Chapter 28 (Part 2) – Travels around the USA in 1979

I will get back to our most memorable travels later, but there are a few things to be mentioned from our thirteen years in Paris.

We of course went to the U.S., Orlando in particular, to see John’s parents and family. We also went to Sweden and had some memorable experiences in our travels in my country. I have already mentioned in some length our unforgettable trip to Bergslagen (= the law of the mountains) west of Stockholm and what we call middle Sweden. (Chapter 23). I have mentioned our travels to Stockholm on several occasions. There are a few very different trips that must not be forgotten here though.

In 1979 we made our big trip through the U.S., my first visit to several places, including Chicago, where we have been back much later to visit our very good friends John and Penny in their luxury apartment on Lake Michigan. A wonderful visit where we manged to go to both the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museuml of Natural History. To see more of this amazing visit to our friends and to Chicago, go to Chicago November 14 – 17, 2006 , our trabel site.

This long and fabulously eventful trip through the U.S, excluding the northwest which we merely flew over. Well, we entirely missed Oregon and Washington state. You can only do so much in a trip through a huge country like the United States.

The family; Norma, Ted, Amy and Linda in front of their house on Avenue A, Brooklyn

We started out in New York City , visiting my dear friend Norma, a Latin teacher at Mount Vernon High School, and her husband Ted. One afternoon we went to Chinatown to have dinner with friends Bella, French teacher at Mount Vernon High School, husband Roy and  daughter Laura – whom we have seen much much later here in Genas with her now husband Paul who was writing a doctoral dissertation on Das Lied von der Erde by Mahler, one of our favorite composers.

We are in Chinatown and on our way to a restaurant. Ted is barely visible behind daughter Amy. Underexposed picture. Oh those were the days…

Norma and daughters were going to come and see us in Paris for a week or so in 1981. Linda sprained her ankle at a playground down towards les boulevards extérieurs and she was delighted to come back from that adventure with a plaster on her right leg which we all signed.

Here Ted and I are waiting for Bella and Roy to arrive. Ted is cradling the beer we’ve bought for the restaurant. No alcohol is served in the restaurants in Chinatown. You bring your own.

I can’t quite remember if we went to a show one evening, but I do remember the eternal ride in the subway back to Brooklyn. And the subway trains were really rugged looking at the time. They at least have been immensely improved since then. U.S. infrastructure is falling apart but the NYC subway system seems to be doing well.

It was on a later visit to New York City that I was first staying with Norma in Brooklyn and she then drove me all the way to Appleton, New Jersey where I spent a couple of days with my dear friend and former colleague, Annie from l’Ecole Centrale de Paris, and her husband Louis-Henri whom I also knew very well from Paris.

John was at a meeting at his old Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, meeting old friends among other things. When we met up in New York City, I remember very well (and so does John) that we went to Nyborg and Nelson for lunch and Swedish gravad lax with what else? snaps of course. Nyborg

the Citicorp building among other buildings that were not there when I lived in the New York area.

and Nelson, which used to be in a rather unassuming location in midtown 2nd Avenue with an equally unassuming restaurant upstairs above the store, had now moved to the fancy new Citicorp Center building on Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street. It was a happy reunion for John and me after the few days apart and what a very Swedish celebration.

That was quite a few years later. We did not stay many days in the City, but I do remember saying I wanted to put my feet on 6th Avenue to really get the feel of having been to New York City. There is nothing more ‘modern New York City’ than 6th Avenue. And I will never forget how they were remaking all of that area, rebuilding the street on top of the subway and you drove on heavy rattling planks for years in the sixties while the street got remade and all the new glass skyscrapers were put up. The new look of 6th Avenue. 

One of the gorgeous Tiffany windows at the Metropolitan Museum.

I find out from the photos we took that this visit to New York City was in 1989. We walked around a lot in the streets and we made a thorough visit to the Metropolitan Museum and to the Guggenheim as well. We walked around in Central Park more than I think we had ever done before. We saw the statue of Hans Christian Andersen with the ugly duckling at his feet and also Alice in Wonderland.

I fell in love with Central Park on my very first visit alone to New York City in the fall of 1964 when I took the New Haven railroad to

Here is the wonderful but gruesome story teller himself, Hans Christian Andersen who got to be famous all over the western world.

Grand Central Station and the subway uptown to Hunter College on Lexington Avenue. I was there to enroll in a graduate class on the History of the English Language,, a course that was required for a higher grade at Lund University along with American literature which I took at Westchester Community College. Both were very useful classes for me especially for my future as an English teacher in France. During the lunch break I crossed over from Lexington to 5th Avenue and walked around some in the park. What a paradise. Rocks and lakes and everything so much like wilderness and at the same time well cared for. A true oasis in the big city where pollution is constant and a place for jogging, biking or just walking and and picnicking is essential.

