Last days of summer

New York recedes into the haze as we head up I95 towards Connecticut to meet David and Elaine. We met them in Durango, Colorado, a couple of months ago, while they were riding their Harley Davidson and invited us to visit them when we passed through New York. They kindly wait for us, just off I95 and we follow them to their lovely house, after riding some twists and turns between New York and Connecticut. A huge lunch, with other family members follows, it is great to catch up again.

Following David through Greenwich to their home for lunch

Following David through Greenwich to their home for lunch

Elaine and David in  Greenwich, Connecticut

Elaine and David in Greenwich, Connecticut


David showing us our way back to the main road

David showing us our way back to the main road

With Montreal as our final destination for shipping the motorbikes back to our starting point in England and 6 days to get there, we have decided that our route will be shaped by completing a visit to the remaining states in the USA we have not visited since we first came here in 1980. Namely Rhode Island, Maine, and for me, New Hampshire. This will take us in a loop through New England, but we must remember we need to be out of the USA by the 6th of September, 90 days after we arrived in Texas and the end of our visa, or we become illegals and may get on Donald Trumps’ radar. Amazing how Donald Trump has so dominated the airwaves here in the US, that he now starts to do the same in our blog. No more Trump references from me.

While summer is supposed to be winding down to be replaced by the Fall, we are subject to 90 degree fahrenheit, 32 degree celsius days. We are not complaining, the weather forecast for the remainder of our time in North America is dry sunny weather. These are lazy end of summer days as both our journey and the summer come to an end, we feel we are winding down. Such mixed thoughts, no more riding, great to see family and friends again in Europe, what will we do next, how will our followers survive without their regular fix? We mull these questions over in our minds as we ride, no answers yet, but it will all work itself out.

New England, the town names say it all; Norwich, Coventry, Bristol, Portsmouth we see signs for familiar towns we know, but jumbled up in a manner we do not recognise. I guess someone from here would say the same thing about town locations in the UK.

First stop on our loop is Mystic, a small seaport in the State of Connecticut and home to Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea. This museum was founded in 1929 as has developed over time into America’s largest nautical museum which recreates the era from the 19th century of wooden sailing ships. The village has a number of operational workshops and other cleverly constructed historic buildings housing various museums. The inclusion of a working dockyard for the repair of wooden ships which one is allowed to wander in freely adds to the interest.

Mystic Seaport, Connecticut

Mystic Seaport, Connecticut


Lumberyard at Mystic Seaport

Lumberyard at Mystic Seaport


Annie, a sandbagger sloop built in 1880

Annie, a sandbagger sloop built in 1880


We spent time on the Charles W. Morgan, the last surviving wooden whaling ship in the world that has been fully restored, watching a reenactment of how they launched the small boats that undertook whale hunting. The recreations of working life add another dimension to this museum. Well worth the time we spent here.
Enjoying time on the Charles W Morgan at Mystic Seaport

Enjoying time on the Charles W Morgan at Mystic Seaport


Buzzards Bay lift bridge over the Cape Cod canal

Buzzards Bay lift bridge over the Cape Cod canal


West Yarmouth on Cape Cod is as far east as we will travel in the USA. To stand at the edge of the Atlantic ocean staring east towards Europe is a great feeling knowing how much we have covered to get here. We try to test the waters temperature and keep our feet dry, but alas we have as much luck as King Canute did all those centuries ago.
West Yarmouth, Massachusetts

West Yarmouth, Massachusetts


Woohoo, we've made it to the Atlantic

Woohoo, we’ve made it to the Atlantic


Lobsters and Lighthouses, we are in Maine, all 50 States in the bag, only taken 35 years to get to every one. Along the seashore at York Beach to Nubble Lighthouse and Fox’s Lobster House restaurant which has been serving lobsters boiled the “old fashioned way” in their lobster pound since opening in 1966. Had to try and they were great!
Boiled lobster at Fox Lobster, Cape Neddick Nubble, Maine

Boiled lobster at Fox Lobster, Cape Neddick Nubble, Maine


At York harbour, Maine

At York harbour, Maine


Coffee and Concord, state capital of New Hampshire, we meet locals Mike and Joe. Over the past few weeks, we have often spent more time chatting to locals than we have riding. Here, we first meet Joe, the electrician helping his sister-in-law Buffy. On our return from coffee, we Meet Mike the journalist near our bikes. Joe comes out and jokes about us still being here, we introduce the 2 locals to each other and chat some more, about politics. It was lovely to look back in our mirrors as we left and still see them chatting to each other. We have made connections, and it is great to connect other people. On to New London in Vermont for lunch, then Montpelier state capital of Vermont. Each town linked by the rolling forests. So many shades and hues of green, punctuated by yellow signs warning of bears, moose, deer and turtles crossing. Turtles crossing? Yes as you approach lake Champlain, its turtles. I hope I could at least avoid those, not sure about the larger animals, but luckily our guardian angels have kept them out of our way on this journey.

