Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

Geoff and Sophie had a beautiful day for their hike along the South Kaibab trail today. Some early snow cleared to a brilliantly sunny day with no wind. The photos they took on their iPhones are awesome but reiterate all the reasons I was so anxious about them going! Their base fitness stood them in good stead and they did the estimated 6 hour round trip in 4 and were back before I'd had time to start looking for them.

Taine got to make his snowman and then we took the shuttle to the village and had lunch at the Yavapai cafeteria. I thought we'd be adventurous and walk the next leg to the Info Centre but white, snowy trees all look remarkably similar and I managed to get us lost for awhile. The air is pretty thin up here and I was puffing by the time we found our way back to the market bus stop. The views from Mathers Point were lovely and they have a very sturdy fence along the rim there :-)

We watched the last sunset of 2012 from the lodge area. The Grand Canyon is so immense it really is hard to believe it's real. The photos we took tonight look like we are standing against a fake background. I still can't get over how close the sheer drop into the canyon is from the lodge path. A couple of tourists asked me to take their photo on the path today and to my horror they backed all the way up until their heels were resting on the lip. I wanted to reach out and grab them back, just like I did with people who got too close to the edge of the subway platforms.

Tonight we ate dinner at the Bright Angel. It was delicious but as usual, far too much food. Unfortunately there were no deer lurking around the road like there were last night. We would have liked to stay outside and gaze at the bright stars in the canyon's unpolluted sky but at -15C it was just too cold so we retired to our room to try to stay awake till midnight.

Happy New Year everyone :-)

The seventh wonder of the world

Yesterday our day started in the beautiful village of Oak Creek, eating breakfast as the sun rose over the red rocks.
After checking out all the formations the day before, we decided Bell Rock was a manageable hike before we set off for the Grand Canyon. It’s hard to describe the colour of the rocks, except to say they really are red! None of us felt the positive energy of the vortex but Taine fell over not far from the beginning of our climb and I wrenched my shoulder a but further along the track so we decided maybe we’d had a negative vortex effect! Geoff and Sophie climbed up to the top of the rounded part of the bell and we took some pretty spectacular photos.

Bell Rock

We also visited the Cathedral in the Rock, a church built into the side of one of the cliffs. I lit some candles for my religious friends and took in a few more magnificent vistas, then we jumped back in the car and headed of to Flagstaff. When we left Sedona Geoff was wearing his shorts and t shirt. Half way through Oak Canyon we started to notice patches of snow alongside the road and by the time we reached the top it was full on snowing and the countryside was white! Snow is such an exciting event for us Antipodeans so we stopped at a market on top of the ridge to play in it for awhile. Needless to say we all got very cold and wet and ripped off by the over priced souvenirs on sale there but it was fun.

Flagstaff was our lunch stop and provided some Christmas card views because the whole town was covered in thick snow. Realising that we had come very under prepared for snowy weather we stopped at Walmart but strangely we found no snow gear there so we stocked up on snacks and New Year's drinks and kept moving towards the Grand Canyon National Park. I had expected lots of winding roads like we have at home but we had already done our climbing through Oak Canyon and the road from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon was actually very straight and very flat, a bit like parts of the Desert Road in NZ.

Flagstaff to GC

We thought we'd left the snow behind us but as we reached the park entrance it started to fall again and when we reached the village it was quite heavy. After stowing our gear in our room at the Kachina Lodge we stepped outside for our first view of the world's most famous hole in the ground. And we didn't have to walk far. The GC lodges are literally on the rim, at some points just metres away. In fact on the path to Bright Angel Lodge I measured 3 metres to the edge. And on that bit of the path there is NO FENCE, just a straight drop hundreds of metres from the snow covered, icy path. One wrong step on the way home from the restaurant......Arrggghhhh. Last night there was lots of cloud in the canyon but this morning you can see all the way down. It is too real to be real.

Just outside our front door!
Still wearing shorts

As an acrophobic I knew I would struggle with living 'on the rim' but quite frankly I am terrified and for the first time on our whole trip, not really enjoying myself at all. Today Geoff and Sophie have gone to hike into the canyon itself and the mere thought of that has given me nightmares. I'm sure they will have a spectacular (albeit freezing) time and I wish I could take some part in the glory of the view but instead I will spend the day encouraging Taine to hold my hand while we take a less strenuous walk along the rim and maybe build a snowman.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Red Rock Country

We're back up to four passengers today since Sophie decided to ditch her NYC, New Year's Eve plans and flew in to Phoenix last night to spend a few more days with us in Arizona :-) This made packing our rental car an interesting but not insolvable problem. It's a good thing I'm married to a Maths teacher and the children are flexible!

