Easter salutations

It is with some trepidation that I wish you all a Happy Easter.

The last time I politely wished a lovely old lady Happy Easter, she snappishly returned:

“Don’t say that to me! Don’t you know what happened on Good Friday? There’s nothing happy in that!”

I was too taken aback to say another word and today – two years later – think twice before wishing anyone happy Easter before Sunday.

Well, except for people I know… like you… 🙂

I hope you have a great weekend whatever you get up to. It’s a great chance to catch up with family and friends and relax.

Barack Obama v Matt Santos

Obama and wife west wing

If you’re looking for something to pod over the weekend and you’re a West Wing fan – Gerry Ryan has done an interview with someone who wrote for the series on the similarities between Matt Santos and Barack Obama.

Eliattie is A Writer And Producer Of West Wing – He Discusses The Final Seasons Of The West Wing.

How the USA is different to Australia

Apart from having “real” lemonade instead of Sprite lemonade – how I miss it! – the other obvious difference between the USA and Australia as viewed from the road is the preponderance of water tanks – often brightly coloured.

Here are some of the ones we passed on our recent trip. I think they’re kinda kooky. They also reminded me of the tripods in War of the Worlds – maybe that’s where H.G. Wells got his inspiration? I’m a genius!

Water Tank

Kitty Hawk

Water Tower at Margate


Water Tank

Mosquito economics

a neglected swimming pool ... okay it was mine last year... before we got a pool boyMosquitoes could be the canaries in the mineshaft of the American economy.

It has been a dry year in California. They have been in a grip of a drought. Normally this would mean that the mosquito population would be reduced, but this year in some areas, this has not been the case.


Swimming pools, neglected when the banks foreclose on homeowners, have become breeding grounds.

The fact that there’s a noticable problem with mosquitoes is an indication of the number of foreclosures.

Stockton is a prime example.

And it rolls onto the greater economy. With fewer homeowners, there are fewer rates being collected and local government and authorities are unable to provide their normal services.

This is the human end of the banks’ mortgage crisis. A crisis according to a BBC article I read recently that could “… have a reduction of total credit to the economy of two trillion dollars”.

Will it affect us here in Australia?

If it leads to global recession… yes. Simply put as far as I can tell (and I am no economist) – if the biggest economy in the world stops buying, then suppliers – for example China – will be affected. And who is buying all our natural resources and keeping the boom rolling in WA? You got it.

I’ll be watching those mosquito reports.

An excellent BBC Documentary on this subject.

Phone Blogging

Groover quite rightly says that if he’d set me up blogging on his phone with wireless keypad before now he’d have never got me to bed.

But the genie is now well and truly out of the bottle now and I sit here ensconsed at the little table in our roadside inn at a place called Santee in South Carolina – a sweet lttle and very reasonably priced place called Clark’s Inn – chatting to you while the kids get ready – that should read watching endless Hannah Montana on Disney Channel – and Groover checks out the bar.

We’ve discovered Roomsavers – a book of discount vouchers you can pick up in most gas stations – don’t I sound American? – and for on the run cheap accommodation they are saving us some bucks. After all a motel is a motel right?

We’re on our way back up North after lunch in Key West – the southern most tip of the USA – yesterday. It really had that party Bali feel to it and we relished the sunshine.

Tomorrow we should be in Washington DC for some serious sightseeing before a day or two in New York.

I can’t wait to get to a proper computer so I can write a fulsome account of our trip. To be honest, typing on a phone keyboard has knobs on it . 😛

And if I’m really honest, that wine in the bar is calling to me loudly and… the kids have come into my sanctuary… gotta fly my dears!

UPDATE: Here’s some Washington pics.

Washington DC


The bitch in the machine

I know it seems harsh but that is what we have taken to calling Miss Neverlost, the know-it-all voice from the GPS thingy in our hire car. Especially when she doesn’t have the roads we want to go to or takes us to some weird other road of the same name. We love it when a new road or bypass has been built and it looks as if we’re flying or going cross country on her little screen as she valiantly asks us to “make a legal u-turn as soon as possible” or to “proceed to the highlighted route” (pronounced rowt) over and over until we shut down her volume.

