Ocean City – Part 11

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As you read in the last stanza of this epic story, we’d gotten rid of just about everything we could in the Mineola house, and now the next big task was selling the house!

We’d lived and raised 3 kids in a house that was built in 1928.  It was old, and needed some work, and we assumed it would go the way of other old houses on our street…demolition or gutting!  I was really concerned about the how and why of selling the house, but once people heard that we were moving,  we kept getting “keep me in mind” messages about the house.  By late summer of 2017, Susie had a list of 4 people that were interested in buying our house!  Who knew!!   When the first person dropped out because of financial reasons, Susie called the second person who’d messaged her.  This was a teacher that Susie used to call in when she arranged the substitutes at  Hampton Street School, and she was still very interested in the house.  She knew the house and the location because her cousin lived right across the street from us.

Susie set up an appointment late one afternoon for her family to come look at the place.  She came with her husband, two kids and her father.  They wandered from the attic to the basement, all around the property, and through the garage.  About a month earlier, we’d worked out a price with our Lawyer Glenn, when he told us our original asking price was way too low.  Susie had shared our price with the prospective buyer, and after the tour, we told them to go home and talk it over, and if they were really interested, make us an offer.  They called us that night, made a slightly lower counter offer, we agreed, and like that, we’d sold our house!

We felt good about the fact that a house that had been good to us, was going to go on and be part of another family’s life.  We probably could have asked more, and had the house on the market for months, but in the end we decided on a price that was good for us, and still left some money on the table so the new buyers could start to make our home their home.  The house sold quickly, we didn’t have to pay a real estate agent a commission because we used none, we got the price we wanted, and after all our expenses, we were able to replace the money we’d taken from my 401K.  We figured it was a win win for all!

So now, it was real. The house had a buyer, we had a closing date, and now we really needed to empty out the house.  We gave whatever we could of our furniture to friends and family, took what little we could to Ocean City, and called the guy we’d had recommended to us to clean out the house.  He showed up one morning, we handed over $3000 in cash, and before we we left for Ocean City, he told us he’d found needy families for our furniture.  That made Susie feel better!

 

The next time we saw the house was early on the afternoon of November 9, 2017.  That day, we drove back to Mineola, and after stopping at McDonald’s in Carle Place, had our

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Our Last Meal after 31 years

last meal in our old house.  It was very strange to walk around a now totally empty house, that in just a few hours wouldn’t be ours anymore.  After eating, we cleaned up, threw our camp chairs in the car, and drove to the lawyer’s office on Mineola Blvd.  Within an hour, we no longer owned 40 Fairfield Avenue, and walked out with a handful of checks, which we quickly deposited in the TD Bank in Garden City, before returning to Ocean City and our one and only home!

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A couple of days later, we went to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission office in Egg img_0820Harbor Township.  We turned in our NY Driver’s Licenses and got NJ Driver’s Licenses, we got NJ License Plates for the Sonata (the Mustang already had them), and even registered to vote!   In every way we could think of, we were now New Jersey Residents, and 854 Pennlyn Place was our one and only home!

We’ve been back to Long Island a number of times, since that November day when we sold the house, and of course, there’s no way we can go without driving down Fairfield Avenue.  We’re happy to report that the new owners are well on their way to turning our old house, into their new house.  We are excited to see what they are doing, and looking forward to the tour we’ve been promised when the work is completed.  

 

Early work to the latest progress..so happy to see it live on!

Since that fateful day in November, Susie and I have survived our first winter at the shore.  Sure, we’d been here before, but for just brief glimpses of what winter in Ocean City is like.  What we’ve discovered is that we love the small town Ocean City turns into in the winter.  We love the ability to go across town on any street you like, rather than UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2d2aour summer MO of only crossing town on streets with traffic lights.  We love going to places like Ready’s or the Varsity for breakfast, and having staff know the customers.  We love the quiet of our street, but also seeing the many folks who call Pennlyn Place their full time home.  We did discover that it did snow a lot more this winter than it seemed to in the past, and that even though we gave away our gas snow blower, we might need something here, so we got a battery powered snow blower to supplement our shovels.

We celebrated our first Thanksgiving at the house, and had Susie’s sister and her family join us.  Although we’d always done Christmas decorating at the house, we did an extensive D’Elia Family Christmas this year, with our family tree and ornaments, and white lights all around the outside of the house, as we’d done in Mineola.  We were joined by Krissi and Mike and even Kenny and Chris came from the West Coast!  All the D’Elia Family traditions were in force, from the kids putting their special ornaments on the tree while decorating, to Lobsters,  Italian sandwiches and Cold Duck on Christmas Eve, to stockings Christmas morning!   It was a very successful transition of the holidays from Long Island to Ocean City!

 

As we had done the two years before, late January found us heading south to Florida, for 78FD7BA1-8112-43FE-9CD3-5E46701611C9what is fast becoming a Susie and Frank in retirement tradition! We love car trips and we traveled down the west coast, came across the Tamiami Trail, went down to Key West, spent 5 great days with my cousins Jeanne and Walt, and ended our stay at DisneyWorld.   It was wonderful to have a 3 plus week visit to summer, but when it was over, it was also great to get back to our home!  

As spring came to the Mid Atlantic States, we enjoyed the longer days and the increasing temperatures.  There was work to be done in and around the house, but knowing that we’d be the only ones to enjoy it, and not renters, made it fun to do!  Summer came, and so did friends and family, and the activity level in Ocean City ramped up.  While we do enjoy the quiet of the off season, there is a lot more energy in the town during the summer, and although we could do without a few of the summer renters, it is wonderful to see all the happy families that love our now hometown! 

