If It’s Tuesday, it Must be Belgium

The 1969 movie of the above name, detailed the adventures of a group of Americans on an 18 day whirlwind bus tour of Europe.  The hectic tour traveled so fast, and to so many places, that it was only by remembering the day of the week, that they knew what country they were in.  Susie and I have just had our own whirlwind tour, and although it wasn’t to Europe, we did travel extensively.  We call it…

Our 2022 Thanksgiving Weekend

About 9 AM on Thanksgiving morning, we loaded bags, food stuff, clothes and ourselves in the CRV and off we headed over the 9th Street bridge and out of Ocean City.  Our destination?  Sara and Gabe Smith’s home in Ellicott City, Maryland.  Sara and Gabe are our son-in-law Mike’s sister and brother-in-law, and for a number of years now, they have been kind enough to include us in their Thanksgiving plans.  Of course, last year there was no traveling to Maryland, and no big family celebration, so we were looking forward to a return to tradition!  

In addition to us, the participants were our daughter Krissi and husband Mike, Mike’s Mom and Dad, Jerry and Paula, Sara and Gabe’s teenage kids, Maddy and Ethan, Gabe’s Mom Linda and her husband Bill, Gabe’s sister Danielle and her husband Erik along with their kids Genivieve and Scarlet, and wrapping up the group, Gabe’s sister Darcy and her guy Ken.  It was a full house, and a wonderful time for all.  Susie had made her traditional Turnips, Mashed Potatoes, and Cheddar Cheese mash-up, but the real star of the meal has, and continues to be, the meat that Gabe smokes.  This year, thanks to a new pellet smoker, the traditional turkey was joined by the most delectable brisket!  

It was really a wonderful day, being a part of this big family celebration, and of course eating way to much, but hey Thanksgiving calories don’t count, right?  So there you have stop #1 on our Thanksgiving weekend!

That night, we were off down the road about 15 or 20 minutes with Krissi and Mike to Columbia, Maryland, and Jerry and Paula’s home.  They’d graciously offered us lodging for the evening and we gladly took them up on it.  Everybody got in their PJs, and we hung around until the food coma became too overwhelming, and we headed off to bed!  The next morning we were up and by 10 AM had the car packed and Susie and I, along with Krissi and Mike Mikowitz were off to our next destination….543 Main Street in New Rochelle, New York!

Over to Interstate 95, up through Maryland and then Delaware to the Delaware Memorial Bridge, to the state of New Jersey (hi home…see you soon), up the Jersey Turnpike, across the George Washington Bridge (the toll plazas still stink at the GWB), across the Hudson River, and up the New England Turnpike to New Rochelle!  Night two (It’s Friday in case you’re keeping score) we were spending in Krissi and Mike’s new condo in New Rochelle.  This was just our second visit to the place and we loved the further things they’ve done since we last saw it in May.  We also loved getting to see our Grand Cat, Marz!

Later that day, we helped Mike out by testing a couple of new vodkas that his company is representing  (Mike works for the liquor distributor, MS Walker).  I mean come on…you’ve got to help your kids, right?  Then it was out of their building, just down the street to a wonderful Mexican Restaurant and some great Margaritas and food!

After a good night’s sleep, our now seemingly domesticated daughter served us a delicious vegetable frittata accompanied by an arugula salad as a very nice Saturday brunch.   A very nice way to end our stay with two of our favorite people, because it was now day 3 of this weekend, and time for us to move on to our next stop!

Back to The New England Thruway, but south this time, across the Throgs Neck Bridge, back to a place we know very well…Long Island!  First stop, Joe’s Sicilian Bakery in Bayside, just down the street from my former family home.  We needed some friselles for our Christmas Eve Spicy Shrimp and Linguini, and Joe’s has the best!  Once the friselle’s were in hand (and a Sfogliatella for me and a little cheesecake for Susie) we traveled back to our neighborhood of 31 years, and the Hilton Homewood Suites that is literally down the road from our old Mineola Home.

For 26 or 27 years, Susie and I were involved in Boy Scouting in Mineola, first Cub Pack 246, and then Boy Scout Troop 45.  Well, tonight (it’s Saturday by the way) a huge 100th Anniversary Gala celebration for Troop 45 was planned, and we wouldn’t have missed it for the world!  Chartered in 1921, Troop 45 was probably even older than that, but 1921 was the only date that could be proved, and over 300 people were scheduled to be at Mineola’s Jericho Terrace to celebrate this event.  We relaxed for a couple of hours and then showered and got into our “adult clothes” and headed over to our dear friends Pat and Steve Grosskopf’s house to pre-game.  Steve has been the Troop 45 Scoutmaster for more than 24 years, and I am proud to say that I am the one who convinced him back in the late 90s to take the position!  Steve was, of course, directing last minute activity at the catering hall, but we had a nice visit with Pat, their son Dan and his wife Michelle, and Steve’s brother Freddy and his wife Linda.  

