A Travellerspoint blog

USA

End of the Sunny (Golden) Weather - Charleston to Oslo

The original plan was to spend a week in Charleston and another in Savannah, as I couldn't decide between the two. With the disruption to my plans, something had to go, and I actually had to make a choice. Obviously I chose Charleston, but then when it came time to leave, things got tricky - late late trains or a really expensive bus: an overnight in Savannah turned out to solve both problems.

The Greyhound station, like the train station, is well out of central Charleston so I had to catch a local bus and walk about a mile to get to it. Once again, the bus was not a Greyhound, some local company carries their passengers and their bus was late in. Eventually we were under way and it was a quick trip down the Interstate to Savannah. I was not able to find a hostel so had a hotel near the river-front, which turned out to be a good choice - an evening stroll along the river seems to be the thing to do in Savannah - and I quite liked the view of the bridge in the back yard.
Talmadge Memorial Bridge

Talmadge Memorial Bridge

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One thing about my hotel disturbed me: they made the claim that the door locks were the most secure they could find and that they locked the outside doors for my safety - I had not felt at risk until them!

I stopped in at the first bar that actually had people in it for a beer - coming out, I had an odd experience as it seemed the world had blacked out. It was just a container ship - they run right along the side of the street. This one is miles away in comparison.
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Apart from the many bars and restaurants, there are several shops specialising in candy - I picked one I had seen on TV which had helped spark a desire to come to Savannah, and it is pretty amazing. Apart from candies, they do things like pralines, bearclaws and glazed pecans. There were so many samples to try, I barely neeeded dinner and came out bearing about $50 worth of deliciousness. Yep. $50 on candy. Yep $US50.I did not eat it all at once - still have about half, in fact.
large_WP_20141113_031.jpgPecan glazing, River Street Sweets

Pecan glazing, River Street Sweets

large_WP_20141113_018.jpglarge_WP_20141113_016.jpgPraline making, River Street Sweets

Praline making, River Street Sweets

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If you ever need something to stop a gob, I think they will do the trick. Pigging out there did not stop me going in to the peanut shop, where they probably have more than a hundred varieties of flavoured peanuts: again, there were heaps of samples, so I tried everything that seemed interesting but ultimately just bought some plain salted nuts.
Peanut Shop, Savannah

Peanut Shop, Savannah

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Lots of nuts. I don't know how I did it, but when I saw Candy Kitchen, I went in there, and bought a wee treat to eat as I walked.
Candy Kitchen

Candy Kitchen

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On my walk along River Street, I had noticed that (apart from one very posh looking restaurant), the busiest place for food was Barracuda Bob's so that was the logical place to dine. The chicken wings were not so great, but I finally tried one of the local specialties - shrimp'n'grits. I'd had several conversations with people about grits - I was initially quite keen as they're made from corn, but then someone said they don't taste like corn, another said they taste like oatmeal. Finally, I had quite a long discussion with someone who convinced me that I needed to try them - they're a kind of poor man's couscous, but cooked until they're mushy, almost creamy. They basically provide a base for food, and went quite well with the shrimp, sausage and slightly spicy sauce in the dish I had. Not very photogenic, sorry.
Shrimp and Grits @ Barracuda Bobs

Shrimp and Grits @ Barracuda Bobs


River Street, Savannah

River Street, Savannah

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I walked around in the morning for a couple of hours - up the main street and spent some time in a bookshop/cafe where they have found something to do with old law reports now that they're all available online.
Ex Libris Book Store

Ex Libris Book Store

There is probably quite bit of Savannah I didn't see, but the 18 or so hours I spent there gave me a nice taste, and River Street does seem to be where most touristy action is - I've done that now. When it was time to go, I finally had an actual Greyhound bus, with a very grumpy and shouty driver - one poor passenger bore the brunt of it, as he obviously didn't know how to travel the Greyhound way. The bus was an express, and left with maybe a dozen passengers - most of whom left at the one intermediate stop we made, at Jacksonville, Florida. Once in Orlando, I had a long wait at the bus stop before a bus turned up - and it was not the most comfortable of waits. At one end of the bus stop, there were three guys discussing the length of time they'd spent in prison and what would happen if they went back (luckily none of them seemed inclined to do so). At the other, a woman having a long and largely one-sided conversation on her cell-phone - at all times, she sounded pretty agressive, and she'd start shouting, pouring streams of profanity into her phone. The bus I wanted was 30 minutes late so when one finally turned up, I just climbed on - tried to find out where we were going and how close it would get me to my destination, but the driver seemed to know very little about street numbers, would only tell me we were going to the terminal. As it happened, the terminal is on the very intersection I had asked her about, so all was good.

