Still cold

Still cold. And windy. And usually overcast. They say that in the summer when it's over 90 we will too hot. That can't get here soon enough for us!

Getting started in Maine

We spent Wednesday unpacking and organizing, then the next 2 days we in trained for the office work, which will start when the resort opens next Thursday. So we haven't had a lot of time to get out but we have started to learn some things about the area. 

First I discovered that I pronounce Bangor wrong. With my midwestern accent, I pronounced it as "Bang-or". But here they very distinctly pronounce the 'g' so it sounds more like "Ban-gore". 

And I was surprised to see that there are usually seagulls sitting on the ground here. It has been rainy on and off since we arrived, but we are at least 30 miles from the Penobscot Bay. 

The local Hannaford grocery store takes their seafood seriously. 
We have already had seafood a couple of times already - once at a restaurant (fried) and Randy cooked fresh cod (not fried and much better).

Tonight we went to a baked bean supper at a local church. $7 for baked beans (large and small), Boston brown bread (which looked like it was properly baked in a can), cole slaw, biscuits, watermelon pickles, plus desserts. 

We stopped in a bike shop to get a map of bicycle paths; they didn't have one but they are well stocked in winter sports equipment. And the bike trails around here must be fierce because some of the bicycle tires look like they belong on motocross motorcycles.
And so far, this is the only moose I've seen.



Cold

It is cold and getting colder here in Hermon, Maine. The wind is blowing so hard that if we were in the Midwest I would be thinking about tornados. That is not going to happen here but we sure would like it to warm up! Shorty is getting his winter coat; since he's a Papillon, most of it is on his ears.

One year ago: Leaving Shorty home . . . with precautions

The wheels stop turning for a few months

When we left New Jersey we drove to Mansfield, Mass, just south of Boston. It's not the RV park we usually stay in when we visit Boston, but it's too early for the Minuteman Park to be open. There is a transit station in Mansfield but the weekend schedule was so limited and there were so many people in Boston for the marathon that we decided to skip it. We spent a day relaxing and then drove to the Pumpkin Patch RV Resort in Hermon, Maine. The scenery in Maine changed to mostly evergreens, with touches of snow. The snow we could do without! It has been a great trip to get here but we are ready for the wheels to stop turning for awhile.

Two years ago:Repainting our RV
Four years ago: Laird Springs, Alaska

Hoboken, New Jersey

We saw most of the “must-see” NYC sights during our last trip here in 2011 so this time we are not rushing madly about to fit everything in. With that in mind, we decided to spend today in New Jersey. A conversation with the RV host sent us to the Brownstone Diner and Pancake Factory. Of course we ordered pancakes and they were probably the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever had. They came with a side of bacon, eggs and sausage. This sausage was not the standard breakfast sausage I am used to - this was more like a kielbasa sausage. 
The food was all really good. It was 10 am and the place was packed. The staff all spoke as if English was their second language - we thought they sounded Croation but since then I learned that this a Greek family business. This place lives up to the “factory” part of their name in some respects - the hostess and our waitress were short on personality. But the food was good and plentiful.

The Light Rail was just a block from the restaurant so we got tickets and took it to Hoboken. The Hoboken Light Rail station is right next to the train station, and the train station, built in 1907, is worth the trip. It's a work of art. The stained glasswork over the Ticket counters and in the ceiling is by Tiffany and the staircase is cast-iron and marble. The details in the ceiling are amazing.



Next to the station is a long waterfront park with great views of NYC. But it was still cold so we got off the waterfront. Carlo’s Bake Shop of "Cake Boss" fame is in Hoboken so we went to see it. It’s a small, cute shop and we considered going in. But there was a group of people standing outside, not lined up at the door, just standing around. So I asked if they were in line to get into the bakery. The guy said that this was the line of people who had gotten tickets to get into the bakery, but there was another, bigger line across the street to get tickets. The average wait was about 2 hours. To get into a bakery. We passed.
So we walked around Hoboken a bit more. It’s a pretty town and they have a lot of unique building that are being kept in good condition.
Back at the waterfront we were admiring the architecture, including part of the station that looks like it's detailed in copper.
I was wondering if all that green could really be copper, and then we noticed the building next to it. It’s almost completely covered in copper that has been recently cleaned.  





A cold visit to Coney Island

No snow or ice this morning, but it was still cold as we walked those 5 blocks to the PATH train. As we boarded, I noticed that we were almost the only ones who weren’t wearing a black jacket; I have come to think of that look as "New York Black". But at least we know our way around now! When we got off at the World Trade Center we went outside and looked up at the new Freedom tower. At 1,775 feet, it's actually taller than the original towers, and it's a beautiful design.
That is more than I can say about the new memorial building. I think it sort of looks like a goofy dinosaur skeleton. I know it's not done yet but I've seen the design and it will still look a lot like this when it's finished.
And here's an odd thought - since 9/11 occurred in 2001, there are children who were born after that event who are now learning about it in their history books. It's history now. 

