Day 11 – Washington DC – Finding Anacostia

Hi – Today was one of discovery. Specifically, discovering the location of the Anacostia METRO station. On a map it’s pretty simple. Like, it’s right there in plain sight, right? On the green line just before it crosses the Anacostia River. It’s only 10 minutes away from where we’re staying.

So, you may wonder why it took us two hours to find it. Yes, that’s 2 hours. Well, I’m going to tell you.

First, Anacostia, besides being close to us, has a Park & Ride facility that makes it a perfect fit for our needs. Just 10 minutes away. From there we have access to every place we want to visit in Washington.

After leaving the base, based on my questionable directional instincts, we headed South on I-295. In a very short time we were at the National Harbor and it became evident that I had selected the wrong direction. Therefore, Diane had to find a place to turn around. Finally, we got headed in the right direction and knew for sure we were headed correctly when we drove past the base again. We could almost see the Navy Lodge as we whizzed on by.

In about 10 minutes we wound up at the Anacostia Transit Center which was evident because there were buses going every which way. Sadly, we couldn’t see a parking garage anywhere so we drove around on a bunch of roads near the transit center looking for the garage. We finally stopped out near the river so I could take another stab at finding the parking garage.

Shortly, a nice gentleman who was sitting nearby reading his paper looked over at us and immediately determined that we were lost. He gave us very specific directions about how to get to the garage facility. We drove away happy and promptly got lost when we misinterpreted what he meant by turning left at the 2nd stop light, then left again at the next. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well, about two miles up Suitland Parkway East we knew we’d done it again.

We would have turned around sooner, but the parkway wouldn’t allow us to do that until we reached Stanton Road SE, the first stop light. We turned left and followed it until it t-boned Sheridan Road NE.

Against her best judgement, I talked Diane into making a right turn on Sheridan which brought us to the intersection above the transit center. Being in familiar territory, we took another trip down Howard Road SE. We’d been down that road about six times already, but apparently we needed another one. This time we went slower and looked to the right, instead of to the left, and encountered an unmarked driveway that we decided to investigate and guess what?! The METRO parking garage was right there in plain sight. You just couldn’t see it from the road.

We drove in to see what it was all about and discovered that the lower section had parking meters at every space which made me a little queasy thinking about all the quarters I’d have to haul around to park the car. Then Diane spied a sign that indicated it was for short-term parking. She drove around the corner and just about had to pay $4.90 for a 12 hour stay. Thankfully there was no one behind her so she could back around the corner and briefly into a metered spot where she could turn around. She did a lot of turning around today. She’s really good at that now.

Knowing we were finally in the correct location, we drove to the other end of the parking facility where I got out of the car and checked to see what was behind big gates. Turns out it’s the entrance to Metro station. Finally. While I was there I just went ahead and bought a couple of METRO passes for us to use while we’re here.

That meant we were totally set for our trip to the White House tomorrow for the tour we’re scheduled to attend. And it only took two hours.

We went back to the base, a 10 minute trip, and stopped at the NEX food court where we each had a sandwich from the Philly Cheesesteak place. Diane had a turkey version while I had a traditional sandwich. They were both excellent.


A stop at the commissary was necessary, too, to load up on in-room food to last the duration of our stay. We’re going to eat just fine.

Here’s the 2nd photo I took today. It’s one of the agencies located on this base.


Now we’re back in the room and in for the rest of the night, watching the Andy Griffith Show. I promise to take more photos tomorrow.

Fun stuff.

Days 10 – The Trip to Washington D.C.

Greetings from our nation’s capitol. I’d almost bet some of you wondered what happened to us yesterday since I didn’t post anything. Well, the trip here from New Jersey wasn’t an eventful one and the weather got increasingly crappy on our journey south.

When we left Beach Haven it was overcast deluxe and it had rained so much during the night that almost every intersection along Long Beach Blvd was flooded. That was what we thought until we got to intersections where all the really elaborate houses lived. There were drains on every corner unlike the flooded ones where there didn’t appear to be any. This led us to believe that the unfolded corners is where the permanent residents live. The flooded corners are where all the rentals are that are now abandoned for the season. It makes sense.


It even flooded the access to the Wawa Market. Point of interest … there are lots of Wawa Markets on the island. Kind of like all those Waffle Houses that line the Gulf Coast. We learned from Tom, our bus driver, that Wawa is an Indian word for geese which accounts for the logo also depicting a picture of a goose. Very graphic, don’t you think?


The roads we traversed getting to I-95 were surrounded by dense pine forests, the kind I’ve read about in some of my books where the bodies are buried because no one will ever find them. I’m guessing that’s true.

Finally, we came upon the Delaware Memorial Bridge that defines our exit from New Jersey and a brief foray into Delaware at the very tippy top of the state, then hopped the border into Maryland shortly thereafter.


As the sign indicates, we made a flyby of Baltimore. Newark is on the sign, too, but we never saw it. I think the road crew had some paint left over and added it just for fun. No, actually, Newark, NJ is just west of NYC so after this sign we had to choose between a left or right turn. Thankfully, Diane chose left and continued south.


We made it to our destination with no incidents and got checked into our room. On the top floor. And there is no elevator in the building. We’re in the Navy Lodge located on JBAB (Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling) that used to be Bolling AFB. Our GPS took us to a blocked road that was overgrown with weeds and stuff and we could see our destination through the fence. But, we had to back track and enter through the only gate available to us.

