Posted by Katie
We just got Brendon’s blog set up so we can use it while we’re travelling to share our photos and let people know what we’re up to. Got a bit of catching up to do but future entries won’t be so long.
We’ve been in the states for nearly four weeks now and have spent most of our time in Columbia, Connecticut and Westerly, Rhode Island, with a few side-trips. It’s been so cool seeing where Brendon grew up – very different from my childhood in the ‘burbs – and checking out all his old haunts.
One of our first stops was Chang’s Garden at UConn for a round of zombies.
Then we went down to Westerly, Rhode Island. There are some pretty amazing houses along the water.
This was one of the more modest ones.
Westerly is really cute, it has some cool bars and restaurants and quite a few secondhand shops. My favourite was called ‘Mary D’s’. There were a few that were a little more thrown together – we stopped into one store that looked more like a Salvos where the guy behind the counter was smoking a cigarette and rocking out to ‘Rock & Roll Hoochy Koo’, he looked a little disappointed that we’d stopped in.
Crocodile Dundee still seems to be the main cultural reference point for Australia over here. Everyone keeps cracking jokes about it – ‘Crocodile Dundee eh girrrrl??’
This cat was hanging out in the window of Homespun Antiques.
We caught the train up to Boston and Cambridge for a couple of days to see Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine read from his new book ‘My Heart is an Idiot’. He looked exactly how I would never have expected him to – scally cap, chunky chain, basketball jersey and sipping on a Brooklyn Lager. He is also the only author I’ve ever heard of who brings a sword-swallower and DJ and rips shots at his readings. It was such a great night and we got to meet Davy and try to convince him to come and visit Australia. He seemed touched enough when we said we had come all the way from Connecticut to see him, let alone Sydney.
Davy read ‘Canada or Bust’.
Sword swallower Brett Loudermilk’s act culminated with him swallowing one of those long skinny balloons that clowns make poodles out of at kids’ parties. It kind of freaked me out.
Brendon also showed me around his old neighbourhood in Boston and we picked up burritos at Anna’s, Brendon’s main food source when he lived in America’s angriest city. Other favourite spots were The Sunset Bar & Grill, with 100+ beers on tap including the very excellent Jack’s Abby Smoked Maple Lager; Newbury St, where we found the closest thing yet to good coffee at Wired Puppy; Oona’s Experienced Clothing, where I found my new favourite jumper; The Miracle of Science, a science-themed bar near all the colleges; Veggie Galaxy, the most amazing vegan/vege diner you could possibly imagine; Leavitt-Peirce Tobacco, an old-fashioned smoke shop; The People’s Republik, a Soviet-themed bar where I got the strongest gin and tonic ever; and Cafe Algiers in Harvard Square for special mint tea.
We went past Brendon’s old apartment in Boston.
Leavitt-Peirce Tobacco had a beautiful window display that included a caution for the Freshman Smoker: ‘Remember – There is a cold grey dawn after every red hot night’.
We finally found some Vegemite in Cambridge – for the bargain price of $10.99 (yeah, we bought it anyway). Brendon’s family have been trying to get me to try a fluffernutter – but we’ve got them hooked on Vegemite on toast instead.
We spent a beery night with some of Brendon’s friends in Vernon, followed by breakfast at Rein’s, a Jewish deli. The food was amazing, lots of potatoes and kraut and cured meats. So many more things to try on our next visit.
I had my first Reuben – vege style. We also had a knish and potato pancakes with sour cream and apple. There’s a real pastrami Reuben in the background.
And now I can say I’ve seen the Statue of Liberty.
Since coming back to Columbia we’ve have been taking walks through the woods each day, checking out the foliage. The ‘Fall’ is pretty beautiful out here, despite the cutesy scarecrows and pumpkin paraphernalia that go along with it. Looks like America has found a way to pumpkinise pretty much everything. It keeps appearing in beer, popcorn, bagels, ‘coffee’, muffins, cocktails… anywhere except normal places like soup or on the side of a roast (though Brendo’s little brother has got me onto the Pumking beer from Southern Tier Brewing Co. and I’ll admit it goes down ok).
Pumpkins and scarecrows have overtaken Walmart.
We went walking in the woods behind Brendon’s parents’ place in Columbia and found little frogs and mushrooms, squirrels, turkeys and deer.
The trees are changing colour a little each day, it’s really cool to watch everything go from green to red. Most days it’s still warm and summery but the nights are starting to cool down as the leaves drop.