Thank you!

We'd like to thank everyone who made our journey great:

Janek - for logo

Libyans - for starting the uprising which, as a result, made us quit our jobs. They don't have easy life now there and we wish them all the best.

Our pediatrician doctor Grazyna Rybak for encouraging us to travel ("Go! Write about it! Let others see that everything is possible with kids!").

Samer, Amer and Marta - without your help with car and trailer this journey might have ended after a week or so.

Our hosts:

Lois and John, Linn and Lynn, Val and Gary, Cynthia and Bruce, Joy and Brian, Marylin and Glen, Lois and Randy, Aga and Jim, father Andrzej, Cathy and Bill, Dianne and Greg, Jodi and Milly, Sheila and Earl, Colleen and Dale, Sue and Dean, Kathryn and Shaun, Corky, Mary and Kelly, Linda, Mel and Rob, Elicia and Bob, Karla and Terry, Aneta and Miłosz, Zosia, Annie and Seth, Helen and Michael, Terry and Malcolm, Rick and Linda

for hospitality and kindness.

Special thanks from Maciek to all the aunts and uncles who at least for a short while freed him from parents' company

Marek for watching the rocket launch with us.

Joanna and Piotrek for great lunch and nice afternoon in Fort Lauderdale.

Geological processes for Colorado Plateau.

Marianne Edwards for Boondockers Welcome, guide books and inviting us for a coffee - next time we'll stop by for sure!

Tom for whiskey and stories under stars.

Michael for magical place in Pie Town.

Chris from Extracto for great coffee and time.

Ian and Deborah for fantastic stories and nice afternoon.

Malcolm for steaks, beer, golf cart and car chase scene from "Bullit".

Piotrek and Ania for delicious pizza and good advice.

Lewis, Brian and Lisa, Elicia and Bob, for a nice evening and good, strong beer (which is not that easy to find in Mormon state)

Andy for rocks and lesson about snakes and Randy for a few days of trying to figure out with us what is wrong with our jeep and for inspirational drive through Mojave Desert.

Patrick for bowling tips.

People of Pahrump for support and kindness in difficult moments.

Deputy sheriff Joel from Oregon for help.

Karla and Terry for buying Eddie with a Polish family for two days included.

Agnieszka and Scott for Helen.

Anita and Robert for a great day.

All the other people we met on our way and we're not able to mention here, for talks, advice, support, inspiration, kindness and whatever else we got from you.

Our families and friends in Poland for being there for us even if we're not there.

And You, our readers - without you we'd probably get fed up with writing this blog quickly.

Thank you!


Last day in States

Sweet laziness in Delaware was so nice that it was hard to leave. We finally left Townsend on July 7. On our way we stopped in Ohio for our first ever couchsurfing experience which we wrote about earlier and we reached Chicago late on July 8. Thus we had just one day left for Chicago. Not much, but we've seen it before, even though it was a long time ago. Ola remembers Chicago from late 90s, and last time Pawel was here was in 2002.

After a lazy breakfast, around noon, we took a train and went downtown. We took Aneta as a guide. As usually we were just walking around, enjoying the spirit of the city instead of running to museums and galleries.

Maciek and aunt Aneta
We probably should have gone to Museum of Natural History, we also didn't go to Skydeck to see the city through glass floor (although we're curious whether Maciek would like it), we skipped Shed Aquarium and Art Institute of Chicago too. Knowing Maciek's interest in art (in Dali Museum in Sankt Petersburg, FL we managed to keep him interested for about an hour and it was not easy) the latter was not an option at all.

We've seen some Aquariums before and Skydeck - well, this would probably be cool to go there but we'd have to pay almost 50 USD, which, considering it's the end of 6th month of not a very cheap journey, would be a bit painful.

So we walked and enjoyed the city. We have a soft spot for Chicago. Ola started her American adventure here many years ago, large part of Pawel's family lived here over the years, some of them still do. There is just one thing about Chicago...it's not NYC. And after seeing New York City none of the other cities can compete.

We walked the riverside to Tribune Tower. Built in 1925 it was intended to be the most beautiful office building in the world. Modeled on the Cathedral of Ruen is now also known as the "Cathedral of Commerce". It has a few elements that can easily dazzle with "overcapitalizing", such as the U.S. map in the lobby made of processed money. It is difficult to cross the cultural difference that money is not something one should feel ashamed with ...

