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    Archive for July, 2009

    Day 1.209 – Wee Willie Winkie

    Friday, July 31st, 2009

    Ticonderoga -> North Burlington
    Distance (km) : 87
    Time on bike : 5h 30m
    Brutto time: 08.00 – 00.00!
    Avg : 16.6 km/h
    Max.speed: 47.7
    Total (km) : 51528
    Altitude: 50 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    Moist morning in the fields...

    The rain started falling again very early morning. I damn it. Nonetheless, Wee Willie Winkie took 10.5 hours of my time last night. Must have needed all that sleep.

    Morning clouds...

    Putting my camping gear back in the bags on the bike, all soaked, is hard and something I never really get used to. So unsatisfying.

    Cycle-wise, it’s a very forgettable day today. I don’t really see a lot other than the tip of my rain coat and the wet asphalt immediately in front of me. The view is not very exciting, especially after 5 hours. Seems like my soul got a bit wet too…

    Burlington downtown.

    Buy this day – and become part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

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    Day 1.208 – When Privacy Rules Supreme…

    Thursday, July 30th, 2009

    Schuylerville -> Field near Ticonderoga
    Distance (km) : 114
    Time on bike : 7h 13m
    Brutto time: 06.45 – 20.45
    Avg : 15.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 77.7!
    Total (km) : 51.440
    Altitude: 50 m
    Difficulty: 4 of 5

    Morning camp in Schuylerville...

    A guy with a big flashlight (and a barking dog in the cop car) presented himself as “the sheriff” woke me up at 3AM in my tent last night.

    Sheriff: Why do you camp in the ballpark?
    Me: I didn’t find any hotel in town (as if…), I just wanted to get out of the rain (after 6 hrs of rainy cycling). I didn’t know this was a ball park, sir. I just want some sleep, that’s all…

    The sheriff checked my passport in his car, I waited while all the bugs ate me, cop got back, he was clearly impressed with the whole bike thing (Wow, you’ve been to China and all!) and basically told me it’s all right. Back to sleep…with 12 mossie bites.

    Everything’s wet this morning. Really wet. Tent, sleeping bag (down), mattress, cycling clothes. The rain’s stopped as I get up. Crotch is chaffing and bugging me.

    Tune of the Day: Time Bomb – Dave Matthews Band

    When it rains, my bike does weird things...

    Glens Falls, New York State.

    Hudson Falls, NY.

    In line with the old saying, after rain comes sunshine and so it is. It’s a beautiful day in upstate New York, through forests and along the wicked and touristy Lake George. Lots of hills and climbs. Scenery still feels like Canada. Love it!

    Near Glens Falls, New York State.

    In Bolton Landing on the shores of Lake George, I settle down for a few hours in front of the public library with all my wet camping gear spread out on the grass under the sun.

    “No camping here!”, an official park dude suddenly yells to me from his official car.
    “I’m not camping, just drying my stuff after the rain last night!” is my surprised reply.

    More than anything, it serves an important mental hygienic purpose to get all my gear dry again.
    It did feel like my “house” had been totally flooded, and that ain’t no pleasant feeling.

    Cool forest cycling along the former railroads...

    Lake George, the village and the lake.

    Bolton Landing, Lake George.

    Beautiful Lake George.

    Forest lake in upstate New York.

    Sunset cycling near Ticonderoga, NY.

    Buy this day – and become part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Waterfall in Ticonderoga Park...

    I’m having problems finding a spot for the tent tonight. All land seems to be private property, and after last nights’ 3AM cop interruption I don’t really feel like putting up my tent on someone’s property, clandestine style.

    Evening sky over Ticonderoga...

    After a few try-and-fail attempts down quiet secondary roads, at last, I hang a left on a desolate dirt road and set up camp in a tractor track in the fields. The mossies are having yet another feast on me. But tonight it’s all worth it. The half-moon is smiling, and the 9PM temperature is a refreshing mere 20 degrees Celsius. Privacy rules supreme…

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    Day 1.207 – Grumpy Weather Gods

    Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

    N of Hudson -> Schuylerville
    Distance (km) : 104
    Time on bike : 5h 46m
    Brutto time: 08.00 – 21.00
    Avg : 18.0 km/h
    Max.speed: 49.2
    Total (km) : 51.327
    Altitude: 5 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    At least the very early morning was rain-free today. The rest of today, 29th of July 2009, was pretty miserable in all known weather terms. After a long wifi/laptop break at the library in North Albany the downpours started for real. The forecast was gloomy and I really don’t feel like cycling in this shitty weather.

    Morning camp just north of Hudson Village, NY State.

    In Watervliet north of the New York State capital Albany I find refuge from the incessant rain in a cosy café (Don & Paul’s Café) with a sweet waitress with the most seductive voice ever. A coffee is just 80 cents, and with 2 free refills (and a caffeine bombarded body) it’s a really fine deal.

    Having a break in a café (in Watervliet near Albany)from the incessant rain in upstate New York.

    Buy this day – and become part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Heaven or Hell, the rain gets madder and madder as I cycle through the late afternoon. I get rained on. I get rained on some more, and the rain doesn’t seem to ever wanna stop. My search for a place to set up camp in Saratoga National Historic Park was fruitless, and so I try to stay calm and collected under my raincoat. But after 5 hours of being rained on, I call it a day in small-town Schuylerville at 9PM. “This is ridiculous, Nicolai”, is the sad mantra of the day.

    Through the rain, I spot a large, open green space in the center of town and quickly put up my tent behind a little shed sort of tucked away from the public buildings surrounding the park.

    That turned out to be not such a brilliant idea…

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    Day 1.206 – The Pond Fish With The Somersaults

    Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

    Croton-on-Hudson -> N of Hudson
    Distance (km) : 154
    Time on bike : 8h 36m!
    Brutto time: 06.35 – 20.00
    Avg : 18.0 km/h
    Max.speed: 55.2
    Total (km) : 51.223
    Altitude: 40 m
    Difficulty: 4.5 of 5

    Morning camp in Cromton-on-Hudson, NY State.

    The fish in the pond next to my camp last night kept waking me up during the night as they did their late-night-showing-off-somersault-twists-in-mid-air followed by a big splash. Not very polite fish.

    Tranquil Hudson River

    It’s a very pretty day. The air is so thick and fresh, colors are bright and clear (so’s my Canon 50D), and the landscape reminds me of my vision of Canada.

    Sexy curves!

    Sexy curves!

    I follow the Hudson River most of the day which – contrary to my expectations – means a lot of hills to climb. The scenery more than compensates for the non-stop sweat from Zülle’s forehead.

    More sexy curves...

    Bridge across the Hudson River, New York State.

    Comment of the Day: Wuuh, nice legs! (Afro-American woman in her car near Hudson)

    Great cycling in upstate New York.

    Yup!

    Buy this day – and become part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    At 8PM it’s still 29 degrees Celsius as I leave Hudson village behind in search for a tent spot after more than 8 hours of pedaling. Two guys in a car stop me, we have a little chat, and they offer me to put up my tent in their backyard not too far away, but I’m exhausted and just want to sleep straight away, without all the chitchat that always follows being invited to strangers’ place. It seems like a no-win situation for me, and so I turn down their otherwise kind offer.

