On The Road Again

Well, we are on the road again!! No, not in any shape or form like the way we were a couple of weeks ago, but none the less, we were on the road again today..on our way to Ocean City! We left Ocean City on Saturday, August 6th, and haven’t been back since! It’s the longest time we’ve been away from Ocean City since we bought the house in 2005, and as you can imagine, we were very desirous to get back, but first there were things to do!

As you recall, we got home last Saturday, after being on the road for 9 weeks. As you can imagine, there were lots of tasks that had to be done before we could get back to Ocean City, and that’s what we did the last week.

First, there was laundry! Although she did do laundry on the road a couple of times, nothing had been done since the day we got on the Liberty of the Seas! Susie had 5 loads, which she originally figured would run into the early part of the week. Surprise, surprise…she got it ALL done by cocktail hour on Sunday! Job #1 out of the way!

img_6681Then there were food desires. Twice on the trip, we’d had Chinese..once at PF Changs in El Paso with our friends Mike and Nancy, and a second time in Moab, Utah, at a converted Mexican Restaurant. We were due, so after getting home Saturday, it was Chinese take-out for dinner, along with a bottle of Prosecco! We’d had a lot of pizza on the trip, but not New York Pizza. So Sunday it was time for a Meatball and Mushroom Pizza, Fried Zucchini Sticks, and an Encaldo Salad from Mineola Pizza! Food desires quenched!

Monday it was off to the cleaners. Most of this stuff was summer clothes which we wore on the cruise, but they needed to be cleaned before being put away, so off we went with arm loads! $86 later, and we were ready for the summer of 2017!

Monday, we also stopped by the Mineola Post Office and picked up our mail, that they’d held for us for 9 weeks. They had it very organized in a mail bin, which we dumped into two reusable grocery bags. In addition to bills that I’d already paid, there were a lot of magazines, regular mail, and more election flyers than you’d believe! To be honest, piles were made on Monday, but it took me most of the week to go through it all, pay the bills, and file the rest! This also necessitated that we do some banking too! A couple of trips to various banks, and we were up to date! Every bill was paid on the road, except the landscapers. Although we thought we’d arranged to have them email us the bills, we found two when we got home. Paid that bill, and we were current!

Oh, and did I mention that when I flushed the downstairs toilet the day we got home, water rushed out of the bottom of the tank? Thanks to Susie’s brother Don, it got fixed in a couple of days! Turned out we lucked out and it was the gasket between the tank and the bowl, and thanks to Donnie, it was $8 in parts from Home Depot, rather than a $300+ bill from the plumber! It’s always handy to have a handy brother-in-law! Thanks Donnie!!!

img_6684Then there was the Sonata. She’d faithfully carried us 9,773 miles without a stumble or a whimper, and she deserved to be taken care of. We’d changed the oil in Las Vegas at Terribles about 5,000 miles ago, but she deserved a visit back to see Mike and Mike at C&S Automotive, and a little pampering! Turned out that all she needed was an oil change, and off we went! Oh, and after 9 weeks, she needed a car wash too. I mean a real car wash, not the kind I’d given her on the road! Of course, after I had that done, it rained!

Then there were two visits to Best Nails! On Tuesday, Susie and I went to have pedicures. Yes, I go with Susie and we get pedicures together! It’s nice to be taken care of, and frankly with my knees, it gets hard to bend over and clip my toenails. No nail polish for me, but everything else! Of course, after a visit to Best Nails, we had to go next door to the St. James, and have a drink with our favorite Mineola Bartender, Dennis. A couple of martinis, and a lot of talk, and we were caught up with the last 9 weeks! On Wednesday, we resumed Nail Night, as Krissi took the Long Island Rail Road to Mineola, and Susie had her first manicure in over 9 weeks! Of course, Nail Night also includes a visit to St. James, and this time we were joined by Krissi’s boyfriend Mike! We all had a great time meeting Mike, (he seems like a really nice guy, and makes Krissi happy!!) and it was good to see Mo and our other St. James friends after being away! That would be just the first of many times we’d see Krissi and Mike that week! Oh, and Wednesday morning, Susie also had her first visit to Laura her hairdresser since we’d left. Unlike her manicure, which she handled herself when we were away, Nancy had taken Susie to her hairdresser in El Paso, but it was good to be back to her regular shop!

Thursday afternoon, Susie and her brother Don visited her Mom. Her Mom is 91 years old, has dementia, and has been deteriorating this past year. She’s in a nursing home near North Shore Hospital, and each time they see her, she is a little worse. On Thursday she thought Donnie was me, and although she knew that Susie was her daughter, she had no idea of what her name was. The saddest thing was that she no longer remembers her husband Bob. Susie showed her pictures, mentioned his name, but she had no idea who that was. She’s ready to leave this life, and the truth is, that what she’s going through is really not living. It’s really sad that we are more compassionate with our pets, than with our loved ones.

So after they got home, it was time to return to TR’s in Williston Park for the first time in months! A nice cold beer, a couple of Rough Rider Wraps, and some good talk with friends from our old church made for a great night! We took Donnie to dinner in thanks for fixing our toilet and saving us a lot of money. A good night that I think both Susie and Donnie needed, after spending time with their Mom!

Then it was time for the celebratory time of the week, as our little Grandson Henry celebrated his first birthday! Krissi and Mike took the train to Mineola, and the 4 of us traveled out to Deer Park on Friday for Henry’s actual birthday. Just Billy and Lori, Lori’s Mom Kathy, and Henry’s big sister Layla, and we enjoyed spending some time with our oldest and his family! We’d see Krissi and Mike again on Sunday when we again were at Lori and Billy’s for Henry’s official Birthday Party. Another fun time, celebrating this little bundle of joys first year in this world, with our family and their friends! It was great seeing friends that Billy has had since kindergarten and others that showed up in college! The weather was great, and we had a great barbecue outside, with temperatures in the 70s, and the rain held off till the party was done! A great family weekend all around!

Henry wearing his coonskin cap from the Alamo and enjoying his birthday cake!

Between Henry’s Birthday Weekend, we had a nice quiet night on Saturday with our good friends Pat and Steve. Some vodka, a wonderful home cooked meal by Pat, and the debut of the Sue and Frank D’Elia Our Big Adventure slide show!! A nice relaxing night with good friends!

So that takes us to this morning, Monday, October 31, 2016. We picked up the cleaning we’d dropped off last week, and at 11 AM we were back on the road to Ocean City. A great trip down the Garden State, a stop at Acme on 9th Street for some shopping, and we were home. As I mentioned, it’s been 3 months since we’ve been at the house, and since it was rented for 6 weeks after we left, almost nothing is where it belongs! Today we did the minimum we had to do to get us back into the house, and we’re about to make dinner, and have a martini or two! Tomorrow we will push it, and get the house back in shape, and hopefully Wednesday will be warm enough so that we can take the porch furniture down and power wash it before putting it away! It’s great to be home, and even better to know that when we put the house back together, this will be the last time! That’s because the Summer of 2016 was the last time we will rent this house, so all the stuff that we use when we rent can go, and only our possessions will stay. It will truly be our home, and with any luck, it will be where we officially live by this time next year! A lot of work getting rid of stuff from the Mineola house, but we hope to do a lot of that over the winter.

So that’s what we’ve been up to this week, as we have passed the time between getting home from the road, and heading out again. Ocean City is only 150 miles away from Long Island, so it was a short trip, but when we are at the shore, it’s like we are a million miles away! We’ve already seen our neighbor Doc, met the new dog, Surfer Boy, and are starting to settle in! Time to go, mix the martinis, and help Susie with dinner. I could get use to this!!!


And finally, thanks to all the friends who traveled along with us via our blog.  So many have said nice things about the blog, and how much they enjoyed traveling with us.  It’s great to know that others were reading along with us, and that I was not just doing this for Susie and me, so we’d remember what we did.  I appreciated all the nice things you said about my writing, and I promise you all that I will continue to write, and I hope you will be with me then too!  We loved having you all along, and hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did, because it was wonderful!

See you soon!

Day Sixty Three A – Saturday, October 22, 2016


Yesterday I gave you a very brief look at our last day on the road, so I thought I would do an addendum to that post, and give you a better idea of how our last day on the road shaped out.

We awoke on our last morning at the Homewood Suites, just outside of Allentown, Pennsylvania. It was still raining, as it had been all night, just re-enforcing that we’d made the correct decision by not trying to push on home last night. We’ve stayed in 3 other Homewood Suites on our travels, and all others have had good breakfasts, with the one of San Antonio, Texas providing the absolute best “free” breakfast we’d had on the trip! Well, perhaps as another indication that it was time for this trip to end, this was perhaps one of the worst breakfasts we have had! Yucky eggs, rubber potatoes, and sausage that Susie described as , “cadaver flesh! Yes indeed, it was time for us to go home!

Shortly after “eating” breakfast, we packed the car, in the rain, for the last time, and headed out on Interstate 78. It wasn’t long till we’d passed into yet another state, our neighbor, and future home state, New Jersey. Fall colors were much more obvious here, than they’d been just a day before in Virginia, as we were just hours away from home, and very soon, we were joining the New Jersey Turnpike. Our GPS friend wanted us to head towards the Holland Tunnel, but we like the Lincoln better, so we overruled her.

