Monday, October 15, 2018

It’s Over!

img_1002-1Monday dawned sunny, but colder, and as we woke this last morning in Lake Tahoe, the Wedding Weekend was officially over.  We’d spent most of Sunday saying goodbye to folks.  Starting about 9:30 in the morning when our friends Denise, Chris, Patti, and Meade headed out, continuing a couple of hours later when our oldest Billy headed back to North Carolina, and ending that night when our daughter Krissi and future Son-in -Law Mike, along with several other New Yorkers who were on the Jet Blue red eye to JFK , said their goodbyes.  Most of us headed to bed early, and after another visit from Mr. Bear, we hunkered down for the best sleep we’d had in several days.  Susie and I knew we had a 7-8 hour drive ahead of us, so we were up, had the car packed, and we were on the road, after saying goodbye to the boys and David and Lexi, a little after 9:30.  Grandma and Aunt Kim slept in that morning, so unfortunately, we didn’t get to say goodbye to them in person. 

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Our trip out of Tahoe Vista was very picturesque, as we traveled around the lake and back into Nevada from California.

One would think that between two major cities in Nevada like Reno and Las Vegas, there would be a 4-6 lane Interstate Highway, but the reality is the route is US 95, and for most of the distance between these two cities, it’s a 2 lane road.  It’s a quiet, lonely trip, and what you pass along the way is interesting.  One of the first things you pass heading south towards Las Vegas is the US Army Hawthorne Ammo Depot.  Covering 147,000 acres or 226 sq. mi, the depot is where the US stockpiles ammunition to be used after the first 30 days of a conflict.  The depot has 600,000 square feet of storage space in 2,427 bunkers, most of which are underground, so there is not a heck of a lot left to see, beyond the entrance sign.

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Susie and I agreed, that this road has a certain Route 66 feel to it, as many of the buildings you pass, and the towns you go through, are leftovers from the days of active mining in the area.  You’re traveling along at the 70 MPH speed limit, when suddenly the speed drops to 50, then 45, then 35, and then 25, and they are serious.  Not this time, but when we did this drive the other direction last year, we did see folks run afoul of the law, when they thought the 25 MPH speed limit was just a suggestion.  Some of these towns still seem to be making a go of it, but others are just abandoned buildings, rusted-out cars and trucks, and visible remnants of mining activity.  Take a look.

As I said, it’s about 7-8 hours from Lake Tahoe to Las Vegas, and the road just keeps going on and on.  As it’s a 2 lane road, there’s always the fun of trying to pass a slow moving truck, or a truck pulling a travel trailer.  

One of the last things you pass of interest, as you get near Las Vegas is the Creech Air Force Base in Clark County.  On first look, you’d assume that it’s no longer an active Air Force base, as you see no planes as you drive by.  But when we researched it last year, you discover that Creech is the main headquarters for all the remotely piloted aircraft systems which fly missions around the world!  Drones that are currently flying in  Afghanistan and Iraq, are piloted from Creech.  We certainly do live in a video game world!

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Not a great picture, but that is Creech’s Entrance Gate!

img_0997-1And then, before you know it, we were in fabulous Las Vegas!  We had one free night at the Rio Hotel and Casino, a Caesar’s property we’ve stayed at lots of times.  We were tired and hungry, and shortly after checking in, we were down at Guy Fieri’s restaurant, El Burro Borracho, which I believe means the drunken donkey!  We’d eaten here a couple of years ago, and were in the mood for some good Mexican food. Their table side Guacamole and their Margaritas are second to none!  The food was good too, but sorry, no before pictures!

After dinner, we headed into the casino.  The Rio has a lot of old machines that you no longer see in many casinos, and we headed to a couple that have disappeared from Atlantic City!  We had very good luck at a Top Dollar machine, hitting the bonus 20 times and racking up Tier Credits equivalent to putting $1500 through the machine, and all we contributed was a 100 dollar bill.  It was a successful stay in the casino.  Even though we didn’t walk away with money, we played for close to 90 minutes, and for us, that’s almost as good as winning!

