Townsville to Bristol and New York, USA; Liverpool, UK and Auckland, NZ
02 December 2011
Photo: Statue of Liberty, New York.
We left Townsville on a hot Wednesday morning, 26th November, and flew down to Brisbane for the night. Once we had checked into our hotel, we went for a long walk, knowing the next day we would be spending 20+ hours on planes. It was back on the train and out to the international airport the following day for a flight to Boston, USA via Auckland, Los Angeles and San Francisco, an unexpected stop as we didn’t realize when we booked the flight that it included a stop. All flights were on time with the only issue being the final flight from San Francisco to Boston on Untied Airlines, where we had expected an evening meal. Once on the plane we found a meal would be available but we had to pay for it, no issue except they ran out of food after only a third of the rows had been served and we were at the rear of the plane. So we were tired and hungry when Garry met us at Boston airport at nearly 1am Friday morning and we drove an hour south to Bristol, Rhode Island.
Bristol is a small, quiet, friendly, coastal town, with a population of about 22,000 and is home to the oldest 4th of July parade in the States. One of the things we noticed was all the houses are detached and a USA flag flies from nearly every house, letterbox and planter boxes. Our first day in Bristol, was spent recovering from the trip and going for a walk to get our bearings. The biggest shock was the temperature, we went from 30+ degrees C to 30 degrees F, we haven’t worn so many clothes for a long time. Friday evening we went to the local pub for dinner, the prices here are a lot cheaper than we expected. Being close to Halloween everywhere was decorated in preparation for Monday. Saturday it rained and we had a lazy day, catching up with Garry. Saturday night it snowed, not much but there was snow on the cars in the morning. All wrapped up we drove into Newport and went for a cliff top walk which runs along the front of some very large mansions. There is a lot of old money in this area and it can be seen in the buildings along with the heritage, many houses and buildings have signs on them stating when and by whom they were built. Monday we caught the bus into Newport and spent the day walking the old streets and wharfs which have lots of super yacht berths and storage yards. One of the customs in this area is that boats of all sizes are taken out of the water during the winter months, the boat shrink wrapped and then stored in a yard, usually only inches from its next door neighbor. Apparently Bristol looks very different from a couple of weeks ago when most boats were still in the water, winter has arrived and the boats are now out, grey squirrels can be seen in the gardens collecting nuts for the winter and the early snow has seen the local service teams out fixing heating systems. We spent the rest of the week walking the cycle track, visiting the Herreshoff Museum and exploring the local area on foot and using Garry’s car.
Friday we headed north with Garry for 5 days exploring the countryside. We spent the first two nights in Boothbay harbour. Winters here are cold and most of the towns and houses, including whole communities are closed. Some areas the houses have their water pipes drained, windows boarded up and roads closed, everywhere there are boats out of the water, shrink wrapped and parked on front lawns or commercial premises. Houses with piers’ bring the pontoons up onto land and take the ‘pier’ or walkway out of the water until next summer. The area has many peninsulas, lots of waterways and is very picturesque, you can certainly spend a lot of time exploring the area by land and water.
After 2 days exploring the Boothbay area, we headed west to the White Mountains and found great accommodation at the Nordic Resort, Mt Washington. It was essentially a town house with magnificent views of the mountains, a great place to hang out. Monday we walked from Pinkham Nook to the Tuckerman Ravine, 2.4 miles of rocks and snow. The scenery again was superb and the fact that a month ago we were walking in the Whitsundays in 30+ degree heat and were now walking in snow was not missed.
We returned to Bristol for 2 days, including playing a 9 hole golf course, before driving to New Haven and catching the train to New York. Our hotel was close to Time Square, Garry stayed 2 nights before heading back to Bristol for work, while we stayed a further 2 days before flying to London. Whilst in New York we caught the subway or walked for hours and took in all the major sites including: Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Staten Island, Brooklyn Bridge, United Nations, Ground Zero, Central Park and a Broadway show. New York is a fun place, very busy, tall buildings, with the exception of Central Park, not much greenery and the sun does not penetrate the tall buildings. We were happy to visit but not a place we would choose to live.
The flight to the UK was again on time, we arrived at London Heathrow 13:30, picked up the rental car and drove up to Liverpool. In Liverpool we stayed with Gail’s brother and sister in law, Phillip and Elaine, spending time with her parents, sister and visiting Sandra and Kevin, friends since teenage years. It was good to catch up with everyone and the weather was reasonably mild.
A week later saw us on NZ1 bound for home via Los Angeles, a long 24 hr flight. The weather in Auckland when we arrived was wet and windy but soon cleared to warm sunny days, it was good to be home after 9 months away, thanks to Damon and Jacs who have looked after the house for us and Dom who has kept the gardens looking good. We had a busy week, dinner with family and friends; walked around the waterfront to see the upgrade to Wynyard Wharf, very well done, went shopping and generally caught up on administration tasks.
We head back to Townsville Tuesday 6th December but will be home again early next year for an extended stay before we head further north into Asia.