Strong winds made us travel for 8,5 hours to cover the 4.231 miles from Amsterdam Schiphol to Dulles International Airport (Washington D.C,) - about 45 minutes later than eta. We have had a lot of fun along they way - inspite of the partitioning not allowing for much indepth conversation. Thanks to a kind stewardess I walked away with the double score on KLM-houses and of course the cute sales-and-pepper-clogs were stuffed in my luggage.
The already reserved car was picked up quickly and the pre-booked hotel found with ease. A bit of old fashioned furbishings but after reorganising the lot, we were happy to stay for a couple of days. The bed was smaller than we were used to for the past 40 years. Let's see if we are going to have a 'space battle' during the night.
Just before our physical melt down we quickly visited the McDonalds where we ran into the 'table tent' phenomenon for the first time.
And by the way, do not hang your cloths on the sprinkler..... why you would want to...I do not have any idea.
Excellent night without any unwanted or unforseen battles. We started the day with a visit to Harris Teeter (supermarkt) and subsequently Walmart (to get a bread toaster) - we were successful in buying all we needed for our touring such as styrofoam boxes for cooling and the (by me) very needed pepsi-coke.
Just in time for breakfast (1t 10.45 am) at a diner that brought us back to the fifties - totally reminding us of 'Happy Days'. The Slver Diner had it all but "The Fonz".
A bit overcast, sad weather which made us adjust our program to a suitable destination: the Arlington National Cemetery. As always I got very emotional on all things related to wars between people - I do not understand why human beings do this to eachother. There are moments I am not proud to belong to our spieces. The rows and rows of graves are impressive and I am happy to see that the common faith of loosing lives at the battlefield surpasses the differences in religion.
For dinner we visited Patsy's. A 'feeding shed' in the more expensive range. Clearly shown on the bill, but surely not on the abuse of our bottle of (New Zealand) wine (no further temperature control once thrown on the table), the unearthly amount of noice and lack of intimicy or subtleness. Luckily the steak was of excellent quality.
As we tend to do on our first day in the USA, we miscalculated distances in an American city. The parking garage under the Ronald Reagan Building was centrally located, but the distances were still considerable. We were totally wasted at the end of the day.
The White House Visitor Center is surely worth the stop. After the security check of the car, we get in here the first of many security checks, visitations and bag searches. Surprisingly the various displays still show Obama as the 'president in office'. And Michelle Obama is shown more frequently as the First Lady than her successor. I am wondering if this is a silent protest of some kind.
The Capitol is more impressive than we anticipated and is clearly overlooking the city.
In being Dutch we were pleased to see the space cleared for bicycles as well as motorscooters - a type of rejuvenated race monsters - which would be a good way to bridge the distances but for the safety of pedestrians a less fortunate choice.
The amount of food trucks is impressive as well. Some of them play the same tune over and over and over again, which makes even the nicest song irritable. I am pretty much done with 'La Cucaracha'.....
At the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum we learned even more about the landing on the moon, the spaceshuttle and aviation pioneers such as Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. At this point we finally checked out the reason behind the little flags standing in borders and grass.......
At Washington D.C. (by car) covered distance: 87 miles.
Two stops on this part of the route. Firstly we spent a couple of hours at the Steven F. Advar-Hazy Center (part of the Smithsonian) in Chantilly looking at planes from the early days of avaiation, war related planes and touring around the Spaceshuttle Discovery and walking underneath the Concorde - talking about BIG planes. And goosepumps all over again watching the IMAX movie on the moon landing - it brought back memories of sitting on the floor in front of the couch at my parents' place on that memorable 20th July 1969.
The second stop is at Chatham, a plantation in Fredericksburg which functioned as a hospital for wounded Union soldiers during the Civil War (1861 - 1865) - one of the nurses being Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. Next to battle of Fredericksburg (11-13 December 1862) more battles where fought in this area such as the Battle of Chancellorsville (27 April - 6 May 1863), the Battle of The Wilderness (5-6 May 1864) and de Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (8-21 May 1864). In total over 105,000 people were killed.
Het house has been built in 1717 and is situated on the hill side with a magnificent view on Fredericksburg and the Rappahannock river.
Distance 4th day: 141 miles / Total distance: 228 miles.
The day started with the bottom dropping out of the salt canister and an overly active employee painting the street just outside our room without checking if there still were customers wanting to leave for the day - we were just in time otherwise we had to chose between waiting, jumping or leaving our mark forever on the pavement.