From New York City we flew to Chicago and this was my very first visit to that wonderful city. Even after a second and longer visit in 2006 to stay with our dear friends John and Penny in their luxury apartment overlooking Lake Michigan, I still don’t feel that I know the city even halfway. At the same time our old friends from San Diego, Mossy and  Sandy whom even I had known since 1971 were staying in a second guest suite. Talk about luxury!

That visit has now almost eclipsed our first trip to this remarkable city on the lake, but I do remember a lot of wandering around the most memorable sites and a very thorough visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, which was of course repeated in 2006. Even this first visit was a shock of pleasure. This museum must be one of the topmost art museums in the world. You could probably spend a day there and still not see everything.

As usual, though, John and I spent about an hour walking around the museum, then lunch in the excellent museum cafeteria and then another hour or so of more walking around.

We were young at the time and we walked all aound the most interesting monuments, plazas and works of art. It was a great introductory visit to this huge city with so many things to see.

We were staying at the Holiday Inn, and all I can remember was how atrociously bad their morning coffee was. I have never had worse. The city has changed enormously, and very much for the better. The Millennium Park with the skating rink, the Bean, and in the background the extraordinarily modern architecture of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and the green park. (Chicago November 14 – 17, 2006)

Also, we of course did not see beautiful old buildings (maisons clasdsées) on the lakeside where John’s and Penny’s building is located on Lake Shore Drive. At the time they lived in a suburb of Chicago.

The circular irrigated fields look a bit artificial from up above.

From Chicago we flew on to Denver Colorado where we were to see some of most wonderful natural scenery. We flew over the agricultural states of South Dakota and Nebraska and it was odd to see from up above the circular irrigated fields looking like a drawing board.

We were not sorry that we only got to know this part of the Midwest from the air.


Once in Denver we drove northerly to Estes Park and the mountainous areas where we were going to do some of our first mountain hiking together. John and I had not, before then, even considered mountain hiking or even less mountain climbing. We were to find 

Our first friend in Colorado, after the car-rental company had given us a car that we should never have accepted. It had a rag for a gas cap.

out a lot about that in the Austrian Alps from 1980 and on for twenty years. This young man from Florida was going to become a better climber than I. But first I had to teach him about ‘lunking’ (Swedish lunka), i.e. walking steadily but not too fast so that you can keep up the steady speed you settle for.

It was a short drive to Estes Park and we    spent two nights at a hotel so that we could discover the beauty of the Rocky Mountains National Park and its many gorgeous lakes. Our goal was Emerald Lake that is located right below the very impressive mountain Hallett Peak, 3,875 meters high.

The hike was easy, even though guidebooks say that the last two hundred meters are quite steep. All the lakes were beauties and of course Emerald Lake is a true jewel in the Rocky Mountains National Park.

The next  day we drove across the Rocky Mountains, up on what was for me at least a very unexpected Alpine tundra – lots of various small flowers and you were not allowed to step off the road. Of course we got out of the car to admire this tundra which we have never later seen in the Alps, even though it is called Alpine tundra. We are more used to Alpine meadows with globe flowers and high daisies, bluebells and various kinds of corn flowers, red and blue – and of course buttercups, in masses. More about that later.

We drove down into Utah where we were headed for the fabulous Arches National Park and I was going to walk in desert sand for the first time in my life, not as burning hot as in many places in India though.

From Wikipedia

“The national park lies above an underground evaporite layer or salt bed, which is the main cause of the formation of the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins, and eroded monoliths in the area. This salt bed is thousands of feet thick in places, and was deposited in the Paradox Basin of the Colorado Plateau some 300 million years ago when a sea flowed into the region and eventually evaporated. Over millions of years, the salt bed was covered with debris eroded from the Uncompahgre Uplift to the northeast. During the Early Jurassic (about 210 Ma) desert conditions prevailed in the region and the vast Navajo Sandstone was deposited.”

From the Arches National Park and my very first experience of desert sand, we traveled  back east to §Colorado, but close to the very southeastern corner of the state. We were about to see the most fascinating archeological site I have ever seen, before or after. And yet we have seen quite a few incredibly beautiful sites in Greece and Turkey, some quite unique, such as Archaea Messene or Ancient Messene on Peloponnese. This fascinating site was founded in 369 BC after the servitude of the Messenian people under the military state of Sparta was over.

Mesa verde is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it was inhabited by the ancient Pueblo people known as the Anasazi who made this stone village their home in 1200s AD. They are supposed to have left the village because of a long drought period which destroyed their agricultural livelihood on top of the mesa. ‘Mesa‘, Spanish for ‘table’ is a flat topped mountain formation that is found in various places in the southwest region of the United States.

What blows my mind when I go to all these wonderful places is the feeling that I go back in time. I imagine how people actually lived here, worked here and, it has to be hoped, enjoyed their lives here.