Getting onto the base was simple – we just had to show our government issued military IDs and the guard waved us through, wishing us a Good Day. Thankfully there were signs all over the place leading us to the Navy Lodge because left to our own devices we may have wandered around the base for days without finding it. Turns out it’s at the extreme southern end of the base surrounded by military housing. It’s as if the who decided where to put the facility wanted it located in a difficult place to find so that folks would be unlikely to return. But, the room we were given is just great. Soft beds, a kitchen, and a really nice TV. It looks as if it’s been recently refurbished as the innards look pretty new. We’re happy.

By the time we got checked in, and I hurked all of the suitcases to the top floor it must have been around 4-ish. We were hungry because the only thing we had to eat all day was a cinnamon roll and two cups of coffee before we left Beach Haven, and some pieces of trail mix that I found imbedded in the car mats. So, we ventured forth and stumbled across a Subway sandwich shop where we bartered for a ham and cheese sandwich which we took back to our room, thanks to all those Navy Lodge signs, and had our dinner. After that we kinda fell asleep.

Now all we need to do is find our way to the closest gate that will allow us access to DC Metro. I’ve already done the research and know the Metro stops.

Today will be one of discovery as we drive around looking for a place to park outside the base. I’ll let you know how that goes.


Day 9 – Beach Haven Reunion Banquet

Today all the attendees of this reunion gathered to eat a catered lunch by the hotel in which we’re staying. We already knew the food is good so the prospect of a cafeteria style banquet was not a scary thing. We embraced it.

The banquet was scheduled to start at 11:30 am so we all gathered in the gathering room, next to the banquet room, at 11:00 am to prepare. That, and to produce the gifts we were directed to bring for the auction for which many, many tickets were sold. Because Diane and I were sitting in the gathering room next to the banquet room door, we wound up selling raffle tickets by the dozens. To be precise, we sold $700 worth of raffle tickets. We were busy. One guy, Freddie, bought $80 worth of them.

After we sold all those tickets, we ate. Since Diane and I were the last people into the banquet room, we had to scuffle for a place to sit. That worked out, though, because just as we were heading to our table Ken stood up and ask the room how we should line up for the food. Since I was right behind him, I suggested that we begin with the row of tables next to the wall where Diane, Marvin, and I were sitting. My suggestion was accepted so I just turned around and got in line for food. It was pretty good, but I didn’t take a photo of it. Mainly because I loaded the plate so it wasn’t very pretty. Very good, but not very pretty.

Once the food was devoured it was time to start calling raffle tickets. Now, I gotta share some insight about raffles that I’ve gleaned over the years. The most profound one is that there are always one or two tables in the room that wind up with the majority of winners. It just happens that way Always. Perhaps you’ve noticed this. There were about 14-15 tables in the room, some longer than others and seating 10 instead of 4, so with each shipmate providing at least one gift, adding to those provided by the organizer, there must have been about 150 things to raffle off. Don’t question my math. It’s correct.

During lunch Diane hid the bucket of tickets behind her chair, in the corner. When Ken stood up to start the raffle,  transported the huge bucket to his vicinity so he could kick things off. Simply by virtue of the fact that I transported the tickets I was sucked in to helping out with the drawings, calling out the numbers in a loud voice that everyone bu Ed could hear. Ed won a couple of times but only because when a number was called and no one responded, and it was evident that Ed wasn’t looking at his tickets, Mary gave him a hand.

The rule of raffles is that the person who wins must draw the next number. That worked OK until Freddie finally won and he drew three tickets in a row that matched three of the vast array of tickets he had spread all over his table. As the drawings continued I managed to remember the sequence of tickets Freddie had making it easy to know when he won. Which he did. A lot. He was that guy. He finally got tired of walking to the next room to pick out his next prize and started appointing people to do it in his place. Those around him were very happy.

Every once in a while we stopped calling tickets so Ken could auction off. He was doing a pretty good job, but George jumped in and caused bidders to go way higher than they had intended. George made the group a lot of money on those auction items. Finally, all the auction and raffle items were gone and we were allowed to leave.

I failed to mention that we had a group meeting after lunch, prior to the raffle, during which we talked about where we should have our next reunion. Since the last two were on the East Coast it was unanimously agreed that we should strongly consider the West Coast for the 2018 reunion. We do them every two years. That’s why I put 2018 instead of 2017. You may have wondered. The location discussed for the West Coast reunion was Bremerton. That will work great for us since we live on the West Coast. I wouldn’t be surprised, either, if Diane and I wound up taking care of all the details since we live there even though we didn’t volunteer. That’s how things seem to work out.

After it was all done, around 2:55 pm, Diane and I retired to our room where we sat on our balcony enjoying the breeze caused by bad weather that’s causing the waves to crash into the beach at an angle instead of coming straight in like they were doing yesterday. And the day before. It’s actually very stormy and the weather has turned cold making it uncomfortable to be out there even in a sweatshirt with a hood. So she went back into the room, but I stayed outside for a bit longer just to prove that I’m a man even though Diane already knows that. She’s seen me naked. A couple of times. When I felt I’d made my point, I also went inside.

Then I opened up one of the Xfinity apps on my iPad and discovered that I could actually watch TV shows that are recorded on our DVR at home. That’s amazing! So, I watched two episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and one episode of Quantico. Since Diane was sleeping I used my handy ear buds so I would wake her up. Since I was reclined I managed to fall asleep a few times myself but, since I had the buds in, I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss anything.

