USA trip 

WEDNESDAY/DAY 1....17 July, Wed morning....Ibis Hotel, Arlanda Airport. 06:00. Time for breakfast. Bus collection 07:30, dep 10:25.....feeling good, ready to rumble.

Departed on schedule,  arriving some 8 hrs 20 mins later.....10 mins ahead of schedule!! at New York, Newark. After all clearances it was a short flight to Philadelphia....35 minutes. One of my cases didn't arrive! Should be delivered to day....all my clothes!

Got Rapid Rover ride to our B&B in Burlington, ca 45 minutes. Blistering heat, extremely high humidity, warmest day since records started for this region, somewhere in the region of 95F!

A warm welcome from the landlord, showed us to our room.....sitting on the coffee table was a lovely bunch of flowers from one of my many newly found "cousins", Patricia LeClair. Time here was around 20:00.....phoned Ann Priscoe & Anna Glenn.  Strange putting a voice to a name, whom I've been corresponding with for ca 3 years!

Had meal in a nice restaurant across the street, discovering that we are located right on the banks of the Delaware river.

THURSDAY/DAY 2....18 July

It's now 07:00, breakfast at 08:30, go for a walk, to see more of this famous river. Then we have visitors, Pat LeClair and Ann Priscoe arriving around 11:00. Anna Glenn will join us later.

Weather forecast: hotter than yesterday!!....see you later!

FRIDAY/DAY 3.....19 July

Got the dates correct at last!! ....We were collected by Pat at 11 am yesterday and drove to Ann Priscoe's home. Spent 90 minutes there. What an explosive 90 year old we discovered!!   In many ways she reminded me of grand aunt Lizzie Millar....strange. A lot of 13.00 we moved on, with Ann and Pat to Pat's home, where we met her husband "Frenchy".  A lovely sallad lunch. The craic continued at a mighty level, with Anna to the fore.

At 6pm we moved on to Pat's brother, Francis & his wife CarolAnn,  where we met more family. Fran runs a furniture business in Burlington, ca 500m from the Lily Inn! He is 78, going strong....has everything that money can buy....a beautiful home, 5 cars, etc the American dream. They were very friendly and hospitable and again a lot of "heavy craicing". Fran reminded me of Dad, the way he behaved and all his stories....with irrelevant add ons.....!! Uncle Ivan would also come into that category!!

Food was ordered and there was a tuck in around 9 o'clock, which lasted almost 2 hours. I enjoyed a few bottles of the Sam Adam's stuff!!  

Later in the evening, Anna Glenn joined us from Delaware, after driving 1,5 hrs....and drove home again afterwards. We will meet and spend time with her over the week end, in the Kennett Square/Hockessin area, where the Allen sisters originally moved to.

Arrived back at the Lily Inn 23:15, nackered.......bed and up this morning at 07:30......breakfast 08:30, when the host Murray sat with us the whole time and craiced. He too has an interesting story to tell......Jewish background.

Liz has gone off to a Quilt Shop, about 400m from here.  We are being collected at 12:30, returning to Ann Priscoe's to meet her family & be related in next episode.

Temperature to day ca 35c, humidity a little lower. Weather to break to morrow, with a forecast for electrical storms!? 

SATURDAY/DAY 4....20 July

Friday's story.....Breakfast at 08:30. Joined by Inn Keeper Murray, who stayed with us for the whole duration of breakfast!

Chilled out....walked with Liz 400m to the Quilt shop. I returned to the Lily Inn to get away from the intense humid 38C!!

Liz returned almost 2 hrs later, with a bag of material, to the value of $180, and that was a reduced price!

Pat kindly picked us up at 12:45 and took us to Ann P's home, for a "drop in" family afternoon. Pat stayed a while and she too had some interesting conversations. We met 12 of Ann's family. Photos were taken and Liz continued her great job of documenting all names and linking them to the photos!

Ann had prepared a beautiful sallad buffet, where I experienced eating a "hoagie", and me a vegetarian!! If any of the readers are interested to hear how it tasted, message me via the attached contact form!?

After Pat and the other family members departed we had Ann to ourselves.......the talking continued unabated, right up until 6pm, when Ann's nephew David and his wife called again, this time to taxi us to the beautifully located Carlucci's Restaurant, with a stunning view over the Rancocas  Creek (an Indian name). This was Ann's invitation. Those present were Pat & Hector, Fran & CarolAnn, David & Yvette, Ann, Des & Liz.

