Summer 2021 - East Coast USA w/Chicago & Texas

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September 11th 2021
Published: September 20th 2021
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Our Route Thru 22 StatesOur Route Thru 22 StatesOur Route Thru 22 States

We drove over 6,000 miles and visited in or drove through 22 states in six weeks

As you have probably figured out, these travel blogs are a way for Bernard and me to keep track of our adventures. I can't tell you how many times we've referred to one of our over 70 travel blogs looking for various details, maps, dates, etc. That said, feel free to enjoy the photos and just skim or ignore the text.

Summer Travels

July 13 - August 21, 2021

Summer Travels: Route: AZ, NM, TX, OK, MO, IL, IN, KY, OH, PA, NY, VT, PA, NJ, DE, MD, D.C., VA, NC, SC, GA, AL, MS, LA, TX, NM &
Chicago, IL - Bis GroupChicago, IL - Bis GroupChicago, IL - Bis Group

B's cousin Bogusia's extended family - at daughter Ana's beautiful home.
AZ - See Route Map above.

Our plans for the summer changed too many times to count: doc appointments; my sister’s VW van's needing a new transmission, etc. Originally we were going to head to Washington state first to visit family, then start east. Then we were going to meet my sister MaryJean and husband Buzz in the Badlands of So. Dakota to camp; head across Nebraska and do some camping along the way to Chicago. Did any of that happen? Nooooooo.

When it became clear that we weren’t going to camp in South Dakota, Nebraska or anywhere else it seemed, we decided we’d take the Toyota Rav4 instead of the VW camper van. So we had to unpacked the van, change our mindset from camping to ‘road trip w/motels,’ and rethink our packing. Needless to say, Bernardo had the van almost totally packed by this time. The man does NOT know how to procrastinate.

We had this great idea that we still wanted to take our bikes, so we bought a roof-top bike carrier for the Rav. We installed it pretty easily, but then when we
Chicago, ILChicago, ILChicago, IL

(1) B w/cousin Bogusia and husband Mietek (2) Cousin Ella with daughter Margaret and her son Michael (3) Ella's son Jack w/wife Kinga and daughter Lola
tried to get our heavy bikes up on the rack, we realized we’d made a mistake. Years ago we’d had a roof-top bike carrier on our Honda sedan. Turns out the Rav is about 8 inches taller than the Honda, we were a fews years older (!!) and it was incredibly awkward getting my bike, the lighter of the two, on top. We didn’t even try to put Bernie’s heavy bike up. So . . . . crux is we still had the bike carrier on the Rav during our travels, but didn’t take the bikes.

We left Tucson Tuesday morning, July 13, heading first to Chicago to Bernard’s Polish family and then to the east coast to visit family and friends from Vermont to South Carolina. Normally we’d have gone all the way to FL to see niece Maria and family, but we had some time constraints; had to be home for a dermatological procedure for B the end of August.

Chicago, IL

July 16, 17 & 18

6-Hr. Drive

It took three and a half days (1,745 miles) from Tucson to
Louisville, KYLouisville, KYLouisville, KY

Niece Marie, husband Chris, Elise & Griff and beloved family pet, Ruby, were our hosts for a great visit in Louisville
Chicago (3 motels - Tucumcari, NM; OK City, OK; Sullivan, MO), but then we had three fun-filled days with Bernard’s Polish family. Three of his six Polish cousins, **Bogusia, Ella & Bartek, (his generation) moved to Chicago before the demise of the Soviet Union. They have all done extremely well, own nice houses, their kids all graduated university and have nice careers and marriages. Their kids have kids and all own their own homes as well.

**We didn't see Bartek this visit. Ella's children and grandchildren are identified in their photos. Bogusia & Mietek's family in group photo: Daughter Lusia; Bogusia; Mietek; me; Ana's husband Oscar; Oscar and Ana's daughter Magda holding dog; Bogusia's daughter Ana; B; in front of Ana is Oscar's sister holding her son; Oscar's mother; Ana's son Lukas; Lusia's son Simon; Lusia's daughter Evelyn; Joe, Lusia's husband

We had such a great time with these lovely people. We got to enjoy some of the Polish delicacies B grew up with and I LOVE too. I had many old photos on my computer of everyone from when Bernie and his mother visited Poland in 1980; it was the first of many
Louisville, KYLouisville, KYLouisville, KY

Elise & Griff took us to a great restaurant right on the river - delicious food, wonderful views and MOST delightful company
visits for Bernie; throughout the years the two of us visited numerous times as well. B took slides from those visits and put them on CDs; from the CDs I transferred them digitally to my computer. Fun yet poignant memories of their mother (Karolina) and B’s mother (Francis), who were first cousins, and the connection between East & West. The matriarchs have passed, but both women were true forces of nature.

