Category Archives: Adventures

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

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.

Cranberries and Alverno Girls

IMG_3344Monday was cold and rainy again. After weeks of traveling, we were tired of pre-made scrambled eggs, so we took ourselves to the Keltic Kitchen for breakfast (there appears to be a big Irish presence on the Cape).  They had real Irish bacon and made perfect fried eggs. After breakfast, we set out on our adventure.  First, we wanted to see the Edward Gorey Museum and buy scary gifts. Alas, it is only open on weekends, even the gift shop. So only an exterior photo of his home on Cape Cod.  Then we went searching for some beach plum jam to bring home. While we were driving to the store in Harwick that was supposed to have it, we looked through the trees and saw that there was a cranberry bog being harvested.  When our jam venture proved to be fruitless, we drove back to the bog (missing it twice) and took some pictures.  It was fun to see this in action—looked a little like the ocean spray commercial, without the farmers standing in the middle.  We became curious, so we booked a tour at a local organic bog for the next day.

IMG_3359In the afternoon, we took a trip to the Wampanoag Tribal Museum in Washpee. This was one of the few times that Mavis failed us.  She sent us to the tribal headquarters, rather than the museum, just a few miles out of the way.  The museum was small, but very well done.  The docent at the museum was one of the clan mothers and told the history of her people as if she was speaking of events that happened last week.  We were fascinated and very pleased that we had made the effort to go to the museum.

After a day out in the cold and rain, we were tired and cold so we  ordered a pizza for dinner (only the second time this trip).

Next morning, we took off for our cranberry bog tour.  Our tour guide was Andrea Cakounes, who along with her husband, Leo, owns and runs the largest organic cranberry bog on Cape Cod.  She takes groups around on an old bus that made the trip very handicapped accessible.  Her tour consists of telling a year in the life of a bog month by month. We learned the difference between wet and dry harvesting, saw someone actually hand sorting the cranberries (final sort, after the machine sort) and tasted both a raw (very sour) cranberry, and some that had been dried and processed (sweet). One of the things that we learned was that the fresh cranberries that we can find in the store are dry harvested while those that are used to make cranberry sauce, juice and dried cranberries are wet harvested. The commercial for Ocean Spray that shows the farmers in the bog is an actual cranberry bog, but there is really only one or two days per year that the bog looks like that.  We learned about sanding the bog, the extra steps that go into making a farm organic, and all about the animals on the farm.

After our bog tour, we decided to drive along 6A, considered the most beautiful drive on the Cape.  It really was beautiful.  Stopped for a late lunch at a diner and back to the hotel for naps.  Laundry in the evening. We were checking out tomorrow and then spending the day with an  old friend from Alverno Heights Academy, Mary Kay Wynn Fitzgerald.

Wednesday, we met up with Mary Kay.  She brought us to the Old Yarmouth Inn, the oldest inn on Cape Cod.  We had a wonderful lunch of squash soup and sandwiches. I had Crab Cake and Kathy and Mary Kay had beef dips.  Yummy wine to drink and carrot cake for desert.  It was so wonderful seeing Mary Kay. She had seen my Facebook post about eating at Wahlburgers and let us know that she only lived 10 minutes away in  Scituate, Ma.  We were able to arrange to meet in Cape Cod and spent a few hours catching up on the past 45+ years.  Wow, we Alverno Women really have had interesting and vital lives!  After lunch, Mary Kay showed us some of her favorite places on the Cape.  After we said our good byes, Kathy and I took off on our next adventure.  Next major stop, New York City!

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Brid  Day 59-61

 

More Cousins!

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After we left Jeanne and Delmarie’s on Friday, we drove through the Maine countryside. There is an active Shaker village near them, so we stopped to see it. The Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village still has two living Shakers, and membership to the community is still open, but the rolls of the Shaker religion were closed in 1957 and no new people can actually join.

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Two of the building at Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in Maine.

The Shakers have entered into an a trust with the State of Maine and some conservation groups guaranteeing that the land will be protected from development forever.  After we left the village, we tried to see the Atlantic coastline only to discover that there is really no road near the coast because most of it is privately owned and there are houses and trees that prevent seeing much of it.  We ended up staying overnight  in Wells, ME, which is right on the coast so we did finally get to see some of the ocean.

