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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

To the end of July

I am so behind with my blog that Mrs Mac will give me into trouble. There just always seems to be something else to do other than sit at my computer. I am behind on RISI, Bookmooch and Facebook as well.
Some interesting but useless facts:
1) It is not illegal to drive while using a mobile phone in the state of Maryland. Some of the bad driving you see because of this is unbelievable. The worst was one woman changing lanes at 60 miles per hour on the motorway, while using her mobile phone and eating a banana. She should have been in the circus ‘cause Goodness knows how she was steering the car.
2) The worst drivers are generally known to be Asian woman. There is a joking phrase of DWA – Driving while Asian – to describe bad driving. Not being racist as this joke was told to me by Kim who is Vietnamese!
3) It is perfectly legal to undertake on motorways and most major roads and is actively encouraged in the Highway code book.
4) It is not unusual for people to drink drive.
5) You also don’t usually lose your licence for drink driving as being able to drive is deemed necessary to carry out your work – even if you were caught steaming drunk behind the wheel.
6) Everyone thinks I am Irish when I first speak!

We just chilled on the Sunday after the Housewarming BBQ and went a gentle ride on our bikes along the canal path towards DC. Luckily we didn’t have too much tidying up to do, the joys of an outside party.

On Monday I was booked in for my first Dentist appointment with my new Dentist. It was just for a six month clean and check up. Poor Jar had to go as well for his ongoing Root canal and crown work! Even just for a cleanup I was in over an hour and I swear my teeth have never felt that clean. My gums and teeth were a bit sore after she had finished because of all the poking and prodding but it was well worth it. Had X rays taken as well. Luckily our dental insurance is very good so this standard clean and check up doesn’t cost any extra. Even with the best dental insurance, if I need a cap or new filling it will cost me about $500 with insurance paying about $600. Not sure how most people can afford to have such beautiful white teeth as they all seem to, perhaps they look after them so well from childhood because of the cost if something goes wrong. I have one heavily filled tooth that will need a cap in the next year but will put it off for a while.

Tuesday morning I was booked in for a free hour trial on the Pilates Machines at my gym. These look like torture machines but were very effective. Josie took me through the hour and it was so simple. Most of the resistance comes from the way you hold your own body. After an hour I really felt like my muscles had been worked. Not sure if I will use these again as they cost extra over the gym membership fee and are not particularly cheap for an hour session. I think I am getting a good enough workout from the free mat pilates and conditioning classes that I am doing so I can’t justify this extra cost. It was nice to give it a go though.
I then decided to spend the afternoon site-seeing. I had received a wee box of site-seeing cards as a housewarming gift from Vicky. These give you maps and a short walking tour description of various sites and areas around Washington DC. I had been meaning to have a look around an area called Dupont Circle but did not have a map before so had not plucked up the courage. I ended up doing 3 separate walking routes around Dupont Circle for a few hours, ending up in a book sale in a charity shop (as you do!!). Dupont Circle is only a few stops on the Metro line from Bethesda so it was very easy for me to get there.

Dupont Circle is a cosmopolitan part of DC with Victorian manses and row houses crowded in the Gilded age suburb. It houses a mixture of lawyers, diplomats, left wing activists and affluent gays. The area directly around the park in the circle is very Gay with gay influenced bars, bookshops and coffee shops. Seemingly it is a very happening place to visit for a night out and for something to eat. I just enjoyed myself following the walking tour on the cards. It even took you past the site of the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. Massachusetts Avenue is now home to a lot of Embassies and it has a feel of London about it. The architecture is very similar and the wealth of the buildings reminds me of the more affluent parts of London – Knightsbridge etc. Around the park reminded me of Covent Garden in part. I sat in the park reading for a while just lapping up the varied cultures around me – due in part I am sure to some of the lesser known embassy buildings.

The rest of the week went in the usual activities. Then the weekend and our camping and Kayaking trip to Harpers Ferry. We drove up on the Friday to a spot by the Shenandoah river. We had got a permit to do some remote camping just beside the river. No facilities and no other people. It was lovely just setting up as the sun went down over the river and then gathering wood to light a bonfire to sit around chatting and having a glass of red wine. It all would have been perfect if not for the freight train track that ran just behind the location! The trains ran all night and all weekend so sleep did not come easily if at all. While it didn’t ruin our weekend and experience it certainly took the shine off it somewhat. We were so tired on the Saturday morning that we were bickering all the way to River riders to do our Kayaking trip. Anyway we got to River riders and after much waiting about for them to get organized we climbed aboard the school bus – and it was the old yellow type you see on American movies and tv programmes so I was quite excited. We were on a guided Kayaking trip down the Shenandoah river and there were about 10 people on the trip and a couple of Rafts following with some other groups on them. It was hard work getting the hang of paddling and keeping up right and keeping in a straight line but we both managed to get the hang of it quite well. We just tootled down the river until we reached some of the white water area. Jar ended up going down first and he fell in, so when I came down about third all I could see was Jar attached to the end of a rope being pulled out the water. I was killing myself laughing ‘cause I knew how annoyed he would be at falling in. Anyway he saw the funny side of it himself and we continued on. We went through a couple of more white water areas. I could call them rapids but they weren’t as dramatic as that makes out. I had bought a waterproof camera and have taken some photos but need to send it away to get it developed and put on a disc. I will post them on facebook with the link here in a couple of weeks. Here are some other photos from our trip.

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=128733&id=626078744&l=1b5aedf161

On Saturday night we drove into Harpers Ferry for some dinner and ended up staying for some live Irish and Scottish Music that was on in the pub before heading back to the tent for another bonfire and night of Freight trains.

Sunday we went out on our mountain bikes into Harpers Ferry and along the C & O Canal for part of the Appalachian trail. We were both tired so didn’t go very far before heading back for some ice cream and frech lemonade – delicious.
We then decided to drive to Charlestown WV after packing up camp. We ended up at Charlestown races and slots. This is a horse race course and gambling place (like in Vegas) with lots of slot machines. West Virginia is, obviously, one of the few states in the US where gambling is legal. We didn't stay long just had a look say one race and then headed down the road to home.

By this time we were very dirty and very tired. Remember we had not facilities so to wash we had to go into the river and do as best as we could. It was very refreshing but just didn’t get you as clean as a proper shower. Once we got home we both had lovely very hot showers to power some of the ground in grime off us. Don’t get me wrong it is lovely being at one with nature but it is equally nice to be able to get home to a shower.

Well that is the end of another week with me packing away the camping gear and getting myself ready for a few days at the beach with my friend Vicky but that can be for the next blog.

Hope you are all well. Xx

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