Saturday, 7 January 2012

Until we meet again.

Day 37: Today we visited Harvard University, Berklee School of Music, Boston Common and downtown Boston - we LOVE Boston.  It's now our favourite city, yes even over Washington DC.  The people are friendly, the town is clean and has a really nice feel to it.  We watched a one man band in Boston Common and the ice there is nearly hard enough for people to skate on.  I wish I was around to see that, although I wouldn't let Gary on there - we all know what happens then..... We had an early night in the hotel watching television and planned to get to sleep early but there was a 'Happy 93rd Birthday Dr Billy Graham' show on so we stayed up to watch that until midnight.
Day 38: Today was a hot day - 16 degrees! Tiahna says she'll never complain about our winter being cold again - hmm, we'll see how long that lasts.  Today we went to see where the 'Boston Red Socks' stadium is but there was an ice-hockey game on so we couldn't go inside.  Tickets were sold out otherwise we may have gone to watch.  Gary went to an ice-hockey game when we were in LA three years ago and loved it.  We then went to check out a few music stores for Gary, Tiahna and I lost him for several hours - can't blame him though, everything is so cheap here.  We went for our final diner to 'Olive Garden' and then off to buy extra suitcases to bring all of our purchases home.
So this will be the final blog from the US.  We fly out tomorrow.  Boston to LA and then LA to Sydney on the new airbus - should be nice. Then the final lap from Sydney to Brisbane where my lovely sister has volunteered to collect us from the airport, so kind, hope we fit in her car with all of our luggage:)
Thank you all for enjoying this journey with us, I've loved reading people's comments after my blogs and hopefully you've all felt a little bit involved in everything that we've done.
Where shall we go next?????

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Bubbly Pineapple Juice

Mermaids Tears - What do you think of when you read those words? If you're a Pirates of the Caribbean fan you may think of the most recent Pirates movie and you would be close.  But I'm talking about the OPI nail polish called Mermaids Tears from the Pirates of the Caribbean range that Tiahna has been desperate to buy for ages.  She was never able to track it down in Australia and we always had planned to buy it during our trip to the States.  After several weeks of trying many shops we began to realise that perhaps it was something that we weren't going to be able to obtain here either. Why am I telling you about this? Because I realised today that each of my most recent blogs have been written so quickly and in such a short time and sooo long after the actual event that I'm not remembering to give you all of the small details.  So here is a short little blog to update you on the small things.
Tiahna prayed about her Mermaids Tears quite early in our trip and yesterday her prayer was answered.  As we drove into South Portland, Maine we noticed a store that had been mentioned in several websites as a great OPI supplier.  Tiahna and I ran in and looked in the nail polish section but still had no luck finding what she wanted.  I noticed a 'clearance' section on the side so we had a quick look through the shelves.  Tiahna found the very last bottle of Mermaids Tears as well as the rest of the colours in the range - you should have seen her face - she was over the moon.  See - God looks after our little desires too. 
I forgot to tell you that when we went to BB Kings for dinner that Gary tried 'Fried Green Tomatoes' which he liked a lot.
And that when Gary cleaned out his ears the other day he broke the end of the cotton bud off in his ear and I had to use tweezers to get it out - oh boy!
I haven't mentioned that at 1pm in the afternoon it feels like 9am in the morning because of the position of the sun and that by 5pm it is pitch black.
I don't think I mentioned that when we played in the snow that Gary's phone measured the temperature at -28 degrees celsius - so cold.
By now, you may be wondering about the title of this blog.  You need to check out this 'you tube' site - 
This is Amy the eldest daughter of our friends in Asheville just after she had her wisdom teeth removed - poor girl, what a mean father to post it on 'you tube'. 
So today we drove to Boston - what a beautiful city.  I spoke to the man in the toll booth as we crossed the bridge in to the city and he sounded just like 'Boston Rob' from Survivor - I love it! This is our final destination before heading home.  We are staying in a lovely hotel with views of the city but just outside of the city so it's not too noisy or hectic.  It's the perfect destination to spend our last few days.  Tomorrow we're off the explore Harvard University - once again it's a whole little town surrounding the University.  How exciting.  Will fill you in when we get back to the hotel tomorrow.
Love to all
Kim xxx

Happy New Year!

