Crowds in America

Sunday 22nd 'Road-day'

Sunday morning was mostly quiet. We found a place to have coffee; strangely enough in a place of worship. We hung out in the Tabernacle Church of Masquanat for a few hours -- making tea and crocheting. I'm not sure how long you need on each occasion to have your sins forgiven, but those few hours seemed enough to take care of stealing and burying Jenny's favourite doll, when I was about 5. Sorry Jen (

postscript - now I've told you that, never watch the Dutch film

Spoorlos,

or the American remake

The Vanishing

). It's in the Jubilee House garden, if you think you might want it back. Fortunately you don't have to forgive me any more, because the dear Lord has.

Walked behind a lady yesterday, as we entered Walmart (no deliberate connection intended, yet), who had the message 'Jesus is the Lord' embroidered into the back of her jacket. Now, I may not be the most earnest student of Christianity, granted, but this is a bit like watching Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, then afterwards someone insisting that he never became the King of Men, and in any case his part was played not by the Dane, Viggo Mortensen, but by a Dame; Judi Dench. Let me explain the simile (I fear it might need a bit of explanation); I thought the lord was the Lord? How did his (allegedly) own son become the Lord? Was titled transferred in death? What about all his property; what happened in probate, because surely the meek were entitled to the soil? Is God dead - did I miss that?

Confused! One thing is for sure; Christianity plays a big part in American life - and at the very least it symbolises independence (ironically, perhaps, given the dogmatic preservation of Christian rights in a secular country), family and loved ones. Christmas, therefore, is huge here too. We might think that the commercial view of Christmas is an English Victorian creation (think Dickens), but the USA has driven the drone of canned carol music, and kitschy inflatable Rudolfs to new depths. I love it. We were driving along US9 South yesterday evening, and Sarah suddenly cries out,

"Look! A carousel. And lots of people!"

This might not sound amazing, but I link back to the beginning of this min-rant. Religion and Walmart have, minimum, one thing in common. - they're both a bunch of people getting together. Maybe they're a bit more streamlined in one than the other, but the idea is much the same, and - most importantly - it's the only time you see people outside of their cars. i.e. at church or in the mall. Otherwise you NEVER see anybody. Nobody walks the streets in the USA except the

street-walkers (duhh), the destitute or the 'very-nearly-destitute-and-I-lost-my-licence-for-DUI-anyway'.

So to see a whole crowd of people, outside ? - well we just had to stop, even if (as here) it meant a few miles detour to turn around to come back. And what was it? Yep - a Christmas market, with weird little temporary antique shops. Awesomely kitschy and plastic. How absolutely and wonderfully Americana.

What the photos don't tell you is that we found a place here claiming to be an English and Irish food specialist. First - who in their right mind would believe that they could sell English and Irish goods as some kind of combined thing? Come on people, know your history. Other than Sky TV and maybe Ryanair, that would NEVER happen back home. Second - they sold (and I bought) Cornish Pasties, but they insisted on pronouncing them paste - ies, as in toothpaste. 'Nuff said.

We certainly made quite a few miles yesterday, twisting and turning and randomly exploring the hurricane-ravaged coastline. Quite fascinating. We went all the way back North up Long Beach Island to visit Barnegat Lighthouse. The place is slowly being eroded away from the knot of sand it rests upon. The name Barnegat comes from a similar Old Dutch word, meaning ' inlet breakers'  - the lighthouse is named after the very thing that will extinguish it.

Finally, in the rain and darkness yesterday evening, we felt the need to find somewhere to shower (!) - there's no water on board because the vehicle is winterised. We turned into one dark entrance to a campground, only to find the road blocked, and no way to turn around. With Sarah walking behind the RV waving the torch, I followed her, in reverse, seeing nothing except her feeble torch light in the reversing camera-screen. There's trust.

Eventually, we escaped, and pitched up at Seaside Campground in Cape May. The plan today, is to take the ferry across the water to another State - Delaware.