So that’s our tale. We now call a place that I first went to when I was 5 in 1955, took Susie to in 1980, a place we both loved, and a house in a location we dearly love, our home. It’s a story about family and friends that are like family, about making choices for your future, and about making decisions that pay off in the end.  It’s also the story of a house that we’d lived in for 31 years, that was a great place to raise our three kids, go on to another life.  It wasn’t demolished, but rather a new family is making it their own, and it’s life, and memories of happy times will continue!  Yes, we could have sold it a lot sooner, could have spent less money carrying it for a year plus, could have realized our grand Tag Sale plan wasn’t going to fly, but in the end, we got what we needed, left a little on the table for the new owners, and started life in our “new” home that we loved. 

Our dream was to have a house in Ocean City, and to not only have that dream come true, but to have it come true as successfully as we now have, well, we figure we must have done something right along the way!  It’s a story with a very happy ending about living out your life, living your dream!  What could be better!

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September 11th – Where Were You?

Anyone who was just about anywhere in the New York Metropolitan area on the morning of September 11, 2001 will always remember that day, and where they were. I know in our family that’s the case. My wife Sue was at work at Hampton Street School in Mineola. Our oldest son Billy was in his second year at Ithaca College, and his brother and sister, Krissi and Kenny, were sophomores at Mineola High School. I was at work at WABC Radio, 17 floors above Penn Station.

I remember it was a great looking, if uneventful, September morning. There was just a touch of fall in the air – it was one of those special kinds of days we get after the humidity of summer leaves. I was, as usual, on the 7:24 LIRR train from Mineola to Penn Station. As I said, a totally uneventful September morning in all respects….but that was soon to change.

Shortly after the first plane hit at 8:46 AM, word started to come into the newsroom that a plane had hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower. It was primary day in New York, and there were reporters around the city for the various TV morning shows. Almost immediately, Dick Oliver of channel 5 went on the air from Park Row, just outside of City Hall. They weren’t the best shots, but you definitely could see the fire and damage to the tower. Everyone assumed that it was a small plane that had hit and no one could understand how someone could have missed seeing a structure as big as the World Trade Center on a beautiful, clear morning. There was speculation of a student pilot, or someone who had a heart attack – just about anything, but what had really happened, which up until that point was unthinkable to most of us.

By 9 o’clock, better pictures of the damage were available on TV, including long shots of the buildings from further uptown. Just before 9:03 AM, I was standing in studio 17E next to Chief Engineer Kevin Plumb, when we noticed a plane flying into the frame of the shot. Assuming we were looking at a small plane trying to get a better view of what was happening, one of us commented, “what the heck is that plane trying to do?” At 9:03 we were shocked when we saw that plane (which we later found out was a Boeing 767) crash into the South Tower and explode in a ball of flames. In that moment, everyone who saw that happen live, knew that life as we had known it up until that moment was over, and that there was a brand new reality.

I remember all hell breaking loose at the station as we all went into high gear. There was an incredible amount of misinformation flying around, and frankly, open fear from some. Everyone tried to act professionally, but since no one knew exactly what was going on, and since we were all working 17 floors above Penn Station and a couple of blocks west of the Empire State Building, many wondered if we might be in the target zone too. The next hour was a blur of news reports, discussion and speculation. Shortly after the first plane hit, our morning anchor George Weber took off downtown armed with a cell phone and a recorder. He phoned in a couple of reports about what he was seeing, but as the cell phone system overloaded, we stopped hearing from him. Then at 9:59 AM, the South Tower collapsed. Faces stared at the TV pictures, and as a group, were almost unable to fathom what we’d seen. Less than 30 minutes later the North Tower collapsed, and these twin buildings, which were so identified with the skyline of New York City, were incredibly gone, along with close to 3,000 of our fellow New Yorkers.

So many questions hit us all at once…who would do this, how did it happen, how could these two huge buildings collapse, and one that was on all our minds at WABC, where was George Weber? The news reports continued, but with all the confusion it was hard to tell what was true and what wasn’t. Were there more hijacked planes out there, and had other attacks taken place in Washington and elsewhere around the country? Getting a landline phone call was very hard; cell service was pretty non-existent, communications among families and friends was almost impossible. It was over an hour later when we heard from George. He’d walked for blocks from the WTC site and had waited on a line at a pay phone before he was finally able to check in with the station. Okay, we knew one of our friends and coworkers was alive…but what about everyone else.

WABC’s 2001 9/11 Montage

The day dragged on, and we watched TV as they tried to figure out what had happened, and what was happening. One of the hardest tasks of the day was getting in touch with friends and family, finding out if they were okay, and assuring them that I was fine. The first response of the city was to shut down, and a lot of us wondered how we’d get home. Being above Penn Station, we kept looking down at the crowds milling around a closed Penn Station. We also kept looking a couple of blocks to the east at the Empire State Building and realizing it was once again the tallest building in New York!

Later that day, the Long Island Rail Road started running and those of us from Long Island headed downstairs, and like every other commuter that day, got on any train as long are it was leaving New York City! As we came out of the tunnel into Queens, everyone looked to the south where the twin towers of the World Trade Center had been on the way in that morning, but now were replaced by smoke. It was very quiet in the train as everyone realized that those two buildings we’d seen every day on our commute into Manhattan were gone, along with all the folks who were working in them.

The days after September 11th were very strange to say the least. The fact that there were absolutely no planes in the sky made for a very eerie quiet that was very unlike the norm. I know that for weeks after the planes started flying again, every time one flew over I would find myself stopping and looking at it. Taking the LIRR into the city in the days after September 11th was also different. There was an uneasy quiet on the trains, that I guess came from a lot of folks who would rather be somewhere else, but who had responsibilities and had to do what they were doing. I remember not seeing people that had been regulars on our trains, and wondering if they were in the towers when they came down, or were they perhaps too scared to venture into Manhattan again. Questions I’d never have the answers to….