Straight from the hotel we traveled - reading maps the oldfashioned way - to the Monticello the mansion built by Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826) and printed on the backside of the dime. The house of this third president of the USA was designed by the man himself and building started in 1769 to be followed by 40 years of changing and improving both the mansion and the gardens. At his death Jefferson was in debth for over $100.000 (what nowadays would equal around $2Mio) and the mansion had to be sold.
According to himself, Jefferson was proud of three major achievements: (a) the Declaration of Independence, (b) the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and (c) the Foundation of the University of Virginia.
In the light of the Declaration of Indepence by his hand opens with the statement 'All men are created equal' and understanding that the same man of the 607 slaves he owned over the years, only 7 were freed and another 3 were allowed to leave unfree in, I dare to state that already in those years hypocracy could be seen as a trait of some USA presidents.
The house does contain all sorts of gadgets (such as the 'dumb waiter' to hoist bottles of wine from the cellar to the dining room - although not always successfully) and interesting artifacts brought back from Jefferson's travel (he has been working from Paris for a number of years). The gardens are absolutely wonderful.
Furthermore, they do have some 'neutral' toilets on the grounds, but also some restrooms to take your entire family. Cosy!
Distance 5th day: 206 miles / Total Distance: 434 miles.
The Heritage Farm Museum and Village in Huntington is on the program today. The museum has been founded by Mr. and Mrs. Perry in 1974 and forms the first privately owned museum we visited during this roadtour. It almost fully runs on volunteers who have never met any people of the Netherlands before. Thus often being the reason for a private tour of 1,5 to 2 hours. Luckily we are not 'on the clock' during this holidays as those lengthly visits require some planning adjustments. But who cares - we wouldn't want to miss it for the world.
The museum is divided up in a number of subsection of which we visited three in detail: the drug store, the museum of technology and the museum of transportation. The guide knew a lot but on certain areas Arno could add some more detail to Josh's knowledge what made the interaction very pleasant to watch for me as an 'outsider'.
At the discovery of Edison's Mimeograph, where the information was provided this supposedly was a copying machine of sorts, no effort was too small and the box was taken off the shelf, Josh held it while Arno could open it. The thick layer of dust gave away that this piece of history was placed on that shelf a long time ago and was never touched ever since. Now we have to figur out what we have been looking at.
For me as language nutter, it was a treat Josh was able to explain the origin of many proverbs such as 'pop goes the weazel' and 'sleep tight'.
The icing on my cake was the discovery of a life-size stove as a played with in my dolls house when I was still young (and innocent).
Distance 6th day: 246 miles / Total distance: 680 miles.
In order not to get bored by continuously driving mile after mile, we have stayed in Cincinnati for the day visiting two - again not very usual - attractions, being the American Sign Museum and the Union Terminal.
The American Sign Museum shows the evolution of signage, starting with murals, shields, milk glass lettering lighted from the inside, light bulbs on the contours of letters, neon signs and signs with argon gas to end with the plastic varieties. Personally, I am glad neon and argon gas signs have never completely disappeared from the main streets in the world. Las Vegas for one definitely would lose all its glamor if it had.
The Union Terminal, opened in 1933 as a train terminal, is housing the Cincinnati Museum Center since 1990. But for us the sole reason for visiting is the architectural marvel of this massive Art Deco style building. The building forms the largest half dome in the Western hemisphere..... of course...... as we are in the USA where everything is bigger, higher, more expensive, more beautiful (and in some other cases even more disgusting) than anywhere else.
Distance 7th day: 62 miles / Total distance: 742 miles.
After all visits to indoor attractions, it is time do stroll through the country side and get some fresh air. At the Glenwood Gardens in Hamilton Couny (outskirts of Cincinnati) we talk a short 1 mile walk through a part called 'The Cotswolds' by the founders - if the English Cotwolds are pleased with this, remains to be seen. Although over here autumn is setting as well, he bees, flowers and 'speedy' wildlife are very enjoyable.
We would surely not consider the day balanced of there would not be added a fair share of male interest which today means as much as a visit to the American Airforce Museum with - and you probably guessed by now - another vaste collection of aircrafts laced with a number of balloons. The collection of presidential planes ('Airforce One') is remarkable. In which collection especally the SAM 26000 stands out in being the airplane in which the remains of J.F. Kennedy after his assissination on November 22, 1963 in Dallas Texas have been flown back to Washington D.C. - a number of chairs were given up by crew members to create the space needed. Vice-president Lyndon B. Johnson took the presendential oath in this plane in the presence of his wife Claudia 'Lady Bird' Johnson and Jackie Kenedy.
