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***Thanksgiving 2002 USA***

The Flight.......

Tuesday 26th Nov - Flying, naturally, of course, with our good friends British Airways.

Local Time at origin = 16:09
Time at Destination = 11:09
Altitude = 30,000ft
Air Speed = 492mph
Head Wind = 42mph
15737m to go
3.47 Hours to Destination
Outside Temp = -57C

I  love the info on those screens!  And the little white plane - like in the Operations Room of Bomber Command HQ - being pushed slowly across the screen tracking the little red line - a bit like Scaletrix, except the consequences of  us jumping out of the groove are slightly more concerning than colliding with the side of the sofa ! :)

So here we are on the way to my first USA Thanksgiving !. The most striking thing that welcomes you to the U S of A is the ever popular I-94W Non-immigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Form. I actually like this form for it's good old fashioned honesty. Here is an actual question, in full, from the reverse of the form:

"Have you ever been or are you now involved in espionage or sabotage; or in terrorist activities; or genocide; or between 1933 and 1945 were you involved, in any way, in persecutions associated with Nazi Germany or it's allies?"

.....(pause for thought).........there are some studious looks around the pressurised cabin at 38,000ft as furrowed brows are mulling over this HUGE question........! I mean - I reckon you'd know if you'd been involved in a bit of 'casual genocide' in your exuberant youthful days....lol...:)) And I seriously doubt if any of our Al Queda buddies on board will be putting a tick in the 'yes' box ! But it's good of the US Govt to ask....................:).............just in case, eh lads ?!

Later in the flight....
The highly irritating 'young-but-English-loud-mouthed-middle-classed-boors' sitting in front of us are attempting to 'annexe' the seats, (which means they must be members of the Nazi Party and therefore arrested on landing !), by simply leaning back in them as far as they irritatingly can. In the Unwritten International Language of Flying Etiquette this is known as ' O.M.T.P.A.Y.G.A.G.T.'  ( ' One More Time Pal And You'll Get A Good Twatting !' ) Omtpaygagt is also the Klingon word for 'wanker' - no link there thank you ...lol...:))

Meal Times....in flight
The service is good here :)...........usually this means that the food is bad, but surprisingly enough the beef stew was:
Beef , Hot and Edible - along with a small bottle of white wine, (Californian of course - ha!), to kill the after taste.

Later.....much later in the flight....... ( -53C outside...head wind 62mph....)
There seems to be an awful lot of male cabin crew.............God I must be bored - I'm counting GAYS...lol....!!!
Bomber Command  now positions us over Halifax - and I'm not talking Yorkshire either ! We are over Halifax, Nova Scotia - Canada. Lots of very straight roads......hmmm.....I wonder if the Romans ever lived here ? Our Omtpaygagts are still on maximum 'squeeze' (...nice link, eh ?) right now. I think I'll tip off the Customs people that they're carrying drugs - that'll slow 'em down a bit at the airport - ha ! "Oh - we have to visit Grand Central Station " - the female of the species blurts out in a fit of tourism. Oh la de bloody da! With any luck they'll get stopped at Ellis Island . (Ed. - it isn't there anymore -  and you're flying into Newark!)....okay,okay...anyway - within an hour to go I'd thought I'd tell you about M - code name 'Gaspan' or 'Luigi' so he won't be recognised..........

-  is one of the cabin crew. I can't quite tell if he's French or Italian - which I know could be a slight on both my French & Italian readers. Click here if you want to translate this page into French, Italian, Spanish etc - if it helps :). Maybe if when we were all abroad we could, perhaps, glow in the different colours - and there'd be an International Travellers Colour Chart - a little DNA chromosome injection at birth - and a massive blast of radiation when passing through airports/ports of arrival.....(Ed. - might this not be 'fatal'...?!) - okay, we'll limit this technology for use only on  French & Italians.....(and in a New York Jewish accent) - "...and if we lose a few......thats the will of God...."  (Ed. - I still think it's a bit radical. We'll cut this bit before we publish this entry)..........:)
This bloke M. ......Hmmm.....sounding more Italian - like 'Maximus' , or another one of those Roman names from the legions of Hollywood's 'men in skirts' movies. Maybe his ancestors settled in Nova Scotia & he's going to visit them for Thanksgiving ? They probably own the only 'Tackle & Pizza Parlour' in Halifax !
This geezer M.....Hmmm....he does sound French. But hey - Marcel Marceau looks like a clown and he doesn't say a word !
It doesn't prove a thing, but........this guy M.............for all the doubts of his actual nationality he reminds me of Francois de Recci........."Who? I hear you ask ?"...........guys....c'mon....let me remind you a little - sing this song, and it'll all come flooding back - "You've got to fight for want you want for all that you believe......" - BINGO . For my American readers who have absolutely no idea what the Hell I'm ranting on about here - 'The Flashing Blade' was a kids TV programme shown over here in the UK back in 1969. It was brilliant :) - and I know this has nothing to do with Thanksgiving etc - but it's my weblog and I'll say what I like...ha ha - you can now, (as of Feb 2001 at least) - BUY all the series on DVD and video.
Back to M....in case you'd forgotten - we're still on the plane! - of course, Francois de Recci was a bit of a swashbuckler - and there's no room for a sword in these aisles! But whose to say that M doesn't participate in 'Le Musketeer & La Milk Maid' fantasys at the weekend.?! (Ed - Oh la la!). God - what if he just gets straight into tight lycra, jumps onto his speed racer with razor sharp saddle, (Ed. - I suppose that is why we never see them sitting down?)...- yes :), and he peddles on up to Halifax for the last piece of garlic bread of the evening?
.........it's probably just altitude sickness M - I'm sure you're a very nice guy - and I'm just letting my mind ramble on a bit... (Ed. - too much ? - and it's beginning to sound a bit gay as well! :)  ).

