Who are we

We are a family of 3 who took a break from our routine. Usually we live in Scotland but February to the end of July 2011 we were on the road in North America for 6 months. We are Mark (also known as Dad), Rachel (also known as Mum... and a whole bunch of other names... my usual at-home blog is here) and little h (10/11 years of age during the trip).

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Empire State

After Ohio we spent one hour in Pennsylvania (on highway 90 along Lake Erie for the most part). It probably wasn’t enough time to be able to judge a place and that’s just as well because we had one not very good meal (courtesy of the ‘Bob Evans’ chain) and an odd encounter in a convenience store car-park. Never mind we will be back in the state… later in the trip… though we will be coming at it from the other direction then. This time it was St. Patrick’s Day and the waitress in the Evans place seemed to take it personally that we weren’t decked out head-to-foot in shamrocks (“where’s your green?”). At least I think that was her problem. Anyway, we have included a few St. Patrick’s Day related photos in the slideshow below but we didn’t see any of the famous parades because they took place, for the main part, the Saturday before. We did see lots of flags and variations on the St Patrick’s Day novelty hat however… and Mark had a glass of the good stuff with his evening meal too. But then he often does that.

After our brief Pennsylvania pitstop we headed straight into New York State. I have to admit it felt quite exciting… and I particularly liked the fact that the first sign on the road in front of us said ‘Gay Road’ (out of focus photo though I’m afraid – not a good shot). It reminded me of a Jon Stewart line on his show the other week in his Rumsfeld interview (“Yes, on the coast, we just curse and have gay sex”). You had to be there…

Once in the Empire State we drove past Buffalo (so close to Niagara once again…) and then onto our place for the next couple of nights – Rochester. We’d picked it because it was the right kind of distance for one of our kind of days on the road and also because a couple of the attractions there looked interesting. They were and the Rochester NY stop was top quality - particularly thanks to the following highlights:

A walk along the Genesee river with the sunset to keep us company (it was a warm evening).

A lovely meal in a Cajun/blues restaurant called the Beale Street Café in the South Wedge area of the city (good atmosphere… friendly, laid-back, fun).

A trip to the George Eastman House/International Museum of Photography and Film. It had great exhibitions (including one of Civil War photography) as well as Eastman’s amazing house to explore (witness elephant head décor – used to be real, now a reproduction) and lots of information on the history of Eastman’s company Kodak and how popular access to photography funded a lot of Rochester’s expansion. Also, as is so often the case here, the staff were super-friendly. Good café too. And the picture at the top of this post is a computer-generated picture of Eastman made from all the photos in the gallery collection - visitors get permission to photograph that and the house (but no other photos on show).

A couple of walks through the East End area of the city – some beautiful, colourful houses of all sizes, tree-lined streets, all pretty gorgeous.

A trip to the Strong National Museum of Play (one of the best kids museum-type places I’ve ever been to - huge, spacious, heaps of fun, good diner inside… and a carousel). Luckily we caught the late-night opening of the Strong so we were there till closing time at 8pm on Friday night… which was lucky as there was so much to do. It was very varied and featured a great toy collection (witness the Ghandi doll!), a whole take-a-walk-down Sesame Street section, heaps of hands-on stuff (including a whole kids-size supermarket complete with working tills and barcodes!), books around all over the place, a superhero section, a ‘life in 1900’ section (with costumes), a map of the USA with toys. This list could run all day. I wish every city had a kids play place as fun as this one.

An interesting skyline - the odd building you'll see in the slideshow is the Times Square Building (and those pointy things the 'wings of progress' apparently...) but there is plenty of Kodak to see up there too.

Apparently Rochester comes high in lists of ‘good places to live in the US’, ‘good places to raise a family’ and all that kind of thing and that is easy to believe. It is a small, friendly city with lots going on and people from all over (plus someone actually said ‘Oy vey’ to me at one point - which I loved). Highly recommended.

And then we drove east again… starting to get dizzy…

Rochester, NY


hope said...

A town called "North Chill"? That makes "North, South Carolina" and "Due West, South Carolina" sound boring. :)

What a colorful trip you're taking! Oh, I want to go to the Play Museum! Maybe I could've talked the 11 yr. old nephew into moving slower there!

It's even more fun seeing America through your eyes..thank you!

Rachel Fox said...

It's North Chili... I think.

Just outside Boston now... phew!

The Bug said...

I have REALLY been enjoying these slide shows! Sorry you had a bad Bob Evans experience - we usually get good food & service there. And they have the BEST banana bread - yum!

Rachel Fox said...

It wasn't terrible, Bug, it just wasn't as good as all the other places.