Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Day 44: Vergennes VT

We wake to a tranquil morning.
All is calm on Lake Champlain
Overnight a red peonie has burst forth.
Danielle takes us to meet her brother Yvan.
We have heard a lot about him over the years, especially about the family maple sugaring gatherings. Here is the Plouffe Cabane. The sugar shack.
...and the bountiful vegetable garden.
.. An homage to a loved mother's quilting pattern...
Perky petunias at every window.
On we go - a rebuilt covered bridge on our way
The clasp on my pearls came adrift in my hands today.
A confirmation that it is time to go home.
A time to rethread our journey with other parts of our lives.
We have collected many little 'pearls' on this part of journey around the USA ..
People, people, people...
Kindness, smiles, friendship, consideration, hospitality...
Glorious scenery...
Safe journeys...
We have been blessed.

We have left Orlanda in the tender care of Pete and Danielle at Vergennes.
When we return I will resume blogging.
It has been wonderful to receive comments and emails from folk who are following our journey online.
Thank you.

We have been on the road for 44 days including rest days.
We have covered 13,400km
We have visited 21 states
We have visited national parks and monuments
Kings Canyon CA
Sequoiua CA
Bandelier NM
Whites Sands NM
Carlsbad Caverns NM
Smokey mountains NC
Shenandoah NC
Antietam National Military Park MD
Gettysburg National Military Park PA
And many state parks.

Dick planned a good time to ride across Southern USA.
The weather has generally been mild.
The exceptions were...
Early in May we had snow in the high Sierras and Taos.
The highest temperature was 104.5degF /40.5degC in Texas. The lowest was 31.5degF/ -0.3degC
We stopped once for heavy rain.

Day 43: Bolton Landing on Lake George NY to Vergennes VT, 87km

We give Orlanda a sleep in and board The Morgan to cruise through the Narrows on Lake George.

The narrator fills us in on the geography and history of the lake. Lake George lies on the land route linking New. York with Montreal - we were following the road signs yesterday. It feeds into Lake. Champlain in the north.

Later today we will ride through Ticonderoga site of Fort Ticonderoga built in 1700s which is a significant site during the French and Indian war and which was later pivotal in the American Revolutionary war. The cannons were captured and taken to Boston and the rest is history...

The Morgan - a replica of a 72' 19th century vessel takes us into the Lake George Narrows where there are 165 Islands, many are available for summer camping. The Adirondack State park manages the bookings and has a ranger station on Glen Island.
The lake is frozen in winter.
Boat sheds dot the shoreline.

..With smart homes nearby. This is a holiday place for New Yorkers.
... And water falls pour down the rocks after the recent rain.
The lake water is very clear. It reminds me of Lake Wakatipu.

Great places for day picnicking.
It is Fathers' Day in the USA and there are lots of families out on the lake and on the islands.
This bay is has a long history of famous visitors. Thomas Jefferson among them.
Déjà vue. As we return to the dock an Earnslaw lookalike appears.
The Lac du Saint Sacrement steam ship built in 1908.
It is time to ride the winding roads along Lake George.
Picnic on the pier.

Over the bridge to Vergennes.
... Down the long driveway, through the forest....
...To our home for the night.
...a serene place on the shores of Lake Champlain.
...with a loving welcome from Danielle.
Peonies in the garden - Tight buds that burst forth into luscious bloom with a most delicate perfume.
This photo is for my sister, Yvonne, who shares my love of these blooms. They were our mother's favourite, too.
Flowers evoke memories for me. As we ride along it might be the delicate perfume of briar rose, or the myrtle, or honeysuckle.
Today the peonies kindle memories of a warm heart, a warm hearth, good food and above all our mother's love.

Day 42: Allentown PA to Bolton Landing NY 480km


Ladies in pink.

Cecile and Diane are in town for the vintage Mach truck fair. There are 800 Mach trucks at the show. They say I should go and see them...

... We say good bye and head east and then north. The road signs tell you where are.

Blue skies after a week of overcast weather.

Sunny smiles, too.
Christina made us the first cappuccino we have had in a while. She is coming to New Zealand one day.

We are in Newark, New Jersey. Not far from the Newark airport.

Not far from New York either. Times Square, New York is about 45 miles from this off ramp. The traffic is getting thicker but is well behaved.

From my perch high on the back of the bike I can see over the tops of cars. It is easy to read the traffic from here. The compression waves as someone speeds up and passes and then slows down causes a pulse in the traffic. My driver holds a steady speed and a good distance behind the vehicle in front and I can see that the cars behind us, in our lane, seem to mirror his behaviour. That feels good.

We are now in New. York state. Albany, Montreal and Buffalo ahead.

It can wait, text stop 5 miles.
What a good idea.
If you are caught three times texting while driving in New York state you lose your license.
Getting close to the hills.

Lake George is our destination. Both Lake George and Lake Champlain feature in the battles during the revolution in 1773.

Over the bridge...

...to the smart tent my driver has set up for tonight.

The moon lights up Lake George.
... And we sit around the campfire listening to folk music and toasting marshmallows on long bamboo poles.

I am shown how to squeeze my charred marshmallow between two graham crackers along with a piece of chocolate inside. Yikes, it's sweet.

Ever since our conversation with Ralph at Gettysburg I have been thinking about music. We talked about how importantant singing and music was in building togetherness in families and communities.