One thing that made the post 9/11 strangeness livable was the feeling that we were all in it together. There were American flags on houses, cars, businesses…virtually everywhere! Groups were banding together collecting items for families that were affected, or to help rescue workers at Ground Zero. People were friendlier to each other and more respectful…even politicians! From New York City to Washington, the political discourse had a united front. We weren’t Republicans or Democrats, Liberals or Conservatives, we were Americans. There was no finger pointing, just everyone shouldering the load and helping to move forward. If every cloud has to have a silver lining, that was September 11th’s.

Too bad that these many years later, so many seem to have forgotten. There’s no way that anyone who lived through that day will not be thinking today about their experiences, about all the New Yorkers who are no longer with us and about how the rest of us pulled together as a team. I’ll also be thinking about my friends who were involved after the towers came down. People like NYPD ESU Officer Scott Strauss who pulled the last survivor out of the rubble, or PAPD Detective Don McMahon who spent the next 6 months at the on site morgue, or the many Fire Men I know, both NYFD and others who spent so many hours on the pile digging. Thank God there are so many people among us who run towards trouble as the rest of us run away!  Thank you for your service and for your friendship and for setting an example for the rest of us.

Even in our new world, I know we live in a better world because people like Scott and Donnie are a part of it.  As we remember those who died that day, I hope we will all also remember the heroes of September 11th.  Friends, neighbors, family members, and people whose names we will never know, who stepped up on that horrible day.  Ordinary folks who did extrodinary things, and renewed our faith in our fellow human beings.  That’s the lesson I try to take from that horrible day.

WABC’s 2002 9/11 Montage put together for the first anniversary

It’s still Magical!!

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Look, before we go on, I need to clarify yesterday’s post. It wasn’t a miserable day, and we did enjoy it. It’s just that there were some disappointments, and some issues that had nothing to do with Disney, and some that did, that played a role!

Let’s be honest…there seems to be more and more of the “It’s all about Me” folks wherever you go these days. You know, the ones that stop dead as you go through a door, or have to be first to everything, or just don’t follow the rules. The folks with no situational awareness are everywhere! Get crowds like we saw yesterday, and there are way too many of these kinds of families to count. That’s a societal issue and OUR ISSUE, not Disney’s.

I had a friend comment on the blog this morning, and he agreed with me, but raised the point that we may have outgrown theme parks. I know we’ve probably outgrown concerts, so that was a very valid point to us. He pointed out that lately they’ve enjoyed visits to historical places that are much less crowded, and easier for those of us who are older.

Then last night at the Bellevue bar, Tim the bartender pointed out that in many ways, it’s like flying. Folks who are a lot younger than us, don’t remember the days when you were served real food, had room to cross your legs, and were traveling in style. Today’s generation has no idea it was ever like that, and expect a style of traveling, that today has become more like riding a bus. Same thing with theme parks.

So really, it’s more about us, than anything else. That said, we still love it, but like the favorite book you’ve read over and over and over (mine is Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie), at some point, you have even had enough of that, and are better living with your memories. So, we may be done with the Magic Kingdom, but there’s a whole world of Disney to explore!!

And what did we do today, you may ask. Well, we went to the Innkeepers Club for breakfast, then we spent the day at the pool, which is outside the door of our cottage. Look at the pictures, and tell me this isn’t the way you’d love to spend a day February, in winter, in Walt Disney World!

The “Quiet” pool right outside our door..we’re the cottage with the 3 window dormer

We were supposed to go to Epcot and eat at the United Kingdom Pavilion tonite, but the day was so glorious, and we were so enjoying having our GDDs outside our cottage, that we canceled.

For dinner, we went back to the Innkeepers Club and had a great meal for free. Then we headed to the boardwalk with our coffee cups of Prosecco, watched the passing parade of folks, and then we had ice cream!

We ended the night at the Bellevue Bar with bartender Allen, and lots of good talk from him and the patrons. Unlike many other folks we’ve seen here, Allen’s has Disney’s 35 year pin on his name tag. Suddenly, I don’t feel so lonely!

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A couple of Titos on ice at our cottage’s front porch, and it’s July in Ocean City. A perfect day for us! Maybe not in other people’s eyes, but definitely in ours! Doing what we want, when we want, where we want! Life is VERY good!!!

The blogger at work!

Sleep well…..

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The gate of our cottage…Mickey above, and Doves down below!!

 

 

Memorial Day 2017

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This whole weekend carries many memories for me, as it was always one that seemed to make the D’Elias a typical American Family. In the early days of being a family, the weekend always started with a great fireworks display on the beach Friday night at Bar Harbor, on the Long Island Sound side of the Town of North Hempstead. We attended this event for many many years, and over the years, our group of friends changed and grew. It started out being folks from ABC, then church friends were added, eventually the kids’ school friends’ families, and then neighbors and our Boy Scout friends joined. Whatever the make up of the group, it always was centered around sitting in a beach chair, surrounded by our kids and friends, watching a wonderful Gucci fireworks show. What could be more American than a local fireworks display on the beach to start your Memorial Day Weekend?

Then, Saturday morning, bright and early, it was time to pile everybody in the van and hit the highway. To be specific, to head to the Garden State Parkway, and even then, our spiritual home, Ocean City. We’d stay in a motel, we’d walk the boardwalk, we’d eat pizza and french fries, we’d play ski ball and mini golf, and join with hundreds of our Shoobies in the traditional first week of the summer season in whatever year it happened to be. That was our usual Saturday and Sunday routine, and then Sunday night. we’d pile into the van again, and start the northbound trek up the Garden State Parkway home to Long Island.

While Memorial Day’s date would change year to year, one special event that was also usually centered around this weekend was Susie’s May 28th birthday. Some years it happened before the actual weekend, and some years after, but the many years that it landed on the weekend, it was a huge part of the D’Elia Family’s Memorial Day weekend. Some years it was celebrated with a candle in a Hostess Cupcake in a motel room, some years there was a fireworks display on her birthday to mark the special day, and some years, the Village of Mineola even threw a huge parade to celebrate…Susie never knew exactly what form that year’s celebration would take!

