Home Again, Home Again, Hippity Hop

Friday, we drove through Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle and into New Mexico.  We passed cotton flowering.  They seemed like little bolls, but what do I know?  We did make one stop in Texas, to have a chicken fried steak lunch at a small restaurant that we found on the road.  Can’t travel this part of the country and not have chicken fried steak!

We arrived in Edgewood, NM around 6 p.m.  This was really our final destination on our journey.  My college friend, Vicky, just moved to Edgewood from Vancouver, WA and we wanted to visit and see her new house.  She, her daughter Kimberley, and Kimberley’s twin boys are living in a lovely New Mexico style home in Edgewood. Kim made us a delicious dinner and we had a wonderful visit.  Vicky had a plethora of points at the local Comfort Inn and treated us to our second to the last night on the road.  In the morning, we met to have a delicious New Mexico style breakfast.  Kathy finally got her Christmas style huevos rancheros and Vicky and I both had chili rellenos and fried eggs covered in green chili.  YUMMMMY!!!

We were on the road by 10 and planned to make it to Flagstaff for our last night on the road, but we made such good time that we made it to Kingman, AZ.  After a good night’s sleep, we hit the road and drove straight home, making it by 2:30 in the afternoon.  Sierra Madre had never looked so good.  The cottonwoods in the California desert were changing colors, too.  Few photos the last few days.  We were in a hurry to be home and to visit the people we were seeing.  So here is a shot:

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This first retirement journey by the Wild Wandering Women was blessed with good fortune.  We had no car trouble, no accidents, no one got sick or seriously injured, and everyone we met on the road was delightful.  No curmudgeons or sourpusses!!  We made contact with old friends and relatives that we haven’t seen in ages.  We fully understand what a beautiful country we live and how fortunate we are to be Americans. Despite all of our differences, most of us are good people, kind, thoughtful and want to do the right thing.  We made sure that we were home in time to vote as this is such a privilege in this world we live in.

Things that surprised us include how much open space there still is in the US.  As people who have lived in cities or suburbs all our lives, it’s easy to forget that not everyone lives this way.  I was blown away by the colors of the leaves changing, we really don’t see that in Southern California.  We were both impressed by how much forest there still is on the east coast.  We are spoiled in California by the produce and plenty that we have and were surprised that this isn’t true through out the country. There are still places that live and eat much more seasonally than we do, salads, fresh vegetables and fruits are not always available.  I think that we both discovered that we are truly California people.  We love visiting other places, but we want to live in Southern California.  As the weather turned to fall, and the temps were in the 40’s people kept talking about how wonderful the fall weather was.  We were freezing–it was as cold as it gets in the middle of the winter in SoCal.

Final journey statistics include:

Days on the road: 79
States: 28
Canadian Provinces: 2
Miles travelled: 10,454
Relatives visited: 38
Friends visited: 17

Brid
Days 77-79

Final Visit With Cousins (not the end of cousins, however)

 

We left Lexington Tuesday morning on our way to Oklahoma for a visit with our cousins Margaret and Michele and their families.  Outside of Versailles (Kentucky, not France), we saw this surprising castle. Might be an interesting story.

We were ready to be home, but very excited to see our cousins.  We decided to just jam on the road to get there.  Filled our coffee cups with Starbucks and hit the road.  We drove through the rest of Kentucky, Tennessee and on to Arkansas. Our travels took us through Nashville and Memphis but we were so anxious to make it to Oklahoma, we decided not to stop.  I think we will make another trip to the area as we enjoyed spending time with Kelly and Shelagh.  Sounds like we might need to take the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky with them sometime.  We will do Nashville and Memphis on that trip. We were heading to Fort Smith, but didn’t quite make it because we were too tired.  We finally pulled over in Russellville, AK, finding a room at a La Quinta motel around 7. We had a good dinner at the Ruby Tuesday’s next to the motel, and a good night’s sleep.

Wednesday morning we took off for the final leg through Arkansas, Texas and on to Oklahoma. It poured rain most of the time that we were driving.  Absolutely the worst weather we had on the whole trip.  A few times we couldn’t even see the car in front of us.  We knew we had short day, as we planned to be in Oklahoma City by midafternoon.  Shortly before we got to OKC, the rain stopped and we made it to our cousins, Margaret and JB Phipps’ house with no problems.  Margaret’s sister Michele came over and we spent the rest of the afternoon talking non-stop.  It was Halloween night so Margaret’s daughter, Megan brought her two youngest over and we got to see them in costume, after a short visit with Megan and Jason, and Margaret’s other daughter, Margo, (unfortunately, we did not get to see Mara and her family, but another time.) the family left to go trick or treating (fortunately, the rain had finally stopped).  Michele’s partner Sherman came over for dinner and we watched all the dressed up princesses, ghouls and goblins come to the door for a treat. We stayed up very late talking and had a wonderful time.

