DC & NYC – USACANADA Adventure 2018 – blogpost #7

Hi. I’m typing this almost an hour out of Washington DC, the USA capital. We’re on Amtrak’s NE Regional service to Boston. We took advantage of Amtrak’s Red Cap Service to get our profusion of suitcases etc from the Union Station taxi rank to the Union Station train. Thanks Tyrone. The $20 was well worth it!

We’re getting off in Penn Station, right in Manhattan, New York City; our final night in North America on what has been an amazing trip. Yet we’re both ready to head home. A show or two in NYC and some time in Central Park will cap it all off well. Anyhow, let me backtrack.

Leaving our lovely Kill Devil Hills beachside lodgings at the Outer Banks, we farewell Diana and Tom, who have shared much of the preceding weeks with us. Great company, hospitality and opportunity to catch up … at so many superb locations.

Skirting many historic areas around Chesapeake Bay, we make it finally to our AirBnB unit in inner suburban DC late afternoon, the last hour or so being really tedious, tense and tiring as yours truly as driver negotiates closed off-Ramps, narrow DC streets, confusing GPS instructions and more.

The AirBnB I booked ages ago proves excellent (we’d recommend it) with full kitchen, roomy lounge and separate bedrooms. As we go find some breakfast basics nearby we’re quickly impacted but the socio-economic imbalances around us. One side (our side) of the nearby arterial road has well kept houses and lawns;the other – run down and derelict. Encounters with desperate homeless folk proves an ongoing aspect of our time in the capital. A further observation- as “Anglos” we are clearly a racial minority. Over the next four days we’ll note that the majority seem to be African- American and some hispanic.

After a tiresome Saturday, while Jan and Glenn successfully negotiate DC public tra sporting (our AirBnB hosts leave us four loaded Smartrip cards!!) Dale and I have a really easy day … spending time at a nearby shopping mall. We needed that sort of day.

Monday comes and having purchased two-day Hopon Hopoff Big Bus tickets we explore the buildings, sights, memorials and feel of downtown DC, including several of the brilliant, much-heralded Smithsonian museums.

Having been to Australia’s capital Canberra a few times over the years and aware of its layout and buildings, it makes an interesting exercise in comparison checking out DC. I think Canberra scrubs up well!

Significant moments over Monday and Tuesday’s sightseeing? Certainly,

  • the Smithsonian museums. We’d need at least a week to check out most of them, so I sufficed with the Air and Space, American Indian and American History and Culture.

  • I enjoyed going deeper amid-museums with my fascination with the Wright Brothers aviation legacy and seeing Julia Child’s kitchen.

  • Mindful of Dale’s distant part-Cherokee heritage I was deeply saddened as I reflected amid a poignant Trail of Tears display … and then inspired at the Cherokee Nation’s eventual rebuilding

  • Lincoln Memorial. We saw this by day and by night. Wonderful testimony to a great, although complex President.

  • Our walk from the Washington Monument, past the WW2 Memorial, alongside the long Reflecting Pool up the steps into the Lincoln Memorial was quite lovely … and all of it under sunny DC skies.

  • The night bus tour. Spending brief time at the Korean War memorial was something meaningful,

We get into Penn Station, whereupon the “fun” begins. Wee got tickets (sort of) online for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock at 2 pm. Our train gets in on time at 12.40 pm. We have to get our near-Zelows store amount of luggage up several floors onto the streets of Manhattan, catch a cab (I tried booking one) to our 45th street boutique hotel then hot foot it to the Winter Garden Theatre for the show.

Well … wasn’t that “fun”. Two wonderfully helpful Amtrak Taff take pity on us and our luggage and get us to the taxi rank. We wait there for seemingly forever before we get in. The Manhattan traffic is at a standstill, anyone who’s caught a downtown Manhattan can, especially near Times Square knows that well. Unbeknown to us, various high profile Democrats of the eminence of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have in the past 24 hours received suspicious packages. CNN headquarters in Manhattan does too.

Yet, we make it to our hotel, hotfoot it (well as best one does in an elevator) to room 705 and then at 1.45 fast walk our 60-something legs to the show. School of Rock is fantastic – based on the 2003 Jack Black movie, with a classroom of high-energy and musical instrument-playing kids with a rocky AndrewLloyd Webber score. Great fun!

Dinner at Applebees and being on a theatrical roll, we get standing only seats @ $27 each for the much heralded The Book of Mormon. I find the show a bit of a mixed bag. Pros: its satire on organised religion, great singing and acting, very cheeky (though often below the belt in more ways than one) humour. Cons? Pretty crude (check – extremely crude) in parts … show would have been just as engaging if that aspect had been tempered … but I remember that along with Robert Lopez (think songs in Frozen) the show’s written by the team behind South Park. Say no more. That said, glad to see it, though equally glad we paid no more than $54.

Next morning, mindful that we’re within walking distance of Central Park, we set off and eventually get a really personable Belarusian pedicab driver to take us on a60 minute park tour … all of this under beautiful NYC autumn skies. It was a lovely experience … with some beautiful fall colours on the trees.

Back at the hotel, we rest/nap before the 100 minute shuttle bus crawl to JFK airport, first leg to Los Angeles, before the usual pre-midnight flight home to Brisbane.

So many wonderful memories over the previous seven weeks, along with a few things I will certainly not miss, once back home in Australia. However, you’ll have to read the next and final blog of mine (well, for this incredible adventure) to discover what these are. That’s a fun job for the LAX airport lounge.

Blessings (& wow, there have been so many!)


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