Then we slept like dead people!!

THE WEDDING WEEKEND

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I posted this the morning after the wedding on Facebook.  

“It was the wedding weekend of the decade, perhaps even of the century, as Christopher Fox and Kenneth D’Elia became one!  The love from the family and friends, the months and months of planning, the perfect location, the perfect mix, just came together and turned out exactly as they dreamed.  The talent from all their performing friends, and even from ones in law school,  just ramped up the energy level!  It was like being right in the middle of a Broadway Show, but YOU were a part of it!  Susie and I are so happy that Chris is officially our 3rd son now, and that Our Boys will go through life as partners, sharing the good, the great, and sometimes the not so great!  Love….the word for the weekend!”

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So, when we last left you, it was Wednesday and we were having a fun family day, visiting Virginia City, then stopping at the Western Reserve Casino, winning some money, and then venturing out that night for the boy’s Reno Batchelor Party.  

Thursday was our last day for pre-wedding tasks, before the group moved up to Lake Tahoe.  Susie and I started our day hitting the AAA to replace the maps we’d lost in LA, and then it was time for our second trip of the week to Costco.  A few incidentals we’d realized we needed, and 5 cases of white wine they hadn’t had at Trader Joe’s!  Then I dropped Susie off at Lucky Nails, near David and Lexi’s, so she could get good “Mother of the Groom” nails.  While she was there, I hit Walmart again, and then filled the car with gas.  We ended our separate tasks at just about the same time, and then headed over to David and Lexi’s to drop off the wine.  While Susie got busy in their kitchen and made Mac Salad Kenny had requested for the Friday night party, I headed back downtown to pick up the boys, so they could buy shirts and shoes for the wedding.  After everything was done, we had a nice early family dinner at Lexi and David’s house (you know, these people must be tired of the sight of us!), before heading back to Harrahs Reno, and the arrival of the East Coast gang!

Our daughter Krissi, her fiancé Mike, Mineola friends Manny and Kristen, Annie friend Kelly, and Jainesville Armory Friends Erica and Shayla were all arriving that night! It was late, but they wanted to gamble, so after everybody had made it from the airport to the hotel, Mom and Dad took their leave after an hour or so, and let the kids party!!  Kenny was so glad his “peeps” were in town!   

Friday morning, Kenny and Chris came by and picked up our bags, so they could be loaded in the trailer David had rented to transport luggage to Lake Tahoe.  About 10AM, Susie, Krissi, Mike and I headed up to the lake, after one more stop at Costco…this time to pick up the appetizer platters we’d ordered earlier.  It was a beautiful morning for our drive up to Tahoe, with incredible scenery. We were just down the road from the hotel, when Kenny texted us, “where are you?”  The boys had just about had it when the tent people asked them where the tent permit was?  Tent permit?  Huh?   Why didn’t you get that if you needed it?  Oh boy!  Just what they didn’t need…another wrinkle!

They needed the Fire Marshal, but he was off that day.  Phone calls were made, Megan and Shayla headed into town for a personal touch, and the rest of us hung with Kenny, keeping him as calm as could be.  He got us checked in, we unloaded the trays from Costco into the fridge in our room, and we waited for the rest of the group to show up.   When they did, there was a lot to unload, and luckily lots of bodies to help.  Decorations were scattered around the Inn, lights were strung, tables set up for the Friday night Welcome Party,  and after some accommodation from the Fire Marshall, the tent started going up!!!  YES!

Okay, now here’s one from the small world department…one of the kids on the tent company crew grew up in Ocean City, and his folks still live about 8 blocks away from us!  You just never know!  Like the time a couple of years ago, when a waitress in a Las Vegas Italian restaurant told us that she’d grown up on Delancey, around the corner from us, and that her first waitress job was at Ove’s on the boardwalk!  Yes it is indeed a small world!