We made arrangements to meet our Cousin, Jennifer, her husband Mits and son the next afternoon. They live in Lebanon, New Hampshire, on the Vermont border. As we drove through New Hampshire from east to west, we saw some of the most beautiful colors.  It seems that the color in the trees was peaking over the weekend (which was a 3 day weekend due to Columbus Day) and there were thousands of people on the road. At one point on 93, traffic slowed to 10 miles per hour for about half an hour. Felt like we were back  in L.A.  Met Jennifer and her family at their house then we all went to a great lunch at a local BBQ restaurant, and after went to the American Precision Museum in Windsor, Vermont.

This museum tells the history of manufacturing from the beginning of interchangeable parts for guns, which eventually lead to the development of interchangeable parts for consumer goods. Quite fascinating and very historical.  After we said goodbye to the Kobayashi’s, we started calling hotels in the area, only to find out that it was peak peeping season and there were no rooms anywhere.

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We slowly followed this car down the road in New Hampshire. It was cute.

We were afraid to drive on to Vermont, which had been our original plan, as the room situation was so bad, and the motels were few and far between.  We started driving east on 93, planning to check on motels/hotels in every city and town we went through. After about an hour, and as we were getting very frustrated and worried that we might have to spend the night in the car, Kathy’s phone rang.  It was our cousin Laura who lives in Kingston, New Hampshire.  We had planned to meet up on Monday as she was off from school, but when she heard about our quandary, she invited us to spend a couple of days at her house. Our Angel!!!!

It was wonderful spending time with Laura and her husband Wayne.  They have a lovely house that is only about a mile and a half from where our great grandmother had a farm. We visited on Saturday night while watching the Red Sox and Yankees play. Had a lovely breakfast the next morning, and took off to explore the area while Laura and Wayne had other plans.

Wayne sent us to highway 1A which actually runs along the Atlantic Coast.  We had a great day driving along the coast. The Atlantic was a little stormy, so it was gray and beautiful. We stopped at almost every pull out and finally quit taking pictures because we were sure we wouldn’t remember which was which.  Got back to Laura and Wayne’s around 5 and we went to a lovely restaurant near them and had more wonderful scallops!

The next morning we slept in late. Wayne had to go to work, so Laura took us out to a local breakfast place where they made their own corned beef hash.  Food was great. She then brought us to the house that our great grandmother had owned. She actually had a farm there. The house is still there, but it has been divided into condos. It’s right on a river, but my mom and aunts all called it a pond, as the river is rather calm in that area and it looks like a pond in front of the house.  We said our good byes to Laura around noon and took off for Gloucester, MA to actually spend a few days at the ocean.

 

More Ancestral Doings

On Thursday, we drove into Baie St. Paul, through the Charlevoix Region of Quebec. Trees were turning and the Canadian Shield rolled with mountains of red, gold and orange. Still some green there, too.

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Sr. Marie-Joseph from group shot

We went to Baie St. Paul because my great-aunt was one of the 11 founding sisters of an order of nuns, the Little Franciscans of Mary (pfm), that worked with orphans and old people in the French-Canadian communities in New England. The local priest in Worcester (who had asked Marie-Louise Rondeau—who became Sister Marie-Joseph) saw a need among the immigrants in 1889 and asked her parents-Remi Rondeau and Marie-Louise Guertin (Rondeau) if they could see their way to let their young daughter join. Although 18-year-old was reluctant to join because she was still a student at the convent of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, after prayer she decided to become the first novice. With three novices and two postulants, cared for some 40 children. After a few years, the priest’s decisions created instability and the bishop informed them they were not nuns. Father Farad in Baie St. Paul had seen a similar need in his community and offered to sponsor the Congregation in Canada and they kept their New England locations as missions. Sr. Marie-Joseph was one of the two nuns who went to Canada to discuss the possibility with the priest and bishop. Their mission changed in Canada to housing old people and insane people.