Thursday morning we got up and did our favorite thing, laundry.  Margaret took JB to a doctor’s appointment, so we had the house and all there appliances to ourselves.  When they got home, Michele came over and we all went to lunch.  We had a fabulous dining experience at a restaurant called Vast. It is on the 49th floor of the Devon Tower in OKC.  The day was beautiful and sunny, and the view from the restaurant was fabulous.  Lunch is served as a buffet, but this in not like any buffet you have been to before. They call it a daily table menu. The menu changes weekly.  We were treated to a beautiful salad bar with homemade dressings (the tomato vinaigrette was outstanding and I want the recipe!) with homemade rolls, homemade hummus and pita. There was a wonderful cheese and apple soup with pecans (another recipe I want).  Hot dishes included roasted potatoes with feta, braised cabbage and onions, green beans almondine, pasta alfredo with shrimp, chicken in a mushroom gravy, roasted pork and roasted lamb.  The desserts–brownies, crème brulee, banana cake, raspberry mousse, and 3 or 4 more that I can’t remember–were all good and cut into small pieces so you could taste everything.  Good thing I don’t live in OKC because I think I would go every week! We had been enjoying our visit so much, talking and laughing that we forgot to take pictures (argh!)

After lunch, we took time to go to the Oklahoma City National Memorial.  Michele, JB and I spent time walking through the chairs and looking at the reflecting pond.  At either end of the pond is a black gate. On the east wall, the time 9:01 is etched, symbolizing the last moment of innocence in OKC.  On the west wall, the time 9:03 is etched, symbolizing the moment rebuilding began.  In the unnamed moment, 168 men, women and children perished at the hands of a domestic terrorist on April 19, 1995.  The memorial is incredibly moving.  We didn’t go to the museum, but we did stop at the church across the street.  Old St. Joseph’s  Church was badly damaged in the blast and installed a beautiful statue “and Jesus wept” on the corner. The whole experience was moving.

Then it was back to the Phipps and more visiting.  BBQ for dinner later that evening and late to bed.  We were up early next morning because Margaret had to go to work.  We wanted to say good bye before we took of on the final leg of our journey.

Brif
Days 74-76

Folk Art and More Cousins

Then we hit the road early on Sunday.  We had planned  to go to Gettysburg, but because of the rain, we scrapped that plan and just started toward Kentucky. We drove through Pennsylvania, Maryland and on to West Virginia.  Stayed overnight in Charleston, WV and continued on to Kentucky on Monday.

Because our cousins wouldn’t be free until late afternoon, we took our time and stopped at the Kentucky Folk Art Center at Morehead State University.  What a wonderful place.  One of my secret passions is folk art and this museum has wonderful examples of traditional as well as modern folk art.  We spent a couple of hours enjoying the exhibits and then it was on to Lexington, KY.

Kathy Insert:  When I was checking up on some of the artists, I found articles describing the difficulties currently affecting this historical and contemporary museum.   In an article in Louisville Magazine…”the Christian Science Monitor called it a ‘Rosetta Stone’ for understanding the evolution of folk art.”  Unfortunately, in 2016, when the University was having budget problems, it cut its $100,000 in support.  This year the state of Kentucky eliminated the rest of the museum’s funding by cutting its $200,000 appropriation.  They were 5 employees, including a curator-grant writer, and are now down to one contract employee.  Other institutions have offered to take the museum (Berea College which has a history of preserving Appalachian folk art and culture and KMAC (founded as the Kentucky Museum of Arts and Crafts) in Louisville, but the University is not discussing this.  Here are photos of work at the Museum (they said we could take photos and now I am very glad I did.)

We then met up with our cousin Kelly Cassidy in the late afternoon, and later joined her sister, Shelagh and her family for dinner at a nice gastro-pub.  We had a fun dinner sharing food and trying flights of cider.  Then we 4 ladies returned to our hotel and stayed up talking until midnight.  Kathy and Kelly spent some time talking genealogy and family stories.  It was a great visit.

