Recently my good friend took a holiday of a lifetime, travelling around different states in the USA. As I was working over the holiday I lived vicariously through her, almost feeling like I was with them as they explored NYC, Washington and California. As I love to write about places on this blog I asked Karen to guest blog sharing some of her experiences in the USA and a few of her favourite photographs. So over to Karen...
This year, I will have been married for 25 years to John, who I’m happy to say is still my love, my voice of calm and my best friend after all that time. We decided to celebrate by travelling around America for a month, and after years of planning and saving we got to do exactly that last month.
Rather than bore you to tears with our daily adventures, I thought I’d share the highlight and lowlight of each part of our trip with you, and a photo for each of our stops.
So, without further ado, here is a potted précis of our “Awfully Big American Adventure.”
First stop was New York, which we fell in love with twenty years ago, and loved even more this time around. We walked for miles, and adored these mischievous little people on 14th street subway station, which was just a few minutes from our hotel. They are designed by Tom Otterness, and form part of a huge art installation across various subway stations in the city.
New York highlight: Meeting Jay, owner of The Chelsea Pines Inn where we stayed. He was such a lovely man and quickly became a good friend…he’s even coming to watch me sing when I return to NYC next April with Inspiration Choir!
Lowlight: Mosquito bites!!
Next stop was Boston, where we stayed on a floating bed and breakfast and took life at an easier pace for a while.
Highlight: Relaxing with a glass of wine on the deck, and looking across towards Boston Harbour. Just look at the view!
A long flight took us to Seattle, where we stayed right next to Pike Place Market. Again, the highlight was the view from the rooftop garden of the hotel, where we sat and watched the sun set with a glass of wine (can you see a theme developing here?!)
This is a troll, built as a public work of art using old car parts. Can you spot the wheel in his eye, and the whole VW Beetle to give you an idea of his size? He was built to deter drug addicts from gathering under the bridge, but the place is now a magnet for tourists so the local inhabitants still get no peace. I think he looks rather melancholic, but maybe so would I if I lived under a concrete bridge. Seattle’s lowlight was the many, many people begging quite openly for money for drugs on most street corners. The sale of marijuana was legalised there last year, and it was quite a shock to see so many people with such hopeless futures.
From Seattle, we boarded the Coastal Starlight Express train, which took us overnight through more wonderful scenery to San Francisco. My highlight here was visiting the huge public library, which was used in the film “City of Angels.” The library was an amazing public space, I stood for ages and pretended I could see Nicholas Cage and all the other angels watching over peoples shoulders as they read!
When the old library card index system was taken over by computers, an artist used the cards to wallpaper three floors of the building….she recruited people to write a line from the book each card referred to, so the walls themselves were as fascinating as the shelves. I could have stayed in there for ever…
The only lowlight in San Francisco was the cold, which we weren’t expecting. Still, it did mean I had an excuse to go shopping for a warm hoodie!
We hired a car in San Francisco and drove down to Santa Barbara. The highlight of our short stay here was the unexpected beauty all around us. The lowlight was locking ourselves out of our room on the balcony of a small B&B, with no one to hear me shouting “Help!” Thank goodness for modern technology…luckily I had my ipad with me, so an email to the owners meant we were released after a fraught half an hour that felt a LOT longer at the time!
A few hours further down the coast, and we reached our final destination – Annaheim, Los Angeles. The lowlight here was most definitely Hollywood….it was dirty, run down and packed with people trying to sell you tours and photos.
I make no apologies here for admitting we are huge Disney fans, so the highlight here was meeting Minnie Mouse and spending three whole days at Disneyland, “the happiest place on earth”!
So, on that note I’ll end my whistle stop tour guide with a picture of us and Tigger. Just looking at this picture makes all the happy memories come flooding back. I do hope it’s not another 25 years before we go back!