Luckily, we switched to NYC Traffic on Sirius and then went to our source for traffic on the 8s, WCBS, and realized that this was one of those stupid weekends, when one side of the Midtown Tunnel is closed, due to continuing Sandy repairs. Having been trapped in Manhattan twice on weekends when this was happening, we decided that the George Washington Bridge was going to be our new target. Almost as soon as we made this decision, we got to the toll booths on the NJ Turnpike at exit 16W, which is the Lincoln Tunnel exit. I was fortunate enough to be far enough left that I was able to shoot up north to the GWB, because the 495 Viaduct into the Lincoln Tunnel was backed up almost to the toll booths! We’ve done that, and know for a fact that’s a 45 minute trip to the NJ side of the tunnel! Luck was still with us!!!

The rain was still falling, the nutty drivers were still running amok, but our trip over the GWB and across the Cross Bronx Expressway was as good as it can be, and soon we were crossing the Throgs Neck Bridge, and we were back on Long Island. A short trip down the LIE, and we were getting off at Willis Avenue and almost home! At precisely 1:37 in the afternoon, we pulled into the driveway of 40 Fairfield Avenue, exactly 9 weeks since we left on Our Big Adventure, having traveled a grand total of 9,773.0 miles!

Everything looked great at the house, and the lawn guys were obviously still cutting the grass, even though they haven’t been paid for the past 9 weeks, because they’ve never emailed me a bill, as they agreed they would. The mail is still being held at the Post Office, so a huge pile hadn’t come through the door slot, and getting the front door open was an easy task. The humidifier was still working in the basement, so all was dry, and the rest of the inside of the house looked fine – good job Susie, leaving with a nice clean house. The only issue we found was in flushing the toilet in the downstairs bathroom, water runs out of the bottom of the tank. Oh well, a call to the plumber Monday, and that will be taken care of!

img_6679-2As the rain seemed to be letting up, we decided that rather than make ourselves comfortable, we’d best unpack the car. We really had no idea what was in some of the dark recesses of the trunk, but we launched into it and in less than 10 minutes had the trunk and the inside pretty empty. After spending 7 weeks in the car (taking out the 14 days on the Liberty), the interior had seen some living, so it will take a little more effort and a professional car wash to erase all traces of our travels!


Now, the dining room became our staging area, as Susie began to go through the suitcases, canvas bags, and paper bags we’d brought in. One big pile for the cleaners (we will be floating a loan before picking up the completed order), half the room for washing (which will take several days to complete), and the table full of items that were not part of our original packing, but we now own! All in all, not too bad, considering that we’d just returned from 9 weeks on the road!

Then, we decided to check out the DVR and found that it was at 99%! Lots of new shows we’d wanted to take a look at, and returning shows, as we are fully 3 weeks into the new TV season! So we decided that for the rest of the weekend, our primary task, between going up and down for the wash, and other trip ending tasks, will be to watch some TV and garner some couch time!

img_6680-2Of course, what would our first Saturday back at home be without our first real martinis since we left the Liberty of the Seas. There are little or no supplies in the house, and certainly nothing that could help us make a Melvin and R Bar Martini, so it was just Grey Goose with a twist! I did however serve them in well chilled Royal Caribbean glasses, and used the “professional shaker” method, as befitting a graduate of not one, but two, Martini Mixology classes on the Liberty of the Seas! Thanks Melvin!!

img_6681Then to wrap up the day, Chinese take-out! I have to say that the take-out from Mr. Chen’s in Carle Place was much better than the Chinese food we had at a converted Mexican restaurant in Moab, Utah, but then having it delivered, and eating it while sitting on our living room couch, drinking Prosecco, and watching TV shows from our DVR might have had something to do with that feeling!

So that’s it…the trip is over and we are home. As sad as the thought was that the trip was ending, we both have to admit, that it is very good to be home! Nine weeks is a long time to be gone, and after a couple of days of R&R, we will collect our thoughts about the trip, and we will put together a couple of wrap-up blogs to tie the whole thing up.

Before I end today, just a word about this blog. I started out writing this, as much for us, as for those of you who may have been riding along. In nine weeks on the road, we saw some incredible things, had some great food, met some very nice people, had lots of fun times, went to places we’d love to return to, went to some places we never want to return to, and in so many ways, had the trip of a lifetime. But 9 weeks is a long time, and even now, we have trouble remembering exactly where and when some things happened. So for us, this blog is now a permanent record that we can look back on and refresh our memory in coming days. But the blog was something else to me. One thing I have always wanted to be was a writer. I’ve dabbled here and there over the years, and many have told me that I am good at it, but what a writer needs to do is to write! For the past 9 weeks, this blog forced me to sit down in front of the computer every night and write something. If you’ve been with us for the whole ride, you know that some nights it was the last thing I wanted to do, but I did it. For 9 weeks (even on the cruise) grabbing the Macbook Air, and punching away on the keys for a half hour or more every day, has been a way of life for me. It’s become part of my routine, which was very good for me, and it’s something I hope to continue. I may not post every day, but I hope to write something every day. I know that I will be updating this blog on a pretty regular basis, because heck, now that we are both retired, Our New Adventures are just starting out! We already have a road trip to Disney World in the planning stage for early 2017 with Krissi, Kenny, and Chris, and you know that there are several road trip ideas that we’ve come up with, based on this trip, so by no means are we done traveling. Then there’s our life in Ocean City, and you know with our group of friends there, there will be lots of stories to tell! So, I hope that you’ll continue to ride along with us in the future. We’re not 100% sure where the journey will take us, but we can promise it will be interesting, and we hope we can count on your continued presence in our blog life!

Of course, this blog would have looked a lot different the last 9 weeks, had it not been for my #1 fan, and the best travel companion, soul mate, best friend, and proofreader I could ever have. Had Susie not been the step-in between writing and publishing, only God knows what gross mis-spellings, grammar errors, and just wrong words (thanks i-spell) would have appeared in this blog. Thanks babe for putting up with me for 9 weeks, for reading a map better than I ever could, for reminding me which direction is right and which is left, and for making this blog the readable thing it is. Nothing would have been possible without you!!

One last word, and that’s to those of you who have been along on this adventure with us. Over the course of the past nine weeks, we have heard from you in various ways, and I know that a number of you have been with us every day, since we started back in August. I heard from some of you when I was not in any mood to write the blog, and said so. It was your encouragement, and just knowing that you were reading the words that I was writing, that made it easier for me to sit down every night, and compile a record of what we’d done that day. It would have been very easy for me to have ended this blog in week three or four, and chalk this up as just another one of the many uncompleted writing projects I’ve done in my life, were it not for knowing that there were people waiting to see what our day on the road had been like. So to those of your who reached out to us, and let us know you were in the back seat of the Sonata, whether from start to finish, or just for a day or two here and there, thank you. As happy as I am to have this blog as a record of the trip for us, it never would have gotten completed without you. Knowing that people were reading it, were commenting own Facebook or on the WordPress site, and were enjoying our travels made all the difference.

See you soon….

Day Sixty Three – Saturday, October 22, 2016

We are Home!! The car is unpacked….


The first Martinis are made (thanks Melvin at the R Bar on the Liberty of the Seas for all the martini knowledge!


I overestimated a smidge on what we traveled when I said 10,000 miles…the total for our trip was just under 9,800 miles!

Right now we are relaxing, enjoying being home (it is nice), watching shows from our DVR (we really like Kevin Can Wait) and ready for the gentleman to bring us our take out Chinese food order!!

See you tomorrow, because frankly, I’m lucky I wrote this much! All I know is that when we left Long Island on August 21, it was summer. Today, it definitely isn’t summer!

Day Sixty Two – Friday, October 21, 2016


Welcome to our last night on the road, of Our Big Adventure, 2016. Today we covered 343 miles, as we traveled through the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and into Pennsylvania, making this a four state day, but as we hit Pennsylvania on the way out, our last 3 new states. For those keeping track, our total for the trip is 25 states, and 4 countries – Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica, and the United States. Those are all the numbers I’m going to give you today, because a “by the numbers” blog will, I’m sure, happen next week. Tonight I want to concentrate on this day on the road, and our last night sleeping not in someplace we own!

So, in 62 days on the road, this was just the 3rd day where rain has been a part of just about the whole day. I don’t know about you, but Susie and I are rather flabbergasted with our weather luck! We think back on all the special places we’ve been, all the wonderful views we’ve had, and how less special those views would have been had the weather been against us! So one day at the beginning of our travels in Pennsylvania, one day in Texas when the hammers of Hell fell on us, and, of course, the day we returned to Pennsylvania, were our only total rain days of the last 62! Amazing and let’s face it, it obviously shows that someone upstairs was looking out for us, and wanted to make this trip as special for us as it was!

As we started today in Cookeville, Virginia, Interstate 81 was very busy, and what with showers, and if not showers, ponding on the roadway, was not the nicest morning we have had on the road. We’d had breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express this morning, so our day really just consisted on driving on the Interstate. The crazy drivers continued, and frankly we are amazed at the numbers of people who seem totally oblivious to the weather conditions, and continue to drive like it’s dry and sunny. One truck driver appeared to have paid the price for this kind of behavior, as traffic on the Interstate came to a halt, and we crawled till we passed this accident on the center divider. As I said yesterday, I fear that the folks driving tractor trailers are not the professionals they once were!

