lucky 13

It all started with 13 colonies. In 1776. 

(200 years later someone came to this world)

I wish all my American friends Happy Independence Day! Have fun today with fireworks, parades, barbecues, picnics, family reunions. Remember about social distancing and masks.

I like USA a lot. I have been there 14 times since March 2007. Everything has been interesting so far. I have met nothing but kind and friendly people and seen amazing nature. 

24 states to go. My dream is to go to Alaska or/and Hawaii. But it is still quite exotic and expensive trip to me.

Where have i been so far?

My high school friend lives in Fair Lawn, NJ. So this is my base. It is a very convenient place. 40 minutes by bus to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. If there is a traffic, hmmm, 90 minutes. From Fair Lawn is close to some parks.

Fair Lawn

Bushkills Waterfalls – I love the wooden paths and bridges over the streams. Beautiful views. And I visited a gun store for the first time. Only time.

Minnewaska – a nice hike in the forest. At the end of a trail there is a clearing with the access to the lake. On the other side some guys were jumping off the cliff. It was brave and stupid at the same time. But people were looking with respect. Someone shouted “do it again”. At the top of that cliff we met those heroes talking to the park ranger. He mentioned something about the fine. 

Ramapo Lake – you climb up the hill to see the woods and … skyline of Manhattan. There is an abandoned mansion. The rumor has it that there was a rich guy who wanted to live on the hill, away from people. When the crisis came in 1920s he set the fire in order to collect a compensation from his insurance. It is a nice Sunday hike. Once some Japanese tourists asked if i had seen a rattlesnake. I said “no” but it scared me a little. Rattlesnakes here?

Ramapo Lake

Seven Lakes – nice … lakes, pleasant hike.

I enjoyed Garden State. It is a small land but it has its gems. One of them is Princeton. They say that 20 Nobel prize winners live there. Good job Princeton!

Princeton

The City

What can i say? I love New York. Someone said “If you see New York, you’re gonna love it or hate it”. I hated it on my day 1 there. Raining, snowing, wet shoes, wet feet. Awful place. I loved New York the following day. And my love is solid. I have to be there at least once a year. To recharge my batteries. Weird, huh? I will not write about this City. Everybody knows it somehow so no words from me are necessary. 

Washington, DC

Went there twice. Aprils 2013 and 2015. I had never enough. If i find time i will go there again. Museums (Smithsonian national Air and Space Museum was my favourite. I wish there was no museum of natural history in Poland), monuments, capitol – everything is there, so close. National Mall can take the whole day to explore. White House is … white indeed. But i thought it would be bigger. Nope, i did not meet Barrack. I met Trump once. On Arthur Ashe stadium on 09/01/09 (US Open was on).

Boston

I came to Boston a couple of weeks after that a terrible bombing during the Boston Marathon. There were candles, flowers on the streets. “Boston Strong” banners/signs were shown on the streets, in the windows or on the stickers. People were united and devastated by this senseless act of terrorism. 

Everyone from Europe told me that Boston would be so … European. And they were right. I really felt there like home. I would say Boston is Scottish. I noticed lots of people running. That activity was not so popular and massive in Poland as in Boston. Literally, i had to be very cautious not to be run over. I spent a day and a half in Boston. I really enjoyed myself there. Nice people, nice weather, interesting places. Only my hotel room was so tiny, but that is a charm of hotel rooms in big US cities.

Philadelphia

Went there twice. March 2007 and April 2018. 11 years. Oh, i remember. I went there in October 2008. But it was raining so just drove thru the city and went to the Adventure Aquarium. So it does not count. 

When i had an Instagram, i decided to meet people i follow. There was Ted from outskirts of Philadelphia. I asked him for a meeting, and he accepted it. We had fun.

11 years! And i still remembered everything. 

Florida

We were in USA around Thanksgiving. So we wanted to go somewhere. Florida was the plan. We took a flight to Miami. And i thought i would burn. In New Jersey it was so cold. Down south was hell. I was so shocked. It was the turn of November and December. Two coldest months in a year and it was so hot. How do they live during the summer? 

We took a car – Grand Cherokee and headed to Key West. The road trip was marvelous. We started to listen to country music as every radio station was playing Adele’s smash Hello. And the country music was good. Two songs were on a heavy rotation – George Strait’s Cold Beer Conversation and Cam’s Burning House

On a parking lot we thought our car had been stolen. We could not see it! It appeared that our car was big in car rental. On the street it was small. People from Florida drove bigger vehicles. We found our Jeep behind a huge beast. We had fun in Key West. On our way to Naples we visited Everglades and took an air boat ride. Amazing! I saw a gator from a close distance. I was praying – please do not jump out of the water! Thank god it did not and we are still alive.

South Carolina, Georgia

On election time in 2016 i went to Charleston in South Carolina. Took a car and drove to Myrtle Beach. It was off season. Hurricane Matthew left his mark. Hence there was no people. Luckily it was still warm to walk on the ocean. I had a room with a view for nothing really. I hang out with local people in the bar. One bloke even offered me a pot but i refused. I do not smoke anything from unknown source. 

Early in the morning I went out to greet a new day. Tuesday.