Louisville, KY

July 19, 20, 21

4 & 1/2-hour Drive

A not-too-difficult drive from Chicago to Louisville to niece Marie (B’s brother Tom’s daughter), husband Chris, Elise (19) and Griffin (17). Both Chris and Marie work, so Elise and Griff were our tour-guides and companions and what a delightful time we had with them. They cheerfully showed us the sites and kept us company - what amazing young adults they have become. Elise finished her first year at the University of Washington in Seattle (LOVED it); while we were there Griff tried out for and won a spot on the varsity soccer team at his high school (he’ll be a Junior this year). They are truly an exceptional family
Cornwall/Middlebury, VT Cornwall/Middlebury, VT Cornwall/Middlebury, VT

Vermont with Alice and John
and we loved our time with them.

Cornwall/Middlebury, VT

July 23, 24 & 25

8-Hr. Drive

It is a long drive from KY to VT, so we spent the night of 7/22 in Erie, PA - a seven hour drive; another eight hours to Middlebury.

In Vermont we visited our good friends John & Alice. John was niece Adrienne’s professor of Chinese at Middlebury in the 1980s. We met them at Adrienne’s wedding and have been fast friends ever since. It helps that they ‘winter’ in Tucson and we get to spend time with them here in Feb. March & April. The highlight of our time in the Green Mountains of Vermont was a hike to a beautiful lake on a glorious warm and sunny day. Another fun evening was spent listening to music in a local farmer's field. Vermont is a beautiful part of the country and Middlebury a gem. Add to that Alice's love of cooking and you have a weekend in heaven.

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

July 26, 27 & 28

6-hour Drive

From Vermont we
Pennsylvania - Mary & KathyPennsylvania - Mary & KathyPennsylvania - Mary & Kathy

The town of Clark Summit had these painted bears all over town.
drove to friend Mary near Wilkes-Barre, PA for a couple of days. One of her three daughters, Ellie (other two are in AZ), and her family (husband Paul/two sons, Max & Sam) live just up the street from Mary and we had an enjoyable night with the clan, plus some neighbors, around Ellie and Paul's giant fire-pit. We finally met Mary’s long-time friend, Judy, who we’d been hearing about for years - she was as delightful as advertised.

The weather up to this point had been unseasonably cool. It rained off and on in PA keeping it nice and cool and the rain never stopped us from doing anything. We had a lovely day in the old town of Clark Summit touring and shopping. On the way home, we stopped at a sunflower orchard in glorious bloom; came away with a lovely bouquet plus fresh, homemade goodies from the farmer’s market store attached.

Many of you might remember that Mary's husband, Leo, was one of Bernie's close friends and it was our first time in PA after Leo's passing, so a poignant time too. Mary is doing incredibly well, stays up-beat and busy and
New JerseyNew JerseyNew Jersey

(1) Lunch in NYC w/niece Denise, her daughter McKayla/Mac, boyfriend Eli and Mac's friend Jesse (2) Lunch at Rooney's w/B's sister Claudia, her granddaughter Mac and Mac's boyfriend Eli
you CANNOT beat her Italian cooking (she is 100%!I(MISSING)talian).

Highlands, New Jersey

July 29, 30, 31 & August 1

3-hour Drive

Today was a short drive to Bernie’s sister Claudia in Highlands, New Jersey. Claudia lives within spitting distance of Sandy Hook/Gateway National Recreation Area (fabulous beaches) and when great-niece McKayla (Denise’s daughter) and boyfriend Eli came over from NYC for the day, we had a delightful day at Sandy Hook and then lunch at Rooney’s Seaside restaurant. A good friend of Claudia's family, Darrell, son Thomas's friend since childhood, is part owner of this incredible restaurant and took VERY good care of us - Thank you Darrell!! Darrell actually named his son after Thomas. Sweet.

Claudia’s oldest daughter, Denise, lives in the area and took great care of us - cooking meals, taking us hiking, driving us all into NYC for lunch with Mac & Eli the day before we left. We also got to enjoy long-time family friends Maureen and Bobby, their daughter Julie, her husband and their triplets.