Now for some photos for those of you who ventured this far even though I didn’t take very many at the banquet. Just a few. I’ll find some more to share just for fun.

Here’s Diane wearing my Scappoose hat. It fits her way better than me so it’s now her’s.


She looks good in any kind of hat.

Next is a photo of the head table at the banquet. I said earlier that the longer tables sat 10 people but I lied. There were only 6.


This next  one Diane took of me helping Ken with the raffle.


Until I saw this photo I had no idea my right breast was lower than my left one. I guess I don’t usually notice it because of the sports bra. Should have worn it today, I guess. That or that new push-up number I found at Goodwill the other day.

Now, on a more serious note, here’s a photo from the Albany Democrat-herald. It was taken during the game when our St. Helens went all the way down there to whip East Albany 4-3. I guess it was nip and tuck throughout the game, but our girls persevered. That’s our Lydia in the yellow goalie shirt. Jennifer sent four other ones that were also in the paper, all of Lydia doing her thing.


I guess it’s OK to shove on the goalie’s face in Albany although it didn’t do them any good.

That’s about it.

Day 8 – Round About Beach Haven, NJ

It’s 10:00 am and we’re doing something different today. We chose to skip the trip to Atlantic City in favor of sticking around closer to our room in case we have a nap attack. The big motivator for me was when the bus driver said the reason the trip was so cheap ($10 per person) is that participants are required to stay at least 6 hours in Atlantic City. As the driver, he’s also the enforcer. I guess the reason for that is because someone did some complex calculations that revealed old folks are likely to part with their money if they stayed in the vicinity of casinos for a certain amount of time. Since neither of us gamble, that left the casino buffets which is pretty much the same as tossing money out the window because they promote a reason to eat far more than normal, and eat stuff you’d never try when sober. Even though we paid $20 for the trip, blowing it off is way cheaper than going on the trip. So, we stayed and the bus left.

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This is Tom, our driver.


This is George, Ken’s left-hand man for all work done to organize this reunion. They both put in a lot of work to make it happen.


Our home until Thursday.


This is Ken’s car, the one he drove all the way from Ohio. I think the 808 on the side is there all the time, not just when we have reunions. The 808 is significant, of course, because that’s the hull number of the good ship Buckley. The fact that the car is gray is significant for the same reason. I think he special ordered it from Toyota in Haze Gray.


This is the parking lot for the Engleside Inn. It’s crushed oyster shells, I think. If were on the other ocean, that’s what it would be but I don’t know if they allow oysters to grow in the Atlantic.img_9295

I’m sitting on our little deck watching the waves roll in, listening to the soothing roar they make when they curl over and foam up. It’s peaceful. A couple of hundred feet off shore I can see the dorsal fins of the porpoises breaking the surface of the water as many dozens of them make their way south along the shore.

I had to stop and think for a minute there, a rarity if you ask Diane, because I’m used to having left being south and right being north when looking directly at the sea. That’s on the Pacific side. But, here we are on the Atlantic.

A big difference between the two coasts that we’ve noted from previous visits, is that Atlantic beaches tend to drop off into the water at a pretty steep angle compared to the gentle slope of Pacific beaches. On the Pacific side it’s not uncommon for us to walk for hundreds of feet before there’s danger of getting our feet wet, but on the Atlantic side when you get to the sand, and were to fall down, you’d be in the water before you quite rolling. That’s almost true.

For some reason there are many residents with dogs staying at the hotel with us. I’m not sure if there’s convention going on or if that’s just what folks do over here. One lady just walked her dog up a path to the beach that has a really nice pole fence defining the walkway and her dog, something I’ve never seen before, stopped and peed on every other post. Both directions.

After we decided navigating stairs from the third floor (no elevator) wouldn’t be all that difficult, we donned our shoes, Diane got the car keys, and we headed for the stairs. Oh, in addition to the shoes, we put on good outside clothes, too. It was the right thing to do. Then we just drove the length of New Jersey’s Long Beach Island. The road, Long Beach Blvd, is 35 miles long and drove the length. Since the summer season is over most of the folks are gone. We were told the year round residency of the island is about 40K but it swells a couple of K during the summer months. The room we’re in lists its maximum rate at $599.99 which is ludicrous and nowhere near what we paid. Vacations in New Jersey are serious business.

Here’re some photos we took during our tour.

The Who Hoo place caught our attention because it’s one of Jennifer’s favorite things to say when something pleases her. We didn’t eat there. Just stopped to take the photo.


Most of the homes on the south end of the island, where we are in Beach Haven, are huge very elegant, and appear to be built for multiple families. Also, they all look new with no signs of aging or degradation. Pretty amazing. We came across some very pretty beach rentals that are apparently part of a club. These are the only ones we found that appeared to be made from cookie cutter plans. The other homes all appear to be custom units with nothing in common except for their huge size and multiple garages.

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We stopped for lunch at Kubel’s Too, an iconic restaurant located in Brighton Beach which is just a little north of Beach Haven on the island. We both had fish and chips and believe it was about the best we’ve ever had. The coleslaw was the best, too. A very satisfying lunch.

After all that food we felt the need to take a nap but as we drove the short distance back to our room we kinda rejuvenated and decided to spend some time sitting on a handy bench near the beach. Although it was overcast, it was pretty comfortable sitting there for a long time. Then it started to get chilly, driving us indoors. The following photos depict our view from left to right.img_9327

Apparently this is the end of Amber Street.


