© 2012 jemma

A final update from me to you!

Well where was I? Ahhh yes, we were flying to Boston, Massachusetts. Home of Harvard University and MIT – which as Jess found out stands for Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is also home to the Dowtons – Polly and Bruce – who are family friends of Jess’ and who graciously let us stay with them in there beautiful home in the woods. Literally in the woods, with deer and large wild turkeys.

We did not know it till we arrived, but the Dowtons were also hosting another of Jess’ family friends, the Sommervilles from New Zealand. Crazy world. It would be a full house, with us, the Sommervilles and Polly and Bruce’s children who were coming home to eat their fathers delicious food. And it was delicious! Oh and Polly’s dog Cleo a caramel Bull terrier was there too. So it was a very festive time in Boston.

I think Jess and I walked every inch of Boston, starting with the Back Bay district with it’s trendy high street and amazing architecture. We then moved onto the Beacon Hill district, which is rather posh but again filled with wonderful architecture and lots of people who own dogs. It was very Christmassy in both these areas, with the streets filled with banners, flower boxes of Christmas colours, wreaths and lights.

We then checked out the freedom trail which leads you through the city and teaches you about the history of Boston, from the Boston public gardens, the Boston Common, extremely old and wonderful cemeteries, Churches, the sight of the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party and Faneuil Hall which holds the Boston Markets. It was here that I had the most amazing lunch. A pizza bagel. Will be taking that idea home with me! Oh and a giant brownie with chocolate icing and laced with m&ms. I will be recreating that one too!

Jess and I wanted to check out the Harvard yard, but alas those pesky Occupy protesters had taken it over – well 5 tents at least – and so the whole thing had been closed except to students and patrolled by police for the past 5 weeks. So we had to see the yard through the cast iron fence. Cambridge is a nice suburb though, so we checked that out and then walked back over the river through MIT. Jess was in heaven.

We finished our time in Boston by taking Cleo for a nice walk up Blue Hill. I have never seen a dog go so wild in the snow. Man made snow that is, because I don’t know if it has since – I doubt it – but the east coast of the USA has had no snow! So no white Christmas for us. We also went out for dinner and a movie with their son Angus. Loved Game of Shadows!

We met up with the kLarkins again on our train trip into NYC. We picked them up in New Haven from their icy skiing adventure and we headed into the big smoke. We then, luggage in hand proceed to take two subways to our hotel in the Italian/Chinatown/Bowery district. That was a fun experience. I’m sure all the people on the Subway appreciated getting hit by my backpack! But we made it, and settled in to our hotel and headed out to dinner at a B grade Chinese restaurant, which Jess swears was a C grade. I didn’t care, the food was good! I guess it was fit for human consumption?

The next two days consisted of walking and walking and walking and subwaying. We checked out all the sights, Central Park, Intrepid – an air craft carrier aviation museum, the massive Toy Shop FAO Schwarz, the crazy underground apple store, 5th Ave, Rockefeller Plaza and the Christmas Tree, Grand Central Station, The Empire State Building – didn’t go up it though, High line park – Jess’ favourite: a park made on the top of an old train line above the streets, The Macy’s Christmas display, Battery park where we saw the Statue of Liberty, Kat’s Deli and the amazing pastrami sandwich, Times Square at night, The 9/11 memorial – very moving and Wall Street – still barricaded off.

I have probably missed like a dozen other things that we did and saw but it was a rushed 2 days of sight seeing in an enormous city with a lot to see and do. Jess finally got a New York style pizza though. We travelled over to Brooklyn to a bar Andrew had heard about called Barcade – literally a bar with 25c arcade machines in it. It was very cool and even cooler was you could pretty much order anything in to eat. So we got the largest pizza I have ever seen! It was delicious though, and went down well with the tasty craft beers. On the third night we came home late from sightseeing and Sandrew went off to a Bar down the road from Sex and the City and Jess and I treated ourselves to what in my opinion is the best Malaysian food on the planet! Yes the restaurant was an A grade and the food was amazing!

