What is it with the spitting? They all do it – all the time. The coach more so than any of the others. What on earth is it good for?

Today it’s really warm, but raining. The boys have gone fishing again, I’ve been reading Vanity Fair, a luxury I’m warming to considerably. Compared with your average monthly fashion magazine, it certainly takes a long time to read! OK, the print is very small and clearly not intended for middle-aged women with bi-focals. And the language is not exactly easy. But, wow, it’s rewarding once you find the peace and quiet to read it. I read a hair-rising story about the involvement of a Halliburton subsidiary in the Iraq war. It was so well researched, and so disquieting! The American tax payers certainly have reasons to worry! It really doesn’t matter if you’re for the war or against it. Nobody can be in favour of private companies overcharging the American government by a routine 500-1000% for services rendered? If you have the patience to read 8 pages online, start here.

There’s also an article by Christopher Hitchens of whom I’m not usually a fan. But this one is good and strangely touching. The Shakespeare quote towards the end certainly provoked a few tears. The article is about how Hitchens finds himself partly responsible for the death of a young man in Iraq and how he deals with this emotion. Pretty good.

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New England autumn (or fall as they call it here)

Now we’re embedded in this weird camp ground with Emil safely here. Our trip to the airport was eventless, the one back a real bummer. Arriving at the tollbooth on the way out from the airport the stonefaced asian guy at the booth said: I can’t let you through the tunnel, it would be against the law, park over there, while I call the state police. We tried to ask him – real polite – what the problem was, since we’d just come the other way without any hindrance an hour or so earlier. But he just repeated himself and waved us to the side. A puzzling couple of minutes later, a state trouper arrived, lights flashing. He explained to us, in a voice loud enough to’ve been heard in Norway, that vehicles carrying propane (which all campers use for stove, heating etc.) cannot drive through tunnels. That made perfect sence of course, why in the world couldn’t the attendant have told us that? His voice booming (it turned out he was practically deaf), the elderly trooper told us that he’d spare us the 500$ fine and stop the traffic in the opposite direction and let us go back the way we came. He explained the alternative route to us – it was a little like Einstein explaning the theory of relativity – and led us on our way. We drove, hearts beating, and drove and drove and drove. We constantly seemed to be going in the wrong direction and we never seemed to hit the Interstate, which should eventually have taken us back onto the right track. When we’d driven for an incredible lenght of time (this was after 10 pm), we decided to put the GPS back on, reckoning that we’d have distanced ourselves from the perilous tunnels by now. Well, guess what, we hadn’t! The GPS led us right back into another tunnel, and we didn’t even realise it before it was too late! With hearts in throats and in eerie silence we drove through the seemingly endless tunnel. In the middle of the tunnel, a state trouper was parked, lights flashing. But, luckily, he was engaged in other business, and we made it through the tunnel without blowing it up and without being fined.

You cannot believe how happy we are that our nice New England friends Matt and Jackie have had the grace to lend us their daughter’s (she’s away at university) lovely Saab car for the rest of our stay here. It is a pleasure beyond description to be driving a car – and a car with turbo at that – instead of the slowresponding and extremely noisy RV.

On our first day with Emil we went shopping for fishing equipment in Wal-Mart, which had Emil stunned (see his blog) and then we went fishing. Or rather, the three of them were fishing, while I was theoretically reading my book in a chair. In reality I spent 3/4 of the time untangling Dane’s fishing line from a variety of trees, shrubs and tall grass. They caught a few small fish, but nothing to write home about. In the evening, Matt and Jackie had invited us to dinner at their beautiful house. I can’t explain to you why I haven’t yet taken a photograph of their beautiful New England home, but I will. While I’m at it (confessing) I also forgot to take a picture of the two of them together. Luckily I’ll get a chance or two more. They were increcibly hospitable and had presents for us (!!!), among them a New England water pitcher called the gurgling Cod, which is described  as a Boston icon. It is real cute and I’m looking forward to dinner parties in the future, when my guests will innocently start pouring water from the lovely pitcher and then, when they set it back on the table, hear the gentle gurgling noise, which will be my cue to tell about our visit to the lovely New England.

The boys got each a cap with the Boston Red Sox logo and Emil and Dane also a bat and a baseball each. Can you imagine hosts like that?

Furthermore, the dinner was wonderful and the conversation easy. I talked too much, but as those of you who know me already know, I frequently do.

The next day we went for a day of seeing the local sights together with Matt. We saw Thoreau’s hut and Walden pond, which he immortalized in his book. I’ve had it lying around on my night stand for almost a year, impressively, but honestly, I never got around to reading it, and when I packed it, it was as pristine as when I bought it. Maybe when we get back?

