三天走五州-流水记 Three Days Five States – Stream of Recording

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又一次带着任务的旅程。周五,大胖载上我们要运送到康乃狄克州(纽约东北)的艺术作品,我们两点准时从他位于DC中国城的打印工作室出发了。阳光甚好,城市里的交通有点堵塞,周五下午大家都撒了欢的不知往哪去跑着。出城后,向东,这次我们选择小路,先去往新泽西的五月岬,坐渡轮越过海岬,再北上。

We were on a mission when taking this trip up north toward Connecticut. On Friday, we set off from Tom’s downtown DC print studio with some mysterious artworks in the truck to be delivered to Greenwich, Connecticut.

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一路上田野气息扑面,下午的阳光照着美国的片片农田,座座农舍民房。我们像阅兵一样,掠过典型的美国小镇子,当然也缺不了挤满连锁快餐店和汽车修理店的大郊区。此时正值新一茬的麦子茂盛生长的时节,毛茸茸的黄绿随微风微微浮动。美国的田园风光我虽然不知看过了多少轮,但每次都无法拒绝它的美丽。渡轮晚点30分钟,我们登船离岸的时候,海风微凉,太阳已经准备钻进附在海平线上的云层了。我们在渡轮上,目睹了晚霞落日。渡船启动的时候,还有灰色海豚随船翻腾戏水,让我们小小的旅行开始得有点不真实。

Early summer mid-atlantic region got bright and hot sunshine on Friday afternoon. People were rushing home or to wherever their weekend got spent, causing a little jam on the way out of the city. After that, we headed east. This time, we “took a break from the ordinary”, were going to Cape May and took the ferry up to New Jersey.
Once we drove off free way and got on local roads,  smell of fields blown into our opened windows. We passed little town centers, miles of growing wheat and died corn fields. I would never get tired of American farmland views, wide, green and idyllic. This is the season when the wheat is at their prime time of growing. They look like a yellow and green frizzy blanket. Our ferry was 30 minutes late. When we left the shore, the sun was ready to jump into the clouds right above the horizon any time. We witnessed the sunset on board. Several grey dolphins also saw us off, with the setting sun, it was slightly surreal.

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登陆后,夜幕已经降临,我们远远路过了大西洋城(宾州度假赌城),入住“汤姆河”附近的酒店。“汤姆河”是新泽西的海滨城市,入住的时候时间已晚,也许回程的路上才有时间看看新泽西富有盛名的海滨。一大早,我们一路北上,匆匆绕过纽约,直奔这次北上的目的地康乃狄克的格林威治城。进入康乃狄克州不久,下了高速,曲折转入小路后,我们马上意识到已经身处富人的社区。每片树叶、每根草都像被精心修剪过的一样。绿树矮墙、草地灌木围绕着各式各样豪宅,有西班牙风格的,有传统美式风格的,有城堡风格的,有庄园风格的。有的大得让人瞠目。年代久的被精心复原装修,新的更加雄壮辉煌。豪宅中的豪宅通常都被石墙围住,由铁门进入。个别的深入林间草地,在门口也望不到宅子。我们看的目不暇接。七拐八拐,我们找到了客户的住家。这就是一个有铁门的院子,想必也是豪宅之一。车停靠在碎石铺好的庭院,我们下车在专门接受送货门口与主人匆匆交接。这一道门里面紧接着的是狗的专门浴室,有瓷砖铺好的洗浴台,狗主题的壁纸,白色柜子桌台收理狗用品。交接短暂,我们轻松地完成了任务,剩下的时间就是观光游览的了。

After landing, the night had come, and the land was dark. We cruised on to Toms River, where we were going to stay for the night. Passing the faraway lights and activities of Atlantic City, we also noticed the trees and bush were different than the other side of the strait. Morning came after a muddling night, we got on highway again not being able to know what awaited us for the day. We were still cruising on in the storm. While we were skimming through north of Manhattan and a little bit of Bronx, the storm had passed. After a short driving, turning around a corner off the highway, we entered the Greenwich neighborhood. In no time, we had noticed the rich-ness of the district. Everything is being taken good care of as if every leaf and every piece of grass have been carefully cut and trimmed. Trees, bush, flowers are saturated with colors, decorated with hanging water drops. Surrounded by the green, all kinds of castles, plantations, hotel-like houses were making our eyes busy. On both side of this winding road, real super wealthy family homes were surrounded by low stone walls and behind the iron gate. Tom’s client also lives in one of the gigantic houses with a gate, but a relatively cute one with some style. We parked on its gravelly round court in front of the “delivery” gate. Strangely enough, when Tom carried the artworks in and I followed, the room we were immediately in and had conversation with the client lady was a dog shower room, with low tiled show tub, and cute dog-themed wall paper, as well as drawers for collecting dog-related accessaries. Now after finishing our task, the rest of the weekend was free for us to squander.