Taine's early morning blood nose meant we got a good , early start to the day and we were on the road a little after 9am. It takes a while to get out of Phoenix but soon enough we were on the highway with desert scenery on either side. We made a pit stop to look at Montezuma's castle, an amazing series of houses built into the rock wall dating right back to 600AD. While Montezuma's is the best preserved of the multi storey dwellings , there is evidence of a whole vertical village in the cliff face along the creek. Amazing to think of people living in such a well organised society so long ago.

At the crossroads back to the highway we stopped at a roadside stall where a Navajo indian gentleman and his mum where making fry bread and selling jewelry. We bought one piece of fry bread out of interest, then 3 more out of appetite . It was delicious!

We reached our destination of Sedona not long after. I had read on Trip Advisor and Fodors about the beauty of the red rocks in this area but once again, seeing is believing and for about the millionth time during this journey, we were gob smacked. This cluster of huge, red monoliths rise up from the desert floor in a variety of shapes and sizes, lending themselves to names like Bell Rock, Pyramid Rock and Snoopy Rock. The place is also full of psychics and spiritual healers and new age book stores because of the number of vortexes (and I have checked that this is the correct plural spelling!) that supposedly exist within the rocks. The vortexes are places where the energy is right for meditation, prayer and healing. My family are skeptical but I intend to open my mind to finding a vortex tomorrow!

The rocks themselves are certainly magical to look at. As with so many of our experiences on this trip, they are simply breath taking. Each day we talk about our favourite scenes, places, adventures and each day we have to add something else to the list. The red rocks of Sedona are certainly right up there.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Discovering the desert

We finally arrived in Phoenix just before midnight last night and headed off optimistically to the rental car base. Geoff had rung the company yesterday to arrange a size upgrade to get us through the last leg of our trip from Phoenix to LA. They had told him the upgrade would be no problem and we should just organise it at the depot in Phoenix. No such luck. They had very few cars in the lot at all and nothing in the 'van' range that we were looking for. Eventually they found us a mid size SUV and a new charge for more than DOUBLE our original quote. Given that we'd already pre paid for our original car and it was midnight and we had no other option, we forked over the extra $850 , jammed our bags (which are looking a little worse for wear after yet another TSA check!) into the boot and checked in to the nearest La Quinta. It was a very expensive day!

A few hours sleep and our favourite 'brightside' breakfast helped us to be more philosophical about the financial frustrations of the previous day. The weather in Phoenix was a glorious. The sky is the same clear blue of the Waikato in NZ and today it was cloudless and windless. I think I expected to see desert in Phoenix but I'm not sure I understood that the whole city is desert and that desert is actually very beautiful. Taine has been hanging out to see a giant cactus and he wasn't disappointed. They are, literally, everywhere. As are the big red rocks that rise out of the desert plain like painted concrete sculptures. The colour palette is brown on brown and there is a noticeable lack of water sources. There are really no gardens to speak of except for succulents and the occasional splash of red bougainvillea. It is a unique environment and one that I have never seen the like of before.

We drove to the South Mountain park and were treated to spectacular views over the city. I was disappointed with my photos because they don't show the different depths and levels of colour and so the landscape looks bland. I wish I had a 3D camera! The drive up and down the mountain was straight out of Radiator Springs and 'Cars'.

Then we went to Papago Park and climbed the Hole in the Rock. This is one of the red sandstone rock formations that dot the city. An open cavern at the front of the rock is connected to the back via a large hole and so you can climb up the back and through the hole to sit in the cave chamber and look out over the city. Apparently the Hohokam who were early inhabitants of the area, used the sunlight patterns through the hole to judge time and seasons. Pretty cool. We stayed up there and watched the sun set over  the city.

By the time we get to Phoenix.....

By the time we get to Phoenix, everyone will be sleeping. Our flight out of JFK tonight was delayed and our expected arrival in Phoenix is now midnight local time, 2am by our body clocks. A bit of a bummer since we have a car booked for yesterday! Also a bummer that Delta wouldn't honour our Webjet tickets which included two checked bags. In fact they wouldn't take any bags without us paying for them. One of the reasons we booked with Delta was that the quote included the bags so we're pretty unhappy about that! Given the age of the plane, the lack of in flight service and the chaos of their check in, we certainly wouldn't have chosen them otherwise....and you can be very sure we won't choose them ever again! One thing they do have is in air wifi (expensive of course), hence this blog post is being written in the air.

