USA Week 1: 12.11.2012 – 18.11.2012 Monday It had been a long time in the thinking and the making but I’d been busy with my plans and getting everything ready for this moment. When did I decide it was time to make a change and take that leap of faith? Well, honestly I’m not sure. I’m also not sure I realised quite how exciting taking this step would be, or quite how much effort it would take to get to this
Week 1: 12.11.2012 – 18.11.2012
It had been a long time in the thinking and the making but I’d been busy with my plans and getting everything ready for this moment. When did I decide it was time to make a change and take that leap of faith? Well, honestly I’m not sure. I’m also not sure I realised quite how exciting taking this step would be, or quite how much effort it would take to get to this point. Looking back though the time had actually gone pretty quickly. That’s not really a surprise as such a lot had happened since I first handed in my notice at work.
Anyway, here I was! November 12th arrived. Dad kindly drove me to the airport early so we had plenty of time for a great breakfast together. Goodbyes are always hard. I’d had my fair share of these over recent weeks which weighed heavy and this one was particularly difficult. However, I needed to do this and find out what a different life might look like. I wass soon through to departures and onto the plane. Everything ran on time, thankfully, and in no time I was in the air. I have to say that flying with Virgin was such a great experience. The flight was half empty (or if you’re an optimist half full) so there was loads of space to stretch out and the food was pretty tasty too. There was a great selection of movie options which I watched back to back, apart from a little snooze somewhere mid flight. Before I knew it the plane was descending for the final approach and landing – it was a little choppy but touchdown went OK. It’s always a relief to get back on terraferma!
This happens a lot but it did seem to take an age to transfer from the plane and onto then luggage carrousel area. The shuttle bus had to wait until it was full before leaving and I didn’t make the best queue choice through passport control either. However, the guy in the booth was both friendly and funny – who’da guessed. By the time I got to the carrousel my luggage was almost the last to be collected and had been left abandoned on the floor. It was all there though, thankfully, and it was easy to pick up. This was actually way better than fighting for space when everyone else was looking for their bags. I eventually made it through arrivals and to where Tammy was there to pick me up. I was expecting to have to wear every layer of clothing but I was pleasantly surprised just how warm it was. The journey to Woodbridge went quickly on the open roads and I was soon being welcomed inside Tammy’s home. I dumped my bags in the guestroom and before long Tammy and I where sitting down to have supper together. Despite the time difference I managed to stay awake until a reasonable hour before hitting the sack.
Tammy had arranged loads of different trips for my visit, she is an awesome trip planner, so I knew the weeks ahead would be full of interest and fun. I’d also need some stamina! Let the games begin.
Tammy had work today, so left the house early leaving me to have a day to myself. I decided to just find my feet and get settled in. As I was here for a month or so I sorted through my stuff and got the room set up for my stay. It’s rare that I unpack my bag but as this was a longer stay and really a home from home I allowed myself the luxury. Apart from a run around the local housing area, there are a lot of cul de sacs here, I spent the day watching TV, listening to music and setting up my blog. I’d never had a blog before so I needed to work out how the site could best be used. I also needed to catch up on the notes of my wonderful Olympic experience (see my ‘Bonkers’ blog) and the adventures of the past few days.
Never does the grass grow under my feet. Not if Tammy has anything to do with it anyway. She had a fun packed schedule for us. Tuesday was an early 6:30am start. Thanks to a touch of jet lag this was a lot easier than it sounded. Today we were off to visit Boston. I’d never been but it’s one of those places on my list – why? I have no idea. I’d probably seen a picture sometime and stored the idea away to be dusted off when the time presented itself. Like now for instance!
It was only a ninety minute flight to Boston. There was loads of leg room, a pile of free snacks, some soft drinks, and personal screens for entertainment. This is the way to travel. We collected the rental car and headed for the city. Tammy dropped me at the hotel and headed off for work – yes, this was a work trip for her but I was tagging along which for me was as a very big bonus. It was cold, really cold. First stop was a hot drink and free wifi then I walked around the city. It’s easy to navigate, compact and has a very friendly feel to it. I took a spin on the hop n stop bus tour which gave me an overall view of the city and allowed me to orient myself. I especially liked the view from the skywalk tower. There was rather a lot of waiting around with my chosen bus tour company – note to all to avoid using Beantown Bus Tours.
