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Published: December 24th 2014
Merry Christmas to all of our friends and acquaintances around the world. Thinking of Matka Canyon waiters and cats and Weisbaden family and Mel's Christmas baby, the wonderful folks in Turkey like Tolga and Dr. Hassan and Pala and Hatice, Neuzet and Yussuf and our friends in Denizli, Slovenian teachers and pianists, Slovakian otters, Poland and 49er fans in Berlin. Vietnam buddies, Moroccan terrace partiers, Tunisian apartment keepers and Stuttgart friends. Chicagoans and Texans and Chloe and everyone near and dear. Merry Christmas to Mom and Dave and April and Raquel. God Bless you all.
We arrived back in Florida on November 8th. We left Florida on November 18th. A rolling stone......
Our cat seemed happy to see us but my physicians reacted with professionally honed ambivalence when I tottered into their examining rooms. Nine days of pokes, prods and thumps found me relatively fit so Karen and I dusted off our car and set Garmin for the west.
A synopsis of our journey so far: ALAMOGORDO, NEW MEXICO or ALL ROADS LEAD TO ILA'S
It was three days to New Mexico with sleep stops in Pensacola, Florida and Kerrville, Texas. It was refreshing to get
Sara, Ila and Karen
Alamogordo, New Mexico. Sara is one of those kick-ass flight nurses that keep your intestines from falling out of your abdomen on the way to the hospital after your texting incident in the car.
home and find the price of gasoline under $2.50 a gallon. We ran I-10 to Fort Stockton, Texas where we swung north through the Permian Basin. Flat, arid scrub-land punctuated with hundreds of fracking operations. Smoke stacks burn off excess gas like giant birthday candles set deep into the landscape. Two-lane roads bear a never-ending burden of big rigs hauling pipe, tanks of mud and fuel to work crews. Outside Carlsbad we saw a large Black Bear curled up dead by the side of the road. A long way from its forest home. Working on mysteries without any clues.
Ila greeted us with her faithful sidekick Chloe 'The Wonder Dog' and immediately started preparing a meal for us. Biz as usual.
We spent Thanksgiving and sixteen other days at Ila's. Karen's siblings and their offspring came out for the holiday. I was happy to see Ila again and catch up on things. It had been over 18-months since our last time out. Karen and I hiked Dog Canyon eight times during our stay. Our nephew Kenny and his fiance' Caitlin were the only family to join us on the trail. Many are called but few are frozen. It's
a pleasure to introduce the young to new things. To be fair; Karen's siblings are getting a bit long in the tooth as well as stumble prone.
Alamogordo seems to have arrested its economic decline. A new F-16 training unit has been established at Holloman AFB. The additional personnel, their families and their income will be greatly welcomed by the beleaguered locals. Ila's son; Jeff, is busy with renovation work in Tularosa where a deep-pocketed man has decided to make the town his pet project. Ila's daughter Peggy, manages a social services operation. Her job entails driving to Albuquerque to fight for funding and returning there a week later to fight again. I got to spend time with Peggy's husband Tom and we had a good time talking about his work and the area's fracking boom. Ila's son Daniel is now newly retired in Tuscon and learning the ropes of inactivity. Enjoy, my brother.
One of the the highlights of the stay was meeting my niece's new baby girl and getting reacquainted with her eldest daughter Tori. It was also good to see Bradley and his artwork again and to meet Jeff's girlfriend's daughter; Savannah. If only the
girl could become more punctual. San Antonio, Texas
KJ and I spent two days with the kids. It was good to hold a cuddle-size baby again. If I have any complaints about this side of the family it would be their anemic production of offspring. Over education seems to make for paltry reproduction. We put jig-saw puzzles together with Tori, watched deer in the yard, cooked meals and put little ones down for naps. All in all; A very satisfying stay. Oh yeah, Reed and Stacey were there too. Belle Chase, Louisiana
We spent three nights here on a Navy air base. Very comfortable quarters. F-22 Raptors to lullaby us to sleep. We love staying on military bases and feel honored to be allowed to do so. There are always a great bunch of kids to exercise with, commissaries and PX's to shop at and best of all, bowling alleys to kill time in. We cruised into New Orleans and caught a great Zydeco band at the Crazy Corner on Bourbon Street, Beignets at Cafe Du Monde, shopped Royale and ate lunch at Napolean House.