Tribune Tower on the right
Tribune Tower is also known for its facade in which 120 parts of famous buildings and other constructions from around the world are placed. Our contribution is a rock from Wawel Castle, but by chance the first fragment that we saw was a piece of Leptis Magna in Libya. There are pieces of many places we visited (such as Craters of the Moon in Idaho or the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City) and even more that we would like to visit someday (temples of Angkor, parts of the Great Wall, the rock from the Moon).

A little bit of Libya in Chicago
We also went up the John Hancock Center, there is a restaurant up there (Signature Room/Signature Lounge) with a beautiful view. We were ready to sit and have an overpriced coffee but there was a pushy waiter who on the entrance told us that this was a coffee place and we have to purchase something for everyone kids including if we want to stay. Well, we didn't and we do not recommend  the place, but instead you can go to the toilet and not bothered by anyone take a few pics from there. One floor up there is an observatory but it scared us off with the prices, same as those of Skydeck. 50 USD for a few minutes of nice view is too much for us.

View from the toilet
We sat down for coffee and lunch in another, not cheap either, but very climatic Grand Lux Cafe, serving, among other things, New Orlean Beignes, famous New Orleans donuts. You have to order them right away as they are made ​​to order and it takes a while before they are ready. But it is worth to wait, they are delicious, nice and warm and topped with a thick layer of icing sugar, a sure reminder of Louisiana.

Then we went for a walk on a little deserted late in the afternoon Navy Pier. Unlike the one in Seattle, Chicago pier does not look so trashy. Big amusement park with wheel looked tempting but because of the late hour and our tight budget we skipped it. Later on internet we found out it was not that expensive (6 USD). 

Skyline seen from Navy Pier
Just before dark we got to the Millenium Park. It was opened in 2004, so neither of us have seen it before. On more than 24 acres there are dozens of sculptures and art installations, of which the best known is probably the Cloud Gate, known simply as "Bean", created by Anish Kapoor and Crown Fountain created by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa.

Bean quickly became one of the symbols of Chicago. It is really remarkable. The curved mirror made ​​of metal plates so smooth that you can't see any joints. The perfect and yet distorting mirror that plays with people's and city reflections. We had a lot of fun with Maciek seeing us in different shapes, looking for ourselves in new forms. The experience can only be spoiled by an Internet search for answers to the question "what the artist actually had in mind." The Bean represents masculinity and femininity in one being, at the same time symbolizes the vagina and testicles. We prefer the vision of a curved mirror as a drop of liquid metal...

Maciek got a huge bump on his head here
It was long after dark when we got to the Crown Fountain. It's actually two fountains with a shallow pool in between. Large water screens display faces, on which different grimaces are painted, then they finally open their mouths and spit with a strong stream of water. Plensa sits very much in the subject of relationship between man and water. This time he created an installation in which a man does not absorb water but gives it back.

Kids have a lot of fun there running from one cube to another. Maciek wanted to do this too but it ended up too quickly when he slipped on wet surface and fell back. He got a huge bump on the back of his head. This not very pleasant adventure and the fact that it was really late made us go back home.

We spent our last day in USA packing, early in the afternoon we said goodbye to Aneta and Milosz and we went to say another goodbye to Pawel's family. From there we headed to the airport.

Familly goodbye photo
Even though the overall weight limit was not exceeded but some of our suitcases were over 23 kilos. We thought they wouldn't mind but they did. We had to repack, so the heaviest things ended up in our hand luggage.

Repacking at the airport
When we were already standing in the line to the plane, lady from Lufthansa, named Helga (which was suiting her perfectly) plucked us out of the queue and with a peremptory voice said that our case appears to be far too heavy and too large. She pointed to the desk and told us to send it as normal luggage, luckily free of charge. We like Lufthansa, but Helga was not a good example of a nice service. Besides, it was a suitcase we used many times as a hand luggage in Lufthansa Group in business class (Pawel had the pleasure a few times), and now in economy class suddenly gets too big... Maybe it swells with sweat of the working class?

Flight was fine, Maciek slept all night, Kalina maybe half, we didn't sleep at all... And at Warsaw Okecie Airport our family was waiting with...a banner! Ok, we missed our family and Poland but even though we still didn't feel like going back home yet...


