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© Chaos

A JOURNEY THROUGH THE NORTH-EAST OF AMERICA
By Stefan Posthuma

The 13th of October 1990

I am sitting here in my room, New Order blasting away (True
Faith is a brilliant record) and I am ready.
Ready to depart on what might be the most adventurous thing I
have done since the England Quest, a 25-day trip through the
North West of the US of A.
When I was in highschool (a long way back into the days of
old, the days of the 6502) I had a buddy called Eric and we used
to dream of going to the States. But neither of us had the cash
or the time and the dream never came true.
Until the day that he called me and told me he would be going to
the States by himself, to visit his brother who lives near
Albany, NY.
"Yeah", I said. "Fancy a travelling-compadre?"

So the plans were made. We would go at least for three weeks,
rent a car, drive around. See things, visit people.

Tomorrow at 10:15, my plane will leave from Brussels
international Airport, and it will take me to New York JFK
airport. Three hours later (we couldn't get on the same flight)
Eric will arrive and we will take the train to Albany and his
brother will pick us up. We will stay with him for a couple of
days, hire a car and drive to the Niagara Falls, and from there
on to Ohio, to visit the people I stayed with two years ago when
I also went to the States. Then we will return to Albany and we
have another week to spend. Dunno, probably we will go to Canada
or something.
I packed my bag, filled a little rucksack with all the stuff I
need, walkman, plane ticket, money, books, camera, lotsa
liquorice (can't get that over there) and some more stuff.
A full report of my travels and adventures will follow when I
return!

The 11th of November 1990

I am back.
One of the CD's I acquired in the States is playing: 'Mixed Up'
by the Cure. I have always had something for the music of the
Cure and their recent releases like 'Disintegration' and
'Mixed Up' have only made this 'something' a lot stronger.
(The Cure is utter and total bollocks of the most ill kind that
is only good if you want to vomit or donate blood. SMC remark)

Sigh.
What a great country.
Some people seem to have prejudices against it. 'Everything is
superficial out there', 'People are hasty and not very nice',
'That country is just too damn big'.
Well, I happen to LOVE it, and I have already decided that the
next couple of years my holidays destination will definitely be
the USA. Next year I want not so active a vacation, so I will
probably go to California and hang out on the beach a little, and
maybe hop over to Hawaii, who knows!

The adventure started very early, Sunday morning the 14th of
October at around 5 O'clock. The New Age sounds of Gandalf gently
woke me and an hour later I was in my car with my friend Eric,
going to the station of Roosendaal, Holland from which a train
would bear me to Brussels. Eric returned my Alfa and went to
Schiphol to catch his flight. We would meet again on JFK
international airport. 10 hours later, the Airbus I was in landed
in New York and I had a serious problem. During the flight, there
was a woman sitting next to me with a baby. I was sitting at the
window and she was at the isle, with a special baby carrier
attached to the wall of the first class compartment, completely
blocking me from getting to the restroom in the plane. Now the
nice stewardess kept serving me cans of beer and I kept drinking
them and since I didn't want to disturb the nice lady and her
baby, I just sat there, with a bladder about to explode.
When the plane landed and I got up, my hopelessly folded legs
nearly faltered at the sudden rush of blood through them and I
had severe problems keeping my water. It actually hurt. So I
elbowed my way out of the plane, in search of a restroom. Alas,
the plane had landed away from the terminal and a little bus
carried us to the buildings. Raaaahhh....
I dashed down the hallway and found a toilet. I crashed into it,
slammed and locked the door (not noticing the resistance the lock
was giving me, I simply rammed it into place) and for at least a
minute, a watery noise could be heard from the loo, followed by
an enormous sigh of relief.
Button the 501's, collect bag and coat and I'm outta here.

