Archive for July, 2012


Lancaster County

Today we headed north east as we wanted to see some Amish farmland. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania has a large settlement of Amish and Mennonite colonies, whose Christian beliefs are based on leading a very simple life. These colonies refrain from using technology, they drive around in horse drawn buggies and use horses for on farm work as well. They wear traditional peasant dress, and they emphasise occupations close to the farm and the home and forbid higher education. We saw quite a few buggies around town and several shops with Amish shopkeepers selling home made items to supplement their farm income. They seem to specialise in patchwork quilts which are beautiful. They are mainly dairy farmers, who also grow crops such as corn to feed their stock. Drove on and spent the night at Williamsport, about 300kms north.




John loves his history, so we headed to Gettysburg for 2 nights, about 450 kms north from Virginia Beach. We travelled through 3 states, Virginia, Maryland and then into Pennsylvania. We spent the day touring the battlefields and the museum and learnt that the 3 day battle here, in 1863, was the turning point of the civil war. More Americans died in this war than all others since. Although the battle occurred on the edge of town and there was only 1 civilian casualty, many of the buildings in town showed the scars of war and remnants of cannon damage. The township has a population of about 8,000 people now. In the evening we went on a “Ghost Tour” of the orphanage, which freaked the boys out a bit but was fun !






Virginia Beach

After such a busy and very hot time touring NY and Washington we decided to find a beach somewhere for some R&R ! So we headed to Virginia Beach, just south of Washington, and had 2 lovely days doing nothing but lazing on the beach, reading and catching up on school work ! In the evening the four of us curled up on the sofa bed to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. Couldn’t believe Queen Lizzie in the James Bond stunt !



Washington Day 3

Another day spent dripping in sweat ! OMG it’s hot ! We walked up to the Capital Building and it was pretty impressive, we went inside where we got to tour some of the amazing rooms. In the afternoon we headed to the National Museum of Natural History, another museum that is part of the Smithsonian Institute. It was pretty incredible as well, but you need a week there to take in everything.



Washington Day 2

We headed out early to avoid the heat. We were out the door at 8.30am which was a record for us but boy there was no escaping the heat. It was very hot and humid even then. About 94 Fahrenheit which is about 35 Celsius and the humidity was very high. You just had to stand outside to start sweating ! It is hard to be a tourist in this heat as it just drains all your energy, anyway we battled on. We headed off to Arlington National Cemetery to visit some historical sites including JFK’s grave and learn some more American history. In the afternoon we headed to one of the Smithsonian Institutes – the National Air and Space Museum which was fantastic. Lots of hands on exhibits and displays, including the actual command module from the Apollo 11 moon landing !!



Washington Day 1

Hot and humid today as we headed out and only a couple of blocks from our hotel was The White House. It was another ‘pinch me’ moment as we stood in front of it and gazed in wonder of the significance of it. Washington is very well laid out of course and we only had to turn around and make a short stroll to the Washington Monument and not much further was the WWII Memorial and the Abraham Lincoln Monument. We were invited to the White House for dinner with the President, which somehow then made the front page of the Washington News !






New York to Washington

Packed up this morning as we are leaving this afternoon. Strolled outside to discover Saturday morning markets were on in Times Square ! Love a good market – who would have thought there’d be some on in Times Square ! Anyway there was nothing very exciting, lots of cheap junky stuff. We then headed off to Penn Station to work out how to get ourselves on our train to Washington. Of course we had to battle crowds and queues and ticketing machines and sassy negro women in information booths but we made it OK. The train trip was about 3 hours and was quite comfortable, despite the boys expecting something like Hogwarts Express ! On the way we passed through a few different cities including Philadephia and Baltimore but it seemed as though they were all joined up as we didn’t see much else out the window except buildings the whole way.

We arrived at Union Station in Washington and it was a big contrast to New York. The city was much cleaner, quieter and orderly and was full of magnificent buildings. Our hotel, however, was a different story, we think it must have been built the year Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated. Anyway it’s in a great location and is cheap, obviously explains the decor !