My last night in the US, so I cashed in a hotel voucher and stayed in a Hilton. Just as well, because I could see no sign of any kind of downtown or places to eat, so I dined in. The waitress was pretty and fun - as she was cleaning up a nearby table, I happened to ask her about her accent, which turned into two twenty minute conversations: Aliona is from central Ukraine, and had very fond memories of growing up there, particularly the summer camps where she could go to get away from her family (and they could be relieved of the burden of putting up with her) but does not like the way it has gone, with a departure from traditional values - the girls are just dolls, extermally beautiful but no inner beauty, she told me. Next conversation was about her life in America, her two kids, camping at the parks in Florida, the one visit she paid out of state seven years ago... We parted friends, and I was told to pop in and say hi when I'm next in Orlando. What a great way to finish my visit to the USA.

The other great thing about staying in a Hilton is that I could spend the day of my flight in the lobby using its free computer; getting travel plans sorted, printing out tickets, having a beer so that I was nice and relaxed for my flight. I was at the airport in plenty of time. I was flying Norwegian Air - they have a Dreamliner on the route, but the main complaint people have is that they sometimes bring in a chartered plane that is old, has no entertainment and does very little in the way of food, so I was hoping I'd get the real deal. Yep - a bit of a tight squeeze and my neighbour told me I'd been wise not to pre-buy the dinner, but smooth and decent things to watch, the main one being a dryish Norwegian comedy called Dag, about an extremely self-destructive couples therapist. My neighbour was very talkative, but occasionally he'd forget I wasn't Norwegian and lapse into his mother tongue.

After the lovely weather I'd had all the way down the USA, flying into Oslo was a bit of a shock: a steady 0 degrees and no sun.

Posted by NZBarry 15:57 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Charleston

sunny 19 °C

I find that I regret leaving each place, thinking that I could have easily spent much more time there, but somehow the place I move on to is even better than the last: it makes for a great travel experience. Last time I was in this part of the world, I sat on the edge of a defunct motorway for an hour or so, dithering over whether I should head west, towards Knoxville and Memphis and on to Texas, or south, through Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans before heading to Texas. I picked west, and enjoyed the trip immensely. This time, I went south, and enjoyed the trip immensely (although I did not get to New Orleans - next time). Charleston is just a fabulous place to hang out and enjoy life.

In the Washington hostel, I met a young couple from Hamilton, New Zealand who were kind enough to offer me a lift. If I hadn't already paid for my ticket, twice, I might have gone with them. (The ticket was paid for twice because I'd organised it before being stuck in Toronto, then couldn't use it. To be fair, I apparently will get a refund at some stage). So, it was a fairly early start to hit the Amtrak train to Charleston: there was a delightful moment in the station when a mother had to admonish her daughter, who was maybe 8 or 9, saying "stop dancing and get on the train". I didn't actually see very much as I travelled because they seem to have created a wee corridor for the railway line, hiding it behind trees. There was one point, however, where I was a bit surprised to notice a couple of giant military aircraft parked beside the railway line - I knew at the time what base it was, but its gone. The train didn't arrive until about 8:00 in the evening and Charleston is off the map when it comes to mainline public transport - both the train and buses stop several miles north of the city - so I decided to stop the night in North Charleston - the motel I picked was about a mile from the station: when I went in, the reception lady said "you didn't walk from the station did you, that's a bad area, really dangerous". I'd noticed a couple of blokes on push-bikes, nothing scarier. It was actually a good motel, and there was a mall with a choice of not too horrible places to eat and a huge used bookstore open till 9:00.

Once I hit downtown Charleston, my hostel was initially a bit of a concern - locked up with no sign of life, and a message to say it would not open until 6:00, I was really wondering about it. I hid my bags behind a tree out the back and went for a wander. Once I was in, however, it was fine, one of the most sociable I've ever been in - starting with the free bagel breakfast, where everyone sits around and chats, and then I came home from my day out and about to find a pot-luck dinner under way. I declined and sat in the next room, and had people coming in for long talks. Other nights, there might be no-one there at all: one poor bloke came along after the office closed and couldn't get in, because not even any of the guests were there - hate to think how long he'd been waiting. Then someone told me that the helicopter buzzing around overhead was looking for a runaway murderer - made me wonder who I'd let into the hostel.