On our way to the D.C. area from NJ we
New JerseyNew JerseyNew Jersey

Maureen & Bobby's youngest daughter and husband have triples - what a hoot they are, and all so different
met up with my cousin Holly in Pitman, NJ. Holly lives in the area and had spotted Merryman’s Pub - Merryman being my maiden name. We arranged to met their for lunch and a catch-up. Fun.

Potomac, Maryland

August 2, 3 & 4

4 1/2-hour Drive

Niece Regina (B’s brother Tom’s oldest daughter) & husband Tim live in Potomac, Maryland and that was our next stop. Youngest son Owen is the only one living at home now, but Patrick and Luke both work in the area and we had plans for all of us to meet for dinner. Unfortunately only Luke could make it as Patrick and his fiancee Andra were under the weather that evening. Mairin, the only daughter, lives in NYC so, unfortunately, we didn’t get to see her. Bonus: quality time with Owen, alway a treat.

We did get to see Regina’s cousin Drew and wife Krista. Drew spent a summer in Alaska with us (and his cousin David and friend Chris), so he (and Krista) is a favorite of ours. Fun, laughter-filled dinner at Reg & Tim’s.

On Facebook I

(1) Tim & Regina (B's niece), Drew & Krista (Reg's cousin & wife), Tim & Reg's son Owen (2) Uncle Bernie & Tim & Reg's son Luke
mentioned we were in the D.C. area and good friends from South Africa, Rebecca and Jay see photo way below, got in touch - we met them for lunch at Chef Josè Andrès's Spanish Diner in Bethesda:

José Andrès holds close both his identity as a Spanish immigrant and an American citizen, placing upon himself the responsibility of both culinary ambassador and immigrant representing the two nations. He is a visionary and a humanitarian, establishing World Central Kitchen in 2010 as a means for feeding the many – using culinary training programs to empower communities and strengthen economies as well as food disaster relief in the wake of emergencies around the globe.

Interesting menu; delicious food.

Rebecca (an American) works in D.C. and Johannesburg. They were in their condo in D.C. when the pandemic closed things down, so they've been stuck in the USA for about a year and a half. They are anxious to get back to South Africa - as Rebecca says, 'Jay NEEDS to go home.' Short, but super nice catch-up with them. Rebecca and we lived in the same compound in Pretoria in 2005 and enjoyed many excursions and countless brias, aka BBQs, with her and our other neighbors. Rebecca has been to Tucson, we've visited her in Ohio and many times in South Africa since 2005 (2012, 2015 & 2016).

Richmond, Virginia

August 5, 6, 7 & 8

3-hour drive

We have a niece, two nephews and their families (all B’s brother Tom’s kids) in Richmond. Niece Adrienne married a Richmonder, Rob, and
Richmond, VARichmond, VARichmond, VA

(1) Our hosts: Niece Adrienne, husband Rob, sons Shep and Lee (2) beautiful hike in nearby park w/Shep
her two brothers, David and Tom, and their families moved there later. David went to medical school at UVA and I guess Tom decided after visiting Richmond (from NYC) frequently and since he could work from home, it was a good fit for his family too. We love Richmond and so having so much family there is a bonus. Lots of fun meals and outings with everyone, plus a trip to a fabulous museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and a day at Dave & Deb's beach house on Chesapeake Bay. The original plan was for all three families and we to spend the weekend at the River House (on the Bay, but a river flows into the bay nearby, hence the name), but it was a cloudy, rainy Friday & Saturday. Sunday dawned beautiful, so we high-tailed it to the River House for a most delightful day. We adults spent a good part of the day out on the boat while the 'youngsters' gave the jet ski a good workout.

Greensboro, North Carolina

August 9

3 1/2-hour drive

On our way to visit friends in Asheville, we made a
Richmond, VARichmond, VARichmond, VA

(1) Nephew Tom, wife Holly, daughter Reilly and son Quinn (2) Taco Night w/Adrienne's family and nephew David, wife Deb, daughters Julia & Ella, son Cole in middle
stop in Greensboro, NC because we wanted to visit the International Civil Rights Center which recalls the story of the Greensboro Four:

In 1960 four young Black men, freshmen at A&T State University, sat down at the ‘whites only’ Woolworth lunch counter and challenged the laws of segregation. It took 5 months, 3 weeks and 3 days of peaceful protests with dozens of Black citizens taking turns sitting at the Woolworth lunch counter and refusing the pressure to leave for the company to officially open the counter to Blacks.

