Reunion

Day 27

I woke early, as I have since leaving New York. This morning I realized that as we drove west, we entered new time zones almost daily and I woke when my body said “Enough! Get up already!” In Columbus OH, (EDT) the first day of driving, I woke at my usual 5am. In Topeka KS (CDT) it was 4am and this morning about three hours wes of Laramie WY (MDT) it was 3am. I can’t wait for tomorrow morning in PDT.

Today we took a few rest stops, but no sightseeing. We were driven to be home before the end of the day.  4C767B1E-1A77-49F9-86CA-D13CFA5FAD2D(Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) To that end, we drove almost 900 miles today in about 12 hours. Normally we would stop long before that but we were going home. The most memorable rest stop had this sign in the parking lot. I thought it was good advice and took pictures from the black top, where I could see sliding and walking things on the ground.

F68CF4BC-958D-4BC0-90B9-0DFCDF0AE94DAgain, we were amazed at the majesty and immensity of America. The Great Basin (between Salt Lake City and Reno) is both huge and flat. We didn’t think it would ever end. Eventually hills and mountains returned on the horizon. The problem was a perpetual haze almost obscuring the mountains several miles away. We assumed this was smoke from the California fires. There are mountains on the horizon, believe me.

We stopped in Elko NV, (remember Elko? It was going to be our first stop way back on 904E2D19-9F3B-4684-B3B9-97968AD6513EDay 1 but we decided to continue on to Salt Lake City.) There was a cafe in Elko that serves lunch and brunch and had good Yelp reviews. Since the last Yelp recommendation was a winner we decided to try this one. Macadoo’s in Elko was ok, not great. It is a nice little cafe but unfortunately they had BBQ brisket sandwiches as their special. We both agreed after Jo-Bawb’s in Gillette WY it’s going to be hard for any other BBQ place to rate, and this place does not specialize in BBQ. Nice people though. Good iced tea.

Now it is time for a confession and the truth. Rosie didn’t actually go with us on our Journey. That was the semi-fictional travel category of our adventure. She stayed at the Lucky Dog, a sleep away spa for dogs. We picked her up at the spa and she was somewhat excited to see us again.

So, our Journey has ended for now. We drove 7871 miles and were away from home for 27 days. As I mentioned previously, I will spend the balance of this summer adding more Rosie content to these posts and (hopefully) compile all the posts in a book of short stories. Please stay tuned.

Day 26D81AD233-7837-452B-A3F0-58ADEC0443C4

In part, the drive from Topeka KS to Denver was as I remembered it from 50 years ago. My guess is the scenery, meaning corn and cows, and corn and cows is petty much exactly as it was and any differences are just a function of my revisionist memory. I did remember more corn and wheat and not so many cows, and there was plenty of each, mile after mile after mile. Even “the bitch” was bored.

We Saw a number of old homesteads dotting the plains and are always amazed at the courage and determination of the settlers who walked across these plains nearly 200 years ago. Can you imagine their journal? “Day 49, we walked. Day 50, we walked. Today we walked…” endlessly repeating.

 

I-70 by-passes Denver to the east and turns north towards Fort Collins. The most excitement we during our drive was due to the lack of gas stations. The bitch routed us around Loveland on 287, a dirt road probably due to construction, and there was no gas on that route either. Our gas gauge started flashing with 50 miles to go to Laramie. The Prius was averaging 44 miles per gallon across Colorado, but I knew we were gradually rising as we approached the Rockies, so hoped our mpg’s would stay the same or improve. Unfortunately, the drive bypassing Loveland to just west of, and bypassing, Cheyenne was likewise uphill. Spoiler alert, we made it, with a gallon to spare and filled up east of Laramie.

Fran asked people in the McDonalds next to the filling station, if there was a good place to eat nearby. One of the employees said if you are tired of McDonalds, KFC is just down the road. Instead, while the car was filling I checked Yelp for a restaurant recommendation between Laramie and Rock Springs. By chance I found a  restaurant in Rawlins that had 60 reviews and a 4 star rating. The Aspen House Restaurant is actually a local country restaurant in a converted Victorian house. Fran drove from Laramie to Rock Springs, and I slept. We entered into a small quaint dining room and looked around for a host. One of the customers saw us and waved us toward the back toward the host station. The hostess welcomed us and showed us to a nice table in a small semi-private room, just large enough for that one table. One door lead back to the entryway and the other to the larger dining room with the friendly, helpful customer.

 

We took an hour off from driving and had a very nice meal. I cannot imaging passing this way again, but if we did….

Tomorrow we are hoping to make it back home. It is an easier ride that we had today but if  I we tire later in the day we will stop one more time.