Distance 8th day: 115 miles / Total distance: 857 miles.
After all attractions 'on the ground and in the air' it is about time to go for an adventure underground - a massive boundery shift for this claustrofobic and night blind ladyNa alle bezienswaard...... luckily Arno volunteered to take the photograhs as that surely was too big of a challenge for me being uptight enough as is.
The hills in the area around West Liberty have been shaped by the glaciers during the Ice Age. The Ohio Cavers have been discovered through a sinkhole that form pretty frequently in this area. The massive amounts of mud have been removed from the caves to uncover the magnificent rock formations. Minerals sipping through the rocks result in not only the shown wonderful colors but as well in the various shapes such as (hanging) stalactites and (upright) stalagmites but rims as well as structures resembling the outsides of a beehive or vertical Turkey Tails.
The largest stalactite is 200.000 years old and the photographed stalagmite showing some dark brown discoloring at the top has been touched by men which has stopped it's growth for over 50 years.
The entrance of the caves is 30 feet below the surface; the deepest point is 103 feet below - which resembles a 12 stories high building.
Distance 9th day: 78 miles / Total distance: 935 miles.
On this page an impression of our roadtour. At a later moment the full set of photos will be added. But for now you can follow our journey as it unfolds.
This is going to be an interesting day with visits to thre small, privately initiated and maintained museums, of which the first two share the same love...... the pleasure of eating the freshly baked pies at the little coffeeshop on Grimes Airport. Arno tried the butterscotch pie and I fell for the the apple crumble, served warm with a BIG scoop of vanilla icecream on top - we skipped lunch later that day.
The first of the two museums at Grimes Airport in Urbana we visit, is Grimes Flying Lab. Warren G. Grimes, born in 1898, was asked by Harry Ford to develop the lights for the Ford Tri-Motor 'Tin Goose' which Warren did within 48 hours. Ultimately there were hardly any planes in the world in the 1960s that were not equipped with Grimes lights.
The second museum in Urbana, the Campaign Aviation Museum, is a little bit larger but every bit charming. Not a well organized museum: it is filled with debry, new parts, old parts and a number of enthousiastic amateurs rebuilding old planes from World War II which they lovingly work on for 10-20 years. And as predicted by the caretaker at Grimes, they did talk 'our arms off' (at which occasion I explained that the Dutch expression is 'talking your ears off' and we agreed this to be more appropriate).
We closed off the day with a visit at the Early Television Museum in Hilliard (as Dublin a suburb of Columbus, Ohio). Normally this type of private collections are unorganised, stuffed and dusty. This happened to be the exception to the rule. Neatly organised and well documented. A treat for Arno. And interesting to me as well - not as much from a technology point of few but more due to the amount of promotional materials throughout the exhibition showing me how these new gadgets where marketed at the time.
Distance 10th day: 104 miles / Total distance: 1,039 miles.
Travelling through the country side in both Ohio en Pennsylvania the resemblance with England and Ireland is striking, and thus not only due to the names of cities but the wonderful hill sides as well. The same applies to the area around and the city of Cambridge (no punting spotted though).
Here we visit The National Museum of Cambridge Glass and are treated to a personal tour by all volunteers present at the time as none met anyone from the Netherlands before. When we found out that the most used pattern for the engraving of glass was 'Rose Point', a lace making technique my mother mastered, the enthousiasm became even more profound. Cambridge glass is very traditional and shows enormous craftsmanship.
Next stop the Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh. This funicular was opened 20 May 1877 and provides you during the ride (if you dare looking down) and at the top a wonderful view of Pittsburgh.
Distance 11th day: 224 miles / Total distance: 1,263 miles.
Today is going to be a long trip and to make it a sweeter experience we have decided to plan for a stop on something that interests us both: chocolate (although we do share the interest, luckily we do not share the same taste). Thus, this route will be interupted to learn more about entrepreneur Milton Hershey and the way he made his money.
For this we need to go to Hershey, Pennsylvania which brings us straight to the first question: is the chocolate named after the producer or the city or.......? But before researching the answer, we dive nose first into a chocolate tasting session...... naturally.
Milton Hershey (1857 - 1945) is a fourth grader with a failed effort as printer who - after learning how to make caramel - decided to switch to making chocolate. After a short period of producing 'Kisses' that were rapped manually, Milton purchased German chocolate production machines and modelled his production lines according to the car production lines at Ford. He built his factory in the town where he was born. Hershey is a born marketer who differentiates his business on the basis of chocolate related products or chocolate production by-products.