IMG_2534As much as we love the traditions that have become such a huge part of our family’s life, as time goes on, things change. Eventually the fireworks display on Friday night at Bar Harbor ended, and we no longer had that anchor for our weekend. The kids got older, and they had their own life, and were no longer interested in Dad’s version of the typical American Memorial Day Weekend. For the past 13 Memorial Days, we’ve owned our house in Ocean City, and so that has led us to create new traditions. For many of those 13 years, we have had the kids join us at the house, we’d spend the weekend on the beach, on our front porch (when the weather has been better than it’s been this weekend), surrounded by our family and their friends, and our Ocean City friends who have become more like family than friends. We’ve celebrated Susie’s special day with the kids, at the Ocean City Yacht Club, at a surprise party at a friend’s house, or just sitting around having friends drop in to have a drink, and share her special day with her. If you ask me, great new traditions that will last forever!

But if you remember earlier, I said we’d pile into the van on Sunday night and head home, and that’s because of the longest standing tradition in the D’Elia Family’s life. This was one tradition that transcended the many changes in our lives, that took different forms in some years, and was enjoyed by different people, but was a constant part of this weekend for us for close to 30 years, The Mineola, New York Memorial Day Parade.

IMG_2519From Billy’s first year in Cub Scout Pack 246, through the years when younger brother Kenny joined him, the years when Billy transitioned to Boy Scout Troop 45, to the years when Kenny and Dad joined Billy in Troop 45, to the years when Billy went off to college, and even long after Kenny stopped being a Boy Scout, marching in the parade was a constant part of this weekend. Some years my Mom would drive in from Bayside, and she, Susie, and Krissi would stand on the side of the road and cheer us on. Some years Susie’s Dad would join us in the parade, and we’d end up after the parade at a party at her Dad’s VFW Post in Albertson. Some years we’d sit on a neighbors porch and reflect on the day and the parade, and for many years, the day would end at our good friends Pat and Steve Grosskopf’s house, as Scoutmaster Steve would throw a huge post parade party for the Troop 45 Family!

For most of the last 13 Memorial Days, no matter what has been going on at the Ocean City house, and no matter who was with us for the weekend, and no matter how late Sunday night went, our routine has been to set the alarm for 5 AM on Monday morning, quietly get up and get dressed, sometimes climb over sleeping people, get out of the house and into the car, and head for an empty Garden State Parkway and the Village of Mineola, arriving in plenty of time to change clothes, and get over to the start of the parade. We might have been somewhat sleepy, but remembering those who had given their lives for our freedom, and reminding the boys of Troop 45 why we were doing what we were doing, had become a very important part of our Memorial Day Weekend.

Because both Susie and I were retired last year, and there was no reason for me to be in NYC on Tuesday morning, we made the hard decision to change our routine and not head back for the parade. Mother Nature must have felt bad for us, because she opened the heavens in Mineola, and the parade was canceled because of torrential rains, so we didn’t miss a parade. As I write this on Memorial Day, 2017, I’m sitting at the table in our Ocean City house, reading a weather forecast for heavy rain the Mineola, and wondering if the parade will happen, or if it will have to be replaced with a smaller indoor ceremony to commemorate the day. Either way, we won’t be there, ending yet another tradition in our life.

IMG_2520But no matter where we are, and no matter what we are doing today, on Memorial Day Monday, my heart will always be walking the streets of Mineola, following a large group of young men, holding many American flags, being proceeded and followed by many other organizations, seeing friends and neighbors on the side of the road cheering on the marchers, and remembering the sacrifices that so many made so that we can have the lives we now enjoy. I’ll remember our long standing Memorial Day Weekend traditions, and always be thankful that it was because of the sacrifices of others, I am blessed with these wonderful memories, our wonderful family and friends, and the ability to live the life we now live. Our family was lucky that all those from our circle that served, returned home safe and sound, but for the thousands of families who were not as fortunate, today has even more meaning. Please remember them today, and their heroes who may have died at Pearl Harbor, or a trench in the First World War, or over the South Pacific or wherever they were standing up for what they believed.

Memorial Day is truly about memories!

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!!

Day Forty One – Friday, September 30, 2016

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So this was our last morning at the Best Western in Corpus Christi. We awoke to a beautiful, sunny, cooler morning (temps in the high 70s), and when we went up to the 11th floor for breakfast, we were greeted with this sight when we got off the elevator!

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This morning’s breakfast variety substituted tortillas for biscuits, and re-fried beans for potatoes, so of course, we made breakfast burritos with eggs, sausage, cheese, salsa, and beans…and the beans have been with us all day.  Just saying.

Not being in a real hurry to get to Galveston, as it was really only 4 hours away, I asked Susie if she wanted to take a detour and go via Mustang Island and Port Aransas.  She said it looked good, so when we turned out of the Best Western’s driveway, we went right rather than turning left towards Galveston.  Kind of like what we know at home, just off Long Island’s South Shore, and where we live in Ocean City, NJ, Corpus Christi Bay is ringed by a series of Barrier Islands that separate it from the Gulf of Mexico.  Our path this morning, was to head south-west and loop around the bay, crossing the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway to Mustang Island, and then driving north along the island towards Port Aransas.  When you first come on the island, it’s very busy and commercial, but as we continued the drive on the Texas Tropical Trail, you first go through the Mustang Island State Park, which looks like it’s totally undeveloped. That, we figured, explained the big black stretch we saw at night from our hotel.  It was undeveloped, not a pass to the Gulf!  As you get past the park, you start to see more and more housing, including condos on the beach.  At Port Aransas, you’re in a cute beach village, and the whole look of the island was very laid back and not overly commercial.  We liked it!