Sr. Marie-Joseph was elected the Superior when she was when she was 19. She was later sent to St. Joseph’s Convent and Boarding School in Wallagrass, Maine. It was away from her home in Worcester, but back to the teaching she loved. Wallagrass is in the northern tip of Main near New Brunswick. (And, as the crow flies, not too far from Baie St. Paul). She died in 1922.

After we left Bait St. Paul, we drove back on the route towards Quebec and, across from Montmorency Falls, took the bridge to the Ile d’Orleans. We circumnavigated the island and stopped at a couple of shops. It was one of the first parts of Quebec to be colonized by the French. Our ancestor, Thomas Rondeau (born about 1637), immigrated from La Rochelle, France in 1662 and his occupation was listed in the 1666 census as a cloutier—a person who made and sold nails. He died 10 November 1721 in St-Pierre-de-Ile-d’Orleans, Montmorency, Quebec and was buried the next day. On the 31 of October 1666, a marriage contract was signed between Thomas and Andreè Remondiere, a Fille-Du-Roi, who was about 14 years old. It is probable that that was also their marriage date. She also came from La Rochelle and died 21 November 1702, in St. Pierre and was buried the next day. They had at least 18 children,

Our direct ancestor was Francois Rondeau, born 7 April 1678 at St. Family, I’ll d’Orleans, died 28 1748, St. Antoine-de-Tilly, Lotbiniere, Quebec. He had three wives. Our ancestress, Marie Anne (and here I have problems with spelling so hopefully will get it right eventually) Decaux Sindeco (or something similar starting with an “F”) was his first wife and was born in St. Famile, Ile’d’Orleans in 1678 and died 12 August 1723 in Lotbiniere, Quebec. They were married 21 July 1705. St. Antoine-de-Tilly is on the south side of the St. Lawrence, south of Quebec City and Levis. They had at least 11 children, and our ancestor was Antoine.

The island is still an agricultural area (and lots of bed and breakfasts). We would love to come back and stay a few days or week on both the island and in Baie St Paul or Charlevoix.

From here we left for Maine and were the only people in line at Customs.  We found a motel to stay at in Jackman, Maine a town so small there were no food restaurants open at 8:00 pm, just the gas station.

Kathy Day

Montreal and More Mis-Adventures

Sunday morning in Montreal. We wanted to go to Mass at the Notre Dame Basilica in old Quebec and had found out that there was an 11 o’clock Mass with the choir. Hurray! We slept late, then went called the concierge to reserve a taxi. Matthieu was a very helpful concierge. He reserved a space for us on the Gray Line for a Monday tour of Quebec, went across the street to exchange American money for Canadian money and got us a taxi.

Oratorio of St. JosephWell, we were on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride with our monolingual-French speaking-Haitian cab driver and his monolingual-English speaking-riders. We were caught by streets closed by work and detours because…there was the Rock and Roll Montreal Marathon! Eventually it was obvious Old Quebec was closed for traffic and we turned away. As he was taking us back to the hotel, somehow we made it clear to him that we really wanted to go to Mass, not just visit the Basilica. His face lit up and he said, “I will take you to St. Joseph’s.” Great! But it was a long ride through much of Quebec and each of us separately and silently had Flanagan disaster thoughts wondering if we were being kidnapped. Nope! This nice man brought us to the Oratory of St. Joseph, an incredibly beautiful basilica.

Right Mosaic in Sanctuary
Second half of litany of St. Joseph, the whole of which reads: Joseph the Just; Saint husband of the Virgin Mary, Guardian of the Son of God. On this side it reads: Protector of the Universal Church, Model of Workers, Patron of those suffering.

St. Joseph was the home of Brother Andre who has a whole story that I’m not going into right now. Mass was at 12:30 and we arrived just after 11, so we had coffee and something to eat, then got to the church for the French mass with organ and a singer with a beautiful voice. Here is where having a Smart Phone was really handy: we looked up the readings for the day and could follow along in English. It is good to be “the other” sometimes.

Left ApseAfter Mass we visited the Chapel of St. Andre and the museum. The museum had an exhibit of international creches, and if you know Bridget, you know how important Nativity scenes are to her. Then, of course, the gift shop. We took a taxi back to the hotel.

That evening we walked down the street to a little Italian restaurant and had very good veal Parmesan..

Kathy
Day 37

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