It took us ages to pack up our hotel room this morning. 8 days in NYC has allowed us to unpack and spread our stuff everywhere.With a late flight today we had the rest of the morning free to visit the Guggenheim and check out the Picasso exhibition. The queues to get in the door stretched as far around the corner as the ones for the toy store the other day but the wait was worth it. We took the free audio guides and I learnt more about Picasso in two hours than I have in a life time. What an interesting man! The exhibition winds it way up through the central rotunda area of the gallery and the circular nature of the display area lends itself beautifully to the ever changing and evolving work of Picasso throughout his long lifetime, during which he created more than 100 000 pieces of art!

After a final subway ride it was time to say goodbye to the city that never sleeps. We've had an amazing week here and there's no doubt we'll be back at some stage. I'd love to see Central Park in the Spring and there's a whole wealth of museums and boroughs that we didn't get to this time.

The stand outs (good and bad) for us in NYC;

The subway is an awesome way to get around the city. A weekly pass got us everywhere we wanted to go, all week for just $29. MYKI is a disgrace by comparison (although I guess it's just a disgrace full stop!)

Bagels. NY has real bagels, great big rounds of bready goodness, including ones full of grain.

Rude, disinterested service people. This was not always the case as we found lots of lovely, helpful people as well but in comparison to the South, New Yorkers (from our observation and short experience) are more abrupt and less friendly and counter service in retail outlets is incredibly slow.

Central Park. What a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city.

Dogs. In hotels, in restaurants, on planes!

Taxis. Those yellow cabs really are everywhere & they're cheap and easy to hail. Unfortunately, once they have a passenger in them they don't stop for pedestrians or emergency vehicles.

Pickles. Whole pickles are served with everything. This was of great pleasure to Geoff because he got mine & Sophie's as well.

High density housing. Brownstone apartment blocks that just go on and on as far as the eye can see.

Human traffic jams. Queues to get in and out of shops and museums.

The views. The Manhattan skyline is magnificent and for me, walking towards it over the Brooklyn Bridge was something I'll never forget.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A view from the top

Today was our last full day in NYC so we got up early to make the most of it. Geoff and Taine went to the Empire State Building at 8am and by doing so went straight to the top. I'm saving my vertigo risk days for the Grand Canyon so Sophie & I checked out the post Christmas sales opportunities on 34th street. Geoff reported back that the view from the top was every bit as spectacular as he had imagined it to be and the stories and photos of how the building was erected were pretty amazing.

Our big kids gave us a 'child free' lunch date at the Mandarine Oriental ,which also has great views of the city, as a christmas gift. While we were eating , Sophie took Taine to 'Build a Bear', a store where you create and outfit your own stuffed bear. It's a very clever, dolls for boys enterprise that he's been wanting to do since we first saw a shop in Texas.

We chose the 3 course pre fixe menu for lunch and it was delicious, especially the well brewed pot of tea at the end. I was so excited to have a proper cup of tea that I had three cups full. While we were eating it started to snow. Snow is always exciting for us but unfortunately it meant we couldn't take our after lunch carriage ride around Central Park. And, as is often the case with snow, it wasn't white and fluffy, just cold and wet and it turned the sidewalk into a slushy skating pond!

We wandered around in Grand Central Station for a bit. This is truly beautiful building and a destination in itself and next time we're here I'll be sure to do the audio tour to learn more about its history. The terminal was really busy with people heading home after the holidays. We were hoping for a flash mob but no such luck.

The snow continued for a while and was much prettier from inside our hotel room as it settled on the buildings below. Then it became torrential rain so we scurried next door to the Barking Dog for dinner. It was a little bit of a melancholy occasion as we realised it would be our last dinner together for awhile until Soph gets back to Australia. We've really enjoyed our two weeks together in the North East but tomorrow we leave Soph to couch surf here in NYC through New Year while we head westward on the last leg of our journey.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's Christmas time in the city

Luckily Santa was able to find us this morning, even though we're a long way from home. We've had fun over the last few weeks finding 'small' presents to fit in our travel and we had lots of fun unwrapping them this morning. My Pandora bracelet is now a testament to our trip with charms reflecting each of the cities we've visited :-) We also stuck with our tradition of bacon and eggs for breakfast, even though cooking them created havoc with the smoke detector and meant someone had to continually wave a towel in front of it while Geoff kept cooking!