It was a wonderful night, seeing so many old friends, young men who we knew as kids, and even middle age men we knew as kids!  Folks who were involved when we first started and folks who are still involved.  There was great fun, slide shows with old pictures, and just a feeling of pride that we were involved with a group that has ben around for 100 years and that has probably helped well over 1000 boys transition to young men! 

It was a great but late night, and we were thrilled when after 2AM we slid under the covers of the king-sized bed at the hotel!

Sunday was a relaxing morning at the hotel.  We slept in, were bad and had McDonald’s for breakfast, and vegged till early afternoon.  Then we showered, got once again dressed as adults, and headed out to Susie’s sister Barbara’s house in Huntington.  What with covid, surgeries, and the like, we hadn’t seen the Vincents (Barbara, her husband Rob, and their son and our Godson Ryan) since their Mom’s funeral in February of 2020!  A visit was long overdue, and we were happy that we were able to make it happen!  After a nice visit with them and getting to see some of the new projects they’d recently done in their house, the five of us journeyed back in time, to a place that Susie and I have loved for years, and that we have exposed so many family and friends to over the years.

32 years ago, the night we bought our 1989 Ford Taurus station wagon, Susie and I stopped in at a place we’d passed many times.  It was on Jericho Turnpike in Mineola, and it’s a place we’ve loved since that first visit…Piccolos Italian Restaurant!  The Francescini Family is more like friends to us, as we saw the two boys who run it now (Robbie and James) grow up from little kids.  Their Dad Bert is still involved and we still miss their late Mom Debbie who was a real spitfire! From my Mom’s 80th birthday party, to Susie’s Mom’s 90th, to after funeral meals for Susie’s Dad and my Mom, Graduation celebrations, and everything in-between, it was our go-to place!

The 5 of us had a wonderful meal, got to see Robbie and James, reminisce about the old days, the great meals, and the great times.  It was fun to go back in time and who says you can’t go home again??

As I write this, it’s late Monday afternoon and I’m sitting at the island in our kitchen in Ocean City.  I’m going to be honest with you, as this weekend was approaching, the two of us were a little bummed that we had so much to do and so many different places to be this weekend. Between the time we crossed the 9th Street Bridge on Thursday morning till we crossed it again this afternoon about 2 PM,  we covered 663 miles.  But now, with the weekend in the rear view mirror, we are so glad we didn’t make an excuse or beg out of one of the events we were involved in.  From our Thanksgiving in Maryland, to our evening with  our Daughter and son-in-law, to the pride we felt on Saturday to be back with our Boy Scout friends, to the love of spending some time yesterday with Susie’s sister and family, remembering experiences over the almost 45 years that I’ve been a part of their lives, to capping the weekend with a great dinner with family and our Piccolos restaurant friends, we agreed we wouldn’t change one thing!  We did agree however that life is too short, and we won’t wait as long to enjoy what we did this weekend all over again!

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, filled with family, friends, love and reminders of all the things you have to be thankful for.  I know we did!

One thought on “If It’s Tuesday, it Must be Belgium

  1. What a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving weekend! Family, friends, great food and drink, fond nostalgia back at home again and with the Scouts, a visit to some much-missed eateries, happily still thriving and, overall, the opportunity to get out and enjoy the beautiful Fall scenery (save for the GWB toll gates…sounds like they haven’t changed at all since I last encountered them several decades ago); these are the ingredients for a memorable late November indeed! You and Susie look very happy indeed, albeit I can image just abit exhausted after the long hauls between stops that weekend.

    On Saturday of the Thanksgiving weekend, Susi and I celebrated our own version of an American Thanksgiving here as well, replete with Turkey and all the fixin’s and even thereafter streaming the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade via YouTube. As Austria remains in our 4th (!!!!) COVID-related lockdown, it was a quiet celebration indeed. Still this tradition remains with us and (when not in lockdown) we continue to observe this merry feast with our friends and family here each year.

    In the introduction you wrote, “Susie and I have just had our own whirlwind tour, and although it wasn’t to Europe, we did travel extensively” and later, “We did agree however that life is too short, and we won’t wait as long to enjoy what we did this weekend all over again”! Susi and I hope you both will consider soon making that trip to Europe, especially to visit with us here in the Austrian Tirol. Doing so at any time of the year would be great, and you will always have a welcome. If arriving at the end of November is possible, then I think you would enjoy a Tirolean American Thanksgiving with us. I fear that we won’t be able to provide the Sfogliatellae (both Mineola and Napoli are abit too far from Pinswang) but in addition to traditional pies, Susi can create an incredible Thanksgiving Tiramesu. After tasting it perhaps you’ll agree with Mark Twain that “you should weep for the Angels ’cause they ain’t got none”!

    Much love to you both from your friends in the snowy Alps!

    – Andy

    Liked by 1 person

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