Unlike when we got on the island, there is no bridge across the Intracoastal at this point, but a free car ferry run by the state of Texas.  It’s about a 5-8 minute run from the island back to the mainland, and they were just finishing unloading a boat as we pulled up, so in a few minutes we were on the water.

Susie tried her hand as a wildlife photographer, using a rather uncooperative Pelican, who was perched on one of the pilings as we docked.  He refused to pose for her, and frankly was a foul model!

After getting off the ferry, there were two things that looked like oil rig platforms, just off the road. We couldn’t tell if they were in the water, or on land, but they sure looked like oil rigs!

Back on the mainland, our trek to Galveston started on the water, and there were several bridges that we went over.  Even though we were on back roads, it wasn’t long before they didn’t run along the water anymore, and we were surrounded by Texas farms.  Long straight roads heading into the distance, with plowed fields, the occasional house, and animals of various kinds.  Not exciting, but probably better than the Interstate!

But, by going through these back roads, we got to know that it was the Bay City Rice Festival this weekend, with the Rice Festival Queen being crowned tomorrow, Saturday, October 1, 2016.  Below is a screen shot I took of the rules the Bay City Lions Club has for a candidate to be considered for the honor of spending 2016 as the Rice Queen!

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Had we not come this way, we also wouldn’t have seen our 5th accident of the trip.  A Camaro with a pretty smashed up front end, on the side of Texas 35, in Bay City. We don’t think it had anything to do with the Rice Festival or the Queen’s Coronation!

So, you know we’ve sung the praises of how our little Garmin GPS girl has done such a wonderful job almost everywhere.  We know that we never would have been able to figure out how to get to the USS Lexington yesterday without her, and although I read multiple times on the Internet about not trusting a GPS in the Southwest, she never once led us astray, and has been indispensable, even with our paper maps.  Well today, she pulled a fast one on us, and if a Garmin GPS had a sense of humor, I’d really think she was yanking our chain!  As we’re driving along Texas 35, she says, “In 5 tenths of a mile, make a right turn on Old Texas 35.”  Susie was driving at the time, and obeyed her instructions, and we found ourselves on a road that looked like it could double for a no longer used section of Route 66!  To top that off, she said that the speed limit was 70 MPH, when going more than 30 was tough.  About half a mile after we turned on it, she said, “In 5 tenths of a mile, make a right turn on Texas 35”, the same road we were on when we turned off!!  Susie did, and we were right back in the same pack of cars we’d been in when we turned off!  I tell you, she is getting back at us for not implicitly following her instructions!

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Oh, and more on the Monarch Butterfly Migration.  There were lots of big things flying around the air today, and we knew some of them were dining needles or dragon flies (or dining flies as I tend to call them).  But when we stopped to hit the bathroom at a Dairy Queen this afternoon, Susie found evidence on the ground that more of the Monarchs were not making the complete migration this year!

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We arrived at the Comfort Suites on Galveston Island about 5:30 tonight, and as we leave on this cruise in about 36 hours, Susie almost immediately started gathering laundry.  This necessitated getting the two suitcases out of the trunk that we almost never remove, but as she needed to see what needed washing and will have to repack tomorrow, it had to be done.  After the laundry was done, we had a quick pizza dinner and returned to the room.  We have a number of errands to attend to tomorrow (Kenny has given us a Target shopping list), so we will get up and out after breakfast tomorrow, and by nightfall will hopefully have everything in place, so we can get up Sunday and head to the pier.  It will be strange for 14 nights not to be in a different bed everyday, and we will surely miss the Sonata.  As of tonight, with today’s 240 miles,  our total trip mileage is around 8,000, and she has served us well, but for the next two weeks, we will have a designated driver AND she will have some rest!

Before I close tonight, I need to have a serious discussion with you about the next two weeks.  At this point, we have suffered together through 41 nights of hotel Internet Wi-Fi.  Some of it has been really excellent, some of it nonexistent (Yellowstone), and some of it came and went as I was trying to post, making things somewhat unpleasant in our room!  With the exception of the two nights in Yellowstone where it was impossible to get anything posted, and the two nights with our friends Nancy and Mike in El Paso, where we were just having too much fun to post, I have been pretty good about getting this blog posted before going to bed.  That is not going to happen from October 2nd to October 15th.

You see, on the Royal Caribbean Ship Liberty of the Seas, there is no such thing as free Wi-Fi.  If you want an Internet connection on the ship, you have to pay for it, to the tune of $30 a day, and that’s for just one device.  So for the 14 days of the cruise, that would come out to $420, and although I am so glad you are all traveling along with us, that is just too much money to spend, on top of everything else we’re spending.  So the iPads will get locked in the car, and the iPhones will go on Airplane Mode – unless we run into free Wi-Fi on one of the islands.  I’m going to take my Mac Book Air with me on the cruise, and I will try to write a brief summary each day of what’s happening, but the Wi-Fi will be turned off, until the 16th when we are back at a Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas.  I promise that on the 16th, I will give you as complete a recap of the two weeks of the cruise, of the time we’ll spend with Kenny and Chris, of the members of their Liberty of the Sea’s Family we’ve met, and of the wonderful places we’ve gone, and things we’ve done.  Honestly, I’d really love to be able to take you along with us, but if you think the backseat of the Sonata has been crowded, that’s nothing compared to what Stateroom 6580 on the LOS would be like!

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Day Forty – Thursday, September 29, 2016

 

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Day forty of our journey finds us waking up on the Texas Gulf Coast in Corpus Christi.  It also finds us waking up on the morning of our 37th Wedding Anniversary!  We’re pretty sure we’ve never celebrated a wedding anniversary in Texas before, so something new for us!!  As I said in the blog post I wrote about our anniversary, we may call this trip Our Big Adventure, but that really started on the afternoon of September 29, 1979 at the Interfaith Chapel on the C.W. Post Campus where we’d both gone to school!  It certainly has been an adventure, and it still continues!!