However she does work tirelessly and if I do get a little frustrated by her slow and unintuitive keypad, inside that little box I’m sure I’ve heard her sigh.

“Alright then do it your way you turkeys – just don’t blame me if you end up somewhere in Alaska…”

BIM has taken us now all the way through Charleston and Savannah into Florida, named you might be interested in by Juan Ponce de Leon, who when he landed on what he thought was an island named it after its prolific flowers in 1513. He was in search of the Fountain of Youth and thought he discovered it, but as we discovered when we sipped from said spring – all he got was a slightly sulfuric beverage of average taste.

Do I feel younger? No.

Is it a tourist trap? Yes. But hey, we’re in the States.

And about to embark on a journey into the biggest tourist trap of all time: DisneyWorld.

But let me take you back aways to Charleston. Yes Gone with the Wind territory.

Tara! Home. I’ll go home. And I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all… tomorrow is another day.

A town that has survived Civil War, Earthquakes, Fires and in 1989, Hurricane Hugo. Some of the buildings bear the remnants of those disasters. A church spire still leaning from the Earthquake in 1886.  Bolts through the sides of houses to hold them together.


The houses are cute. They call them single houses because they are one room wide and they have these verandahs down the side of the house facing the sea to catch the breezes. There is a door on the street end of the verandah called a privacy door and if it’s closed it means don’t look on the balcony!

They also paint the ceiling of these verandahs with sky blue paint. Some call it haint blue – or ghost blue – as it is said to frighten away ghosts by making them think it is daytime. In reality it is supposed to deter wasps and hornets from making their nests. It stuffs up their perception or something.

Savannah is beautiful. I’m in love with Spanish moss which hangs like soft mistletoe from the branches of the overhanging oak trees. It is a shady seedy city full of the resonance of its colourful history, and familiar because of all the films made their including most famously Forrest Gump and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.


OMG it’s midnight. I still haven’t worked out a way to upload my photos nor put my little films online but dear internet, it ain’t going to happen tonight.

Tomorrow I need to have my Disney smile on because being grumpy and tired at DisneyWorld – well that’s just not Disney is it?

UPDATE: Disney was great. Classic. You have to do it.

But we also did Universal Studios…

Universal Studios

Universal Studios

Norfolk to Wilmington

Yesterday we got up bright and early, enjoyed our free breakfast and hit the road to enjoy a full day’s travelling.


In fact we slept in until breakfast had been cleared away and blearily made our way out to find a Dunkin Donut on our way to Kitty Hawk. We didn’t find one.

Instead we hit the freeways and eventually picked up some fruit and water at a Food Lion supermarket. At lunchtime we came across a fantastic all-American diner – Mel’s Diner.

Mel's Diner

A shiny chrome trailer type diner with all the retro charm of the movies. And the food was fantastic. Groover had this enormous club sandwich and I had a Greek salad. Also huge and crisp and delicious.Our rumbling tummies satisfied we jumped back in the car and headed for the site of the Wright Brothers first powered flight at Kitty Hawk. The town itself is row after row of stilted wooden houses – designed for beach life. And the road down there not much more than billboard after billboard interspersed with the occasional strip mall.

Entry to the Wright memorial is only $4 per person over 15 and it lasts a week. The museum is excellent and they have a full-scale replica of the original plane and glider. The original is in the Smithsonian. Outside they have marked the flight paths and we had fun getting the kids to recreate the flights on our little video recorder. Watch the video…

We then climbed Kill Devil Hill where the brothers first launched their glider. The memorial which looks brand new was in fact built in 1932. It is very impressive and apparently is the inspiration for some random game that Groover and Hugamuga play – Bioshock. Note the jetstream of what their invention led to next to it.

Kitty Hawk

Kitty Hawk

The dunes have been grassed over to keep them in place and they don’t like you walking on the lawn, so much so that they’ve oversown the grass with prickley pear. Nasty stuff.