As we got into Pennsylvania, we started seeing names we recognized and towns that we’d visited with the kids when they were small. Every fall, right around Billy’s birthday (November 3rd), we’d take a weekend trip down to Amish Country. We probably did it for 12 or more years in a row, staying in places like the Red Caboose Motel, or the Mill Stream Motor Lodge, and riding the Strasburg Railroad every year, and enjoying the “country”. Well, as we were speeding along Interstate 78 this afternoon, what pops up but a place we took the kids back in those days, Roadside America. It’s probably the worlds biggest Lionel train layout, and when we passed that this afternoon, we knew we were almost home!


Speaking about being almost home, you may wonder why we are staying in a Homewood Suites in Allentown, PA tonight, a mere 150 miles from our home on Long Island. Well, there are several answers to that question. #1, we’d looked at the weather, and realized it was going to be rainy into the night, and had no desire to do the drive in that kind of weather. #2, had we pushed right through, we would have hit the New York Metro Area right in the middle of a Friday rush hour, meaning that the optimistic GPS ETA of 6:30, would have probably been closer to 9 PM. #3, we really don’t want the trip to end. The truth is really a combination of all those answers.

So, late this afternoon, after checking in, we had our last Sailor Jerry and Cokes of the trip. Soon, we will go out for our last dinner of the trip (no, we will not go to Cracker Barrel again), tonight I will take my last shower of the trip, we will spend our last night in a king size bed on the trip (oh God…how will we return to our queen size beds!!!), Susie will take her last shower of the trip in the morning, we will have our last “free breakfast” of the trip, and tomorrow we will head off in the Sonata for the last 3-4 hours of our Adventure as we motor our way, on the very last day of Our Big Adventure home!


Before I go today, I want to try and capture some of what we are feeling tonight. We started talking about this trip probably 5 years ago. We started gathering information close to two years ago. Back in March, when we realized that we needed to make reservations for the National Parks NOW, the trip became real. Between then, and when we left on August 21st, we continued to make plans and reservations. Then suddenly it was the first week in August, and we now had to start packing and making decisions of what to take and what not to take. Then there was our last weekend on Long Island, when Krissi joined us and we partied with our friends Pat and Steve for one last time, had to get the car ready and then pack it. Suddenly, it was the day we’d said we were going to leave, Sunday August 21st, 2016! We left Mineola, dropped Krissi off in Astoria, and before we knew it, we were on Interstate 80 in New Jersey heading west to Our Adventure! That was Day 1, and today is Day 62, and to think back on all we’ve seen, the people we’ve met, the great experiences we’ve had, and the memories we will cherish for a lifetime.

Are we sad as I write this tonight at a hotel in Pennsylvania? You bet we are. We have so loved every day, have gotten such a kick out of driving the Sonata, with our New York license plates (OCNJ4US), in places like Las Vegas, or Yellowstone, or on Route 66, or last weekend in Galveston with Kenny and Chris in the back seat! Have so loved telling people what we have come to call, “Our Trip Story”, when they inquire what we are doing in Moab, Utah, or Corpus Christi, Texas, and now that’s all behind us. We are in Pennsylvania, early tomorrow will be in New Jersey, and shortly after noon, we should return to the state of New York, where there will be nothing special about a red Hyundai Sonata with NY license plates! Sad, but welcome back to real life, from a 2 month fantasy ride through these United States!

See you tomorrow, when we will no longer be singing, On The Road Again. We will be singing, Home, Home on the Range, but there won’t be any deer or antelope playing!

PS – Another first today…take out boxes! Never before have we done that on the trip, but they will spend the night in the Homewood Suites fridge, and next week who knows…they may be lunch or a dinner!


Day Sixty One – Thursday, October 20, 2016


The evening of day Sixty One (I really can’t believe it, even though I just typed it) finds us at a Holiday Inn Express in Troutville, Virginia, having traveled 354 miles since we left Cookeville, Tennessee this morning. We had a lazy morning, sleeping in a little and skipping breakfast, and left the hotel a little after 10 AM. We gassed up and hit the Interstate, and although we did change from I-40 to I-81, we spent the entire day on the Interstate Highway System. Lunch consisted of cheese crackers and some packs of cookies from the food bag that’s been on the floor of the back seat since Day 1. Tonight’s blog is going to be a short one, as we really don’t have a lot to share with you.

This Holiday Inn Express is a first for us, having never stayed in one before, even though I did join the club, and have had the app on my phone since we left home. The hotel is nice and the room is large, but really looks like it could use some more furniture! Oh well, it’s got all we need, and that’s what’s important! Oh, another first tonight at check in…my Wells Fargo Visa card didn’t work! Now mind you, I have used this card virtually every day of the last two months we have been on the road. I have charged hotels in 22 states, and have used it in 3 foreign countries on the cruise. In the last 4 days, I have used it in Texas, Louisiana, and Tennessee, but tonight in Virginia, it wasn’t accepted! As soon as the man handed it back to me, I knew why. Even though I have used it all over the United States in the last 2 months, when I filled out the list online of where I was going to use it, I bet I didn’t say “Virginia”. Computers can’t think! Oh well, that’s the good thing about my American Express card…it works everywhere!

Now that we are traveling in more populated areas in the country, there is much more traffic on the Interstates, including more trucks. I remember back when you would always hear that long haul truckers, were the best drivers on the road. Sadly, I think that’s no longer the case. I fear, like with so many other professions (Cab Driver, Waiter/Waitress, Bartender, etc), people are doing it because they need to work, not because they are “professional” truck drivers! We have had huge trucks cut us off, as we were about to pass them in the left lane. We had one truck pull into the left lane just in front of us, attempting to pass another slower truck, and doing this all while heading up a hill. The end result was we too got to take the hill at 45 MPH when the speed limit was 70! Don’t get me wrong, we have also seen plenty of nut jobs in cars, doing some incredible things on the Interstate. Perhaps it’s just the dumbing down of the American driver! Bottom line is, this ain’t no video game…a truck can do some real damage to you at 70 MPH on an Interstate, so your task is to not get too comfortable, and have 3 pairs of eyes!

As in all of our travels, our constant audio companion in the Sonota is Sirius/XM’s Margaritaville Radio. Today they played a song that made us think about our good friends Sue and Jim Waniak in Somers Point! Jim is a huge Phish Fan, and we have heard many concert stories from him over the years! We’ll see you soon, guys!!


We are struck by how similar the countryside we have driven through the last two days, is to that which we know at home. Yesterday in Tennessee, Susie commented, “Looks like we’re approaching the Delaware Water Gap”. Today in Virginia we said, “Looks like upstate New York”. No beach, so we can’t say it looks like Ocean City, but it does have a familiar ring to it! Leaves are starting to change color here, even though it was 85 today, but not as much, I’m sure, as they have at home!


So, here’s a question for you…we came up behind, and then passed, this tanker truck today, and were trying to figure out what Dunkin Donuts might transport in it. If you have any clever ideas (our best was Donut Batter), why not put it in the comment section on Facebook, and we’ll see what everyone thinks!


Tomorrow we already have a reservation in Allentown, Pennsylvania at a Homewood Suites for our final night on the road of Our Big Adventure! We could have made it home in one day from here, but since I’ve got a cold (and Susie sounds like she may be getting it), and we really don’t want to get back to New York on a weekday and fight the rush hour traffic on the LI Expressway, we figured we’d stay one more night! So our last night on the road will be Day 62 and we will return to Mineola mid afternoon Saturday, on day 63 of the trip! Believe me, if we could wiggle our nose and be home, we’d be there already, but based on how we feel, one more night seems about right for us!

Off to dinner shortly at Cracker Barrel.

Have a great night…see you tomorrow!

PS – While sitting on the porch at Cracker Barrel waiting for our table, we started talking to this gentleman. One thing led to another, and we discovered that we were both born in Physicians’ Hospital in Jackson Heights, NY a lifetime ago. Anyone who doesn’t believe we live in a small world, has never been out in it!

Day Sixty – Wednesday, October 19, 2016

We awoke this morning in an almost brand new Hampton Inn, in Forrest City, Arkansas, and before we hit the road, we searched for a self service car wash. When we were at the Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City the day before, there was some yucky mess that was dripping off the portico when we drove up, and now it’s dried, and made the side of the car a mess. We headed back towards Interstate 40, and then went beyond, and took a 10 minute tour of Forrest City, and it was very sad. We passed boarded up restaurants and businesses, houses that looked like they were about to fall down, schools that were closed, and block after block of neglected property. It’s almost like the whole town had died, with the exception of the 2 blocks either side of the Interstate. Oh, and we found two car washes…both of them abandoned. Very sad to see the state of the town!

We continued our eastern trek on I-40, and as we pulled onto the road, the GPS said that our destination should be reached about 3:50 PM. Perfect we thought. We’ve been on Interstate 40 before, you may remember that somewhat earlier in our trip in Arizona it was what we kept getting off of to track down the original Route 66, but this section was crowded with a lot of trucks, and they were driving very fast! In short order we were at the Mississippi River and entering Tennessee, and the city of Memphis. Susie and I agreed that at another time, we will be back and explore this city and Nashville, but to do it now would be a waste, as our heads are already home, and whatever part of my head that’s not home, is clogged with a cold!

Very soon after entering Memphis, the GPS mumbled something about “significant traffic ahead” and suddenly routed us off of I-40, and we followed. She took us on a lovely tour of Memphis and we got to see St. Jude’s Hospital and beautiful, tree lined streets full of Craftsman Style homes. Eventually we got back on I-40 and we realized that we’d just passed construction, which would have provided the significant traffic. The GPS now said our expected ETA was at 4:08 PM.

