August 2007
August 10, 2007 GMT
The Paperwork

We had heard it said that you need to spend as long planning a trip like this as you intend to spend on it. If that were the case we were stuffed before we started. There was certainly a lot to do and no where near enough time to do it. Just working out how to get to the start and get home from the finish was a challenge.

I had frequent flyer points to use but there were no FF flights to London. New York looked good for a stop over and flights were available. We decided to take a few days off en route just to use the points.

Using the net, we booked some flights, enough to get us going, and some accommodation, enough to get us started. Our budget was already starting to creak and D Day was still weeks away.

A visit to the travel doctor was another round of financial misery. Fortunately we were given blood tests to determine our level anti-bodies for the common diseases. After years of traveling to “interesting” places, we had been inoculated so many times that we had immunity to EDKM, or at least the common strains, so we were spared the worst of the misery.

Nonetheless, two rounds of injections and funny tasting liquids left us out of pocket by hundreds of dollars. And that was just the beginning. Being of mature disposition, we both had to acquire enough drugs of various sorts to last a year or so (more money) along with a range of medical supplies sufficient for a small war. At this point it was as well that the kids had left home as we were looking for something of value to sell to pay down the credit card debt.

But it wasn’t finished. Dental checks, spare glasses, updated wills, overseas medical insurances, mail redirection, traveling cloths, GPS mapping and all sorts of other “special” purchases clicked over day by day. At this rate we would be broke before we started.

While we watched the money flow out, there was plenty to keep our mind occupied. Dozens of documents needed to be copied or scanned into the computer. Our “contacts” files were brought up to date, newspaper deliveries were stopped and all manner of services and insurances were suspended.

There were several meetings with the accountant and financial adviser during which we tried to convince ourselves that we could do this and not sentence ourselves to a life of penury. We developed a feeling that the adventure would not be pain free in the years to come but we put it out of our minds and pressed on. Sometimes you just have to do that.

When we started to eat out the larder and give away the meat from our freezer to neighbors, we knew we were close. Emptying our little swimming pool and making cotton drops to cover the doors and windows was another clue. But what sealed the thing was the morning, with just a day to go, that we pumped out our water bed and moved into the guest room.

Now this might seem like a small thing in the big scheme of things, but we had been very happy in this bend for nearly 20 years. It had always been a comfort and a sanctuary. Cozy and comfortable on a cold night and always welcoming after the shortest trip away, this was “our” personal space. Now it was gone. Our life had been simplified and disentangled from our world to the point that we were camping in our own home. It was time to go.

Posted by Mike Hannan at 01:18 AM GMT
August 30, 2007 GMT
New York

Finally we are away. First stop New York.

Having not given any particular thought to our few days stop over in New York, we arrived without any preconceptions and loved the place from the jump. This is our kind of village! It is big, rambunctious, smelly, crowded, cosmopolitan, decaying and exciting. Everything good, bad and indifferent is here and you would need to live here for a while to get a handle on all of the possibilities.

Empire State Bld fro TOR.JPG

Jo with the Empire State building in the background

I would come back for the pastrami sandwiches at Katz’s Delicatessen alone. Jo is fascinated by the architecture and wants to do a tour based on the amazing buildings, hopefully led by someone with some real knowledge. The Woolworths Building had us both fascinated with its great neo –gothic decoration complete with some excellent gargoyles.

Mike in front of Empire State Bld.JPG

Mike at the top of the Rockerfeller Centre

Next time we will stay further down town in Greenwich Village closer to the jazz and blues clubs and further away from the main terrorist tourist area of Times Square.

Jo buying a jacket in NY.JPG

Jo buying a down jacket at "Tent and Trail", the most crowded store ever!

Jo finds shoes in NY!.JPG

Shoe shopping in the fashion district.

My only real mission in NY was to visit the Guggenheim Museum. Unfortunately the Museum was closed on the first day we visited and the outside was covered with scaffolding. A second, rushed visit on departure day was needed to ensure I qualified to wear the shirt.

Mike in the Gugenheim.JPG

The Gugenheim building over powers the art inside.

My main interest here was the building itself. It is the work of Frank Lloyd Wright the great American architect. Wright designed this building late in life, in fact he did all of his great work after his 76th birthday. Our Ulysses Club friends will understand why I think this is important enough to mark with a visit!

Nre York Battery Park.JPG

Battery Park on a beautiful summers day.

Posted by Mike Hannan at 03:36 PM GMT

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