Bridget – Day 74

Pennsylvania Dutch Country and More Cousins

It was late afternoon when we arrived in Lancaster, and we had not eaten lunch, so we interrupted our search for a hotel to find somewhere to have dinner,  We discovered the Good and Plenty, a Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant that serves family style. We were seated at a long table with two other families. The meal started off with appetizers that included chow chow (sweet and sour vegetables), peppered cabbage (like a coleslaw with no mayo), chicken salad, apple sauce, homemade bread with butter, apple butter and cottage cheese.  Main meal was fried chicken, pot roast and a local sausage, with buttered corn, browned buttered noodles, mashed potatoes and gravy, and carrots. This was followed by dessert of blueberry pie, shoo fly pie, cracker pudding, cheesecake and ice cream.  It was all you can eat….We thought the appetizers were good, the fried chicken was exactly what you want fried chicken to be, the corn and noodles were the highlight of the meal.  Both of us were underwhelmed by the desserts and wished we had chosen more noodles over the desserts.  The food was bountiful, but the only seasonings used were butter, salt, pepper, vinegar and sugar, so it was a little one note for us.

With our tummies full the hotel hunt continued.  As we have been learning, there does not appear to be a slow time for many destinations…baby boomers are traveling.  It took quite a few stops to find a place that had a vacancy for the four days we planned to spend in the area. Finally, around 8 PM we found the Courtyard by Marriot and moved in just before the rain began.

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Cheryl Brooks, Bridget, and Kathy outside of Say Cheese!

Earlier in the week, I had contacted Cheryl Brooks, a friend from Sierra Madre who had moved to Bethlehem, PA about 15 years ago.  Luckily, she had Thursday free and we made arrangements to meet for lunch in Reading, PA.  Cheryl’s son, Greg and his wife and baby live in Reading, so he suggested that we meet at a little restaurant called Say Cheese.  I have known Cheryl since our children were very small.  We were both involved in early childhood religious education at St. Rita. It was so wonderful to spend time with her and to catch up with her.  We spent a few hours talking and eating. I am so glad that she had time to meet us.  I’m not sure, but I think we actually overdosed on cheese as every dish had cheese.    After we left Reading, we went to the farmers market in Bird-In-Hand, PA. Lots of meats, cheeses, crafts, jams, jellies and even some fruits and veggies. We tasted a few things and bought some fruit and veggies for the hotel room.

Friday, we made arrangements to take a buggy tour through Abe’s Buggy Rides.  Our tour guide, Sam, was a retired Amish farmer who thoroughly enjoyed telling us all about the Amish way of life and showing us Amish farms,

businesses and schools.

He told us about a wedding he had attended the day before, which lasted about 10 hours–along with prayers and two meals, there are two singing sessions that last 2-1/2 hours each, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

IMG_3610After the tour, we continued to explore the area on our own.  The scenery in Lancaster County is unbelievably beautiful.  We discovered a weaving and yarn shop and Kathy was lost for an hour or so looking at the the hand-spun, hand-dyed yarns (lots of new yarn, Christmas presents????[Kathy: No.]).  The weather was worsening with threats of torrential rains so we returned to the hotel in the late afternoon.

IMG_3618Saturday, we went to a weight watcher workshop in Lancaster, then out to breakfast at a local diner.  We took a wrong turn on the way home and had to go through a covered bridge.  Because the weather was so bad, we decided to take care of personal business for the rest of the day.  Three loads of laundry, working on the blog, and paying bills….fun stuff.

Bridget
Days 68-73

Heading West and Chocolate

While we were in Cape Cod, Kathy and I decided that after NYC, we were ready to start heading west. Originally, we intended to go to the Carolinas, but after the hurricane, and with all of the bad weather we have had in the past couple of weeks, we decided to save them for another trip.  I have always wanted to see the Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish Country, so we decided to head to Pennsylvania.

As we left the long-term parking, we drove through NYC (on the freeway), and  crossed the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey.  We were quickly out of industrial cities and saw the beautiful Garden State.

 

We were really amazed at the beauty of the state.  We drove into Pennsylvania planning to go Wilkes Barre.  Some of our ancestors were from the Wilkes Barre area and we thought we might do some genealogy research, but when we got there, we couldn’t find a place to stay, and did not feel very comfortable so we continued on to Hazelton, PA.  We talked about what we wanted to do for the next few days and decided that we wanted to go to the Hershey Factory, spend time in the Lancaster area, meet up with an old Sierra Madre friend, Cheryl Brooks, who now lives in Bethlehem, PA, and visit Gettysburg.

Wednesday, we drove to Hershey, PA and arrived at Hershey World.  We were able to get a wheel chair for Kathy and we spent about four hours learning everything you ever wanted to know about chocolate.