About 5 minutes later, I was looking for a place to switch drivers, but we were still in an urban area, so no rest stops. I got off at an exit, only to realize that the on ramp on the other side of the road was closed, and the only way to go east was to get on west, get off at the exit we’d just passed, turn around, and resume our eastern path. Luckily, the exit was only 2 miles back, but it still made me mad that I got off there! Oh, and now the GPS says we will get to our destination at 4:27 PM.

After our driver switch, the GPS again tried to take us off I-40, but this time said nothing about traffic. As we ground to a halt with construction, we learned again to trust Miss GPS! ETA now was 4:40 PM.

For the rest of our driver switches we used the state of Tennessee’s very nice rest stop facilities. Unlike the state of Arkansas, where most seemed to be closed, Tennessee’s are open and lovely. Heck, they even name them after Country Music Stars!!

A little after 3 PM, we hit Nashville, and although I assumed we were still out of “rush hour” there was construction, and a lot of traffic, and by the time we got to the other side of the city, and suburban traffic dropped off, we’d lost some time. The GPS now said our ETA was 4:53 PM.

Then the bottom fell out! After speeding along at 70 MPH, suddenly all 4 lanes of Interstate 40 stopped, and I mean stopped dead! For the next 45 minutes to an hour, if we traveled a half a mile, I’d be surprised! We were trapped in traffic that sometimes crawled, but most time just sat still. Surrounded by trucks of all kinds, Susie even made friends with some goats that were stuck next to us…it didn’t seem to bother them as much as it did us! Susie found some info on a traffic app that said we were stuck behind a multi car accident that happened a little after 1 PM. Of course, when the traffic finally started moving again, we passed the spot and there was no evidence of anything but some torn up grass and a few fence posts! Damn!

Of course, as we were sitting there, the ETA on the GPS kept going, and by the time we started moving again, it said our ETA was 6:08 PM! On top of that, once the mass of traffic was released, people were driving like crazy folks, so staying out of trouble was a major concern! Let’s just say, that soon after we checked into the Comfort Suites in Cookeville, Tennessee, we were down the road at a Cheddars Restaurant, and ordered a couple of “stress relievers”!


Oh well, we have to understand that for the first time in months, we are back in populated areas and things like this happen. We can’t even put this in our list of accidents we’ve seen along the way, because we didn’t see anything! I feel like Sgt. Shultz on Hogan’s Heroes! “I Know Nothing!”

See you tomorrow.

Day Fifty Nine – Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Tonight finds us in a very nice Hampton Inn, located on the side of Interstate 40 in Forrest City, Arkansas. Today we traveled a total of 301 miles, having left the Horseshoe Hotel and Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana a little after 11 this morning. Before I go into today, let me update you a little on last night at the Horseshoe.

As I told you in yesterday’s blog, as the Horseshoe is a Caesar’s property, and since both Susie and I are Diamond Members (well, at least we will be till 2016 ends), our room cost us $0, and if you looked at the pictures in yesterday’s blog, you know it was a very nice room. Due to the free room, we decided to make a 6:30 dinner reservation at Jack Binion’s Steakhouse in the hotel, and trade a dinner bill for a room charge. In the end, we didn’t do that either, but I’m getting ahead of myself!

We changed (no denim shorts in the casino for me), and went down to the casino about 5:30, and thought we’d play a little. They are very serious about the age requirements here, and they have a big sign saying that they will card anyone who looks 35 or under. Susie kidded with a security guard, who said he thought she was about 28, and asked for her license! She promptly handed it over, and once he saw it was a NY State license, we had the “Trip Discussion” Nice guy, as was everyone we encountered!

We played some video poker, and I won $100. We played some penny slots, and I won $100. The last thing we did before going to our dinner was play a $2 Double Wild Cherry machine. We used to play a similar machine on every trip to Harrahs AC, till the machine disappeared about a few years ago. This was a $2 two coin machine, so $4 a pull. Susie and I each put $20 in and played partners. We were very happy when we thought we won $245 only to realize when we cashed out that since it was a $2 machine, we’d won double that! Not too bad a session for a pre-dinner jaunt to the casino, but now it was time to head to the steak house!

Now, we are no strangers to steakhouses, having been to them in NYC, Atlantic City, Vegas, on the cruise and many other places, but we have to put Jack Binion’s right up at the top…probably the best ever! We started with a bottle of wine, then two incredible shrimp cocktails, and then we both had a great salad. Susie had a warm spinach salad, which she said was probably the best spinach salad she has ever had. A sucker for the traditional steak house wedge salad, that’s what I ordered. Incredible presentation, and the bacon was candied!!! Probably the best wedge salad I’ve ever had in a steakhouse!! Susie’s entree was a Filet Oscar which looked great, while I had the smallest cut of Prime Rib with Yorkshire Pudding! I’d hate to see the large cut, because the small cut filled the plate, and I only made a dent in it!

Of course, I had to be a pig, and ordered a baked potato too! Years and years ago, when I worked at WHN, we did a show from the Oak Room at the Plaza hotel, and ever since then I have been boring Susie with the tale of how when you ordered a baked potato there, they would remove the potato from the skin, mix it whatever you wanted added, and then pout it back in the potato skin. Well, now it’s the Oak Room at NYC’s Plaza Hotel, and Jack Binion’s Steakhouse at the Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana. And the best part…we used Harrah’s comps to pay for the meal! All it cost us was a tip!!

img_5940Check out time was 11, and after we slept as long as we desired, and showered this morning (the BEST shower of the trip!), it was very close to 11 when we vacated the room, and went down to the valet to get the car. We had a little trouble finding the beginning of our trek for the day – we think perhaps our GPS girlfriend was a little under the weather this morning, but eventually we were on the right path. With the exception of about the first 10 miles of the 300 we did today, the rest was on Interstates, and this is the first day we’ve done that in some time. We headed north out of Bossier City, and it really wasn’t long before we passed out of Louisiana and into Arkansas, so another state for our list. Susie says Arkansas was state #21 of our trip!

fullsizerender-78As we didn’t get a “free breakfast” this morning, we decided to do something we rarely had done the past 2 months, and that was stop at a fast food place for lunch. We’d see Whataburger for many days, and even this morning in Louisiana, but they must not cross into Arkansas, so we settled for a Burger King, in of all places, Hope, Arkansas, the birthplace of Bill Clinton! The exit is marked with a huge sign saying, “Hope, Arkansas…the birthplace of President William Jefferson Clinton”. I know they are trying to be respectful, but who ever calls him anything but Bill? Oh well, he is their home town boy!

So listen. If anyone else, like Susie and I, have been fascinated by, and contemplating going to Burger King and ordering a Whopperitto… don’t. On the TV commercials, it looked to me to be the basic inside of a Whopper chopped and put into a burrito, but in reality it’s more like something you’d get at Taco Bell, but with dill pickles added! It wasn’t the burger meat, but rather traditional taco meat, complete with the red grease dripping down your arm. Thanks, but we will stick with our traditional Chicken Sandwiches.

fullsizerender-79If you share driving, like Susie and I do, you are rather dependent on rest areas along the highways as an easy, convenient, and safe place to switch drivers. Back in the beginning of this trip, you may remember that Indiana and their “Toll Road” earned bad points from us for having so many closed rest areas. Well, sad to say, but Arkansas is another state that makes you either pull onto the shoulder to stop, or exit the road altogether, as so many of their rest areas were closed.

Stick a Fork in Us…We Are Done!!

At lunch today, Susie and I talked about our decision to head home, and we wondered if we should continue to stop at places or not. After a bit, we realized we were both of a mind that we are done, and being at home sounds like a great idea. So, our object now will be getting back to the East Coast, and we will probably stop at no more attractions on the way…including Graceland. The tour books say to leave a minimum of 3 1/2 hours to tour Graceland, and frankly we are not sure either of us have that much patience left, plus I’ve got a really rotten cold, and you know what a pain in the ass men are when they’re sick! After all, we are retired, and our time is ours, and a visit to Graceland gives us an excuse for another Road Trip!! As my cousin Jeannie said to me today on Facebook, “You know Road Trips are really a bit like retiring. There comes a point when you know it’s time to end it and move on.” It’s time!
****One Last Piece of Good News****

Just as I was about to call a wrap to today’s blog, we got the following email from Krissi, and I just had to share it with everybody, as proud parents are prone to do:

“Good evening,
I am pleased to announce the promotion of Krissi D’Elia to the position of Senior Account Administrator for Weill Cornell Imaging at NewYork-Presbyterian (WCINYP). Krissi started as a Pre-Authorization Coordinator in May 2014. In July of this year, she was given a lead role in the pre-authorization department because of her reliability, dedication, and excellent teamwork. She has shown her ability to lead by example, and has continuously looked for ways to improve communication between our patients, referring physicians, and staff. She will utilize her widespread knowledge of our referring physicians and her expertise in customer service to continue to enhance WCINYP. She will be focused on expanding our pre-authorization department and creating efficiency in service delivery while maintaining the highest levels of patient and referring physician satisfaction.
Please join me in congratulating Krissi and welcoming her into her new role.
Thank You

Director of Operations
Weill Cornell Imaging
NewYork-Presbyterian | Weill Cornell Medicine
1305 York Avenue, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10021”
Congrats to our favorite daughter, and a young lady we are very proud to call ours!! We know you will be great in the new role baby, and as with everything you have done in your life, Mom and I will be nothing but proud and supportive of you!