Let's celebrate! 4th of July in Washington DC

We liked the US so much that we've decided to celebrate the most important American holiday in a special way. By the most important holiday we mean of course 4th of July which is International Hot-Dog Day! Or maybe not...which was it? Independence Day! We were invited to a family celebration in Chicago and the parade there would probably be fun to watch too, but as we were in Washington area, why not to go and see the fireworks in the capital? So we did!

Welcome to Washington
It didn't work out with Washington quite as we planned it. We wanted to stop there for a day on our way to Chicago and not go back to Delaware. It's 100 miles one way. Gas, toll bridge and 4 hours in a car. We hoped we'd spend a night at some friends' friends' house but all our connections failed this time. We tried couchsurfing but it didn't work out either. maybe because of the date - everyone who replied to our couch request either had some guests over already or was off, visiting family. 

Couchsurfing dodn't work
Third time lucky as they say, it didn't work out on our way from South Dakota to Chicago, it didn't work out here...our first couchsurfing experience was waiting for us a few days later in Ohio. Life with a trailer was so much easier...

After all we decided to go on a day trip to DC and go back to Delaware. Probably it would be smarter money-wise to find some motel on the way, but we were discouraged after Minnesota experience expecting crowds everywhere. Plus we really wanted to spend those few more hours with Malcolm.

As we were worried about 4th-of-July-crowds we decided to leave the car far from downtown. We chose Park and Ride by Minnesota Avenue station, the orange metro line, some 5 stops from the Capitol. Area was just as we expected it to be. Two- and three-story buildings, couches outside, first afternoon grills just started.

On a large parking there was us and maybe three other cars. We felt bad about being almost the only ones paying for parking on that day but than we found out it was free anyway. We packed our things for a day, went to the station, realizing we're the only white faces around, we bought tickets, got on the train and, still sticking out with our whiteness, we went to explore the capital.

Independence Day is not the best day for exploring Washington. Or maybe we should put it in other words. 4th of July is an interesting day for exploring Washington. First of all forget you'll get in anywhere. Everything is closed and surrounded by the police. There is a policeman on every corner. Additionally some streets are closed in a very convincing way: with two buses standing across the street. Imagination makes you look for Bruce Willis or other Hollywood destroyer of public property driving straight into them. Luckily, it was only imagination.

Street blocked with buses
Instead of running from one important building to another we decided to take a long walk on Nationall Mall and wait for the fireworks. We skipped the other side of the Potomac River, where Pentagon and Airlington Cementary are. And we just read about all the great museums. Most of them are surpervised by Smithson Institute which is right on National Mall.

Smithson Institute
Walking on National Mall we passed a few of those museums, like National Museum of Natural History or National Air and Space Museum. As far as space is concerned we later missed one must-see place on our way to Chicago. In Chantilly (PA one, not the one near Paris) you can see Discovery Space Shuttle. We could have stopped there for a couple hours and finally see this wonder but when we realized it was there, it was too late...

National Air and Space Museum
Washington for museums and galleries fans must be a paradise. On top of those mentioned earlier there are also for example National Museum of African Art, National Museum of American History, National Museum of the American Indian and so on, all you need in the name of political correctness. We believe we will be back in Washington some day and then we'll see it all.

National Museum of the American Indian
But on July 4 we focused on walking. We went to see Washington Monument which after an earthquake 2 years ago remains closed for public and surrounded by metal scaffolding is still being fixed. Later in the evening, when we were waiting for the fireworks, it gave us chills as we've seen it from the distance and behind it we could see planes descending for landing. There is an airport near by and the planes looked as if they were really low and trying to hit the monument. Strange feeling..

We of course took a picture in front of the White House, once, of course, we pushed through the crowds of people trying to do the same... Too bad Belveder in Warsaw is not more popular, especially as it's just as pretty.

Mandatory White House pic
After a few hours walk among the crowds we were exhausted. We decided to eat something at an international fair on National Mall and wait for the fireworks. Our decision was even easier considering that Maciek got a fever and refused to walk. We decided to try some Hungarian specialties, we ordered goulash and salad, we realized we got passed beer curfew (beer was sold until 6 pm, and when we were ordering it was 6.05) and we rested on the grass.