Day 31cont: Despite contacting the restaurant beforehand, no-one could advise if this option was going to allow us to see the ball drop.  We had also booked another restaurant but looking at the location it was going to give us less chances so we cancelled the booking the day before.  Steve and Leonie's hotel also gave us the option of attending a party there, but once again no guarantee of getting out to be involved in the events. We were constantly told that Police would not allow people on the streets unless they had been standing with the crowd for hours in the barricaded areas.  By this point we were five tired travellers and decided that at least being in Times Square on NYE was the main thing we wanted so decided to go with our $125 per person option at the TSQ restaurant, which incidentally was right next to Olive Garden where we had spent lunch.  It took a long time for Gary, Tiahna and I to get through all of the police barriers and crowds (people were not willing to let people through after they had been standing around for hours - understandable).  We finally arrived in Times Sqaure and got to see the ball in it's top position waiting for the midnight drop - incidentally, it's quite a small ball, not at all what I imagined. In fact a lot of people were taking photos of the wrong thing as there is a large lighted ball just to the left of the real thing that is part of a building.  Even people that were standing in the barricades outside the restaurant were able to see the ball but not the stages and they had been there since about 3pm.  We went inside and found ourselves in to discover that all of the stage items were being displayed on screens around the room, but unfortunately they had a DJ so didn't have the sound up.  They had subtitles on though so it still worked well.  When Justin Beiber and Lady Gaga were on stage we quickly went outside so we could hear them live (but unfortunately couldn't see much more than a speck).  Once we were there we were advised that we were going to be able to go outside for the big event - yay. So at 11.40 we all headed out onto a reserved area on the footpath and got to witness the whole thing - amongst so many people we thought we were going to be crushed to death.  Poor Tiahna, I think she would have rather been any other place in the world at that moment.  There are stacks of large screens in Times Square and you would have thought that they would have used them to screen what was happening on the stage for those slightly back, but not so, regular advertising continued throughout the night - weird.  But the end result is we were there, we heard the performers and we watched the ball.  Gary and I had to look into each others eyes and have a delayed midnight kiss as we were on either side of Tiahna and couldn't even move to kiss each other because of the crowds. It was a 12:00:45 timed kiss. Check that off the Bucket List.
Day 32: After a short sleep-in, Gary and Steve met up and went 'boy' shopping whilst Leonie, Tiahna and I lined up to try and get Letterman tickets.  Unfortunately they call random people to attend the show and we didn't get the call :( We all met up and went to BB King for an early dinner.  This is where Gary had the best steak of his life when we were here 3 years ago and Leonie has been wanting to try it - it held up to the memory. Everyone then headed back to their hotels for an early night.
Day 33: Today we all met at the Empire State Building.  We decided to pay the extra and go as high as we could go which was to the 106th floor - so worth it.  The view is much better than the general area.  We had planned to go to the Statue of Liberty but it is currently closed for renovations and by this stage we decided that we would just drive past and look at it rather than catch the Staten Island ferry to go past.  It was sooo cold, we all agreed we didn't need to see it up close. By going up the extra floors we were able to see a lot of the landmarks that we wanted to.  Now although, I feel horrible for poor Leonie having to be in a wheelchair, can I say it was the best thing for us that day.  We were able to skip all of the queues going in and out of the building and saved ourselves a lot of time for more sightseeing.  My advice to anyone thinking of going there is to put someone in a hired wheelchair!!
We then picked our car up from the parking area and drove around New York for awhile.  We wanted to visit The Juliard School but unfortunately it was closed today.  They boys went to the Apple store whilst I took Tiahna to look at the Museum of Natural History where we saw 'Dum Dum', the monkey and T-Rex from the movie 'Night in the Museum'.  We then went and had authentic New York Pizza Pie from the first Pizza establishment in New York.  Afterwards Gary went to check out a music store - it's great having shops open so late at night, I don't know how I'm going to adjust when I get back home.
Day 34: We checked out of our hotel and picked up Leonie and Steve and went back to Juliard.  Tiahna and I dropped the others there whilst we went car-park hunting.  Seriously, New York is the worst place to park, each park has about 5 signs telling you when you can and can't park there and they often contradict each other.  Also, there are 'rules' which you're just meant to know and they don't always display which are paid parking and which aren't, if I hadn't of asked for help from a passing business man I would have not realised that 2 blocks up was a parking payment machine and left the car without a ticket in it. Anyway, everyone enjoyed their shopping and after a couple of other music shop stops (plus a stop at Hershey's - yum) we said goodbye and were on our way to Manchester, New Hampshire.  The original plan was to head to Cape Cod next to see all of the nice homes but we decided we would rather start a 'snow hunt'. It was -13 degrees celsius when we arrived in Manchester.
New Hampshire is the state that usually determines who the next President will be.  If you win your parties nomination in New Hampshire for the Presidential campaign then you are likely to be the next President.  Apparently New Hampshire is known for picking the Presidents, incidentally 96.5% of the population is white - interesting.  At them moment people are campaigning to become their parties Presidential candidate.  The hotel we were staying at was also housing a few of the potential candidates so we possibly said good morning to the next US President. We just made sure we said good morning to everyone we walked past in a suit.
Day 35: We left our hotel mid morning and headed towards the ski areas at Mount Washington. Gary wanted to drive in mountains of white and he got his wish.  We eventually found a little park with enough snow to get out and play.  The snow was quite light and fluffy so we weren't able to have a snowball fight or make snowmen but Tiahna and I did make snow angels - yay!  Gary found a frozen lake that he threw huge boulders onto that didn't even break the ice but I had to persuade him not to walk on the ice to test it - that was one headache I didn't need.  After 10 minutes of play we needed to get back into the car - it was freezing and none of us had really dressed in ski clothes, my hands were in so much pain because I made the mistake of taking off a glove to take a photo and Gary seriously was wondering if it was possible to get frost-bite in that small amount of time because his nose was in so much pain. Funnily enough, Tiahna and Gary then decided they had had enough of snow and didn't need to see it again, so we headed on to South Portland in Maine.  Ah, the adventures of a road trip!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