Problem.
0
The lock is stuck. My hasty entrance and savage bolting of the
door apparently dislocated the lock or something because it was
very stuck. Also, the door was very thick and had no openings
above it or below it, so I was trapped.
Great. I travel for 12 hours only to get stuck in a fucking
can?
NO WAY!!
HAAAAAAA...WHHHAAMMMMMM!!!
My L.A. Gear impacted the lock with a savage blow and it sprang
open. Some innocent travellers must have been scared shitless
when a tall Dutchman with a savage look in his eyes carrying a
small rucksack emerged from a toilet in a rather aggressive
manner.
Through immigrations, collect the bag, through customs and I was
home free.
After three hours of hanging around JFK airport, Eric arrived
without his bag. Some screwup somewhere resulted in his bag still
being at the other side of the Atlantic. Great.
Off to the 'Sabena' desk and ask about it. Nice people, handled
it great. The bag would be sent to us.
Right. Find New York Grand Central, take a train to Albany. A
bus took us there and a train from GC took us to Albany. Another
three hours.
So after some 17 hours of travelling, I met Eric's brother on
the station in Albany. We got in his Volvo and just one more hour
to Canajoharie, NY and we would be there.

John (Eric's brother) owns a bar called "Ernie's" in the little
town. He also runs a small restaurant attached to the bar. His
wife, Susie turned out to be a very nice and spontaneous person
who would prove to be an excellent hostess.
After a few Budweisers I regained my cool and had some nice
talks with some of the people sitting at the bar. I would be
there the next couple of days, playing pool (nice game, once you
get the hang of it), drinking Bud and having conversations with
the people in the bar. Americans are great people to talk to,
they all have amazing stories to tell. After a few days of
sleeping late, adjusting to the six hour time difference, taking
walks in the town and hanging out in the bar, Eric's bag arrived
and the real adventure could begin.

We went to Albany airport and rented a car. A sub-compact
Plymouth horizon, about the smallest car you can get out there.
But fully equipped with power-steering, automatic gear, airco and
luxury seats. We stuffed the car with our gear and drove off,
towards Niagara Falls...

We arrived there that night, and the rain was pooring down.
Darkness, rain, foreign country, large town.
We were lost.
The large amounts of water-clouds arising from some point in the
river told us that the Falls had to be there, but some unknown
force prevented us to get there. One way streets, dead ends,
mysterious road blocks.
Then, suddenly, I nearly lost control of the car when I beheld
the Falls. Off season, they were not lit, but still the sight
impressed me, filled me with awe and the realisation that Nature
still is the greatest force on Earth.
We parked the car in a deserted parking lot (it was something
like 9pm) and walked up to the falls. Rain plus the showers of
water coming from the Falls started to soak us, but the sheer
sight of millions of gallons of water plunging several hundred
feet into a frenzy of rocks and white foam had us entranced,
unaware of the gallon of water being absorbed by our clothing.
We went back to the car, found a motel and the next day we went
back, to behold the Falls at daylight.
The experience still lingers in my mind and I am still
impressed. Numerous photographs have been taken and especially
the 'Cave of the Winds' tour was something that I am not likely
to forget.
We got dressed up in large pieces of plastic and an elevator
took us a lot of feet down the cliff and at the foot of the
American Falls where they have built all sorts of walkways and
stairways for the insane Tourist to behold the Falls from below.
Being only a few feet away from the point where millions of
gallons of water crashed into a lot of rocks, water was splashed
over us in extreme amounts. The deafening noise and the dense
mists of water made it seem like we were in another world, where
noise and water where them main elements. It was GREAT.
The visit to a mall in Niagara Falls made me remember; America
is cheap. But it would fully dawn on me a few days later.

The next days we spent travelling to Poland, Ohio where I had a
two week vacation, two years ago. We arrived there late at night
and I was delighted to see those people again. Great.
The following visit to the mall in Boardman, Ohio revealed a
world of wonder to me. CD's for 12 dollars?? (that's about 20
guilders or 6 Pounds) Levi 501's for 30 dollars?? Portable CD
players for 175 dollars??? RAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!! WANTOBUY!!!!!