We had 3 hours to the fireworks and as kids were not very mobile we decided to enjoy laziness. Despite the fact that it was still early it wasn't easy to find a good spot. We finally decided to stay half way between Capitol and Washington Monument. We were dozing on the blanket and Kalina was making new friends.

At last just after 9 pm fireworks started. We've seen some good fireworks shows in our lives but this one was definitely the best one ever. Almost half an hour of fountains of colors, whirling and dancing comets, exploding USA letters (which of course would made the crowds cheer). Kalina looked amazed and Maciek kept waving his American flag and clapped his hands. Pure American Dream. Those 30 minutes were enough to make us sure it was a good decision to come to DC on 4th of July, postponing visiting the museums, Capitol, Pentagon and all the other centers of world government for the next time.

After the fireworks everyone stood up right away and headed towards subway. So did we of course, remembering we've got 2 hours drive home. And we got stuck. Not in the car traffic, but in people traffic. We spent half an hour waiting to get on the elevator, and then some more before we could get down to the platform.

Retro metro
But thus we managed to avoid traffic on roads and we easily left the city. We spent five more minutes trying to pay for parking (despite the gate wide open) before we believed it was really free. How honest we became!

Driving to and from Washington we crossed another fantastic bridge, luckily this time we didn't have to pay for it - Malcolm let us use his e-pass making us save 6 USD. The bridge was 4.3-mile-long William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge a.k.a. Chesapeake Bay Bridge or simplier Bay Bridge. In 1952 when it was built it was the world's longest continuous over-water steel structure. Now it's just another impressive bridge (no photo, unfortunately).

And a fun-fact: if you go from Washington to Delaware and you suffer from gephyrophobia (fear of bridges) and you don't really feel like going too far north, don't worry. State institution in charge of bridges took care of gephyrophobiacs. For only 30 USD there is a ferry across the bay, along the bridge. They take a really good care of anyone with phobias there!


Photos on 1st Floor!

Dear Readers! We have another presentation coming! This time it'll be a part of "Child is not a problem" project organized by Pierwsze Piętro (First Floor). We hope to see you on Tuesday, November 26 at 6 pm at Foksal 11 street in Warsaw. There will be discussion afterwards too! For those who cannot be there we have a surprise - you can see us live on www.foksleleven.pl


Delaware vacation

Visiting Malcolm and Terry was like going back to our beginnings. We met them in Louisiana. We stayed there at Linn and Lynn's at a parking lot of a church, lake away from New Orleans. They were our second Boondockers Welcome hosts.

When we got there and Linn told us where we can park our trailer, from the trailer next door came Malcolm and offered help (let's not forget we didn't have much experience maneuvering Eddie back then). Couple hours later Terry knocked on our door with a bowl full of delicious pasta. And next day they went shopping and came back with toys for Maciek and Kalina.

With Malcolm and Terry in Louisiana
During our stay there we talked a few times about life and travels and our new friends cordially invited us to visit them in Delaware. After we got stuck in Nevada we didn't think we would make it at all to the East Coast, but as we finally did we couldn't not visit Terry and Malcolm.

Those few days we spent there we can call vacation. Of course this entire journey was one big vacation but it wasn't until Townsend when we finally allowed ourselves to do nothing, sit in pool, drink beer and juat relax. Ok, not really. It was the last state on our route with no sales tax so we spent one day shopping.

We also went on a day trip to Washington DC, we'll write about it in a next entry. But we skipped the nearest area. We really wanted to do some sightseeing, we even went to historical center of Dover but it was so hot and humid that we just took a couple of pictures through the window and we went back home.

Dover is a second largest city in Delaware and it's a state capital, but it still has a little bit more than 37,000 residents. Dover was founded in the end of 17th century by William Penn. There are a few buildings that remember 18th century, spread across downtown. Spread so wide that it was too far for us to walk. Besides, probably they were not open to public (ok, we're just racionalizing our lazyness).

To sum up: sometimes it's better to relax instead of seeing all the MSP (must-see places) and enjoy hospitality of friends, especially if those friends have swimming pool, golf cart and a large meadow you can ride on.

Post office in Dover
Next day after we came Terry had to leave to take care of her mom, so we stayed with Malcolm who proved to be a great host. We spent long hours talking over grill and beer and watching iconic chase scene from "Bullit", and on July 6 Malcolm completely surprised us with a birthday cake he bought for Kalina's birthday!

