Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Tour between the States....

Here are the eleven days campaign through the Southern States accomplished by 23 senior citizens on a bus.

Like  it was going to be that simple.  First, Jet Blue didn't have that level of service in Albany direct to our first stop, so we had bus it to Logan airport in Boston. It felt strange to go right by Fenway Park without being dropped off at Yawkey Way for the day's game.   And this was where the trouble began.  If you travel by air, you must be familiar with this scene:

So imagine a group of senior citizens (ages 60 - 90), hands holding papers required by a government that seems terrified of its own people trying to get through this nonsense, having to remove my belt? that dime in my pants pocket that I can't reach is going to ruin democracy? Please.  But here is my mea culpa.  I asked Jackie a few days before our launch date if I could her MacAir so i could write in the down we would have.  She wasn't thrilled, but in her kindness allowed me to take it.  I slid the Mac in my backpack.  Naturally bells and whistles pounded and shrieked when the backpack went through, and TSA did a review with me.  By this time the rest of the group were already in line at the the flight deck at , and Jackie is motioning me to come on!  I refilled my pockets with that dime, held my pants tight teogether as I returned the belt to its proper place, then pulled on my jacket, grabbed my wallet, and dashed to get in line.

The three hour flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth went fine and we arrived in time to grab a quick snack, and then get on a new bus, and greet our driver, who we driven with before, and our guides and stepped into the heat of Texas. Cue the "Dallas" theme music!

Here is the Dallas (The Big D) you see as you fly in.  The city has reinvented itself as a home for colleges, hospitals, museums, music, and dance.

We took in the parks of city , even moving out the heifers and other big cows as shown in the dramatic and inspiring and beautiful steers and cowboys in Pioneer  Plaza.  Also rest break at the Presbyterian Church and relaxed by the fountains.  The churches in Dallas are truly breath taking
Jackie at the fountain

                                                      Pioneer Plaza (40 bronze longhorns)

Move'm out, Pilgrim!

But no matter how great Dallas seems there is no escaping Dealey Plaza, the Grassy Knoll and the Book Depository  (the orange building), whether it was all a big deep plot, or a lucky shot from an ex-Marine loser on the sixth floor window of the Depository, that day began the slow crawl of the US mind set to a loss of faith in the land and its government, to make war and have suspicion of peoples"not like us."

I found the 6th floor, and the nauseating presentation of Kennedy's finest hours, and then listen to the news of his last hour, again,and again and again. Then the search for the assassin, the shooting of the alleged killer at the Old Red Courthouse in Jack Ruby, and 50 years of people making a living on JFK's tragic ending, including the bus tour guide selling her brother's book on the shooting. The attached souvenir shop had a large book selection dedicated to the assasination and Mrs. Kennedy. Choose your past wisely, because it will
effect your future.

All Grassy Knoll People

                   JFK' s Speech to the Dallas Trade Mart 11/22/63 1:PM                          
This was just so sad.


 We had a quick lunch and then moved on to more recent American royalty.

Welcome to the George W.Bush Presidential Library!

There wasn't much film taking allowed so here's some stock footage.


Hi, y'all!
Throughout the rooms there were cordial docents, and, more importantly to me, they knew what and who they were talking about (from 9/11, to the 2008 market crash), recommending books or film attached to those situations, during W's reign, that we might be interested in. Of course the penultimate vision the Oval Office itself. Oddly my world renowned GWB impression did not go over well, so we got some pictures, hit the gift shop and then the bus. I already had most of the of the store's books on my shelves at home (some autographed) and read.

Off for some sensational Texas Bar-B-Que at a little place outside of town (Lucky our driver knew all the good spots) and back to the Holiday Inn at Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas.

Friday, May 11  After breakfast, we hopped on our tour bus and headed for Waco.  Yes, that Waco. There was no drive by of hollow buildings and concrete, but of an amazing city of young people, Baylor University,and a kitschy downtown where food is an outing of amazing choices. We then toured the world of Chip and Joanna Gaines, with a special tour of the Fixer Upper homes from HGTV (Hint: Neither Jackie nor I had any idea of who  these people were).  But what the Gaines do provide was a place for their fans (and we of the ignorant few)to shop "The Silos".


