“Local” and family time – USACANADA Adventure 2018 – blogpost 6

Hi again.

What an enriching week we’ve had; lots of reconnecting with people and places from Dale’s earlier years, time with family and lots of delightful sightseeing … amid some decidedly cool and windy weather. I type this from a Starbucks in a Washington DC shopping mall … enjoying just my second flat white coffee since this adventure began. We’re having a slower day, with sightseeing-in-earnest beginning tomorrow. The final hour or so of driving into and through DC was exhausting to say the least. Today is the day for the “Four R’s” – rest, reading, (w)riting and retail therapy😀

So …

We left Cleveland behind and headed east to places that were part of Dale’s upbringing – eastern Ohio towns like Garrettsville, Aurora Meadows, Mantua and Streetsboro. Many highlights:

  • Showing Jan and Glenn around

  • Overnighting with Dale’s high school friend Sherry and husband Wayne at Shailersville

  • Delighting again in the beauty of woods and rock faces at Nelson Ledges, right on the continental divide

  • Honouring Dale and Diana’s late Dad, enjoying breakfast together at Miller’s Family Restaurant, Garrettsville, followed by a quick visit to “Dale’s RiteAid” across the road 😀

  • Visiting the Fenstermaker Road,Garrettsville property once occupied by Mom and Dad for 40 years. Lot’s more.

Then … off to our adventure’s first of two AirBnB nights – at Aunt Lydia’s Guesthouse at Bird-in-Hand, Lancaster County, right in the heart of Amish country. When I booked the place (which turned out brilliantly. … apart from a lack of a spoon for Glenn and his cereal) I was ever mindful of another Aunt Lydia, the complex character in The Handmaid’s Tale. This Lydia, along with husband Daniel were thankfully poles apart from the fictional Lydia. Their home had typical rolling Lancaster County farmscape all around. Daniel offered to be our tour guide for a few hours – wonderful. And yes, we took opportunity to engulge in genuine Pennsylvania Dutch country cooking😀

The weather was a bit ordinary but that barely got in the way of our experience there.

We’re headed to Gettysburg but we could not avoid (there being a few chocolate tragics among us) of detouring via Hershey and the iconic Hershey’s Chocolate World. We felt like kids in one humongous candy store. Well worth it, especially the free 30-minute tour.

Then … off to Gettysburg, centre of the pivotal three-day American Civil War battle in which led to an enormous loss of life in what stands as the costliest armed conflict ever on North American soil. The pacifist in me is repulsed by any sort of conflict but somehow I have such admiration for the devotion of soldiers from both sides for the cause they defended. That said, I can but wonder what sort of USA we would have this day had the Confederacy won that Gettysburg battle … slavery and all that. I can’t help but wonder at some of the deeply entrenched societal problems and indeed bigotry in the States present to this very day. Here are some pics, some from an excellent two-hour bus tour Dale and I took. Great tour guide. Places like Cemetery Hill, Seminary Hill and Little Round Top these days assume near-legendary status.We learnt so much. And yes, I took home a copy of Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address from 1863, one of the English language’s greatest piece of prose and oratory.

After two nights in a well-appointed Quality Inn at Gettysburg (right next door to the battlefield and including a heated indoor pool), we take the long drive to Kill Devil Hills at the Outer Banks, North Carolina. This is an out of the way, delightful series of beaches on these long, skinny sand-dunes islands stretching hundreds of kilometres. Off the coast of here pirate Blackbeard raged centuries ago … hundreds of ships have met their doom of the coast too. Hence many famously styled lighthouses. We joined Diana and Tom for the final three nights of their stay there … at lovely accommodation virtually right on the sand dunes and special hospitality. Remember – this is an extremely hurricane-prone area. Highlights?

  • Our day trip to the iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and nearby Rodanthe. Jam was keen to get a pic (she succeeded) of a house used in the 2008 Richard Gere movie based there

  • The beach. Unkept and beautiful

  • Checking out the Wright Brothers National Memorial. The actual site where their initial successful flights took place is just down the road. Inspiring … says I who’ll travel home in four days in a huge Boeing 787 Dreamliner for 14 hours. The Wright’s first flight lasted 12 seconds

  • Checking out the seaside town of Duck and their legendary Duck Donuts. Beautiful views of Currituck Sound on a lovely sunny autumn day

  • Breakfast at Henry’s. With Dale’s Dad we frequented the restaurant four years ago. You know you’re at “seafood central” when this is on the breakfast menu.

We could so easily have stayed longer here. There was an “out-of-the-wayness” of our lodgings that – who knows – expenses aside – might get us back here one day. Wouldn’t that be nice!

We need to head to the nation’s capital and some serious sightseeing there … including the Smithsonian Museums. It also marks our final days on this trip with our great friends Glenn and Jan. It’s been truly wonderful travelling once again with them. I think all of us are looking forward to warmer (though not too warm climes).

They head home via a few days in Hawaii? Us? We Amtrak it to NYC on Wednesday … hoping via the Hamilton lottery to get tickets to that show on Wednesday evening. Otherwise it might be School of Rock. We head home on Thursday evening.

Until my final post.

Blessings,

David

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