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    Day 1.205 – Adieu Nouvelle York

    Monday, July 27th, 2009

    New York -> Croton-on-Hudson
    Distance (km) : 87
    Time on bike : 5h 19m
    Brutto time: 14.30 – 21.00
    Avg : 16.2 km/h
    Max.speed: 58.2
    Total (km) : 51.069
    Altitude: 5 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    Wiliamsburg Bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn, NY.

    Buy this day – and become part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

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    Day 1.204 – Manhattan By Night

    Sunday, July 26th, 2009

    Cristian, my great host in New York.

    Getting ready for leaving New York is on the stress-free agenda today. I spend some quality time with Cristian – my New York host – doing the laundry in the neighborhood, having a(nother) footlong Subway sandwich, chilling and chatting.

    That I will miss my time here in New York is beyond doubt. Culturally it can only go down after an unforgettable stay in The Big Apple…

    Dinner in New York with Natasha...

    At night we (tonight meaning Danish me, Swedish Charlotte, Colombian Beatriz, US/Romanian Cristian) are invited for a paella dinner at Natasha (ex-Moldavian) and her 7-year old son, Martin’s apartment in lower Manhattan.

    Natasha's orchids...

    New York dinner...

    It’s a lovely farewell dinner – and the views from the top-floor deck are amazing…

    Statue of Liberty, seen from Manhattan.

    Manhattan by night...

    Jersey City from Manhattan...

    Jersey City from Manhattan...

    Jersey City from Manhattan...

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    Day 1.203 – Photographic Ambitions (Danish Only)

    Saturday, July 25th, 2009

    Text only in Danish today. Photos will have to do the talking in a tongue that you understand.

    Chinatown, Manhattan.

    Chinatown, Manhattan.

    Manhattan

    Reflections...

    Manhattan, New York.

    Manhattan, New York.

    Manhattan, New York.

    Catching up!

    Are You Poppy?

    Homeless in New York...

    5th Avenue shopper...

    Homeless nap.

    NYPD

    Manhattan.

    Sky over Manhattan.

    Limousine...

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    Day 1.202 – One Darling Leaves, Another One Comes…

    Friday, July 24th, 2009

    Solvej’s US summer holiday continues, so it’s goodbye to her this morning. As she noted yesterday, my Danish tongue might’ve become a bit rusty over the last 3.4 years, but we’ve definitely tried to sharpen that tongue. It’s been wonderful with a bit of Golden Danish company again which might explain the slight feeling of emptiness inside of me after the goodbye hugs. C’est la vie.

    Good thing is there was another darling waiting for me, unwrapped and tempting:

    Canon EOS 50D. My new baby...

    My baby from behind…

    My new baby...

    In line with my lack of energy today, I spend most of the day “at home” reading manuals, testing the new gear, feeling stoked that the 50D is all mine now…

    Test shots...

    Ridgewood 'hood...

    Ridgewood 'hood...

    After almost a week here in Ridgewood with Cristian and Vitaly, this afternoon is my first exploration in the neighborhood. With a brand new SLR Canon on my chest, everything seems interesting…to me, that is.

    Ridgewood 'hood...

    Ridgewood 'hood...

    Tune of the Day: A Lack of Color – Death Cab For Cutie

    Ridgewood 'hood...

    Ridgewood portraits...

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    Day 1.201 – The Purchase

    Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

    The Danish Meeting in New York...

    Apart from the unbeatable company of Solvej, our visit at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, the laughs, the talks, the Japanese dinner in Lower East Side Manhattan (which was all great!) – what made my day very special was a purchase that I’ve been contemplating for months now. I’ve been dreaming about it, speaking to myself about it, but troubles with justifying the purchase has kept me from actually doing it.

    The last straw that broke the camel’s back today was no less a person than Solvej, the phychologist, and sometimes you need a shrink to get moving, to kick you in the butt, and stop thinking. Just act.
    So that’s what I did…

    Tomorrow will reveal what this was all about…

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

    Don't Even Think Of Parking Here!

    Manhattan by night...

    The New York City subway by night...

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    Day 1.200 – A Rendez-vous In New York

    Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

    It’s rendez-vous time for me again here in New York. I first met Solvej when I studied anthropology (BA) in Aarhus (second city in Denmark), and she was studying psychology. That was in 2000. Thanks to Facebook we meet up this morning, nine years later, in lower Manhattan.

    Solvej and I in Battery Park, Manhattan.

    It is to be 2 great, funny, and very verbal days with Solvej in New York. Conversations are inspiring and deep – she’s a bright psychologist after all! :-)

    Solvej

    Confession time:

    Having your own website, being able to tell your own stories and fables, and leaving the bits untold that you’d rather keep for yourself, is good. Being silent about the truth is not. Thus, confession time, it is.

    For 1.200 WT-days now, I reckon I’ve been pretty successful at presenting myself (on WT) in a respectful manner in most social contexts. And I’ve been trying hard. Trust me. But it’s not all there is to the bigger picture called Nicolai Bangsgaard.

    I am a retard. Yes, a retard. You may find it hard to believe, but this it not the time for explanations. Suffice to say that I feel relieved now that the secret’s been revealed. Proof below:

    Nicolai, the retard...

    Solvej invites me to the Bodies – The Exhibition and before you proceed with the photos below, I suggest you have a quick look at the link for a bit of info about the exhibit. Photography was strongly prohibited, but you, WT-reader, need not worry, ‘cos I’m there for your visual pleasure. Or maybe non-pleasure today.

    This is the real deal (no fake plastic mannequins!) and the exhibitions makes a huge, emotional impact on me. Quiet honestly, I think exhibit has changed the way I look at the body forever.

    Solvej and I are the last people to exit the showrooms, after more than 3 hours of alternative “entertainment”. Thanks for taking me, Solvej, and for the human anatomy crash course.

    How I could live for 33 years without knowing about the sternocleidomastoid muscle is a pure mystery to me, too!

    Nicolai:Hey, Solvej, hold on, isn’t that the kidney…?
    Solvej (laughing uncontrollably): No, Nicolai, that’s the lung…
    Nicolai: Ohh…I see.

    Bodies Exhibition. New York. Very, very cool and interesting.

    Mind you, this is real flesh and bones. The cool, cool thing about the following photo is that, the skeleton dude to the left used to live/exist in the “skin dress” to the right. Dancing with himself! So mind-boggling. So scary. So weird.

    Bodies Exhibition. New York. Very, very cool and interesting.

    Bodies Exhibition. New York. Very, very cool and interesting.

    Bodies Exhibition. New York. Very, very cool and interesting.

    The Ridgewood Gang.

    The Ridgewood Gang.

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    Day 1.199 – Gadget Increase In Camp WT

    Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

    At home with couchsurfing friends...

    Fish shop in Chinatown.