Dust In The Wind

Day 25

“Rise and shine, Rosie, rise and shine. It’s time to start another chapter of the Journey,” I chirped cheerily.

”It’s too early, Dad. Let me sleep longer,” Rosie pleaded with sleepy mumble. “Mom isn’t up yet.”

She opened one eye, looking at me, trying to determine how much she could push this. 7CAD8F89-806C-4042-9591-0A3FD15D1609She knew she shouldn’t have answered when I first spoke, now it was too late.

I picked up her pink leash, clicked it a few times, saying, “Today, we are starting in Columbus OH, capital and home of THE Ohio State University.”

“Great! A geography lesson before breakfast. Let’s go pee.”

Rosie stood and stretched, making a production of it, as usual . Stretching her front half, legs out in front and butt in the air, then reversing and stretching her back legs out long with her head up so I could attach the  leash.

88FAFE3E-8CEC-4973-9FCA-8508335BD6F3Quietly opening the hotel room door, to not wake Fran, I tell her, “We then drive through Indiana and its capital, Indianapolis, before entering Illinois.”

Rosie brightened, “Can we see the speedway? I love fast cars.”

”No, Rose. No sightseeing. We are driving straight back home this week. Now, the capital of Illinois is Springfield but is 100 miles north of St. Louis and off our path so we won’t see it.

“Aw, Dad. We have to go to Springfield! I want to meet Bart and Lisa!” Then under her breath she grumbles, “I bet they would let their dog sleep as late as she wants.”

”I am sure the Simpsons live in a different Springfield, Rosie.”

“Anyway, we will then drive through Missouri, but won’t see its capital, Jefferson City. It is about 100 miles south of our route.”

”Oh, darn. It’s a shame to miss it. Since there won’t be anything to see, maybe you will let me sleep through it.”

“We will pass through Topeka, KS, Kansas’s capital. You may want to be up to see that.”

”Are we stopping and touring the capital, Dad?”

”No, Rose. Remember, no sightseeing on our return trip home.”

If you have followed our Journey you may remember the memorable sights we saw during the drive from Chicago to Cleveland. We saw basically the same thing today.

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The only interesting view along our drive today

We drove 727 miles in 10 hours. Once we found our hotel we really didn’t want to drive far for dinner. We ended up at a Texas Roadhouse, in Kansas, where we had the same steaks we would have had in Florida. Oh well.2F2DB46D-F412-4097-8336-EB36A4424F75

I once drove from Kansas City to Breckinridge CO and I remember hundreds of miles of corn and wheat. I am SO looking forward to that tomorrow. That was 50 years ago, it may have changed. Here’s hoping.

We are shooting for Loveland CO tomorrow, only 575 miles, “the bitch” says it should take 8 hrs, 7 min. We shall see.

Rosie is eager with anticipation of being able to sleep 8 hrs, 7 minutes straight.

No Trouble in The Heartland

Day 24

After a nice catch up (not catsup or ketchup) breakfast with Ilayne and Amy we took a

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Under a Table

cab to Penn Station to catch (not ketch) the train to Newark Airport. We walked inside and asked customer service where to find the train and she said “track 4 leaving in 4 min.” We bought tickets and boarded the train with 2 minutes to spare. I really wanted it to either be a “two two twain” or leaving on “track 29, and it’s leaving on time.” Oh well. 

Just under an hour after leaving the restaurant at Central Park South we were heading west on I78. Google Maps says 7 hrs 41 min. I wonder if “the bitch” knows about shore traffic?

The Pennsylvania Turnpike winds though rolling hills, (or small mountains) and sometimes bores deep through them in long, dark tunnels. It is 211 miles from Harrisburg to Washington PA. It seemed like most of it was under repair and the speed limits were restricted to 45 or 55 MPH. Luckily it was Sunday afternoon and no workers were present. Pennsylvania must have installed either a worm-hole or time warp as we drove the 200+ restricted speed limit miles in just under 3 hours.

We passed through West Virginia with no more than a blink at some beautiful mountains and better roads, before we entered Ohio. Let’s just say we are looking forward to mountains again, when we pass Denver and turn north towards Salt Lake City.

67DB780D-9696-4348-A33A-DCE6F8F58CE2Entering the heartland of America, where else to eat but Cracker Barrel. Hopefully, this will not become a regular habit as we cross the prairie, but it was late and we wanted to eat dinner before we stopped for the night.

Hoping to have an early-ish start and make Kansas City tonight. It’s a bit of a stretch (668 miles) but we are anxious to be home.

Escapades Out On The “D” Train

Day 23

You may have noticed Rosie has taken a back seat in our Journey. My plan is to resurrect her in a major revision of the story (adding the semi-fictional travel element) later this summer. The ride back to Sacramento starts this morning, so maybe to add some interest to the minimal stop drive through the great mid-west corn and wheat belt of America, she may offer commentary along the way, or maybe my revisionist memory will add her later. Who knows?

