The 2018 Road, Day 22: No Greater Heights Than This

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June 16, 2018, Philadelphia-

It doesn’t surprise me, in the least, that this family of mine has given my mother’s youngest grandchild a spectacular launch into her own little family unit.  She is much loved, across the board and has maintained a solid, unifying presence among us, and well before the advent of social media. B helped me with her aunt, when I had to get Beloved to a restroom, down a freight elevator, and through an obscure section of an old hotel, years ago. She maintained contact with those of my nephews who were off, alone, at colleges that were some distance from the rest of the family.  She kept in touch with my son, when it would have been easy to leave him to his own devices, in the days of his naval  basic training and early regular duty.

So, we all came to Christ Church, expanding our family by one new grandson-in-law and one future granddaughter-in-law for our blessed matriarch to cherish.

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The above should give readers a frame of reference.  We were asked, by the rector, to not photograph the ceremony or the inside.  The newlyweds have plenty of photos to share, in that respect, and I leave it at that.

The ceremony did not start, however, until 4 P.M., so there was time for me to look further around the Independence Historic District, before Aram and YH were ready to meet for lunch.  Here is Congress Hall, where the Federal legislative branch met from December, 1790- May, 1800. .

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The Main Gallery of Independence Hall is below.

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Next along my walk was the Liberty Bell Pavilion, of which more tomorrow.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Here is Old City Hall, which also served as the first U.S. Supreme Court Chamber.

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Below is the Second Bank of the United States Portrait Gallery.

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Here is a view into the Independence Hall courtyard.

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Having to meet Aram and YH, I hurried on over to the Center for Art in Wood.  They were suitably impressed by the gallery and by its shop.

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The three of us enjoyed a nice lunch at Cafe Ole, across the street from CAIW.  We then strolled around Betsy Ross House and briefly considered purchasing a 13-star flag.

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For now, though, this shadowy replica of the original Stars and Stripes will suffice.

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We will keep the wedding photos within the family, but I do want to share a few of the reception venue:  Knowlton Mansion.  Once again, the staff did their parts admirably, as did the band and vocalist.  As for me, I cut loose and danced more this evening than I have in about eighteen years.

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I do wish to share the intact wedding cake- always an affirmation of  good fortune and fertility.  The first, I wish for the new branch of the family.  The second is their business, alone.

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In any event, this day will long live as among the most beautiful with which I have had the pleasure of being involved- in at least seven years.

NEXT:  Father’s Day, Full Tilt

The 2018 Road, Day 21: In the Streets of Brotherly Love

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June 15, 2018, Philadelphia-

Once upon a time, a teenaged girl looked at her uncle, and wondered aloud whether anyone would care to attend her wedding, when the time came.  Uncle said, unequivocally, that he would be there and that anyone who called themselves his family would be there, too.

In reality, there was never any question. Everyone from her youngest cousin (my son) to the family matriarch (Mother) made the wedding, that will take place tomorrow, a top priority.  It’s been a few years since B was a teenager, but there has been no break, whatsoever, in the love I feel for that compassionate and powerful young lady.  She has made a solid life for herself, following her father’s example of being largely self-reliant and choosing the field of education-which probably had little or nothing to do with her uncle and aunt, on the other side of the country, being educators. I’m glad she chose teaching, anyway.  She’s darn good at it.

I arrived in Philadelphia, around 2, by way of Camden.  This was a simple matter of not getting good directions from Google Maps, finding myself on the bridge to New Jersey and turning around to get cash from a bodega, near the Camden side of the bridge.  Once that was done, I picked up my pre-ordered wedding gift and headed to the Alexander Inn, my residence for the next 2 days.

With time to spend, until the Rehearsal Dinner, at 6 p.m., I ventured to check out Philly’s street art.

Here are  a few of those scenes, from the west side of the Independence Historic District.

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Here, a father is showing his little girl the power that comes with community working together.  I found this appropriate to the present situation.  My brother has been a guiding light to all three of his children.

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The above long mural has a caption that speaks of the eternal juxtaposition of right and wrong.  The young man in the foreground is giving this matter a lot of thought. From the look in his eyes, I would say he will choose right, more often.

Well, the dinner was second to none.  The Panorama Restaurant, right on Front Street, did it up fabulous.  I am admittedly an hors d’oeuvres hound, anyway, and the grilled ahi tuna did not fail to satisfy, either.

Tomorrow, greeting Aram and meeting his sweetheart, then attending the wedding of the year (sorry, Harry and Meghan), will be a most assuredly full day.  Good night, all.

 

The 2018 Road, Day 18, Part 1: Where Young Estella Played

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June 12, 2018, Plattsburgh-

My day along the Champlain Basin would have three parts.  The first, Plattsburgh, is important in my family’s life, because here was the place my maternal grandmother, Estella Myers Kusch, was born and raised.