我们先到了格林威治镇中心一家本地的泰国餐馆吃午餐,这里的面条和泰式沙拉都算美味,用手机应用登陆还打了九折。水足饭饱后,我们在周末繁忙的镇中心游荡,街两边的西饼屋、咖啡馆、餐馆都满满有聊天休闲的人。从服装店的230美金的短裤我们领略了一下富人的价位。在几家服装店中间,正巧遇到了苹果旗舰店。于是,临时决定修理大胖屏幕已摔碎几周的手机。等候修理的时间,我们就转头往山坡上的博物馆走去,正赶上格林威治手工艺术节,可惜舍不得门票钱的我们因此没有停下脚步。不一会,手机修好如新,我们也再次踏上行程,往纽约方向行驶。

We had our lunch at a local Thai restaurant, named Thai Basil near Greenwich town center. Their beef salad tasted good, noodle soup was also acceptable. Out on both side of the street, Greenwich people were enjoying a lazy Saturday, taking time having brunch, chitchatting, at local restaurants, coffee shops. An Apple store stopped us. Tom made a random decision of fixing his fancy iPhone6’s screen. It left us wondering around Greenwich for another hour or so. But we heard that there was a craft show going on at the museum on top of the hill,  we turned around to check it out. Oh right, everything should cost money here, if not a lot of money. We did not stop for the $8 of entry fee. Instead, we walked around and fooled around the playground before we went back to pick up the fixed phone. When we got in the car again, we were ready to work our way back home.

一两小时后,我们到了康尼岛,在纽约南部布鲁克林半岛的最顶头,面向大西洋,是纽约人休闲娱乐的区域。美国东部的海滨度假地设计如出一辙,都有木板铺砌的海滨大道。都有各种游乐设施、食品店、游戏厅,共渡假的人们沉迷消费。虽然我们立刻发现这里貌似是附近地区和布鲁克林的穷人休闲的地方,我们还是停车,看看热闹。在木制海滨大道溜达溜达,在沙滩上,试试水。此时,海水冰凉,浪花上海鸥成群,海滩上各色人等。海棠除了一些碎贝海草,没有什么特别。这里与碧蓝的热带海岛当然相去甚远。但是孩子们的世界是没有比较的,他们依然嬉戏畅怀,玩耍的热情一丝没有减少。

This is Tom’s choice too – going to Coney Island to check it out first. After one or two hours of bad traffic, we were here at Coney Island, the south most point of Brooklyn. Trying to find parking, we quickly found this famous beach area of New York now was most likely to be a place for people from the surrounding not so wealthy neighborhoods to hang out. Commercialized beach of America’s east coast are always developed and designed in a similar way. A boardwalk along the beach hosting all sorts of junk food restaurants, snack shops, game stores, and of course carnival rides. This is one of those places. The boardwalk were crowded with people speaking all kinds of languages, a lot of them with their small kids. We still parked and took a long walk, and felt the cold water of May ocean. Its chilly-ness healed the blisters in our feet. The beach is not the best, with scarcely scattered broken seashells and sea grass. Seagulls were playing above the moderate waves, and being fed by people. Children’s world does not have comparison, they were filled with ecstasy playing with sand and water.

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再次登上车,我们也没有了目的性。海滩意犹未尽,我们知道从纽约到新泽西靠近大西洋有一路的海滩,所以决定靠着新泽西的海岸,一直南下了。第一站,先是新泽西东北部最顶端的半岛“沙勾儿“。这是往北隔海遥望纽约布鲁克林,深入大西洋中的南北走向的狭长半岛。

From there, we drove on without a particular destination in mind. Well, why not to another beach. From the north east corner of New Jersey, all the way to Atlantic city, a long and skinny island runs parallel to the coast. This is the so called “Jersey Shore”. Our next stop is tip of the north east point of New Jersey, Sandy Hook, a peninsula stretching into the Atlantic Ocean like a hook, across the sea from Brooklyn, where we were just now Coney Island.

