Those People

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FYI…we’ve become “those people” who lunch at Costco (come on..two huge hot dogs with sauerkraut and all the toppings, plus 2 sodas for $3.20 including tax…why not?) and who run off to Florida in the winter!

Susie retired in 2013, and in just a couple of weeks, it will be three years since I left WABC on January 29, 2016.  In February of 2016, we headed down to Florida for a few days at Disney World, and to catch a couple of the Mets Spring training games.  It was a real treat to experience a bit of a preview of the Summer of 2016, and I guess we got bitten by the bug!  In February of 2017, Susie and I participated in the  southern swing of the “Kenny and Chris Relocating to LA Tour”, and spent some time in Disney World with the boys, and then New Orleans with the boys and Krissi and Mike, before they headed off to California and we headed back to winter.  Last year we toured a large part of Florida, heading down in February and starting at Indian Rocks Beach on the Gulf Coast, traveling down the Gulf Coast, then across the state, down the Keys to Key West, up to Hollywood, then to my cousins in Barefoot Bay, and we ended up with 5 nights at the Boardwalk Hotel in Disney World!  All told, a little over 3 weeks away from the winter!

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23d34fcc-bfe6-455b-98e7-d47076bcdfa0So, this year, we are being pigs!  We leave this Saturday with our first stop being Raleigh, North Carolina, the home of our oldest and his wife, and our 2 grandchildren!  It will be Christmas #3 for Susie and I, this time complete with Christmas Eve traditions of Shrimp Sauce over Linguine, and Lobsters stuffed with Baked Clam Stuffing!  After a couple of days there, we start slowly making our way to the Sunshine State, with stops in Charleston, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, and Darien, Georgia and our favorite shrimp place, B&J’s Steak and Seafood!  

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Last year we fell in love with Indian Rocks Beach, Florida and we’ve decided to return to the scene of the crime.  We’ve rented a condo right on the Gulf Coast for 3 weeks, and we look forward to a lot of warmth, sun, surf, pool, and fun!  During the course of our time there, our cousins Jeanne and Walt will come to visit, as will Krissi and Mike for a long weekend!  We only hope our favorite Florida bartender Lindsey, who we met at our hotel bar last year, is back on her feet and we can spend some quality time with her!

After that, it’s off to the East Coast and a 3 day stay at the lovely Doubletree Resort we really didn’t take advantage of during our stay there last year in Hollywood, Florida.  More pool, sun, warmth, and Tiki Bar time we hope!  Then we are off for 5 nights with our cousins Jeanne and Walt at their place a little further up the coast in Barefoot Bay, Florida!

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Although a stay at Disney World has been a part of our last 3 escapes from winter, we decided to pass on it this year.  Even with my Disney  Retiree benefits and discounts, it’s still an expensive stay, and that 3 week condo rental is costing us enough.  Plus, we were so disillusioned by all the crowds there last year, and the attractions that broke down, that we think we’ll take a year off, and decide again next year.

So that’s it.  If you did the math, you’ll have come up with five plus weeks away this year.  We hope to be in warm weather for the better part of 5 weeks, only dipping out of shirts and flip flop weather on the way down and back up.  I told you we were being real pigs, but there is nothing like that Summer Preview you get from spending some time in warmer climates, when it’s snowing at home!

Ahhhh…RETIREMENT!!

Wednesday and Thursday – 10/17-18/2018

Putting these last two days together, as there really isn’t much to tell.  

If you’ve read the rest of the blog posts about the Kenny and Chris Wedding Trip, you realize that we’ve done a lot, seen a lot, but not slept a lot, so right after we checked into Red Rock, I suggested to Susie that Wednesday be a total relaxing day.  She agreed.  Had the temperature been a little warmer, we might have sat by the pool for a bit, but it was a little cold, in our humble option to do that.  So we found things to keep us busy and never left the resort.