She was a comforting influence in our early lives, helping my young parents, in what was not the easiest of times for a new blue-collar family. That she had earlier left all she knew, for the uncertainties of New England, in the 1910’s. is a testament to my Grandma’s hardiness.  Then again, Plattsburgh, in those days, was no picnic.

It’s a pretty place now, though still largely a company town:  Georgia Pacific greets the visitor, on the west side of town.

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Scomotion Creek Trail leads the foot traveler into town.

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A key chapter in the fortunes of our country, during the War of 1812, also resonates, along the water front.  Commodore Thomas Macdonough led the U.S. Navy to its signal victory over British, in the Battle of Plattsburgh, August-September, 1814.  The Riverwalk, and the lakefront, help to commemorate this key boon to our nation’s success in fending off attacks even worse than the sacking of Washington.

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This obelisk marks the resiliency of American forces in this area. New York and Vermont militias formed a unified front, under Commodore Macdonough.

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Here is the Saranac River, on its way to Lake Champlain.

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The lake itself looks calmer, this morning.

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The top of this driftwood almost looks like a figure from Angkor Wat.

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This is the ship’s bell from the USS Lake Champlain, which fought valiantly in World War II.

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Like many American towns of the Nineteenth Century, Plattsburgh is graced with fine stone architecture.  Here is the Roman Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist.

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The First Presbyterian Church is also impressive.

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Plattsburgh City Hall fronts the Riverwalk area.

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Plattsburgh’s bustling downtown,

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leads to its Romanesque county courthouse.

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Through all the hustle and bustle, this solitary creature whiles away its days.

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I am favourably impressed with the Myers family’s hometown.  One of my brothers once expressed a desire to visit Plattsburgh. I would heartily recommend such a visit, and would be glad to join him here.

NEXT:  Ausable Chasm, the “Grand Canyon of the East”.

 

I Felt Like The Waterboy

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June 17, 2018, Philadelphia-

From Friday night until about 11 A.M., today, my bio;logical family was giving my youngest niece and her new husband the respect and honour they completely deserve.  The wedding rehearsal dinner, and all that pertained to food, last night and this morning, were among the richest and most generous culinary festivals I have seen in many years, now.

I stuck to grilled fish, as my entree, for each meal, but the hors d’oeuvres for the two dinners were an astonishing parade, and no words could do justice to the intensity of the work done by the planners, the servers and the wedding party itself.  Then, there was last night’s musical troupe, who gave their all, with a constant stream of dance-able music.  Thus, for the first family wedding, in memory, I was relaxed and out on the floor, tripping the light fantastic, rather than tripping over my two left feet.  Like Adam Sandler’s water boy, in the movie of that name, I was hearing the voice of his buddy: “You can dooo eeet!”     So I danced, almost constantly, to tunes from the 1960’d through today, though I sat out the slow songs. Some things just don’t get done, for a  long time afterward.

This weekend was special in another way:  My son and his girlfriend came, clear from South Korea, for the wedding.  So, Father’s Day was also the most meaningful in years.  We went about  taking in the historical core of Philadelphia, in particular, the American Constitution Center, parts of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Center.  The Korean War Memorial, near Penn’s Landing, was also of interest to Y.H., she being a Korean national.

Summer is in full swing here, sticky and hot, but the sky has been clear and calm, all three days.  After a light supper, I have to bid farewell to Philly, to my new “little family” and to the new Mr & Mrs.  I’ve watched that girl grow up and with her entry into the full bounds of marriage, I found tears coming even more readily than in betrothals past.  Long may this, and all my family’s unions, last and bring happiness.

Grama in Time

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June 12, 2018, Plattsburgh-

My maternal grandmother, Estella Myers Kusch, was born here, in 1892 and passed on in 1960, in Stoneham, MA. It’s been a long-standing desire of my siblings and me, to spend time in this area. Last night, and this morning, I got the chance.

Sunday brought me back to Auberge Bishop, which now takes its place among the places where I feel a special measure of love. These places exist in every part of the world I’ve visited and are sure to grow in number. As another friend pointed out, the opposite is also true. Yes, every place has its shadows, as well as its light. I was, however, enormously comforted by my young friends at Bishop, forming a cordon of love around me on Sunday.

Monday came and went, nicely. I had no problem getting cleared by theU.S. Consulate to leave Canada. The auto glass replacement took mu h of the day, but it, too, got done. I fetched my bags from Auberge Bishop, then navigated my way to TC-15 and the border. By 8 p.m., I arrived here, my Grama’s hometown.