The rest of the day was filled with folks arriving, lots of hugs and kisses, and breaking into the wedding booze supplies (5 cases each of white wine, red wine, rose wine, and champagne, a keg of Icky, and about 150 assorted cans of beer).   

As it started to get dark, the Welcome Party food started to go on the BBQ’s.  Burgers, Italian hot sausages, chicken sausages, accompanied by chips and dip.  Grandma Jerri’s Salsa (with the secret ingredient of black olives), and her Nuts and Bolts (think really good homemade Chex Mix) were a hit on the munchie table.  Remember the macaroni salad that Susie made on Thursday?  The unequaled hit of the food stuffs of the weekend!!  If Susie had a nickel for every time she told people what was in it, we could play a slot machine!

Oh by the way, the parents were in the Squirrel House, and this was the view from our room.  Not bad, huh? 

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After food, it was time to carry some wine down to the fire pit, listen to some music that DJ Rickie provided (he did a GREAT job Friday and Saturday, drink, talk, laugh, and have a wonderful evening!  

Saturday dawned sunny and beautiful, and as the day went on, it just got warmer!  The boys had been shined on by the Wedding Gods, and their special day was Beautiful!!  A little before 1, guests were called into their places, the Wedding Party assembled in our room, and the wedding was on.  Here are some pics!

By the way, this was the backdrop for the wedding. 

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The cocktail hour started immediately following the “I Do’s”, while good friends Shayla and Megan expedited the taking of family photos.  

Then we all moved into the tent for the actual reception, including introducing the Wedding Party, the Grooms, their first dance, plus the Mom and Groom Dances.

Then it was meal time, as catered by Famous Dave’s BBQ!

After dinner, we had time for some more pics, as we assembled important people into groups. 

Then it was time to move to the dance floor…and did this group dance!!

 

Then, the talent portion of the evening, as DJ Ricky fired up the karaoke machine!  Boy, was there talent, as the boys performing and non-performing friends alike, put on an incredible show, amazing EVERYBODY!

 

Included in the “performers” was Kenny’s older brother Bill, who did a spot on Ice Ice Baby!  Who knew!!

Then the dancers took center stage again till the 10PM quiet time!  

It was a hell of a night!!

The last picture I took that night was of David and Kim Fox!  David is Chris’ Dad and Kim is David’s sister and Chris’ Aunt.  We met Kim Monday, and quickly fell in love! She is one kick ass lady who always was there for whatever you needed!  From Costco trips, to unloading the car, from laughing together, to showing you where the booze was kept.  All our OC friends fell in love too, and have made her promise to come visit!

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We gathered in our room with friends, rather than climb all the way down the hill to the fire pit.  Lucky for us, as the newly married couple saw the local bear in the dumpster as they were coming back to their room…right above us!  

Sunday was cooler, but still nice and the day when most folks headed hom

By the end of the day, few were left beyond immediate family, including our partners in crime for the week, David and Lexi Fox!

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How can I nicely say it, Susie and I all but moved into David and Lexi’s house the week leading up to the wedding!  We ate, drank, danced, hugged, and truly became family!  We are so happy that these people are in our lives, and that we are officially Family!  Kenny is a Fox and we are Foxes once removed!  Who’s Luckier than US??

Oh, by the way, the youngins went down again to hang Sunday night, and again there was a bear sighting.  Once in the dumpster, then the bear headed towards the Squirrel House, where we were staying, where the boys fed it the remains of a “bear claw” they were eating.  The next morning we saw the remains.  A pawed through garbage can, and a broken light up bottle, which had been used a decorations. Good night Bear!  

Okay..due to upload issues and a desire to enjoy our last days of this trip, you’ll have to wait till we get back to Ocean City for the Rest of the Story!  Can’t wait to get back to my Mac Air and our Comcast internet speed.  See you then!!!