Montpellier capitol, Vermont

Montpellier capitol, Vermont

Our UK number plates attract the interest of Tom, who invites us to join him and his wife Elaine for dinner. We spend our last night in the USA being taken out, a great way to end this portion of the trip and again shows kindness of strangers we have seen all throughout our journey. It confirms our belief that the world is mostly filled with good people.

On a ferry  crossing from Vermont to New York

On a ferry crossing from Vermont to New York


Karen and Tom

Karen and Tom


Over the border to Canada, our 34th country on the trip, and the quickest border crossing on our entire journey, we are almost finished. Riding through Quebec towards Montreal, we are almost done.

– Anthony

Double celebrations in New York

Yes, we have made it into New York!!!!! Over 14 months since we left and over 50,000kms. When our trip to Australia turned into a round the world trip because we couldn’t take motorcycles into Australia (thanks to Australia’s protectionist laws), I had this vision of finishing our trip by riding into New York from the grand old Brooklyn Bridge.

We cross 2 bridges before getting to the Brooklyn bridge, with the Big Apple skyline gradually getting closer. Spotting the Statue of Liberty, a tiny but distinctive figure in the distance to my left, is so exciting. You will see from the photos how I don’t need much to be super excited about something – see if you can see what I saw!!! After stopping at Louis Valentino Jr Park for a mandatory photo opportunity (I thought it would be a more private spot than the better known but busy Battery Park), we finally ride across the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge. We had been feeling a little flat of late, confused about how we felt about the trip coming to an end, how returning to ‘normal life’ will feel like, how we will relate to our friends and family and home, riding into New York was a special moment, especially for me and I let out quite a few exclamations!! That felt very very special.

Goethals bridge

Goethals bridge

Verrazano Bridge

Verrazano Bridge

My first glimpse of the New York skyline!!

My first glimpse of the New York skyline!!

My first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty!!!

My first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty!!!

We're getting closer!!!

We’re getting closer!!!

We have made it to New York!!!

We have made it to New York!!!

Looking through some old photos a few days ago, I came across a couple we took on our very first day. Oh my goodness. I felt like I was looking at someone else: this person in the photo had no idea what she was embarking on!!! I laughed to myself. That was no longer me. I feel so much richer and so much more complete. It is hard to describe…

What a feeling - we made it,  after 14 months and over 50,000kms and countless memories

What a feeling – we made it, after 14 months and over 50,000kms and countless memories

Riding across Brooklyn bridge, New York!!

Riding across Brooklyn bridge, New York!!

Riding across Brooklyn bridge

Riding across Brooklyn bridge

Streak and Storm have made it to New York

Streak and Storm have made it to New York


We have been to New York many times before, I have held many exhibitions there, we have friends there now so we decided to stay just a couple of days. We also timed our arrival so that we could spend our anniversary there. A double celebration in effect.

After checking into our hotel and parking our bikes, it’s time for me to write and publish my next blog on our stay in Philadelphia and Princeton and download all the photos I took on the way over (and I took many!!). Then it occurred to me that our arrival in New York only required a single photo. Pressure is off, my job is done, Anthony has a snooze while I go for a walk along the High Line – an elevated park along a disused portion of an old elevated railroad line that was originally built to remove freight from New York streets due to too many accidents. I love so many features of this park: the plants carefully chosen for this park to resemble the grasses and wildflowers that normally grow along disused railroad tracks, lots of benches, some tucked away for privacy, a section of lawn where people just stretched out and enjoyed the warm sun, and an ‘urban theatre’ over 10th Avenue providing urban interesting view. (Check out Wikipedia for the fascinating history of the High Line at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Line_(New_York_City)

New York city

New York city


High Line park, New York

High Line park, New York


The first evening, we catch up with Suzun whom I met on my first business trip 10 years ago – she had been so welcoming and so helpful, we quickly developed a friendship and it seemed important to finish our trip and celebrate with her. Suzun picked the venue – Ladurée, no less!! Anthony decides a bottle of Piper-Heidsieck is appropriate for the occasion (all my friends know I only drink real champagne and Piper is an old favourite). It is a wonderful evening, sitting in the outside courtyard, amongst trees, a simple yet delicious dinner. Thank you Suzun for being part of our celebration.
Anne with Suzun, New York at Ladurée restaurant

Anne with Suzun, New York at Ladurée restaurant

Anthony and Suzun in New York

Anthony and Suzun in New York

The view from our hotel room in New York City!!