We outsmarted Mother Nature

Mother Nature has been playing a cruel game with us.  In our constant and unsuccessful search for snow, a lot of times after we leave a place the town then has snow - unfair.  Read on.....
Day 29: Today we woke up to a rude shock (well Gary did anyway), the power went off in the hotel and unfortunately that leaves Gary with breathing difficulties hooked up to his sleep apnea machine. So we left the hotel quite early and went and did some sightseeing in the historic town of Philadelphia.  We spoke to a parking officer who had a 'full-on' philly accent.  He sounded exactly like Rocky Balboa (for those of you who are too young to know who this is watch the 'Rocky' movie or google it) and he even said 'I sound like Rocky Balboa' in his strong accent. Awesome.  We then visited Liberty Bell and Liberty Hall and Gary ran up the 'Rocky' stairs.  We enjoyed an authentic 'Philly Cheese Steak' for lunch - yum - Gary has been wanting to have the real thing forever.  Gives new meaning to Philadelphia Cream Cheese now that I have been here.  Funny thing, the expensive cookbooks they sell here have the same recipes as the one I got for free from Woolworths with the purchase of three Philly Cream Cheese items!
Then we outfoxed Mother Nature.  We went back. Yes, we did it. We turned around and drove back to Lancaster (Gary needed to buy something there) and sure enough as we drove along, Gary sleeping, Tiahna playing her DS in the back, it started to snow - Yay.  It snowed the whole time we were there although it was only very light and melted once it landed - it was still snow and it counts!
Back to the hotel where the power had been restored and our Rocky wanna-be was down for the count.
Day 30: Today we left Philadelphia and headed to Princeton.  We walked around the University grounds (very pretty) and visited the town.  It's one of those American University towns where the University is spread throughout the town and all the stores and cafes seem to be involved with the University in some way.
We had 'Longhorn' for dinner - it's a steak place that we had been to earlier in our trip and enjoyed so much we wanted to experience it again.  Unfortunately sometimes once you have a good experience you shouldn't try to duplicate it.  This was one of those times.  The service was really bad, the food didn't come as we ordered and they kept forgetting about us (and the table opposite us - at least we met some new people through the experience).  At the end when they brought the 'check' I had a fleeting thought of 'I hope she doesn't lose our credit card' and sure enough, she did.  I couldn't believe it!!! Fortunately she managed to locate it after awhile but we won't be trying to recreate that experience again.
Afterwards we went to watch Mission Impossible 4 - great flick - I passed on the popcorn this time.  We stayed at a Hampton Inn hotel where Tiahna slept on a Murphy Bed (a bed which folds up into a cupboard - very impressive).
Day 31: New Year's Eve. Not sure how many of you knew, but we were meeting our friends, Leonie and Steve Stiller in New York to spend New Year's Eve with them.  They had flown into New York and stayed for two weeks after attending a conference in Chicago.  Much time had been spent investigating the best way to be in 'Times Square' and see the ball drop at midnight.  All of our research had led us to believe you had two options.  Stand in the cold for about 8 to 12 hours (you can't even go to a public toilet or you lose your space) or pay to attend a function which at most places was being advertised for around $15000 per table of 4 people - hmm, what to choose?  We spoke to a lot of people on our travels who all said the only way to do it was to stand in the cold and people pretty much told Leonie and Steve the same thing.  We started to look at other options where you paid between $90 and $125 per head for dinner and you went to a restaurant near Times Square but wouldn't see the ball drop or anything.  Tiahna and I had really been hoping to be involved in the real thing but didn't relish the idea of standing in the cold for such a long time and also we would be doing it without the others who weren't really interested in the idea.  We ended up deciding to pay $125 each for a restaurant that was in Times Square so that we at least would be in the right area.  This also gave us passes to get through all the police barriers and directly into Times Sqaure.  They start closing off the different areas at around 3pm and once their closed you're either in or out.
To complicate things, Leonie has become ill whilst in the States and is unable to walk so is using a wheelchair, it would have been very difficult to be out on the streets (although maybe we could have converted her wheelchair to be some sort of port-a-loo???).
We arrived in New York and checked into our hotel and went to visit Leonie and Steve in theirs which we discovered was right around the corner from Times Sqaure.  Their hotel gave us passes to allow us to get in and out of the streets (without passes the police don't let you go anywhere), which was really useful.  Bus loads of police started arriving in the city at around 11am, I have never seen so many police in one area, there were hundreds on each block.  Lots of people were having photos with them but Gary was on a constant fast pace and I missed my opportunity to have my photo with them:(
We were looking for some place for lunch and I suggested 'Olive Garden' which we discovered was right in the centre of Times Square.  I then remembered that it was one of three places that had been recommended for NYE but when I contacted them had discovered that they weren't going to open for dinner this year.  It was the BEST place for lunch.  We sat in a warm restaurant in the middle of Times Square watching the crowds getting squished (at 3pm) in the freezing cold.  Already, these people wouldn't be able to see the stages from where they were, only the ball because they were too far back.
So, did we or didn't we see the ball in Times Sqaure on NYE???? Stay tuned.....

