Impressions.

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Impressions.

Postby dai bread » Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:10 pm

San Francisco- 2 hours to get through customs, immigration and agriculture, but a nice smiling officer when I finally got to the business end of the queue. Driverless cars with one passenger. Cylists. Lots of them, in that hilly city. The painted ladies, beautiful frontages, superbly re-furbished, but rough-as-guts clapboard shacks at the sides, and the backs are as messy as they come. At least the ones I saw were. Their interiors were copied and simplified to make the standard NZ villa of the late 19th century.

U.S. domestic aircraft give new meaning to the term "shoehorn". Especially SouthWest. Why they think it's more efficient to give a queue position rather than a seat number beats me. But they don't charge for baggage.

Montana defines wide open spaces. When you put the cruise control on 75mph and watch the prairie roll by for hour after hour, you have wide open spaces. Flying over a place isn't the same. Glacier National Park- magnificent. Beartooth Pass, almost as high as Mt. Cook (our highest peak) and a very interesting drive in light snow. Dillon rodeo- a fascinating afternoon's entertainment. Yellowstone, full of wildlife, but the thermal region is very dry. Old Faithful still works, though.

South Dakota. Deadwood, slot machines and motorcycle overflow from Sturgis. Mt. Rushmore. I'd expected ra ra ra and salute the flag, but it wasn't like that at all. In fact, it was a rather nice place to visit. Devil's Tower, but no UFOs, just climbers. No mashed potatoes either.

Washington. When they say "stop" they mean it. Big steel barricades that pop up out of the ground and rip a vehicle's undercarriage off. They let you see the White House through the railings again, though there is a policeman right behind you. A mall that requires a major expedition to cover. The Smithsonian Institution, which requires an even bigger expedition. I did it fairly lightly, but at least I included the National Gallery and the Udvar-Hazy hangar. Auckland's MOTAT would kill for that facility. Not to mention the aircraft in it.

Amtrak. I'd heard unpleasant stories about Amtrak, but the North-East regional service is good. Clean, fast, cheap and above all in these days of universal security, NO HASSLE! Apparently Joe Biden uses the service, which may have something to do with it.

New York, or rather, Manhattan. Bustle, chaos. Expensive accommodation; minimum-wage desk staff who lost our reservation and shoe-horned us into a broom cupboard, but the hotel was clean and extremely well located, just a few blocks from Times Square, two subway stations, Penn station and Macy's. They had an epidemic of bed-bugs in NYC, but our room had none, and it wasn't in a top-drawer hotel by any means. Manhattan has the best tap water I've ever tasted anywhere, and that includes NZ. I liked the flat fare bus and subway arrangement, and the ability to use the same fare card on both.

Windsor & Hartford, CT, and the wonderful hospitality of Shos and his wife, and of Nicole Marie and the Beethoven Radio staff. Storybook America, with its well-kept houses, neat lawns, no fences and tree-lined streets, exists in Windsor, CT.

Las Vegas. Crowds again, bright lights, colourful, vivid, and BUSY! Queue for Bellagio's buffet- an excellent meal on the whole, but not everything on the menu worked. Death Valley- 109 degrees F. The car had an excellent air-conditioner.

The canyon circuit. There's nothing like this at home. Red rock, white rock, fascinating geology. Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, Antelope Canyon (expensive at $6 entry to the park plus $25 for the guided tour) Grand Canyon. The bargain of the trip was the annual pass for the National Parks and National Monuments. $80, but at $25 per car per park (give or take a bit depending on the park) we saved heaps. Grand Canyon. Rain, but spectacular anyway and photos don't do it justice. It's vast. Sunrise next day, impressive, but we really should have been on the north rim for it.

How come 91 octane is considered premium petrol? What happens to all those swanky European cars that demand 97 or thereabouts?

