So far on our USA adventures, we had concentrated on the country’s great outdoors – rocks, canyons, lakes, waterfalls, mountains, wildlife. But it just didn’t feel right to head home without seeing some of the most densely populated part of the country – the North East. From New Orleans, we decided to fly to Richmond, Virginia for no better reason than it was near a drive that, at that time of the year, offered incredible views of the foliage: the Blue Ridge Parkway. Americans may not understand this, but for an Australian who is used to the pale greens and browns of the ‘bush’ and ‘outback’ where our seasons are not particularly marked, seeing trees covered in red, orange and yellow leaves is quite a novelty. We spend the 100+ mile journey transfixed by the scenery passing us and stopped occasionally to walk around in the glorious cool fall day.
Like anything new, it’s fascinating and you can’t get enough for the first 100 miles. After that, it was all beginning to look the same so we decided to pop into the nation’s capital for an extremely fleeting visit – I think we spent about an hour there. Saw the national monument, drove past the White House (without actually seeing it – twice!), then headed back to our hotel in Virginia. Definitely a car day.
From Richmond, we boarded the train to our next major east coast stop: New York! I was particularly looking forward to this stop, and New York did not disappoint. We did all the typical touristy things: Staten Island Ferry (saw the Statue of Liberty on that – didn’t seem much point getting any closer!), walked through Central Park, looked at the view from the top a tall building (we chose the Rockefeller Center), joined the other million or so tourists in Times Square at night, rode the subway, checked out the Brooklyn Bridge, heckled the Occupy Wall Street protesters, ate pizza, shopped… and loved every minute of it!
And, of course, we went to a Broadway musical. Adam was not excited (understatement of the year) when I announced that I wanted to partake in this particular tourist staple, but sighed and agreed we could go. In recognition of this huge sacrifice on his part (I think he would have preferred to have his eyes poked out) I splurged on the only possible musical I thought he could enjoy: God’s Favorite Musical! No kidding. That’s what the shirts we got say anyway… That’s right, we saw The Book of Mormon, from Trey Parker and Matt Stone (makers of South Park and Team America) and I have not laughed so hard or so long in a very, very, VERY long time. It was brilliant! See it if you can.
After a whirlwind four days of fun we again boarded the trusty but now packed Amtrak train, this time bound for Boston. We were on the commuter train and it turns out wankers in suits are just as rude and arrogant in the USA as they are on the Qantas city flights in Australia. We’d had such lovely experiences with people all over the USA that I was beginning the believe they exported all their worst citizens, turns out they’re all on the Amtrak. Fortunately we were trapped with them for a mere 4 hours – and it was worth it to reach our destination.
Boston is probably amazing. I say probably, because it was freaking cold and raining for our 36 hour visit so we didn’t get to see it at its best. Not to be deterred by a bit of bad weather, we donned waterproof items (Adam his slick pants and jacket, me a $3 emergency poncho) and walked the Freedom Trail, which mainly featured churches, graveyards and cobblestones. It was a great way to get to see the city, but after 6 hours (by which time I was pretty much soaked) we gave up and headed back to our hostel to huddle around the radiator.
We left Boston at 8am on a clear, sunny day – looks like we just missed the good weather. Oh well, a perfect excuse for a return visit 🙂