    If I tend to be not overly detailed nor specific (or eloquent :-) ) about my days here in New York (yes, the photos do a fair bit of talking, I suppose), please bear with me, dear WT-reader. The days here are generally intense, energy-demanding, exciting (culturally, personally) like nothing else, and at the end of the day, I simply and honestly just don’t have much in the way of resources for updating and keeping in touch.

    I’m happy and very proud and content being here in New York. And that’s really all there is to say…

    The new digital voice recorder gadget...

    Chilling time...

    Chilling time...

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    Get free HQ Photos!

    Monday, July 20th, 2009

    Get selected, high-quality photos from the WT-Expedition for free!

    That’s right, free. The world has given me so much, so according the the “there’s no free lunch” principle, I’ve decided to make some of my favorite photos available to the WT-readers. You may use the photo for whatever purpose you fancy (desktop, wall-photo, calender, gift, you name it).

    How Do I Do?

    Simply just click on the “Download this photo…” links below, right-click on the photo, and click “Save as…” to save the photo on your computer.

    Easy. No strings attached.

    Nicolai (New York, July 20th, 2009)

    Australian outback, October 2007.
    Download this photo (above) in hi-res for free

    Nicolai in front of Mt. Kailash (6656m), Western Tibet...
    Download this photo (above) in hi-res for free

    Moorea, French Polynesia, 2008.
    Download this photo (above) in hi-res for free!

    Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua. March 2009.
    Download this photo (above) in hi-res for free

    Uspallata morning, Western Argentina. August 2008.
    Download this photo (above) in hi-res for free

    In case it’s a sunny day and you feel like making a small donation, feel free to do so by clicking this Paypal link, or by becoming part of the WT Hall of Fame.

    Highway in Argentina. September 2008.
    Download this photo (above) in hi-res for free

    Nicolai on the deserted road going up to the Taldyk Pass at 3630m. Kyrgyzstan.
    Download this photo (above) in hi-res for free

    The Twelve Apostles. South Australia.
    Download this photo (above) in hi-res for free

    Australian outback. October 2007.
    Download this photo (above) in hi-res for free

    Mount Bromo and neighboring volcanoes. East Java, Indonesia. August 2007.
    Download this photo (above) in hi-res for free

    Baby monkey. Ubud, Bali - Indonesia. 2007.
    Download this photo (above) in hi-res for free


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    Day 1.198 – A Thought For The Day

    Monday, July 20th, 2009

    Elderlies in New York.

    I spend most of the afternoon at the beautiful New York Public Library, researching and updating in some of the most majestic surroundings imaginable.

    New York Public Library. Very impressive.

    Seen in a New York Subway:


    To doubt everything or to believe enerything are two equally convenient solutions: both despense with the need for thought.
    Henri Poincaré.

    Chilling with couchsurfing hosts Vitaly, Cristian plus UK-couchsurfer Fraser and Colombian Beatriz and Amalia.

    Cristian (fixing the roses) and I in Ridgewood...

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    Day 1.197 – Central Park & Harlem

    Sunday, July 19th, 2009

    New York City Subway...

    The thought of a chilled Sunday in Central Park sounds like the right thing to me today.

    Central Park, New York. July 2009.

    Central Park, New York. July 2009.

    If you were interested in advanced nose studies, New York would be the obvious arena for the perfect field work. They come in all varieties here in New York, from the enormous, eagle-y Caucasian, to the Tyson-flat Afro-American, to slim and elegant (and perfectly powdered), black, yellow, white, vulture and mouse models, Asian, African, American, you name it. New York has it all, also in the world of noses.

    Central Park, New York. July 2009.

    Central Park, New York. July 2009.

    Central Park, New York. July 2009.

    Amazingly, I meet up with Sara (and her friend Emilie, Montreal) again today, totally random in the center of Central Park. Hard not to believe in destiny, fate, chance and Jesus these days.

    Central Park, New York. July 2009.

    Hans Christian Andersen in Central Park, New York. July 2009.

    Central Park, New York. July 2009.

    Late summer colors in Central Park...

    Central Park, New York. July 2009.

    I continue my long walk up to Harlem and East Harlem, an area that apparently was a big no-go just a decade or so ago, but things keep changing in this metropolis, and I feel safe as ever as I walk the streets of Harlem. Am slightly disappointed by the lack of action in the back streets this afternoon (said the photographer in me).

    Harlem 2009.

    Harlem, NYC.

    Harlem street signs.

    Harlem scenes...

    St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York.

    Manhattan skyline...

    Act + Learn

    NYC subway.

    Total distance walked today: Ca. 30 km.

    (Don’t worry about all that talk about noses. Was a bit hungover today).

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    Day 1.196 – Coney (or was it Corny) Island…

    Saturday, July 18th, 2009

    New York Subway...

    I put some wild Pixies tunes in my ears as I jump on the subway towards Coney Island and I feel like I ride the high tide of the metropolis. Coney Island is famous for its tacky amusement parks that have put the area on the tourist map for years and years.

    Coney Island boardwalk...

    Coney Island...

    It's been a while...

    The place is packed with people on this sun-blessed Saturday. Seems like all of New York’s residents and tourists alike have decided to come to Coney Island! Madness.

    Delicate...

    Coney Island...

    Cheesy entertainment!

    It’s the big day of the Siren Music Festival that boasts free gigs with my post-teenage fan Black Francis (of Pixies and Frank Black fame) and his wife in the new duo, Grand Duchy.

    Black Francis and wife in Grand Duchy...

    And my best friend he’s the King of Karaoke
    is probably the best single song line ever written. And it came out of the pockets of the man on stage today!

    Black Francis and wife in Grand Duchy...

    Wonder Wheel, Coney Island.

    Next up was The Raveonettes, a Danish duo, with Sune Wagner (of former Psyched Up Janis fame) in front pulling the strings.

    The Raveonettes.

    Tune of The Day: Calistan - Frank Black

    Manhattan through the subway window...

    This city, well, I just love it. So unbelievably vibrant and overwhelming in that big-city manner.

    (Now was that first photo from the subway funky…?)

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    Day 1.195 – Brooklyn/Queens

    Friday, July 17th, 2009

    Maulung, my couchsurfing host, is leaving town for the weekend so it’s goodbye to him and Lower East Side Manhattan today. Luckily, Cristian, another couchsurfer, has invited me to his place in Ridgewood on the border between Brooklyn and Queens, a 30 min. subway ride from Manhattan – or, in WT-terminology, a 1.15 hour bike ride, including a ride across the mighty Brooklyn Bridge.

    Cycling across the Brooklyn Bridge, New York...

    At one end of the bridge a woman (with her family) recognizes me in the street, right in the center of Manhattan. Thing went like this (in Danish):

    Woman: Hey, you are from Denmark?
    Me: Yeah, I am (surprised).
    Woman: Are you the one we’ve been reading about in the paper?
    Me: That’s very likely.
    Woman: How funny is that! (excited)
    Me (a little less excited): That’s very funny…

    So I guess I’ve passed the “Are You Famous” test now…

    Cycling across the Brooklyn Bridge, New York...

    Cycling across the Brooklyn Bridge, New York...

    Brooklyn is a totally different world compared to the glitzy high-rise scene of Manhattan. It tastes a little more like ghetto, a little less golden.