(End of Day 22)
So, last night we saw Kinky Boots, music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper.  This is a modern 391594DF-4DC4-4F8C-BCA6-D70E3EC40F4Fday morality play, updated for today’s culture. Morality Plays were popular in the 15th and early 16th centuries and  presented lessons about good conduct and character. Kinky Boots teaches tolerance, acceptance and love, all wonderful qualities. It is a reminder to always look at any situation from all points of view. Walk a while in others‘ shoes.

(Back to Day 23.)
Can a morning ritual be created in just 2 mornings? I could go into the space-time continuum proof 67843EDC-E515-4731-BAC9-830ABDE6DDFBof two points forming a straight line and if repeated with the same points the line has no slope and is constant, and is expected to be repeated ad infinitum, but I won’t. Again, I walked to 50th and 3rd for bagels from Ess-a-bagel. This morning however, I stopped at Irving Farms Coffee Roasters for my morning coffee. Ess-a-Bagel is ritual, coffee is impulsive and dependent on which shop is open early. NYC’s definition of early is somewhat different than mine, but eventually the shops open. I like that balance of repetition and wild spontaneity. Lou Reed also sang about NYC – Walk on The Wild Side. I say also, because this posts’ obscure segment title is from a Bob Dylan song about NYC.

After breakfast we walked down 6th to the subway station. The avenue was closed to traffic as vendors were setting up their food and wares stands for an all day festival.

 

We caught the D train (so many references regarding the D train) from Bryant Park to Yankee Stadium.  Fran commented that 95% of the fans were wearing Yankee clothing. I thought that was an underestimate.  We walked up the ramps to our 967DC6B4-18C1-454C-ADFF-0D50CB1CB4BAexcellent seats behind 1st base, thanks to Fran and her Stub Hub account. (Wisely, she doesn’t let me see the credit card with Stub Hub purchases.) Our tickets included access to the Jim Beam lounge which, when we arrived was nearly empty, at least only few people were waiting for tables. Later, people were waiting in line to just enter the lounge. Yankee Stadium (the 3rd iteration of Yankee Stadiums Fran has visited)
is noted for their food selection, but the food in the lounge was a significant step above. We had roast beast sandwiches from a carving station, Fran had unlimited refills of soda and I found the only non-IPA or non-Lite beer in the place, Blue Point Toasted Lager. Brewed on Long Island it is a well balanced amber lager with very subtle hop and malt flavors. Find some and drink some, you won’t be disappointed. Trust me on this.

 

Well, as you no doubt know from the headline news, front page banner, the Yankees lost, as they did when we saw them in Cleveland. Being baseball fans and not necessarily Yankee fans we didn’t care. Our main man, traded from the Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton, pounded the old shillelagh out of the park, just as he did in Cleveland. We were happy.

Back on the D train to Bryant Oark, we walked through the festival buying gifts for Grace and Vivian, on our way to our hotel in time for a quick shower before we headed off to Becco’s for dinner. The place was packed, until 7:30, when most of the patrons left to attend Broadway shows. The number of restaurants, bars and nightclubs along 46th, west of 8th is amazing. We could have spent weeks there trying each and every one, but tomorrow we “open at the close” of our journey.

 

I forgot it was Saturday night and we were walking through Times Square. What a zoo! There was so much energy and excitement, both before and after dinner. It’s a wonderland well worth the jostling and noise.

These Little Town Blues, Are Melting Away

Day 22

Early morning NYC, there is nothing like it. The city wakes early with deliveries, street cleaning, people out washing their sidewalks, walking to work or perhaps returning from last nights outing. They stop for bagels or some other walkable sandwich on their way. It’s 5:30 AM, the streets are yet to fill with yellow cabs and cars speeding and honking. You can safely cross against the red lights.

Ess-A-Bagel is only 11 blocks away (5 little blocks and 6 big ones.) They were 66594ECF-EE1C-4D00-B5E4-19835CEAF358recommended by the hotel front staff, and by Daniel back in California. I wanted a good New York bagel, and found one. Chewy, good crust and REAL cream cheese. When I had a “New York” bagel in Chicago they used whipped cream cheese. They didn’t have a clue when I asked them if they had any “real” cream cheese. Oh, the little pleasures.

What a difference a couple of hours make. At 541A4D6F-3E7F-419E-8BBA-5A859D57AB0D10:00 the streets were filled with cars, trucks and people. Horns blaring with desperation to make the next light. Drivers signalling with a finger rather than a blinker. The white walking figure at the stop lights are apparently a suggestion rather than a law.

