column 3 Peekskill and the Campers


After a week in N.Y.C. we left by train for Peekskill. At six o'clock in the station we were told that within a couple of hundred metres walk from the station we would find Motel Peekskill. A fine motel with a wonderful view over the Hudson River. One thousand six hundred metres may also be described as 'a few hundred metres', but with a suitcase of twenty-six kilos it felt as if we had walked for a few hundred kilometres. Early the next morning we went to collect our Ford Get Away.
Unfortunately it wasn't ready; no tires, no windscreen, and the hood up, so we decided to explore the village. It turned out to be a quirky, artistic little place with a real diner from the fifties. In the second hand shop, "Bruised Apple", incidentally a great name for a shop with used books and c.d.'s. I bought Medeski Martin and Wood's latest c.d. Then into the library to collect e-mails after which we drank loads of coffee in the local coffee shop. A different sort of coffee shop from the Dutch ones. Coincidentally two camera teams were filming at the front. We asked what was happening and it appeared that sixty-eight drug dealers had been picked up in the neighbourhood of our coffee shop; two Dutch people in a coffee shop during the biggest drugs hall in New York State in years.
As unobtrusively as possible we returned to the garage where we were told that we had to report back at 9 p.m. But at five past nine we were still sitting in front of a locked up lot where fifty campers were parked. Everything from box like chassis that looked as if they could be used as chip vans, to state of the art vehicles at least as long as the average town bus. Ours was still partially open. Ernst, the owner of TransAtlantic, drove down the hill in one of the chip vans. Gaping in admiration at the luxury of our vehicle it appeared that yet more wonders still had to be revealed; the extension of the bedroom/living room combination. Rather long-windedly we tried to make clear that we were used to camping in small tents and we were overwhelmed by all this luxury. Ernst didn't let us distract him and continued laying cables for the electric fire, looking for blankets, keys for showers in buildings around the lot, to finally delight us with the antenna for the flatscreen t.v. The more we protested that we weren't used to so much luxury when camping the more it seemed he was intent on proving that we'd been doing it wrong for all these years. "No problem. Lots of people in America travel like this. See you at eight." And off he went.