Milton Hershey took his role in society seriously and added to the fast growing town all his workers needed such as housing, shops, education, healthcare, sports, theater. At the built orphanage the children did not (and do not) wear uniforms as the individual in every human was celebrated. Milton Hersley took care of bills for healthcare or funeral for his workers where needed - a story told to us by one of the hostesses who recalls this fact being told at the table at her parents' home as this had happened to her grandparents. All the billions Hershey earned have been put until this day forward to work for the town that now carries his name.
Distance 12th day: 219 miles / Total distance: 1,482 miles.
September 11, 2001
The day the world changed.
I still remember vividly where I was and what I was doing the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York – probably so do you.
This third time we visit New York, our sole reason is a visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
The falling waters block out all the city noise allowing you to focus solely on the sparkle of the sun in water drops, on the rushing waters and on the names of the victims. All the suffering becomes almost tangible in seeing a rose in a name or in realization life has been taken even before it really started.
My heart bleeds.
Luckily humans are resilient.
Today we are going to get an insight in the life of the ‘Pennsylvania Dutch’, where the ‘Dutch’ points to the language they spoke at the time they were invited by William Penn to come to inhibit Pennsylvania to help the state to be developed in the 18th century and not to their origin as they were not coming from the Netherlands..
The Amish originally were part of the Mennonites but followed Swiss Jakob Amman (1644 – 1730) who preached more strict rules on believe and immersion (amongst other elements such as shunning and ostracizing) in 1693. All Amish speak three languages: their own dialect, German and English. They form a religious community and are not a sect; they live among non-Amish. With regards to baptism they consider this a decision to be taken at adulthood by a child instead of by parents on behalf of the child. If you choose to be baptized you are to live by the rules – if you do not you will be shunned and ostracized. If you choose not to be baptized the relationship with your family may continue to exist.
Within the Amish community there are less (partly embracing progress) and more strict communities such as the Old Order Amish who are explained to us today. The latter still ride the buggy, only use appliances they have converted to propane (As they reject electricity) and wear the traditional cloths.
With regards to the cloths there are two points of interest. Due to being abused in Europe by Russians with brass buckles and buttons in the early years, the Amish do not use buttons or belts – suspenders are the solution. The women straight pin their top and skirt every morning – thus providing a possibility to adjust the size when the waistline is changing due to pregnancy or otherwise. As Amish have only 5 sets of clothing for life: 1 on their body, 1 in the laundry, 2 on the shelf and 1 for Sundays, they have to be resourceful.
Distance 13th day: 150 miles / Total distance: 1,632 miles.
Today we visit two man-made constructions which can be classified as total opposites.
What do you get when a ceramist builds a house? Fonthill Castle in Doylestown – beautiful ugliness. Henry Mercer built is concrete house from 1908 until 1912. It served as a place to live as well as catalog to show the tiles his factory could produce; after Mercer’s demise it has served as a showcase of the role of ceramics in architecture. The house has 44 rooms (of which 10 bathrooms), 7 balconies, 18 fire places and over 200 windows. It would not surprise me in the least if both MC Escher (his lithograph: Relativity, July 1953) as J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) were inspired by this castle.
Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go.
Do not collect €200.
When Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia was opened in 1829 it was well ahead of its time. New ideas around punishment for crimes would be to do penance by solitary confinement with only a bible as company. ESPs floor plan resembles a spoked wheel with a central unit annex watch tower in the middle. The penitentiary was equipped with running water as well as central heating, is luxury not even bestowed upon the White House at the time. The most famous inmate was Al Capone who had sufficient means to improve his cell. The penitentiary closed in 1971.
Distance 15th day: 110 miles / Total distance: 1,790 miles.
Philadelphia played an important part in American history. Significant events took place in Philly, it is the home of the ‘Liberty Bell’ and it has been the capital of the USA from 1790 for 10 years (a role prior fulfilled by New York City from 1785 to 1790) when Washington D.C. was prepared to take on this task in December 1800.
With its very European-like streets, Philadelphia is most known for the signing of the Declaration of Independence (1776) by the Founding Fathers. Furthermore the Constitution was written and signed in Philly in 1787. Benjamin Franklin's grave can be found on the oldest graveyard in the city.
During our visit the Impeachment Enquiry started to unearth if President Trump’s actions are to be defined as ‘abuse of power which according to Article II, section 4 of the U.S. Constitution would result in removal from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of high Crimes and Misdemeanors. It became apparent to us how much the Americans uphold the values of their Constitution and the gratitude they feel towards their Founding Fathers.