Day Eight – Wednesday October 10, 2018

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Day Eight – Wednesday October 10, 2018

Plans went back and forth and so did start times, but eventually around noon, 2 car loads of Fox/D’Elias headed up the mountain to Virginia City.  Perched on the Eastern Slopes of Mount Davidson at 6200 feet, Virginia City sprang up as a boomtown with the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode, the first major silver deposit discovery in the United States, with numerous mines opening. At the city’s peak of population in the mid-1870s, it had an estimated 25,000 residents. The mines’ output declined after 1878, and the city itself declined as a result. Today, the population of Virginia City is about 855, and that of Storey County, which is the County Seat of at about 4,000.

The trip up is a winding switchback 2 lane road, with pull-offs so that you can let the crazy drivers go past you.  I had 2 today!  First a black BMW I pulled over for, then a black motorcycle that came out of nowhere, and passed me on a curve with a car coming in the opposite direction!  Around the next bend, I saw the two of them up ahead of me, looking like a chase seen in a James Bond movie!   Yikes!! 

 We were scheduled to meet at the Bucket of Blood Saloon, and when we drove up, David had reserved us a place right out front (or so he said). It’s a fun place, very reminiscent of the old western bar we’ve read about, or seen in movies and tv.  Take a look!

There were slot machines, beer, free popcorn, and a banjo player.  It was fun! 

The rest of Virginia City is made up of bars, restaurants and stores.  With its wooden sidewalk, it’s a fun place to walk around, explore, and shop. The day was beautifully sunny up there, and much warmer than any of us had expected. Fall has definitely arrived to the Reno area of Nevada. 

We thought we were going to eat lunch up there, but plans changed again, and we were headed to the Western Village Casino, and their Mexican restaurant.  So down the mountain we went, and headed in our new direction!  Unfortunately,  the Mexican restaurant wasn’t open yet, so we had to gamble. “Had to” I say!  Everybody seemed to be having luck. David and his Mom were playing and split a $300 purse.  Aunt Kim took $237 out of a Quick Hits machine.  Susie had the Quick Hits machine she was playing up to $200 and change.  I was playing the Quick Hits machine next to her and just holding my own! By “holding my own” I really mean I was feeding $20 bills into it. Well, until I wasn’t.  

Just before I was about to give up on this machine, I won the free game jackpot, which gives you a number of spins for free. I think I got 10, and although I kept getting spins that raised the multiplier on winning spins higher and higher, I never won anything to multiply!  By the 10th and last spin, which it proudly spells out THIS IS YOUR LAST SPIN, I had the multiplier level up to 8, but a total of like 12 dollars in winnings.  I was sure my 10th and final spin would be a bust, but I was wrong.  Rather that a bust, I got 7 Quick Hits, which when multiplied, translated to a hand-pay of $1608!  As they say, all’s well that ends well!

 

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Then we were off for some Mexican food.  A couple of small (ha ha!) drinks, some food and we were out of there!  We had to get home, change, and return for the Reno version off Kenny and Chris’ Batchelor Party, planned and orchestrated by sister Michelle!!

For the Batchelor Party, we Ubered over to a beautiful new bar in the Arts District called Rum, Sugar, Lime.   From what everyone told us, just a couple of years ago, this had been one of the worst areas in Reno, but it has been turned into a meca of hip bars and cute little bistros.  What a perfect place to wander the night away!

Here’s a look at Rum, Sugar, Lime as the attendees gathered. 

Then it was off to Noble Pizza for dinner, and some very good pizza, after which it was time for the mature folks to head off, and leave the youngins to their fun.  Lexi, David, Aunt Kim, Susie and I Ubered home, telling the boys and their friends to have fun and be safe.  No calls for Bail Money, so we hope all went well!

Here is a pic from Noble Pizza and after we left.