    Brooklyn 2009.

    I meet up with Cristian (31, of Romanian descent, tennis couch + PC doctor, has been living in the US for 24 years) and we get along right from the start. Two Colombian girls, Beatriz and Amalia, are staying (couchsurfing) in his apartment too, along with his roommate Vitaly (33, originally from Ukraine, PC doctor).

    My new couchsurfing home in Ridgewood...

    Again my timing is spot-on. We’re invited to a couchsurfing party in Brooklyn not too far away, and it’s another great introduction into New York life.


    Funny The Way It Is:

    Now here’s something funny. I met Sara (from Montreal) for the first time in Tibet back in October 2006. She was traveling with a small Canadian group (4×4-style while I was struggling the washboard roads) in Tibet, and randomly I met them again in Saga for an unforgettable halloween.

    In Pokhara, Nepal (November 2006) I met Sara for the third time. Our fourth meeting was planned and took place in Ayutthaya, Thailand (May 2007), as was the fifth one on magical Perhentian Islands in Malaysia (June 2007). Tonight was our sixth meeting (planned too, obviously), as Sara is in town for the weekend with a friend from Montreal. It’s kind of surreal. 6 meetings in 3.25 years in 5 countries…

    The couchsurfing gang...

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    Top 10 Beer of the World

    Thursday, July 16th, 2009

    Knowing that there are so many beautiful types of beer out there, coming up with an all-round Top 10 Beer Of The World List might seem like a bold thing.

    Anyway, I’ve come across a great deal of good beer over that last years, and on the list below is a (sort of) ranked list of some of the best I’ve come across.

    As you can tell, I’m into India Pale Ales at the moment. I had no idea that the US is home to such great (micro) breweries.

    The last entry on the list, the Thai Beer Chang is more of a nostalgic reminder of all the good times this beer gave me in 2007. There’s definitely something in this beer that makes life look a little brighter – and that they don’t put on the label!

    Confronted with a list of other great beers, I feel like a total rookie on the beer scene, so much unexplored territory out there. But I’m working on it, and here goes:

    1. ***** Snake Dog (USA, India Pale Ale)
    2. ***** H.I.P.A (USA, India Pale Ale)
    3. ****½ Dog Fish Head 90 (USA, India Pale Ale)
    4. **** Little Creatures (Australia, Pale Ale)
    5. ****Montieth Summer (New Zealand, Pale Lager)
    6. **** Okocim Palone (Poland, Dark Lager)
    7. ****Hoegarden Original White Ale (Belgium, Witbier/White Ale)
    8. ***½ Coopers Original Pale Ale (Australia, Pale Ale)
    9. ***½ Negra Modelo (Mexico, Dark Beer)
    10. *** Beer Chang (Thailand, Lager)

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    Day 1.194 – The City That Doesn’t Sleep

    Thursday, July 16th, 2009

    Colored only!

    Taking a nap!

    I feel tired too most of the day. Yesterday’s full-on sightseeing madness has taken its toll on me. Still, exploring Midtown Manhattan is on the agenda, tired or not.

    Restaurant in Manhattan.

    New York Public Library. Very impressive.

    Bryant Park, Manhattan.

    Coffee chilling...

    Mural, Manhattan.

    As you may know, I’m a test driver for the German tire company Schwalbe, and I’ve arranged to have Schwalbe send two new tires to this bike shop (Toga) in Upper West Side Manhattan, but unfortunately, the tires hadn’t arrived when I got there today. Such a bummer. And such a long walk up there…

    Ray of light...

    I have my first experience with New York’s subway this afternoon. It’s effective, painless and free (first two rides, anyway, since Ruth gave me a metro card in Philadelphia).

    The Subway

    Japanese dinner with Maulung and Celine...

    (Quick follow-up on the tires: Schwalbe will send them to me in Montreal instead…)

    Hanging out with Maulung in his Manhattan studio.

    Maybe this city doesn’t sleep, but I need it badly…

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    Day 1.193 – Faces of Manhattan

    Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

    0 km on bike. Countless km walking the streets of Manhattan.

    It’s a perfect, sunny day in New York. Clear sky, some 30 degrees C, and yet I’m boiling with excitement all day. Three hours of web research at home got me ready to explore lower Manhattan.

    Come with me – it’s going to be a long day.

    My couchsurfing room with Maulung in Manhattan...

    (Mouse on photo as usual…)

    This happened just before my eyes in Manhattan...

    Katz's Delicatessen. Manhattan 2009.

    Kitchy!

    Little Italy, Manhattan.

    Hundreds of mini-buddhas at the Chinatown Temple...

    Tragic and powerful reminder of a killed cyclist in New York...

    Asians in Columbus Park, downtown Manhattan.

    Asian woman playing cards in Columbus Park, downtown Manhattan.

    Asians in Columbus Park, downtown Manhattan.

    Men playing games in Columbus Park, downtown Manhattan.

    Men playing games in Columbus Park, downtown Manhattan.

    Men playing games in Columbus Park, downtown Manhattan.

    Looking up in downtown Manhattan.

    Memories of 9/11 in St. Paul's Chapel.

    Manhattan.

    People do a lot of shopping in Manhattan. For my part, I limit myself to 3 pears for a buck in Chinatown, apart from lunch and drinks.

    The World Trade Center Site...

    NYPD

    Tune of The Day: Everything Is - Neutral Milk Hotel

    14 Wall Street, Manhattan.

    Broadway, Manhattan.

    If anything takes up a special place in the chock-a-block crammed attic of my brain, it is being in New York, exploring the city at large, on foot. I absolutely LOVE this megalopolis. Nothing less than love.

    Show me!

    Tourist bus in Manhattan.

    New York is a city of contrasts. Like most big cities in the first, second, and third world. One minute you get this…

    North Cove, Manhattan.

    …the next this…
    Assumably homeless in Manhattan.

    The same goes for me. One minute I’m eating a 4 USD Vietnamese sandwich in Chinatown…

    Lunch!

    …the next I’m drinking fine reds in a stunning Manhattan penthouse apartment…

    The view from the penthouse apartment in Manhattan.

    Celine (Belgium) and my host Maulung at the penthouse party in Manhattan.

    The view from the penthouse apartment in Manhattan.

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    New York, New York…

    Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

    (UK only)…

    Wow, wow, wow. I made it to New York. Am sitting in a park at the southern end of Broadway, and though there is a strong breeze here, I’m not sure it (the breeze) explains all the goosebumps on my arm and in the jewel box. It is quite simply inexplicable for me to be here in New York, not that I’ve really seen anything yet (just got off the ferry across the Hudson River from Jersey City an hour ago), but just being here is very special to me. Come 51.000 km and 52.000 km: this is a real milestone for me.

    50.950 km, 38 countries, 5 continents and 1.192 days after I left Copenhagen, Denmark, New York is finally under my feet, and – soon, I assume – under my skin.

    Later this afternoon a host through Couchsurfing will open his Manhattan doors for me, and it feels great that it’s been taken care of. For now, I think I’ll just cruise around Manhattan with my bike, trying to grasp that I’m finally here (first NYC visit as you can tell from the excitement)…

    People ask me: Where to next, Nicolai?

