USA trip, May - June 1999

Jules has lots more pics of our New York visit.

You'll find the links on her index page.

By our modest standards, and taking our combined ages of 167 years into consideration, our trip to America was an AWESOME success.

Without any mishap we travelled nearly 30 000 km: Johannesburg - New York - Vancouver - Denver - New York - Johannesburg and home again. Carl had had the idea to invite us into his comfortable home where we stayed three weeks. He also first suggested that Jules should join us from Australia. So she was there most of the time. Of course, we saw a lot of Zak, Amiel and Lybi and a number of friends in and around New York, also. Five days on Vancouver Island with Frances and John Dawson and three days with Carol Boyd in Denver rounded off a month of renewed human contacts and a fresh appreciation of America. THANK YOU ALL for what you did for us.

Technically I continue to be unashamedly impressed by jet-airtravel despite hardships, jet-lag and many previous inter-continental flights. This struck me again when I woke up in the middle of the night in the main-deck centre cabin of the Boeing 747 which carried us to New York. The dim cabin lights showed me that Jessie was fast asleep in her comfortable business-class seat, as were all the other passengers. So I got up to stretch my legs. I walked down the aisle and found that even the cabin staff, usually chattering away in the galley, had nodded off in their jump seats.

It was eerie. Perhaps the pilot was also taking a nap? The hissing of the airconditionoing system was the only noise which suggested that somebody was possibly looking after things. There were no vibrations or other indications that this huge aircraft was not stationary, but hurtling through the sky with 300 odd passengers aboard, 37000 feet up, at almost the speed of sound. We landed on time at JFK, NY and were soon greeted by Carl.

The days in the leafy Mount Vernon and greater New York were most precious through being together with Jules and Carl. Both were working in their respective jobs while we were there. So, the "quality time" I got from them - the odd conversations and exchanges of views and memories - was doubly valuable. Julia, amazingly, dealt with her clients in Sydney, Australia, via her laptop and the Internet. Carl's laptop and his three telephones kept him in touch with his business, augmented by day and even overnight airtravels to other cities. Even outside the supermarket or driving in the car, he was on the cellphone to guide and cajole the members of his unit. A conference call with one of them in California and the other in Chicago was par for the course.

On our visit last year we first appreciated the scenery, the flora and life in the tri-state area around New York. This time, sadly, Colleen was no longer with us, but Carl's persistant gardening made the place bursting with blossoms in late spring and served us his own freshly picked strawberries. We also had many lekker meals and braais together. We saw some more of the coast, Mystic Port with ancient ships, and the green-ness of the rolling hills throughout the semi-urban vast surroundings of greater New York. There were some cool days, but mostly it was warm to hot, to even muggy.

Some of the memorable happenings were -
It took us a day's flying via Denver, and change to a Beechcraft 18 seater across the water, to reach Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Frances and John welcomed us warmly into their new home some months after they moved there from Toronto. Their road is aptly named Overlook Drive. From their house, a few minutes' walk from the water's edge, you look down on an appreciable tidal pool that empties and fills every six hours from the vast waters that separate the island from the mainland. Ferries are crossing, snow mountains are visible both on the island and mainland. Dense forests reach down to the shore. It was cool to cold, and rainier than New York.

Leelah and John jr and family came visiting. John took me to a PRO(fessional)BUS(iness) lunch. It was an interesting presentation about Canada's mineral wealth and the conflict between exploitation and the ecology. Drives, north, half-way up the island, took us to a National Park Forest (800 year old tree, 90m high), and south, to the impressive capital, Victoria. We wished we could have stayed longer.

Carol Boyd met us at Denver airport. She was also at our Golden Wedding and last hosted us in Princeton. She moved to Superior over a year ago, halfway between Denver and Boulder. The snow-clad Rockies are the background to this vast semi-urban area, normally subject to drought, but presently at its best with spring flowers and green lawns everywhere. Carol, tirelessly took us everywhere to let us appreciate this part of America: to a walk in the foothills of the Rockies, to the unique Toulouse Lautrec exhibition in Denver, and to the amazing Butterfly Museum. (You walk into a sizeable hot-house where colourful butterflies are released twice daily, flown in from all over the world.) Judging by the development, a second Silicon Valley is being created here, supported by Boulder University. Walking about the town mall, made me think of Stellenbosch with its mountain background and student population.

On our long trek home we spent a short night once more with Carl. To our joy, he met us at LaGuardia with Marc. Until 2 am we heard the great story of his drive with his three pals through the States and Canada. Lindsay, smiling as always, kindly met us at Cape Town airport and took us home. We unlocked the door and found our home as we had left it a month earlier. The sun shone...

Hans Middelmann

Back | Jupacami Family Home Page