All posts by mmbrid

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

Exploring Our Past

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Bridget kindly letting me shoot the Atlantic Ocean behind her in four day stop at the Atlantis Beachfront Ocean Inn.

We spent four glorious days in Gloucester, taking day trips throughout the area.  I needed a few days at the ocean, my happy place, and Kathy was willing to spend some time there too. We found a great motel right on the coast and every room had a view and patio that looked out on the Atlantic. (The motel was called The Atlantis).

After our first restful night at the beach, we took in a WW workshop in Danvers, then went to breakfast at a little diner called the Peabody Diner.  We were looking for a cemetery called St. Mary’s in Salem.  We asked in the diner if they knew where it was, The young waitress had never heard of it, but went back to ask the owner.  One of the patrons pointed out that it was just cattycorner from the diner.  Unfortunately, the office was closed, but we spent an hour or so looking for graves of the McGinnis and Furey ancestors.  Kathy has information that some of them are buried in this cemetery, but we were not able to find any of them.  However, there is a stone and area in the cemetery that remembers those who died.

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This stone sits alone in an area of St. Mary’s Cemetary in Peabody, Massachusetts. It reads: FIELD OF RESERVATION IN MEMORY OF ALL WHO LIE AT REST HERE REQUIESCANT IN PACE I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies John 11:25

While we were in the Peabody/Salem area, we tracked down the probable church where our great-grandparents got married, and houses in Peabody and Salem where our Nana lived.

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33 Jacobs Street, Peabody, Massachusetts, today. It is still a two-family home.

This is 33 Jacobs Street, Peabody, Massachusetts where where our immigrant ancestors lived with their family.  They were John J. McGinnis, from Ireland, Teresa J. Ready, from Prince Edward Island, Canada, and their family.  By 14 June 1900, their family included our great-grandparents, Catherine Louisa McGinnis and Patrick Leo Furey and their daughter, my Nana, Grace Marie Furey.

After we were done with our ancestry trip, we continued into Salem to the Salem Witch Museum which told the story of the Salem witch trials, with a second exhibit on witchcraft today. Then it was back to the hotel and a nice walk along the beach

The next morning, we headed to Lynn and Swampscott, where our mother grew up.  Oh my these were lovely cities.  I never realized that they are both on the coast. Completely explained why the beach was Mom’s happy place.  We drove around the areas to get a feel for Mom’s childhood taking photos of  some of the house the family had lived in.  The first apartment house is 68 Chestnut Street, Lynn, Massachusetts, where our grandparents, Louis Roland Rondeau and Grace Marie Furey, lived with their first two children, Mary Lois and Laura Carol in the early thirties.  The middle home is 41 Orchard Circle, Swampscott, Massachusetts, where the whole family lived until they moved to New Hampshire for a year — by then the family also included Cynthia Ann, Richard Bruce, and Francis David.  The last home is 10 Bloomfield Street, Lynn, Massachusetts where Mae Rondeau (granddaddy’s sister) lived with her husband, John Laughlin, their children and Mae’s brother, Omer and Louis, before 1920.  Her mother, Laura Exilda Belleville, later moved in and they lived their lives out there.  When he was successful, Omer bought the home so his mother would always have a place to live.

We stopped for lunch in a restaurant in Lynn that was right on the ocean. Treated ourselves to a sangria (Kathy) and a prosecco (Bridget), shared an appetizer of empanadas and had lovely shrimp dishes for lunch (what, no scallops??). Back to the hotel and another walk along the ocean.

Woke up our third morning to lots of rain. We decided to drive up to Rockport and see more of the area, then drove back down to Danvers, where we made a Target run for lots of little things and a suitcase to take into New York in a couple of weeks. Explored the area some more and the back to the room to watch the ocean in the storm.

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Friday morning, we started down toward Cape Cod. On the way, we stopped at Minuteman National Historical Park and followed part of the trail of the start of the Revolutionary War. As a history buff, I was fascinated by seeing these areas.  We also went to the Wayside house, home of the Alcotts, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Margaret Sidley, author of The Five Little Peppers, and Walden Pond (photo at top of post).

 

After we left Concord, we drove to Hingham, MA to go to the original Wahlburgers. We both enjoy the TV show and have wanted to try their food.  Yummy lunch where we ate too much because we wanted to try everything!  The burgers are great. Then it was on to our next stop in Cape Cod.

Bridget
Days 52-56

Spam Museum, Old Friends and The Mississippi

0911180844Finally left South Dakota and made our way to Minnesota.  I think we forgot to mention that South Dakota has more flies than any other state we have visited. I think they are the state bird. Hotel rooms come equipped with a flyswatter!

Stayed overnight in Fairmont, MN and in the morning made sure that we stopped in Blue Earth, MN to get a picture of the largest Jolly Green Giant statue in the world.  Nothing there but the statue.  Apparently, there is a gift shop during the summer, but it closes in mid-August.

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Ho, Ho, Ho!

We then made our way to Austin, MN to the SPAM Museum. Now, I have never really eaten SPAM, and am in fact frequently quoting Paul Theroux who said in The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific “It was a theory of mine that former cannibals of Oceania now feasted on Spam because Spam came the nearest to approximating the porky taste of human flesh.” But I do love unusual museums.  So we spent an hour or so viewing the exhibits and tasting the Spam flavors of the day, Portuguese Sausage and Hickory Smoke. Then we spent some time in the gift shop……watch your stockings at Christmas, there may be some tasty treats.  After we left the Spam Museum we travelled through the rest of MN and on to Wisconsin.

We followed the Upper Mississippi down from La Crosse, through Prairie du Chien, to the mother house of the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters. Kathy spent two years volunteering with these wonderful women in Kansas City, MO. They had retreats and special meetings at “The Mound” and, with the help of Sister Marie, got a grant to take a busload of students on a bus trip through Iowa to The Mound. We saw Sister Marie Sullivan and Sister Elaine Robbins and it was really good to see them. They were both strong, determined women who made major difference in impoverished areas of our country. They now need some help, but they are still strong believers in their faith and themselves. We also stopped up at the gift shop at The Mound and had to buy some of their wonderful caramel rolls…mmmmm! And visit the beautiful chapel.

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We drove on through the beautiful town of Galena, Illinois, which we would like to go back and explore in the future, and on to Rockford for the night.

Bridget Day 27