A great way to end today’s blog!!

Day Fifty Eight – Monday, October 17, 2016


The Decision

This morning we were sitting having breakfast at the Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas, when I said to Susie, “So, what’s your decision?” She replied, “I’m not sure…what about you?” “I think we should head home”, I said. “Yea, me too, she replied.” So, that’s our plan. We are not going to run home (according to Google Maps, we could be back on Long Island in 23 hours driving straight), but we are heading in the general direction, and if we see something that we might want to stop at along the way, we will, but we are not going out of our way to do stuff. We are going by Memphis, so Graceland is still a possibility, but the methodology of our trip is changing. Remember back early in these blogs when I talked about the desire to roam free, but the necessity to plan ahead? Well, we both feel that that time has passed, and now we are just going to get up each morning, take a look at a map, make a decision of what we are doing and where we want to stop, and reserve a hotel. So, here we go….

First an important announcement…..the Denim Shorts are back!!! After two weeks of trying to look “classy”, I am back in my car travel mode!! Comfort!!!


As I write this, we are in Suite 1610, of the Horseshoe Hotel and Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana! We said good-bye to Texas this afternoon, a state we first entered way back on September 23rd, and entered Louisiana. The Horseshoe Casino Hotel is a Caesar’s property, and how do you pass up a free hotel room? We have a reservation tonight, downstairs at Jack Binion’s Steakhouse, and we figure we’re trading a room charge for a dinner bill. Sounds good to us!

Our last day in Texas, was mostly spent driving north on US 96 in the eastern part of the state, and we have to say that what we saw today was a very different Texas than we have seen before. The land consisted of lots of rolling hills and, for want of a better word, forests. We even saw several logging operations along the way. I guess the truth is, that for a state as large and diverse as Texas, there really isn’t one truth as to what it is. We have seen so many different Texas looks during our stay in the state, and today’s was just one more. That’s why we think a Texas Road Trip will be in our future.

So what did we see today? Well we saw the Kirbyville, Texas Police Headquarters, which appears to be an old gas station.


We saw a Jeep that seemed as muddy inside as it did out.


Then we had an experience we have only wondered about. As we’ve driven around the country, we have seen so many pieces of tires along the side of the road from trucks, and recently Susie said, “we see so many remains, how come we never see it happen?” Well, today we did!

Susie was driving behind an old, slow, dump truck, when suddenly there was an explosion and smoke from the left rear inside wheel, and pieces of tire were flying everywhere. Did he stop? Nope, he just kept going down the road and Susie kept dodging things…tires and at one point, even one of his back tail lights, that popped out, and bounced down the road at us! He drove about 5 miles down the road and the tire started smoking, stinking, shredding, and throwing pieces all over the road again. More dodging! We sat next to him at a red light where he was waiting to make a left turn (thank goodness…no more truck pieces to dodge!) He made the left turn, so we have no idea of the outcome, but file this under, “Be careful what you wish for!”


Oh, and in case you don’t know what I mean, when I write that we stopped at a self service car wash to clean up the Sonata (which we did again today), this is the kind of place I’m talking about! Today’s was one of the cheapest, only costing us $1.50 to have a clean car!


Before I wrap it up for the day, here’s something else very different about Eastern Texas. I’ve said since we entered the state, that Texans must love their cell phones, because you always see towers, and have great service. Today, on US 96, we drove for a good half hour or more with no cell service! That’s even worse that that entire town in Wyoming we reported on earlier with no service! Probably traveled 30-40 miles during that time, and absolutely no Verizon signal to be had!

Cruise Part 2 – The Addendum

Susie and I were driving down the road in eastern Texas this afternoon, when we both realized that there was an interesting story, that happened to Susie on our return to the Liberty from Cozumel last Thursday afternoon, that we’d never shared with our blog family. Here’s that story…

After a wonderful day at the Hotel B in Cozumel, the 4 of us caught a cab, and headed back to the International Pier and the Liberty. At the pier, the boys had an errand to do, so we parted, and Mom and Dad headed back to the ship. Just so you know, the standard procedure when you return to the ship is similar to being at the airport. You come up the gangway, they scan your Sea Pass card (a security person is at the machine, and checks that you are the person who’s picture shows up after the scan), then you put your bags through an X-ray machine, and go through a metal detector before you go on your way. They are checking that you are not trying to sneak booze or other contraband material onto the ship, and 99% of the time, it’s a quick and easy process. Not this time!

So Susie and I throw our beach bags on the belt, and proceed through the scanner. Mine pops out, and I grab it, while Susie’s gets sucked back in. It comes out again behind someone’s backpack, and the security guy says, “Who’s bags are these?”, indicating the big back pack and Susie’s blue beach bag. They take the two of them over to a table, and the security man starts going through the big backpack, while Susie stands there twiddling her thumbs! Apparently, he was looking for what they saw on the X-ray, and he was unloading and unwrapping everything in the backpack, till he found what he was looking for…two live rounds of ammunition!

The guy’s story was that he’d taken that backpack hunting a couple of weeks before the cruise, and guess he hadn’t emptied the backpack and that was what the bullets were from. They asked if he had more bullets or a gun with him. He said “no”, but Susie thought he seemed a little sketchy. Our question was, how did he originally get on the ship??? As Susie stood there, EVERYTHING that was in that backpack was examined, and when the guy asked what was going to happen now, the security officer said, “Well, we have to call the Federales…” OMG!!! We figured they probably then proceeded to search his cabin!

Oh, and what happened to Susie? Well, they originally thought her bag was with the backpack, and that she was with this group, and after 20 minutes of search, the officer asked about her bag, she said it was her’s and she wasn’t with them, they ran it through the scanner again, found nothing, and sent us on our way! Before we knew about the bullets, we thought they grabbed her, because the waiter at the Hotel B had spilled a whole shot of tequila on her bag. Luckily, the Federales are Tequila friendly!!!

And now you know…the Rest of the Story!

Cruise Part 2



Day Forty Nine – Saturday, October 8, 2016

Okay…I am going to be totally honest with you, day 49 of our travels was the last night of Cruise Week #1. On what was Day Seven of our first week’s cruise, the cast of the Liberty of the Seas performs two shows of Saturday Night Fever…get it, Saturday Night Fever on Saturday Night! As I write this, it is Monday, October 10, 2016, or what they call Day Two of our second week on the Liberty. I have been a bad boy for the past two days, and I have not written anything, so please excuse any huge gaps in the narrative!

On the day that they do a particular show, they start the day with a technical rehearsal of that show, which takes as long as the show. Then they do two performances of the show, so that folks with different dinner hours have a chance to see the show either before or after they eat. So, for the cast, that really works out to 3 shows on Saturday. Saturday is also the day the boys do their laundry, and take care of other “real life things”, so we agreed we’d be on our own during the day.

We spent the day doing things that appealed to us. We started in the Windjammer Cafe with a small breakfast, you’ll see why “small”, later. Then we walked the pool deck, watched the water slides for a bit, and then watched people riding the FlowRider for about 45 minutes, and that was fun. Some are very good, some are clumsy, but they all look like they are having fun. Did we try it? Ah, no, we wanted to continue to walk around the ship on two legs and not in a wheel chair.

Then we went to have lunch at Johnny Rockets (see the reason for a small breakfast)! Two huge burgers, fries and onion rings, and washed them down with a couple of chocolate shakes! I know, a lot, but wait, this was in preparation for what we were doing at 3 PM! Martini Mixing and Tasting Experience #2 of the week!!! We returned to the R Bar with Melvin, Kristina, and Arminda, and this time with about 23 other folks, to mix, taste, and enjoy some additional taste temptations in a martini glass! A bigger class, but with many of our Monday class alumni in attendance, and still a great experience! We had to run at the end, because we had to change clothes and meet Chris at 5:20 so that he could let us into the theater before it opened for show #1 of Saturday Night Fever!!

If you’ve watched the movie, Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta, you know the plot of the musical. While the BeeGees music is the soundtrack of the movie, it’s actually performed by the cast in the musical and integrated into the story line. The show is 82 minutes, so some things have been cut, but the basics of the story are still there.

Let me just say that there is probably nothing better that watching your kids and their friends perform on stage, especially when the caliber of the performance is as good as anything you will see anywhere! Unlike In the Air, and the 70’s Set, Kenny’s main part in SNF is smaller, playing Tony’s Priest Brother, “Father Frank, Junior”, but in these productions, just about everyone wears different hats. I counted 6 costume changes for Kenny, as he plays different parts throughout the performance. What a great show, and the ending, where they interact with the audience would truly be a show stopper, but for the fact it’s the end of the show! We loved both shows, even though the audience for the second show was a little different. Kenny said that they almost always are, as they haven’t packed yet, have eaten and are full, or have been slightly over-served…if you know what I mean!

Afterwards, we met the boys in the R Bar for the last martinis of week one! We were saddened to learn that Kristina and Arminda will be transferring to different bars next week, but Melvin will still be there with two new staff members. It’s part of Royal’s revolving staff assignments, so they must all work within the system! Oh well. We missed our friends Leasa and Scott, but did meet up with our Martini Mixing Class friend Johnny for one last time! A great night, but sad in that week two will be different!