Grama was an anchoring presence in my first decade of life. She watched my sister and me, when our parents went shopping on Saturday morning, always warning us to behave, lest Mom get “terry”-her term for being angry. I loved going up to her house, about a mile from our duplex, from which we moved when I was four. In fact, the first time I caught a hair brush to my backside, was when I walked up there alone. I was three. I can only imagine my Mom, crying and trembling, even as she tended to my punishment.

I saw several people around Plattsburgh, who resemble my Grama, my maternal Uncle Jim and few others in the Myers-Kusch family.

The town itself is a most picturesque place, with a compelling story, especially relative to the War of 1812.

I will have photos of Plattsburgh, nearby Ausable Chasm, and all the places before and after, when I get my new laptop and The 2018 Road series resumes.

She became seriously ill, when I was eight years old and I didn’t see her anymore after that.

The 2018 Road, Day 4: Not So Lonely Highway

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May 30, 2018, Salina, UT-

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She was not happy that I left, before she got out of school.  I sent a message that I would try to return, weather-permitting, during the winter holidays.   There are souls who I have known forever and souls with whom I have found a bond, almost instantaneously, in this lifetime.  B is of the latter category.

Some could say it is tricky, for a man in late middle age and a child, especially a girl, to be thus bonded.  There is no skeevy factor, no EEEEWW.  I am here strictly to foster a very keen mind, to stoke dreams that will someday raise at least one person’s section of the world to a whole new level.  My friend J.R. Cline knows of what I speak.

I made the drive east, along U.S. Highway 50, whose Nevada portion is billed as “The Loneliest Highway in America.  It was too soon after breakfast to stop at Susie’s, so I went past Fallon.  Lake Lahontan also seemed to be at or near the same level as last year, so no stop there, either.  In the usual spot at the base of the mountain leading up to Pony Canyon, and Austin, there was another stranded vehicle, as was the case last year.  This time, the couple were headed west and had already called a tow truck.  I continued on, and enjoyed a simple, but satisfying burger and cup of soup at Toiyabe Cafe.

Through the Toiyabe, past Eureka, through Ely, I went.  Silver State Restaurant, which I patronized two years ago, has gone belly-up.  That’s a big hole, on Ely’s west side.  I wasn’t ready for dinner, though, and I was planning on enjoying my salad greens, anyway.

After briefly checking out the nearby town of McGill, I headed south and east.  That brought me here, to the veteran-owned Ranch Motel.

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So, here will begin Day 5, and I will get at least as far as the Front Range, on the never-lonely I-70.

The 2018 Road, Days 2-3: Pre-conceived notions, Heart Pancakes and A Warrior Princess

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May 27-28, 2018, Carson City- I got into Carson City, and a long-time friend’s house, around 10:15, on Sunday night.  I’ve been here, each year since 2012, on either Memorial Day or Independence Day. The members of Family S have been like biological family to me, for far longer-since the early 1990’s.

So, a stop up here has been a precursor to my summer time excursions, whether I’m headed northwestward or am eastbound.  I’ve known some family members since they were tweens and now am honoured by the presence of Princess B.  She will remain off-screen here, per my own policy when it comes to children, but B. is a highly intelligent and imaginative young lady and nobody will lay a hand on her, by my lights- or those of her grandmother, let alone on her parents’ watch.

Monday was spent in study of a Baha’i text that deals with consultation.  This is a practice that is sorely needed, not just in this country, but across the globe.  How many times have I found friends, even from other parts of the world, not opening their minds and hearts to other points of view?    The text I studied yesterday reminds us that no one person has all the answers, nor does any one group.  We watched a PBS documentary on the many aspects of warfare, after the study session.  Failure to view people outside one’s group, community or nation as human, or worthy of respect, has been the single greatest underlying cause of warfare, throughout history.  This is true, regardless of the cause of record.

All day today, Tuesday, I have thought of the world being left to B and her contemporaries, and to my grandchildren, yet unconceived, unborn.  She, her grandmother and I enjoyed a lovely Chinese buffet, shopped for things we needed at Target and Best Buy and came back for a “group project”, involving a streaming device and antennas.  Then, we enjoyed pancakes, including  two heart-shaped gems.

Those of you who have followed me , for the past several years, know that I have regularly come across heart-shaped items, both in natural and urban settings.  Here is a view of one heart-shaped pancake, before it was claimed by its rightful owner, our indomitable warrior princess.

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This visit was way too short, we all agreed, before B left with her father.  Tomorrow, I may connect for a bit with another WP reader, not far from here, before heading across Nevada and Utah.  Hopefully, I will also connect with extended family in Colorado and friends along the eastward route.   The centerpiece of this trip, my youngest niece’s wedding, looms three short week from now.