Birthday cake from Malcolm
Terry and Malcolm are an interesting couple. They both have serious health problems. However they are very positive and optimistic and they keep repeating how happy they are and how grateful for all they received in life. They make the most out of life, as much as they can considering their health.

Last year they bought an RV and they headed south - when we met them they were on their way to Texas to listen to blues, and recently we got an e-mail from Malcolm where he wrote about his 10-day solo canoe trip through Canadian interior in August! We invited him to come for canoeing in Poland. After he read about Polish rivers he said he is seriously considering a visit. We keep your word (oar).

Sweet laziness
Malcolm ended up in Delaware accidentally. He is Canadian, or actually Canadian-British and when he was young he lived in Toronto area. Some day he decided to go to Texas to become a cowboy. He got as far as Delaware where he got a job in carnival. He stayed there for a while until he heard there is GM factory opening nearby. His background was matching the requirements so he went to the interview. He had only Canadian papers but the guy he had interview with was Canadian too. Thus he was hired and ended up working there for 20 years. When GM decided to close down the factory it was just after Malcolm could retire and acquire rights to all benefits. 

We really liked one of Malcolm's travel stories. One day during his travels, he was young and didn't have much money, some woman invited him for something to eat. She asked him if he could send her postcards from all the cool places he visits. He did so for many years. He stopped when she wrote that she is very ill.

Many years later when he got a Facebook account some people he didn't know wrote him a message. They thanked him for sending postcards to their late grandmother - based on Malcolm's postcards she would tell them stories about the world. After she died they wanted to find him and say how important part of their childhood he played.

Malcolm and Terry live in a huge house full of dolls and porcelain ornaments. The first thing we saw entering their house was...a Christmas tree, there is another one too, further in a corner of living room. Malcolm's explanation was easy: "Terry loves Christmas". It's so simple... In Poland everyone would whisper and point fingers. Poles really like to tell you what you should and shouldn't do and if you differ it's sometimes tough... But thanks God it's changing.

We left Delaware begrudgingly. Laziness and good company is not something you leave easily... But we had 800 miles to go to Chicago and our flight was leaving in 3 days…

We wanted to be tough and drive to Chicago in one go. But Maciek got a fever where we were in Washington and two days later it was still there, plus his tummy hurt, so we decided to take it easy(ier) and break it into two days.

This time we found a place to stay on couchsurfing. After sending a few messages while we were already on our way we got an invite from Rick from Grove City, Ohio. We got there after 10 pm, we had a quick small talk with Rick and his family and we went to sleep on the couch and carpet in their living room. When we woke up Rick was already gone, he went to work. We talked for a while with his wife and sons, and after a quick breakfast we headed to Chicago. We got there early evening and our great hosts, Aneta and Milosz were already waiting for us with dinner…

Our first couchsurfing hosts


Short stop in Philadelphia

From NYC we headed south. We left Staten Island via another awfully expensive bridge and we drove on "95" towards Pennsylvania. We were on our way to Delaware, but we wanted to stop for a short while in the cradle of the American nation - Philadelphia.

Streets of Philadelphia
On the way we entered "garden state" again - New Jersey. It's supposed to be a very beautiful state but not many people really know that. Everyone passes through on "95" that runs along western border and nobody takes off towards Atlantic ocean. They say it's really  nice there. But our memories, as those of millions other passers-by, from New Jersey will be limited to the highway - with its closed lanes due to some road works, going through industrial or pretty much indistinct counties of NJ.

We reached Philadelphia pretty quickly even though we left "95" for a while to get some gas (New Jersey compared to surrounding states has very good gas prices and we almost didn't get lost looking for a gas station). According to google it was 1.5 hours , it took us a bit over two. We left the car few blocks from historic center as we didn't want to risk parking on the streets (we found large, cheap parking thanks to one of apps on our phone) so we ended up seeing more than we wanted to.

The touristy part is elegant and pretty, but our way there was a proof that Philadelphia is not at its best. On one of the main streets instead of expensive boutiques we've seen mostly second-hand shops and K-mart store. But that was no surprise, considering that looking for a cheap parking we found ourselves in a cheap district. And it's still a big American city, not quite following Detroit yet, so at least those cheap shops were on ground floor of beautiful houses and well maintained skyscrapers.