Back by popular demand!

Ooh, despite my best intentions - time has gotten away on me.  This time I can not use no internet as an excuse but can only say 'I'm soooo sorry', basically we have been so busy I haven't had time to sit down and blog so I'm going to break this session into a few separate blogs for easier reading.
Day 26: Today we dedicated to the Smithsonian Museums.  For those of you familiar with the Smithsonian there are actually 19 museums under the 'Smithsonian' banner.  Due to limited time and energy we only visited four, but that was all we really wanted to do anyway - still took us about five hours and that was running through them looking at what we wanted to see.  My 'must see' was Dorothy's red shoes from the 'Wizard of Oz', very exciting.  Did you know that they had to pad the bottoms of the shoes because the 'Yellow Brick Road' was actually made of wood and made a tapping noise when walked on. You heard it first in my blog.  We also visited Julia Child's kitchen, if you're not sure who she is watch the movie 'Julie and Julia'. We visited the Museum of Natural History because Tiahna wanted to see some of the scenes from 'Night in a Museum' but we followed up on that more in New York later in the trip.  We finished at the 'Air and Space' Museum which I think Edith would lose Paul in for several hours if he ever gets the opportunity to visit!  We saw Abel the monkey that went into space and also the toileting facilities that the astronauts use - hmmm.  Finished the day with dinner at 'Johnny Rockets'.
Day 27: Today we checked out of the hotel (our favourite so far) and then bit the bullet and went to the Budget car hire at the airport as we had been having a slight leak in one of the tyres.  We had planned to take it in sometime during our stay at Washington but were always in a hurry to get somewhere.  A pain going with the car full of luggage but thought we shouldn't risk driving long distance on a tyre with a slow leak.  Unfortunately our only option was changing the car for another car and they didn't have any Chrysler 300's so we had to say goodbye to our red beast and choose a new car.  The good news is they ended up giving us a car in a higher rental category and let us choose what we wanted - so after much getting in and out of cars and checking 'trunk' space (don't call it a boot here, you confuse everyone) we settled on a 'Ford Edge' which is an SUV.  It only had 8000miles on the clock and is a limited edition model so has all the 'bells and whistles' that Gary like to play with.  It also has more luggage space which at this point of the trip is a blessing, we were beginning to have trouble fitting everything in the Chrysler. Tiahna is impressed with the way we can change the 'Ambiance' lighting in the car and choose from about 8 colours.  We also have 'piddle seats', well that's what we call them.  The seats heat up which is great in cold weather but Gary and I feel that when you sit in them it feels like you've....... well our name for them says it all.
Drove on to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and checked into a La Quinta hotel.
Day 28: Ran a few errands in the morning and then went to 'Olive Garden' for lunch.  It was one of those places that we'd seen everywhere and heard was good but hadn't had the opportunity to visit yet.  I had a fantastic all you can eat soup and salad buffet with lots of yummy soups.  I'll definitely visit there again!
We then drove to the town of 'Intercourse' to show Tiahna where and how the Amish people live.  Lots of horse and carriages everywhere, we were disappointed to  discover that the Amish Co-op that we visited three years ago wasn't around anymore so we couldn't take Tiahna inside.  Gary visited the 'World's Largest Knife Shop' which he had discovered on our last trip - we lost him inside for a little while. Surprise, surprise.
Drove on to Philadelphia and checked into our next hotel (I've lost count on how many we've stayed at now) ready for the next day of adventures.
I need to go and have some breakfast now so I'll end this blog and continue with a new exciting chapter when I get back.