Report US trip 9/5/1990 to 11/11/1990

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Oberglatt, 12-Nov-1990

It is a strange feeling to sit here in Switzerland in our cozy living room, seeing the snow covered fields and the sunbeams reaching through the clouds and to try to remember the last two months of your U.S.-trip. Going home was a kind of a shock. Even if the airplane transported our body from New York to Zürich in about seven hours, it took much longer for our thoughts. The first two days were like a dream, but then, with no warning, we suddenly felt home and the U.S. seemed far far away. Even if the memories are still clear and alive, it seems already a long time ago. It is strange and hard to describe ...

But let us try to go back to September 5th, the day we arrived in Merrimack. There, we received our last letters from friends and relatives sent to the U.S. There was also a letter from the company which organized the transportation of our Joker back to Europe. Since we knew now, that our car will leave the U.S. on October 8th, we were able to buy tickets for our flight back to Zürich. Beside the tickets, we also bought a big trunk to send the most valuable things (slides, books, souvenirs) to Switzerland by air. We spent the following weekend with Cheryl, Bill and Ray near mount Washington in a place called Bartlett. On Saturday, we had fun on a alpine slide and a nice dinner at our campfire. On Sunday, we climbed mount Kearsarge. From the summit, we had a gorgeous view into Maine and we could even recognize the Atlantic ocean in the far distance.

Kearsarge North Mountain, New Hampsire
Kearsarge North Mountain
Susanne on the Alpine slide in Bartlett
Alpine Slide at Bartlett
Reto, Susanne, Ray, Bill and Cheryl in Bartlett, New Hampsire
Reto, Susanne, Ray, Bill and Cheryl

After a last dinner with some of Reto's former fellow-workers, we headed southwards. Via the small states of Rhode Island and Connecticut, we reached Long Island, New York. We found a beautiful state park near Bethpage. We spent one day at the coast of Long Island where the water was still warm enough to take a swim. To our surprise, the water seemed very clean even if New York city was only a few miles away. On Saturday 09/15, we took the train into New York city. We met Cheryl and Bill for the last time. Together we visited the botanical garden and had dinner in china town. Also on Sunday we traveled into "big apple" by train. We joined a Harlem gospel tour. When we asked the taxi driver to drive us into Harlem, he said, that this would not be the appropriate place for us to be. But we didn't feel more insecure then anywhere else in NYC or any other town in- or outside the U.S. The service in the church was very beautiful and touching, even if it was completely different from what we are used to. From the heart of Harlem, we walked down into Central Park. For the last time, we strolled through this world famous park, watched the joggers, bikers, musicians, rollers and volleyball-players.

On 09/17, we continued our voyage to West Chester, Pennsylvania. The next day, we drove through the Dutch county, where - beside others - the Amish people live. Their ancestors came from German speaking parts of Europe (Dutch is the American version of the German word "Deutsch", meaning "German"). In Europe, these people where pursued because of their religion and found a new place to live in the more liberal state of Pennsylvania. Even today, the Amish people refuse to take advantage of modern technologies like cars, phones, radios, TVs or medical assistance. Their farms are easily to recognize because there are no electrical wires, no tractors and no cars. Instead, we saw horses, buggies and windmills. It was a very interesting experience.

Amish farm in Pennsylvania Dutch Country
Amish farm
Amish school house in Pennsylvania Dutch Country
Amish school house
Amish horse buggy in Pennsylvania Dutch Country
Amish horse buggy

On Thursday 09/20, we arrived in a place called College Park, Maryland. There we found the closest campground to Washington D.C. The next day, we visited the White House, joined a tour through the headquarters of the F.B.I, watched the Capitol from the top of the Washington monument and took a walk to Jefferson and the Vietnam monument. On Friday, we followed a tour through the Capitol. It felt special to be in a place where so many decisions were and will be made which not only influence the U.S, but also the whole world. Since this was a rainy day, it was perfectly suited to visit some of the museums. We started with the air and space museum where we saw three very interesting films about flying. The most beautiful film was the one we already had seen in Florida, showing our planet from the space shuttle. On Saturday, we visited the Theodore Roosevelt memorial and the Arlington national cemetery. In the afternoon, we strolled through the museum of natural history, which is so huge and diverse that it would take weeks to see all the exhibitions.

Jefferson Memorial at Washington D.C.
Jefferson Memorial
Vietnam Memorial at Washington D.C.
Vietnam Memorial
Lincoln Memorial at Washington D.C.
Lincoln Memorial
Susanne on the steps of Lincoln Memorial at Washington D.C.
Vietnam Memorial at Washington D.C.
Vietnam Memorial
Abraham Lincoln at Lincoln Memorial at Washington D.C.
Abraham Lincoln
White House at Washington D.C.
White House
Head quarter of the F.B.I. at Washington D.C.
Head quarter of the F.B.I.
Capitol at Washington D.C.
John F. Kennedy memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.
John F. Kennedy memorial at Arlington National Cemetery
Memorial of the Challanger astronauts at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.
Memorial of the Challenger astronauts at Arlington National Cemetery
Memorial of the unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.
Memorial of the unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery
Flyer of the Wright brothers at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C.
Flyer of the Wright brothers
Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of Saint Louis at National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C.
Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of Saint Louis
Rocket plane X15 at National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C.
Rocket plane X15