So, forty days on the road, huh?  We are well into our 5th week, and have stayed in God knows how many hotels, had so many room numbers I wonder how we keep remembering where to go when we return at night, and let’s not even talk about my adventures getting ice every night!  The good news is we are still having fun, still enjoying seeing new things, places, and people, and still talking!  So many great memories we’ve made so far, and so much more to go.  At the very minimum we’ve got the 14 days of the cruise that starts this Sunday (10/2), and Susie and I have been talking, and I have a feeling that when we get back to Texas on October 16th, the trip will continue a little longer!  As long as we are back in New York for Henry’s First Birthday on October 28th, we are going to be good!!

So, breakfast today at the Best Western Marina is on the 11th floor on the opposite side of the building we ended last night at the Grandview Lounge.  You can see by the sign on the door, these folks are not Kenny Chesney fans, as they have somewhat changed the lyrics of his famous beach song!

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After breakfast, we headed out on a mini adventure…finding a car wash!  If you remember yesterday’s blog, and the tale of the Monarch Butterfly’s migration, you will remember that the grill, hood, and especially the windshield of the Sonata were the final resting place of many of the poor creatures!  With the hot Texas Gulf sun (it’s 4:45 PM now, sunny, and the temperature is 90 degrees, feeling like 92), I didn’t want them baking into the paint, and really like a cleaner windshield, so we were off to find a car wash.  I looked up a couple on Google, but couldn’t tell if they were self service or not, but we headed off to what I thought was the closest one.  Well, close is obviously a relative term, and this one was related to just about nothing!  We drove for blocks and blocks, only to ultimately find it, and have it turn out to be a full service car wash!  Damn!  So we continued our hunt, trying to stay in populated commercial areas, and even getting ourselves trapped in Del Mar Community College, as students were looking for parking places so they could make it to class.  Fun!

Ultimately, we were about to give up, as we saw an Interstate in the distance, and low and behold, there was a self service car wash just on the corner!  We ducked in, and with Susie pointing at the more resistive bug smears from the inside of the car, I power washed off the windshield, the grill, and the hood.  Finally we had a cleaner car!  Now, we had no idea where we were in relation to our hotel, so we punched up the GPS and headed back to the hotel.  As we got back to Ocean Drive (but it’s a bay, not an ocean?) Susie said, “Oh, I need a Post Office to mail a couple of things.”  She needed a Post Office because we hadn’t seen a mail box in days.  Perhaps they only exist in the NY/NJ Area?  So we plugged in Post Office in the GPS, and you know what it said?  “Make a U-Turn in 400 feet”  Yep, we went back to almost where the car wash was to mail 2 cards!  The good thing was we did pass a Walgreens, and Susie was able to bop in and pick up a couple of things she needed!

Our main stop for the day was the USS Lexington Aircraft Carrier, which is docked in Corpus Christi Bay.  It’s one of those funny things, that you can see from everywhere, but just can’t get to.  We had to avail ourselves on the GPS’s assistance again, and considering the convoluted set of turns we had to make, thank God we had one!  The Lexington was commissioned in 1943, set more records than any other Essex Class carrier in the history of Naval Aviation, and she was the oldest working carrier in the USN when she was decommissioned in 1991.  During WWII, the Japanese reported the Lexington sunk 4 times, but each time she came back to fight again.  This caused Tokyo Rose to nickname her, “The Blue Ghost”.

The Lexington came to Corpus Christi in June of 1992, and within months, was opened as the USS Lexington Naval Aviation Museum.  We started our tour on the Hanger Deck, and just based on it’s size, it is an impressive space.  There are several planes on display, as well as many other Naval Aviation items, and several places for photo ops.  At the bow of the ship, there is a theater where they show a 30 minute 3D movie about the job of the aircraft carrier.  The displays and the movie were very interesting, and just being there, and imagining what the hanger deck was like during operations was amazing.

Then it was time to head up to the flight deck.  Lots of planes there, lots to read. and in the Texas Gulf sun, the walk from the bow to the stern of the carrier seemed about a mile.  Disappointedly, we only walked about a mile during our visit, so I guess it only seemed that long!  Luckily for us, some person (I’m betting an older employee) put a bench at the stern of the flight deck, in the shade of one plane’s wing, making for a delightful place to rest for a few minutes, out of the sun, and enjoying the bay breezes!  We really enjoyed looking at the displays, and having watched so many World War II Navy movies, just imagined being there as things we’d seen in movies (Midway, Tora,Tora,Tora, In Harms Way, etc) happened.

After touring, we decided to hit the head before leaving…okay the sign did say rest rooms, but it’s a ship, right?  The Men’s and Ladies Room were both down a deck, but you went down different stairs to get there.  We agreed to meet at a bench by the gift shop, and when Susie came back she said, “Boy, that was interesting?”  “Interesting”, I replied?  “Yes, lots to look at.”  Well apparently they gave the ladies a treat, because the men’s room didn’t look like they’d done a lot since the ship was decommissioned, but here are some pictures that Susie took as she went down to the Lady’s Room!

We were hot, thirsty, and just a little hungry, and since we were in this lovely setting on Corpus Christi Bay, I said, “Let’s find a bar on the water, and have a drink and a snack.”  Susie agreed, and once we found our way though the convoluted directions back to the bay (yes, we had to depend on our GPS girl again), we ended up at the floating Tiki Bar at Harrison’s Landing, just down the road from our hotel!  We had a couple of Texas Ice Teas (they could get you in trouble) and a delicious warm cheese and shrimp dip, served with tortilla chips!  Exactly what we needed!