 

We learned the history of Chocolate, and how to correctly taste it like a chocolate professional, made our own candy bars and watched them go through the whole process from development to wrapping, and went on the Hershey factory ride that simulates the actual factory process.  XuILxxEVTEeb%xqRd6IEsAThe staff was wonderful and very accommodating to Kathy.  We spent some  money in the gift shop, but only split one cupcake and had the couple of bites of chocolate that came with the tasting lesson.  It was great fun, but we were thrilled that we were there in late October, rather than the middle of the summer—the parking lot looked like it was as big as Disneyland’s lot.  There is an amusement park too, but we did not go there (I think it was closed, but we really aren’t park people).  After we left Hershey’s, we drove on to Lancaster to find a hotel for a few days.

Bridget
Days 67-68Heading West and Chocolate

Food, Food and a Little Art

1021181150Day three in New York started with good bye to Laura as she had to go back to New Hampshire and her real life of teaching.  Lisa walked her to Penn Station and when Lisa returned, we had breakfast in the hotel and planned our day.  We decided that we would go to the Guggenheim Museum.  Having seen pictures of it all of us were looking forward to seeing the phenomenal Frank Lloyd Wright building.  The current major exhibit is the works of Hilma af Klint an early abstract artist whose paintings were generated in part through af Klint’s spiritualist practice as a medium and reflect an effort to articulate mystical views of reality. (The last part of this sentence was “borrowed” from the Guggenheim web site, I’m not1021181151 that accomplished as a writer). Additionally, there was an exhibit of the works of R.H. Quaytman, a contemporary painter whose current work, Chapter 34, is influenced by the work of af Klint. But my favorite was the Guggenheim Collection with the works of Constantin Brancusi,  one of my favorite modern sculptors, as well as works by many well known artists of the 19th and 20th century. Additionally there were exhibits of modern Asian Art.

After a full exploration of the museum, we were tired and hungry–Kathy was able to walk the whole museum.  We decided to try the The Wright at the Museum.  Kathy had House-Made Chestnut Agnolotti Pasta, Lisa had Biscuits & Gravy and I had the Chicken Chopped Salad. All dishes were very good but the biscuits and gravy were wonderful, and different from any other biscuit or gravy — the sausage was a combo of sweet and hot Italian sausage, and the biscuit was fabulous.

Then it was back to the hotel and a meet up with Chelsea. Her boyfriend Santhi was supposed to meet us for dinner, but ended up having a conflict. He did recommend an excellent restaurant in the East Village called Yuca Bar and Restaurant, a fusion of Latin cuisine from over a dozen countries. The food was phenomenal and the margaritas were excellent!  We started with guacamole that was served with tortilla chips, fried plantains and yucca chips.

Kathy and I both ordered arepas, a delicious corn cake stuffed with various thing like pork in guava BBQ sauce, chipotle chicken and shredded beef, all were good, but the pork was the best, Chelsea had Yucca encrusted salmon and Lisa enjoyed a plantain stuffed with shredded pork.  We shared the best flan any of us had ever eaten for dessert.  Didn’t eve save you a picture.

Monday Chelsea made arrangements for us to have lunch with Santhi near his office in the Metro Tech Center in downtown Brooklyn. It was great meeting Santhi, who held his own with his girlfriend’s aunt and two cousins.  He is a very creative person who has just illustrated a children’s book, is working on a TV series with Chelsea and works full time. We all look forward to getting to know him better.  1022181154aAfter lunch, we made a trip to the Strand Book Store, a fabulous bookstore in NYC with 18 Miles of new, used and rare books.  This took up most of the afternoon.  After we returned to the hotel, it was time to say good bye to Chelsea, then we took naps and decided to go to Gnocco, a little Italian Restaurant in the East Village.  It is truffle time and we indulged in some fabulous dishes including gnocco, a deep fried dough similar to fry breads or sopapillas, which came with wonderful Italian cold cuts, arancini with truffles, goat cheese with honey, pine nuts and raisins on a bed of greens; pizza Amatriciana; and pasta with butter and garlic topped with truffles.  Everything was fabulous.  Another thanks to Santhi for the recommendation.

VM1UPGoJQLaWeylYrQoUlQTuesday morning we packed up all of our belongings and headed out.  We hired a car to take us to breakfast, and then the airport.  We searched the internet, and thanks to NY Eater, discovered Velselka, a Ukrainian restaurant in the East Village (are you beginning to see a pattern here?  We basically ate our way through the East Village in NYC.) Velselka has been in NYC since 1954 and all reviews were outstanding.  Our experience indicates that the reviews are correct. I had eggs with a potato pancake, kielbasa and challah toast, Lisa had yogurt with granola and bananas and a side of sausage and Kathy had cheese blintzes with a raspberry sauce. We also shared a piece of poppyseed bread.  All were great, but the sausage was unbelievable.  It was locally sourced from Esposito Sausage and we have already made plans to order some for Christmas Brunch!!!!  Then on the airport to drop off Lisa, and Kathy and I proceeded to the Bolt parking lot to pick up my trusty Subaru.