The Center is well documented and displayed. The introductory film is first rate and the tour an eye-opener. For example: did you know the term to ‘grandfather’ in a right comes from the Jim Crow south after the Civil War when Whites were trying to disenfranchise Black voters? They tried many tactics (asking Blacks only how many bubbles in a bar of soap or the number of jelly beans in a huge container), but when they tried using literacy as a bench-mark, turns out many Whites couldn’t read or write! So they made it a law that only people whose grandfathers had had the right to vote could vote. Hence eliminating ALL Blacks. And these kinds of voter disenfranchisement attempts continue today through the Republican Party.

Asheville, North Carolina

August 10 & 11

3 1/2-Hr. drive

Good friends from Alaska, Pamela & William, have been in Asheville for quite a few years now, although William flies back to Anchorage to work with his old law
Asheville, NC  - Wm. & PamelaAsheville, NC  - Wm. & PamelaAsheville, NC - Wm. & Pamela

B and Pamela have been friends since the 1970s; just a treat to spend time with delightful long-time friends
firm on special cases.

Our time in Asheville was short, but we did get to an art museum, several art galleries and a fabulous restaurant: Salsa, which was a ‘funky blend of of Caribbean and Mexican flavors’ (their words) the likes of which were unique and impossible to describe, but DELICIOUS! Pamela is an accomplished chef as well, so we added at least a few more ounces to the pounds we'd been packing on this trip.

A bonus was getting to see William and Pamela's son, Tyler, and his 3-year old son.

Taylorsville, North Carolina

August 12, 13 & 14

2 1/2-Hr. drive

Niece Colleen (B’s sister Claudia’s daughter), husband Dean and daughter Jonna (19) live in Taylorsville and two of Colleen's brothers, Chris in Charlotte and **Thomas w/wife Kim and Chris's older son Christopher are in that area too. Chris’s son Tom (19), who lives in England, was visiting and they drove to Colleen’s for a visit. What a great time we had with all these lovely people. All of Dean’s family lives close by, so their house is often chocker-block with family, food and
Taylorsville, NCTaylorsville, NCTaylorsville, NC

(1) Me, Bernie, Dean on couch, nephew Chris on floor, Chris's son Tom, Dean's cousin Shani & wife Maggie, Shani's daughter Lidia, Colleen & Dean's daughter Jonna, niece Colleen behind Jonna (2) Rousing Game of Uno (3) Uncle Bernie & nephew/clone Chris

**All these good people had to work the days we were in Taylorsville, major bummer!

It was hot and very humid, really the first uncomfortable weather we had on the trip. We did get a nice hike in with Colleen, but it was a sweaty one!

Charleston, South Carolina

August 15 & 16

5-Hr. Drive

Bernie was stationed in Charleston when he was in the Air Force JAG Corp in the 1970s. He wants to remind everyone that there wasn’t a single invasion by the North Vietnamese into SC while he was stationed there. You’re welcome.

From his time there Bernie has some wonderful long-time friends and Ernie is one of them. We stayed with Ernie and wife Kaye in their amazing home on James Island (views of the ocean from three sides). Another friend from ‘back in the day,’ Marty, came over for a visit. There is yet another, Robert aka Buddha, but he doesn’t live in Charleston so we didn’t get to see him, but he was with us in spirit. All of these
Charleston, SC -  GangCharleston, SC -  GangCharleston, SC - Gang

Our hosts Ernie & Kaye and long-time friend Marty. Always a pleasure to spend time with such kind and generous people.
men's ex-wives met while working on at a suicide hotline center, became friends and their husbands became friends too. The men are still friends, but as far as we know, the women are not in touch with each other.

Some of you might remember Ernie and Kaye from our three-month camping trip around **South Africa/Namibia/Botswana/Zambia in 2006. It was a trip of a life-time and we still have a good time reminiscing and laughing over the amazing experience we had together.

**Not to be confused with the 3-month camping trip around South Africa/Namibia/Botswana/Zimbabwe we did with Jack and Sherri in 2015. 😊

A tropical storm blew in our last day in Charleston. The next morning we got up super early to check the Weather Channel for the path of the storm. We then navigated so that we missed the brunt of it, headed south and west with heavy rains off and on, but nothing too terrible. We did our longest drive that day - 13 hours - and made it to Tallulah, Louisiana for the night. Because we were so tired our judgment was impaired and we chose the WORST hotel,
Dallas, TX - Katie & ArtDallas, TX - Katie & ArtDallas, TX - Katie & Art

Quick stop to see Katie and husband Art. B fell in love with their rescue dog, Luna - we are still trying to figure out how to dog-nap her.
a Super 8. The bathroom was disgusting and we should have changed motels, but we were in the middle of nowhere and super tired. Oh well.