It was a windy day but we wanted to visit Coney Island while we were here, so we got on the subway. When it crossed out of Manhattan and into the Brooklyn, the scenery around the rails got pretty rough: lots of trash, graffiti and razor wire. We couldn't figure out how they got graffiti that far into the tunnels or that high up on buildings. The train's path passed by a big train station and then the landscape slowly improved as it went through distinct neighborhoods, such as Orthodox Jewish and Oriental. Eventually it reached the end of the line. The Coney Island Metro Station is rough on the inside, but on the outside it looks good.

And just across the street from the station is Nathan's Hot Dogs.
So we had to have a Nathan’s hot dog! It was fine, although the buns were a little stale. That was probably because the wind was blowing hard through the open-air restaurant. On the side of the building is a huge billboard that is counting down the time, to the second, until the next International Hot Dog Eating Contest. This has been a pretty famous contest for the past few years, ever since the number of hot dogs consumed by an individual jumped up past 50.
Right behind Nathan's is the Boardwalk. They have a creepy looking face as their boardwalk symbol - it looks like something from the Nightmare Before Christmas.
We walked onto the beach but the wind was so bitterly cold that we headed right back to the boardwalk area. They were going to open some rides at noon, but we were not interested in getting in on a ride in this cold. 
At Williams Candy we got some rather odd but great candy - a large marshmallow surrounded by caramel and cashews. But it was cold there so we headed back to Manhattan. We got off the Metro at Wall Street and found the Trinity Church. Trinity Church has a lonely old burying ground beside it and really amazing front doors. They reminded me of the "Doors of Paradise" on the Cathedral of Florence.
 At the end of the center nave is a huge, gorgeous stained glass window that just glows. A choir was practicing, and soon they started singing. I am not sure what the event was but we did noticed that every statue and portrait of the Virgin Mary was covered with a red scarf, probably until Easter.
Now I have to take back my statement about New Yorkers not keeping their beautiful buildings clean. Apparently that problem was at least partially due to the fact that I was in a touristic area. Around Wall Street there are some fabulous buildings that are clean and in great condition.
We walked through the Tribeca area, where some Dunkin Donut coffee and doughnuts warmed us up. We topped that off with a great bagel from a nearby bakery and continued to admire the architecture. On Church street, near the New York Law School, is a tall grey building without any windows. I had all sorts of mysterious ideas about what it could be, but it turns out to be an AT&T building. How ordinary!




A full day in New York City

Last night we were awakened by loud banging sounds. Being new to NYC, we were not sure what it was,  but it turned out to be big, beautiful fireworks. 

While we are parked in the Liberty RV park, outside our front window we can see across the lot and water, to two of the most recognizable landmarks of NYC. To the left, Ellis Island. And to the right, the Statue of Liberty.
Yep, we can see the Statue of Liberty from our parking site. 
We went back into New York today. The city is just so big. There are people everywhere, all the time. During the day, when I would assume that a large percentage of people are at work, the sidewalks are still crowded. They can't all be tourists, can they? It is hard to know where regular New York ends and touristic New York starts. The part we were in was a fascinating blend of both, but they seem to have lost a couple of battles. Nobody seems to notice the dirt, grime and smells - at least not enough to do anything about it. And nobody seems to notice the amazing architecture they have. I would like to make a book of the doors of New York City - you don't see this anywhere else.
We wanted to see Penn Station, which is almost as busy as Grand Central Station. Outside it is fairly ordinary,  
but inside it’s like a city, with shops for almost everything. And this mini-city is spotlessly clean. So it can be done!
We walked from Penn Station through New York, just seeing the sights. The outside electric billboards are HUGE, and not just in Times Square. They all scream for attention, but there are so many of them that they just form a backdrop for the city.
I knew we were in the Garment District when I saw a great big button and needle.
 
We passed a big crowd of people lined up and discovered they were in line for 1/2 price theater tickets for the 2:00 showing of several Broadway shows. If we were going to be here longer, I would probably get in that line. We passed Radio City Music Hall and Times Square, which reminds me of Piccadilly Circus; same huge electric billboards, crowds and tourists taking pictures of everything and each other! 


We started getting hungry so we got some great cookies at The Bread Company, and lunch at the Pig and Whistle. Randy got a burger and fries while I ordered Mac and Cheese. With bacon and mushrooms. We were not having a contest about whose lunch was the best but if we did, I would have won!

The worst sign I saw all day:
The best sign I saw all day (in Penn Station):
Tonight I took the dogs out and watched the Statue of Liberty, glowing green, with it's beautiful lit torch.


One of the blogs I follow is Honey Rock Dawn, where the author takes beautiful pictures of the snow in Wyoming and write poetic lines about it, even in April. Here My response here in New York is more along the lines of WTF?

A rainy day and a blustery night in New Jersey

I am behind in my blog and will catch up soon, but for now I'll skip ahead to today, when we left Philadelphia and arrived in Jersey City, New Jersey. The goal is to spend a few days in New York. Getting here was a challenge because our GPS, nicknamed Jill, has been on the fritz lately. She only works about half the time and we never know when she will quit. Today we got some results by putting her against the window and propping her up by a blanket. She worked most of the time although I had to scoot forward anytime I wanted to read the display or check ahead.  Any time I moved her closer, she quit. 
We got to Jersey City just before noon and checked into Liberty Harbor Marina and RV Park. This is the most expensive RV Park we have stayed at, and there is no sewer, wifi or cable - just water and electric and a paved lot. But we, and a lot of other people, stay here because of location, location, location; when we look out our window, we can see the Statue of Liberty. It's across the harbor, and it's drizzling rain right now, but it's there. 