Thursday is a busy day, with last minute details that have to get done before Saturday’s magic day.  We all have our lists of tasks, but then tomorrow, we’ll once again get together at Lexi and David’s for one last party before we all head up to Lake Tahoe.  Lots of family and friends arriving tomorrow, and we’re looking forward to that too!  Kenny will be happy that his twin sister Krissi and her fiancee Mike will be here, as those two are about as close as two people can be!  Born 2 minutes apart, and getting married 8 months apart (Mike and Krissi tie the knot next June)!

As David and I have said multiple times the last few days, “Who’s luckier than us?”

Things are heating up, with the wedding just days away, so please understand if there are no updates till after the fact!

Sue & Frank…the Proud Proud Parents

Day Six and Day Seven – October 8 & October 9, 2018

Day Six – Monday October 8, 2018 & Day Seven – Tuesday October 9, 2018 

We are a Family!!!

We woke without an alarm today for the first time in what seemed liked days, as we had an empty morning, while the boys had some pre-wedding tasks to accomplish.  They’d hoped to exchange the huge Ford Expedition Hertz had given them, for something more human sized, and then they had a meeting scheduled with their Wedding DJ.  They were going to pick us up about noon, and then we were going to David and Lexi’s and get The Family Day started! 

A little hungry, Susie and I went to the Hash House a Go Go on the second floor of Harrahs. This is a place that has made its reputation for the size of its portions, and unfortunately, Caesars has placed it in many of its Nevada properties as a replacement for their traditional style  Coffee Shop. The menu is overwhelming but eventually I settle on a Corn Beef Scrambler, while Susie decided to go small and have Banana Pancakes.   The corned beef was very fresh and my meal was good, but we both could have eaten it!  Susie’s “pancakes” turned out to be PANCAKE…about the size of a pizza!   Needless to say, we did not join the Clean Plate Club.   

We got a call from Kenny telling us they’d had a little bit of a rough morning (they stayed in the casino last night) and would get to us about 12:30.   Turned out, they didn’t get the car switched because they needed more time, but they did have a very good meeting with the DJ, and both felt they had a much better handle on both Friday night and the actual wedding on Saturday.  Time well spent. So then we were off to David and Lexi’s!

When we got to the house, nobody seemed to be home, but it was a beautiful sunny day, and we quickly discovered everybody was around the patio table. Lexi and David have a beautiful back yard, with an incredible view looking down to Reno.  Who knows how many more glorious weather days like this we can expect, so we took advantage of the weather and the view and the company!  David’s Mom Gerry and his sister Kim had arrived earlier from Oklahoma,  and although we’d met his Mom very briefly as we exchanged cruises last time the boys were on the Liberty of the Seas, we’d never met his sister.  A couple of David’s Bloody Marys, and we started getting to know our 2 newest family member!  

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After a bit of getting to know David’s Mom and Sister, Chris’s sister Michelle showed up, and our outside family time group grew again!

Then it was time for today’s big family event….lunch. The location was someplace we’ve heard about from Chris for years: Sushi Rose and all you can eat Sushi.  Since it was Monday, it also meant it included all you could drink Beer or Saki…some of us had both (sheepishly raising his hand)!  Really good sushi, new and interesting things, some we didn’t even know what they were, and we tried and liked them, and the beer and warm saki kept flowing. The amazing thing about this??  Just $16.95 per person!  Everything Chris told us was true, and Lexi’s daughter Victoria joined us for lunch! 

Before…

After…

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Then after a brief detour to Walmart,  (where for some inexplicable reason we let Chris buy a Selfie Stick?!) we all went to Lexi and David’s house and family time ensued!  Michelle’s husband Bobby joined us, and the Family Group grew again!

If you’d been there, you’d have had a hell of a fun time.  If you weren’t there, you missed a hell of a fun time!  

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Some remember this happening, and some don’t!

We got home thanks to Lori the Uber driver as we might have been slightly over-served!  