Day Fifty – Sunday, October 9, 2016

The end of the cruise for some folks, but just the mid point in our two week back-to-back on the Liberty of the Seas!!

The boys went back and forth about what they wanted to do on “turnaround day”, and as back-to-back cruisers (we were two of 67 people out of the 4000 passengers, staying for another week), we could have just stayed on the ship if we wanted to. Ultimately, they decided that since we had the car, and wheels were something they never have on “turnaround day”, we’d get off about 9 AM and do some things in Galveston. With no luggage to collect, getting off was seamless for us! In very short order, we were off the ship, through Customs and Immigration, and waiting for the boys. Then we got the call from Kenny. Cell phones…remember them? First time they’d worked in a week! The boys were stuck at Immigration and didn’t know how long they’d be! So we decided to hop on the shuttle to the parking lot, get the car and come back and meet them.

The car, that we had dutifully washed and gassed up before we’d left here 7 days before, was covered in a week’s worth of thick Port of Galveston dust! Of course, before we got into the car, the phone rang again…they were off the ship! Now our challenge was to get back to the port, where not one, but two cruise ships were off-loading passengers, and greeting new cruisers! Busy, busy, busy was the order of the day, and had we realized it, we would have told them to walk out of the port, and picked them up on the street! Eventually though, we did get the 4 of us to the car, and we were off for a day of exploring!

The first place they wanted to check out was an area just beyond their usual Sunday walking distance, that on the map looked like it might hold some additional shopping venues for them. There were a couple of places that they said looked good, and that they’d walk to, if the weather was cooperating. Speaking of weather, it was a beautiful morning in Galveston, with blue skies, not much humidity, and temperatures in the low 70s! They’d be happy to walk the additional distance on a day like this!

Then, it was time to head off to Walgreens and Walmart, which were just down the road from the hotel we’d stayed in the week before. After a quick stop at Walgreens, we moved on to the main objective, Walmart. The boys went their way and Susie and I ours, and I got a couple of new shirts and even a 7 pack of underwear, effectively putting off the need to do laundry (at $34.95 for a small bag on the ship) till we were back on dry land (you can never have too many undies). With our Walmart mission accomplished, it was time for the real, out of the closet, honest to God purpose of getting the car out of the parking lot! The boys first visit to Taco Bell in 18 weeks!!

Forget about the Crew Mess, or the Windjammer Cafe, or the gourmet Mexican, Italian, or Steakhouse, and even Sorrentos pizza or the Promenade Cafe. It was plain and simple Taco Bell that Kenny and Chris had craved since they signed on the Liberty of the Seas!!!

$47 later, we’d eaten our fill, and the boys had a large “doggie bag” to take back to the ship and use to turn their friends green with envy!! It was after noon, so now we could make our last stop, at the Kroeger’s Grocery store to buy 4 bottles of Prosecco (not available till after noon on Sunday in Texas), and some other staples they needed for what they were planning for tonight! Once we were all back on the ship, and the boys had run their stations and we’d participated in the boat drill, we were going to spend the sail-a-way on our balcony, and then they were going to show us Liberty Room Service, their way!

On the way back, we dropped the boys off so they could have a beer, while we headed back to the parking lot. We’d purchased 14 days of parking at a reduced rate, and they’d explained how we were to re-enter the lot for week two, but either they’d not done a great job, or I wasn’t paying careful enough attention. I know this because as I parked the car, a Galveston police officer greeted me at the back of the car. It only took a minute to straighten everything out, and he was a very nice cop, and we became friends, and after some time, I wondered if he’d keep me there till the ship sailed, just BS-ing? Eventually he had to move his police van, and we got over to the shuttle back to the pier!

There was a long line out front, and Susie says that unlike my usual behavior, I asked 3 different people till I finally found someone who knew that as return cruisers we didn’t have to wait or check-in, and pointed us to the shortest line! In very short order, we were through security, had had our champagne checked and verified it was legit (champagne yes..booze, no!), and were on the way to the gangplank!! We headed to the room to chill the champagne, and relax before boat drill!

We waited till almost 3:30 to head to our boat station, unlike week one, when we arrived about 3:15, and then waited till almost 3:40 for the stragglers to show! Much better not standing there for close to a half hour, and a shame we had to do it again, but rules are rules! After the drill, the Captain dismissed us, and it was PARTY TIME!!!! Back to the cabin, time to open bubbly bottles of champagne (we had 5!!), and just hang out and watch us sail out of Galveston!

The boys were done with work for the day, we had plenty to drink, and the weather was still beautiful, so we were set for the night! We sat on the porch, drank champagne, watched first Galveston, and then the drilling rigs and tankers slide by, talked, took pictures, and watched the sun sink into the western sky! It was a marvelous evening with our family, and we loved every minute of it! Then it was dinner time!!

The boys put together a list, Chris got on the phone and ordered, and about 45 minutes later, four full trays of food showed up at the door of cabin 6580! Then they went to work!! Their own dressing for the salad, Sriracha in this, peanut butter in that, Franks Spicy Honey Hot Sauce mixed with something else, and before long, we were experiencing Liberty of the Seas room service a la Kenny and Chris! An excellent meal, and wonderful night, and at last count, 8 empty bottles lining the hall!!

So ended what they’d call Day 8 were this a 14 day cruise!!

Monday, October 10, 2016 to Saturday, October 15, 2016
Day Fifty One through Day Fifty Six of our “Big Adventure”!

Since many of the things we are doing, and even one of the ports of call is the same from week one to week two, I thought that rather than going through each day in detail, as I’d done for week one, I’d instead talk about things we’d done for the first time, people we’d met, different places we’d gone and meals we’d eaten. Just hit some of the highlights of week two on the Liberty of the Seas, in almost a “stream of consciousness” fashion, with no particular order or importance reflected in what, why, and when I talk about it. Sound good to you? Well, good or bad, this is my blog, and that’s what I’m gonna do!

The format for this week’s cruise is different than last week. We start off with three sea days, and then three port days in a row (Roatan, Honduras, Costa Maya, Mexico, and then Cozumel, Mexico), followed by one sea day, and then we are back in Galveston. Because of the different schedule, things may happen on different days, but as we realized soon after week two started, these cruises are designed as one week adventures, so if it’s called the same thing on the Cruise Compass, it’s exactly the same as what we saw, did, ate, or listened to last week. Fine with shows Kenny and Chris are in, but we’re going to avoid repeating other things we did week one, so that we can maximize our time with the boys, because after all, that’s exactly why we are on this cruise. Having said that, let’s get started!

At Sea Day – Day Fifty Two – Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Our plan for this second Sea Day, was to do different things than we’d done all along. For example, we decided to go to the Dining Room for breakfast. It has been years since we’ve breakfasted in the Dining Room, much preferring to order Room Service, or to go to the Windjammer Cafe, and go the buffet route. Well, at about 9:30 we got on the short line at the Rembrandt Dining Room on Deck 3, and shortly after were seated at a nice 2 top table by the window, where we waited, and waited, and waited! We’d forgotten how slow it took for everything in the dining room! It was well after 10:30 by the time we’d finished our meal of Eggs Benedict, with runny eggs, that kind that turned Susie’s stomach. Now we remember why we don’t go to the Dining Room!!

Then we decided to get our Kindles, find a nice spot on the outside of Deck 4, and read our books. The breeze was nice, we were not in the sun, and we were on the other side of the ship from our cabin and balcony! But after about 15 minutes, we realized we had a perfectly good balcony, just waiting for us, so why were we down here listening to people talk, when we could really be alone! Okay…second new thing done!!

The boys had a show, In the Air today, and this was an “alone day” for Mom and Dad, so we decided to go to the steakhouse, Chops, for lunch! Again, something new for us, as the last time we were in Chops was on the Allure 5 years ago, when we celebrated all 3 kid’s birthdays! Beautiful setting (with floor to ceiling windows looking at the ocean), wonderful Mushroom Soup, a nice Shrimp Cocktail, and a Filet for Susie and a NY Strip for me. I’d love to tell you it was well worth the money, but it appears we didn’t get charged for it! Two glasses of wine each, a soup to nuts lunch, all for a $20 tip! A bargain!!!

The last thing we’ve never done before on a Cruise Ship, that we did this day was, book a cruise to Alaska! The summer of 2018 will find us on a Royal Caribbean Ship heading southward from Seward, Alaska to Vancouver, Canada for 7 days, after a 3 day land package which includes Fairbanks and Denali National Park! The deal, the bonus, and the procedure just seemed too easy and good, so we decided we have two years to save and click off another “Bucket List” item….ALASKA!!

And that was our, “Do Different Things” day!

Ultimate Drink Package

In past cruises we’ve been on with Kenny, we let him buy most of the drinks with his crew 20% discount, but this time he realized that with 2 weeks of cruising, there would be lots of time we wouldn’t be with him, and would want a drink, so he suggested we get the Ultimate Drink Package. As the name suggests, this package includes just about everything you can drink on the ship, from orange juice, coke and specialty coffees, to wine, martinis, and all cocktails up to $12! It kind of makes cruising like an “all inclusive resort”, and as far as we are concerned, well worth the price!! There were only 2 times we had to pay a small surcharge to get something we wanted. Now, who’s got the number for the Betty Ford Clinic?
Roatan, Honduras – Day Fifty Three – Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The ship got to our first port of call this morning at about 8AM, and we were awakened by local musicians on the pier, and when we opened the curtains, found we were looking at a real Disney version of what a Central American port would look like!