I had a fabulous Ruben (hopefully you know how very delicious they are) for lunch and also met some interesting people, including some young Mormon’s in the park who were hoping to convert me into something, so after all’s said and done it was a rather good day. I meandered back to the hotel to meet Tammy (and to get some feeling back in my hands and feet) then out to experience Boston at night. We started with a beer before heading out to Beacon Hill for a walk and some food. We had a fabulous meal – taking no chances we ordered the two best meat dishes and swapped plates half way through. Perfect! The final stop was the Cheers bar for a beer. I remember watching Cheers when I was younger. How about you, did you ever watch it? I was wearing my super coloured leggings which for some reason seemed to get a lot of attention in this town so they were the topic of many a conversation with a group of Bostonians – apparently I must have been wearing them for a bet!! They’re not that bad. Are they?
Today we were heading back to Washington, but wanted to make the most of the final hours of our whistlestop visit to Boston. We got up early and headed for Panera Bread for coffe (for Tammy) and breakfast. Boy its a cold one! First stop was a walk through the Common to the tourist information centre. We picked up some info but ultimately decided to walk the Freedom Trail on our own. It was well marked and easy to follow. Perfect for someone with my lack of directional skills!
We followed the red line (sometimes painted and sometimes made of brick) through the streets of Boston. We eventually found our way the Faneuil Hall (said like the word Fennel) and joined one of the Park Service free walks. It was very informative and fast moving which worked great for us as it was just soooooo bloody cold (the poor old Brits got a bit of a kicking though during the history lessons – the Boston massacre for starters).
By now we had earned lunch. We ended up in Chinatown and found the most amazing restaurant in an cavernous old theatre. It was very popular and filled with the local Chinese, which is always a good sign of quality food. Needless to say English was not the first language but we managed to communicate our order with much pointing and gesturing. We plumped for a mixture of soup and dim sum, and were soon tucking in. Bloody marvellous, delicious and very reasonable too. Back on our feet we headed for the site of the Boston Tea Party then we followed the path around the famous harbour. After a while we crossed the bridge into Charlestown. A quick stop to walk the boards of the USS Constitution and then a climb up to Bunker Hill. We braved the nearly 300 step spiral staircase to the top to see the views which were well worth the effort. Then back across the bridge to the hotel and finally onto the airport and home. It had been a marvellous full day.
Thank fully I had a much quieter day today. Tammy showed me a great running route around the local area – I’m going to be good at hills by the end of this trip! The rest of the day was spent chilling until the early evening when we jumped onto the Metro for a trip into DC. We grabbed a great fast meal at Roti before getting to the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) Constitutional Hall for a Ray Lamontagne gig. Tammy had managed to snag tickets a while back. Despite the late start and the constant stream of late arrivals it was fantastic. The music was amazing – Ray can really sing live and captivate his audience – and the venue was terrific. Every seat in the house had a great view and the accoustics were fab!
We had another early start today for a day of hiking. We were taking part in a hike to be led by Gene, one of Tammy’s friends. It was a 13 miler along the Appalachian Trail – not the whole trail it way too long. Tammy drove us the 30 minute journey to the communal lot to meet the others. Then a further 30 minutes to the start of the hike. There were 20 or so of us taking part, including some pretty seasoned hikers – yikes!! I just hoped my fitness was up to this. We were also joined by 3 dogs. It was an up and back so 6.5 miles each way. Lots of ups (too many for my liking) and downs and at a rather demanding pace. Needless to say I was near the back but that’s how I prefer it. The weather was chilly but kind to us with plenty of sunshine. Being Fall, most of the leaves had fallen from the trees so the pathways were littered with a crunchy autumnal carpet which hid some of the stones underneath. We stopped for a short lunch break at Dick’s Dome shelter (I know ha ha) before heading back. It was a wonderful hike and it gave me quite an appetite, and a great excuse to eat too much again. It was to be Karen’s farewell meal that evening too. Karen was one of the well known hikers (she had done Killi the same year that Tammy, Margaret and I climbed it) and she was leaving Virginia for pastures new. So to wish her well we all sat down for drinks and dinner in classic US style, with a special ‘lunar’ story from Jennifer. That’s quite enough excitement for one day.
After a full on Saturday we decided we both needed a relatively lazy day with just a trip out for some shopping . I love shopping in the US. The stores are amazing, so much so that my little eyes don’t know where to focus. We visited Target, REI (woo hoo I got a great jacket in the sale) and the mind blowing food variety of Wegmans. We stocked up on food and bought the turkey for Thanksgiving.