Around lunchtime we wandered down to the subway with no real plans in mind but to spend the day wandering the city. With most of the shops shut the streets were much quieter, a very strange phenomenon indeed. The quiet ended at the Rockefeller Centre. We thought we might do the Top of the Rock but so did every other tourist in the city! The queues were much longer than normal. Likewise in Central Park where I think Christmas Day might be the busiest day of the year. As for Times Square and the M & M shop...complete chaos.

The homeless are hard to ignore in New York. It's so sad to see so many people doing it tough, especially in the cold weather. Taine has been particularly affected by the cardboard pleas for help and so today he decided to cash a few days of his spending money into dollar bills and we let him give away as many as he wanted. I know it's not possible to donate to every beggar in the city but it felt so much better than our usual head down, walk fast approach and it was gratifying to see so many people being genuinely appreciative of his little presents.

We had delicious salad and pasta at Fresh & Co for lunch and pretty ordinary turkey burgers at the Tick Tock diner tonight. I'm pining for some pork crackling and plum pudding. Maybe we'll have a post Christmas feast when we get home.We met some other Aussies on the train going uptown and coincidentally we ran into them again on the train home. Then we found out they are staying at the same hotel as us. It really is a small world.

Tonight we had pre booked tickets to the movie of 'Les Miserables'. After doing the production with our school kids a few years ago, this musical has been one of our favourites so we were really looking forward to the movie. We certainly weren't disappointed. It was stupendously wonderful.

"To love another person is to see the face of God"

It was the perfect way to end Christmas Day.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Strawberry fields forever.

The Central Park we see on the movies is inevitably the scene of a grisly murder or a kidnapping. I didn't see any dead bodies this morning, just acres of beautiful parkland set against the towering background of Manhattan. While Geoff ran 10 miles around the perimeter and Sophie ran a few of the internal tracks, I admired the scenery and Taine played mountain climber on the rocky outcrops near the skating rink. It would take days to explore the park properly, I just felt privileged to have experienced the tip of it.

Whilst doing some last minute Christmas shopping on the way back to the Dumont, we experienced some Julia Robert's style 'Pretty Woman' shop attendance. Sophie has had her heart set on a Michael Kors watch and we've been looking at different styles over the last few days. We went to Bloomingdales because it was close to the subway but the attendants weren't at all interested in us. Despite standing expectantly at their counter for several minutes, they continued with their personal conversation and completely ignored us. Clearly our sporting attire and un-made up faces flagged us as unlikely buyers! We've actually experienced this phenomenon a few times in New York. Luckily we've also experienced the opposite and so to buy the watch we traveled all the way to Union Square to a shop where the assistant had been very helpful earlier in the week.

We made a lunch time pit stop to Skype to Kasey and Erica in NZ and Jaime & Xavier at home in Aus on their Christmas Day morning. It's the first time I've been away from any of my kids at Christmas so that feels a bit strange & I'm certainly missing our own special seasonal rituals, however this is a Christmas that none of us will forget! The time difference is such an odd thing but at least I understand now how Santa manages to get all around the world. It's a very long time between midnight in NZ & Aus and the time he finally gets to New York!

This afternoon we went downtown and across town on the subway to get to Brooklyn. It was too early for pizza so we just walked our way back to Manhattan. The views from the bridge are to die for. There was lots of cloud today so everything was shrouded in grey but nevertheless the harbour and the skyline were amazing. Tourists on the bridge do have to be careful to remember that one lane is for bicycles. I nearly got collected a couple of times when I wandered over to take a photo.

We called back through Union Square to get the aforementioned watch and to pick up some supplies from Wholefoods. What a crush! Just like in Australia it seems everyone is buying enough to survive a holocaust when in fact most of the shops are only closed for a day and in NYC a lot of them will still be open tomorrow. In the end we grabbed some salad and then topped up with Christmas beer and pretzels at the Duane Reade drug store across from the hotel.

As I type, we're watching snowflakes drift past our window on the 36th floor. I don't think it will be a white Christmas but it's enough snowy stuff to get us excited! I was hoping to get to a midnight church service tonight but I don't think Taine's going to make it. The stress of wondering whether Santa does hotel visits has completely worn him out.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

New York, New York..

