America '98
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America Trip
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Day 1
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Days 4 to 10
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Day 12
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Days 35 to 38
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Days 50 to 57
Days 58 to 70
Days 71 to 86
Days 87 to 100
 Days 50-57:New England to Wisconsin

Upon leaving the Ferstl’s house, we cruised back towards the downtown D.C. district. We drove to the White House, and took a photo of my car, with the TotalUSA.com signs on its sides, in front of the White House. We also saw the Pentagon. It is very large, but would have looked more impressive from the air, as its shape wasn’t too clear at ground level. We headed north, through the rolling hills of Maryland, and entered Pennsylvania. Our first stop was at Gettysburg. There were buildings, statues, and historic sites spread over a large area, and we visited the museum there, and walked around some. At one point, I looked at the coins and paper money in my pocket, and realized that I saw all the buildings depicted on them that day, such as the Lincoln Memorial, White House, Capital, etc. I was also twenty yards from where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. My perspective on these famous and historic places now has much more personal meaning. We continued on, stopping next at the town of Hershey, where most of the chocolate in the United States is produced. We visited "Chocolate World", a huge store selling Hershey products and memorabilia. We also went on a ride which gives visitors a tour of how they produce the candy bars – from coca leaves to finished wrapped chocolate bars. They give out a free chocolate bar at the end of the ride, so we were forced to ride it again to collect more free chocolate. As we drove on down the highway, we saw a guy walking along the road, trying to hitch a ride. He looked a little crazy, possibly a hardened criminal or madman or maybe just a bum, so of course we stopped to give him a lift. He was headed farther east than we had planned to go, but he knew of a good place we could camp for the night, and I told him we’d take him to Allentown, where he said he was from. He called himself Jimmy, and said he had been working around L.A. He kept changing his story slightly, so we parted with him at a gas station in Allentown, after getting directions for camping. He was interesting to talk with, and seemed like a nice guy, but we were getting a little paranoid and left. We camped at next to a river, in a nice area. There was a thick fog, and the moon shown through the trees. There was a thunderstorm during the night, and again we had to pack up a wet tent. We checked out the map and realized that we were only about 65 miles from New York City, and figured that we could do a quick swing through the New England states. It rained some the next morning, and we headed east. We soon entered New Jersey, Jersey City, and stopped at Liberty Park. Liberty Park has a great view of the Statue of Liberty, and a long board walk along the water from which downtown New York City can be seen. NYC is the largest man-made place I have ever seen. Most of the large cities we have been to are spread out, with a small downtown section of a few skyscrapers. New York has by far the largest buildings we’ve seen, towering over a hundred stories. Even more amazing is the sheer number of buildings. Instead of having a couple large buildings, NYC is nothing but huge structures, crammed as tight as they could make them. Block after block, mile after mile, is nothing but massive buildings with very narrow streets separating them. It is quite the thick city, living entire in three dimensions. This city has no place to expand, except vertically. Traffic though the city is quite insane, a majority of the cars are taxi cabs, all cutting in and out of lanes and intersections. New York motorists honk at everything. If one car happens to be a delayed in starting or turning for only a fraction of a second, a chorus of honks come out from many of the surrounding autos. They seem to honk for any reason they can find: people too slow or in the way, honking to let people know they are changing lanes or want somebody else to change lanes, honking if they are mad, happy, or for no particular reason. My horn on my car is temperamental, and honks only when it feels like it, and decided it wouldn’t honk in the Big Apple. Funny how it began working again once we left the city. Traffic in the city is acceptable, but parking is impossible. I remembered watching television shows which made jokes about finding good parking places, and I now appreciate those jokes, as they are definitely telling the truth. We spent about five hours driving around the city and didn’t find any place that we could park. Cities in the west, such as Phoenix, are designed for autos, but New York began long before the car, leaving no place to park. We did find a couple places: one wanted $14.77 per half hour, and the other was in the Brooklyn Projects next to a car that was broken into, stripped, and burned. No way I’m parking at either of those places. So we did our exploring by driving around, and saw the Brooklyn Bridge, World Trade Center, Empire State Building, Central Park, Radio City, and many other famous buildings. There are millions of people on the streets walking around. They never even look at traffic as they cross the streets, going blindly into oncoming cars with no concern. It