Saturday, May 27, 2017

Day 248 - The Friends of My Youth

We spent a whole day in camp, cleaned housed, kicked back, and took in a movie.  We enjoyed a very lazy Sunday morning and departed the RV park around noon for our drive north to Wilmette, IL and the home of very old and dear friends not seen since I left Chicago in 1993.  Through Facebook we reconnected a few years back and have been planning this reunion ever since.

We arrived late afternoon and parked the RV on a very upscale neighborhood street, all the time wondering if the local constable was going to come by and ask us to

Dave and Lurene had gather a few of the old gang and it was awesome to see how we have all changed...and not changed.  After a few minutes sitting around a big table full of food and drink, it was as if time had never passed.  We swapped stories and photos of our kids, talking about the old times, and about the present.

As a point of humor, in those days I was pretty conservative and a staunch Republican.  They were all amazed at how liberal I have become in my old age...LOL.

Tons of hugs and promised to not make it another 25 years and we were off on a long night drive to Madison, WS and the home of another friend.

Day 247 - Visiting with a Dear Friend from Long Ago

Paula Getman and I have been friends for almost 38 years.  We met in the late 70's in Chicago and have been close ever since...she's another one of my "sisters."  She and her husband Mike have a lovely bungalow in the north side and her mom Ann is in an assisted living center just a few minutes away.

It was grand catching up in person instead of on Facebook.  We visited Ann, not only Paula's mother and another of my friends, but also one of my former agents.  Still sharp, she remembered me and our escapades.  It was a great visit.

We enjoyed a local lunch before visiting an architectural renovation warehouse.  Very cool.  Later than evening we caught up with Mike and went out for a grand Mexican dinner (TACOS!) at a local spot.

Lots of laughs and hugs later we said goodbye...hopefully not for another 25 years!

Day 246 - The Miracle Mile, MCA, and Navy Pier

We rode the train in again today and headed up the Miracle Mile toward the Water Tower.  Along the way we took a side trip to the end of Navy Pier.  I had not been there since they began renovating the pier over 30 years ago.  Today instead of a long cargo terminal, the pier is a combination of restaurants, theaters, the auditorium all the way to the end and fully developed from the main gate to the 1/2 long end.  Amazing.

From there we headed over to Water Tower Place where I spend a lot of my 30's building the Dunhill name throughout the midwest.  My first project was the new store at the Water Tower.  We wandered is a GAP now...and then headed over to State Street for a traditional working lunch at Pizano's.  My old haunt.

From there it was a quick walk to the Museum of Contemporary Art to meet up with an old friend. We toured the museum for an hour or so...not that much into this period...and then walked back down the mile to the Loop where we had a drink at the Palmer House...another of my faves.

We caught the 4:00 train just in front of the rush hour crowd and were back in camp within 70 minutes.

Days 238 - 248 - Chicago

It took us all day to get from St. Louis to Chicago.  The traffic for a Thursday was ridiculous!  Once again finding a nearby RV site was literally impossible.  We ended up taking space at one of the few that were open.  We ended up in a very outdated and in some regards, delapidated trailer park.  Lots of single-wides going back 40 to 50 years, lots of cars in various state of repair and condition, etc. Definitely a working class, low income neighborhood. After the initial shock, we moved right in and felt totally comfortable.  For the next ten days we enjoyed clean grounds, a friendly staff, full hookups, and great broadcast TV.  For $20 a night, we couldn't go wrong.  Our now unlimited data plan with Verizon gave us great entertainment options.  The train station to get into the city was a five minute car ride with free all-day parking.

On Friday we drove over to Nettie's house, hooked up with George and a few of our old friends and had a great BBQ dinner.  We stayed the night with Nettie and took her to Mother's Day breakfast the next morning.  George was our next mail drop and we enjoyed all of the packages and mail waiting for us. This part of the planning has worked out well, having pre-defined mailing addresses has helped us to keep up with our lives.  We are now formulating plans for once we are overseas.

We have learned that Verizon has a single line, no phone service for $25 that will keep our number active without making or receiving any calls.  All we have to do is set up the service, forward our current number to our free Google Phone number and from that point on folks can leave us voice message and send texts.  Everything gets transcribed and sent to us in an email.  When we have good Wi-Fi we can make calls to anywhere in the world from a US number.  This has all come to pass since my last period of research and we are ecstatic with the new plan.  This will save us a ton of headaches once we are overseas.

Over the next week we enjoyed a long bike ride in the Indiana dunes, drove to Holland, Michigan for the day, took the train into the city twice to visit a few museums. and drove in twice more to visit old neighborhoods, see friends from long ago, and get a Chicago pizza!