The craic continued at a mighty level. The food was delicious and the service outstanding! We left the Restaurant after eight, concluded with a group photo at the entrance.

Fran & CarolAnn kindly taxied us home....the long way! He drove through the areas where he and CarolAnn grew up and we stopped at a Cemetry where he showed us the graves of his and Pat's parents Raymond & Lillian Imhoff and grandparents Edward & Elizabeth Imhoff. Elizabeth was nee Ritchie, whose mother was Jane Ritchie, nee Allen, one of the emigrating sisters! He also showed us Lillian's mother's grave Amelia McCardle. Photographs were taken of the graves, allowing me to give correct dates on the Family Tree.

We returned to the Lily Inn, just after the end of another exhilariting day with our newly found family..

To day Sat, we will be collected at 10 am by Enterprise Car Rental, rent a car for 2 days, taking us to Delaware and Anna Glenn. About 2 hrs to Kennett Square, which in fact is just over the state border into Pennsylvania.. Anna has worked hard on family research, so we will be collating information. Raymond Imhoff's (named above) sister Mabel, had a daughter Elaine who married Persoleo and from this union came Anna Glenn!  Check out the Family Tree!

Understand all that?.....too much really for a blog, but for personal records yes!!

SUNDAY/DAY 5...21 July

Yesterday/Sat had an eventful start. Car rental should have collected us at 10:00. Didn't arrive that we could see.....waited 30 mins, rang the company, no answer. Rang Pat and within minutes Fran, with a big smile, arrived on the scene. He kindly drove us to Enterprise Rentals. The guys apologised....stating that they had come to collect, but we didn't appear. They had no contact nr, so I guess I must share the blame.

Fran was a fantastic support before we departed by asking Tony, at the Furniture Store to download a Google navigation map to our destination. With that support & a GPS in the Ford Focus and smile, Fran thenescorted us to the main route, which we followed and arrived without a hitch to Kennett Square B&B.

After settling in, resting and refreshing, Anna & Charles Glenn arrived in their Crysler Cruiser. We followed them in our car to a Restaurant, Geordino's, where we had the privilege of treating them to a meal. Her lovely daughter Nicole 32, joined us later. After a nice meal we were escorted back to B&B, arr ca 20:30. 

After a short period of rest we walked up the hill and into Kennett Sq. A beautiful old town, where the ambiance gave me a "home" feeling.....caused, I would guess partly by the fact that this was the home area of the Kelly family. Sarah, one of the Allen sisters was married to Kelly....her second marriage in 1902....first husband Crooks, died 1899.

Last year I discovered, via links given to me by Anna G that Sarah's grandson Thomas Allen Kelly, a war veteran, 60 years in the American Legion, had been a faithful servant of the local community (more info on him in the Family Tree). He died just a few years ago. To honour his life and work, a stainless steel flagpole was erected in 2011, at the junction of  State St & Broad St. It certainly was a moment of emotion when we found it and I stood beside it. Photos will be collated and posted on our return to Sweden.

To day Sunday, we meet Anna at the Brandywine River Museum, a home of American art. Nicole will also join us. We will do other "things", talk, exchange info and look at old photos.

Temp somewhat cooler....not very much though!

MONDAY/DAY 6....22 July

Sunday's story.....After a nice breakfast and an interesting conversation with our Japanese landlady, Nicole & Anna G arrived at 09:30, for us to follow them to the American Art Museum. After ca 15 mins drive we arrived and here we met up with Anna's sister Doris and their cousin Pat Colclough.

We "did" the Museum, very impressive works. I was discreetly reprimanded by a stewart informing me that I wasn't allowed to take photos in certain areas!!  As we walked around we were getting to know these newly found relatives....that again was a great feeling!

We were then treated to a delicious brunch, commencing at 12:30 continuing until ca 14:30. The craic was mighty. I gave the new family members the story of "THE LETTER FROM AMERICA" and where I came into the family. They were not aware of all the details. I distributed photos which I had with me, some of which were prepared by cousin Norman Bell, back in Cookstown NIreland. Thanks Norman!