As you can see, if you’re from the West Coast, the beaches over here a little different both in color and in texture.


Tomorrow is our last day here and it’s been fun. Short but fun seeing all these old guys we’ve come to know over the years. We only see them every two years, but they have become fast friends.

Now, Dancing With The Stars is on so I must quit.

Good wishes to you all.

Day 7 – Camden, New Jersey

Before getting into the day’s activities I need to report that we didn’t sleep as good as we thought we would on our room’s softer mattresses. I guess there’s something about really hard beds, like Ruth has, that grows on you. We’ll see if we still feel that way after tonight’s adventure in sleeping.

This morning we were up early so we could spruce ourselves up for a fun bus ride to visit the USS New Jersey BB-62 in Camden, NJ. Turns out that Camden is a 2+ hour bus ride away from Beach Haven. Who knew? Diane and I finagled a front row seat by telling everyone that I’d probably puke if I had to sit anywhere else. That did the trick and we had the front row for both directions. Getting there first, however, played a significant part in getting those seats.

After sitting for over two hours on the bus we were all ready to get out and walk around and that’s what we did on BB-62. It was interesting, but not the first battleship we’ve been aboard the USS Alabama BB-60, and the USS Missouri BB-61. Most significant of those two was BB-61 which we visited many times while we were in Hawaii during our last tour of active duty 1986-1989. The Missouri was an active duty ship, having been recommissioned a few years before, and one of our old shipmates from Naval Communications Station (NAVCOMSTA) Okinawa, 1968-1970, was stationed aboard. It was very humbling to make those visits because the Missouri tied up across the harbor from the USS Arizona memorial. at that time and I took many photos of the Arizona from the Missouri’s surrender deck. A lot of history involved in that view – a photo of the devastation that pulled us into WWII taken from the spot where peace was secured to end the war. There’s a plaque on the surrender deck commemorating that event and it has a plexiglas bubble that covers it when the ship went to sea. The Missouri is now, of course, secured directly behind the Arizona on Battleship Row at Ford Island and is a floating museum.

A bit of trivia about BB-62 is that when I was stationed at Naval TeleCommunication Center (NTCC) Long Beach, CA Diane and I watched the USS New Jersey being pulled into port for overhaul in preparation for being re-commissioned. My boss, a female LCDR, was married to another LCDR who happened to drive a Fleet Tug boat, the one that was selected to tow the Jersey from Bremerton, WA to the Long Beach ship yard for the refit. A bit of history.

Sorry about going down that road, but it just jumped in my head and I had to get it out of there before it started rattling around.

As we arrived in Camden, near the road to the USS New Jersey, we were treated to a stunning view of the Philadelphia skyline. First time we’ve ever seen it. Apparently it’s a first for Barb, too, because she didn’t recognize it.


The New Jersey was interesting because we were taken in a small group of 14 with a dedicated Docent who knows the ship. We spent two hours following her up and down a lot of ladders. It was tiring and hard on old knees. I was tempted to slide down the handles of some ladders, on my hands, but refrained after briefly considering the consequences and the ensuing ambulance ride that was sure to follow. In the past, sliding down those ladders on ships was second nature. It was a quick way to get around. And, I was much, much younger. And I bounced when I fell down. The bounce is gone. I’ll save the words and just show some pictures.

Gathering under the forward 16″ gun mount to honor DD-808 shipmates who have passed the bar since last we gathered. We only have this reunion every other year and we’re all of advanced age so losing shipmates is not uncommon or unexpected. It’s good to remember them.


Another chance to practice taking a selfie.img_9154

It’s a big ship.img_9153

With big guns.img_9176

And pretty girls.img_9178

When leaving the New Jersey’s quarterdeck Larry Hennessy, the Docent Supervisor, was standing there looking very spiffy in his khakis. I shook his hand and we looked each other in the eye and we kinda stopped for a moment, then he said, “I know you!” I sensed a bit of familiarity myself and responded, “You look familiar, too!” Then we got to talking about which ships we’d been on and figured out that there’s no way we knew each other because he was an East Coast Sailor, and I was a West Coast Sailor. But, we decided that we each had a new friend and parted happy. It was a good visit.img_9198img_9187

By this time Diane and I were way past ready to eat something. Thankfully there was a handy candy machine in the gift shop area next to the Jersey and I got us a package of Peanut M&Ms. That got us through the bus ride to the aquarium which was our next stop. Our new friend Larry, from the quarterdeck, knowing a few of us were seeking tolerable sustenance, drew us a map to a place called Victor’s Pub. It was within walking distance of the Adventure Aquarium so Bruce, Mary, Ed, Diane, and I walked. We had a terrific meal. It was actually too terrific because none of us could eat all of what we ordered. Here’s mine … img_9208

After we finished eating, we trundled back to the aquarium and made a pass through the attractions, after going to the bathroom, of course. I always have to go to the bathroom whenever I get around water.

Here’s Mr. Hippopotamus. Big guy.


He’s big, but he can outrun a little kid.img_9218

I container full of pretty jelly fish.img_9224

Then these guys. They glide menacingly over the tube observers walk through. Nifty.img_9237


Getting ready to gather for departure, Ken works the crowd.img_9249

I found it interesting that Highway 30, the same one that runs through our town of St. Helens, goes all the way from Astoria, Oregon to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Tomorrow I will have seen both ends of that road. On our end of that highway we call it The Old Oregon Trail, the one followed by Lewis & Clark. img_9259

Through our entire visit to the USS New Jersey, the weather was absolutely perfect. Sunny and warm, but not hot. When we exited the aquarium clouds were moving in and the air had taken a decidedly cooler feel. As we drove, the clouds increased to the point that this is what we encountered from our room view upon reaching the hotel. Still pretty, but way more dramatic.