Day 244 - Millennium Park, Field Museum, and Art Institute

We caught the morning commuter train out of Portage/Ogden Dunes and enjoyed the 90 ride into the city.  The train made a lot of stops and it was folks going to work that filled the train.  We arrived in the city center, the Chicago Loop. and wandered around a bit.  We stopped in at the building where I used to office when working for Dunhill.  Now it is a jewelry store on the ground floor and office on the mezzanine.  Funny how things change.  We headed over to the "bean" or more appropriately named, "Cloud" sculpture in Millennium Park.  The sculpture was very cool with its seamless mirror finish and the way it distorted our image and the background.  Taking a selfie had a different perspective.

We then wandered over to the Art Institute where we spent the better part of three hours.  The Whistler (mother) has just returned and it was great to include that in our ever-growing list of great paintings we have seen.

We ended our day at the Field Museum.  This was a bit of disappointment.  The museum hasn't been updated in years and all of the new exhibits were individually charged for entry.  Nevertheless after a few hours of wandering around, we had enjoyed a few things before agreeing we were bushed and ready to head back to Portage.  The one hour return drive was pleasant along the Chicago Skyway (toll road).

Day 241 - The Old Haunts and the Museum of Science and Industry

Today was a drive day into the city.  We drove in after the morning rush hour and then headed west to Oak Park.  There we drove past the old family home, Ricky's school, and a few landmarks.  Time seemed to stand still.  The house looked the same as the day we left.  A Frank Lloud Wright design, it was built in 1919 as a model for suburban tract homes.  Same color, same cracks in the plaster.  It even looked like Ricky's bike was still laying on the front steps where it always was.  I was half-tempted to stop and knock on the door....but didn't.

We drove back to the city along Chicago Ave as I pointed out to Bobbie all of the properties I had represented and sold and those I actually owned.  So much had changed.  It was amazing to go through the neighborhoods and see what 25 years had done.  Man, I must have said it a thousand times, "if only I still owned that one."

We stopped along the way for a snack before heading over to Lakeshore Drive and down to the Museum of Science and Industry.  There we visited the museum and toured the U- submarine.  It has been a long time since last and everything was new and refreshed.

Day 240 - Holland, Michigan

We noticed in the local newspaper that it was Tulip Festival in Holland, Mi so we made plans to drive up the coast of Lake Michigan for a day trip.  The road was all interstate except for the last 20 miles.  The last time I was up here was to close on a lake house I owned 30 years ago in Saugatuk. At that time the only road was the two lane state highway from St. Joseph.  Things have changed a bit.

The tulip festival was over since it was a Monday.  All the booths and vendors were gone.The town is quaint.  We stopped in at a wooden shoe factory, of course, and acted like tourists.  We toured the local nursery.  We drove around town viewing the old homes and public buildings.  The tulips were still in full bloom. 

After a few hours of wandering around, we headed back home.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Days 230 - 237 - Collinsville, Illinois

With steady rain in the forecast for the next several days in stead of driving up the coast of Michigan and visited many of the state parks, we opted to head south to St. Louis and weather out the storm.  It was a seven hour push arriving our in-laws Andie and Dean's place late evening.  For the next week we dryed out, rested, put on weight, and visited a lot of family and friends.

227 - 229 - Dearborne, Michigan

On the road from Niagara we searched online for Cleveland only to discover no RV night stays at a Walmart and no Cabela's.  We opted to drive on to Detroit four hours ahead.  Outside of town in the city of Dearborne we found a nice former KOA park and parked for three days.  It was still raining hard and as we discovered, we were in the middle of a huge storm covering the Midwest as far away as Colorado.  The storm was causing wide spread flooding in many states.

It stormed all day and into the night.  The following day things cleared up and we headed over to the Ford Museum.  We toured the museum for many hours, enjoyed lunch, and then headed back, deciding to return the next day to see the factory.

The following day we drove back to the Ford and visited the factory.  Very cool tour begin able to watch a huge assembly line making F-150 pickup trucks!

Days 224-226 - Niagara Falls

We drove across New York state spending the night as a roadside rest stop west of Albany.  The following morning we drove the rest of the way to Buffalo and up to Niagara.  We stayed in a really nice, quiet RV park about four miles from the falls.  We were here for three nights and never ventured over to the falls!  We did some shopping, played a lot of games of scrabble, and watched TV.  We found a movie theater near by and saw a few films.  In all fairness, it rained and rained and we really aren't that jaded on travel just yet!  On our departure morning the strom subsided aropund 7AM.  We quickly got dressed and headed over to the falls.

