Simon Benson & Alison Edwards
America - East
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America, the Home of the Free.
It is very American and we keep having "cultural experiences" varying from the sublime to the ridiculous. This is hardly surprising as we are based in a beautiful private home, staying with friends a short distance from America's cultural heartland of Washington DC.
Jane and David have been exemplary hosts and have made it easy to explore the Smithsonian Museum in all its guises. Washington has turned on real summer weather- high 80's to 97 degrees (fahrenheit - we're having to get used to these old units of measurement again) the day before yesterday, hot and humid and culminating in a wonderful storm. It may be hot but we are revelling in it.
We have spent a lot of time out of cities also - visiting some of their favorite walks close to home. We spent last weekend at Harper's Ferry, a historical township, prominent in the Civil War. Here you can walk past a virtual museum town - shops displayed as late 1800's shops interspersed with small town icecream parlours and grocery stores etc. There is a well known hike to a rocky outcrop overlooking the junction of the Shenandoah and the Potomac rivers - massive rivers lined by magnificent forest and green rolling hills dotted with small farms. On the Sunday we kayaked down what the locals call a creek and I would grant the title of river.
During the week we have discovered a few of the local bike tracks, off road, overlooking the same Potomac river, or through the edges of forested sections between housing estates - huge houses, no front fences, no footpaths, - all very quintessential middle class American. We have also found some Spanish and International supermarkets, taken public transport around with the help of the very friendly locals. We are cold in the overdone airconditioning and dripping sweat outside. We have eaten hotdogs and drunk American root beer, but drew the line at chitterlings - these were double cleaned but even so eating pieces of pig intestine just didn't appeal.
I nearly forgot the three "F" things . There are American flags everywhere, flags on the sidewalk. flags on the clapboards and the mansion, on prams and bus-stops. I know it is nearly July 4th, accounting for the firework stalls on every vacant block along the higway, but if everyone buys even a "small" box, the entire country will be lit up like a christmas tree. The other thing lighting up are the fireflies - they are still something wondrous to me.