Tomorrow we don’t board the bus until 0915 so we can sleep in a little longer. Maybe. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Sleep tight, wherever you are.

Oh. I heard from Tiffany today and we had a nice text chat. At the conclusion I offered to adopt her, but she declined. Even so, I think we’re still friends.


Day 6 – Beach Haven, New Jersey

It was a tearful departure from Sutton Avenue as we left on the second leg of this trip. We almost made it all the way to I-91 before Ruth sent  text that we needed to return and get my CPAP. We pulled over and discussed this and decided it would be a good thing to do since I don’t sleep well without it. Neither does Diane because I snore. When I’m wearing it I can’t hear Diane snore so it’s a win-win. We went back and had another tearful parting. But we got to see Ruth one more time.

We jumped on I-91 to New Haven then transitioned to the I-95 to New York then crossed the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey.

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Getting across the Geo. Washington Bridge is a long involved process that begins about 10 miles before there’s any evidence of a bridge. The traffic just creeps along, except for those who find it necessary to jog back and forth in the lanes (like 10 of them) which is a large factor in the slow traffic. But, we finally made it over and the traffic magically sped up for the remainder of our trip.

By sped up, I mean the posted limit was 55 to start but everyone was going 70. There were others going much faster but we always seemed to catch them at the next toll booth. Yup. There’s lots of toll booths on this side. Thankfully, we have an E-ZPass unit that we obtained in Massachusetts on our trip in 2010. It’s a gizmo that’s tied to a credit card that is scanned at each toll booth. It resides on sticky strips inside the windshield so all Diane had to do was zip on through the E-ZPass lane and keep on going. Worked great, except for the first one we encountered. The speed limit through the gate was 15 but she was a little north of 20 so the  digital sign that should have said “E-ZPass Accepted” came up with “Toll Unpaid”. I figure we’ll have a New Jersey State Cop tapping on our door before this part of the trip is over. The remainder of the many toll booths went by without incident. Some of the toll areas don’t require drivers to transit through a booth. They can just fly by at the speed of sound, like some do, and the high-speed readers seem to keep up.

We arrived at our destination 1550, checked into our room, and let Ken & George know we had arrived. Ken ticked off our names on his spreadsheet, gave me a new T-shirt and hat, took our pictures, then turned us loose. I reconnected with old shipmates I haven’t seen in a few years then we had to feed Diane because all she had to this point of the day was one banana and a yogurt.

At 1700 we retired to the on-site 5-star restaurant and had a glorious meal. I had Shrimp Scampi on Angel Hair pasta and Diane had Atlantic Salmon. Both were excellent.

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That little yellow thing tied up with the green ribbon is half a lemon. Nifty touch.

Then we checked the DD-808 Conference Room to verify tomorrow’s itinerary to ensure we wouldn’t miss anything we’ve paid for. Looks like we’re catching a bus at 0800 for a trip to a USS New Jersey tour. There’s an aquarium involved with the bus trip, too.

Once we found out when we had to get up, we went back to our room to unpack for the stay, and enjoy the view.


So, from us to you, have a great night.img_8995

I just noticed when looking at that last photo that I have hair on top of my head. I thought it was all gone because I can’t see it in a mirror. Maybe it just grew back on the way down here.


Day 5 – Windsor Locks Picnic

Today Ruth had a picnic for all her friends and family so we could meet everyone in one spot. It was very thoughtful and caused her a considerable amount of work. I know that’s true because I watched her the whole time (almost) and she didn’t stop often or for very long. When I got up at 0700 this morning I found her hard at work over a very large bowl of potato salad that was almost finished. Turns out she’d been up since 0530 and needed something to do.

I helped where I could, and as needed, spending the un-needed moments sitting at my computer putting the finishing touches on yesterday’s post. That’s the one I made the final changes to about an hour ago because I forgot to add one photo.

Now I’ll try to name everyone who was there. The purpose of this post is to document relatives for our family members so the names will have no significance to most of you.

Chris, Sydney, Becky. Chris is Todd’s son. Todd is Ruth’s son.


Valerie, Carol, Larry, and Cheryl. Carol, Larry, and Cheryl are siblings and belong to Ruth, their mother. Valerie is Larry’s wife.img_8844

Barbara and Ruth. Barb is Ruth’s very good friend. img_8846Allen, Cheryl, Ruth, Diane, and Marge. Allen and Cheryl are madly in love and have been married for a long time. Ruth is Cheryl’s Mom. Diane is Ruth’s sister-in-law and my wife. Marge is a good friend of the family.


Jay and Ovide are very good friends with Ruth. Jay is a female impersonator and Ovide is a caterer on the side. Ruth is Ovide’s sous-chef for catered events. They have a ton of fun together.img_8852

Jay, Ovide, Fern, Hugh, Marge, and me. I’m the only relative. The rest are great friends. Apparently I’m talking.img_8857

Ovide, Ruth, and Barbara.img_8865

Lilly, and Diane. Lilly belongs to Heather. Heather is Cheryl’s daughter, and Cheryl is Ruth’s daughter.img_8872

Heather and Lilly.img_8873

Laura, Ariana, and Jeffrey. Laura is Cheryl’s daughter. img_8902

Me and Diane. Laura took the photo. She said to look like we were having fun so we did and didn’t even have to pretend. We were having lots of fun.img_8910

Elena, Lilly, and Heather.img_8946

Diane, Ruth, and Susan. Susan is Cheryl’s daughterimg_8967

So, to recap, for those of you who are interested in genealogy, Ruth is the matriarch here. Her children are Larry, Cheryl, and Carol.