    I’ve had voices me telling me where to go for a while now, and I think this might be the right moment to tell you about it. Looking at the map of North America, it seems like I’m almost running out of asphalt on my north-east bound crusade across the US. But not quite. There’s still some 700 km of mostly forested pavement up to the Canadian border, and thus, I’ve decided to make it to Montreal! How about that? I mean, how can I not – I’m in the neighborhood anyway, Canada is totally unexplored territory to me, and Canadians are great people. Then West Africa. Then home.

    Hope these words find you all in great spirits and shapes.

    Nicolai (Manhattan, New York)

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    Day 1.192 – NEW YORK

    Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

    Somerville (NJ) -> Manhattan, New York
    Distance (km) : 87
    Time on bike : 5h 28m
    Brutto time: 08.25 – 18.30
    Avg : 15.8 km/h
    Max.speed: 46.9
    Total (km) : 50.969
    Altitude: 1 m
    Difficulty: 1.5 of 5

    Buy this day – and become part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Newark

    The New York rockers in the Strokes send me flying through Newark under a burning sun and with lots of hyper-excitement in the saddle. New York is just around the corner.

    Yup!

    But that corner was a tricky one. Even though I did a lot of research about getting to Manhattan on my bike, I was quite shocked when – just after leaving Newark – I found myself on the shoulder-less Pulaski Skyway Hwy 1/9, a monster and heavily trafficked highway bridge that looked very manageable on my map. Not so. Cars were honking at me, people yelling things I couldn’t hear because I was just too focused on staying in line near the curb. Fuck, Nicolai, what the Hell have you got yourself in to? It’s a nightmare and I am surprised no police car stopped me/saw me. Zülle has never been more concentrated. I’m a straight-line Koga-dancer.

    Jersey City...

    The rest of the day is pure adrenaline (the good kind). Having finally arrived in New York after 1.192 days (3 years, 3 months, 4 days) is a very special moment.

    Me in Jersey City with Mahattan's skyline in the back across Hudson River.

    Manhattan skyline...

    NY Waterways...

    Manhattan skyline...

    Wireless in Bowling Green Park, Manhattan.

    Manhattan downtown...

    Another classic pose:

    At the impressive Brooklyn Bridge...

    Brooklyn Bridge.

    The Koga at Times Square.

    Times Square.

    Nicolai at Times Square, Manhattan.

    Manhattan downtown...

    In the late afternoon, I meet up with Couchsurfing-host Mau-Lung (37) who came to the US 9 years ago from Hong Kong and works as an architect in Manhattan’s Business District not far from Wall Street. He lives in a classic 1-bedroom Manhattan studio that he kindly shares with needy travelers.
    We get along from the first minute, and (again) I feel so lucky that (sort of) random, good souls open their doors just like that.

    First night in New York with Jake and Mau-lung...

    It’s a full-on head-first dive into Manhattan’s nightlife for me as we go out and have a looong row of ales in McSorley’s, one of the oldest bars in New York. Great night, great energy, great buzz…Can’t really believe I’m here. N-e-w Y-o-r-k

    Night time view from "my" apartment in Lower East Side, Manhattan.

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    Day 1.191 – New Jersey

    Monday, July 13th, 2009

    Havertown (PA) -> Somerville (NJ)
    Distance (km) : 130
    Time on bike : 7h 17m
    Brutto time: 08.45 – 21.20
    Avg : 17.8 km/h
    Max.speed: 58.0
    Total (km) : 50.882
    Altitude: 30 m
    Difficulty: 3.5 of 5

    It’s time to leave Ruth and Elvis (showing butt below! Shame on you, Elvis) in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

    Leaving Ruth and Elvis (showing butt) in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

    Idyllic and green cycling in Pennsylvania...

    Ready for harvest...

    Ducks crossing...

    Crossing the Delaware River, from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.

    Welcome to New Jersey...

    New Jersey countryside...

    The shadows (mine) in the roadside get longer and longer as I pedal into the night in western New Jersey, as I pedal towards New York City. The deer are happily frolicking in the fields, with always-alert, triangular ears sticking up towards the bright July sky. It’s a beautiful night.

    The Sunset Rider...

    Near Somerville I set up camp a record-breaking mere 30 meters from Hwy 206. Doesn’t get much closer than that. It’s just 19 degrees C as I find night-rescue in my nylon bobble, the coolest night since the chilly Andean nights at high altitude, and for the first time since Colombia I find the insulating feathers of my sleeping bag comfy.

    Buy this day – and become part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    New Jersey countryside...

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    Day 1.190 – King of Steaks

    Sunday, July 12th, 2009

    Wall decoration. Italian Market Area, Philly.

    How to order a steak...

    This is a legend around here…Yummy and greasy at Pat’s King of Steaks in Philadelphia…

    The famous Philly cheesesteak...

    To burn off some of those fatty calories, Ruth and I go for a long walk ‘n talk in Philadelphia downtown. It feels like just the right way to spend the Sunday, my last day in Philadelphia that has been a great surprise to me.

    Oddities in Philadelphia...

    From the Reading Station Market:

    Yeah, one of those, please!

    Ruth getting us some cupcakes at the Reading Station Market, Philly.

    Philadelphia high-rise...

    Shop front, Philly.

    Macy's in Philly...

    Outdoor dinner with Ruth in Havertown, PA.

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    Day 1.189 – Japon

    Saturday, July 11th, 2009

    Brekkie with Ruth in Havertown...

    Elvis...

    This is where I spent most of today. Wifi, privacy and quiet…That’s how I like it when at work in Camp WT.

    HTFL

    Ruth and I at the Japanese restaurant in Havertown, PA.

    Would you believe me, if I told you I finished off this gigantic pot of Japanese goodies…

    The huge pot of japanese food...

    …and then wolfed down a heaven-send tiramisu?

    Delicioso!

    You should.

    (And thanks, Ruth, for another great night out. I’m getting spoiled, and we know it)

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    Day 1.188 – Illinois in Philadelphia

    Friday, July 10th, 2009

    Through her membership of the WXPN Radio, Ruth has got two free tickets for a concert (part of the Free At Noon friday gigs) with the local band Illinois, and has invited me to come along. Sweet.

    Getting lost again...

    After a quick stop at her office (Ruth works as an accountant at the family-run Kuehnle-Wilson Painting Company) – where I get lost looking at maps again – we take the train to the World Live Cafe in downtown Philadelphia for the noon-gig.

    Elvis, the Chihuahua King...

    30th Street Station, Philly.

    Illinois, live from World Live Cafe in Philadelphia.

    Illinois, a band I’d never heard of, turns out to be a great gig, and with cold Troeg’s Drafts (at noon) in our hands accompanied by catchy sounds from the Illinois boys, this Friday has just the right attitude. :-)

    Illinois, live from World Live Cafe in Philadelphia.

    I spend the rest of the day cruising around Philadelphia’s southern neighborhoods. In the Italian Market
    area I hear more Spanish and Vietnamese than Italian, but it’s a great area to explore (said the photographer) nonetheless…

    Philadelphia skyline...

