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Coming to America II - heeeeyyelp


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If I can find enough pennies down the back of the sofa I'm hoping to visit the colonies this May for a bit of a holiday, while Mrs Beagle goes off to see her parents in some other God-forsaken part of the world. Not quite sure where she's from but I've managed to ascertain she's not English or colonial - probably French or some other form of heathen.

Previously I've only ventured as far as New York City but this time I'm planning to take a risk and head out into the wilds. Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated.


My shortlist in a very loose order of preference is as follows:



Boston (Mrs Beagle thinks it's too much like England and has little to offer....but our tastes can differ)





My criteria for having a good time:


1. I hear that driving in the Washington and Philadelphia area is a nightmare, and as I don't want to spend most of the holiday stationary in a car (which I'm planning on hiring), should I avoid these cities? I want to be able to roar along some half deserted highway listening to my Rocky IV soundtrack whilst also appreciating the beauty of the landscape.

2. I'm travelling alone. I can keep myself entertained during the day but must have access to affordable, trashy company in the evening. I'm joking of course. Let me try that again. I can keep myself busy during the day but would prefer to be staying somewhere that you can wander around in the evening looking for food without wearing out your shoes, being killed in a gangland feud or Apache raid, or restricting yourself to a late night Subway rubber sandwich.

3. Will I be arrested/shot for heckling the baddies (ie colonial soldiers), at any of the historic sites, and chastising them for being rebellious?

4. Williamsburg - too small/dull to base myself in for a week?

5. Any other recommendations not on my list (but on the East coast), where a handsome, prime of his life, sweet smelling  British geologist might take off his powdered wig, loosen his stock and live it up with coffee and enchiladas for a week?




Edited by Beagle
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For Philadelphia - yes traffic can be bad - it depends on where you are and what time it is... Center city has a LOT of one-way streets, which can get confusing if you don't know where you are going. I guess it really depends on what you want to see IN the city vs what you want to see OUTSIDE the city whether it would be worth driving. Our mass transit system is OK, but not great.


D.C. has a great mass transit system - last time we went there on vacation, we left the car at the hotel (in VA) and took the Metro everywhere.

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#1. If you want to go roaring along a half-deserted highways listening to sound tracks... ...West Texas.


Seriously, we got two lane blacktop highways where you can look down the road into the distance and see it vanish to a point on a flat horizon. Same thing if you look backwards. Then you can...


Drive in a straight line for two hours at 100 Klicks per hour, get out, stretch the legs,...


And looking forwards and backwards it will seem like you have not moved. Again:


"...look down the road into the distance and see it vanish to a point on a flat horizon. Same thing if you look backwards..."

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1. Driving on the East Coast Washington-Philadelphia-New York-Boston (never been to Virginia) corridor is indeed pretty challenging. It is the most congested part of the entire country.


I am afraid you are very unlikely to have the cruising along the half-deserted highway experience until you have moved about a thousand miles inland, although of course there is pretty scenery closer.


2. Not so much my area of expertise. Around there we tend to stay with or near family. If you have access to a car, hotels in the middle of strip mall suburbia tend to be more spacious, quieter, and considerably cheaper than those near more interesting places. (That's "tend to be". My family spent the night in some odd places until we learned to check them out very carefully beforehand).


3. I suspect it depends on how good-humored you are about it. Be advised that the docents are likely to have heard all the witticisms a thousand times over already.


4. A whole week? How much do you like wandering around a modern suburban setting of eighteenth century buildings nestled amongst a larger number of reproductions and half-educated guesses? I am a big fan of colonial clothing and would love to see their colection and even I cannot imagine spending a whole week there.


My own tastes do run towards museums and historical sites. Although I have always felt a little apologetic towards visiting Europeans, Africans, and Asians as regards what we colonials consider old, there are some rather nice spots.


If you like geology, would you find the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan interesting? Among other attractions it has a stellar fossil collection (although I was a bit disappointed it didn't have anything earlier than the Silurian). The museum is also kind of a hilarious, slightly fawning shrine to President Theodore Roosevelt. There's a massive heroic equestrian bronze of Teddy out front flanked by non-European supporters, and utterly gargantuan murals line the vast entrance hall illustrating Roosevelt's achievements interspersed with some probably well-meant depictions of peoples of the world and their mythology.


The New England Museum of Science, in Boston, is the best science museum I have yet visited.


If you love art do not miss the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is also nice, but much smaller.


The Smithsonian Museum complex in Washington is also really good.


New York and New Jersey's geology is amaaaaaaazing, btw. Driving west from NYC through New Jersey to the Delaware Water Gap still gives me shivers. Not much else along the way, though.

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You might try setting up your home base in Maryland which would put you in the middle and within easy striking distance of your targets.

If your interested in historical sites, I'd highly recommend the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania. Also Fort McHenry in Baltimore is a fun trip.

Also, don't know if you have any interest in miniatures wargaming but I'm located about 45 minutes NE of Baltimore, and if you're in the area on the right Friday night, you'd be more than welcome to come along to one of our club nights. Or could probably get some of the Reaper Forum Maryland members together for a weekend game if your so inclined.


Edit: just wanted to add, that there are many beautiful back roads in the area, and if you have a GPS and select "no toll roads" you should be fine avoiding the congested highways.