Anyway, I resisted the temptation of buying a few dozen CD's
and only bought one pair of 501's, a Panasonic diskman, a
sweater, a T-shirt and 6 CD's, all somewhere during this holiday.

After a few days in Poland, we went off to Detroit, Michigan to
visit the Henry Ford museum and Greenfield Village. Two days we
spent there, fascinated by the amazing things in the museum and
wandering through the village, where Henry Ford has collected a
lot of historic buildings from American history. I have been in
Edison's lab, I have visited the Wright Brothers' cycle shop and
I have been in the courtroom where Abraham Lincoln practised
law.
After Detroit, Chicago. To walk in the footsteps of Al Capone.
Now I am from Holland. A small country with small towns, simple
roads and no vast metropolitan areas like in the States.
Chicago is the second largest city in the states. It is so large
that even at the top of Sears' Tower, which is 1353 feet above
the ground, you can only see one vast expanse of concrete. The
highway that leads you along the shore of Lake Michigan is a six-
lane one with at least 20 exits leading into Chicago.
We drove there, two simple souls from Holland, completely awed
by the size of it all. We took a random exit near the highrise
centre and entered the first parking garage we spotted. We had to
leave the car and give the keys to an attendant who would park
the car for us. Strange.

After a few hours of wandering through that immense metropolis,
lost between the mammoth skyscrapers, we found the parking
garage again and claimed our car. 12 dollars. Ahem.

Ok, now just drive out of the mess and we will find a nice motel
for sure in no time.

Wrong.

We headed south into Indiana, a state that seems to consist of
cornfields and tiny villages only and after three and a half
hours of driving through nothingness, we finally found a motel in
a place called Lafayette. We checked in at 0:30 am.
The next morning we checked out Lafayette and it turned out to
be an University town, which meant lots of nice female students
running around. Nice.
Back to Poland, Ohio. Detroit-Chicago had taken us a week.
Kevin, my friend who I visited two years ago, came home from
college and I really enjoyed seeing him again. We spent another
two days there, hanging out with Kevin, going to parties and
having fun. I met an interesting girl at one of these parties who
refused to believe that I was Dutch and thought it was just an
act to make an impression. After showing her my license and
singing 'Alle eendjes zwemmen in het water', she finally accepted
the fact that I wasn't American after all. Too bad, she was
dragged away from me by one of her girlfriends and I couldn't
find her afterwards so I got drunk instead and watched somebody
throw a loudspeaker out of a window. Strange people, those
American kids.

After Poland, we headed south into West Virginia. Now that was
pretty country. Soft rolling hills, little brooks and lots of
small towns and valleys. Great stuff, breathtaking nature.
Then we arrived in Virginia. My God, what an enchanting country
that is. Mountains covered by vast forests, waterfalls, even
smaller towns, deer, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks and other
animals running around. Fabulous.
At a certain point we saw a sign saying 'Trailhead'. Since we
wanted to do some hiking, we parked the car, I tied my shoelaces
and off we went!
We went deep into the forest and it was fantastic indeed. Nature
in all its splendour, and I, a simple mortal was in the middle of
it all. I was enjoying myself immensely until Eric, being the
adventurous type, wandered off the trail and enthusiastically
started climbing a steep slope, covered with rocks and trees.
"Come on, if we cross this mountain, we will pick up the trail
at the other side and we can cut off at least an hour or two!"
I had some experience with this kind of logic from the hikes I
have done in Austria and was a bit negative about his initiative,
but after lots of persuasion, I decided to follow him.
It turned out to be a mistake.
The slope was a lot steeper than I thought, and being not the
most athletic type in the world (I'm supposed to be a computer
freak you know) I began having troubles dragging myself up the
mountain. My breath faltered. I spotted a deer high up the slope,
watching me with red, rabid eyes. The forest seemed to breed
malice against me. Trees whispered threats into my ears, branches
I used for support suddenly snapped, dry patches of ground turned
out to be mud pools covered with leaves, squirrels would dash
before my feet, startling me. I was swaying on my feet, the sun
blinding me through the trees. Just when I decided to give it all
up, I reached the top and collapsed. Half an hour later, I was
sitting in a clearing at the top of the mountain and was
beholding a breathtaking view of the valley below us. The sun was
nice and warming, I put on my discman and sat there for at least
an hour, listening to music and enjoying nature around me. It was
great. Lovely squirrels playing in the trees. The wind whispering
through the leaves. Eric, in the meantime, was busy with his
newest hobby - painting. He painted me sitting against a tree,
relaxing.