Brid
Days 65-67

Give Our Regards to Broadway!

IMG_3398We didn’t leave the Cape until late afternoon, so we only drove as far as Providence, RI.  We stayed overnight in an extended stay motel ( I can’t remember the name). We had terrific Cambodian food — very similar to Thai, but somewhat different.  It was delicious. Next morning we got up and went to a WW workshop in Johnston, RI.  Good meeting, but not as good as #pasadena830!!!  We didn’t have breakfast before the meeting, so after we looked for a local place to try.  We discovered English Muffin, Inc.  YumYum!!! Eggs cooked perfectly, had a combo that came with French Toast, which was good and made great by the spiced apples that were an option over potatoes. And yes it came with a grilled English muffin, too. Really more brunch than lunch.

Then it was on to Queens, NY.  Traffic in NYC was as miserable as we had heard and I was personally delighted that we had decided to leave the car at JFK long term parking for our New York sojourn. As I didn’t want to drive, and because we were in NYC, we ordered Chinese delivery for dinner.  Got up early next morning to bring the car to the Bolt lot and meet our cousin, Lisa at the airport. Our connections were perfect, and IMG_3401within an hour, we were on our way to the Doubletree Times Square West which would be our home away from home for our 4 day stay in NYC.  Unfortunately, our rooms were not ready (it was only 11 so, not really surprised) so we had something to eat and then sat in the lobby for a couple of hours talking up a storm.  Finally got into our rooms around 1:30, and we were all beat, so we took naps.  While we were napping, our cousin, Laura arrived.  We met for dinner and took a Lyft to Katz Deli for a quintessential New York Deli experience.  IMG_3402Pastrami sandwiches, seltzer, pickles and potato salad–mmmmmm. Laura’s daughter Chelsea, who is a director in NYC joined us for dinner and was able to spend some time with us over the weekend, even though it was a busy weekend for her. She had a film being shown at the Chelsea Film Festival, and a Q&A after, and a play in the Fringe Festival as well as  a day of filming scheduled in Central Park for a film on which she is the AD.  And that was just on the weekend!

1020181710a1Saturday, Kathy and I had a lazy morning while Lisa and Laura went to the 9/11 memorial and museum.  I had been to the memorial on my first visit to NYC 2 years ago and there is really too much walking and standing in line for Kathy to navigate.  When Lisa and Laura returned, we met up to go see TORCH SONG at the Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway.  It was phenomenal and if you get to NYC, be sure to go see it! The whole cast was brilliant and the play is as timely today as TORCH SONG TRILOGY was in the 80’s.

Michael Urie was perfectly cast as Arnold Beckoff, drag queen and romantic, and Mercedes Ruehl was as terrific as always as his mother.  The supporting cast was also excellent.

While waiting for the play to start, Lisa realized her phone was missing.  I called the number, and someone answered.  He found the phone in the cab we had taken to the play.  He was on his way to a restaurant on the Upper East Side and offered to leave it with the hostess. I thanked him and said we would pick it up after the play.  Wasn’t till I hung up that it was pointed out that the phone would be on the Upper East Side, and we needed to get to Greenwich Village–I  should have bribed the cab driver to bring the phone to the theater.  Oh well, we were in for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  After the play, we waited for our Lyft, that never showed up and got to see the cast of the play as they left the theater.  When we finally gave up on Lyft, we caught a cab who was willing to make this crazy trip.  (of course, it was 5:00 so traffic was terrible!)  Raced from Broadway, to Upper East Side, grabbed the phone, raced to Greenwich Village, and actually arrived early for Chelsea’s play, SERVING BRULEE.

Sone Anandpara wrote SERVING BRULEE and starred in it with Ivy Hong. Our cousin, Chelsea Lockie directed the production.  The play was funny, very current, and thought provoking.  The actors were well suited to their roles. The play was about the first day of a cable TV cooking show.  The actual production took place in a school cafeteria, which made it feel like a cable show.  The title of the show comes from Crème Brulee and the premise is that Crème Brulee is the perfect dessert, and all women should try to “achieve brulee.” Life lessons ensue.

An actor friend of Chelsea’s, Mia Christo, joined us for the play and after it was over, we all went to Death Avenue for an interesting take on Greek food.  I had a wonderful lamb shank. Other foods ordered included a variety of sliders, including  pulled pork with a Greek BBQ sauce and a homemade Greek Sausage, eggplant tacos and Greek salads as well as oregano fries.  Food was very good.  Then back to the hotel and dreamland.

Adventures, travel and genealogy of a couple of retired ladies.