Downtown Niagara and the falls are the same and there was street parking, no one out, and the falls can be clearly viewed from dozens of beautiful lookouts all along the cliffs.  We strolled around for about an hour, took a few photos, and then it started to rain again.  Back at camp we finished up our morning and hit the road in route to Cleveland.

Days 221-223 - White River Junction, Vermont

We found a Walmart in New Lebanon on the border between New Hampshire and Vermont.  White River Junction is on the other side and home to our dear friend Lin Winters.  We all lived in Houston for many years and Lin was "best person" at our wedding.  For the next two days we spent a lot of time catching up in person, visiting the small villages, eating some great meals, and walking the Dartmouth University campus.  We found the whole area so picturesque and quaint.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Days 218-220 - Maine

We were greeted by a bright sunny day and decided to depart early.  We reached Portland and the Cabela's store we had researched online.  The RV parks in Maine are all shut down and the local Walmart discouraged travelers.  The Cabela's store on the other hand welcomed us with open arms, a huge safe, and vastly uninhabited parking lot, a dump station and fresh water.  We realized if there was enough to do, one could stay here for quite some time...and all free of charge.

We unhooked Satan and drove into town.  We parked at the harbor and took a nice stroll through the shops, waterfront, and fish markets.  Most every thing was closed up but one market has a great assortment of lobsters and clams...and everything else seafood...and we purchased a couple of live lobsters.  Back at home we cooked them both up and has a feast.  We decided to save the clams for the next day.

The following morning we decided to drive further north to Arcadia National Park, tour the park, have lunch, and make a full day of it.  We gassed up Satan and headed north east.  We past through August and saw the capitol rotunda, then turned toward the coast and headed for the Arcadia peninsula.  We past the entrance to the park and headed into Bar Harbor where we found a nice restaurant open and serving lunch.  The views from the restaurant windows were spectacular and the food was great.  The sun finally came out for the first time this day and we started to look forward to our visit to the park.

We drove around the little village a bit before heading out on what we thought was the same highway we entered.  After driving for about an hour we realized we were back on the mainland and had missed the park entrance.  It would have a been an additional two hours to correct our error by this point so we decided to drive on to Bangor and then back to Portland.  BTW, on the way back, we missed the Bangor exit as well.

The next two days we hung out at home, worked on the trip plan for the Nepal and India tour, and took in a couple more movies.

Days 212-217 - Exploring Massachusetts

Over the next four days we visited Cape Cod.  We had a completely different expectation of the hook. The road was a full-on four lane divided highway all the way to Provincetown at the tip.  The peninsula is heavily wooded and there was no chance of seeing the water (on both sides) without getting off the highway and taking a local road to the coasts,  It was also turning out to be an eight hour day of driving and sightseeing and it was overcast and wet.

The drive was pleasant nevertheless and we reached the tip of the horn and Provincetown around noon.  The place was shut up tight with tourist season a few weeks away.  There were a couple of restaurants open serving limited menus.  We both opted for the chowder  It was okay.  Tasty.  Not worth the eight hour drive...LOL.

The Pilgrim Memorial was open and that provided the justification we needed for such a long drive day.  It was third grade all over again with dioramas, stuffed turkeys, and maps.  The tower itself was grand with a 270ish step climb to the top and great views.  After our visit we drop back through Providence and to camp.

We woke the next day to heavy rain.  A cold front was approaching a well and it ended up being a "shelter-in-place" day as we listened to high wind and flood warnings for the area.  We slept in a bit, got some paperwork done, and watched a lot of TV.  Thank goodness for the great WiFi.

The next day we headed to Boston.  All of the tourist sites warn against driving into the city and apparently parking is an issue as well.  It was an hour drive to the par and ride.  There we boarded the old trolley system to meet up with the Metro.  From there it was a over/underground 40 minutes to the downtown station.  Again, cloudy and rainy, we opted for a covered Hop On Hop Off bus tour. We drove halfway around the city, seeing the highlights and got off at the Christian Science Church stop.  There we saw the "glass globe."  This was the reason for our visit although the architecture of the church and adjoining buildings was terrific.  From there we enjoyed lunch at a local high-end grocery store's deli.  A little walking around was followed by the rest of the city tour, the train ride back to the car, and the drive home.  So much for a lot of time in Boston...LOL.

The following two days we went to a few movies at a local theater we discovered, shopped for supplies for our Maine adventure and enjoyed the quiet RV park and GREAT WIFI.  By now you are started to understand how much we really appreciate a strong