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进入半岛州立公园后,我们一直开到了最北端。这里是一个废旧的军营,面朝海湾还有一排绿色的军官小楼,整齐地矗立着。但是门廊的天花板都需要木头支撑了。废旧的炮台碉堡显得年代更加久远,是长期被雨水海风冲刷洗礼的黑色。我们下车开始徒步在沙舟灌木间往最近头走。这是一片完全被保护的海鸟自然栖息之地,海水进入沙地形成了小河,芦苇生长其中。灌木间也有几座废旧的房子。我们脚踏最北端的时候,傍晚的潮水正在逼近。远远的对岸,纽约在黄昏的雾中隐约可见。天涯海角,高远荒芜。

Sandy Hook is a national park, which allowed us to park and stroll anywhere. We drove all the way up to the northernmost point until we hit the last parking space. Stepping off the car, we began our little hike to where we thought the beach would be. Through some low bush, a trail led us to some deserted houses, then the ocean was not far away. It was the time for birds to reproduce, signs were everywhere, warning people not to go off both sides of the sandy trail and disturb those birds. At the end of the trail, we saw the ocean! Light was disappearing, tide moving in.  The buildings of Brooklyn was still in the view, behind all the mist above the ocean, like a silky veil. A feeling of being remote and away from everything, people, noise, city, civilization struck us for a moment. This moment was short, but precious.

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海岸的崎岖是大自然最神奇的特点之一。美国东北新泽西的海岸处是也有狭长的与海岸线并行的海岛,从新泽西最北端,一直绵延而下,互相之间和与陆地各处有桥连接。夏季,这里是人气聚集的旺地,周边和从纽约过来度假的人群会挤满海滨大道和沙滩。现在只是旺季的开始,靠海滨养家的村镇还没有真正地热闹起来。海水依然冻人,海风在阴天的时候也有些凛冽。但放了假的中学生、大学生已经比比皆是。我们的车继续一路向南,巡视着面朝大海的豪华私人俱乐部,有海景的超大豪宅。因为为时尚早,这些房子很多还没有人居住的痕迹。过了商业区,当路两旁是规模见小的传统房屋时,才见到生活的气息。

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一两个小时内,我们接连路过了三四个海滨城镇,堆集了类似嘉年华的游乐场,灯火辉煌。我们在一个名叫“海滨高地”的镇子停下前行的车轮。如上所述,同样的设施和气氛沿着海滨大道排开几里,游人如织。暴雨不及时地飘来,我们借机用快餐填饱肚子,又吃了久违的“漏斗”蛋糕。上次品尝,还是在11月的马里兰州海洋城。这种看似像油条拼成圆形的饼,虽然应该不怎么健康,但是也有它特别的吸引力,它里面是绵软的面,外面薄薄脆脆,在配上饼上撒的糖粉,口感极佳。度假的的人们吃饭也没有尺度,所以只有在旅游景点的旺季才能找到这种“漏斗”蛋糕。

We left the unprotected beaches at Sandy Hook, driving south, on the long skinny islands. There were bridges linking the parts that are not connected between the islands or with the mainland. We passed several tourist towns along the way. They are the hot spots for people to hang out in summer. Right now, the season was just getting ready to start. The heat had not kicked in yet, ocean is still freezing. But students and young families were already gathered at these tourist towns, their boardwalks and fun fairs. We continued our house-inspecting through many of these towns, where private clubs, gigantic homes stood wide and stout. Many of them lacked of trace of being lived in. The neighborhoods inland ward had some life but nothing interested our eyes and mind.