Edited by Chris Palmer
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With regards to having a week to spend in any given place, it's not hard to use up that time. My mom and I went to Vancouver BC once for a week, planned everything out using a tour guide book, and when we left there was still a lot more we could've done. There guide books for nearly every county in this country, and if you need more information, you can check to see if where you're going has a chamber of commerce. They usually have decent visitors guides.


I've lived I my area for well over 20 years, but I'm not even gonna pretend to know all the awesome stuff that's around here, much less say I've done it all.

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Thanks guys, keep it coming.


Pingo - good advice as always. I went to the American Museum of Natural History while I was in New York and it was impressive, it was sandwiched between a really nice walk in Central Park and a trip to 'Sylvia's' in Haarlem, where I had the best ribs I've ever tasted. Best sweetcorn too.

I agree about the Roosevelt section, though cheesy it was also charming.

I think I'll stay clear of geology-based trips, it's my day job and a chance encounter with some oolitic limestone is likely to ruin my relaxed mood.


TMP - Texas. I really want to see Texas, go to a Cowboys game (I've seen them in London at Wembley), and tackle the cow-sized steaks. But I think it will have to wait, with the exception of the Alamo there aren't many history pulls for me. And I have to take advantage of the historical sight-seeing when travelling without Mrs Beagle, she's something of a shopping and beach type and gets bored following me around fields and old ruins.


Chris - I'd love to see Gettysburgh, my uncle has been and loved it. Where would you base yourself to spend a couple of days there? 

And thanks for the offer of a game, I am a miniature wargaming fan so lets stay in touch.

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Well, Richmond would be halfway between me (the mountains) and Last Knight (the sea), but I'll be on my honeymoon in Spain then, and there ain't no telling if LK will be around. I can't speak for the city, but there are a lot of interesting things around to see if you like natural beauty, and the history of the American Civil War

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1. Washington DC has a pretty decent subway / mass transit train system.  Last time I visited, I made my base in a suburb in Maryland and took the train in.  It worked out pretty well.


2. The Inner Harbor area of Baltimore is very nice.  I recommend that.  Depending on the time of year, there may be festivals set up there as well.


3. Possibly.  It's been one of my rules of existing to not taunt someone with a gun.  Seriously, if they're on duty, don't mess with them.  If you strike up a conversation with a uniformed servicemember who's not working, use your best judgement.  They're still people and can have a really good sense of humor -- just don't mess with them while at work.


4. I'd base in Baltimore or NYC, but that's me.  Williamsburg is sort of "meh" to me.


5. Smithsonian Institute.  The Air & Space Museum is what I really want to return to, but there are a number of historical and naturally aligned museums at the institute that may peak your interest.  I imagine there's some cave systems inland a bit and within day trip distance, but I don't know any of the top of my head.

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There is a lot of cool stuff to see and do in/near Boston, but driving in the city itself is NOT for the faint of heart. They have a reasonably decent mass transit system, though.

Oh, right.


Do Not Drive In Boston.


People who laugh and think they know from bad driving come out of Boston pale and trembling.


Between the crazy old narrow streets and the crazy old narrow drivers -- Do Not Drive In Boston.

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Sorry, nothing regarding Richmond for you. I live in northern Virginia and work in DC. I could easily spend a week going to all the museums here. The metro subway system is pretty easy to navigate and there's always lots of places to get decent food. If you're coming in early September, you could also attend the Nova Open, a good sized gaming convention in DC (Crystal City, VA, really, but its easier to say DC). I haven't been to Williamsburg, but from what I'm told a few days could be spent down there wandering around checking things out. As for driving, whomever mentioned the congestion is correct. The major highways can get really congested with rush hour(s) traffic, so its not for you if you're easily inclined towards road rage. I would base myself halfway between sights you want to see/visit or wherever you plan to spend the most time. Please do let us know if you're looking to get some games in or meet up, I'm sure a number of us in the area would be happy to hang out. :)

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I would be remiss in my duties if I failed to suggest Pittsburgh as a possible location for your adventures.


We have some world-class museums, including the Carnegie museums of art or natural history (which are also less than a block from an excellent FLGS), the Science Center, and the Heinz History Center; not to mention the smaller, quirkier museums like the Mattress Factory, Toonseum and Randyland.


The city itself is pretty awesome to see, nestled amongst rolling hills and three rivers. At the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, you can not only enjoy the natural beauty of the formation of the Ohio river, but also stand on the former site of Fort Duquesne and pay your respects (or ridicule) to the various British, American (or colonial, if you prefer) and French soldiers who variously succeeded or failed to hold the fort.


Near the city are a vast variety of battlefield-turned-parkland areas, Ohiopyle falls and Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house.


Pittsburgh also has its own amusement park in Kennywood, so if rollercoasters and/or deep-fried Oreo cookies are your thing, they're readily available.


If you enjoy sports, Pittsburgh is the City of Champions...even if you can't catch a game of some kind, Pittsburgh is the only city where, when leaving your plane at the airport, you will be greeted by a statue of Franco Harris, a former Steeler and receiver of The Immaculate Reception. Yes, Pittsburgh cares about its sports so much they have a football player within 50 feet of George Washington, both of whom are within 100 feet of a Tyrannosaurus skeleton...before you've reached the baggage claim.


A not-terribly-far drive away, you could easily take a couple of days to Philadelphia, Baltimore or Washington, D.C. In the other direction, if music is of interest, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, and there's a wealth of natural beauty to drive through in Western Pennsylvania or West Virginia.

Edited by Sanael
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