I told you yesterday that our trip to Red Rock Canyon was like no other trip, as rather than being HOT, the temperature was cool and the sky partly overcast.  Well, our desire to stay put, and not venture out of the hotel led to another change from our usual Vegas trips…In and Out.  For the first time on a trip to the West Coast, since we originally discovered In and Out Burger, we did not partake this year!  No Double Double Animal Style, No Animal Style Fries, not even a drink cup with red palm trees on it!  Nope, our trip was In and Out free!  The closest we got, was the lady who brought an In and Out bag into the Noodle Bar the night before, and sat there eating a burger!  A little different from the year we were in Vegas for 3 days on the way to Hawaii, and ended up at In and Out 3 times!

We started our relaxing Wednesday when we woke without an alarm between 8 and 9 AM.  We got ourselves together in a leisurely fashion, and went down and had a lovely breakfast in the Garden Cafe.  Not only was it lovely and relaxing, but ended up being free when Susie went to the cashier and they looked at her comp points!  Perfect!

A little time in the casino was next, where we played a Video Poker machine that had been very nice to us a number of years ago.  It was nice, but not very nice.  Oh well.  

Red Rock is a full service resort that includes, among other things, a bowling alley AND a 12 screen movie theater.  After gambling for a couple of hours, we got on line at the movie theater to get tickets to see A Star is Born.  First off, Wednesday was Senior Day at Red Rock, and our movie tickets cost us $4 each!  Second, something we’d never seen before at a movie theater…we had to pick our seats from a screen at the box office, and got tickets for those specific seats!  Don’t know if that’s something that just they are doing, or if it’s a new trend, but it was strange to us.

As to the movie, if you haven’t seen a Star is Born, you owe it to yourself to go to a theater and see it!  Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were brilliant in the movie.  Lady Gaga is going to be her generation’s Barbara Streisand, and as well as starring in the movie, Bradley Cooper directed it, so I’m gonna say he’s the next Clint Eastwood.  A great movie, and an enjoyable way to spend some time, and for $4????  A WIN WIN WIN!

We then went back to the room to relax a bit and read our Kindles.

Then we got a surprise…the newlyweds, Chris and Kenny, joined us for the night at Red Rock!!  We played some in the casino together, and had a wonderful dinner at the Yard House, and it was an early night for everybody!

Thursday, the boys slept in, while Susie and I returned to the Garden Cafe for another nice, and free breakfast!  We checked out at 11 AM, met the boys in the lobby to say goodbye (they were moving on to another hotel), and drove the Hertz car back to the Las Vegas Airport Consolidated Car Rental Center.

We’d driven the Ford Explorer a total of 1318 miles since we’d picked it up at Los Angeles’ Union Station on October 6th.  We started in Los Angeles, transported a lot of the boy’s apartment stuff to to Reno, drove for almost a week around Reno, gone to the California side of Lake Tahoe, and then traveled back to Nevada and down the state to Las Vegas.  As hard as it was to pick up the car at the beginning of the trip at Union Station following our train journey, it was as easy as could be in Vegas…they didn’t even question the fact that we brought it back with a 1/4 of a tank of gas, which was good, since that was more than Hertz gave us to begin with!  In minutes we were on the shuttle bus to the airport, and our American Airlines flight home!

img_1003We did something this trip home, that I think we are going to be hard pressed not to do every time we fly!  We flew First Class!  I’m sorry, but if you are of a certain age, and lord knows Susie and I are, you remember when flying was an elegant experience.  Women dressed up, men wore ties, and you were treated like a human being.  Today, it’s like riding on a bus!  A cheap bus!   From the moment we showed our First Class boarding passes when we checked in our bag, through security, including boarding the plane, and our pre-takeoff glass of wine, we were treated like valued customers rather than cattle.  Seeing some of the people in the gate area, and how they dressed, it appears I’m not the only one who thinks it’s like riding a bus!  We were in seats 2D and 2E, and had a very nice flight home to Philadelphia International Airport, including a couple of vodkas and a very nice lunch.  