This morning we got up while the kids were still in bed and hit the street early to look for extra luggage. As opposed to every hour of the day from noon till midnight, the shops were quite empty at 9am. It was great! We found some terribly cheap roller duffle bags (thanks Fodorites for this suggestion) and a KMart with a tiny little tree for our hotel room.

With the tree, (complete with $2 LED lights), installed and decorated with the baubles we have been collecting on our travels, everyone was feeling much more festive as we jumped on the subway and made our way down to Chelsea. Away from Downtown, New York is quite lovely. The architecture is varied and fascinating and there's room to walk on the pavement. I could live in here.

We walked the Highline, a disused railway become parkland. This is a magnificent recycling of land with great views of the city and a lovely, Sunday walk feel to it. It's definitely on my NY 'must do' list. We had a yummy lunch at the Crumbcake cafe and then walked to the Flatiron building. Although it was cold, the sun was shining and there was no wind today; New York at its finest.

Despite my pedometer saying we'd already walked 20,000 steps, after a short shower break we headed back downtown to the Radio City Music Hall for the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. And spectacular it was. Lots of high kicking and a tapped version of the 12 days of Christmas. Singing with feet! Santa took us on a 3D trip around the world and a little girl learnt about Christmas through a video game. WT?

On the way home we stopped at Bryant Park for hot chocolate, wandered the market stalls and watched the ice skating. Have I mentioned before that this whole trip feels like a dream? Never more than this evening.

 By the time I write my next post, it will already be Christmas Day in Aus/ NZ.

We miss you guys, Happy Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue

Today we went on a mecca of another type- the uptown NY shopping hub of Park Ave and 5th Ave.
Taine and I had a sleep in while Geoff went for a run in Central Park this morning so we were late starting our day. Old hands at the subway now, we caught a train to 59th St and started our window shopping at Bloomingdales. We had a brief look at some ridiculously over priced stuff (the scarf in the pic below was $250!) and stood on the sidewalk in a brief snow flurry. Hardly the stuff Christmas cards are made of but we can definitely say it snowed while we were here.

Next stop was the Yankee's supporter's shop and then into the queue to get into FAO Schwartz, largest toyshop in the world (apparently) and home to the giant floor piano. Yes, I did say queue, our first ever experience of lining up to get into a shop. I'm glad we don't have a toddler with us because the stuffed toys in FAO are just amazing. We followed the line of people through the store, briefly stopping to grab something for Taine's little Christmas stocking and then lined up to get OUT of the store as well.

We bypassed the Apple store ( who also had a queue), figuring we are already maxed out on iProducts. Following the trail of the fur coats, we popped in to Tiffany's, only to discover we didn't really like the look of their jewelry so we left without making a purchase ;-) Then it was on to the Trump Tower for a meeting with Don. He was a no show so we stopped for a Starbuck's and an ogle at the golden furnishings of the foyer.

On the way to the Rockefeller Centre we popped into Swatch (another present for Taine) and Lindt (presents for me). When we got to Rockefeller the queues reached a whole new dimension. The line for the Lego store went all the way round the block and when we eventually got in and out of the shop we found ourselves in a crush of human beings coming from four different directions. I reckon the entire population of Mortlake would have been swamped by this mass of people on just one city intersection. Luckily, festive spirit is alive and well in NY, even in the crowds and queues and there was very little pushing or shoving. Everyone just shuffles along trying to keep hold of their own group until , just like car traffic jams, the side walk magically opens up and you can move forward.

After another journey on the subway and a brief respite back at the Dumont, we went next door for Chinese food. The food was ok but the restaurant was SO hot. This is something we've found really odd in the North. You have to be very rugged up to be outside but the insides of shops and restaurants are ridiculously warm. I find myself de robing at the entrance of every building and carting my gloves, beanie and coat around over my arm till it's time to leave.

To walk off dinner we went down 5th Ave to Macys who are open continuously for 48 hrs before Christmas. There were thousands of people in the store, many of them carrying dozens of red bags. It's commercialism gone crazy. Despite traipsing up and down all 8 floors we found nothing we wanted to buy. I think we are shopped out!

The Big Apple

My feet hurt!
We've been in Manhattan for just over 24 hours and in that time I think we've walked about 20 km.
When we think of downtown New York we think of it like the middle of any city but in fact this is a place of cities within cities. Manhattan is spread over 185 streets east to west and every one of those streets is a main street with some major, must see attraction! And that's just one of the boroughs of New York.