The road trip to Savannah in Georgia was lovely. I saw some people standing in the lines to vote. Savannah was beautiful. I booked a cozy room on AirBnB. I enjoyed the town and people. A guy at the bar who was having shrimps talked to me. He was on a business trip. I do not remember where he was from. There was a musician entertaining the crowd. I liked one song. The stranger at the bar told me what it was. When i listen to it i remember that bar, that place, that trip.

Back in Charleston i enjoyed some beers at the bar nearby my hotel. A elderly couple from Massachusetts was keenly interested in my person. A lady even asked if there still was a communism in Poland. And she asked me where the Poland was. I explained. I got a beer from them. Nice gesture. The other couple knew where Poland was. So we ware talking about new president. Hilary or Donald. A bartender said “No way after a black guy we would have a woman. We need a white guy”. And he was right. The results came in and everybody was not so happy. That dude behind the counter had a theory that Trump would be eliminated after 6 months. He did not explain how. Impeached? Or …? Well, as we know, nothing bad happened.

Halloween and Thanksgiving

I witnessed those two holidays and it felt weird to me. It was not my tradition. Although i enjoyed my pink rabbit costume and trick or treating with kids. When i said that i had never done that before, i was given lots of candies! Yay! And one dad even talked to me about where i was from and traditions in Poland. 

Thanksgiving was just a feast. A friendly gathering. The bird was delicious.

California

I loved it. I had nothing but awesome memories. First it was San Francisco. I think this is the second best city in USA. When i was a kid i watched Streets of San Francisco and Full House. When i came there i was really curious if those streets were so steep. Or do they really had those street cars. They had both! And Golden State Bridge at night? When the fog covers it all? Oh my, unbelievable view.

My first experience in San Francisco? When on BART (train) the announcements started with “people”. People take off your language from the seats. In NYC it was always “ladies and gentlemen”.

The second experience? When homeless and teethless lady asked me for a cigarette. I told her i would not give her any. She offered me crack instead. It got interested. I told her i did not speak English. But she knew it was not true – Oh, you speak English well. You understand everything. I can be here same time tomorrow and give you some crack. I think i mentioned the police. ok, i see you don’t wanna crack – she added and took off. San Francisco was fun. We slept in two places – on Kearny St and Lombard St.

We went to Yosemite and Sequoia National Park. Those trees were sooooo gigantic! The nature was breathtaking.

My second trip to Cali is here https://mdobrogov.com/index.php/2020/06/20/did-someone-say-santa-barbara/

My third trip was to Death Valley. What can i say? It is a must see place. I had few near-death experiences there. It was so hot. Before 11 am it was already 100F. Damn! I stopped at Zabriskie Point and took a 2-hours loop. In the middle i asked a ranger if she could give me a lift to my car. Sadly she could not take anybody. She offered me water. I thanked her. I still had 3 bottles of water myself. On my way back i thought i got lost. Water was evaporating in my mouth. I barely made it to the car. Beat dead but happy i was. After that hike i watered my head whenever i saw a faucet. 

Utah

Is as beautiful as California. Nature-wise.

Arches, Bryce, Zion and Red Canyon were spectacular. We had little time to see everything. However we hiked like crazy. We wanted to see as much as possible. In Arches we stayed in beautiful town called Moab. I got a sun stroke there. Hence i did not take the canoe ride on Colorado river. And i learned what State Liquor Store was. I thought it was a joke that you could not buy alcohol easily. Thank god we managed to supply before closing time. Some people were unlucky.

I need to go somewhere there for one more trip. Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. But it is Arizona. Maybe one day.

Portland and Seattle

It was a short trip. Seattle surprised me with sun. I always thought it would be a gloomy and rainy town. I discovered Poke bowl there. It was yummy.

No traces of grunge, unfortunately.

Portland was ok. I think i will not go back there. Once is enough.

Tennesse trip is here

Kansas City is here

Texas is here

I can go on and on with places i have been in USA. I just love that country. Nature is insane. Beautifully insane. But people make this country what it is.

I have met amazing people on US ground. Sometimes it was just a brief encounter. Like in motel in Utah. We were checking in and a guy was so mellow and … slow. We were shocked. New York people are so much … faster and more vivid. But we liked that difference. People are different everywhere. In Harlem we got a bit lost. I took out a map and tried to find a way.

Honey, do you need help? – an out-of-nowhere African American lady asked me. She showed us the way. That was so thoughtful. 

Some people i met there and they became my friends.

In no particular order, but ladies first

Ula, NJ

Ula, TX

Janelle, MI – we have never met

Catherine, NH

Friends from Fair Lawn and Glen Rock, NJ

Ted, PA

Mike, MO

Krzysiek, Staten Island

Michael, CA and IL – we have never met

Have a wonderful day today. Happy 4th of July one more time!

4 Comments

  1. ulatx

    Happy Birthday America 🇺🇸💥
    ( I miss that pink bunny! 😉😜)

    • m

      Bunny will return one day. I will trick or treat your house maybe 🙂 Gimme some candy lady

  2. Catherine

    Thanks, Maciej! One correction needed: after Trump was elected, you write “nothing bad happened.” Nothing bad happened?? (I know you mean he wasn’t assassinated, but still…) Plenty bad.

    • m

      Yes, you are right about Trump and that sentence. Nothing bad happened to him. But to USA? Just the contrary.

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