Kenny and Chris went to the room to change and then we were going down to the casino for a bit.  10 minutes later, Chris showed up without Kenny.  Our son had passed out on their bed fully clothed.  We went back down the Hall with Chris, and Mom tried to wake him, but to no avail, so off we went with our other son!

We had a couple of drinks, played some video poker, and then the 3 of us headed up to the rooms….Good Night Moon!

Day Seven

So, this morning Kenny shows up sans Christopher.  Kenny having slept since about 11:30 last night was in fine shape.  Christopher, however, who had returned to the casino after taking us back to our room, and found his way back to their room about 5AM, was dead to the world!!  So, the three of us decided to head to a place we’d been last year, Peg’s Glorious Ham and Eggs!  If you are ever in Reno, great breakfasts!

Susie and I decided on two things off the Hawaiian menu, Fried Spam and Eggs for Susie and Loco Moco for me, while Kenny had a Southwestern Omelet.   They were good!

Then it was time for some errands, and number one on the list was Costco!  Chris’ Aunt Kim, Susie and I, and the boys, ventured out.  It soon became obvious that poor Kim was the most under the weather of the 5 of us, (not that any of us were cranking on all 8 cylinders) plus she’d never been in a Costco before!  We shopped…oh boy did we shop!

Yes, we were those people you see in Costco and wonder, “what the f*#k are they going to do with all that sh*t???”.  From 5 cases of Prosecco, to cases of water and soda, to bags of chips, plates, napkins, buns, hamburgers….you name it, we had it!  We started with one cart….by the time we were leaving the store, we had 2 carts and 2 of their flatbed trucks!  $990 later, we started loading the cars.

Kim and the boys had a couple more stops to make, but since we had perishables, we loaded up our car with them, and off we went to David and Lexi’s.  Let’s just say we all kept a much lower profile today than yesterday, had some pizza, a couple of beers, a lot of family laughs,  and the boys and Susie and I headed back to Harrahs on the early side tonight!  A couple of drinks and a little gambling (Susie won $300 in a Penny Quick Hit machine) and now it’s approaching 12 midnight, and are approaching our bed!

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Tomorrow we’re off to Virginia City, and tomorrow night, the boys’ Reno Batchelor Party, as planned by sister Michelle.  Who’s got the bail money!?

Good night!

Day Five – Sunday October 7, 2018

Day 5 of this journey started very early for Susie and I, in a hotel room just off Hollywood Boulevard, a couple of blocks away from the boy’s apartment.  The agenda this fine sunny Southern California morning….move as much of Chris and Kenny’s apartment from Los Angeles to Chris’ Dad’s garage in Reno, Nevada.  

Very early on a Sunday Morning on N. Sycamore Street

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Kenny and Chris’ Building, The Westbury…just like the town Kenny grew up next to on Long Island

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The boys have been packing boxes, suitcases, and anything else that would hold “stuff” for weeks, and were very prepared for this move.  Now it was time to put all this work into play, and load up the Expedition and the Explorer for the 500 mile or so trip to Nevada.

The other car

We were on the road by 9 AM, happy to have a beautiful sunny morning for the trip, and happy to not be inundated with the almost constant traffic we find in LA, every time we are here!

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  Just a note about LA.  Although Susie and I have been here a number of times over the 39 years of our marriage, I doubt we will be back.  The boys were really the only reason for our last two visits, and without them here, I doubt we’d come again.  

So the directions for the trip were really easy.  Get on Interstate 5 North and drive to Sacramento.  In Sacramento transition to Interstate 80 East into Reno.  Easy peasy. 

Susie and I are getting used to no longer taking our Garmin GPS with us on trips, and using Waze on our cell phones for navigation.  Our new Honda CRV that we got 4 months ago, has Apple Car play, so when we plug one of our phones into the car, the map display and gps program on your phone, shows up and works via the car’s sizable touch screen.  We’ve gotten very used to using this program, and thought it was time to give it a shot, and it worked beautifully.  I started driving and we had my cell phone plugged in, then when we switched drivers we switched cell phones.  This way, whoever was not driving had the use of their cell phone, the phones were in essence “backing each other up”, and both of our phones were always fully charged.  Worked out well, and it’s time to assign the Garmin stand alone GPS to the garbage pile.  