We had a leisurely morning, because the boys were involved in a “Green Drill” at 10:45. This involved them dropping down one of the Liberty’s Life Boats from the starboard side of the ship, motoring it around to the port side, tying it to the dock, and then loading 150 of the crew, wearing life jackets into the lifeboat…that’s the part Kenny and Chris played, as members of the Green Team! The best, they did it right within view of our balcony, so we had a great view, and with the telephoto lens, I got lots of pictures of the boys “working”. Chris then had rehearsal, and Kenny needed a nap, so Susie and I puttered around till the boys were ready.

At 1:30, we met them at the aft gangway, got off the ship, and walked through the port. “Where are we going?”, I asked them. “Captain Jacks”, they responded. “I thought that was in the port?” “No, just outside”, they answered. So we walked through the port, dodging sellers of various wares, went through the gate, and walked down the road. We were really not accosted by folks selling things or offering services, and were soon walking into Captain Jacks, a two story shack on stilts over the water! There were a couple of tables and a bar along one side, which we sat at, and we were so glad we did! This was a combination bar/kitchen, and a huge man was working a fryer, BBQ grill, and frying pan like they were a symphony orchestra! I always love sitting somewhere you can see someone who is good at their work, doing it, and this man was a master!! We had the most incredible conch fritters, fried fresh plantains, and the freshest onion rings I have ever tasted!! Margaritas, Rum and Cokes, and local beers complemented an incredible lunch, in a great location, staffed by wonderful people! This is a place that Kenny and Chris usually hit at Roatan, and Susie and I can see why. It was fun getting out of the port, seeing some local color, and meeting some incredibly talented folks! Good one guys!!!


Members of the Crew, that made this trip SPECIAL for us!

On day 2, of our first cruise, Susie and I took the Martini Mixology and Tasting class at the R Bar, on the Royal Promenade, and immediately fell in love with the bar and it’s staff! We’d always wanted to find “Our Bar” for a cruise, and the R Bar was going to be it! It started with Melvin from India, the Master Mixologist on the Liberty. Then there were his two assistants, Kristina from the Ukraine, and Arminda from the Philippines. These three people made us feel like old friends, and along with other alumni from our Mixology Class (Scott and his wife Leasa, Johnny who allegedly had a wife but we never saw her, and our Mexican friend Geraldo), we were regulars at the bar, and really got to know them. They knew us and the boys, and were wonderful to us. We were very disappointed to hear on Day 7 of our first cruise, that it was time for new bar assignments, and the girls would be moving, Kristina to the Hoof and Claw, English Pub, and Arminda to the Schooner Bar! Melvin said that his new assistants would be great, as he’d worked with them before, but we were sad to say goodbye to the two ladies. Melvin was correct, Anna and Raj have been great to us, and we have spent many hours with Arminda at the Schooner Bar, but unfortunately less time with Kristina. In the end, it means we now have a choice of several bars to go to, and to see friends! We will miss all 5 of our new Bar Service Friends!


This is the 4th (and 5th really) cruise that we have taken on Royal Caribbean, and for these two weeks, we have had the best Cabin Steward we have ever had on Royal, Dilcia Rubi. From day one of the first week, there was nothing that we wanted for that Dilcia did not take care of. From ice multiple times a day in our room, to incredible towel animals almost every night, to two bottles of Moet Champagne she presented us within buckets of ice!! She has been just the greatest, and has done such a superior job taking care of us! Like us, she signs off on October 16th, and gets to go home to Belize to see her family for a couple of months before she returns. A very nice lady, who we have become very fond of in the past two weeks!

Two other folks, that made us feel very welcome were Craig and Courtney, the Port Shopping Team. Kenny and Chris work for Port Shopping as a way to earn a few extra bucks (“fun” money) so that they can save as much as possible. Craig, and especially Courtney, had a smile and a hello whenever we saw them, and they were two more friendly faces we were happy to know on the cruise! Unfortunately, they signed off the ship in Cozumel, Mexico on day 6, so the boys no longer will get to hang with them!


One thing we have discovered in speaking to many members of the crew, is that probably 95% of the folks on the Liberty of the Seas, and we’d imagine in the cruise industry, are not working on a ship because they enjoy it, but rather because it’s a financial necessity. From the bartenders who have left spouses and children back home, to the Cruise Director who at 57 came back to the industry to pay bills, to even our two, Kenny and Chris, who came on the ship because they want a nest egg to use for a move to LA, and Royal pays them well, just about everyone we’ve spoken to has a purpose for being here!!

National Beach Club, Costa Maya, Mexico – Day Fifty Four – Thursday, October 13, 2016

The plan was to get off the ship around 10 AM, get a cab, and go to a beach club the boys had discovered a couple of weeks ago. The plan worked flawlessly!

When we opened our curtains, we discovered that we were tied to a pier that seemed to be about a 1/4 of a mile from shore. Going on the balcony, we discovered it was! We’d heard there was a shuttle to take you down the pier, but as we got off the ship, and walked to it, it pulled away, so the 4 of us hoofed it. At the head of the pier, were a collection of shops and restaurants, and after the walk, we stopped for a cold drink before heading on. We needed to walk completely out of the port to get a cab, so this would be a big walking day or us! After our drink stop, we walked out of the port, got into a cab, and were off.

When we got to the National Beach Club, we couldn’t believe our eyes! It was like every beach front movie set you have ever seen. A white sandy beach with chairs and umbrellas set in groups, palm trees, crystal blue water, hammocks attached to poles in the water, tiki hut bungalows behind the beach, and an outside tiki bar! We headed to the bar, and Kenny and Chris introduced us to the owner, a young American named Evan. He took our drink order, and told us to grab some chairs on the beach, and start having fun!! Originally, Susie and I sat in two chairs, and the boys sat on a towel to be near us, but shortly after our first drinks arrived, Evan sent one of his workers with chairs, an umbrella, and a cordless drill with an big auger bit, to dig the support hole for the umbrella (file away that idea for Ocean City next summer).

We enjoyed the drinks, swam in the very salty water of the Gulf of Mexico, and then the boys went and ordered some lunch for us. A delicious Caesar Salad with chicken, a plate of Poke (raw octopus and tuna over rice which was incredibly good due to what it was marinated in and served with), and a chicken and pork belly club sandwich that was so fresh, the chickens may have been running around the courtyard when we pulled up! A fresh and delicious lunch, in a picture perfect setting!

After lunch, we enjoyed the beach and the incredible water some more, and then before we left, Evan took us on a tour and showed us one of the beach cottages on his property! Literally right on the beach, with a cute little porch, a beautiful main room with a king sized bed, air conditioning, a lovely bathroom (Evan was proud to show us some of his handiwork, such as the conch shell in the bathroom sink that was the water faucet!), and all this for under 90 US dollars a night! Incredible! Kenny and Chris say they will definitely come back here again from the ship (unfortunately, the next time that they hit Costa Maya will not be till the Christmas cruise) and after. Evan sounds like a guy with ideas, and someone to stay in touch with!

As we said goodbye to our host Evan, we again told him how much we’d enjoyed our day, and thanked him for his hospitality, as we headed towards a cab. We will take our memories of National Beach Club with us forever, and have a few souvenirs that will help us remember this wonderful day too! There were merchants strolling along the beach, and Susie bought a lovely silver necklace and a new beach bag, which will remind us of our lovely day on the beach in Mahahual, Mexico every time we take it to the beach in Ocean City next summer!



I guess bingo has been a staple of cruising since people have been cruising, but frankly, we don’t even remember the last time we played bingo, on land or at sea! Of course, for many years, I was banned from bingo, due to the “Atlantic City incident”. Back probably over 20 years ago, we had a free offer to play bingo at Trump’s Castle, and Susie and I went. It was the big game, with a $1500 prize, and I got bingo, BUT waited too long to call out. The next number was called, somebody else called out “bingo”, and they got the $1500! Since then, Susie has banned me from the game…until this week!


Bingo is run by a spitfire named Helena from Croatia, who is part of the Cruise Staff. She calls herself “Bingo Mama”, and among other duties, is Kenny’s “bodyguard” when he heads into the audience during In The Air. She conducts a lively game, and although we didn’t win, we played twice and had fun. Susie let me handle the tablets, which is the new electronic way to play the game. Your tablet is directly linked to the master computer, and it self-marks the numbers called, and it is really idiot proof…ergo, why she let me play! I thought for sure we were going to win, when I noticed that the number on one of the cards on the tablet was 11501…our zip code in Mineola!

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel was both our first port, and the last port on our two weeks on the Liberty of the Seas. On the first cruise, we ported in Cozumel on day 3, and this second cruise it was our home for the day on day six, and what a difference 10 days makes!

If you remember back to my story of the cruise’s first week, you will recall that on day 2 of that cruise, Susie and I attended, and thoroughly enjoyed the Martini Tasting and Mixology class at the R Bar. That was the day we found our “bar home” on the Liberty, and due to my enthusiasm, I might have consumed a few more of Melvin’s delicious martinis that day than I realized. That was strike one on Cozumel the next day. Strike two was that by the time we got off the ship the morning on day 3, I think the temperature in Cozumel must have been approaching 90 degrees, and the humidity was probably close to the same number! Take a slightly hungover senior citizen, place him in an “oven hot” climate, have the plan for the day be a Mexican lunch, and then walking the streets shopping, and well, it just wasn’t a fun day!