is a fascinating place, but I could never live there for more than a couple months. I enjoy free space around me, and in New York, every cubic foot has rules, laws, restrictions, and limits governing it. In Willcox you can do what ever you want, any where you like, as there is nothing stopping you. New York has no ‘free space’ or quiet areas. We drove out of town, entering Connecticut. We ate supper on a peaceful beach as the sun set. Quite a contrast from the city we were just in. We drove on looking for a place to camp, but a thunderstorm came, and we decided to sleep in the car. It was the first time for that to happen, and we hope it’s the last. Next day we drove on, amazed at the small size of these states. Most counties in Arizona are bigger than New England states. We went into Rhode Island, seeing several cities, and enjoyed seeing the ocean shore with many boats at dock. We went to Boston, and explored it for a while. It isn’t near the size of NYC, but traffic was horrible there, everything being in a standstill. The downtown area was filled with people, and we saw the graves of famous early American people like Paul Revere and Ben Franklin. We also drove by Harvard and MIT. As we drove on, it began to rain. Driving was a little confusing at a couple places, as highways intersect in circles. I’ve never seen a circle in the west, but it’s common around here. We continued up the coast, through New Hampshire and Maine. We watched the stormy weather from the shore, and it was beautiful, and felt cooler weather for the first time for the trip. We started heading west, again for the first time for the trip, and camped off the side of a back road in New Hampshire. The next morning we were able to dry out the tent in the sunshine, and headed west. We crossed Vermont, which is very beautiful, reminding us of land around Flagstaff, large pine trees and rolling hills. We entered New York State again, and looked for a camping place. We wandered down some roads, finding the Stone Quarry Art Garden. It is a large farm area that was made into a place where artists could make sculptures in the fields and trees. We talked with the curators and they said we could camp in part of the garden at a place they call the Secret Garden. The Secret Garden is a small clearing in the trees next to a pond. There was a nude sculpture made from horse manure, a strange gazebo-like shelter, and plants and flowers. We explored the rest of the property, enjoying the interesting, and sometimes bizarre artwork. There was a fairy ring of mushrooms in a forest area- a circle of yellow mushrooms about 3 feet across. There was a very friendly cat there, and we saw deer grazing in the fields. We put up the tent, and enjoyed a cold night. It was nice to not spend another night sweating in the southern heat. The next day we drove to Chittenago Falls. They’re located in the trees and rocks not far from the Art Garden. We drove to Buffalo, and went to Niagara Falls. They are huge and beautiful falls, moving massive amounts of clear water. There were lots of tourists there, many from India. We crossed a bridge on foot into Canada, but didn’t travel anywhere, as they have a fee to enter the mainland. We headed into Ohio, and saw our first Great Lake, Lake Erie. If not for the lack of tide and large waves, I would have guessed it was an ocean, as it stretched as far as the eye can see. Amazingly huge! We followed along the lake to Cleveland, where an friend from freshman year of college, Carly Butler, lived. We met her family, and stayed the night at their home. The next day she showed us around Cleveland, the downtown, little Italy, several parks and gardens. We saw a memorial to President Garfield at a cemetery where he is buried. The city wasn’t as gloomy or dirty as I has pictured, and had some really pretty areas, especially in the suburbs. Carly had to work for the afternoon and night, as well as the next day, so we left town and went to Toledo. It was the Forth of July, and Toledo had a parade which we watched. It had some floats, flying balloons, Shriners, marching bands, and lots of people. Later, we watched the fireworks from a park. They were set off from a barge in the river, and it was the most spectacular fireworks I have ever seen. It was a fun celebration, and we camped outside of town. When we awoke the next morning, we were distinctly aware that the climate had changed from high humidity to a much drier air. It was great to awake with a dry tent, without water dripping off the walls from condensation. Our skin felt different, cleaner and fresh. We spent the day mostly driving, as we wanted to get to our friend, Greg Pautzke, who lives in Port Washington, Wisconsin, just north of Milwaukee on the lake shore. On the drive there we passed through Indiana, and briefly touched Michigan. We also drove through Chicago, along a stretch of road between the lake and downtown. It is a clean and sharp area of town, and the water is a beautiful pale blue-green clear. There were many boats in the harbors and people on the beach. Upon arriving at Port Washington, we found Greg’s dad’s place. Greg wasn’t at home then, and we ate supper with his Dad and his girlfriend. Greg arrived later that evening, and it was good to see him again. We slept at his place that night, and went around the city the day, seeing several of his friends. We camped the night at an empty Boy Scout Camp. There were the largest skeeters I’ve seen on the trip, and they got heavy from sucking out blood. The night was cool and comfortable.

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