The Stay......

Wednesday 27th November.....10:45EST......18:45GMT :)
New Jersey - I'm staying 'up north' - the 'countrified' section :). We just had snow - I mean 2 -3 inches of 'bright and crisp and even' !  . So naturally, being English - one has to go out and play in it ! Marvellous fun :) - and there's a whole hunk of woodland down at the bottom of the back garden here........and off I went to investigate. As I ventured in, I  recalled the warnings of bears coming up to the house scavanging through the garbage etc - so I stoppped & surveyed the terrain....
  • Rushes growing up in a clearing. It could have been a frozen over pond, so I walked around it. But for some stranger reason I was reminded of 'Bad Day At Black Rock' when Spencer Tracey sees desert flowers growing in the sand & suspects that's where the Japanses farmer is buried !
  • Mysterious 'mounds'  in the snow - more bodies ! (Ed. - a lot of death associated observations here ?) - yes......and then spookily -
  • I an now verify and understand the Hollywood movie annoyance when kids go off  into the forest & can't find their way back after only going 20ft into the tree line - it's true ! LOL. I turned around and was completely 'snow blind' & had no idea which way was back - quite bizarre........I'm actually still there now.........doing this by sat link with a stolen laptop from one of the bears.....LOL !!
Needless to say it got too boody cold to spend too much time out there. And whether in Farenheit or Centigrade - it was definitely 'brass monkey weather' out there.........link for my non-UK readers...:)

Thursday 28th November - Thanksgiving Day..... (Ed. Finally!)
Okay, okay - so nobody told me that Thanksgiving was ALWAYS on a Thursday - I'm English - what the Hell do I know ! :) I'd already asked the dumbass question in my small talk at the airport - "Do people tend to take the Friday off work if Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday ?" DUH ! - "Taxi for Woodgnome !" :). And sure enough our hosts had supplied not just enough food to sink a battleship - but most of the commercial North Atlantic shipping fleet as well! But it was great.
And I came across a new cooking phenomena - ROASTING TURKEY IN A PLASTIC BAG !"£$%^^%$£"!? ?? I kid you not - turkey in a plastic bag.........I thought that perhaps that living out in a rural-type community had addled my hosts' brains or something - but no. Reynolds - in the USA produce a plastic roasting bag......I still can't believe it now - ha - a white opaque bag with a handful of flour sprinkled in it - and the turkey shoved into it kicking and screaming - (Ed.- It was already dead - no head etc - remember?)....oh yes...silly me. Anyway - it looked like a bizarre activity. But several hours later - the beast was cooked - and in a lot quicker time than and normal. The other useful asset of this 'bag' cooking is that it didn't fill the house with the smell of a roast dinner. Odour free cooking ! :). Remarkable stuff - I wonder if they sell them over here?

Friday 29th November - the 'day after'....
"We've all gone to look for America....." as Simon and Garfunkel once said. So, I went for a walk 'around the block' one morning.......ah ha.......but these are no ordinary 'blocks' out in the country. Off I went with a spring in my step, a song in my heart - and my thermal underwear on - it was still bloody cold 'out there'.....:). But my basic navigating knowledge - keep turning right and you're sure to get back to where you started from (Ed.- What?) - was about to be stretched to the limit. For those who are willing to find a map of New Jersey and work this out I went - down the 633, turned right onto the 206, (and I'm not talking the A206 Greenwich to Dartford road in South London...lol..), up Morris Avenue - a V...E...R...Y.. steep hill road which nearly killed me (!), right onto the 655 (aka Morris Turnpike - although there is no turnpike there - tried to trick me, eh?!), and finally after a worrysome hike along the highway - right back down onto the 633 again - and safely into the lovely warm house again - about 1.25 hours and several pounds lighter...later. But hey - that's what being an international traveller is all about, right? Ah yes - the old hitch-hiking mentality clicked into gear like some automatic survival machine, and those useful moral boosting thoughts surfaced once more in my hour of need:

"Where the fuck am I ? And how the Hell am I going to get out of this ?"

- ah yes - happy memories.....lol........that's what got me back safely to a cup of hot Hershey's drinking chocolate. :)

Back in the UK...December 5th...
Alright - yes 'What happened to Saturday & Sunday and the flight back?'...oh God...alright - but briefly okay? Saturday I spent on an internet tutorial with my hosts. They are now hooked up with Yahoo , so they can communicate with family & friends around the country, and with us back in the UK. I also set them up with their own weblog page - here . Go visit him there - get that 'hit counter' into double figures, and maybe they'll be some action there.....ha ha ha :). Sunday we got up late, had breakfast, and went to the airport. The flight back was downhill with a tailwind - and I was asleep for some of it, (it was overnight you see), and we got back into Heathrow around 6am on Monday morning..........and here we are now.

I hope you enjoyed your little trip to the USA with me - we must do this again some time :)

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