Tues. July 26, 2011:
On my fifth day in the States I finally got my Dunkin’ Donuts fix and it was so good. Breakfast was in general a very delicious ordeal because of the aforementioned key lime cheesecake. There is no better way to start the day than to wolf down key lime cheesecake and then scoop the excesss whipped cream off of it and into your Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (even though I had to repeat my order about 3 times, yeesh). It was a good thing that I had eaten so much. We drove to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania (we had stayed the night in Delaware, remember). The grounds were enormous! When I heard “gardens” I thought some flowers and some bushes, a bench and some trees. Not a transplanted forest, houses, a greenhouse a giant meadow and even banana plants! As well as a few treehouses spotted throughout, a tower and a man-made waterfall! There was a new feature being advertised, a green wall, covered in plants, so we went to check it out. It was a long narrow hallway that curved… and featured individual bathrooms. I wonder if the architect knew about this? We got there at about 9am and thought we would be safe sans-sunscreen, afterall, we were just visitng some gardens, how long could it take? Apparently really long. We were there until noon! Towards the end we were slowly snaking our way around the grounds, trying to hide under the little shade we could find. We should’ve down the forest walk last. There was a butterfly gorging itself on flowers, it did not care about how close I managed to get to it, it even readjusted itself and kept (what seemed like ) posing for me. In the morning I had grabbed a chocolate muffin from the hotel lobby, thinking I could munch on it later. Best idea ever. I had left it in the car, during a heat wave. So when we got back to the car, it was so warm and soft and smushy, it was like it had been freshly baked. Seriously, best idea ever. Sorry, of ever. Alas, it was not enough. I was still voraciously hungry. But it was a quick short drive along one road back down to Delaware.
Up next was the Winterthur Museum (same family as Longwood Gardens owner, different generation). And of course, the family still being insanely rich and all, this was also a giant property. It also took us almost 3 hours to get through. We only saw one floor of his 8-floor home (total collection consisted of more than 175,000 pieces of furniture, textiles, ceramics, etc…). They kept calling him a collector. I thought, more like a hoarder. If you have to add on three separate additions to your house to contain your collection, you have a hoarding problem. I can only imagine if we had gone through the whole collection. I would need to be wheeled out of there. The grounds were very scenic, some postcard scenes as well. Including (square?!) hay bales on a rolling hillside. At the end of it, we went to the café but alas, it appeared to be closed, so we remained hungry. We decided that we would stop somewhere along the way. We passed over a suspension bridge that was being painted and it smelled really bad, having to drive very slowly compounded the problem. We almost got busted by a cop for speeding, but he did not seem to notice or care. Of course there was a lot of “crap, crap crap crap!” preceding our unnoticed speeding. The “Murder Tour of the US” continued on this trip (previously we had passed over the Hudson River where it is said that the mafia dumped bodies, but I still have got to go over the actual bridge).We took the New Jersey turnpike! But I do not understand what all the fuss is about. One, there are no turns, two it is not seedy or scary (albeit we did not take it to NYC, so maybe that is why?). I saw a swamp and a lot of trees but no Jersey cows. How can it be? Driving through New Jersey and not a single Jersey cow to be seen?! There was a deer by the side of the highway, it was grazing. It made for a nice surprise, to see a deer that was not dead. It is amazing how long we drove for and not a single food establishment was passed. We ended up using the GPS to guide us to a Wendy’s… a Wendy’s that did not exist mind you. Thankfully (never thought I’d be saying this) there was a McDonald’s nearby. They have different nugget sauces in the States, more than just the sweet & sour and the BBQ. Even the BBQ sauce itself is different tasting, and they had it in a dispenser alongside the ketchup! Unheard of! While were enjoying our dinner I was staring out the window and I suddenly jumped back and screamed. Outside there was a bird just staring at me, it looked like a pigeon crossed with a seagull. Again my watching of The Birds one too many times came into play.
We drove to Cape May, NJ for a nice evening on the Jersey Shore! Well not really, this beach was much nicer than that. But the boardwalk?! More like a lane of asphalt. It was not even made of boards. We sat on the beach and looked at the really weird looking seagulls (they are meaner and have sharper beaks). There were also some regular seagulls, weird cross seagull-pigeons and regular pigeons all hanging out on the beach. We waded in to the water, but the waves were so big that they hit the bottom of my pants and almost totally soaked. I found some seashells that had been smoothed around the edges, which was nice because it did not cut up my fingers real bad. As we walked along the boardwalk we were accosted by a girl with a tray yelling something that sounded like “sampafuge” so we just walked away really quickly. Everything on the boardwalk was very overpriced and tacky, as one would expect. On our way back to the car we heard, “samapafuge! Sampafuge?” and we finally figured out what she was saying: “sample fudge?”. In her thick New Jersey accent, this girl was trying to offer us fudge samples. Albeit we realized this about two blocks later after repeatedly yelling “sampafuge” at each other. We got back to the car and realized it was already 7pm! And it was still insanely hot outside! The outside temperature (according to the car) was still in the low 30s (Celsius, not Fahrenheit, I will never convert)! We drove along the New Jersey Garden State Parkway which was really nice because of all the open-space views of the swamplands it afforded. Also the median between the two directions was a small forest so I did not have to watch other cars driving past, which is boring. Instead I got to play Where’s Waldo with cranes and herons instead.
Again in my series, you know you’re in the States when… you pass a sign for “Buffet of Buffets, 24 hour pass to 4 Buffets” (seen on way to Atlantic City). The sign for Atlantic City itself was no better; it (proudly) stated that Atlantic City is “always turned on.” The Trump Taj Mahal (where we were staying) was awesome. The boardwalk in Atlantic City was actually made of boards, a giant plus in my books. There were tacky booths & shops everywhere! The true marker of tackiness was also there, a Ripley’s museum. It reminded me of Fisherman’s Wharf, but with more bright lights and less food options. The prices were dirt cheap for food, but the food did not look appetizing whatsoever. We opted to get pizza from Sbarro (inside the hotel!) and garlic dipping sauce. The sauce was closer to a butter really, and it was gross. I watched America’s Got Talent but it just was not the same, no internet and no cell (did not want to pay roaming charges) meant no Tweeting. At one point I almost tried to write a Tweet in my travel diary. Afterwards we went downstairs to check out the casino and each decided to play $5. We were both up by $5 on a 25cent slot machine, but I continued and was down to about $4. I decided we should up the ante and play on the $1 machine where I won $10! Brent lost $5 and gave up. Then I played a 1 cent machine and it was confusing. I walked away thinking I had won $10, but had forgotten about the initial $5 I had spent to (confusingly) eventually get there. Regardless, I won.