The view from our hotel room in New York City!!

The next day, 31st August, is our anniversary – we have always celebrated the day we met, 41 years ago today!! After doing our hand washing, we go for a walk on the High Line towards the new Whitney museum, then have a snack for lunch at a French café before visiting a dermatologist. Poor Anthony has been suffering from the most irritating, distracting and even quite distressing itching, all over his body, for the past 6 weeks, with the last couple of weeks being quite unbearable for him. We went to 2 urgent care clinics over that time, he was put on a course of prednisone which gave some relief for a time and the last doctor recommended he see a dermatologist for a biopsy, telling us she thought it might an auto-immune disease. Today is such a relief in many ways: not only is he seeing a specialist, she is certain it is not an auto-immune problem, but a reaction to an insect bite which got infected and she doesn’t see the need for a biopsy!!! Another mega course of the corticosteroid for 10 days with some anti-histamine spray should get him relief pretty soon and he will get over this. That was the best part of our anniversary!!!!

The High Line and 'urban theatre' in New York City

The High Line and ‘urban theatre’ in New York City


As always when in New York, we walked and walked. I do love the architecture there and noticing all the little quirks in what feels like distinct different villages within New York. As usual, I notice the graffiti artwork. But it dawns on me that this visit feels very different. I have always loved New York. Loved the buzz. Probably because I was excited about the exhibition I was preparing or holding. This time, I feel disconnected with the city. I had planned on visiting the Whitney museum and visiting the Freedom tower and surrounding area. They don’t matter to me today. I have changed… And it is more important to spend time together on our anniversary. The Whitney will be there next time I visit New York.
New York City

New York City

New York City

New York City


Back to our hotel for a rest, download my photos, a shower and a change, a free drink on our roof top terrace, enjoying the sky scape and we head to our friends Judy and John for dinner out. We are a little early so enjoy a walk in Central Park. What incredible vision back in the 1850’s to dedicate such a massive area (843 acres) in the centre of New York. It is a truly beautiful park and great to see so many people walking, running, and generally keeping fit or simply enjoying a quiet moment on a bench. I met Judy and John years ago, through one of my exhibitions in New York – Judy has been dealing in Vietnamese art for the past 20 years and was exhibiting at the same fair as me and the 4 of us have since always enjoyed each other’s company. We go to a lovely restaurant in Central Park, just across the road from their apartment and spend a lovely evening catching up.
View from our hotel room in New York City

View from our hotel room in New York City

Judy and John in New York

Judy and John in New York

The next morning, 1st September, we ride out of New York. Anthony has got some relief from his itching so is able to enjoy the ride out more than our arrival. We are heading to Connecticut to see some friends for lunch and will be taking the FDR, so we end up riding through more of the city centre. How special to ride past the Bryant Park subway exit, opposite the distinctive Grace building, which we first emerged from on our first visit to New York in 1980.

Riding past Bryant subway station, New York - what a feeling

Riding past Bryant subway station, New York – what a feeling

We would never have imagined we would have ridden past that point 35 years later, having just about finished a round the world motorcycle trip. That is a special moment!!! We both feel good.

– Anne

Friends & family in Philadelphia & Princeton

Wednesday is a great day: yesterday’s MSG induced migraine is over and we are riding through Washington DC to head to Philadelphia. The air is crisp, the sky deep blue, my head clear as crystal, the traffic is light and easy. It is my turn today to see a bit of DC. We ride past the Pentagon, over the Potomac, past Lincoln’s Memorial, run parallel to the Reflecting Pool, get a fleeting glimpse of the White House, ride along imposing National Archives buildings and get close to the Capitol. We have visited Washington many times before over the years, but have usually spent our time visiting most museums. Today is different. We are slipping through, as part of our round the world tour. Time is running out. A few months ago, we would have stayed another day. We no longer have that luxury. But it is still perfect. It still feels special to ride through DC.

