On The Road Again

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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!!!

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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

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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….

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

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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

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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!

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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!

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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!

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Day Sixty One – Thursday, October 20, 2016

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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!!

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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!

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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

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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”!

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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

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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!!