Honestly, I said to Susie, that if we cant drive someplace, and we have to fly, I want to go First Class, or just forget about going.

It was very interesting to think that what took us the better part of 3 days, two weeks ago, we accomplished in under 5 hours on the way home!  While on the way west, we changed time zones once a day, tonight we crossed 3 time zones in the blink of an eye!  We left Las Vegas at 2:20 in the afternoon, and before we knew it, it was before 10 PM on the East Coast, and we were landing in Philly a full 30 minutes early!!   There is a lot to be said for flying, I must admit!

After we walked about 12 miles from the gate to baggage claim (Oh My God… you have to walk a lot in airports!!), our luggage came quickly, and in less than 20 minutes we’d had the Honda delivered to us, and we were heading to the Atlantic City Expressway, and home!

It was a great trip, mainly because we’d seen our baby  (he’s 2 minutes younger than Krissi) get married, had been surrounded by all 3 of our kids, traveled from the East Coast to the West Coast via Sleeper Train (we continue to get questions about that anytime we mention it), gotten to know Kenny’s, and by extention, our new family.  We’d gambled, lost some money, gotten a handpay win in Reno, ate a lot of great food, celebrated with friends old and new, and had a hell of a good time, but Thursday night (or early Friday morning), when we put our heads down on our pillows in Ocean City, it was good to be home!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Since the beginning of it’s run on the Food Network, Susie and I have always been fans of the show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  About 10 years ago, we enjoyed an episode where Guy featured the World Famous Coffee Cup Cafe in Boulder City, Nevada, a family run locals place, featuring great food and warm friendly surroundings.  Of particular interest was their Pork Chili Verde which was featured on the show.  Susie and I made note of the place, and on our visit to Vegas the next year, we made our first visit to the Coffee Cup.  Since then it has been a staple of our Vegas visits, and we have gone for breakfast every year.

img_1001Tuesday morning, we checked out of the Rio, and drove the half hour or so to Boulder City and the World Famous Coffee Cup!  The drive takes a lot less time these days than it did on our first visit 9 years ago, because more of both the 215 and the 515 Interstates have been completed.  The Coffee Cup and Old Town Boulder City, however, look exactly the same!  As per our usual routine, Susie ordered the Huevos Rancheros, and I had the Papa Con Chili Verde.  As usual, they were very good, but Susie thinks the portions may have shrunk just a tad, which is fine, as they were still huge!  

An added bonus this year….there was some kind of film crew wrapping up their shoot at the restaurant as we sat down, and Susie asked our waitress what was up.  We thought it was a kind of Kismet when she said that the crew was there to film an episode of Guy’s Show, Triple D Nation, where they go back and take a look at some of the restaurants that have been featured on the program over the years!  No Guy this time, but we are looking forward to seeing this episode on the TV in the future!  If you’d like to take a look at the place and their menu, here’s their web site.      http://www.worldfamouscoffeecup.com

After a great breakfast, we used Boulder City to do some tasks we needed to do.  First, we stopped at the Wells Fargo bank to get some funds, then we stopped at the Post Office to mail some boxes home.   A brief stop at the self service car wash was next to wash off some of the bugs on the windshield that had given their life during our trip to Las Vegas, and finally a couple of minutes at CVS to pick up a couple of things Susie needed.  Jobs done, it was time to move on to our next stop of the day, Red Rock Canyon!

img_0999The first time we ever came to Las Vegas was in 1999 to celebrate our 20th Anniversary.  We came in August, and I’ll always remember the flight attendant’s announcement as we landed, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport where the local time is 6:23 PM and the temperature is 106 degrees”.  WOW…what was it like at noon, I wondered!?   Well, we found out as we did a lot of exploring that first year, not content just to spend every hour in a casino, and one of the places we visited was Red Rock Canyon!  We were so taken with Red Rock, that every time we’ve come to Las Vegas (including when we’ve come multiple times a year), we drive the 13 mile scenic loop in the Canyon, and this year was no different.  One difference this year was that usually it is HOT at Red Rock…even if we’ve come in the fall.  This year, there were clouds, and the temperature was hovering in the high 60s.  Quite the change for us.