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Then we decided to come back to the room, and crash for a couple of hours, until it was time for dinner.  For I think the third time in our travels, we came back to the room a little before 4PM and it hadn’t been made up.  When the maid tried getting in after 5PM, we said never mind.  I really don’t blame the maids, but I think some hotels seem to be trying to save money, by not having enough staff to take care of the rooms they rent.  Not a big deal at all as we don’t use a towel once at home and throw it in the laundry, but it kind of makes you wonder what you’re paying for.

After being so pleased by our dinner last night at Landry’s Seafood House, right on the water, we decided that rather than go to another seafood restaurant, and have no view, and perhaps be disappointed with the dinner, we’d return.  So we made a 6:45 reservation, and left the room at 6:30, to head across Shoreline Blvd, and up the pier to the marina where the “boat” was docked.  I didn’t mention it last night, but Landry’s Seafood House is a very big, two story restaurant, built on a barge!  Yes, you actually have to walk over a gangplank to get to the front door, so for the second time today, we ate (and drank) on a “vessel” that was tied to a dock!

We asked for the waiter we had last night (Richard), but he was not working today.  So we got a lovely table on the second deck, and had Ashley for our server.  Although we started with the same two specialty martinis we’d had last night, the rest of our dinner was totally different!  Two beautiful Shrimp Cocktails were the way we started tonight.  6 Jumbo shrimp, served over ice with cocktail sauce in a radicchio lettuce cup!  Wonderful!  Oh, I lied, we did have their house salad again.  Then Susie had their Fish and Chips and I had Southern Fried Fish…basically a variation on the theme of each other, and both good and very bountiful!  We accompanied that with a bottle of one of our favorites, Prosecco.  Then the Manager came over, asked us if everything was good, and said in honor of our anniversary, he’d like to buy us dessert!  So Susie had Key Lime Pie and I had one of my favorites, Creme Brûlée.  A very nice gesture, and a very nice ending to a great meal.  Take a look at the pictures below to see our wonderful meal.

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Oh wait.  Sorry, but the food came, and we ate it, and after we were finished, with every course, we both said, “Pictures!”  To be honest, the above picture was of our last glass, that we enjoyed while relaxing after dinner.  Ashley was great and just told us to stay as long as we wanted to and enjoy the wine.  We asked, and she is another really nice native Texan we’ve met.  Another day in Texas interacting with just nice people!

Tomorrow we will be sorry to say good-bye to Corpus Christi, because we’ve had a great time, but it’s on to Galveston and preparation for the cruise!  On Sunday morning we will be back with Kenny and Chris, spending two weeks on the high seas, and getting to know the rest of their Liberty of the Seas Family!  Having not seen Kenny since March, it will be good to get to hug him in person.  FaceTime is great, and we’ve been in contact 2 or 3 times a week since he’s been gone, but actual person-to-person hugging is different!

So that’s the end of our 37th Anniversary, the end of our two nights in Corpus Christi, and the end of our 40th day on the road.  If you have been with us even through part of this journey, thank you!  If you’ve spent every day of the past 40 in the backseat of the Sonata, I hope our driving has’t scared you, and you’ve enjoyed the ride as much as we have!  I appreciate your continued involvement in this blog, and your comments that let me know somebody besides Susie and I are reading this! If we’re related, know I love you a little bit more!  If we’re just friends, know that we are more like family now.  After all, how can you spend 40 days in a car with someone, and not think of them as family!

See you tomorrow in Galveston…cue Glen Campbell!

Day Eleven

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We started with a kind of leisurely morning in Idaho Falls today, having breakfast at the hotel, and pulling out about 9:30. Tonight we are in Ogden, Utah (just north of Salt Lake City), and we did about 248 miles today. We are no longer having those 500+ mile days we had at the beginning of our trip, because now we are combining getting some place, with seeing things, and today we had two good stops!

imageThe first was a fun thing, The Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Idaho. If you remember back to when our trip was still in single digit days, we stopped one day at the Spam Museum and then had a photo op with a huge Green Giant statue. Susie joked in our blog that we’d had our protein and vegetables that day. Well, we completed the meal today in Idaho!! The museum is housed in an early 20th Century train station, which in itself was interesting to look at. All through the building there were exhibits on how potatoes are grown, why in Idaho, and how they are shipped all over the country. They even have a cafe when you can get fresh french fries, and chocolate milk that actually has potato flakes mixed in. The young lady at the counter said that it’s the best tasting chocolate milk she’s ever tasted, but we didn’t partake. A really neat exhibit they had was a whole wall of potato mashers. There were well over 300 of them, many kinds we’d seen before, but some really unusual, and interesting ones. After looking at the “wall of mashers”, we discovered it was a Boy Scouts Eagle Project! Because we were “out of staters, we got free taters” upon leaving. Our free taters, were Hungry Jack Scalloped Potatoes, which after reading the box, we found out are made in California! It was a fun place to stop, and although not as odd as the world’s biggest ball of twine, does complete our food museum triple play!

Next, we headed to the town of Montpelier, Idaho, and visited the National Oregon/California Trail Center. Susie has long been very interested in tales of the Oregon Trail, since reading a series of books called Wagons West. She also loved TV Westerns as a kid, and our whole family loved playing the video game “Oregon Trail” on the computer. It made sense to make this our second stop of the day, and it was well worth it.

DSC_0402They have, as all places like this do, the obligatory gift shop and cafe, but this center also had a bunch of static displays, a museum, and a collection of Oregon Trail art. What we really enjoyed though was the time travel they allowed us to do, as we joined an 1852 wagon train across the country. It cost us $20, but it was a small price to pay for a very enjoyable and educational experience. First we went to the gun shop, where we learned that every person above the age of 12 had to have a rifle at a cost of $20. Then on to the General Store, where he talked about what supplies a family would have to take on the journey, and how much it cost. Then we were taken to the wagon shop, where we learned that a Studebaker Covered Wagon would cost us $100 (yes…the same company that made cars when we were kids), and how much 6 oxen to pull it would cost us ($20 each for another $120). The total expense for a family of 6, to travel with the wagon train was approximately $1200, this in a time when the average annual wage in the country was $156. Our Wagon Master pointed out, that because of this cost, the members of the wagon trains were not wage earners, but by enlarge, people who sold businesses or farms, and who were putting their entire life’s wealth into this trip across the country. They truly had a lot at stake!