Dallas, Texas

August 18

6-Hr. Drive

Had a short yet delightful visit with Katie and Art. Katie is the daughter of long-time friends Tandy & Ken. We’ve known Katie all of her life and have been fortunate that over the years we’ve gotten to ‘check in’ with her: when she was going to school in Connecticut, living in California, she came to Tucson, saw her in Alaska several summers, traveled with her and her parents in Africa. But the funnest time with Katie was in Australia when we were there for 3 months and she flew over for a couple of weeks. Highlight: teaching Katie to drive a stick-shift Jeep in the Australian Outback on the ‘wrong’ side of the road (gear shift on ‘wrong’ side too). Good times, good times. There was a rodeo in the tiny Outback town of Laura, centered at our accommodations (room in back of a pub) where they befriended us (the young men were especially interested in Katie)
Bethesda, Maryland Bethesda, Maryland Bethesda, Maryland

South African friends Jay & Rebecca. Met at Chef Andrè's Spanish Diner
and we had a ball. This was town was so small (how small was it??) that by the time we got to Laura, having made a few stops at local sites, everyone knew who we were and that we were from Alaska. Word travels at lightning speed in the Outback.

El Paso, Texas

August 20

4 1/2-Hr. Drive

A ten or more hour drive from Dallas to El Paso, so we overnighted at motel in Monahans, TX.

Our final visit was with Larry & Mara, friends we met in the Netherlands in 2001. We’ve remained good friends and enjoy their many visits to Tucson, meeting them in fun (e.g., Santa Fe) places and our numerous stops with them in El Paso. Their son Josh is getting married in Austin in October and we wouldn’t miss that for the world. Mara didn't want a photo taken and I let her get away with it because I hope to get LOTS of photos at the wedding in Austin - fair warning Mara!

Tucson, AZ

August 21

5-Hr. Drive.

Tucson was in
Richmond - B & LeeRichmond - B & LeeRichmond - B & Lee

B w/great nephew Lee, who is 6' 5" B and Lee share a birthday. Lee was off to Boston for a weekend with friends, so we only had a short time with this affable young man
the middle of monsoon season (June 15 - Sept. 30) and it was shaping up to be the third wettest monsoon ever recorded. We were disappointed to have missed the many spectacular thunder storms and downpours, but we did get to enjoy a few nice storms at the tail-end of the monsoon.

States Visited or Driven Through: 22

Time Period: July 3 - August 21; 6 weeks

Miles Driven: 6,000 miles


Additional photos below
Photos: 34, Displayed: 34


Sandy Hook, NJ Sandy Hook, NJ
Sandy Hook, NJ

Visited a decommissioned Coast Guard station on Sandy Hook, then hiked to a nude beach - we didn't KNOW it was 'clothing optional.'
Richmond, VA Deb in Chain-mailRichmond, VA Deb in Chain-mail
Richmond, VA Deb in Chain-mail

So if it isn't tacos you feed to a passel of people, then it must be PIZZA - pizza night at nephew David's, with niece Adrienne and nephew Tom and their families too. A neighbor made the chain-mail top Deb is modeling for us. That is a 'sword' she has in her hand.

21st September 2021
Our Route Thru 22 States

Excellent blog
22nd September 2021

Great Blog. it is very Informative and nice blog. Amazing
2nd October 2021

This is pretty great post. Nice article you shared great information i have read it. Thank you so much for sharing all this great info. good post
3rd November 2021

I'm sorry to just be reading the blog now - in NOVEMBER! Thanks for including the map of your route through 22 states. I was impressed already, but seeing the route marked in red pen wowed me even more. Kudos to you both for your adventurous spirits -- and for your stamina! It was great to see photos of family and friends far and wide. We all loved our visit with you both!
13th November 2021

No Worries!
A, at least you read it. :) It was soooooo great to spend time with all of you this summer. It is only a short time, but it definitely serves as a reminder of how important family is. Love you all, K P.S. Still laugh when I think of us bobbing up and down in the water telling terrible jokes (and making fun of you-know-who - baaaaaaad Kathy!)

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