There was a slight downside to such a friendly hostel: I planned to go see one of the remaining tea plantation mansions, and knew there was just one tour a day to get there. Unfortunately, a bit too much bagel chatter saw me arrive at the station just as the tour bus pulled out the other end. I had to console myself walking around the southern tip of Charleston - most of the houses were built in the 1600's and some are very grand. I don't often describe things as awesome, but that was the word that came to mind as I walked around. The grandest of all are on immense grounds with huge gardens which obscure the houses, some have high walls so peeps like me can't interrupt whatever people do in grand houses behind walls. Here's a selection of what can be seen in the area between Broad Street and South Barrack - but really, it was their aggregate effect which worked its magic on me.
House with Piazza

House with Piazza

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South Battery is a gun emplacement - there is also a Fort (Sumter) on an island - which is a pretty big deal of a fort, as it is here the first shots in the civil war were fired. If you couldn't tell from the houses, Charleston has history - it has been here since 1670. There is a monument at South Battery to commemorate the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Fort Sumter. I was amused as an elegantly dressed lady wandered up and was busy taking a photo, and obviously suddenly noticed about this statue, because she exclaimed "ewww! Where's his clothes?" (being elegantly clothed is not a sign of knowing or caring about grammar).
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It is when you head round to East Battery and East Bay that you hit the really old part of town - there are houses here from the 17th century although most are 18th century (including the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon - the balcony of which was used to read out the Declaration of Independence, and was itself used as a slave market).
Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon

Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon

East Bay Street

East Bay Street

large_270_IMG_9848.jpglarge_IMG_9853.jpgEast Battery

East Battery

Historic Charleston Foundation

Historic Charleston Foundation

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Two more houses - about the smallest I saw and definitely the largest:
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Charleston was named in honour of Charles II and has long enjoyed a hedonistic lifestyle. I certainly found lots and lots of places to eat, drink and make merry - King Street is the main street, and has maybe six, maybe eight, blocks of glamourous shopping, posh bars and places to eat, with lots more dotted on the side-streets - I went to one called Poogan's Porch (result of a long chat in the hostel) and pigged out on southern fare - mac'n'cheese and fried chicken. I was a bit wary of the mac'n'cheese, because the last time I seriously ate some was when I was a student, eating hostel food - the only way to get any taste out of that mac'n'cheese was to smother it in tomato sauce. This version, though, was delicious (and terribly unhealthy) yet not the best I've eaten. Further up King Street, there are lots of big old buildings which have obviously been run down a bit, but now a lot of them are being turned into very sophisticated bars. I went into one, Prohibition, where they had an old-time band playing and people actually dancing - maybe the Charleston, I don;t know because I wouldn't recognise it - 1920's and 30's style. It was a great place to hang out - I went a couple of times, and once had their mac'n'cheese - fantastic, with local sausage, mushrooms, a hint of spice: they guy eating sliders at the next table was quite jealous.
Prohibition

Prohibition

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Another bar I went into, the Rarebit, ostensibly to meet some people from the hostel but really because I had heard about its ginger beer, made inhouse and it packs a punch: completely non-alcoholic, but a huge fresh ginger kick. I vaguely remember promising the people I was with that I would make some when I get home. I had dinner here as well - they served mac'n'cheese as a side. Might have to make some of that when I get home as well.

I did work when I was there - a day and a half in the public library, half a day in a pub because the library was closed for Veteran's Day and then I discovered that College of Charleston isn't some community college, but is a proper liberal-arts college, with a great library - I particularly liked their solid individual work-spaces. I did make a bit of a mistake - I saw a building called the Towell Library so tried to use it, but it has changed function somewhat.
Towell Library

Towell Library

Towell Library

Towell Library

Alumni House

Alumni House

large_WP_20141111_008.jpgPorter's Lodge

Porter's Lodge

large_WP_20141111_003.jpgCollege of Charleston

College of Charleston

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Speaking of towels, near time to throw it in as I'm running out of pictures. Here are a few randoms:
Old Courthouse

