Category Archives: Budget travel

Planes and Shuttles in D.C.

This post may be a little all over the place. I’m sick and have foggy brain and have therefore decided that spending my time blogging whilst simultaneously attempting to do some sort of festive Christmas design on my nails is a good idea. Especially given my distinct lack of artistic talent.

My mother and Step Father were in town a few weeks ago for my wedding. My father is obsessed with planes. My father-in-law is obsessed with planes. My now husband is obsessed with Space. The only logical conclusions were a family trip to Dayton or a family trip to DC to visit an air and space museum.

For my stepmother and me, the choice was easy. So we loaded up the car and we went to DC. Specifically to the National Air and Space Museum, because really, what else in DC is worth driving 7 hours each way for an overnight trip?

The museum was actually better than I expected. Much better. Probably something to do with the fact that this country is the country of NASA or something.

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The entire things was a giant hanger. It looked really impressive. it was basically divided into three wings (or whatever they are known as in hangers). One wing was commercial aviation, one was military and one was space.

ImageIt really interested me how the different planes seemed to have ways of giving them character, almost making them fun, a direct contrast of the brutal realities of the wars.

This was especially jarring when it was on the bombs. The cartoon character on the American bomb and the sakura on the Japanese bomb below struck me. They are both symbols I relate with being carefree  – the Saturday mornings of childhood and Hanami picnics welcoming in Spring.

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Kyle was happy though. He was able to stand with the space shuttle (Discovery, I believe). Apparently, when he was a child his father, who worked for NASA at the time, brought home some of the tiles used to show him and his siblings how they worked.

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After we had our fill of the museum we headed into DC proper to go to our hotel. We were so tired that we ate at the hotel restaurant and fell into bed. The next morning we didn’t have a lot of time, so we went to the White House to take the obligatory photo, and then saw part of the American History Museum before heading home. I definitely want to go back in future though, The quality of the museums is amazing!

Incidentally, we stayed at the Crowne Plaza, which we got for a steal through hotwire. I hadn’t used hotwire before, but will most definitely use again.

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Exploring Amish Country – Day one

So. I have a new obsession.

Everything Amish.

I became fascinated with the Amish years ago. Watching documentaries and readng books made the Amish seem like something foreign and far away. Something I would never encounter. Therefore, I was beyond tickled pink when I found out that I now live less than an hour away from the largest Amish settlement in the world.

A couple of weeks ago, Kyle had a couple of days off, so we went to explore. We arrived in the evening and headed off to dinner. I had been told that the family dinner at Der Dutchman was not to be missed, so we decided to head there.

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We then discovered one of the biggest problems one encounters whilst driving in Amish Country  – getting stuck behind a wagon. As a result, we almost missed dinner. Thankfully, my giddy excitement over the fact that I was stuck behind a real Amish wagon meant that our moods were high regardless.

I had read about Amish food. It seemed like very simply country fare, and I naively assumed that it would therefore be bland.

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I have never been more wrong in my life. Seriously. I am still talking about the creamed corn we had. I had previously only had it from a can. That stuff is the greatest substance known to mankind.

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We finished dinner with pie. Kyle had a ground cherry pie. Ground cherries are green cherries that grow on the ground. The pie was basically everything that is good in the world.

After we were thoroughly stuffed we were forced to call it a night. Turns out Amish Country shuts down really early!

Quintessential American Experience #1: The county fair!

Well, I have arrived and started to settle into my new life in the USA. A small housing development in rural NE Ohio to be precise. We picked up our marriage license today, and, since Kyle has two days in a row off, have headed down to Amish country. I am really excited to be here – the Amish were always SO foreign to me, yet so fascinating. I am really excited to explore more and learn about their culture and lifestyle.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago Kyle was working on a Saturday, so my in-laws took me to the county fair. It was a really fun experience. Prior to this, I had never heard of tractor pulls or elephant ears, nor had I had the chance to sample the glories of deep fried oreos. (On an unrelated note, 3 weeks in the US plus 2 in Nz plus a couple of not caring weeks in Japan = Laura’s weight going in the wrong direction. Time to do something about that. From Wednesday, when I get home from Amish Country).