    Italian Market neighborhood, Philly.

    Italian Market neighborhood, Philly.

    Italian Market neighborhood, Philly.

    Italian Market neighborhood, Philly.

    Philadelphia downtown...

    Superb thai lunch deal in Philly!

    Philadelphia downtown...

    Philadelphia is on the same latitude as Madrid, Spain. Did you know?

    Philadelphia downtown...

    Santiago, Chile – where I started my cycling in the Americas nearly 11 months ago – is on the same latitude as Cape Town, South Africa. Did you know?

    Philadelphia downtown...

    I have cycled 4.200 km so far in the US of A. Yeah, you knew that, didn’t you?

    Philadelphia downtown...

    Mural on 9th Street, Philadelphia.

    Fascinating!

    Oldtimer on Broad Street, Philly.

    Geno's Cheesesteaks...

    Philadelphia residents...

    Streetlights in Philadelphia...

    Vietnam War Memorial in Philadelphia...

    Interstate thru Philly...

    Philadelphia resident...

    Me in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, West Entrance.

    Statue in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, West Entrance.

    Philadelphia skyline...

    Detail. Philadelphia Museum of Art, West Entrance.

    You still here? We’re almost there. Hang on. Two photos to go. You can do it.

    Interesting...

    Detail. Philadelphia Museum of Art, East Entrance.

    A fantastic and long day in Philadelphia. Wow. This Friday started with a beer and a live concert, and ended with a beer and The Proposition at home with Ruth and Elvis.

    …and it’s not just some beer. It’s this baby, and thanks to Ruth (again) for opening up another door into the World of Great Beers…

    Stay tuned for my Top 10 Beers of The World…

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    Day 1.187 – Michael Jackson in Philadelphia?

    Thursday, July 9th, 2009

    Comfort in Havertown!

    Ruth has printed out some good Philadelphia info/maps for me to make it easier to find my way in to the big city (6th biggest metropolitan area in the USA, some 5.8 million people – more than the entire Kingdom of Denmark. It’s huge!).

    She and Elvis leave for work, and in the early afternoon (after laundry, a bit of Tour de France and general mental acclimatisation) I leave for Philly (as it’s aptly nicknamed), super excited about getting to know this big fella’.

    Sunshine, the cat next door...

    Some day...

    I get off the metro smack in the center of downtown, on Market Street near the impressive City Hall, and for the rest of the day it’s high-octane sightseeing. Philadelphia is overwhelming in a very cool, positive way. It’s big-time high-rise territory, very vibrant with people (evidently) from all walks of life, all colours, all social strata. Temperature is all summer-y and pleasant. Can’t help but feeling proud being here (funny, I know). Here and then I get these tiny bouts of electroshock of happiness, and I know I’m privileged being here, doing what I want to.

    City Hall, Philadelphia.

    Anyway, welcome to Philadelphia through my Canon and Sony lenses. It’s all for you, beloved WT-reader (and for personal future references in case my memory should crash)…

    Philadelphia downtown...

    Philly Phlash...

    The Benjamin Franklin Bridge over Delaware river...

    Looking up in Philadelphia downtown...

    Philadelphia resident...

    And you can get all of that for just 7.95!

    Philadelphia's Chinatown...

    The beautiful Masonic Library...

    PRSS

    Franklin Square...

    Franklin Square...

    Philadelphia's Chinatown...

    Nap or nowhere to go?

    Philadelphia downtown...

    You thought he was dead? Don’t believe the media. The King never dies…

    MJ

    Near JKF Plaza, Philadelphia...

    Philadelphia downtown...

    JKF Plaza, Philadelphia...

    Backwards LOVE

    LOVE!

    Cathedral of saints Peter and Paul...

    The Philly metro...

    Phew, long day, lots of photos, lots of walking, lots of audiovisual input. Back home in Havertown Ruth and I go out to a local thai restaurant, Sukho Thai, that serves a heavenly chicken red curry and God have I missed that! Another great day in another great city with another great host/friend.

    Ruth and I at Sukho Thai Restautant, Havertown.

    Chilling in Havertown.

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    Day 1.186 – Elvis (the dog) & The Lucky Kat

    Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

    Newark (DE) -> Havertown/Philadelphia (PA)
    Distance (km) : 58
    Time on bike : 3h 37m
    Brutto time: 07.35 – 16.45
    Avg : 16.0 km/h
    Max.speed: 41.3
    Total (km) : 50.752
    Altitude: 40 m
    Difficulty: 1.5 of 5

    This is how last night’s Mossie Hell looks like:

    Wild camp in Newark, Delaware. Mossie Hell!

    Wilmington (Delaware State) turned out to be a lot bigger than expected by looking at my map. High-rise and all. I just zipped through it.

    Wilmington, Delaware's skyline...

    Wilmington, Delaware's skyline...

    This photo from Chester just west of Philadelphia doesn’t really show the gritty ‘n rough feeling to the ‘hood. But I could feel it…
    Row homes in Chester, Pennsylvania.

    A few weeks ago, I got an email from Lynn in Pennsylvania saying that if I was coming through her neighborhood, I’d be most welcome to come and stay. That was a great surprise to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet up with Lynn, ‘cos she was going on vacation in Ireland.

    This is when the Northern Hospitality kicked in. Lynn told her sister, Ruth, about me and after a short email corresponce with Ruth I had a place to stay in Havertown, a residential suburb some 10 miles west of Philadelphia downtown. Open doors, just like that!

    In the afternoon I meet up with Ruth (40) that lives in a twin home with her chihuahua dog, Elvis (12). Though Elvis plays a little hard to get at first (a’la: What’s This Man Doing In My House!), I feel very welcome right from the start, not just because I’m treated with a lovely Lucky Kat India Pale Ale, but because Ruth is relaxed and interesting company.

    A lucky man with a Lucky Kat…

    Lucky Kat, Magic Hat Breweries.

    We go out for dinner at a nearby pub/restaurant and have a thoroughly pleasant evening, with lots of talk about music, movies, travel and whatever makes the cultural world spin.

    Though Elvis seems to be a bit picky when it comes to who and when he allows people to cuddle him, his good fun. Click here to say hallo to Elvis in a video that Ruth recorded of the cute little fella refusing to go to bed. It’s hilarious!

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    Day 1.185 – Northern Equivalent to Southern Hospitality

    Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

    Overlea (MD) -> Newark (DE)
    Distance (km) : 95
    Time on bike : 4h 47m
    Brutto time: 07.30 – 21.15
    Avg : 19.8 km/h
    Max.speed: 61.3
    Total (km) : 50.693
    Altitude: 20 m
    Difficulty: 2 of 5

    I’ve been sitting in the McDonald’s for some two hours when Marcia strikes up a conversation with me. She’s a warm and vibrant woman, and we talk for a while, about WT and other important matters.

    Let me get you something to eat. You must be hungry, she says at some point. My two sausage burritos + two large coffees are still doing well in my stomach, but I can’t really turn this kind offer down. Just pick whatever you want. I go for a filling McSkillet burrito meal. Smiling, thanking Marcia.