Old Courthouse

Courthouse and Post Office

Courthouse and Post Office

Horse-drawn bus

Horse-drawn bus

Free Tourist Tram

Free Tourist Tram

Promenade

Promenade

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Posted by NZBarry 16:05 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Washington Highlights

overcast 18 °C

In among the various things I saw in Washington, several were standouts. I had originally planned to work in the rather splendid public library because it was, well, rather splendid and not far from where I was staying. On about my second day, however, I checked out the Georgetown University library, which was nothing special, to be honest, but it involved a walk through Georgetown - I enjoyed the walk so much I did it every day. Things always seemed to be a bit misty by the time I got to the uni.
Georgetown University

Georgetown University

large_270_IMG_9759.jpglarge_WP_20141105_028.jpgGeorgetown University Library

Georgetown University Library


The main thoroughfare was pretty interesting, with cool, boutique shops, cafes, bars - kind of like Ponsonby Road but with a lot more going on. There is even a canal, not just a canal but a monumental one - the Chesapeake and Erie Canal National Monument is just off the main street in Georgetown, and looks rather like a canal. Georgetown itself was built here because of the canal. There is a park office, but it is closed indefinitely and the canal boat they used to run tours is laid up, also indefinitely. In its heyday, this canal would have 150 vessels a day, taking stuff from the hinterland out to the Hudson River, so its present state is a bit sad.
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Off the main thoroughfare, things became even better: Georgetown has been here longer than Washington, and indeed there are apparently some in Georgetown who refuse to acknowledge it is part of Washington. So walking through the streets, some of which are cobbled, means seeing lots of good looking old houses, with the occasional cafe or shop sprinkled in to keep up one's energy.
Georgetown

Georgetown

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One evening, I was working so late that I just couldn't be bothered walking home (it was something like 3 miles) so caught a random bus I found loitering outside the library, hoping it was going where I was: it took me along P Street (couldn't name a street in New Zealand P Street, could we) and eventually things started looking so good that I had to get off (luckily, this was at Logan Circle, which was about 4 blocks from my hostel). Apart from the Whole Foods store (where I spent $25 just to acquire some of their pre-cooked food for dinner), there was a great ice-cream cum coffee shop which was tremendously busy the whole time I was there, a nice Thai place and a bit of an altie vibe which I enjoyed.

On my last day, I took a walking tour run by the hostel which went via Union Station and Congress to the Supreme Court of the United States. This was on the Friday, the one day of the week the Court does not sit, so I couldn't see them in action. I couldn't even get into the Courtroom - even though we were on a tour, we had to standby while an official tour went in. Like many of the buildings in Washington, the Supreme Court was built to demonstrate the status of the US as the pre-eminent nation and an enduring one - with very classical lines. It is made entirely of marble, so is going to be available for the dispensing of justice for a while (let's not get drawn on the quality of that justice). Inside, there are a couple of elliptical spiral staircases which run for (I think) three stories and are entirely self supporting - that would take some fine craftsmanship and a crafty design.
Supreme Court of the United States

Supreme Court of the United States

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One of the key Smithsonian Museums I wanted to see was the Museum of American History, which was a bit of a strange one, as it picks out particular themes to display, so it can be a bit disjointed and certainly doesn't even try to create a narrative of American history. I struck it lucky, because two of the three themes really worked for me. The entire top floor was devoted to Presidents and First Ladies, which did little for me (although I was amused at the props used - dinner sets and dresses for the First Ladies, armament and uniforms for the Presidents). But the other two themes were transport and food - couldn't be better. Both took a social perspective - the various forms of transport illustrated the ideas of freedom (so there's a caravan and a cabin) and connection (so there are trains and buses). There is also the first car to ever cross the USA - in 1903 - despite a marked lack of roads! The team was H Nelson Jackson, Sewell Cracker and their dog, Bud.
Car Collection, Museum of American History

Car Collection, Museum of American History

large_IMG_9776.jpglarge_IMG_9778.jpglarge_IMG_9777.jpglarge_IMG_9772.jpgCrocker and Bud

Crocker and Bud

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The food one was pretty much the opposite, it was focused on fast food and how it led to the breakdown of people eating at the table together. And when it comes to finding a table (and kitchen) to demonstrate the value of eating together, they had Julia Child's entire kitchen, set up just the way she left it.
Julia Child's Kitchen