Larry is married to Valerie and they both have children from previous marriages. The one I’m most familiar with is Sarah who is a nurse. She moved to Portland and will, one day, call me. She works at St. Vincent’s.

Carol is married to Martin and they have a daughter Alicia. Martin was in New Hampshire riding his bicycle and Alicia left the party before I could get my camera out.

Cheryl is married to Allen and has three daughters from a previous marriage – Susan, Heather, and Laura.

Susan is in a relationship with Jay (different Jay) who wasn’t at the picnic. He has season tickets to UCONN games and was watching Syracuse win. Julia, Susan’s daughter, wasn’t here, either because she was with her Dad in Boston.

Heather is married to Justin. They have two daughters, Elena and Lilly, and Justin has a son, Gage.

Laura is in a relationship with Emory who successfully avoided having his photo taken. Laura has a son and daughter, Jeffrey, and Ariana.

Todd, Ruth’s son, father of Chris, sadly took his own life many years ago.

Tomorrow we depart Windsor Locks heading for Beach Haven, New Jersey.

See you there.

Day 4 – New York City

Today was very special because we (Diane, me, and Ruth) rode a train from New Haven, CT all the way to Grand Central Station in New York City. The purpose was to visit the 911 Memorial in Manhattan. To make it more special, Ruth came with us because she’s never seen it in person, either. And, because she came with us, we had a scape goat in case we got totally lost because she lives on this side of the world and we’re just visiting. But, we didn’t get lost.

The first left started at 0740 when we bundled into our rental car and drove to New Haven so we could catch the Metro North line.img_8748

Going from Windsor Locks is possible but that would require a trip on Amtrak which is vasty more expensive. It’s like $66 for 3 round trip tickets on Metro North vs. $300 for Amtrak. No contest, really. The drive to New Haven took about an hour then we walked for about 20 minutes to the train station, got our tickets, grabbed our seats, and stayed in them for the next two hours. It was a nice ride and we met some nice folks, James & Millette, who were on their way to The City to celebrate their 27th anniversary. As we talked we learned more about each other and they learned that we were on our way visit the 911 Memorial. Turns out they’ve never visited it, either. For good reason. James works for the city of Darien, CT in public works. On 9/11 he was on an Amtrak with his 3-year-old son traveling to North Carolina to visit his parents. When the 1st tower was hit his train stopped in the middle of the bridge to Manhattan prior moving on to Penn Station. He was provided an unobstructed view of the towers when they collapsed and was stunned the same as every one else that day. He described how scary it was to not be able to contact his wife to let her know he and their son were OK, and that it was 8 hours before he was able to reach a pay phone and call her office. Because of that trial neither of them have found the courage to make a visit down town Manhattan and end their trip to The City in East Harlem. We felt that we had bonded with these folks and gained some good friends during that short ride. Sadly, I did not get a photo of them, but I have these:

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When we got to Grand Central, Ruth led us to one of the exits then began walking along 42nd Street. Just before we got to 5th Avenue hunger pangs attacked us causing us to seek someplace different for lunch. We looked around and immediately spied some Golden Arches which seem to be everywhere. Like Starbucks. But, fast food isn’t what we wanted. Ruth spoke to a street person for suggestions about good places to eat and was directed to a place called HTH which happened to be right next to The Arches.img_8783

So, off we went.

Inside HTH we were greeted by some very friendly folks who advised us to look around before making a choice. Actually, they didn’t suggest that. We just did it. They didn’t care. The front counter was the source of some incredible looking sandwiches, pre-made and ordered, and the back area was a walk-around counter containing yakisoba, fried rice, shrimp wrapped in bacon, coconut shrimp, lots of other meat choices (but I only focus on shrimp), broccoli chicken, and many other things. Just take what you want then get it weighed at the cash register and pay $8.95 a pound. Sounds expensive but Diane and I ate hearty for less than $20 and I had milk! It was all very good and we highly recommend HTH. I tried to find a web site for them but can’t. We were told it’s a new venue. Awesome!


Once we were all fed and watered, we ventured out, once again, into the New York heat (pushing 90) thinking we’d walk to Ground Zero. But, according to our handy-dandy GPS systems on our phones we learned it was 3.5 miles away. Didn’t look that far on the map, but blocks in NYC are longer than even Las Vegas. So, we began the arduous process of flagging down a taxi so we could experience that aspect of the city. I did it once before, when I as 16, but I can’t remember back that far any longer. So, I needed a refresh.

We flagged and flagged and flagged but the drivers weren’t interested. Then a guy in a Lincoln town car pulled over and offered us a ride. One of those guys who cruise around looking for tourists so they can over charge them. He remained true to that belief by stating a trip to Ground Zero would cost us $45. I scoffed and he asked what I’d be willing to pay him. I said $10. He scoffed back, pulled over to the curb and popped the locks to let us out which I took to mean it wasn’t a valid offer.

Finally, a taxi pulled over to let someone out and Ruth inquired, politely, if he could possible consider allowing us to insert ourselves into the back of his bright yellow Prius for a ride to the memorial. He nodded yes so we got in. It was cozy with me in the middle, and away we went.