So now we had to go down and we would reach the trail, Eric
promised. So we went down the other side of the mountain, which
turned out to be even steeper until we were blocked by a
straight drop of a few hundred feet. Great. Thanks Eric. Nice
idea. Holy shit. This meant climbing back up, finding the spot
where we ascended, go down, and find the trail again. Damn!!
Of course, we got lost and I think two hours later (I was on the
edge of collapse) we finally found the trail again. Good. I am
NEVER leaving a trail again. NEVER EVER EVER.
The next day, we came to a place called Waynesboro, which is at
the south end of Skyline Drive. Possibly the most wonderful road
in the world. It takes you across a mountain (106 miles), giving
you the most amazing views of the valleys at both sides. Along
the Drive, there are numerous sites where you can park and behold
the view, or start hiking one of the trails that can take you
deep into Shenandoah National Park. It took us two days to get
through it, stopping numerous times and hiking two trails. It was
so great it is hard to describe. You walk along small trails
through the forest and you come across the most amazing
waterfalls, small streams of water and clearings where the sun
shines through the trees. I have some amazing pictures of that.
We saw deer, numerous squirrels, tonsa birds and some more
creatures. Just fantastic.
Skyline drive ended in Fort Wayne, and from thereon, we went to
Washington D.C. We arrived there late in the afternoon and after
almost 90 minutes of searching for a parking place, I was nerve-
wracked from manoeuvering the car through big city traffic and we
gave up. The next morning we returned and found a parking place.
Maximum two hours, so we had to do DC in two hours. Well, we saw
the White House, the Capitol and the George Washington Monument.
We walked around a little and I must say that Washington is a
beautiful city. I mean the part we have seen with all the big
buildings and the park.
After DC, we headed towards the Atlantic. At night, we ended up
in a place called Lewes, Delaware. A motel close to the beach.
The next morning, the sun was out and it was hot. In fact, it
was so hot that we spent the morning on a beach at the Atlantic!
That evening we ended up in Atlantic City, roaming the massive
Casinos, playing a little jackpot (I lost a staggering 7
dollars!!).
The next day we spent strolling through Atlantic city, and in
the afternoon we headed north again, back to Albany.
We arrived at John's place a few days later and by that time we
had done some 3500 miles, or 5600 kilometres.
The day before I left we drove north, in the direction of Canada
and we experienced another nature shock. Beautiful hills covered
with trees in all shades of brown, yellow and red you can imagine
and more and numerous lakes, reflecting the small villages built
on their shores. We did a loop of about 300 miles (in one day!)
and ended up in a minor blizzard and picked up a hitchhiker along
the way.
Then the day I dreaded arrived. The 7th of November. I had to go
home.
This time, to avoid the hassle I took a plane from Albany to New
York JFK and the homeward journey went well and without any
problems. It took me about 14 hours though and I was suitably
tired and jet-lagged upon arrival.
Now I am home, back in small, flat and boring Holland. But I
have a pile of pictures, a lot of souvenirs and a head full of
great memories that will keep me going for a long time. This sure
was a great holiday, and I will surely do it again!!

Everybody should experience the States at least once. The nice
people, the small villages, the fast food places, the diners, the
motels, the highways, the mountains of Virginia, the hills of
northern New York, the Atlantic ocean, the enormous malls, the
plazas that form the shopping centres of many a small town. The
enormous and amazing cars you find there, the low prizes, the
great (and cheap!) food, the american way of life...

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The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.