To follow in the footsteps of those Founding Fathers, we lunched at The City Tavern they frequented often to prepare for Congress – even in those days ‘back room politics’ existed. Table setting and menu were kept in style. Simple but great food.
Distance 16th day: 26 miles / Total distance: 1,816 miles.
And as promised…..
This is the day of the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ with its 28,750 organ pipes in 464 ranks the biggest operational pipe organ in the world. A day full of musical surprises.
Upon arrival we took plenty of time to visit the six-manual console followed by a 45 minutes recital. To enjoy the latter to the full quickly some foldable chairs are positioned in the center corridor of the department store, right in the middle of rows of UGGS, Michael Kors and Calvin Klein shoes – just so we do not forget we are enjoying the hospitality of a fully functional department store, being Macy’s.
Next on our schedule is a visit to the workshops of the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ, an organization of volunteers responsible for the restauration and maintenance of the organ, following by crawling through the pipes and other elements a pipe organ is built from. Impressive, educational and extraordinary.
Time for a short walk to stretch our legs before sitting down for the evening concert. This walk took is to the City Hall, the 59th floow of the One Liberty Observation Deck for a bird’s view from Philly and a look at the first/oldest Freemasons Grand Lodge dating from 1873. One third of the American presidents are freemasons, starting with George Washington.
In the evening we enjoyed the Stokowski Centennial Celebration Concert during which the Wanamaker Organ (played by Peter Richard Conte) is joined by the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra. The majestic sound of the Wanamaker Organ easily fills the 7 stories high Grand Court whilst the lowest bass are not heard but clearly felt as we experienced Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
We throroughly enjoyed this!
Distance 17th day: miles / Total distance: miles.
On our way to Baltimore (with 'finally' some traffic on the road) we visit Fort Mc.Henry. This pentagonal bastion fort at Baltimore’s harbor has played a pivotal role in the War of 1812.
After taking Washington by force, the British were eager to overtake Baltimore and assumed this to be a piece of cake. As with many assumptions this one was wrong as well. The Americans stood their grounds in a bloody battle.
A beautiful poem by 35-year old poet and lawyer Francis Scott Key describes the patriotic feelings at the time and on March 3rd, 1931 became the lyrics of the national anthem of the United States, lovingly referred to as ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’.
Distance 18th day: miles / Total distance: miles.
In Baltimore we expand our nautical insights by visiting the display of a wide variety of ships in the Inner Harbor, already for over 130 years overlooked by the cute Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse.
Unfortunately the US Sloop-of-War Constellation is not open to the public; I would have loved to compare her to the Cutty Sark.
Hence, our first visit includes the submarine Torsk (Danish/Swedish for Cod)) which ended with wobbly knees for this claustrophobic one.
Next the lightship Chesapeake. A bit more space to manoeuvre inside but still I cannot contemplate the idea of being stuck here for 6 months in a row.
Due to the wobbly knees we decided for a massive load of yummy comfort food. After which I was ready to take on the last ship, the US Coast Guard Cutter Taney. Anyone taller than 1.90 m would not have been able to stand up straight. Definitely a case of discrimination by length.
Distance 19th day: miles / Total distance: miles.
Today the end. And after all worldly pleasures and activities, we close off with more ‘heavenly observations’.
At the Goddard Space Flight Center information is provided on the purpose for mankind of all launched telescopes such as Hubble and more recently the James Webb Space Telescope. And they do serve many purposes indeed. Especially in the light of the ongoing environmental discussions. Such as the interaction between life, air and water around the globe and the way this interaction is changing over time.
The colorful footage of the solar eruptions impressed me most – they are really extraterrestrial.
A small disappointment to deal with when the infrared camera clearly gave away that send an application to Santa Claus would be a waste of effort as my nose is too cold, white and not glowing; taking over from Rudolph is not an option.
At the end of this visit we go back to the airport to leave the country of the right and left Twix.
Distance 20th day: miles / Total distance: miles.
We decided it to be about time to explore parts of the USA we (hardly) have visited yet. Where in the past the planning of the trip started with sending out numerous letters to request brochures to work on our plans, this time - of course - we frequented Google to get to a nice program.
The absolute 'piece the resistance' and the center of our planning is a visit to the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia and the associated tour of the organ by the 'Friends of...' which is possible on the last Saturday of the month only. In our case coinciding with an concerto of the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra together with the Wanamaker Organ. Surely the icing on the cake. But more about that later........