 

Emil and Dane at Walden Pond. A replica of Thoreau’s hut at Walden.

Next we went to the site of the opening battle of the American revolutionary war. From a European perspective there wasn’t a whole lot to see there, but the story about the Minutemen was interesting. Also, the scenery was gorgeous, the weather perfect. And – we’d just had a really nice lunch…

 

 

We’re on the Concord bridge – or a replica, rather. 

On our way home, we were going into the local Whole Foods store, when David accidently banged the lid of the trunk into my forehead. It hurt like hell, to tell you the truth, and it even bled. But poor David, he was out of his mind for having hurt me and kept going over it in his mind, whether he should have seen it coming, etc. etc. But it gave me a good excuse for staying home in the camper today, while the boys have gone fishing. I’ve done the washing, tidied up, vacuumed and written this. And read my book. So I’m perfectly content and don’t even have a headache.

Matt got the best out in all of us, check the happy couple out here and notice David’s cap – he’s turning all-American and almost ready to join the local militia ;-)

More pictures with silly and/or informative comments here.

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Guess where we are!

Yes, you guessed it! Or you didn’t? Then it’s just because you’re too young (like us, ha ha) or too old. We’re in Woodstock, N.Y. A place that seems to have revived itself as a center for spiritualism, a refuge for old hippies (I’ve NEVER seen so many in one place, not even at Roskilde Festival) and a center for hip photo galleries, a film festival for independent films etc. Quite well done! Surely, there are tourist traps with loads of hippie-stuff and we fell for it all. The clothes we were wearing that day still smell of patchouli

As you can gather from the pictures, the weather changed rather abruptly. The temperature dropped a lot and it rained all night and most of the days we spent in New York State. But we still enjoyed our visit to Woodstock!

Today, in Massachusetts, it’s beautiful, high blue sky, no wind and around 14 degrees Celcius. But brrrrr, it’s cold at night! We’ve bought Dane a sleeping bag and extra blankets for us. And told Emil to bring his sleeping bag from Denmark. If you think we’re without heating in our RV, think again. We have a furnace, which runs on propane gas. Apart from being noisy – but not as noisy as the aircondition – it works fine. It’s just that that kind of heat isn’t very sleep inducing, so we prefer not to have it on so much.

We haven’t got the ultimate picture of the autumn colouring here in New England yet, but the weather forecast is very promising, so come by again tomorrow! It is exactly as beautiful as everybody had told us it would be – and the New England towns we’ve passed on our way to this evening’s campsite were all quite lovely. We passed another Whole Foods supermarket, where we’ll shop tomorrow for the first days with Emil. He’ll probably be real disappointed with all that lovely, wholesome, healthy food – he’s been looking forward to eating junk food for a week!

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Gettysburg

The guidebook told us that Harrisburg, the state capital of Pennsylvania, is “not the most exciting place”, so we just passed it on the opposite side of the Susquehanna River, the bank of which I’m sitting, while writing these lines. The weather right now is probably the balmiest I’ve experienced in all my life. The gentle wind is like a caress of the skin, it’s warm, but not hot and the air is crystal clear, the way it only ever is in autumn. It was pretty cold last night, however, and the locals tell us, that today will be the last day with this unusually warm and pleasant weather. We’ve been incredibly lucky with the weather on our trip, don’t think we don’t appreciate it.

Instead we went to Gettysburg, this most historic of places in America. It had this incredibly corny museum – the American Civil War Museum – that had David and me glancing incredulously at one another. Out front are scores of American flags and the entrance is very majestic. Inside is – a huge souvenir shop… Slightly bewildered, we went to the counter and asked about the museum. The elderly but very brisk lady at the counter brushed us off – there wasn’t enough time, since they were closing at five. It was 4:15. We insisted and got our way. We were ushered into the museum, which turned out to consist of a parade of displays with tableaus of life-size dolls in various vital episodes preceding and under the war. And at the end of this – TADA – we were again ushered by same steely-gray-haired lady into an amphitheatre with a huge display of the same life-size dolls, this time depicting the entire battle at Gettysburg, including a scene where a soldier has his leg cut off by the field surgeon. With a film and educational voice-over in the background, the display was lit up a little at a time and suitable music played. The grand finale was when a display of sinister men with Lincoln in the foreground came rumbling up from the basement and the Gettysburg address came booming out of the loudspeekers.