We left Boston yesterday at 11am for what was supposed to be a 4 hr bus trip. This actually turned out to be a very uncomfortable 6 hour torture but for $25 we weren't complaining. I was surprised how much open space there was between the two cities. In my mind the Eastern Seaboard has always been one long metropolis but in fact there are lots of woods and trees, right up to the edge of the city.
Our first real glimpse of New York city was the Yankee Stadium and then we crossed the bridge into Harlem. Whoah, just like the movies. And again, just like the movies, the neighborhood changed at the edge of Central Park to expensive apartments and coiffured dogs and their leash holders.

Our hotel ( the Affinia Dumont) is on 34th and Lexington, just a few streets away from The Empire State Building. We have a great view of the skyline of uptown Manhattan. Sophie met us at the bus station and thanks to her previous experience, we were able to master the subway fairly quickly. What an excellent method of moving people around the city. We bought a $29 weekly pass and we've already taken 10 subway rides! Our first stop last night was Times Square, the mecca of tourists and entrepreneurs looking to make money from the tourists. It's not so much a square as a street, full of lights and shops and buskers and more lights.We watched ourselves on the big screen for a bit and then went on search of food.

This morning we ventured to the bottom of the island. Earlier this year our Drama class used the events of September 11 as the stimulus for their ensemble performance and as a result we had done a lot of research into the tragedy.Visiting the memorial was an important mecca for us. It is a truly somber and overwhelming experience to stand where those mighty towers once stood and fell. It was freezing and the water spray from the reflecting pools was cold but I felt obliged to read each and every one of the names on the edges of the pools.

I had booked tickets to climb the crown of the Statue of Liberty but both Liberty & Ellis Islands are closed due to storm damage from Sandy. Determined not to miss seeing Lady Liberty altogether and despite the biting wind and heavy swell we boarded the ferry from Battery Park. Risking hypothermia we managed to get some wind blown 'selfies' and a few decent photos of the statue and the Manhattan skyline before tottering off the gang plank and hurrying back to the warmth (and the weirdos) of the subway.

Tonight we ventured down to the Rockefeller Centre to look at the Christmas decorations and then to the biggest department store ever, Macys.

Walking the streets of New York it's hard to believe there are so many people in the world, let alone in one city. Remarkably, a lot of them are Australians, particularly in our hotel. Amongst the accents of New York the Aussie drawl is instantly recognizable.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Freedom Trail

The rain abated today so we had a beautifully clear (albeit cold) view of the city today. The whole place reminds me so much of Dunedin, right down to its own, distinct accent. Our trolley driver this morning spent some time encouraging us to speak 'Baahhstonian' but I'm afraid I just can't get my tongue around those drawn out vaahhls. I could listen to it all day though. I asked a man for directions and was so entranced by his accent that I had no idea what he'd said!

We got off at Boston Common this morning to play with the squirrels again and check out some of the historic monuments in the park.

On the spur of the moment (and to get out of the cold) we decided to visit the State House, home of the Massachusetts' parliament. I'm so glad we did. What a beautiful building with very friendly and approachable staff. The murals and stained glass windows throughout the great halls reflect the history of Boston, Massachusetts and indeed the United States through the American Revolution, the birth of Independence and the Civil War. We climbed the stairs right up to the golden dome and checked out both the Senate & the House of Reps.

A walk around the corner took us to the Granary Cemetery where the likes of Paul Revere, Mother Goose and Sam Adams are buried. So many old souls, right there in the middle of the city and residential buildings.

Taine was keen to visit the Tea Party Museum so that was our other stop for the day. We took part in a quaint re enactment and role play of the Tea Party, complete with a pretend tipping of tea into the harbour. The young man playing Sam Adams whipped us into a frenzy of rebellion complete with lots of 'hazars' and 'fies' and some foot stamping. We pretended to disguise ourselves with indian feathers and then boarded the ship to tip the tea. It was all informative and good fun and ended with a free sample of tea!

For dinner tonight we visited Whole Foods on our way home and bought ourselves a picnic of hot veggies & salad. This store is nowhere near as extensive as the one we visited in Austin but it's still big enough to provide lots of variety. Taine even scored some gingerbread corn chips for the bus tomorrow. I love the way even savoury foods become sweet treats in the U.S!

Boston is lovely but I'm not sure how people manage the Winter here. It was so cold today that even Geoff wore long sleeves and it was fully dark by 4.30pm. I can only imagine what it might be like in January and February.