We then said our good byes to Doris & Pat.........Anna had planned yet more adventure!!  We drove to St Patrick's Cemetry in Yorklyn, ca 20 min drive. This was an emotional Cemetry visit. I stood beside the grave of one of the sisters, at long last, when I could bow my head and pay homage to one brave immigrant lady, my own "flesh and blood", Sarah Kelly (Crooks), born in Tintagh, Moneymore, Ireland, b 1864, d 1950......and her second husband James, also Irish by birth......2 sons also buried alongside, James & John. I'm not afraid to say that these were tearful minutes. We traveled then through Yorklyn and saw where the family lived and stopped at the school where Elaine (Anna G's mother) and Mabel (Anna's grandmother) attended.

We then moved on to the Kennet Square Cemetry where we visited 2 of Sarah's Crooks sons grave. Samuel George b 1891 d 1964 and William b 1897 d 1972. Almost the same life dates as my Grandfather Sam Allen!!.......and just think they didn' t know that each other existed! Just a thought!

After this Nicole & Ann showed us to the new Kennett Square Walmart Super store, where Liz did some shopping, whilst I sweltered outside!! We then returned to the town, stopped and had smoothies & crepes.

Returned to the B&B, and had an early night. The end of yet another adventurous day, thanks to Anna, ably assisted by Nicole.

To day Monday we return to family in Burlington, hopefully arriving around mid day.

TUESDAY/DAY 7....23 July

Yesterday's  posting is delayed, because of network problems. Will try to complete both MonTues this evening (Tues) NJ time......yesterday, another great day!

TUESDAY EVENING 22:00 NJ time......Monday's activities......Departed Kennet Sq B&B 08:30 after another beautifully presented breakfast. Arrived safely at the Lily Inn around mid day.. Had a short rest, wrote some cards, checked in with Pat and took a walk down the High St.

I bought a ring to commemorate our trip to NJ, DE & PA. It's black with 3 silver circles, for the 3 Allen sisters, who left home, family and friends, to start a new life in America......over 130 years ago!  AND here we are re united after all those years!  Liz revisited the Quilt shop. We then visited the Mail Office, another new experienc!  On our way we stopped at the Legend's restaurant for a snack. Then rested for 2 hrs.

Fran, & Carolann collected us at 18:00 for a gathering at Vincenzo's restaurant with Pat, Hector & Ann.  Weather had now changed to rain, but still very warm! This meal felt a little bit like a "last supper", as it was our last gathering as a group. The craic and food was good. Life stories were exchanged, with plenty of laughs....however at the same time a recognition of the difficult early days that must have been experienced by the sisters upon arrival and the following years.

We concluded with hugs and tears. Fran/Carolann left us at the Lily Inn around 21:30.........

Liz and I can't get over how we have been accepted as long lost family, all the love and affection shown, and how easy it was to talk and laugh with each other.......all thanks to Samuel JOHN Allen and Eliza (Hartley) Allen, married in Desertlyn Parish Church, Moneymore in 1855!


Breakfast with Harold Dog at 08:30....collected by Fran at 11:00 for what turned out to be yet another unforgettable day. We started our historical tour with a vist to St Mary's Episcopel Church, both the new church renovated after a fire in 1976 and the old church building erected in 1702-03.Many photos taken!

Then we we were taken to visit Bill & Betty Baird, good friends for over 60 years. We were given a tour of their amazing home. Their house built in 1795, houses a collection of living American history. Betty & Bill have tastefully preserved and presented an unbelievable amount of family history. Bill was also a bell ringer for over 50 years at St Mary's and brought tears to our eyes when we saw a video of him playing  "Abide with me".  Liz touched a quilt which had been hand sown by Bill's great great grandmother. To crown it all I got a photo of a real life humming bird at the bird feeder!

After a late lunch in the country we went to Fran and Carolann's furniture store Imhoff Home Furnishings, where we said good bye to Tony. We returned to the Lily Inn where we packed and be picked up yet again by Fran, for supper at their amazing home. Here we met Glenn, their son and Donald & his wife Joyce...long time friends!  This was another evening enjoying the company of our newly found family and friends. It's so difficult to find words to express the emotions we are experiencing......again it all goes back to that "letter from America" written by Ann P in 1996, and found by my sister Yvonne in Feb 2010!

Thank you Ann!  xx

Early start in the morning, 06:45, for our flight to Chicago and to meet Liz's cousins and families.......

THURSDAY/DAY 8....25 July

Wednesday's story......

The Rapid Rover mini bus transfer service collected us at the Lily Inn, 06:45. Arrived and checked in at Philly Airport ca 08:30.

This check in was another first....everything automated and you've never done it before!!? However as we have found out before there are helpful people to assist. A steward came to our aid. Hold baggage you pay for at the check in, and the cabin allowance is one bag 8kg and the equivalent to a small lap top case!