Some of you readers might be too young, but others will remember oldfashioned department store mannequins and their weird expressions and glassy staring eyes. That’s what they looked like. It was good for Dane, though. A more European style museum may have been less interesting and less informative in his view. Bill Bryson often writes about American museums and how good they are. In one way he’s right -they are good. Because they are simple and play up to the television way of percieving things – perfect when you’re with an endlessly curious child. In another way he’s not. They are annoying, because they seem to believe that I’m a complete ignorant and need to have everything explained to me as if I were a dimwit (no comments, please).

After that we crossed the road to the enormous Gettysburg National Cemetery. Originally being the burial ground of the many, many union soldiers who died here during the three day stand-off (the confederate soldiers were all taken home and buried in the South), it has since become a burial ground for soldiers, who died in later wars. There are litterally hundreds, maybe even thousands of little stones for soldiers who perished in WW1 and WW2. But also in the Spanish-American war and in Korea and Vietnam. It is a solemn but very beautiful place.

 

It was also here, a few years later, that Lincoln delivered the aforementioned address.

For that night we hadn’t booked a campsite. Among the little advertisements on the town map, Dane found one that he thought looked very promising. Since it was only a mile away, we went for that. It was huge, the amenities were mediocre (would probably have been better in the summer) and miles away from the site they gave us, which had nothing all the other sites we’ve been on didn’t. And it was the hitherto most expensive one. What a disappointment! On top of it being ridiculously expensive, it was also the first site, where we had to pay seperately for the Wi-Fi. A total rip-off.

The contrast therefore to the campsite we’ve been on since yesterday, was stunning. This one is small, totally humble, with few but adequate amenities, free Wi-Fi (which actually works without me having to wave the computer at the signal), extremely nice people (a couple who owns the place) and an absolutely sublime location. We’re on a small island in the Susquehanna River near the town of Sunbury. And the camper is parked, so that this was the view from the “bedroom” window around 8 o’clock pm:

And here’s what I’ve been looking at all day, from the very comfortable perspective of a deck chair in the sun with either book or computer at hand:

When at dusk I finally lured them out of the water, we had dinner outside by the fire. It was just perfect! David only caught a single fish (small-mouth bass according to camp owner), but doesn’t seem to mind, as long as he can stand out there all day and enjoy the scenery. David and Dane both had the pleasure of seing a beaver – it had a little dam at one of the riverbanks a little way up river. I missed that one.

Tomorrow we will be going east into the state of New York. Now it’s only a few days till we’re picking Emil up in Boston’s Logan airport (Sunday). We’re all looking forward to spending a week with him. He is also an avid fisherman, so the three of them will probably drive off to some distant river and leave me to a day of shopping in Boston (or is that perhaps wishful thinking?).

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Catching up

My aunt’s funeral was just as it should be. Her son and daughter had taken great pains to make arrangements that would have pleased my aunt and that would be pleasing to the family. The coffin was decorated with the Danish flag and red and white flowers, and they’d found a Lutheran pastor, who held a very good and balanced speech, where he touched upon both my aunt’s addiction and her recovery through AA, many years ago. He did both in a subtle but yet straightforward way.

Before I went to Texas we went for a tour on foot in the swampy forest outside Savannah, where we were camping. It was wilderness for dummies, so we weren’t exactly about to get lost. But since it wasn’t the weekend or holiday, we were by ourselves. It was hot, humid, different and fascinating.

The color and the stillness

Crabs – hundreds of them

What a tree!

We visited Savannah, but were’nt really that impressed. Much to our own surprise. The much acclaimed River Walk was extremely touristy and rather sordid. We found a really nice café and enjoyed the many lovely, shady squares. We also visited one of the houses from the 19th century. We couldn’t help snickering a little. When you come from a country where you don’t even raise an eyebrow to churches that are 800-1000 years old, it’s quite funny to experience the Americans’ awe over objects and houses that are less than 200 years old. But – the other side of that coin is, that we Europeans could learn about taking more pride in our history from the Americans.

Talking of history – the next day we visited Fort Pulaski. A fort that it took 12 years to built, but only 30 hours’ of union bombardement to conquer.

While I was away, Dane and David had a great time doing real father-son things. They went fishing, but all they caught was a poor old turtle, which they of course let go again. They saw an alligator in the lake by the camp ground, so didn’t go fishing in that lake… They wen’t canoing together and Dane climbed a twenty meter climbing wall. Probably all for the best that Mommy wasn’t around for that!

As mentioned earlier, Dane has developed a vivid interest in the second world war, battleships and fighter planes. At Patriot’s Point he got lots more input to feed that interest.

More and bigger-size pictures here.

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