Saturday, February 10, 2007

Chinese Hospitality in New London

A long day today which brought with it a range of experiences. Someone told me before I first came to the US that I would see and hear things that I could never imagine ever existed. He was referring to things seen in stores and I guess he was right after spending a few hours at Tysons Corner. More shops there in one place than I have seen in a single collection anywhere. But you could not buy anything – as the colonel found out. He is a keen fly fisherman and wanted a specific type of fly but was not even able to find a fishing store in that complex, let alone a fly. So Tysons was not as big as its promoters wanted us to believe. But it was enormous. No question.

Anyway, spent the day sticking to the back woods roads having survived the night at West Point. I got away early, just as it was getting light. Today is a public holiday so there was very little traffic on the roads to start with. But as I went further east and as the roads got narrower and tighter the traffic got heavier and heavier. Soon I was crawling through tiny wooden towns in remote hills in bumper to bumper traffic. Thinking something amiss I tuned into the local radio station to find out what was going on. Eventually I heard the DJ welcome to the woods all the out of town “leaf peepers”. Of which I was one I realised.

And I have to say that the leaves were colours I have never seen before. Reds and oranges and yellows that simply don’t exist in Australia. Postcard stuff. I am not sure how the photos will come out but hopefully they do justice to the scenery. I remember seeing pictures like these scenes in books at school and some local wisdom assuring us that the tones and hues were achieved with filters. The colours seemed so improbable we were sure he was right. But today I can attest he was completely wrong. So two new things today – colours to defy the imagination and a label applied to me which I have never heard before.

There is little more to write about as most of the day was spent driving and looking. Stopped in a few small towns to get out of the traffic. Arrived in New London after dark and booked into the naval quarters. Not quite as flash as the Army puts up but who is complaining when the rates are so good. Went down to the local steak house, about the only thing open and discovered that dinner was served with a stripper. After dinner was served up! A bit unorthodox so left there and asked at the laundromat a few doors up where I might find somewhere to eat. The Chinese lady there told me everything nearby was closed but if I liked I could join her family for dinner. So I sat around the family table, in a room opening off the laundromat, and enjoyed a large feed of fried rice. And something which included cabbage. I have to say that this country is full of surprises. The warning that I would see and hear things I would never imagine possible seems to be a sound truism.

October 1989

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