Julia Child's Kitchen

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Saving the best for last (and it was almost the last thing I did in Washington (apart from another late night visit to Logan Circle) - the Library of Congress.
Library of Congress

Library of Congress

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I was most annoyed to find out (a) I couldn't go in to the reading room without a card and (b) I could have been working there all week if I'd asked for a card when I arrived. The reading room is guarded by Minerva (Roman goddess of wisdom).
Minerva

Minerva


Reading Room, Library of Congress

Reading Room, Library of Congress

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I took another tour, this was run by a rather unusual woman who worked for the library - I actually quite liked her, and she was very enthusiastic about her "Italianate Palace", but she'd pop in odd personal details: somehow she had to talk about something mathematics-related, and she reverted to her schooldays, and told us she was good at math, that she'd help others with their math (OK so far) but then drop in the discoforting detail that she did maths on a Saturday night because no-one ever asked her out. She sounded like a right geek, so I probably would have, had I been there. The library is just beautiful.
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Oddly enough, the security was tighter to get into the library than the Supreme Court - all belts, shoes, watches, glasses etc off. They did have a few things of value inside, I suppose - what's left of Jefferson's library (there have been a few fires in the library history, some accidental, some set by the British - Jefferson donated his library after one such fire, and then half of that was burnt in yet another fire). The library also had a special visitor - one of the four extant versions of the Magna Carta - this is the one from the Lincoln Cathedral.
Jefferson's Library @ Library of Congress

Jefferson's Library @ Library of Congress


Magna Carta

Magna Carta

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All in all, despite some dubious weather, I had a great time in Washington - helped along by my hostel, where breakfasts were a bit special. John worked for the hostel, and he'd not release any breakfast to us until we'd said good morning to him in some language other than our own. He then went around working the room, making strangers sitting opposite each other introduce themselves and working very hard to make people feel at home. That early in the morning, I could only handle it once, and so would escape to find a coffee shop.

Posted by NZBarry 16:50 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Long Night to Washington

overcast 20 °C

I think I left Toronto just in time - there was just a twitch of snow, so light I thought it was a few small leaves floating about, a couple of days before my passport turned up. The news came through and I swooped on the Greyhound site (so much cheaper than any other departure option) and booked a ticket through to Washington that evening. I guess travelling overnight on Greyhound has a certain mystique, as people hear Greyhound and think drunks and losers. Apart from the fact that it wasn't actually a Greyhound bus and the shocking state of the Buffalo station, it was fine. I had a double seat to myself for most of the way, with a teenage bloke joining me for about an hour at one stage, and they served up some most excellent fried chicken at one of the stops. The only real problem was getting through the border, at Peace Bridge. It must be a regular smuggler's route - they very calmly and very politely searched everything I had, and that of many other passengers. It caused quite the delay. Don't think it was smugglers, more likely they were bored and just looking for something to do as it was very quiet. At least they confirmed that I really have lost my passport - just as well, as I don;t know what sort of questions it would have led to if they found it.

After a 45 minute stop in the Transit Authority in Washington and we were off again, on another non-Greyhound bus and I was in Washington at 1:00 (p.m.). As we drove in, I realised that my only real images of Washington are of grand buildings, but the drive in was quite nondescript. Matters changed dramatically when we hit Union Station - it is just down the road from the Capitol so had to be built in suitable style. Here's the wikipedia description:

Classical elements included the Arch of Constantine (exterior, main façade) and the great vaulted spaces of the Baths of Diocletian (interior); prominent siting at the intersection of two of Pierre L'Enfant's avenues, with an orientation that faced the United States Capitol just five blocks away; a massive scale, including a façade stretching more than 600 feet and a waiting room ceiling 96 feet above the floor; stone inscriptions and allegorical sculpture in the Beaux-Arts style; expensive materials such as marble, gold leaf, and white granite from a previously unused quarry.

Unfortunately, there are bits falling from the ceilings, so they've installed a heavy mesh, which meant no photos were possible, except for the clock - which is famous for having a mistake on its face.
Arriving in Washington

Arriving in Washington

Union Station

Union Station

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I was there for a few days, so had a good walk around the centre, several times as I planned one sight-seeing thing a day, and then off to work. First up was the National Building Museum, which sounded like it would be just my thing. It was certainly in the right sort of building
National Building Museum

National Building Museum

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Unfortunately, in terms of exhibits, it fell a bit flat. There was some Lego, a room with little mock-ups of designs - it looked so boring I didn't pay to see the exhibits. I was amused watching a teacher run through an alphabetical list of do's and don'ts in the museum for his wee (all of about 5 years old) charges - somehow, in his alphabet, E comes before D.