I will never forget the feeling of being at the Space Shuttle launch in 2010 when the crowd on the bleachers stood a few minutes before the launch and sang the American National anthem.

So was being at the Big Sing in the Auckland Town Hall when over a thousand high school voices sang the New Zealand National Anthem.

So was being at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo when 200 pipers came through the mist at the castle. I was moved to tears - My maternal pride and my Scottish heritage responded to the sound.

Those are big spine tingling moments...

...Memorable personal music moments for me are marked by a sense of listening, of being one voice; loving the sound; being touched by the spirit in the simple songs, of thinking of a song and someone begins to sing it, unbidden.

A real joy is seeing little ones freely singing. What happens as children get older?

It is as if a fox has stolen the joy of singing from the vineyard.

Singing is something we all can do. It is not about a performance by others.

It is about being together, listening, letting go and forgetting about ourselves.

I love to sing under the helmet on the bike.

Sometimes I am singing along to music. Three cheers for folk music.

Sometimes I respond in song to what I see.

Songs come, and go, and time flies and my hearts lifts.


Psalm 104:33

I will sing to the Lord all my life.

I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.



Sunday, 15 June 2014

Day 41: Gettysburg to Allentown via Lancaster county and the Amish. 210km

The road leads to Strasburg and Ronks and Paradise villages in Lancaster.

We are now in an Amish country. This post is especially for my dear friend Barbara.

We stop for a few hours and learn more about Amish society and the way faith, family, and community are tightly linked.

We stop at a touristic Amish Village, operated by Amish people, and take a bus tour with a guide.

Amish are anabaptists who believe in the baptism of adult believers. They were persecuted in Germany after the reformation in the 1500's. William Penn the Governor of Pennsylvania in the 17th century offered a haven with religious freedom. The Amish now number over 200,000 and are in 23 states of the USA and in Canada. Their population doubles every twenty years. Families have an average of 7 children.

Families are mainly involved in agriculture and cropping, and also in metal, carpentry and other trades. The farms we saw were all very lush and green. Vegetable gardens tended by the women are bountiful food baskets.

We saw people riding in buggies, on brightly coloured scooters (with two small cycle wheels and a wide foot platform, hopping into vehicles which are driven by English (everyone non Amish is English). A tractor with no rubber tyres was being used as a stationery engine. We stopped at a couple of stalls - Baked goods and a small horse and quilting stall. We were asked to avoid taking photographs of Amish people who consider photos to be graven images.

Little sheds near the road housed a telephone which was to be used for business calls.

Amish make decisions that will preserve their cultural cohesion. This involves keeping apart from the world in selected ways.

Separation from the world is based on

Romans 12:2

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Homes do not use electricity from the grid but generators and solar panels are used. Propane gas tanks are common and gas is used for cooking, lighting and heating.

The children are educated to grade 8 in one room schools. They are taught by young women who are themselves recent graduates. Children at Grade 8 are aged about 15. That was the legal school leaving age in NZ until about 20 years ago. It is now 16. Children speak Pennsylvanian Dutch at home and begin to learn English at age 6 when they start school. The classroom materials that I saw reminded me of the readers and arithmetic books that I used at school.

The schools are operated by parent groups who also worship together in house church every second Sunday. Cohesion of the society is maintained. Children are trained to stay in their community and about eighty percent choose to do so when they are adult.

In the Amish classroom - Traditions are stressed; as are cooperation and humility, group identity; believing; penmanship; learning is work; memorisation; truth is revealed in the Bible; the child is a future plain person with a soul. This contrasts with public schools where the emphasis is on the individual; schools are run by bureaucracies; favour critical thinking; embrace technology; stress questioning; downplay memorisation and see learning as fun.

Once young men join the church - after a period of 'running around' they may marry. They marry in their early 20s; the brides are younger. The men then grow a beard and wear straw hats. The women remove their white aprons and don a black apron. No jewellery is worn and hair is not cut from infancy.

Typical Amish households are identified by: washing out on a clothesline, a horse barn, a vegetable garden, green awnings, small windows, no flags. The houses are much the same as the other farm houses in the area.

Church services are held in homes very two weeks, wooden benches are shifted from venue to venue. The host family serves lunch to the twenty to thirty families that attend - food for up to 200 people. In the evening young people gather and sing and socialise as a group at the host family home. Alternate Sundays are for visiting. Social cohesion is paramount.

How different this life is compared with most of us whose families are spread far and wide. Urban living has changed the simple lifestyle that is very similar to the farm upbringing that Dick and I, and many New Zealanders, enjoyed. I went to school with cousins and knew everyone in the little country school and went to Sunday school with quite a few of them. Leaving home for further education or training changed me and my own family forever.


We had lunch at Katie's cafe which was operated by Amish.
There was at least a pound of meat, chicken and ham on this chef's salad.
Then it was back to the road and a long slow slog to Allentown.
My Sena intercom emitted a siren sound. I had ever heard it before. When we got to our hotel our phones had texts saying that there was a thunderstorm and flood warning. I am guessing that triggered the Sena. Smart Technology.
We have much to reflect on today.
There is a romantic appeal in the low tech life of the Amish.There is also the obvious strength in family closeness and community cohesion. Life and faith embedded in each other.