After breakfast we walked up to Central Park. I wanted to see the John Lennon

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Sheep Meadows – Central Park

“Strawberry Fields” memorial park. The park was bigger than I expected but was filled with tour groups. I guess it was to be expected, but was a little disappointing. A couple of musicians were spaced around playing Lennon songs. That was nice. We spent a few minutes there then walked back down Central Park D76E1D37-330E-4A47-8F68-0D7AAFCAB28AWest towards Times Square where we picked up a Hop On – Hop Off bus. As part of our room package we had two tickets for this tour. We had never done a double decker bus tour and found a lot of fun. It didn’t hurt we had a very entertaining tour guide and we had just walked about 30 blocks and were eager to sit for an hour or so.

We got off at Houston Street and walked twelve blocks to Katz’s Deli. We lunched there before but just had to go back again. The Katz brothers developed a gold mine with their deli. Too bad they died 50+ years ago and probably didn’t glean the profits seen today. (A roast beef on rye costs $20 and the line was outside and down the block. Do the math.)

After lunch we walked back up to Houston (you all know its pronounced House-ton, 304B24E9-A908-4076-ABE5-01A493231B54right?) As we were walking along Fran noticed a sign designating Peretz Square. After reading the description Fran confirmed it was named for an ancestor of her Aunt Selma’s cousin. There! A little more history of Fran’s family, even if through marriage.

When we arrived at the Nike store we waited just a few minutes then hopped back on the bus. It continued its route down to Wall St, the Ground Zero memorial then back up along the Hudson River. The entire tour usually takes about 3 hours, we spent well over 4. Oh well, as I said, it was interesting, although the second tour guide wasn’t as much fun.

Returning to Times Square it was raining pretty hard. I felt bad for the body painted models. They use water based paint. All that beautiful artwork, down the drain. Literally. Sorry guys and gals*, no pics. FB would probably disapprove. We walked down and picked up our tickets for Kinky Boots tonight. Now we rest a bit before deciding on where to go to dinner.

* I use the phrase “guys and gals” with affection, not affront. I have enough friends of both sexes who would appreciate viewing these women I didn’t want to excluded anyone. If I offend, please believe it was unintentional.

Clink – To Very Old Friends – Clink

Day 20

Sadly, I dropped Neil and Maureen off for their early morning, albeit delayed, flight from Burlington to Pittsburgh this morning. They are competing in an international pinball tournament starting tomorrow. My plan was to return to camp for an hour then meet David and Ginny at Texas Falls. Yes, I know it is really Virginia now. And her last name changed. Tough. Deal with it. Instead, I decided to go straight to Texas Falls and just arrive a bit early. On the way I passed the Middlebury College Snow Bowl and A90A985C-B026-4493-A006-161778156EE2stopped to snap a summertime picture of the Allen trail for a previous post. I arrived at the falls a early (as expected) and was somewhat surprised to see how updated the area was. There were guardrails and a new ADA complaint bridge, nothing like the old days. Still it is a beautiful place, well worth a walkabout and a few pictures. (“Hello, I am from the government and we are here to help you.”) We used to spend a lot of time there, swimming in the glacier formed pools. No swimming now. Almost no anything thing now. Oh well, things change.C95E0101-18ED-4DD3-B780-E40497D3E187

David and Ginny met me there and we spent half an hour standing on a rock bar in the middle of the stream chatting, catching up on the last 50 years (no mean feat) and laughing. David is a gallery quality nature photographer and likes to take

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Ginny, I told you I should have sucked my stomach, in.

pictures of the same areas at different times of day and season. There was a long debate over which of us, (along with a few others) was the instigators of all the trouble we got into as kids, whether we were caught or not. I remembered it differently than David. To the best of my memory, I was the good one. Let’s just say it is a good thing my adult children were not there to see what a hypocrite I am. Of course I consider my refusal to let them do things as sage advice from an experienced elder. In the end, I conceded it may have been me after all. (Maybe.)

 

We adjourned to Middlebury for a walkabout pointing out all the new stores and shops and commenting on the only one still remaining, The Vermont Bookstore. One of my early childhood friends was the manager of the bookstore, but when we went to say hello a store employee told us he retired a few weeks ago. We reminisced about who owned which store, 50 years ago (Ginny remembering better than David or me.) That would be expected, of course, she is younger.

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Life Long Friends and Miscreants

Lunch and adult beverages at Two Brothers Tavern near the end of town. We were probably a little loud and rowdy for the other patrons. Too bad. It was a most excellent morning, reunion of miscreants and most importantly, friends. Sometimes we forget the important things in life and friends are required to remind us where we started and how we developed into what and who we are today. Family and friends, that is what life is all about, the rest is just details, go and learn.