Then it was off early on a bus to Kingston in up state New York to pick up our car to drive to our cabin in Margaretville. I just have to mention one thing I saw, well two things I saw on the way to Kingston so I can remember them forever. I saw a sign that went to Scranton Pennsylvania, home of everyone’s favourite show The Office, AND I saw the OCC shop from my least favourite show Orange County Choppers. Woah, I know, incredible huh!

We made it to the Cabin, in a car stocked with Christmas groceries just before dark. Along the way we saw a lot of devastation from Hurricane Irene, houses on their side, flood ravaged homes and bridges, a car in a tree and a lot of debris. We got to the cabin and tried the code only to find that it, and many others we all tried didn’t work. Lets just say that after many many phone calls, hours later and on the verge of trying to find somewhere else, the manager showed up with the correct code, an apology, a bottle of wine and bought our chocolate milkshakes for us.

Then we were in, and we settled down for a weekend of not really doing much besides playing cards, board games, drinking adult beverages, and making Christmas decorations out of paper for our awesome Christmas tree in front of the fire. We even had time to go down town and whilst buying smores supplies we each bought our ‘secret Santa’ a $5 gift from the dollar shop.

After decorating the tree (4 branches of the spikiest conifer!) and wrapping the presents, we decided to have a Christmas eve camp fire and make smores. I think it was -8 or 10 because it was freezing! Although we had had a light dusting of snow, it wasn’t anything substantial BUT it was still freezing and icy! The smores kept us alive with there melted chocolate marshmallow goodness! Then it was off to bed because Santa was coming!

Christmas day was sunny but cold. I stoked up the fire – the fire was my job – and we settled into opening our gifts and drinking hot cocoa. I got 1 toy unicorn, a toy pony and a necklace; Jess got a toy helicopter that didn’t fly but moved along the ground and made noises; Sarah got me as a secret Santa so she received a random assortment of things from princess Aurora lip gloss, a Christmas CD for kids, cow udder moisturiser and a hair towel thing and Andrew got a Nerf style tommy gun that far out did all the other presents and became the centre piece for all the mischief that happened throughout the day.

Christmas lunch was roast chicken with roasted and steamed vegetables and dessert was apple pie and cream and ice cream. Very traditional. A great day was had by all and we enjoyed our cabin lifestyle for the weekend. I don’t think any of us wanted to leave the next day, but alas we had a car to return, a bus back to NYC to catch and then a 5hr wait at the airport to endure, before a 6hr flight to Vancouver. All in a days work for us travellers. Was fun adjusting to the fact that although we landed at 1am Vancouver time, it was really 4am for our brains still on the east coast. Can’t wait for that feeling when we fly home!

In Vancouver Sandrew were treated to some great rainy weather – a staple for the west coast. But they made the most of it and explored the city while Jess and I had to cut all our ties to Canada. Then it was off to Whistler for some amazing boarding and skiing and a New Years Eve to remember. Although there wasn’t as much snow as there should have been, we were still able to get on some amazing powdered runs or Pow Pow as it is now known. Jess even had time to twist his knee on the last day, but boarded through it and suffered afterwards. Well done Jess!

Back in Van we said goodbye to the kLarkins who were off to Seattle before finishing their trip, while we spent the rest of the week relaxing, visiting friends, walking, I knitted a scarf and we even fitted in going back to the Theatre Sports – HILARIOUS! Now we are sitting in the Vancouver airport ready for the long flights home. LA then home to Sydney.

It is a sad but happy time. Jess and I are so happy to have shared this whole thing with you all – whoever you all may be. We need to thank everyone who has helped us along the way, let us stay, fed us and looked after us. All those who may have just chatted to us, and all the new friends we have made – thank you. Thank you to Harlequin for the 26000km or so you survived to let us drive across Canada and America! And last but not least thanks to all our friends and family back home who – had no choice really – but let us go on this adventure without really knowing what this adventure would be. Oh and Jess would like me to thank him for coming up with this `Great` idea.

Bye for now but not forever. Here`s to a great 2012 and a new adventure – going home!