After we hookedup, a quick 5 block walk took us to the Metro station. There wasn't anyone on duty there, they just have machines and those machines are not user-friendly. Eventually we got tickets and took the metro over to the World Trade Center. From there we switched to another line and got off on Spring street. The goal: Lombardi's Pizza.
We've been here before but I forgot that they have 3 basic pizzas, and you add toppings to make your favorite type. We got the mozzarella pizza with tomato sauce and added Italian sausage. Their sausage is excellent, but the pizza is really...OK.
The problem is that I'm used to Randy's pizza so I'm hard to impress.

For dessert we walked around and found an Italian bakery where we spent $3.50 for 6 cookies; it didn't turn out to be a good deal. A further walk took us to an area that smelled so strongly of fish that we didn't linger. And it kept drizzling rain, so we took the Metro back to New Jersey. Tonight the temperature is dropping, the rain is increasing and the wind is blowing hard. It's a good night to stay inside.


One year ago: Hilton Head Island beach
Two years ago: Broken water line
Four years ago: Leaving ready for Alaska



Washington DC, after all

Before we left the Washington area we went to the The Dutch Country Farmers Market, and if we had gone there before, I might have camped out in their parking lot! I have seen many places advertised as "Dutch Markets" but this is the real deal. They had breads, cookies, pies, cakes, candies, butters, candy apples, chocolates and every kind of pretzel imaginable. Their jelly and jam section looked like a well-stocked Amish pantry.
The nearby Ikea had scheduled their Easter dinner while we were there; a little early, but that allows their customers to enjoy their food and still spend the holiday with their own family. The buffet was just $10 and included ham, Swedish meatballs, eggs, candied carrots, salad, cheese and fruit, smoked and poached salmon, three kinds of herring, beet salad, pasta with cream sauce and several kinds of cake. Plus their lingenberry drink. Very good.
We did decide to spend one whole day in DC. Since we've been here before, we didn't feel pressured to cram in everything. We wanted to see the the reflecting pool, since it was empty the last time we were here. We started at the Vietnam Memorial, which is always impressive. The staff will bring a ladder and climb up to create rubbings of names near the top. They also have a directory set out, so you can check if anyone with your name is on the wall. In addition to the normal flowers and cards, people have started leaving small rocks, painted with words or phrases.
This day there were a lot of WWII veterans in the city, which made this more impactful. Most were in wheelchairs, being pushed by young volunteers. 

From there we walked to the Lincoln Memorial, which is a beautiful, moving monument to an amazing man. President Lincoln speaks to almost everyone. And in front of his memorial is the reflecting pool, which today was full and reflecting just fine.
We had the added blessing of being in DC during the famous Cherry Blossom Festival. We decided, however, to forego the "festival" part in favor of just enjoying the day. Those blooming cherry trees line the Tidal Basin, and they really are beautiful.
 They go all around the basin, to and past the Jefferson Memorial.
There was a big crowd in front of the Jefferson Memorial today because different branches of servicemen were performing silent drills. 

On the far side of the basin we found the Franklin Roosevelt memorial. This isn't one memorial, like the Jefferson or Lincoln. Instead it is a series of statues and carved quotes that cover over 7 acres. One of the statues is of the President, plus his dog. It's an unusual statue because he is seated and covered by a cloak, but in his case that makes it realistic. The President, his staff and the media worked very hard to conceal his need for a wheelchair.
The memorial grounds include several waterfalls, quotes carved in granite, and other statues that refer to events in his Presidency, such as men standing in breadlines.
It's easily the biggest memorial in DC. The newest memorial is the one for Martin Luther King. Perhaps the structure was left unfinished to indicate the unfinished nature of his work.
We still haven't gone up in the Washington memorial, but that didn't stop me from admiring it from every angle.
Something else we were able to do on this trip was visit the Peterson house, where President Lincoln died. It's a small room with some, but not all, of the original furniture. 
They also have a great museum filled with artifacts from the funeral, such as pieces of the fringe from the coffin, funeral invitations and a coffin handle. 
And they have John Wilkes Booth's diary, which he wrote during his time on the run.

They also have a tall tower of books about Lincoln. The fact that there are over 15,000 books in print about Lincoln confirms the unending interest in him.
Afterwards we stopped to get frozen yogurt again, just as we did in 2011. Still good!

We took the underground train out to Arlington Cemetery. I don't think anyone can go to Arlington and see those rows and rows of grave markers and not feel moved. These people did not all die in service, but they all served. This is what the cost of freedom looks like.
We went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers again. This is the whole of Arlington distilled down to one tomb, constantly guarded and honored.
There are not any cherry trees here but the magnolia trees are just as beautiful.