Made our way to the gate and yet another new experience! economy travellers you are allocated your seat at the gate. Once on board (we didn't sit beside each other) we settled down for the 1hr 45min flight to Chicago. Winding the time backwards, we gained an hour. Asked our way to the courtesy bus and eventually arrived at the Embassy Suites Hotel around 12:30pm.

Shortly after our arrival we had a call to the room from Reception, stating there a package being delivered to our room. What a surprise this was...a bottle of wine, cheese crackers & fruit, from an anonymous giver!?

As we were settling in we had a call from Liz's 2nd cousin Doug (it was a great idea buying the cellphone/mobile on the first day!!). He then popped in to welcome us to Chicago and we had good craic for a couple of hours. Liz  discreetly mentioned the gift delivered earlier....Doug's smile gave him away! What a thoughtful family.  He then left after giving us some suggestions for next few days......Cemetry visit, Sears Tower etc. Liz has already booked a 4 hour land and lake trip for Friday!

A few minutes after Doug departed, his sister Teener was now 5pm and she stayed until 9:30, treating us to a lovely meal....the craic again was something special. As she had been to NIreland in 1983 with her aunt Marge, her Dad Sid's sister (Sid's mother was Liz's Dad's sister!), she could relate more to the NIreland/Ulster situation. I was impressed by her knowledge of Irish history!  Photos and stories were "head was devered"!!!

We've just had breakfast in the vast atrium.....we are now going walkies to see what this area around O'Hare has to offer! This afternoon Liz's cousin Sid, b 1926, and wife Betty are coming to visit us, so we look forward to meeting up with them.

CONTINUING DAY 8......early start in the morning, so here goes, TO DAYS REPORT...

Sid & Betty arrived around mid day, driven by Doug's son Mark. Doug is Sid/Betty's son. Had cold drinks and the craicing continued at a hot pace until 14:30. Doug took time off and collected us, driving to the biggest cemetry I've ever experienced. Liz had researched on the net and found the location of her great uncle George O'Brien's grave.. After a short stop at the Cemetry Office, Doug was able to drive to the correct row, and after a 10 min search, Betty found it....inscribed on it was also his wife Agnes and their nameless baby, Upington (the mother's maiden name?).

We then drove another 20 mins and visiting the Historical Society. Lots of interesting info! Drove back to the Hotel, just in time to take part in the Hotel's "happy hour", prior to dinner. While Sid, Betty & Liz did that Doug very kindly helped me to find a new photo memory card, by driving me to a Drug Store! one there, believe it or not!!?

We then joined the others and proceeded to the Restaurant, where we enjoyed yet another lovely now we were beginning to wilt. Sid is 87 and Betty 85, don't know how they coped with the intensity of this day, but they did and did it well!   At around 20:30 we dispersed. We are having an early night....Liz is now sleeping!

To morrow Friday (!!).an early start. We are going on a 4 hr Architectural & Lake tour, meeting up with Doug afterwards.....that's it for to day!

SATURDAY/DAY10....27 July

Friday was an early start...breakfast 06:30, walked 15 mins to the Blue Line Metro service & arrived at Monroe St, in downtown Chicago 08:20. Came up to street level and wow....head got light looking up at those sky scrapers,  the noise of traffic and bustling crowds. Bearings, impossible! We had a map, but what good is that when you don't know where North is?  After speaking to a friendly passer by, we soon established our bearings, and then walked straight to the check in building for the tour, which happened to be in the lobby of a Hilton Hotel!.....about 10 min walk.

The bus tour was 2 hours. The guide was not only knowledgable, but also entertaining. He gave us the architectural background to most the high rise buildings on Northside.....we were then transported to the Boat tour pier, when we spent 90 min on the Chicago river, listening again to a gifted young guide, talking us through all the buildings seen from the boat, including the famous Sears Tower, now known as the Willis Tower.

We were on land again 13:30, found a Cafe and had a snack. We then contacted Liz's cousin Doug, who has his Office in the city centre, in the Wrigley Building (chewing gum fame). We met up with him and he took us on a walking tour around Michican Av and into Macey's famous, massive Super Store. After quite a bit of walking we reached his parking facility. He then took us on a tour of the Lakeside, residential area, showing us some very exclusive homes..