The building on the left  is the shopping area Magnolia,the right shot happy customers are looking at cookbooks they probably won't use and t-shirts that'll go in the closet at some point.  There are food trucks surrounding the center and, if you dare,the world's greatest cupcake, for which you must stand outside in a line about a half an hour.  Worth every time and dime.

So then it we returned to the bus and looked at more renovated homes with ridiculous selling prices.

I did want to mention one of the bus's potty/visit break. Next to the mom and pop store was a cemetery, and you could tell their were Confederate soldiers at rest.I fixed flags and spiffied what I could. I cannot support their cause of these fallen, but can acknowledge their bravery and their youth.  Texas had a rough go of it in Civil War and was constantly being harassed by Union forces.  Two battles can get you  started.  The Second Battle of Sabine Pass which occurred on 9/8/1863, and the Battle of Marshfield in April 1864.  The victors wore Grey,and Union forces only made headway after the War was over everyplace else. 

We did not make it to the Dr. Pepper store, but I gave  homage by ordering Dr. P everywhere else, unless something more intriguing available.  Our evening meals was at the Saltgrass Steak House in Buffalo, Texas  We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Buffalo, too.

Hampton Inn Express

Saltgrass Restaurant
Saturday May 12th

One of my favorite songs by the great Dean Martin was "Houston" and I could hear it nicely in the iPhone as we drove into that town, until the train sounds and moving on the tracks, made me think of assuring Dean he could finish up later. Houston did not have a deep water port so the big thinkers of this small town made the city, including Sam Houston himself, tried those new things called railroads.  Then about 100 years later  President Lyndon Johnson thought Houston would be a fine place for NASA's main operations area, flight control, and other businesses, and would certainly give his wife's radio station a boost in the ratings, and also LBJ was fulfilling the holy JFK's dream of space travel. Congress was happy to ante up and Projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo got us to the moon, with only a few tragedies that a monument was put upat Arlington National Cemetery.  It must've bugged LBJ that Nixon phoned the astronauts on the surface of the moon, and he never got the chance.


This allowed us though to walk around Mission Control (actually in a room above where the engineers).  The cool part was our guide informed us that Congress found a little more money and Mission Control will live again.  In these rooms engineers worked diligently to send men to the moon and one time even more strain to get Apollo 13 home.

                Failure is not an option!
                                            (From the movie "Apollo13")

(When you take as many pills as I have to just to get around, failure is not an option for me.)

Sunday May 13

It had to happen at some point.  Jackie asked where her laptop was, and after tearing apart all of the luggage, it was not there.  I was asked what I was going to do about it.  All I could say was I could rent car, drive to Logan in Boston,work with TSA to get the laptop, and then drive to Baltimore or Atlanta, wherever the tour was that day.  I received some well deserved nasty looks  and then we moved on to other things because we had arrived in New Orleans! 

Laissez le bon temps rouler!

Yes,Let the good times roll in the Big Easy, Birthplace of jazz, The City That Care Forgot, Hollywood South, Crescent City, and the "in vogue" name - NOLA.  This name seems the most standard, mostly after Hurricane Katrina.  Try that one, but, my fellow non-Orleaners, never ever say "N'Awlins" to a  Big Easy citizen. That's just totally unacceptable and might just make your beignet taste mighty bad (actually the odds of having a bad beignet in NOLA are rather small, but I wouldn't chance it)

Anyway, we had the treat of staying right in the French Quarter at the Sheraton Four Points hotel with a great view of Bourbon street.

We had run into a small problem, actually three small problems, though:

1. I could sworn that a few days before departure from the Yankee Trails offices, I had done a complete check on what needed to be packed medically. We'd gotten extra boxes and had thought them filled, well,I did.  Jackie had hers ready and had little problem staying with things, which made sure that of us was sane.  I knew what would happen, muscle spasms all day and all night.  There were nights where I got one or two hours sleep, and would constantly doze off on the bus then spazzz awake. And I got cranky, slipping back to the lonely world of MS for the rest of the trip.