This post is really about the also-rans of my visit to Washington - in the next, I present my highlights. I was very impressed at the scale of the Mall of Washington and the government buildings generally, plus there's the Smithsoniam (sadly, my top of the list museum, American Art, was closed for refurbishment). I must confess that I had trouble identifying some buildings - I just took pictures of those which really caught my eye, as well as a few monuments (and I have one of them which I have not been able to identify - its plaque was blank). Of course, I could identify the White House, not that I could get very close (I was a wee bit surprised to see that despite its size and having an even bigger guesthouse across the road, the President had to put up a tent to deal with the visitors (I was not invited) and the Capitol, at the other end of town:
White House

White House

White House

White House

Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill

US Capitol

US Capitol

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That last photo might be a bit hard to identify - it is an intake for the air-conditioning for the Capitol. From there, you look straight down at the Washington Monument (where they were expecting 800,000 odd people for a free Veteran's Day gig featuring Eminem, Rhianna and Springsteen).
National Monument

National Monument

Simon Bolivar

Simon Bolivar

large_270_IMG_9719.jpglarge_270_IMG_9724.jpglarge_270_IMG_9745.jpglarge_270_IMG_9746.jpglarge_270_IMG_9747.jpgAshes to Answers

Ashes to Answers


That last one is a monument to celebrate fire rescue dogs. Up next to the White House, I really liked the Eisenhower Executive building, with its odd protuberances, and was surprised at the Reagan Building (because it fits in so well with its surrounding buildings but is actually only 20 years old - there had been a plan to have a building there all along, but the workmen making the other buildings found it a useful place to park, and the habits stuck, for decades). Quite surprising alongside these major buildings, is the former lock-keeper's cottage, which is just across Constitution Avenue from the White House, and is built according to a completely different scale and aesthetic.
Dwight Eisenhower Executive Building

Dwight Eisenhower Executive Building

large_IMG_9739.jpglarge_WP_20141105_011.jpglarge_IMG_9738.jpgRonald Reagan Building

Ronald Reagan Building

Lock-keeper's Cottage

Lock-keeper's Cottage


As you drive up Constitution Avenue, the buildings are just huge - the point is to create an idea of the immense power of America, and it works - apparently, as official visitors are brought into town, they're driven along the intimidation route, just to get them in the right frame of mind before meeting the President.
large_WP_20141105_012.jpgUS International Trade Admin

US International Trade Admin

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And then there were just a few random buildings around I needed to snap - an art gallery near the Eisenhower Building, the infamous Watergate Hotel, looking a bit sad (the fact it was raining didn't help), the Organisation of American States Building (who knew this organisation even existed? It isn't about the states of America, but the nations comprising the American continent), Judiciary Square (where the local courts are and then some unidentified randoms
Art Gallery

Art Gallery

Watergate Hotel

Watergate Hotel


Organisation of American States

Organisation of American States


Judiciary Square

Judiciary Square

large_WP_20141105_015.jpglarge_WP_20141105_007.jpgSpy Museum

Spy Museum

Posted by NZBarry 15:01 Archived in USA Comments (0)

End of Roadtrip: Moscow - Seattle

sunny 25 °C

So, this was the last day of our travels together - about 370 miles. After a quick swoop through Moscow, which even on a quiet Sunday morning looked to me like a nice town, we went in and had a sneaky look at the University of Idaho, which is headquarted here. I have visited a few Unis in my time, but this is the first one where I have been so conscious of the Greek (i.e. fraternity and sorority) housing - there were whole streets of them. The University itself was founded here in 1889 with 40 students and one professor, so is actually a bit younger than my own Uni. I'm not entirely sure what happened to those 40 students as only 4 graduated. There was a major fire in 1906 which required a new Administration building, desiged by the architect who designed the State Capitol - the idea was to build a grand building in order to make people think it is a grand University.
University of Idaho, Moscow