San Diego. O.T., Piq and Altoid at home. SD zoo. World-famous, and clearly the model for Auckland Zoo's refurbishment. Spreckel's organ concert, Selma joining us there. O.T.very unimpressed; me, rather surprised by some rough playing. An impressive organ, though, and very loud. Sightseeing by Tenor Tours Unlimited. Submarines, friend and foe in the Maritime Museum. We didn't get anywhere near finished there either. Fat Ivor's and the Quorum of b.com fans. Delicious ribs too, of course. O.T. & Piq are excellent hosts, and we enjoyed their hospitality very much.

Back to San Francisco and home. I left California on Tuesday and arrived home on Thursday and it felt like it. I hate night flights. Perhaps next time I'll spring for business class after all. Anyway, Americans, take a bow. I like you and your country.
We have no money; we must use our brains. -Ernest Rutherford.
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Re: Impressions.

Postby Shapley » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:53 pm

Glad you had a good trip. The bad thing about living in 'flyover country' is that most people, well, just fly over us. You would have found a warm welcome at the Hunter house had you dropped in. Maybe next time!

Glad you made it safely home. Sounds like you saw a lot of America. I hope it was to your liking!

V/R
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Re: Impressions.

Postby BigJon » Mon Oct 11, 2010 11:06 pm

Wow, that's a lot to cram in a month. Glad you enjoyed, come back often and visit the Big household in SE Pennsylvania.

Octane is rated differently in the USA than Europe. Our number is an average of two measurement methods. 97 Octane in Europe is around 91-92 in the USA, it's not an exact conversion.
Even a blind nut finds a squirrel once in a while. – Me! Feb 9, 2001
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Re: Impressions.

Postby dai bread » Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:25 pm

Shapley wrote:Glad you had a good trip. The bad thing about living in 'flyover country' is that most people, well, just fly over us. You would have found a warm welcome at the Hunter house had you dropped in. Maybe next time!

Glad you made it safely home. Sounds like you saw a lot of America. I hope it was to your liking!

V/R
Shapley


Thanks, Shap. I could have rafted down from Montana, perhaps. Three Forks isn't far (in Montana terms) from my sister's place. I had thought of taking a cruise on the Mississippi, which would have got me nearly there, but it seems they don't run any more.
We have no money; we must use our brains. -Ernest Rutherford.
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Re: Impressions.

Postby dai bread » Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:27 pm

BigJon wrote:Wow, that's a lot to cram in a month. Glad you enjoyed, come back often and visit the Big household in SE Pennsylvania.

Octane is rated differently in the USA than Europe. Our number is an average of two measurement methods. 97 Octane in Europe is around 91-92 in the USA, it's not an exact conversion.


Thanks for the info. on octane ratings. I'd thought they were international standards.

My next trip to the U.S. clearly has to include at least 2 more stops.
We have no money; we must use our brains. -Ernest Rutherford.
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Re: Impressions.

Postby Shapley » Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:08 pm

Analog is only a short hop from here, so we could surely persuade him to meet us for a visit.
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Re: Impressions.

Postby piqaboo » Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:53 pm

[quote = "daibread"] Driverless cars with one passenger.[/quote]

LOL!
Altoid - curiously strong.
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Re: Impressions.

Postby jamiebk » Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:46 pm

LOL...kind of reminds me of this old joke:

Conjoined twins walk into a pub in Toronto and park themselves on a bar stool.

One of them says to the bartender, "Don't mind us, we're joined at the hip. I'm Micky, he's Jim. Two Molson Canadian beers please."

The bartender, feeling slightly awkward, tries to make polite conversation while pouring the beers. "Been on holiday yet, lads?"

"Off to England next month," says Micky. "We go to England every year, hire a car, and drive for miles, don't we, Jim?" Jim agrees.

"Ah, England!" says the bartender. "Wonderful country ... the history, the beer, the culture..."

"Nah, we don't like that British crap," says Micky. "Hamburgers & Molson's beer, that's us, eh, Jim? And we can't stand the English; they're so arrogant and rude, not civil and polite like us Canadians."

"So why keep going to England?" asks the bartender.

"It's the only chance Jim gets to drive."
Jamie

"Leave it better than you found it"
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Re: Impressions.