The trip takes you through California’s Central Valley and mile after mile of fields growing things.  We saw lemons and limes, oranges and grapes, and just about everything else you can think of.  Like many states, California seems to be struggling with different interests that are all pulling for the same resources.  Irrigation water for the Central Valley seems to be one of those issues, because we saw so many signs with slogans like “is growing food a waste of water” and “water for Central Valley = food for LA”

Remember me mentioning about that we took I-80 into Reno?  Well, we are very familiar with the other end of Interstate 80, as the Eastern End starts as you come off the George Washington Bridge.  In fact our big adventure a couple of years, and many many of our family car trips have started on Interstate 80 in New Jersey.  Well folks, same road, same route number, but boy is it different.  Take a look.

Doesn’t look like New Jersey, does it!  As with many of the Western States’ Interstates we’ve been on over the years, this one is a modern highway building marvel…even scaling the 7000 foot plus Donner Pass going over the Sierra Nevada Mountains!  I’m glad we did this drive in the day time!  

Just a few minutes after getting off I-80, we were at Chris’ Dad and Stepmom’s house, and Lexi and David truly made us feel like the family we are all going to actually be in just 6 short days, as our boys start their life together!  

Lexi and David’s Backyard and a couple of people you may know!

So that’s it.  One of the main tasks of this trip is completed.  Cars were loaded in LA and unloaded in Reno.  Now it’s FAMILY TIME, as more and more of our family and the Fox Family gather in the Reno/Tahoe area this week,  and as we count down to the moment this Saturday afternoon, when the boys tie the knot.  

See you soon…. 

Southwest Chief – Last Look

If you read the blog that I posted very early this morning Eastern time, you know that future editions may be spotty due to wedding activities this coming week.  Saw these photos from our last night on the train that I hadn’t published, and thought I’d use them this morning (it’s 6:23 AM in LA) as a last look at the SWC!

These were all taken during the “fresh air break” in Flagstaff, Arizona during our last night on the train.

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The train in the station

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The room with blue “night light” is our Bedroom C 

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This  is Pinky, our Sleeping Car Attendant

In talking to Pinky, we discovered that she has worked on the Southwest Chief for 40 years. She is part of an LA based crew, and she lives just a couple of blocks from Union Station. She is originally from Chicago, where her father still lives.  Because of the overnight nature of the train’s trip from Chicago to LA and back, the crew does an east and a west trip every week, and then is off for a week.  She gets to spend two nights a month in Chicago with her Dad, and only works 26 weeks a year.  I found this out when I mentioned that the job I retired from, I  did so after being there 40 years.  “Ah, but you worked every day Honey.”, she said, “I only work every other week.”  I asked her about retirement and she said she loved her job so why retire.

 

 

Day Four – Saturday October 6, 2018

Welcome to California!!

A little after 8 AM this morning, Amtrak’s Train #3, the Southwest Chief pulled into Los Angeles’ Union Station, and our Sea to Shining Sea trek all aboard the rails was done!  It started Wednesday morning, in Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, and since then has included three different trains, four train stations, three nights in a sleeper bedroom, and six different Amtrak meals!  We traveled from sea level on the Atlantic Coast to sea level on the Pacific Coast, and in between went through the Raton Pass Tunnel at an elevation of 7,588 feet.  Our thoughts?  We loved it!  We both agreed that although we may never go on another sleeper train trip, if the opportunity arose, we wouldn’t hesitate to do it again!  But do it again or not, Susie got something checked off her bucket list, and we didn’t have to walk around an airport shoeless and holding our pants up!  Here are a few views of our last morning on the train.