University of Idaho, Moscow

University of Idaho, Moscow

University of Idaho, Moscow

University of Idaho, Moscow

University of Idaho, Moscow

University of Idaho, Moscow

University of Idaho, Moscow


Of course, there were also some significant sporting facilities, including a sports dome - of very little interest to me. Moving on, it was odd to find another country based University just 9 miles away - the Washington State University in Pullman. It must have been an odd sort of place to put a University, as there were no roads at all - the only way to get to Pullman was by rail, and from there to the Uni, instead of a yellow brick road, there was a red brick road - just a couple of blocks of these 100 year old streets still exist.
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Driving through the campus meant we both missed Pullman and became very lost - the GPS lady was taking us into smaller and smaller country roads, but she was evidently correct because we finally got ourselves on the way to Lower Granite. To help resolve my brother's disappointment with Lewiston, I found that the locks he was interested in seeing were not actually at Lewiston - there is a sequence of about 15 dams and locks between here and where the Columbia river finally hits the sea - and a pretty flash rivercruise boat will take you through for about $3,000. Lower Granite is the first of the them. It is actually run by the Army, and we had to get security clearance to drive across the top of the dam and were under very strict instructions not to stop or take photos, so I have no photo of the lock (it had no traffic while we were there, so there wasn't much to see anyway. The dam had a Visitor Centre, one wall of which was glass, to allow people to see fish swimming upriver - there is a ladder which allows them to get through the dam. A woman was sitting in a wee concrete cubicle, knitting - my brother got talking to her: she actually sits there all day counting and classifying the salmon going through. When she takes a break, a video camera takes over - it ocurred to me that it would be so much more efficient to just video the whole time, rather than have people counting in real time, given that I think about three salmon went through the whole time we were there.
Lower Granite Dam

Lower Granite Dam


Lower Granite Dam

Lower Granite Dam


Lower Granite Dam

Lower Granite Dam


Lower Granite Dam

Lower Granite Dam


Lower Granite Lake

Lower Granite Lake


Salmon Ladder, Lower Granite Dam

Salmon Ladder, Lower Granite Dam

We didn't find much reason to stop for the next 320 miles, except for Yakima ("the Palm Springs of Washington"). This is a name legendary in one particular circle - the craft brewing movement, because about 70% of all hops grown in the US come from the Yakima valley. It also has about 100 wineries and is very big on other fruits and veges. I first came across the name Yakima several years ago in a bar in Westport, where I bought a dark beer called Yakima - I thought it was Japanese but was put right. Then a young fellow I talked to back in Port Angeles had left there to try his luck in Yakima and mentioned the hops - I don't think he liked it very much, because he described the area as a desert! Anyway, I made sure we went through and yes, there were hops (there were also cows in feedlots I was made to stop at). Every year (but not while we were there) Yakima has a Fresh Hop Ale Festival in October - it looks a lot like the one I go to in Nelson, Marchfest, where brewers make brews using the latest crop of hops.
Hops @ Yakima Valley

Hops @ Yakima Valley


Hops @ Yakima Valley

Hops @ Yakima Valley


Yakima town was actually a good place - we were only there for coffee but ended up walking through the whole town before finding any, so I didn't have my camera with me. Interesting fact about Yakima: the residents and the railroad had a huge fight in the 1880's which saw the railroad set up shop four miles out of town. The good people of Yakima had to accept the importance of the railroad, so moved the whole town (about 100 buildings) on rollers made from logs - I think the railrod won that battle. I'm not sure if that was the same rail station that is still there - it is where we finally found some good coffee, and a very interesting looking wood panelled restaurant/bar - but I do know the railroad has moved its station again. There were various old buildings clustered around the station we visitied - probably part of the big move.
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After that, it was a simple matter of retracing our steps through to Seattle on the I-90, with a pause for dinner at Olive Garden - food was OK, but the service was outstanding. When we got there they told us there'd be an hour's wait, and gave us one of those wee discs that sings and vibrates. We wandered over to the mall - I managed to drop the disc thing in some water, and it started making these strangled beeping noises, but it turnd out that we were actually being summoned back to the restaurant - I hadn't realised they had such a range. Another night in the same Motel 6 we started in, and I dropped my brother at the airport at an extreme early hour and our shared trip was over.
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This is the longest time I've travelled (or indeed spent) with anyone since I was a kid: before we left, we had both seen the same article about being careful who you travel with and how travel can test relationships - apart from one tiny squabble when I was barely awake and being asked to pay attention, all seemed to go fine - a lot of the time we wanted to see the same things

Posted by NZBarry 19:20 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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