The driver, sensing that we were new to The City tested us by heading for the FDR which is on the East Side of Manhattan. We knew, however, that our destination was on the West Side. I called him on his choice so he changed his mind and decided to punish us by driving down every street in NYC where construction seems to be a never-ending evolution. Construction, vehicles triple parked, people walking all over the streets … it was pretty amazing. The result, of course, was that the meter clicked merrily away while we spent a great deal of time just sitting, waiting through each traffic light 2-3 times. That 3.5 mile trip took about an hour and cost $20.80. That $45 offer in a comfortable vehicle began to look pretty good. But, we made it.

The first thing we saw was the new $4 Billion, 350,00 square foot Oculus Shopping Mall. I know those numbers are true because I had to do a web search to find out what the heck it was called. There were no signs – just doors to get in.

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Behind me, in the second photo, is the largest Apple Store I’ve ever seen. I suspect I should have taken a picture of it. It’s absolutely ginormous.

We wandered through this incredible structure and were kind of oblivious to our surrounding with the exception of being on constant alert for directions to the nearest restroom. Being old, that’s always our first priority after a long ride, find a toilet. You will be happy to learn that the Oculus has very nice toilets that flush and everything.

The views outside the Oculus are stunning. Words aren’t enough so I’ll just do this:

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The memorial pools are located just outside the Oculus and are easy to find. Just follow the crowds, then look for a place where everyone is just kinda standing still. Quite impressive, and far more impressive in person. A very solemn place.img_8807

We visited both pools the left Diane in the shade as Ruth and I went on a quest to find a map so we could discover a cheaper way back to Grand Central, like the subway.img_8815

Turns out that nowhere in the vast array of information available at Ground Zero is there information about public transportation. So, I asked a couple of NYPD Officers who happened to be handy. They were very helpful, directing us through a maze of construction scaffolding to the nearest subway station. I must make a note here that we all had smart phones on which we could have easily found directions had all three of them not been stone cold dead. We started out the day with them all charged up but taking photos and running Google Maps, we just flittered all that energy away. I actually had a little power remaining, like 7%, but I wanted to keep it in reserve for possible Kodak moments on our return trip. It was distressing, to say the least. I hate being powerless.

This is Ruth pointing out the seat she was going to grab when the subway doors opened up. I believe, however, that no one got off the #4 Train which required us all to stand for the beginning of the trip. I had to stand the entire way, but it was OK. I didn’t fall down. I had an opportunity to get a seat at one stop because I was standing right by one that was vacated. I young man standing in front of it made a move for it, then looked up and offered it to me. I gave it to Diane. Chivalry is not dead in NYC. I was pleased and let him know how grateful I was.


We made it back to Grand Central with no problems or wrong turns and made it to Track 17 about 3 minutes  before our train pulled out. It was pretty amazing because getting to METRO North from the #4 Train isn’t a leisurely hike.

We found three seats together and plopped ourselves down, and prepared for takeoff. I opened a souvenir magazine of the 911 Disaster and started thumbing through it when I heard a voice asking if I was prepared to give a detailed dissertation on all the information to which I had so recently been exposed. I looked up and discovered my new friend, Tiffany, who has never seen “Short Circuit”. I explained that she really needs to see it because it was filmed in Astoria, Oregon and the main character’s name is Tiffany. I’m not sure she was suitably impressed with this bit of trivia, but she was willing to continue visiting with me which was excellent.


I learned that Tiffany was in her second year at St. Johns University, in Queens, on her quest to become a Pharmacist. It’s a 6-year program at the end of which she will be christened as a bona fide Doctor. She spends most of Tuesday thru Friday at school then heads home for the weekends Friday afternoon. In high school she was a 4-year Varsity starter soccer player.

I was very happy to have her to visit with and regretted my loss when we arrived at the Fairfield stop where she deserted me. My life was improved by her presence and I have no doubt she’s going to be a huge success in whatever she chooses to do. For some reason she wanted my blog address, so I gave it to her. Therein lies a tenuous thread of contact.

This is the last photo I took before my phone permanently died. It’s looking up the aisle of our train.


On the way home from the train station we stopped to visit Susan & Jay and to pick up Julia who gave us a tour of their home and introduced us to her newly acquired base Fiddle, Jerrie. I was honored that she named it Jerrie, but not sure that she named it specifically after me. That’s OK. I’m still honored. This is Jerrie:


We took her back to Ruth’s where we played Polish Rummy until her father arrived from Boston to pick up at 2300. Then I fiddled with my computer trying to get photos off my phone until I was totally frustrated and went to bed. The hard bed. Where I slept like a baby until 0730 this morning.

There. I’m done.

Day 3 – Windsor Locks, CT

Yes. We’re still in Windsor Locks.

Both Diane and I slept very well even though the bed is exactly as hard as Ruth said it was. We thought she was kidding. She wasn’t. Her bed is so hard that we could easily have been sleeping in the driveway. It’s true. I said that out loud this morning and no one, not even Ruth, did not disagree. Still, it wasn’t bad.

Sadly, when I got up (before Diane did) at 9:17 am, Ruth was battling some kind of bug that was playing havoc with her BS levels. She’s a Professional Diabetic with many years of experience and was crashing, trying to get her level back up. Complicating that effort was, no doubt, a bit of foreign debris flown in from Oregon especially for her. It didn’t sit right. After an hour or so she began to improve so Diane and I left the house to drive around looking at stuff, leaving her with strict instructions to rest, which she ignored.