    Now that’s the start of the day you’d only wish for. If the concept of Southern Hospitality has any substance to it (and I strongly believe it has), this has got to be the Northern equivalent! Thanks, Marcia!

    It’s a warm, sunny day spiced up with a bit of tailwind. Terrain is noticeably more hilly than any other place I’ve been to in the US. Hwy 1 has a fat shoulder, often 4 meters wide, where I’m frolicking.

    I cross the Susquehanna River (along a thin bit of road that is also a dam) and soon I cross the Maryland/Delaware State border too. Delaware is my 11th US state (+ D.C., the odd egg in the basket).

    The Useless Info Center informs:

    There is no state tax in Delaware! It means, that when it says 99 cents on a 680 ml Arizona Mango Drink, you actually only pay 99 cents, and not anywhere between 1.06-1.10 $ as in other states.

    My path cross that of another long-distance cyclist today. American Kelly is touring around all of the US (and Cananda) on his bike (with trailer) on his 14th (!) year cycling . More than 84.000 miles so far, he tells me. He cleans windows whenever he can to support himself. Apart from being cycle-tourers we also share being Koga Miyata-riders and we both love our machines. We talk and chat for most of an hour, and it’s always inspiring to have a glimpse of other cyclist’s touring life, to see another set-up, and to share stories. Being photographed was against Kelly’s philosophy so you’d have to live without, folks…

    I grab a few hours of wifi and WT-updates at Newark Free Library, and leave just before sunset in time to do some groceries. As seen before, I sort of lose myself in the long supermarket aisles in search for the good deals, and it’s dark when I finally leave the store, ready to find a renegade camp site for the night.

    Behind a Rite Aid Pharmacy store I find a grassy spot just 80 meters from Hwy 2. Traffic is still loud and busy, but this camp spot seems like the real deal nonetheless ‘cos I’m pretty knackered. And, it soon turns out, easy prey for the hungry mosquitos that start sucking the bejesus out of me as if there was no tomorrow (which there probably isn’t, anyway, for these small buggers). Safe inside my nylon heaven I count 12 annoying mossie bites. It takes a while until I’m ready to wolf down my easy no-frills dinner: canned ravioli and pumpernickel bread followed by 1 peach, 1 banana and 1 apple.

    (Photos to come)

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    Day 1.184 – Guerilla Camping In Baltimore

    Monday, July 6th, 2009

    Washington, D.C. -> Overlea (N of Baltimore)
    Distance (km) : 96
    Time on bike : 5h 34m
    Brutto time: 14.00 – 21.00
    Avg : 17.1 km/h
    Max.speed: 49.4
    Total (km) : 50.598
    Altitude: 30 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    As I know far too well at this stage of my global wanderings, all good things come to an end. This applies to my fantastic time here in Washington, D.C. with Mike and Trina as well.

    Saying goodbye in the morning as they leave for work, I have this feeling that this is not the final farewell, that we’ll all meet up again some day, somewhere. Fingers crossed because I’ve been very pleased with the friendship that has grown over the last week with Mike and Trina – plus I’m hugely indebted to them on the universal favor account that we’re all part of, and I hope I can somehow make up for all they’ve given me (edible, non-edible, material and immaterial) if/once we meet again, in Denmark or elsewhere.

    My electronic gadgets seem to let me down these days. A few months ago, my mid-range Canon lens stopped working, my laptop has given up on me, and my 2.000 USD HD video camera (bought in Malaysia in 2007) has caused me trouble since the bumpy roads of South America.

    I guess this is to be expected, but still it sort of saddens me to be carrying around these dead dinosaurs. The problem is temporarily solved this morning, as I send a huge 15.5 lb (7.5 kg) package back to Denmark (75 USD postage, all in the name of lightweight travel. Auuuuu! That hurt). Out of sight, out of mind.

    I still have my pocket camera so I’ll still be able to make movie clips. And now I can devote all my electronic love to my new Toshiba NB205-N311 netbook.

    Mike and Trina gave me a print-out last night with a description of an alternative, bike-friendly route from D.C. to Baltimore that I’m following all day. Leaving the house on Q Street late afternoon brings an emotional melange of the sadness of leaving something/someone behind that you like and the evergreen excitement of being on the road again. Sometimes the hardest and the right things are the same…

    This part of the US, the eastern corridor, is expectedly built up and I never really leave the suburbs on my way to Baltimore. But the ride is pleasant, mostly on bike paths or minor roads with only light traffic.

    I have absolutely no idea where to spend the night, but I do know that I’m not going to pay for it. I hit the suburbs of Baltimore around 7PM, shadows are long, and I’m not really sure if it’s a good idea at all to go through downtown Baltimore (not the best kid on the block) this late in the day, not sure where to camp or anything.

    Some of the ‘hoods southwest of downtown are definitely not places you’d want to bring your family for a Sunday picnic. Running low on alternatives, I just keep pedaling through the not-too-nice and gritty areas, not paying much attention to the seedy characters I pass by.

    At 8PM I’m wam-bam in the center of downtown Baltimore. Nighttime approaches, and I decide this ain’t the time for my big-city sightseeing escapades, so I keep going. Springsteen’s on my mind. Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack!

    The seediness of the neighborhoods doesn’t exactly disappear on the other side of town. Even in broad daylight these areas would seem pretty dark. I hang a right on Hwy 1 that takes me out of town, towards Philadelphia. It’s dark, busy, and I can’t say I’m enjoying this last bit of the cycling day. I keep hoping for a church with a grassy, quiet backyard, but all I see is a busy and extended urban tongue that stretches waaay north.

    A community center in the Baltimore suburb of Overlea shows me mercy. The fire flies seem to be my only companions (plus a few mosquitoes ready for a surprise late-dinner) on the grass behind the building, right next to some residential houses and just 80 m from the highway. Tent up, canned spaghetti down, and goodnight Zülle.

    (Photos on their way…)

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    Day 1.183 – The Last Supper

    Sunday, July 5th, 2009

    Waking up to grand slam tennis most mornings here in D.C. has been a treat for me. This morning the Wimbledon tennis final takes up the first 4 hours of my day. In a historically long final, Federer beats Roddick 16-14 in the fifth set and thus enters the book of tennis records as having won the most grand slam titles ever. EVER! Congrats to the Swiss.

    It’s been 5 months to the day since my last haircut. You can tell. So could Ben, a local hairdresser, the other day when he ran across the street to tell me that he worked next door and could do some funky, near-magical things to my hair, and that I’d get a USD 10 discount. I decide to take him up on it today.

    Hi, you’ve come to see me?, he says smiling as I enter the salon. There’s no denying that. When’s the last time you colored it, he suddenly asks me. Uh, I don’t color it. I spend most of my time on the bike and the sun takes care of that, I inform him, and automatically lower my expectations of what’s going to happen to my hair.