After three days in Washington D.C., we felt ready for a change. There was one more national park left on our list: Shenandoah national park in Virginia. Even if the leaves haven't yet started turning their colors, it was obvious that fall wasn't too far away. The sky was blue and clear and the temperature perfect. One more time, we attended a guided horse trip. We also drove the famous Blue Ridge parkway all the way down to the southern end of Shenandoah national park. We also undertook some shorter hikes. Shenandoah national park was very special since this park was not established to protect any extraordinary scenery or any particular animals or plants, but it was established to undo the damage the civilization had already done to this once unspoiled mountain ridge. The land was bought back from private owners and given to the national park service to establish a national park for the people at the east coast. When Shenandoah national park was established, there were no other national parks near the east coast and the idea of national parks was not very popular. Today, Shenandoah national park is a place where one can see how nature is able to recover from bad treatment if one stops it early enough.

Blue Ridge Highway at Shenandoah NP
Blue Ridge
Meadow at Shenandoah NP
Our "Jogi"
			 on the Blue Ridge Highway in Shenandoah NP
Our "Jogi" on the
Blue Ridge Highway
White Tail Deer at Shenandoah NP
White Tail Deer
Reto chips wood at Shenandoah NP
Let's start a fire ...
Susanne doing barbecue at Shenandoah NP
... for barbecue

We drove back to College park on 09/27 and spent two more days in the Capitol of the U.S. We visited the national museum of American history, the national gallery and the national zoo. In the zoo, we saw a beautiful white tiger and the lovely big panda, a gift from the Republic of China.

Then things started to go fast: On 09/30, we spent our last night in the Joker near West Chester, Pennsylvania. We spent the whole afternoon removing all our stuff from the car and packing our suitcases. Finally we had a backpack, two suitcases, the camera, the computer and Susanne's beauty case, which meant, each of us had to carry three pieces of luggage. The next day, we drove our Joker to Wilmington, Delaware, where we had to leave it on a huge parking lot. It was a strange feeling to see our Joker standing there with all doors unlocked and the key left in the ignition-switch. At least there where also some Jaguars and other fancy cars ...

The same day, we took the train to New York, where we spent the last night of our trip in the Holiday Inn at the John F. Kennedy airport. On October 2nd at 6pm, we boarded the Swissair Jumbo Jet and when the airplane climbed in the cloudless sky, we had the chance to take a last glimpse of the skyline of Manhattan and Long Island. Very soon, the sky was dark, only illumined by the full moon. Less than six hours later, the sun rose already again while we saw the lights of Paris below us. When we reached the border of Switzerland, clouds covered the land. Only a few peaks towered above the clouds and greeted us from far away. At 7am local time, the airplane dived into the clouds and just before touchdown, we saw the familiar small villages around the airport of Zürich. We passed the customs with no problems. Among the few people waiting for the home-comers were Susanne's parents. Reto's parents were on vacation and therefore it took two more weeks until we saw them. But anyway, there was a lot of hugging and kissing and even some tears ...

The next day, we started moving our furniture from Susanne's parents house to our new apartment, only 300 yards away. After two weeks, we where installed and Reto started working for his own company (TRAMsoft). Also Susanne started to look around for a new job. Even if Switzerland is short of teachers, it was not too easy to find a job because school had started two month ago. But soon she found a job in a village about 15 miles away. She will start teaching next Saturday (most schools in Zürich still run six days a week). Since we came back to Switzerland, we met a lot of our friends. It seems, in their eyes we are still the same ones. Also for ourselves, not too much has changed.

Reto and Susanne

But the trip was not yet complete: Our Joker was still on its way to Europe. On 11/08, we boarded the train to Emden, Germany, where we had to pick up our car. After a 14 hours train-ride (it takes the same amount of time to fly from Zürich to Los Angeles), we arrived in Emden. It was like seeing and old friend after a long time when we saw our Joker on the parking lot ! This time, almost nothing was taken from our car and it still run perfect. On the way back home, we stopped by at our friends near Munich and spent the weekend there. When we drove back to Oberglatt that Sunday, it was raining cats and dogs. No doubt, we were back in Switzerland ! When we arrived at home around 7:30 pm, the very last stage of our trip was over. After all, there is only one bad thing about this trip: The fact, that it is over now ...

This will complete our reports about our U.S.-trip. But before we end, let us add some statistical information:

Total mileage  . . . . . . . . . . . : 50'000 miles
Number of visited states . . . . . . :     44 (plus Washington D.C.)
Number of visited national parks . . :     40
Number of visited national monuments :     18
Approx. average costs per day. . . . :   $110 (everything included)

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Production note: Images have been taken as slides using a Minolta 7000AF camera with various Kodak films. Images have been digitized using a Canon Scanner and have been processed using Microsoft Image Composer.

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