It is more than a week ago now, that the A380 landed at LAX, two hours late. We had flown over the Channel Islands NP, and crossed the coast over Ventura. The flight path took us over greater LA, before heading back west to land on the east-west runway. Bonus was that we got a fantastic view of the spectacular Sierras, all covered in snow, and sparkling like diamonds on this clear spring morning. A wonderful welcome to North America.
My flight some hours later, to Philadelphia, via Atlanta, took us over the deserts of southern AZ and NM. As I sat there in amazement at the view below me, I kept snapping away with my camera to record this wonderful desert scenery. (The photos are nowhere near clear enough to publish.) Having always maintained that you don't see as much flying, as you do driving, I was left to eat my own words. This special area of the country, through which I have driven at least four times, looked so much more special from the air. I was able to pick out a few landmarks, in particular I-10, and if I had had a map with me, am sure I could have picked out many more. It was such a clear day, and the landscape was just spectacular.
Until I purchased my van, I had never heard of this place, but it will now forever hold a special place among my souvenirs. On my arrival I was met by my couchsurfing host, who together with his wife made me most welcome and comfortable. Much of my time there was spent resting and sleeping. Still we got in quite a few activities, and I had lots of opportunities to meet some of the locals.
On the day after my arrival (Wed), I was invited along to a Women's Business Forum, which was almost a full day, with many excellent speakers as well as a chance to see some of the products of local businesses. On Friday we went to Philadelphia, where a Doylestown artist, another couchsurfer, had organised a luncheon for the folks involved in Philadelphia Magic Gardens Project and the Clay Studio. This project was started by Lilly Yeh more than 25 years ago, and the luncheon was in her honour. It was great to walk through the project with her, and hear how things evolved, and why things are where they are. I need to learn a lot more about this project, which should be one of the attractions for Philadelphia. As it is, it is something which 95% of those visiting the city would never see, and I venture to say that many living in the city are not aware of it.
That evening I was invited to attend a dinner in a small cafe, with a showing of a documentary made by an elderly local film maker. Unfortunately he was not able to be present, due to ill health. The film told the story of Charles Eames, architect and furniture designer. I had heard of him. His furniture turns up from time to time, on the (British) Antique Roadshow - one of my favourite shows.
All these activities gave me great opportunities to get a real feel of what life is like, these days, in that little corner of the world.
After my day at the forum on Wednesday, I had made arrangements to pick up the vehicle I had purchased. I was not disappointed. It seems to be everything I had thought it would be. It is clean, runs well, and handles like the truck it is. My arms and shoulders are getting exercise like they have not had for a long time. I am slowly getting used to having a very short nose in front of me, and although its overall length is no longer than my Outback, there is a lot more vehicle behind me. It has a very large turning circle, so much so, that it is difficult to do a U turn. I have now taken to going round the block. And its width..... I shall have to get used to that soon. So far I have hit the kerb a few times, and knocked over some of those orange lane markers at construction sites. I am terrified that one day I will hit a vehicle, or side-swipe a parked car. Especially in the narrow winding streets of suburban Boston.
But there is much I really like. The large windows all around give fantastic vision, and the large side mirrors almost eliminate blind spots. It also has the small round extra mirror, which gives an even wider view. The three large windows have blinds, which look like they have never been used. And when I lay down the sofa/bed back seat, it looks like it will be big enough for me to sleep on. Am now having serious thoughts of leaving that seat in there, rather than replacing it with a mattress.
The vehicle searching/purchasing/registering thread can be found here.
The auto electrician
On the Thursday, I drove the car to West Chester, where Jerry, the auto electrician, installed an auxiliary battery for me. This is needed to make sure that when I run my fridge off the battery overnight, I will still be able to start the engine, the next day. Jerry did a wonderful job, even covering the battery with carpet to match the interior. The only thing he impressed on me is where the fuses are, and what they are for. The drive to West Chester had been quite traumatic, so rather than have me wait a couple of hours for him to do the work, Jerry had his wife take me out for a cup of tea and lunch.
Lunch was at one of those nice little old places that has been there for ever and a day. It too, is the sort of thing which should be among the 'attractions'. A real gem. The only place where I have been served a pot of tea with bone china cup and saucer. And all that for less than $3. The lunch was great as well, and just as reasonable. After lunch we called in at the AAA so that I could pick up the maps I am going to need over the next couple of weeks. And while there, took out a AAA membership. She was a great sales lady... and convinced me that I should have a premium membership. So now I'm all set up - to break down! lol