Cozumel, take two, found us waking without an alarm, finding us already tied to the dock, going out on the balcony to find a much cooler, lower humidity morning, watching the Liberty’s sister ship, the Freedom of the Seas dock next to us, having a light room service breakfast, and leaving the ship with the boys a little after 10:30 AM. The first order of business was a few errands that Chris had to run, so we worked our way through the port and grabbed a cab into town. Both Craig the Port Shopping Guide and Jeffery the Cruise Director hammer home to you on the Liberty, that the cab ride from the port to downtown is $8 for 4 people. As Jeffery says, “Not $10, not $12, not $8 each, $8 for 4 people.” Apparently the cab driver didn’t know how well educated the passengers and crew of the Liberty of the Seas are, because when Kenny went to pay him he said “$10”. Kenny said, “No $8.”, at which time the cab driver yanked the money out of Kenny’s hand and mumbled “fucking crew member” at him. A wonderful representative of his town and his country, and his loss, because Kenny was prepared to give him $10 to start, but not when the guy thought we were stupid gringos!

After the errands, we grabbed another cab (a nice driver this time and a cab with AC), and headed out of town to the Hotel B, and another afternoon of lounging in a movie location setting, on the edge of the most incredibly blue water, having great drinks, enjoyable food, and spending a wonderfully relaxing afternoon as a family! Just a perfect day!!


So, we knew that we walked a lot when we went to DisneyWorld last February, but we wondered what the ports might be like, as at most, there is a long walk just to get off the ship and to actually get to the port area. On top of that, we knew that we’d be walking as we explored the 5 ports we visited, and then there’s the ship. Our cabin is about midway between the two elevator banks, so at the minimum, we’d be doing that walk a couple of times a day, as well as walking around the ship. Then there are the stairs, as we knew we’d not always be waiting for an elevator. Well, I’m here to tell you that walking was absolutely no problem!

According to the app on my iPhone, we did between 1.5 and 3 miles of walking every day, and one day the app even says we climbed 18 floors! I think we were able to keep up with Kenny and Chris wherever we went, and didn’t hold them back. Now, as to my right knee…it has never felt better! No pain, no stiffness, and we think the walking has been good for my knees! The old “use it or lose it” adage is applying we think, and I’m thinking that continuing to use it when we get off the ship will only make it better. In fact, I have pretty much decided that I am not going to get my right knee replaced this spring, as my original intent had been. The Doctor told me that I would know when it was time, and you know what? I don’t think it’s time! Frankly, we’ve got too many things on our near future agenda, for me to be laid up for 3 months! It’s a decision I feel very good about!


As you read previously, after a wonderful Day Six of week two in Cozumel, we returned to the ship, and sat on our balcony and watched as we pulled away from the dock, and from our sister ship, the Freedom of the Seas. Unbeknown to us, sometime later that night, the Liberty of the Seas returned to Cozumel because we had a passenger that was in critical condition, and needed to be transported to the hospital. We don’t know if it was when we were in the dining room for dinner, or later, when we were in the casino, as we only found out about it the next morning. The upshot of returning to Mexico is the the ship will be about 4 hours late getting back to Galveston. As you can well imagine, the ships crew has spent the past 24 hours busily rearranging the departure/arrival schedule for Galveston, and many folks who had booked early plane reservations were trying to reschedule them. Luckily, the Sonata is parked across the street from the dock, and she will be there whenever we get there! It may throw a crimp into what the boys had planned to do with us on turnaround day in Galveston, but that’s nothing compared to what some poor family is going through at a hospital in Cozumel, Mexico!

Giovanni’s Table – Pasta Class – Day Fifty Six – Saturday, October 15, 2016

We loved the Martini classes so much, that on our last sea day, we looked to see what else we might do like that, and we settled for the Pasta Class at Giovanni’s Table. We showed up at 11:00 AM, and were immediately handed a glass of champagne…this worked for us! We then watched one of the chefs go through the routine of making fresh pasta, and in about 8 minutes, he’d made some beautiful pasta, and a quick and delicious Bolognese sauce to top it. It was an interesting look at pasta making, especially when they rolled out their $13,000 professional pasta machine and gave us a demonstration!

Then they showed us to our tables, and we had the most incredible lunch we have had on this ship!! They started with an Antipasti Plate, one of their house flat breads, and a choice of red or white wine. Then there were 4 pasta courses!!! Delicious tagliatelle with pesto, a stuffed meat ball with bucatini, and then (as far as I’m concerned) the star of the meal…their house lasagna! OMG!! The trouble was we were so full by this point that we couldn’t enjoy it as much as we would had it been #1, and we never even tried the clam and white wine spaghetti that was dish 4! Like we needed it, Tiramisu and Cannolis were for dessert!!! Quite the bargain for the $30 entrance fee!

The Casino

img_6603As you may know, we do happen to know our way around a casino. Could it be having the Ocean City house, just 12 miles south of Atlantic City? Of course, we would find our way down to Deck 4 of the Liberty and Casino Royal! As an added incentive, Kenny and Chris love casinos, but they are forbidden to gamble on the ship, but as they were entertaining guests, they were allowed in with is, and were living vicariously through us. We went down a couple of times week 1, but it was really during week 2 that we were there more! Only once did we play Three Card Poker (with a drunken dealer, who kept paying off different amounts for the same wins and a substitute dealer, that we thought was a smileless deaf mute till the very end of play), but mostly stuck to slots.

Unlike most of the land based casinos, lots of old reel slots were still in play, and we got to gamble on some old friends that we haven’t played on in many years. We held our own during most of the week, till the last day or so, when the machines suddenly decided they liked us, and started paying off. Not huge sums (someone won $12,000 on a slot this week), but we cashed in vouchers for decent sums ranging from $150 to $500, and definitely came out ahead! Always nice to be able to say that!!!!

Day Fifty Seven – Sunday, October 16, 2016 – Galveston, Texas


img_6604A sad day…the last of our 14 calling the Liberty of the Seas our home, and our last day with Kenny and Chris before the ship sails away again, and we continue on the road! As I mentioned above, due to a medical emergency with one of the passengers, the arrival of the Liberty this morning, and her departure this afternoon has been all turned around. We were supposed to pick up the Pilot about 4:30 AM, and be tied to the dock before 8, but that schedule went out the window, and we were still at sea when we got up at 8 AM. We were supposed to be able to get off the ship by 10:30, but now are scheduled for around 12:30 PM. As I write this, it is 11 AM, and we have already eaten breakfast, and we’re in our cabin awaiting announcements. It’s going to be a slow process this morning, and all we hope is that more of our fellow passengers are the type that have patience, and not the ones who keep trying to get off the ship long before their scheduled time, and screw up the works even more!! Only time will tell, and we have no idea how much, if any time we will get to spend with the boys today. Stay tuned for (as Paul Harvey would say), The Rest of the Story!

An update…it is 12:32 PM and Susie and I are sitting are sitting in two comfortable chairs on deck 7, overlooking the Royal Promenade! We are NOT getting of the Liberty at 12:30!


Shortly after I wrote that, we decided to head down to the theater, which was our staging area, as that was the time we were given to be there. When we walked in, the first person we saw was Helena, “Bingo Mama”, who told us to go get on line at the gangway. Sounded good, so Helena gave Susie and I a huge hug, and sent us on our way! We told her to enjoy the rest of her contract, and to watch out for the boys, as they all sign off January 29th.

img_6608We took the elevator down to deck 4, got on the line, and they promptly stopped disembarkation because the terminal was a zoo! So we stood for another 10 minutes or so, and then they started the process again. We were quickly across the deck, down the gangway, and on our way to the luggage room, to find our suitcases! They were exactly where they were supposed to be, under the #22 Section sign, so we collected them, and got in the line for Customs and Immigration! A lot of people, and all I can say is that it was HOT!! We were both soaked to the skin by the time we got to the desk, but no questions were asked (all we bought was some souvenirs and a little Mexican silver), and about 1:35 we were on our way to the car!

The boys had gotten off earlier, done some of their shopping, and by the time the shuttle got us to the car, they walked up and joined us. Unfortunately, the late arrival had stymied our “Turnaround Day” plans, but there was time for a trip to Walmart, and a brief stop at Taco Bell on the way back to the Liberty for some take out!!! We dropped Kenny and Chris off about 3, with hugs all around, we said good-bye to our boys, and to two wonderful weeks at sea on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas!!

As I write this, we are at a Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas, about an hour and a half from Galveston. We are tired, hungry, and somewhat let down from our fabulous cruise being over. Being with our boys, meeting such wonderful people from the Liberty’s Crew, seeing all the shows multiple times, enjoying fellow passengers, loving being in one place for 14 days (and how we loved Cabin 6580), the experiences we had on the ship, and the great places Kenny and Chris took us in the ports, well it was probably the best two week “vacation” we have ever had!!! Susie and I were just talking, and the “let down” from the past 14 days is huge, and we can so feel it. I think if we decided right now, tomorrow morning we’d be on our way home, figuring the cruise just was too much to be topped, but we’ve decided we are going to go get something to eat, plan a stop for tomorrow night, relax and get a good night’s sleep, and tomorrow make the decision. We could head right home, decide to continue our journey, or pick a route somewhere in the middle! All we know for sure, is that we will be home for the littlest D’Elia’s first birthday, which happens to Henry on October 28th! See you tomorrow with a decision!!