At Union Station, when we asked our Car Attendant Pinky about baggage claim, she pointed us to a little Red Cap electric transport and said, “Just tell him you need to go to baggage claim and he’ll take you.”  Well he took us all across Union Station (and it’s big) dropping one passenger off at the Red Line, two others at the bus to LAX, and then us, first to Baggage Claim, and then to the Hertz counter.  The Hertz counter was a zoo, and after waiting for 45 minutes, we found out why.  They came in this morning with 7 reservations and 7 cars, except that Hertz corporate’s computer allowed 20 other people to reserve cars that didn’t exist!  Luckily, when they saw we were Hertz Gold members, they took us to the car that had been reserved for us, a Ford Explorer, and we were on our way to Kenny and Chris’ apartment (only after Susie contributed her pen to the effort, as nobody at the Hertz counter had a working pen!).

Kenny met us out front, and we put the Explorer in their garage space, since they no longer have cars, and we went up to their apartment.  What a change from a year ago when we were last there.  It went from a lovely apartment, to a moving staging zone!  In the past couple of weeks, they have sold their couch, their TV stand, and their bed frame.  They are sleeping on their mattress on the floor in front of their big screen TV, and their living room is full of boxes, bubble wrap, and packing tape!  What a difference. 

We left in short order to do some errands they needed wheels to do – drop off some donations, mail some boxes at the Post Office, and hit Home Depot to pick up more packing material.  Then it was back to their apartment, and as they packed boxes, I helped Susie bubble wrap some of their art work that wouldn’t fit into boxes.  Tomorrow we’ll pack the two SUVs, and transport as much as we can to Chris’ Dad’s house in Reno.  Speaking about two SUVs, now it was time to get Kenny and Chris to the Hertz office at LAX to pick up the SUV they’d reserved.  We’d both reserved Hyundai Santa Fe sized vehicles, and they hoped they’d get something as big as the Explorer we had.  After they texted us that they’d gotten the car, we left for the Del Taco we’d agreed to meet at for lunch.  Imagine our surprise when the boys showed up in the mother of all SUVs, a huge Ford Expedition!!  They’d been upgraded!  Great luck we all said.  You’ll have absolutely no problem accommodating everything you need to take to Reno with this car!  And it was great, till the other shoe dropped.  

The boys live on North Sycamore, just a half a block from Hollywood Boulevard.  The Grumman Chinese Theater is a block away, and the Roosevelt Hotel is just around the corner.  They are dead center of the Hollywood Tourist area.  Take a look at this map, and you’ll see what we mean. 

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Because of this, you need a resident permit to park on their street.  Because their apartment came with 2 parking places, they’d never needed one.  But guess what?  That BIG beautiful Ford Expedition SUV was TOO BIG (Kenny might have put a word between those 2 words and it might have begun with an F and ended with an ing) to fit in their garage!  Shit!  What were they going to do now!  Mom and Dad to the rescue….that big Expedition is parked at our hotel, and our Explorer is in their garage!  Loading will be a little more of a pain in the ass, but as I told Kenny, just one little bump in the road, leading to the happiest day of their lives, now just one week away!

After doing their laundry (the laundromat they go to is just across from our hotel), we headed to Ralph’s to buy some supplies for us.  You know, important things like like vodka, wine, iced tea, bathroom spray, and snacks for the road. Then they drove our car to their garage, and packed their bags for Reno, Lake Tahoe, and their WEDDING next Saturday!!  Tonight LA Greek food for four in our hotel room, then tomorrow morning we pack both cars, and head off to Reno!

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Tomorrow will be a road day, as we’ll spend most of the day driving to Reno, so there may not be enough for a full blog post, but hey, you never know!  The next week we will be in Reno doing wedding prep, spending time with our new family, and welcoming our own family as they arrive later in the week!  It’s going to be a wonderful week, and I’ll blog if I can, but please excuse us if there  isn’t time to keep you completely up to date!  Know that we’ll be having fun with people we love, sending our second child into the world of married life!