    Apparently, the same sun that makes my hair all blond also makes it dry as hay, and next thing I know is that I’m sitting under this dryer with a plastic cap on my head, with a wonder treatment in my hair, looking (I imagine) like an older woman getting her curls done. Anyway, haircut done, I go to the local Whole Foods Supermarket to get some wine for our (Mike, Trina, and I) last dinner.

    As if I haven’t been spoiled staying with Mike and Trina here in D.C., Trina dishes up the most delicious South Indian dinner at home. I’ve got 6 different goodies on my plate and it’s all pure spicy heaven – as is the strawberry/rhubarb pie with vanilla ice-cream! This Last Supper will definitely make it harder for me to go back to my standard on-the-road baked beans and canned spaghetti diet.

    The vinho verde I got today is accompanied by the great road movie (of sorts) Sideways, one of my favorite movies.

    In a rare moment of mental clarity I realize how incredibly lucky I have been staying here with Mike and Trina. Not only have they warmly invited me into their apartment/lives, they have taken care of absolutely everything over the last 8 days (my sincere attempts at shelling out for this and that have been futile), they have been a great, relaxed, funny, and intelligent company, and I know I’m going to miss them when I leave tomorrow. A true highlight on my US crusade…

    (Photos to come…)

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    Day 1.182 – New Baby Born

    Saturday, July 4th, 2009

    Very frustrating morning. My laptop keeps playing silly tricks on me, and won’t start up at all. It just keeps going through this Win XP start-up cycle, and booting or re-installing XP doesn’t seem to do the trick. For 3 days now I’ve been trying desperately to fix the machine, and after another 4 hours today I simply give up on it (men need new electronic gadgets now and then anyway, right).

    When Trina confirms that the local Best Buy is open today, the 4th of July, I grab my bike, plastic card in my pocket, intend on getting the Asus notebook I’ve been wanting for a while. In the store I’m quickly distracted by a sleek looking Toshiba baby, read a few reviews online in the store, and decide to go for it. Just like that. So much for my Asus love. I can assure I’m not like that in real life… :-)

    The 400 USD (+30 USD for bag and mouse) price tag will probably burn in my dollar-anorectic mind for a while, but I really feel I need this new baby to keep WT alive and up-to-date. I’m sure you – the WT-reader – will understand.

    At home Trina and Mike’s treating me to a delicious sandwich and salad. I simply love everything that comes from their skilled cuisine hands. This is a good life. We all get ready for tonight’s 4th of July events, and go to a restaurant/bar nearby with outdoor seating and have a glass of sangria. Evening temperature is perfect as usual.

    At the table next to ours is a Scandinavian looking couple, and I soon see the guys’ T-shirt with the unmistakably Danish text: DBU Fodboldskole (Danish Soccer School). Katrine and Jakob from Næstved are traveling in the US for 4 months, and though it’s kind of weird for me to speak my native, Danish tongue again after some 4 months of Spanish/English, it’s a welcome breeze from the Danish shores.

    Mike works as a budget officer at The White House, and Trina works as a public health analyst for the government as well. That sort of jobs has it’s advantages, and tonight they are invited to The White House for the events going on there. Stylish.

    Meanwhile, I – The Duke of Humbleness – go to the National Mall, along with more than a million (yes, more than 1.000.000, according to tomorrow’s newspapers) spectators, anticipating the great 4th of July fireworks.

    It’s truly a mad scene with oceans of people, and I can’t think of anything but the unforgettable carnival in Salvador in northeastern Brazil back in 2001 (with some 1.5 million people partying in the streets) that involves this many people. In comparison, this event is more controlled, less insane, of course, but it’s quite a spectacle nonetheless.

    I find a spot right in the center of the action, next to the Washington Monument, and crash/relax while I wait for the highlight of the night: the fireworks show. And boy was that worth waiting for. The gigantic 15-minute display is professionally orchestrated and pure world-class. Very impressive. And the million+ observers seem to be impressed too, judged by the uhhs! and ahhs! and woahs!

    (Please come back for photos)

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    Day 1.181 – The Big Day Out

    Friday, July 3rd, 2009

    Dayride to Great Falls, Maryland: 50 km.

    Coffee with Mike and Trina in D.C.

    Mike and Trina have a day off today. It’s my day off too, so we get our bikes ready (they cycled across the US in 2006, some 3.500 miles), and go for a nice day ride out to The Great Falls in Maryland State, just 15 miles to the NW of Washington, D.C.

    The scenic C&O Trail...

    Ducks on a flowing carpet of acid green substance…
    Happy ducks!

    The Great Falls, just 15 miles outside of central D.C.

    Nectar suckers!

    The Great Falls, just 15 miles outside of central D.C.

    The Great Falls, just 15 miles outside of central D.C.

    The scenic C&O Trail...

    The scenic C&O Trail...

    The Great Falls, just 15 miles outside of central D.C.

    The boys chilling on the river...

    The Bike Trio: Mike, Nicolai, and Trina...

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    Day 1.180 – China & Japan

    Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

    Beautiful architecture in D.C.

    When I take a look at the Washington, D.C map, I feel fairly familiar with what I see by now. The major sights, the neighborhoods, the lay-out of the city etc. It’s a treasured feeling for me.

    Chinatown in D.C.

    Chinatown is still on my want-to-do list, so today is Chinatown day (or rather Chinatown hour, the area is not all that big). According to a sign on the door, the Full Kee Restaurant is among the Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in USA. The 5.75 $ lunch deal was great and filling.

    Fortune cookie, Chinese restaurant in D.C.

    Downtown D.C.

    Street musician at Dupont Circle, D.C.

    In the evening Trina, Mike, and I go for a walk to Georgetown where the crazy and fun movie “The Hangover” entertains us, after a Japanese sushi and beer dinner near Dupont Circle.

    Sushi dinner with Trina and Mike in D.C.

    Fountain in Georgetown, D.C.

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    Day 1.179 – Ace Ventura In Bloom

    Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

    Daytrip to The National Zoo, Washington Cathedral and Georgetown: 15 km.

    The komodo dragon...National Zoo, Wash. D.C

    As a tourist destination Washington, D.C. is truly world class. Almost all sights, museums, galleries etc. are free of charge, a service I naturally appreciate.

    The greater flamingo...National Zoo, Wash. D.C

    The Hippo. National Zoo, Wash. D.C

    El Tigre. National Zoo, Wash. D.C

    The Lioness. National Zoo, Wash. D.C

    Cuties!

    The sea lion (or was it the seal?)

    Pelican aquatic landing...

    Orangutang...

    Don't be shy, buddy...

    Don't be shy, buddy...

    School kid in the Zoo...

    Lots of school kids on vacation in the zoo...

    The beautiful Washington Cathedral...

    Inside the beautiful Washington Cathedral...

    Inside the beautiful Washington Cathedral...

    Inside the beautiful Washington Cathedral...

    Inside the beautiful Washington Cathedral...

    Church tour at the beautiful Washington Cathedral...

    Flowers in Georgetown, D.C.

    Upper class Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

    As hosts and friends, Trina and Mike are equally world class. Consequently, the mercury level in my inner feel-good barometer is soaring these days…

    Going out in Washington. The Lotus Bar.

    Going out in Washington. The Lotus Bar.

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