Then we got back in the car for a big drive. We got as far as Wilmington where the Lonely Planet guide recommends The Water Street Restaurant and stopped in for some southern fare. Once again LP didn’t let us down. This is a great restaurant – the food is good – we had the crabcakes and the fried green tomatoes, the popcorn shrimp and a pasta dish. All delicious. The entertainment was world class. A brilliant singer who kept us entertained all night. There were a group of older folk there who come along everytime this guy performs and they were up dancing and really having a good time. They came to talk to us because they came from Connecticut and Groover was wearing his UConn tee-shirt.



Today we’re mooching off down to Charleston and Savannah. Then to Orlando and Disneyworld.

Atlantic City to Virginia Beach

Well here we are in freezing Virginia. OMG it is SO COLD! Temperatures in the 20s which means minus 4-5 in real money.

Last night we stayed at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. AC is like Las Vegas lite and the hotels attached to the casinos are cheap. 5 stars for about $59 plus tax. The kids loved getting room service – which cost more than the room – and we loved finding a bar which sold Chimay. In the morning we wanted to walk along the boardwalk but… did I mention how cold it is?
Atlantic City
It means puffy jackets and not a lot of walking along the streets and beaches taking in the sights.


This is more like guerilla strike tourism. We find somewhere – like Margate’s Lucy the Elephant – a giant tin and wood pachyderm by the seaside – drive as close as we can – leap out – take a photo – leap back in the car and turn up the heating.

The deceptive thing is it looks from inside our heated SUV like a hot summer’s day outside. The sky is clear and blue. The pavement is dry. If it wasn’t for the fact that the streets are completely deserted you would think it was hot outside. The Wildwoods further down the New Jersey coast looked like a retro 1960s ghost-town.

The Wildwoods

Jetsons style neon signs for motels called “The Crusader”, “The Lollipop” and “The Mango” line the streets and you expect tumbleweeds to roll past. We were playing spot the person.

We caught the ferry from Cape May over to Lewes. Cape May is a charming Victorian seaside resort with rows of weatherboard houses painted very elaborately. It would be a charming place to visit. In the summer. Every second house is a B&B and they do look lovely.

By the time we got across the water and into Delaware it was dark so we hit the freeways and headed south. Groover had The Taphouse in his sights and, after fighting with the Neverlost Nazi we eventually made it down the peninsula across the Chesapeake Bay bridge and tunnel spectacular. I took a little video with my new Flip. It really is very impressive. Probably more impressive in the daytime.

After booking into a hotel with a computer – oh yeah and beds and stuff – we drove out to the Taphouse so Groover could sample the beers and we could have some dinner. It was really good. Well worth seeking it out.

Thanks to Lonely Planet for that one – trust Aussies to highlight the great beer houses!

Tomorrow we are starting our day with Kitty Hawk, where the Wright Brothers first flew their airplane. Then south south south!

Leaving Goshen

It snowed today. Really snowed. Big thick flakes floating down, covering the black ice beneath with a soft white duvet cover.

It was beautiful.


It was also a bit tricky getting out. The hire car, with no snow tires, slipped and slid and bogged down in the snow. Getting the suitcases up the very steep driveway was also challenging. You’d be stomping along, feeling confident when wham bam you were on your butt sliding for the bottom again.

But we eventually packed up and even had the energy to make a final snowman. A cute little fellow (check out his arse).



And then we drove back to Wilton.


Tomorrow we pick up our SUV for our roadtrip to Florida!

One in a million

It was 7pm. Dark. Cold. And we’re snug in a cabin in snowy Goshen.

So what do Groover, The Artist (my bro) and I decide to do for New Year’s Eve? Correct!

We decide to jump in the car and drive into Times Square to watch the ball drop for the 100th time.

Just three of the million people who were there.

Except we werent. 🙁

I think we got as far as 43rd and 6th before the police barriers finally stopped us. Don’t get me wrong, it was still worth it. And our little corner was going for it as much as they could seeing as we couldn’t actually see the ball drop.

Times Square

Just being in New York with a whole city full of revellers made it worth the three hour journey – both ways.