blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trip south, first day

We were wheels up in good time, 8:35am, to fly south across the US border to Binghamton in New York State. Although rain was approaching Ottawa, the sky was fine and blue where we were heading. We had good views not only of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, but also, more unusually, we could see the mountains to the east from the Watertown-Syracuse area. To the west, a hint of the Finger Lakes that we'd explored earlier this year.

The border patrol guard at Binghamton, a lady, was expecting us to land at 11am, and after a smooth flight we landed at 5 minutes to 11, so that was fine. She came through the FBO doors and greeted us in a really friendly manner --- long may she live and thrive! After we'd filled out the paperwork, she encouraged Chris to keep her BPG pen as a gift. She and the girl behind the desk at the FBO, also very friendly, warned us that there was no longer an airport restaurant as advertised, but both of them recommended lunch at the Apple Farm a short drive away. We were given a key to the courtesy vehicle, a minivan, along with a printout of the Google directions, going round the eastern perimeter of the airport, up and down some curving country lanes. Here, the trees are already colouring nicely for Fall. The Apple Farm's restaurant, where we took a verandah table with a view, lived up to expectations, apple pie and all (we had the choice of apple crisp, apple pie or apple pie de luxe, i.e. with pecans and cream, and two forks). Afterwards we walked towards the apple orchards, petting a goat, a small hairy pig and a donkey, before driving back to the airport.

Binghamton is the home of Edwin Link of Link Trainer fame. A photo of him standing beside Amelia Earhart hung on the wall at the FBO.

In the afternoon we flew over the ridges and scraped out, parallel valleys of Pennsylvania and Maryland, crossing the Susquehanna Rivers and passing west of Harrisburg, with the smog of Philadelphia on the horizon. This leg took us as far as Hagerstown, which I'd guess was originally pronouced Hahgerstown, and neither Haggerstown nor Haygerstown, as is disputed nowadays, because its population 150 years ago or so was mainly German. (We ate at a genuinely Bavarian Stübli this evening, the Schwankerl Stube, dining on Spätzli, Schnitzel and the like, served by girls in Dirndls. The owner, who has been here for 50 years, spoke to me in Bavarian German.) Our driver, Mike, summoned by the Rider Jet Centre receptionist, wanted us to dine at an Indian restaurant to his liking and even drove out of his way to show us where it was; in the end we chose to walk into town instead; not as far when we were hot and tired. Mike, more of an executive chauffeur than a taxi driver, gave us an incredibly detailed tour of Hagerstown and its suburbs, including a history lesson about the horrific civil war Battle of Antienam and its aftermath, before finally dropping us here at the Best Western (aka Grand Venice Conference Center). Mike will vote for the Diplomats in the imminent election, not typically for this area, where it seems he has lived all his life.

So many dead bodies were lying on the field after Antienam that they couldn't be dealt with. The Yankee bodies were all collected and buried, but the others were left, until local people took pity, gathered them up and buried them individually on their properties. You can still find Confederate graves at the farms in this area, apparently.

At the end of the day we've been gazing at the stars from the outdoor hotel tub; the water in the swimming pool, though I swam around in it for a longish time, feels cold.

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