We then made our way to an Irish Restaurant/Bar, Langley's, where we met up with Doug'sister Teener and their parents Sid & Betty, at 6pm. We ate, drank, craiced until 8:30. Doug kindly left us back to the Embassy Suites, after calling at his home, to feed dogs etc. Sid & Doug left us around 9:30. 

This was the end of yet another highly exciting day.

To be part of such lovely families is such a privilege.

To day Sat...we've had breakfast. Liz has taken a taxi to a Shopping Mall, about 15 mins away.  I'm now writing this blog and planning to take things easy. We will be collected late in the afternoon, when we will be attending yet another "last supper",  in the form of a BBQ!!

SUNDAY/DAY 11....28 July

Saturday afternoon as above, cousin Doug collected us at 16:30, taking us to his sister Teener & Gene's home in Northbrook, a northern suburb of Chicago. We met Doug & Mark, Gene's parents, Todd, Sarah & their 3 beautiful daughters Madelaine 5 , their twins, Caroline & Haley, soccer enthusiast Ben, who presented me with the American national teams' scarf, Sid & Betty and of course Teener & Gene....who had prepared a fantastic BBQ buffet. Gene's mum, Grandma Katie had baked 2 beautiful pies, for dessert. I tasted for the first time coconut cream pie!!!

Yet another evening's craic came to an end at around 21:30, when we left after emotional hugs and good byes. Doug & his Dad Sid returned us to the Embassy Suites at Rosemont, O' 30 min drive.

Our flight to Philadelphia is 18:45 this evening. Staying overnight at an airport hotel, for our return flight to Newark and Stockholm, arr Tuesday morning, eta 07:15......Swebus to Kga, arr 15:10.

Time/internet connection etc may not permit further blogging until we arrive home!....Trust you who read this diary have enjoyed the ride, as I did writing it!  

TUESDAY/DAY 13....30 July

Final blog, this time written in Karlskoga.....Landed Stockholm, exactly 12 hours ago, after 2 days of :

1. cancelled domestic flight 2. mislaid baggage 3. last minute Hotel change 4. 5 hours sleep in 48 hour period

5. following up and finding baggage at Newark Airport

The flight to Philadelphia Sunday 18:05, was cancelled half an hour prior to boarding, due to thunder storm, flash flooding and power failure. This meant that we had to walk and find the Ticketing Desk and organise a new flight to connect with our Stockholm flight. Got that with a dep time 06:05, Monday morning. We were then instructed to go to Baggage Reclaim and collect our baggage.

Another story....It wasn't there!! Our baggage had been taken on to Philadelphia on a earlier flight (we in fact arrived 5 hrs before this scheduled flight and checked in immediately!). Baggage was then transported with the next flight, NOT our flight! With this cancellation we were now "stranded" in Chicago, bags in Philly and no place to sleep! We had to spend a session with the Baggage Service Agent. Liz was with them 20 mins, and was told to report to Baggage Service at Newark on arrival next morning, stating that the bags would be re directed to Newark.

We then sorted the Hotel out...phoned and cancelled Hotel in Philadelphia, and got a last minute room at the Hotel we had checked out of ca 10 hrs earlier. Got back to the Hotel around 10pm, had a snack and got ca 4 hrs sleep. Up at 3pm and returned to the O'Hare Airport, Chicago.

We checked with baggage at Newark, immediately after our arrival on Monday morning and found our 2 bags!

In fact this flight change was to our advantage, one less flight and slightly cheaper hotel cost!! We then checked in with SAS and everything was now back to normal. Had a nice meal and could the relax in the Transit waiting area.

Boarded on schedule and departed Newark 17:45, arriving Stockholm 07:15. No sleep on board, just dozing in stints, feeling quite restricted in the Economy Class, which we had purchased! Next time First Class! Managed to get the earlier bus to Karlskoga arriving 12:15. "borta är bra men hemma bäst!!" place like home!

To sum up : IMPOSSIBLE!....just to say the experience of a lifetime, meeting wonderful family people, and experiencing America at its best.....BIG, BEAUTIFUL, GENEROUS, FRIENDLY, HOSPITABLE, SERVICE MINDED, HISTORICAL and the ADOPTED home of so many from both our families. These are just a few of the descriptives in summary!

Approx 1100 photographs were taken! I will create digital folders on the Smile Box programme and distribute. This will take, so long for now. //Des & Liz


Although our trip to the USA has concluded, you are welcome to become "My friend" on Facebook, where I contribute occasionally, with text & photo!


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