It’s very interesting to drive around Windsor Locks because you never know when you’re going to wind up in another town. And, all the houses are unique and they are not crowded together like all the new construction we see all over the place.

While we were out we stopped by Target to get a prescription Ruth had filled, and Diane wanted to get potatoes to go with the meat loaf Ruth found in the freezer. Actually, the meat loaf was destined for tomorrow, and we were scheduled to go out to dinner with some of her friends this evening. With her not feeling well, however, the better choice was made to stay in and give her more time to heal.

The meat loaf was really great. Ruth said it was originally destined to be meat balls for spaghetti sauce but she changed her mind because she wasn’t sure if we liked spaghetti. After sharing that spaghetti is one of my favorite meals of all time I suggested that the remaining meat loaf could be cut up into meat cubes for the sauce. Something different. I think she thought that might be an OK thing to do.

After dinner Diane retired to the large (15 x 15) screened porch. It’s her favorite room in the house, she said. It is nice sitting out here listening to the crickets and frogs make noise. Very peaceful.



After looking at that photo of the guy with Diane I’m thinking it’s time to just start shaving my head. The problem with that is that’s it’s just that much more hair that I’d have to shave and I totally dislike shaving. Guess I’ll just have to stick with the Friar Tuck look.

Jeopardy is on so it must be time to go back in the house. Need to get to bed early tonight because Ruth declares she’s well enough to make the trip to New York for a look at Ground Zero. Should be fun.



Day 2 – Windsor Locks, CT

We stayed at a Days Inn hotel (motel?) last night and had a terrific nights sleep. I wasn’t sure how well I’d sleep because, first, it was a Days Inn facility (reasonably priced) and, second, because I didn’t attempt to sleep until about 2 am this morning. That’s really late for me but using West Coast time it was only 11, or so. I think I woke up once around 4 am to let the dogs out, from habit, then went back to sleep until 9 am. It was a good night. Diane slept well, too. And, the Days Inn was a very nice place with very nice employees.

The first thing I did was rush down to see what the breakfast was like because it was due to close at 10 am. Turned out to be typical choices for facilities that offer free breakfast. You know, the roll over waffle machine, toaster, yogurt, coffee, and fruit. I just got coffee and yogurt for us and wished I’d only got the coffee. It was Danon Yogurt which is pretty terrible when you’re used to Tillamook Yogurt. It’s the best.

Turns out Diane was dirty and needed a shower so she took one. Then I took one, too, because I was pretty dirty from the trip yesterday, too. I was so dirty, in fact, that Diane made me take the first shower. It was good to scrub off the sweat and accumulated body cells shared by the other 200 people on the airplane. I guess the garlic odor finally went away because nothing was said about it. When I was done, Diane took hers so we were equally clean for at least a little while.

That ended when we stepped out of the room at noon to check out. It’s hot here. Did I mention that? And humid? It’s that, too. So, we were promptly sweaty without really doing anything except ride the elevator to the lobby.

At that point we couldn’t put off going to Ruth’s any longer because we literally had no where else to go. So, we engaged the Days Inn van driver to haul us and our luggage over to Dollar Car rental where we picked up an incredibly expensive vehicle. Diane contracted for a Full Size car which, according to Dollar, is a Chevy Malibu. In the real world that’s a mid-sized vehicle. Since we needed room to haul our luggage we opted for the next level up which turns out to be premium, I think, and got a 2016 Impala. We knew it had a very large trunk from previous experience and were able to load everything into the trunk. Noting it had a GPS system, I asked if it was functional and was told, “no, but we can activate it for $16.95 a day.” Really? And she said this with a straight face so there must be some folks out there who pay for it. We’re just going to use our phones to find our way around and that works just fine. I gotta tell you, though, we really like the GPS in Diane’s Silverado. It’s very handy and I can use a handy app on my phone to find a location and send the directions directly to the in-dash navigation system.

After leaving the car rental place we made it the 1.9 miles to Ruth in about 20 minutes. There were a few wrong turns involved which weren’t my fault because I wasn’t driving. I’m not allowed to drive rental cars because Diane won’t let me. I may have mentioned it before. Anyway, Ruth was very happy to see us and immediately went to work cooking stuff to feed us. We had BLT’s without the L. They were delicious. Then we rested the remainder of the afternoon and talked a lot. Well, Diane and Ruth talked. I mostly listened. I find that life is much easier when I listen more than talk. Sometimes, however, I just can’t help myself and wind up in trouble. Every time.

While we talked, Ruth began puttering around in the kitchen making preparations for the evening meal which, again, was delicious. I should have taken a photo, right? I ate more than a normal person should have, but it was really good. Everything Ruth cooks is terrific. That’s one of the reasons why we, as a family, agreed that it was OK when Lyle decided he wanted to marry her. We’ve never regretted it.

Another activity we participated in today was to discover a way to visit Ground Zero in New York City. So, that’s what we’re going to do Friday. Drive to New Haven, hop on a Metro train to Grand Central Station, then catch an Uber taxi to our destination. Ruth has never been, either, so it will her a fun for us all. It’s going to be an all day affair.

As for tomorrow, rumor has it we’re going out to dinner with some of Ruth’s friends. She gave us background on them and it sounds like it’s going to be another fun time. We’re looking forward to it.

Now it’s 2020 (8:20pm) and time to stop.