Crossing the Potomac towards Lincoln's Memorial

Crossing the Potomac towards Lincoln’s Memorial

Riding out of DC past the Capitol

Riding out of DC past the Capitol


Our next stop is Philadelphia. On our way, we clock over 50,000kms since we left the UK 14 months ago! We have started to feel confused about how we feel about the end of our trip and when I notice my odometer clicking over this milestone, this lump in my throat suddenly came from nowhere and takes me by surprise. Yes, it was suddenly a little emotional, realising what we had done this past year. We are on a major road at the time, no place to pull over. A drive by video and photo will have to do.
Our first New York sign - we're definitely getting closer!

Our first New York sign – we’re definitely getting closer!

Celebrating reaching 50,000kms on our way to Philadelphia

Celebrating reaching 50,000kms on our way to Philadelphia


Why Philadelphia? For one very special reason: to see Oliya and her kids Sabina and Samir, whom we met in Uzbekistan just over a year ago in Samarkand at her father Jamkur’s home. Oliya has lived in the US for the past 6 years and was visiting her family during her kids’ summer holiday when we met them. Oliya’s sister Aziza, who we met first at a restaurant in Samarkand, and I have stayed in touch ever since through WhatsApp. Aziza and Oliya’s father Jamkur’s parting comment to us when we left has stayed with us ever since: “part of my heart goes with you”. Seeing Oliya, Sabina and Samir again outside Philadelphia was wonderful. The welcome they gave us was so heart warming. And what a feast we had. Oliya remembered that we had enjoyed her father’s plov – a typical Uzbek meal. After dinner, we skyped home in Samarkand. The line was terrible, we couldn’t understand what they were saying, the image was constantly frozen and blurry, but we did see everyone. The image of Jamkur with a beaming smile and doing a heart sign with his hands was so special. We are so glad we stopped over to see Oliya, Sabina and Samir. We were lucky to finally meet Oliya’s husband Parviz who came home early from his evening shift to meet us. It is hard to hear how difficult it is for them as a new immigrant family with limited English. Parviz used to be a lawyer in Uzbekistan but has not been able to get a comparable position here because of his level of English which is so tough for him. But both Oliya and Parviz are doing all they can to give their children a better chance in life while also supporting their family back home. I wish people who complain about too many immigrants or refugees could spend a bit of time with them and hear their stories… Leaving your home and families is never easy (we know, and it was our choice!) and sadly many have no other option. We feel for them… It is like time time stands sill for us while we are there, somehow, we get to do so much in an afternoon/evening: Anthony plays Monopoly with Samir, I go for a walk with the Olya and Sabina, I meet the Russian grandmother whom Oliya looks after every week end, we enjoy Oliya’s feast, we all play cards, we chat while we do the washing up, we reminisce about our gatecrashing that wedding in Samarkand, we laugh – we are so glad we are here. The next morning, Oliya prepares a huge cooked breakfast for us: she managed to start a little later this morning – she normally starts at the kindergarten at 7am but is starting at 9 today so that she can spend a bit more time with us. There is no greater gift than unconditional love and friendship and this is what this beautiful family has given us. After Oliya leaves, we spend a bit more time with Sabina and Samir before we head off too.
Samir, Oliya and Sabina (with Lucky)

Samir, Oliya and Sabina (with Lucky)

Samir and Anthony playing Monopoly

Samir and Anthony playing Monopoly


Samir wants to take Anne for a ride

Samir wants to take Anne for a ride


We are now headed for Princeton, to see one of Anthony’s cousins Inger and her husband Steve who have been here for the past year. We last saw them briefly in Melbourne just before we left Australia nearly 2 years ago (already?!). It is good to see family again. And it is a good time for us to catch up on family news and clean our air filters (we did an oil change just outside Philadelphia), give our jackets their first wash in 3 months, catch up with laundry, and catch up on our blog writing. And eat some delicious and healthy meals. The food we have been eating while in the US, apart from when we have visited friends, has been pretty bad really. We have never been to Princeton before and can see why it has such a reputation. It is a beautiful place, with lovely old houses, stunning university buildings. With its university which was established in 1736, it has a vibrant and cosmopolitan feel.
Steve, Inger and Anthony

Steve, Inger and Anthony

It has been a lovely place to stop for a couple of nights and great to see family, thanks Inger and Steve, before heading into New York City tomorrow!!!!

– Anne