Back in Belle Chase we slammed Blue Crabs for 3-hours
Karen with Marty and Kathy
Such poignant sadness in Marty's eyes. Look at Kathy; It's all fun and games for her.
at the Zydeco restaurant. A most satisfying activity for any Marylander. Big, fat Jimmy's as heavy and dense as gold nuggets. Fort Lee, Virginia
Army base. Our first taste of cold weather. We spent a single night here as we still had many miles to go. I walked to the gym in early morning darkness. All around me, large formations of troops double-timed along base roads. In a field, two hundred soldiers did calisthenics in the frosty air under a bank of stadium lights. Their perspiration rose to form a thick white cloud that hung overhead. PT. So good. Potomac, Maryland
Stayed two nights with Karen's ex-roommate Kathy and her wonderful husband Marty. I have no idea how Kathy got so lucky. I can only assume that she holds some incriminating evidence over the poor man's head. Perhaps the result of some youthful indiscretion on his part that she is now uses to her own nefarious ends. For Shame Kathleen! Why am I not surprised? And you are blessed with a Saint for a mother and your sister Marie is so nice. You'd think something positive would have rubbed off on you.
took me to a Washington Wizards game in the city. Courtside 'Macher' seats and more food than I could wave a fork at. Potomac was a very good stay for us. Thank you Marty. Quite a guy. State College, Pennsylvania
Visited Joe and Mona Ostrowski whom we had not seen in 24-years. They used to live down the street from us when we lived in Silver Spring, Md. Great folks with a cozy home near Penn State which they share with their youngest child, Julia. Mona works at the school while newly retired Joe hones his golfing skills.
We had never been to Penn State before. Huge, sprawling campus. Football stadium, hockey arena, baseball fields. Shrines to college athletics. The campus library was stuffed with students cramming for finals. The Nittany lion looked done-in by the cold air.
We dined at Otto's microbrewery. Scooped up some ice cream at Berkey Creamery, played golf on a simulator at Joe's golf shop and ate a great dinner prepared by Mona. It was good to reconnect. Through all the veils of wrinkles and years we found each other to be the same good folks. Boston, Massachusetts
two nights at the Ostrowski's place we drove 450-miles to Boston to visit our nephew Ken and his fiance' Caitlin. They are physicians at Boston Children's. Beautiful apartment with a stunning view of the Boston skyline. The neighborhood looks like D.C.'s Adams Morgan area circa 1990. Newly renovated red-brick buildings. Trendy restaurants and cafes. The kind of rents that will nail your bank account to a wall.
Ken cooked up some Indian food. I didn't think it spicy enough. Caitlin and I talked about Hemingway and interviews and arson. Caitlin is bright and engaging. A keeper. Ken showed us his photos from Patagonia and we all watched a movie together. That is; I watched a movie while everyone else fell asleep but in fairness the movie was 'Capote'. In the morning we worked on a jig-saw puzzle over cups of coffee and some crispy apple turnovers that Karen and I had scored at the Blue Colony diner in Connecticut. All too soon we had to go. It was fine to see Ken in his home environment. Steady and happy. What more can we ask? Harpswell, Maine
Short drive from Boston to Maine. So far we've driven 5,500-miles.
Tom and Ellen
On receipt of Caitlin and Ken's gift of Kansas City BBQ sauce
I was freaking over the weather before we left but, in fact, we have seen neither snow nor ice nor remarkable traffic.
We pulled into Tom and Ellen's. This is our northeast home. It's nice to walk into a place and know where everything is. Plates, glasses, bed. Jack and Maddie are fine. Maddie is in a new charter school with Jack and they seems happy for it.
And here we shall remain for the short term. After that?
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