Susie also reminded me that Red Rock Canyon is indirectly responsible for our living in Ocean City.  It was many years ago, sitting on a wall at the Red Rock Visitor Center in the dry heat, looking out at the canyon, that I said to her, “I could retire here.”  Those words, started a chain of events that led to us buying a house in Las Vegas to get into the expanding real estate market.  After picking out the lot, and the house style, and having it built, we spent 3 nights in it, and then rented it out for the next 18+ months.  Towards the end of those 18+ months, our focus changed to owning something in Ocean City, and it was the substantial profit we made on selling the Las Vegas house, that provided the downpayment for 854 Pennlyn in Ocean City. So ultimately, no Red Rock Canyon, no retirement in Ocean City.  You really never know where life will lead you, do you?

img_2074After finishing our drive around the scenic loop, we went down the road to the Red Rock Resort and Casino, where we had a reservation for a comped room for the next two nights.  This resort, a the Station Casino, has only been open a few years, and it has always been someplace we’ve liked to go to eat and gamble.  Last year we stayed here one night, and this year we’d hoped to spend 3 nights, but they were booked Monday night, and we ended up at the Rio.  The rooms are very nice, and the view of the mountains and Red Rock Canyon are incredible.  See for your self.

We had a great dinner at the Noodle Bar (sorry…can only provide pics of already eaten food) and a couple of Lychee Martinis (yum), and then gambled a bit.  

We were a little disappointed because the machines didn’t seem as nice to us as they had been in past years.  Perhaps they are joining some of the Strip Casinos in making it harder to win.  We hope not, as we do love this casino, but who knows.  I’m sure we’ll try them again the next time we are here and see what happens.  We’ve always said that it’s not just the slot machine, but a combination of the person and the slot machine that have to be on the same wavelength.  Perhaps it was us this year!

Still dragging our asses, we headed to bed and made it another early night!

Monday, October 15, 2018

It’s Over!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then we slept like dead people!!

Day Five – Sunday October 7, 2018

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

Very early on a Sunday Morning on N. Sycamore Street

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

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

The other car

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you soon…. 

Day Four – Saturday October 6, 2018

Welcome to California!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day three – Friday October 5, 2018

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Good Morning!    The alarm went off for us today at 7 AM  Central Time, but shortly after we got out of bed, we crossed into Colorado, and Mountain time!  As the sun started to make its presence known, we were near Granada and the weather app told us it was 47 degrees.  The compass app on my phone says we’re at 3000 plus feet, so we are heading upward.  Here’s a look out our window this morning.

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We went to breakfast about 7:30, and again, a full Dining Car and kitchen made all the difference!  Take a look at our breakfast choices, what I had (sorry…started eating before I took a pic) and it’s all included in our fare!

As we were at breakfast our weather changed from foggy to clear and sunny…it was very nice!  

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The Observation Car

B3DFC104-FA8C-4675-B482-5E90E3AEEADEAfter breakfast, we explored a bit.  We checked out the Observation Car, and both agreed that the view from our bedroom is just as good.  The seating in the Observation Car isn’t as comfortable as in our bedroom, and as we observed yesterday, Coach passengers took up the majority of seats.  Then we went down the stairs to check out the Cafe Lounge, as we keep hearing announcements from the Cafe Attendant Brittany about all she sells there.  The Lounge is an area with about 5 tables, and Brittany sells snacks, breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as drinks and things like playing cards.  Looked to us like a “fast food” version of the Dining Car for Coach passengers who don’t want to pay Dining car prices for meals.  On the way back to our room, every seat on the Observation level of the car was full, mainly by Coach folks.  