The 2018 Road, Day 1: Prescott to Carson City

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May 27, 2018, Carson City-

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One of my consistent stops, on this particular drive, is to check on the condition of Lake Mead,  a major reservoir of the Colorado River system.

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As you can see, the lake’s level is rather low.  In a good year, the lake’s water level would be above the first shoreline ridge.  It’s been quite a while since the last good year.

I began my journey around 9:20 this morning, then drove to West Side Lilo’s, in Seligman, a town about 1  1/2 hours northwest of Prescott.  A Lilo’s breakfast is sufficient for the entire day, so I would need nothing but a bowl of salad, once I got to Carson City, 11 hours later.

I topped off with gas in Kingman, and after the brief welfare check of Lake Mead, zipped through Las Vegas, stopped at Amargosa Valley to pick up gifts at the Area 51 Alien Center, for a little girl up here, and stretched a bit.  The rest of the journey, through territory I have detailed in years passed, was very smooth, with little traffic.  Coffee at Beans & Brews, on the south edge of Tonopah, was my only reason to stop the rest of the way.  B & B is also a staple of my northwest-bound jaunts.

Four hours later, I found my way to this apartment that will be home for the next two days or so.  There are a growing number of places that afford me this kind of feeling, and to me, this is the true wealth, to have what feels like family, in each part of the country.

Ahead of me are a one-day intensive training session for a Baha’i course and quality time with the aforementioned child.

Not Throwing In The Towel

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Towel-Dog-760x500May 25, 2018, Prescott-

An erstwhile friend has decreed today as Towel Day.  I will stay on the fringes of these festivities, as that’s how she and her significant other seem to want things.  Besides, my schedule, these next two days, is packed- as I will be, by Sunday morning.

School ended yesterday, and for me, it was as successful as 2015-16, and a far cry from last year.  I did not limp to the finish line this time.  The kids, and my co-workers, will reconvene in a week’s time, for Extended School Year.   I will sit that one out, having a major family event in mid-June. The wedding of my youngest niece will bring us all together, and will be one for the books.

As always, I have taken the steps to certify that both my car and I are ready for this year’s long road trip.  Vehicle has taken its lumps, but I have repaired most of what’s gone wrong and will tend to the cosmetics over the next day or so.  Ditto for yours truly, and while my cosmetics are showing their age, my health care providers aren’t putting me anywhere near the scrap heap.  I’m content with what I see in the mirror.

After two, and maybe three, important events here in town, today and tomorrow, I will head northwards, to Carson City, for an annual reconnect with one or more members of my extended spiritual family.  From there, the route looks like Utah, Colorado, Kansas, central Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ontario, Montreal, Plattsburgh, NY, Vermont,Massachusetts, Connecticut, West Point, eastern Pennsylvania (especially Philadelphia), Baltimore, Delmarva, Hampton Roads, across Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, southern Missouri, Oklahoma, Amarillo and Albuquerque’s Old Town, before getting back to Home Base-somewhere around July 4.

In spite of all this seems to entail, I have built in a goodly number of daily rest stops, visits with friends and family and good clean fun.  My main mode, rain or shine, will be camping along the way and relying more on picnicking, than the heavy restaurant visits of past adventures.  There will be a few of those last, though, when I can at least treat those who have been so caring to me, over so many years- and special places in my heart, like Artful Dodger, Cupcakes & Cravings, et al.  Porthole Pub, in Lynn, MA., is slated to close soon, making way for some sorely needed luxury condos. (Wonder how we’ve gotten along without them, all these years!)  I ought to prevail on a few family members to pay a last visit to Porthole.

Whether here or there, my Faith is essential to keeping me going, on a daily basis.  So, one of the events this evening is faith-based, several of the people with whom I will visit, in the coming weeks, are my fellows in faith and the Baha’i House of Worship, in Wilmette, IL falls into the middle of my outbound itinerary, as is only proper.

One way or another, I will maintain a daily presence here- letting all my peeps in on what’s going down, as in the past.  After all, there are plenty of coffee houses and such, along the way- and Good Sam Parks are reliable with WiFi, to boot. Instagram, a gift of the above-mentioned erstwhile correspondent, remains on my network.  One keeps the baby, while waving farewell to the bath water.

 

Maternal is Eternal

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May 13, 2018, Prescott-

I made my call

and was reassured.

Mom stands tall

and is never ignored.

What of you,

my friends who are

also mothers?

I know you as

Diane, April, Christina,

Janet, Mel, Lisa,

Amberley.

Your kids,

your blessings,

call you Mom,

Mama, Madre,

Mother Dear.

You give the best of yourself,

without guilt or shame,

loving each and every child,

never casting blame,

or aspersions.

Love knows no diversions.

There will never be a time,

when you are not

treasured,

by one, two, three

for eternity.

Happy Mother’s Day,

and I love you all, too.