The east coast post

We officially crossed the country when we arrived in New York City on July 28. All of the great museums, parks, and sightseeing opportunities aside, I think I was most excited to get a real bagel and good pizza. Despite the gourmet food and great local produce for which California is known, I haven’t had a good bagel or slice of thin-crust pizza in the 10 years I’ve lived in the Bay Area.

We managed to pack a lot of interesting sight-seeing and excellent eating in to 3 days. I’ll try not to bore with a long description of each place we visited, but needless to say we did a lot of walking despite the 90+ heat. We viewed the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry, walked around Ground Zero, visited the Guggenheim, and ate some great pizza at Villa Pizza. This place is a total hole in the wall but served up the perfect New York style pizza – crispy crust, sweet sauce and savory cheese. The next day we planned our sightseeing around the perfect bagel, which we found at Ess-a-Bagel. Chris didn’t believe that good bagels did not need to be toasted until we tucked into these exquisite doughy, soft bagels with the ultimate crispy outside. With very full stomachs we then wandered around Soho and Greenwich Village before visiting a the International Center for Photography. On our last day we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge followed by a bike ride through central park. On our way back from Central Park, we biked through Times Square (video available here), at this point pretty comfortable playing Frogger with the taxis, pedestrians, and various delivery trucks.

After the bustle and noise of the city, we then enjoyed a couple of very peaceful days in Brewster MA on the Cape, as well as time visiting family and friends in Boston and Concord MA.  We’re currently in Florida with Chris’s family and will be heading for the Mexican border at the beginning of September.  A couple of weeks in the same place should do us some good.

How many people could you fit in a Honda Element?

Family time in the midwest

Our trip across the US shifted from tourism to family visits as we entered the Midwest since Chris grew up in Wisconsin, and my parents are from Chicago and St Louis. These family visits gave us a nice reprise away from a diet of french fries and the benefit of sleeping in a bed.

We first stopped in Hayward Minnesota to visit with Chris’ grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousins. Hayward is a small farming town of 200 on the southern border of Minnesota. We were lucky to be there during Hayward Days, complete with a half marathon, live music, and 4×4 mud bogging. I think ‘mud bogging’ is best described as amateur monster trucks competing to complete a course of curves, mud filled ditches and small hills. We were tempted to drive our car through the mud bog as a warm-up for the jungle roads of South America, but didn’t want to show up all of the jacked up trucks on huge tires.

After a great weekend with the family in Minnesota, we continued on to Fredonia Wisconsin, a rural community north of Milwaukee. We enjoyed several days of sun, swimming, fireworks and rambunctious play with our niece and nephews who ranged from 4 to 8 years old, and relaxing evenings with cold beer, great food, and even greater company with Chris’ sister and brother-in-law.

Unfortunately we had to change our plans and head down to St Louis, as my grandmother passed away, not entirely unexpectedly. My grandmother, Alita, left behind her husband of 67 years, 2 sons, 5 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild. I will miss playing bridge with her, listening to her slightly off-color jokes, and hearing her stories about her world travels. After spending time with family in St Louis, we continued on to Chicago. Here we spent several days with my maternal grandmother Joan (who is pictured here), and my many aunts, uncles and cousins.

After leaving Chicago we spent a night in Ohio at my stepmother’s brother’s place on our way for New York City. I worry that after sleeping in comfortable beds and eating home-cooked meals for the last two weeks, it will be rough living on the road again. No matter, it has been great to spend time with family without worrying about getting back to work.

Fahrenwald homestead in South Dakota

We set off from Madison NE for Yankton SD a little bleary eyed from our previous evening. In 1868 my mother’s family, the Fahrenwalds, homesteaded a farm 9 miles north of Yankton, and sold the farm in 1906 to the Dahlerup family in order to move to Rapid City SD. My mother, who has done extensive genealogical research on our family over the course of 20 years, had previously contacted the Dahlerups to see if they had any information about the Fahrenwalds. They responded with lots of extremely useful information, and said that if we were ever in the area, we should stop by to see for ourselves. Fortuitously, Yankton was on the way from Denver to our next destination in Minnesota, so we arranged to meet them at their farm. Janet and Jason warmly greeted us with their two sons and showed us their property. Only two buildings remain from Fahrenwald times, a barn and a chicken coop, but it was interesting nonetheless to see the artifacts built by my great-great-great grandparents. Janet then gave us a tour of the local cemeteries to visit various relatives’ graves. Some of the older cemeteries were picturesquely situated on higher hills in the rolling South Dakota landscape, and the play of the wind across the golden wheat fields complimented the serene scene.