Postby Marye » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:40 am

Dai... did you find Americans to be, for the most part, friendly? considerate? and polite?

I have visited Washington - Capitol Hill - more often this past year and will go back at the end of October but I just find Americans in the service industry, at least, wonderful and have not waivered from that opinion in all the years I have travelled to the U.S. They are not as pushy with their opinions as some are on this board, did you notice? :lol: :roll: :wink:

and oye Jamie!... a Canadian joke and Toronto in particular! :D
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Re: Impressions.

Postby jamiebk » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:17 am

Marye wrote:and oye Jamie!... a Canadian joke and Toronto in particular! :D


I was hoping that you'd like it. :rofl:
Jamie

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Re: Impressions.

Postby Schmeelkie » Fri Oct 15, 2010 11:47 am

Sounds like a great trip - saw the many faces of America...
The tap water in NYC is one of the best in the country...we've got some amazing fresh water reserves in the state. metro card in NYC is great - we only had to get 3 for our Columbus day visit (Bella's still little enough to ride for free) - $10 each got us 6 trips! I like the digital signs they had in some stations - time to next train...really helpful to know - didn't have those 5-10 years ago.

DC - I remeber walking into Udvar-Hazy about two years ago - just stood there mouth agape...the SR-71 looks tiny in that facility. Kids mostly liked all the open space to run around! hee, hee. :wink: My folks spent a whole day there on a recent trip and weren't sure they'd seen everything. (course my Dad has to read EVERYTHING...)

Glad you enjoyed it! Will let you know when we get around to a NZ trip...I know Altoid did OK on her flight, but I dont' think my kids are up to that long on a plane quite yet...

And we drive through Hartford every now and then, will have to cut out some time for a b.com trip one of these days...
"Up plus down equals flat" Pumpkin, 3 yrs, 10 mo, July '07
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Re: Impressions.

Postby dai bread » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:41 pm

Marye wrote:Dai... did you find Americans to be, for the most part, friendly? considerate? and polite?

I have visited Washington - Capitol Hill - more often this past year and will go back at the end of October but I just find Americans in the service industry, at least, wonderful and have not waivered from that opinion in all the years I have travelled to the U.S. They are not as pushy with their opinions as some are on this board, did you notice? :lol: :roll: :wink:

and oye Jamie!... a Canadian joke and Toronto in particular! :D


For the most part, I found Americans to be very nice people; friendly and helpful, and unfazed by bank card malfunctions. I have to differ about the service industry though, at least in Washington. Some of it was downright slovenly, especially in one of the restaurants attached to the Smithsonian. (I forget which building it was in). In Deadwood, at Bullock's Hotel, we came across a waitress who clearly didn't want to be there, and it seemed the kitchen staff didn't either. However there was a very different eatery just up the road. The Miner's Den was excellent, and was recommended to us by a young woman sitting on a seat outside the hotel. Friendly and helpful, as I said.
We have no money; we must use our brains. -Ernest Rutherford.
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Re: Impressions.

Postby Shapley » Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:18 pm

They vary widely. As with anyplace else I've traveled, it is often a matter of how you approach. For the most part, if you go in smiling, they will smile back. If you're pleasant and easy-going, so will they.

But there are exceptions. I've met waitresses whose cheerfulness couldn't seem to be fazed by the most obnoxious of guests, and met some who couldn't crack a smile to save their life. But the are the exception, not the norm.
Last edited by Shapley on Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Impressions.

Postby Marye » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:40 am

Well clearly, Dai, according to our Shap, my smiles and pleasantness trump your charming accent everytime. At least in Washington. :lol:
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Re: Impressions.

Postby Shapley » Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:43 am

Accents are a dime a dozen in Washington, but smiles are hard to come by.
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Re: Impressions.

Postby dai bread » Thu Oct 21, 2010 4:47 pm

The most common accent I heard, and it was almost everywhere, was French. It was followed by German, then either Spanish or Italian. I'd probably give the nod to Spanish. Hardly any British, oddly enough. That's non-North American accents, of course.
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