Shortly after we got back to our bedroom, our Car Attendant Pinky came by to change it back into the day mode.  We planned showers for this morning, and Susie asked her a couple of questions about how it worked.  Pinky suggested we check out the shower on the lower level, which she said was more like home, where our’s in the room version is RV like.  We did, and she was correct, so as I write this, Susie is down using it!  Depending on how it works out for her, I may do the same thing!!  It worked out just fine…don’t we smell and look better!!  Hell, I even shaved!   

The rest of the morning was spent traveling in some beautiful country as Colorado and then New Mexico glided by our picture window.  We’re at much higher elevation now, just passing Raton Tunnel with a sign saying we were at 7,588 feet, the highest point of the Santa Fe!  From what I read just now via Google, BNSF who owns the tracks through the pass, has pretty much abandoned freight service there due to the excessive grade, so it’s mostly AMTRAK’s Trains #3 and #4, the East and Westbound versions of the Southwest Chief, that are its exclusively daily users.  Here’s a picture I found of the Chief exiting the tunnel.

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Susie took some great pictures of the passing scenery, and here are some for your enjoyment!

We’re now moving along at 80 mph (I opened Waze and it told me), relaxing in our bedroom, reading, snoozing, and waiting for our 1 PM lunch reservation. 

LUNCH…first let me admit I forgot to take any pictures. Sorry. Then let me tell you we had the pleasure of sitting with this couple who sat across from us at breakfast.  This morning, both Susie and I thought he was the most obnoxious a-hole we’d heard during our train riding the last couple of days, saying the stupidest things to the couple they were sitting with.  Happy to say, he was not an ass at lunch.  Then we get back and realize he and his wife are in bedroom B…right next to us!  Oh well, they’re getting off in Albuquerque.  Oh, and what did Susie and I have for lunch?  Two very tasty bacon cheese burgers!  

Speaking about our table mates getting off at Albuquerque, they told us they are headed to the Albuquerque International Ballon Festival, which runs from tomorrow to October 14th. I think it’s the 48th year for this festival, and its a pretty big deal.  

Perhaps because of that, our train is full to capacity, and everybody we talk to, or overhear  talking to their table mates at a meal, seems to be heading to Albuquerque!   We get there later this afternoon, and perhaps it will be just the two of us from Albuquerque to Los Angeles!  I also think it’s fun to spell Albuquerque! (And think about the song”Albuquerque, is a Turkey,” which our kids learned from their elementary school music teacher, Marianne Craven….a wonderful teacher and friend!)

We enjoyed the afternoon, played a game of 5000, had some vodka, and even visited Brittany in the Cafe Car, because we used up all our brought vodka. It was a nice afternoon and early evening.  Through it all, we  enjoyed the beauty of America, just outside our picture window.  Enjoy what we saw!

Dinner tonight was wonderful!  The train is empty, so it really was nice in the Dining Car.  Tables for two all over the place, not crazy busy and much quieter, and we got to interact with the staff. So nice!  Susie and I had a garden salad with ranch dressing, butternut squash risotto with chicken, a Creme brûlée’s parfait, and a nice bottle of Chardonnay.  Here are our dinner pics from today….okay, so we ate almost everything before I remembered pics.  Sorry!

 

 

After dinner, we came back to the bedroom, had the rest of our Brittany Vodka, and played another game of 5000.  Susie won tonight and I won this afternoon!   We’re tied 2 games each on the train!  

As the train made a “smoke stop” in Flagstaff, Arizona, Susie and I decided to take in a little air, and saw several familiar folks getting off the train.

A quiet and early night, as we’ll be up early to prepare for our arrival in Union Station, Los Angeles, having completed the first leg in our trek to the Kenny and Christopher Wedding Festivities!  Looking forward to seeing our boys tomorrow!

PS…Happy Birthday Dad!  He would have been 108 today and has been gone for close to 35 years.