时而阴雨,加上一天的走走停停,疲倦的我们开始寻摸今晚的归宿。此时我们已经回到了“汤姆河”。但是,价格又指引我们西行一小时,在新泽西中部的一个小旅馆落下脚。入夜11点,旅馆酒吧还没有关闭,卡拉OK舞池还要坚持闹一会儿。一天海滨检阅的疲累叫我们在入住手续办理稳妥之后马上进入睡眠状态。

At Seasides Heights, before we totally turned inland, we stopped again, had our dinner and deja vu “funnel cake”. A sudden shower came in time when we were eating. The night was about to move into its second half when we began to find place to stay and rest our tired eyes, sticky hands, and blistered feet. A lower price stay brought us to mid-Jersey at night. The bar was still open at this Flying W Inn in the middle of New Jersey. People were drinking, chatting, singing, dancing through the night. But we hit the bed without too much hesitation.

第二天周日,我们没有起早。上午晚些时候才驱车往西,告别新泽西,进入宾夕法尼亚的属地。突然心血来潮地来了个费城一游。我上次到费城也是09年的事了。我们穿过了中国城、市中心的社区。在去美术馆的路上,有几座历史悠久的建筑,就像DC的博物馆一样,但看起来更加雄壮悠久一些。这其中还有雕塑家罗丹的博物馆,本想进去看看,但时间紧迫,停车不易,还是匆匆路过,也许下次再来的时候能够如愿亲眼瞻仰罗丹的艺术作品。周日初夏的大城市,人们在户外聚集着,活跃着,参加在美术馆门前的台阶上做瑜伽活动的男男女女刚刚散开。公园里,人们做着球类运动,河上也有划船人的身影。这是一个很有生活的城市。虽然它的大小与巴尔的摩不相上下,距离也就是一小时车程,但仿佛在这里,人们气高神爽,社会方方面面按照自己形成的规律运行自如,这显然是个更加成功的城市。由于停车不便,我们虽到了费城南部的意大利市场步行街,只能走马观花,顺势向南,开始做好打道回府的准备。费城南面的郊区,是片片双层的排房,略显低矮、破旧和拥挤,中国城和越南城一直延伸到南部很远。但从路上行人的模样观察,这片社区好像也是新兴的年轻人开始居住的区域。想必租金也不低。在真正打道回府前,我们在费城南郊区吃了顿丰盛的午餐,我们点的沙拉量足到好像一边吃一边在餐盘中长。即兴路过的费城,我们无暇太多逗留。下次再来,还是需要提前计划。

Getting up, setting off, we chose to have a random visit of Philadelphia. Since last time, I visited Philly in 2009, and Tom years ago, both of us had not been back to Philly for a long time. Parking was hard to find as people were outside all over the place enjoying their weekend activities. The city looked like full of vibe. Time was limited, we missed the Fine Art Museum, Rodin Museum, as well as the Italian market at the south of Philly. Large areas in south Philly were packed with two-story row houses. Living was tight in this part of the city. When we stopped just at the edge of the city, in a popular dinner, two giant salad filled our belly, but it seemed to keep growing while i was eating it. We were happy for many reasons and for no reason.

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终于踏上回家的路了,高速上只有同路和对面汽车飞奔的景色,人们都在这里,每辆车都有至少一个人在里面,大家又只有默默的前行。我无时无刻不体会着美国文化的最精髓,每个人都有自己的空间,自己的东西,偶尔地有控制有规则地与他人交流。就像在这高速上开车一样。

Finally on the way home, hours of riding on high way, with other cars. We know inside every car, there was  at least a person, we were in a system of people’s construction, but we did not see them, only cars. They were in front of us, behind us, as a piece of steel, shiny but cold. Every minute in America, I experience the very essence of American culture. Everybody has their own space and possessions, nobody interferes with others’ matter, but to some extent, they don’t care…We are all like cars, just moving to the same direction, doing the same thing, but not related.

回家的路还是要经过加在新泽西与马里兰中间的小州特拉华。一国特拉华我们就在地肥水美的马里兰了,意味着离家很近了。两边茂密的树林送来习习凉风。北部林木还在发着嫩绿的光,在马里兰,夏日已经大刀阔斧来临了。树林也是成熟的绿色。四点前我们准时到家,家虽小,回家的感觉出奇的好。

After Delaware, we were in the rich land of Maryland, that meant we were very close to home. The woods on both side of the highway brought over cool summer wind. Trees had turned into darker green now in Maryland, and sun was hotter. We arrived at home on time before four o’clock. Home is good and comfortable.

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