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Damn…Bison again!!

Then, we all got loaded into two covered wagons for an animated trip across the plains. As the wagons bounced and jerked across the rutted roads, we listened to excepts of letters and diaries, depicting the life that the members of the wagon train lived. It was moving and again educational. Then, our wagon train stopped, and we moved into a campsite, where one of the women of the train explained to us what every day on the trail would be like. It gave us a real look into what their life was like, what happened if a wife or husband died during the trip, and the hardships everyone faced. We also learned how they figured out how many miles they’d traveled that day, what they cooked with, and how they slept. It was incredible to think that this center was actually on the ground that many wagon trains traversed on their way from Independence, Missouri to the Oregon Territory! Then suddenly we were back in 2016! What a great way to spend 30 minutes of our day!

Our Wagon Master explaining our needs on the trail

After a stop to use the bath room (as I was told by an old salesman at WHN Radio when I started there as a young kid, “Never bypass the opportunity to pee”), we were on our way to Ogden, Utah, and pulled into the hotel just after 4 PM. By the way, the total mileage on imageour trip so far since leaving Long Island is 3088, as of pulling into the Ogden Sleep Inn tonight. It’s still incredible to us that we have driven so far since we left home! We both think that those weekend trips we made from Long Island, to Ocean City for the past 11 years we have owned the house, have made spending the day on the road easy for us. Whatever the reason, we haven’t minded the driving, or the roads, and we are still speaking to each other. Perhaps mark that up to the rum and coke we end each day with, and the vodka we end each night with! That and having a nice hotel, with a king sized bed to sleep in! Oh, and what with all the mountain driving, Susie has learned, and perfected, the art of putting the Sonata’s transmission into the manual mode, and down shifting! Good girl!!

So, something we’ve decided in the past week plus, is that we have the wrong cooler. We spoke about the wheeled cooler that we used going to Florida and how great it was. Well, not working out quite the same for us on this trip. Number one is that we hardly ever take it in the room with us. We have a little cooler bag that we use to transport a bottle of rum, a bottle of vodka, a 1 liter Diet Coke, 2 bottles of water, and our Lemon/Lime container. Most rooms have a fridge, so we transfer them to that upon check in, and then put them back in the bag the next morning. We thought we’d eat breakfasts on the road, but discovered that 9 out of 10 motels we are staying in offer a “free” breakfast. We know we are actually paying for it, but it comes when you upgrade to a nicer hotel, and we’ve decided that the $20-$30 extra we pay is well worth it for our comfort level. When we partake in the breakfast, we don’t have any need for lunch, so we just barely ate the ham and cheese we left home with before it went bad. A half gallon of milk we bought, went into the garbage at a rest stop yesterday unopened. We’ve decided that what we need is a smaller square cooler, that we can keep cheese and pepperoni in, that we will occasionally eat on the road. With some Goobers and Ritz crackers as a back up, we’re as good as gold. Lesson learned! Oh and another good idea that Susie had that has worked out perfectly..a change purse! Ever notice how much change you can get daily on vacation? It’s in our bag that goes into the hotel each night, and at the end of the day, we dump all the change we’ve gotten that day into it. Lighter pockets, and we had change last night for our laundry!

Some views around Ogden tonight on the way to dinner

 

When we left the hotel tonight for dinner, our plan was to do as we have been doing…find a good sounding local place, rather than a chain. Susie found a place that sounded good…interesting burgers, and other meals. It was about 10 minutes from the hotel, so we plugged the address into the GPS and off we went. We found the place pretty easily, and even the parking lot next door. We got out of the car, walked to the front of the restaurant, opened the door, and realized that they were set up for what looked like a wedding! Damn..now what? Well, we went back to the car, Susie got on the iExit app while I went to Google. A couple of minutes later, Susie said with real surprise in her voice, “There’s an IN-N-OUT Burger about 10 minutes away!” “Do you want to go?”, I inquired. “Sure”, was her reply! All right…our first IN-N-OUT Burger in over a year!

imageFor those of you who may not know, IN-N-OUT Burger is a West Coast fast food chain. All their meat comes from one of two company owned plants and is delivered fresh daily to the stores. Because of this, they are basically in California, and the South West, and I guess Utah!!! They hand cut the fries in the store daily, and have a very simple menu, with their only entree items being burgers! It is a favorite meal stop for us every time we are in Vegas (I know where all the Vegas area ones are located), and we’ve also eaten at locations in California in our travels. In addition to the regular menu, they have what’s called a “Secret Menu”, but it’s not really that secret! What we had tonight was Double Doubles, Animal Style with Animal Style fries! Heaven!! The burgers are great, the fries are so fresh, and going Animal Style is just the icing on the cake! Take a look at the attached picture, and if that doesn’t look good to you, then you are missing a real treat!!

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On the way back to the hotel we stopped for gas ($2.29 a gallon) and ice for the cooler and now we are back at the Sleep Inn. After the blog gets posted, our mission tonight is to write a few postcards, something we haven’t done on any of the days from 1-10! Let’s hope we are successful tonight!!

Tomorrow Salt Lake City, and then back into Wyoming for one night! Have a great night, see you tomorrow!

If you’d like to see IN-N-OUT’s “Secret Menu”, and figure out exactly what we had tonight, follow the link below to their “Secret Menu”!

http://www.fastfoodmenuprices.com/in-n-out-secret-menu/