Archive | July, 2009

The Iron Horse in Dutch Country, and then some pedaling..

16 Jul

Q. How do you fit 2 bicycles, 2 adults and their luggage into a tiny rental sedan?

A. Make sure one of them is a folding bike; hope and pray there’s a bike shop close on hand that can help detach the front wheel from the other bike; fold down the rear seats and begin workout! Repeat process four times over and you’ve successfully completed a two day road trip from the city!

Less than a 3 hr drive from NYC is Pennsylvania’s Dutch Country. The term ‘Dutch’ has almost nothing to do with Amsterdam – instead, it refers to 17th and 18th century immigrants to the area, who were German (Deutsch) speaking by origin. The language spoken by inhabitants of Dutch Country today is known as Deitsch, a dialect of West Central German, spoken only in North America!

Pennsylvania Dutch Country is, no doubt, a unique part of the United States – not just different in name or language spoken – but different in every possible way – and as soon as you enter it, there are signs to prove it!

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Stumptown

6 Jul

There are three kinds of responses you get when you tell someone your headed to Portland. The confused one: ‘Portland, in Maine?’; the dismissive one: ‘Why Portland? Never heard of anyone who goes there’; and finally the favourable one: ‘Oh, Portland – great city, you’ll love it’. I had a good enough hunch about the place to begin with, and, thanks in no small measure to the NY Times, there were New Yorkers a plenty who gave me a thumbs up for my decision to head ‘all the way west’.

Admittedly, and for the uninitiated, Portland (in the state of Oregon!) is best known for being home to two of the most popular brands in the world – Nike and Intel! The Intel part of my trip was somewhat taken care of by hanging out with a friend who works with them, while the Nike part involved an actual visit to their campus in Beaverton – first stop on day 1!

Needless to say, the campus was everything I could have imagined and more – the kind that makes you instantly want to be employed by them! A sprawling campus – 200 beautifully landscaped acres of it no less – including a man made lake, a protected wetland and a running trail that encircles it all. 17 well designed buildings – each named after a Nike athlete – dot the lush campus and include 2 state of the art (hate that term!) recreational centres, one of which – aptly, the Lance Armstrong centre – I swam in!

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