After all we reached our destination. Visitors center in National Independence Park was as usually great, ranger gave us all the information we needed, but, as our time was very limited, we decided to keep our sightseeing to a minimum. As usuall, maybe if we had left New York City earlier we would have had more time for Philadelphia.

We reached National Independence Park going through Town Hall. Built in the beginning of the last century 167-meter-tall building was at some point the tallest in the world. And for over 80 years it was the tallest building in Philadelphia. And today is still the world's tallest inhabited masonry building.

It was city's creator, William Penn, who decided where Town Hall would be built. It was designed in the Second Empire style, which, as we know now, after visiting Philadelphia, we're not very keen of. Building has jus to many details, unproportionally tall tower with Penn's statue on top. What's more in its gates and on its courtyard you can feel and see that maybe Philadelphia is after its worst (in 80s it felt to the bottom) but still it didn't go back to its best.

In National Independence Park we spent an hour or so. City was getting ready for Independence Day celebration. Some buildings were fenced with barriers, there was lots of police on the streets.

Independence Hall
Independence Hall, where Declaration of Independence was signed, was closed to visitors. We could walk around it but we didn't have enough time. But we have to admit that you can feel the history in the air. For example in San Antonio we tried to feel the historic atmosphere but we couldn't because of ugly skyscrapers around us. On the other hand here, in Independence Park we could easily transfer ourselves into 18th century. Probably if we could see original interiors of historic bulidings it ould be even easier. But still, crowds, police, fences couldn't spoil the experience
Due to lack of time we skipped Liberty Bell too. It is the bell that announced a public reading of Declaration on July 8. Now it's standing in it's very own pavilion, but there was a long line of people there. We decided there is no way we can wait there with kids and we just peeked through the window. 

There's a bell inside
We wrote in an our article on Mt. Rushmore that looking at July 4th and celebrations first in Mt. Rushmore and now in Philadelphia, we're more and more surprised we do not celebrate May 3rd in Poland. Despite the fact that our constitution was never actually in force, it was a big deal and streets of Warsaw were filled with joy. It was announced a national holiday only two days later. Meanwhile on the Declaration of Independence there was only one signature on July 4th, it was first read in public on July 8th and most of delegates didn't sign it until beginning of August.

Well, Declaration of Independence led to foundation of the most powerful country in the world. On the other hand in Poland only one year after our constitution people of Warsaw didn't have time to celebrate the anniversary as they had to defense their city from Russian siege. Two years later Poland disappeared from the map of Europe. However it was a revolutionary act, state-building and well-worth celebrating...

Back to Philadelphia... We quickly passed by Liberty Bell and before going back to the car we decided to breath in a bit of old town atmosphere, seeing some Polish accents on the way too. We passed by Polish-American Cultural Center and we got to the house Tadeusz Kosciuszko used to live in.

Little Poland in Philadelphia
In this house "Polish hero of American revolution" lived since 1796 after exile from Poland. It was found for him by his secretary Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz. Kosciuszko healed his wounds there and received visitors. Until 1970s building was not in a good shape but later it became a national monument and it was beautifully renovated. As we're in States it has to be "the most" at something. So it's the smallest area administered by National Park Service. It's only about 600 square feet! Of course, as usually, we got there too late and we couldn't go inside...
Tadeusz Kosciuszko's house
Old part of Philadelphia is really charming. 18th century architecture (Penn's idea of Philadelphia was it to be quiet, agricultural town but this idea was lost some time ago) old trees, little and well organized car traffic. Unfortunately, the old, unspoiled neighborhood is only few blocks wide. Next a little younger buildings replace the very old ones and soon ugly blocks of flats spoil the view. They look almost as in center of Warsaw.

Almost like in Warsaw
Even they didn't scare us away. After all we lived couple of years in a building exactly like this in Warsaw. What did scare us away though was pouring rain which started suddenly and didn't look like was going to stop any time soon. So we ran back to the car as quickly as we could and we headed south.

Doesn't look like the rain is coming, does it?
We spent in Philadelphia only few hours but it we found it quite interesting. Too bad we didn't get into any of historic buildings. But even just a walk through Independence Park and the old part of time was really worth the time.