Anyway, without further ado, here are some photos:

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There were a bunch of animals (duh). They were cute. I wish their cages were bigger though, even if the fair was only short term.

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Oh my goodness gracious me, way more rides than we have at fairs in New Zealand. My sister-in-law and I went on the ferris wheel. I forgot my fear of heights until it was too late – It hadn’t dawned on me that it was a non covered/outdoor ferris wheel, so you could feel the breeze and see the tractor pulling, and freeze in terror at any rock or creak the ferris wheel made.

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Dinner. I attempted to get quintessential American fair food: A corn dog and nachos. After about 3 minutes, I realised the folly of my ways.

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And THIS is tractor pulling! Basically, tractors compete to see who can pull a weight the furtherest. Well, the people driving the, do. These were loud. Really, really loud. (sorry it’s blurry – my phone doesn’t take great motion pics)

After a while, watching loud tractors made me a little restless, so my sister-in-law and I went for a wander.

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This looked really American, so I made her pose in front of it.

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I found the fair quen of a different county fair. Apparently the represent their county at other fairs as well.

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This is a giant pit of dried corn. Really. And I got to play in it. My life is fantastic.

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This sort of thing reminds me that I’m not at home any more.

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Deep fried oreos. And stunning photography, no?

Anyway, that was the first of many adventures I anticipate having, in between sitting at home shouting at my computer in an attempt to somehow turn that shouting into a masters degree.

Also, a big welcome to Ohio to Molly, at A Move to America http://themovetoamerica.wordpress.com/ . Molly has just made the big move here as well, and is much better at actually updating her blog!

The Tokyo files: Part one – Harajuku!

Harajuku and Sunday = a match made in heaven! Harajuku is the hub of youth fashion and culture in Tokyo – I’ve read that fashion designers like to head to Harajuku to find out what’s about to happenin fashion. On a Sunday it is especially awesome because it’s when young people turn up, dressed in various forms of cosplay (although less than in the past). When in Tokyo last weekend, I decided to spend Sunday morning exploring this area.

The main street is Takeshita Dori. This is where the centre of the action is.

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It really looks quite unassuming considering the influence this one street has!

022There were all these amazing little side streets that frequently led to nowhere.

023Somehow I find myself wanting all of these!

025I can see this being professional office attire in the next 3 years.

034Desu.

026  024  For some reason the Harajuku Daiso (100 yen shop) is especially famous. I couldn’t figure out why.

In the end, after swearing I would buy absolutely nothing at all when in Harajuku, I found myself with a new dress and new socks, which I don’t think is too bad. I really love Harajuku – it has an incredible atmosphere that I haven’t quite found anywhere else!

Cheap Japanese Accomodation – The trusty internet cafe!

The other day I had some paperworky stuff to do, and my printer ran out of ink, so I headed to the trusty internet cafe (also known as a manga cafe). While I was there, I figured I’d grab a few photos, since internet cafes are pretty much the cheapest form of accommodation in Japan. They have been set up to cater for partying salarymen who miss the last train, or people who really, really need somewhere to crash in a pinch. Basically, you pay for your computer, which is in a little booth. You can choose between a mat booth, or a reclining chair booth.

It typically costs about 2000 yen a night ($20US or $25NZ ish). Most tend to have other facilities, such as shower rooms, drinks and food. Totally worth it for a quiet night sleep. There are lockers you can use for your valuables, if need be. I have found myself staying in internet cafes from time to time, and can attest that they are safe and comfortable. Occasionally they leave the lights on all night though, which makes it difficult to sleep.

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This is the booth I used, with the reclinng chair (obviously). The chair was super comfortable – it was hard to actually do my work. (Forgive my mess!)

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I grabbed a quick shot of an empty matt type booth. These are the ones I always choose to sleep in, and are comfortable. The only thing I would suggest is making sure you have something to use as a pillow.

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There are showers. They are cheap to use. Note as well the wals of manga. There are thusands and thousands to choose from, if the internet is not your thing…

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This one even had laundry facilities – I haven’t seen it in all of them. Food vending machines and free soft drinks are usually pretty standard.