2. We are used going down for our usual stay at Disney World.  If you run out of clean clothes, there's a washer dryer in your condo. They give you a box of Cheer to help you along. No worries. At the hotels we stayed at on this trip, only one place had a quarter change based washer/dryer and it was Day and the door had been locked.  Once we got to Day 5 here in NOLA, there had been no washer/dryer since Day 1.  We used that old line that we needed to  "wash out a few things".  This was scrubbing undies with soap and water in the bathroom sink, followed by hanging them on the shower pole. Drip dry, we figured in the morning, and we would be fine.   Unfortunately, the air conditioner in the room was not the best, so while Jackie took her shower,I laid out the wet undies on the bed and blasted them (mostly) dry with Jackie's and the room's hair dryers.  We held together but when we're back in Disney, I will be kissing the Hot Point facilities in our room. Why have hotels/motels/inns not provided this service anymore?  So everyone tried stay as neat and tidy and not let their own odors be a bother because:

3.Le quartier français sent la soupe d'égout. Toute la journée. Toute la nuit. The French Quarter out stinks, out smells,and out grosses even the Bronx's worst alleyways.  Even when the water trucks tried to give the streets at least a modicum of cleanness each morning, they only move the stink around until noon time when we hit a high temperatures of about 95 degrees each day.  Then we started to smell like the French Quarter.  We knew we weren't far the Mississippi delta so that humidity added to the time I spent leaning into shady spots or air conditionings.

And this as only Day 5. We had another week.  So I'll be back soon (promise) and give you the rest. Really.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Wait, there's more! We all are headin' South

I appeared to have lost a bit of my audience.  Blogs are like pancakes, you have to keep an eye on them or they burn in the pan, and you're stuck with crunchy disc that has the distinct odor of a combination of Aunt Jemima and last night's cheeseburgers.  Then you remember that you never washed the dishes liked you promised last night and that you also promised her breakfast in bed, and you can't remember where the local IHOP is, but the McDonald's had a car drive right through the drive through so its closed and now all you'll receive is a nasty look from her as she walks into the kitchen (her robe not totally closed)and just sees the mess you made.  The coffee, at least, was decent, so she makes herself a cup, grabs a pear from the fruit bowl, and departs back up the stairs.

And I'd like to think of my readers as pancake lovers, and that my pancakes are just fluffy and light, made just for you, ready for butter and Vermont maple syrup. I mean the pancakes are ready for butter and syrup, not you. Unless you want to be buttered and maple syruped,which is your right as an/a whatever or whoever you are.

But the larger thing is I'd like to do is invite you to relax and in your own way, come with us. This is the longest trip we've ever done and probably never will again, well, depending, you know.....


Waco, Texas

Houston, Texas

French Quarter, NOLA


Shenandoah Valley


Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's Home)

Fort McHenry (Star Spangled Banner)

I will make some comments as we tour the late Confederacy, and there might be a Dalek spying here and there.  It's exciting, challenging, and since maybe this the last long trip I might be able to do, we'll do it Big and Easy.  Stay tuned.

Monday, February 19, 2018


Some of us who attended KJHS/LHS in the 60's and 70's may have Edna Van Duzee as their music teacher.


Though she was long retired from school teacher, she was very active in music and politics well into her 90's in The Village of Round Lake.  Edna passed in 2017.

Now I told you that to show you this.  I was strolling around the Clifton Park, NY Salvation Army store last week. Yes, that's how busy I am.  But I normally stop by once a month looking for the odd baseball caps, t-shirts, and hoodies.  This time, though, I was drawn toward three boxes near the eight track cassettes part of the shop.

Flipping through the stax  of wax there were classical:

And classical:

And classical:

There were many other classical albums in the boxes.   No matter the condition of the album on the outside, the LP within was pristine.  Even if the were Mitch Miller and 100 Strings (kids, ask your grandparents) were in most of the other albums, I couldn't resist these two baby boomer memories:

That's right, K-tel Records brings you the BEST of pop music of the early 1970s, plus a number of bands you have never heard of and never will. That's OK because all the songs are less than two minutes to make sure you can get part of a couple of bars of the Intruders!  Get it now!


Yes, the heart of pop music for early 1966, and then a TV show, then two post divorce TV  shows, then Sonny went to Congress and skied in to a tree.  Cher lives on in as little clothing as possible.  When I pulled out the album, there seemed to be evidence of more use than some of the classical records (smudges, scratches, that little fast/ slow  showing the LP has been in the sun too long.  But someone must have liked it.

The most important part of this not the music selections, but here was part of one of teachers lives. Also there's recorded organ music from almost a century past.  One of the greatest feats about Edna was her preservation of the magnificent Ferris Tracker organ in the Round Lake Auditorium.  It's still there, and there are programs to bring the Ferris Tracker back to life again.

Edna would have liked that.