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 19: A Steamtown Experience, Part 1- The Hill District

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June 13, 2018, Scranton-

At least once, during a cross-country sojourn, I like to spend at least a few hours in a city which has contributed to the economic and material well-being of our nation.  In the past, this has led me to Oakland, St. Louis, Des Moines, Kokomo, South Bend and Canton, Ohio, to say nothing of Chicago, Boston, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Today, this meant several hours in Scranton, northeast Pennsylvania’s commercial and industrial hub, and the center of the steam locomotive industry in the U.S., particularly during the 19th Century.  Prior to locomotives, Scranton and nearby Wilkes-Barre were important centers for coal mining.  Anthracite, or hard coal, was abundant in northeast Pennsylvania, and provided the fuel by which steam could be produced, thus being the impetus for the steam locomotive industry-major to the transcontinental railroads, which have moved a major part of passenger and freight traffic, to this day.

I began my visit with a walk around the Hill neighbourhood, on the west end of downtown.  David Spencer bestowed the moniker, Electric City, upon Scranton, in 1886. Many of the large buildings of this side of downtown were among the first in the nation to rely exclusively on incandescent lighting.

Here are some of those fine structures.  The churches reflect the ethnic diversity of those who came to dig coal and to help build the railroads.

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Above is St. Nicholas’ Eastern Orthodox Church, which began serving Russian and Serbian miners, in the latter Nineteenth Century.

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Covenant Presbyterian Church was established by Scottish and Scots-Irish immigrants.

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Spacious St. Matthew’s United Evangelical Lutheran Church reflects the central European architectural style of its German adherents.

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This unmarked building, west of St. Nicholas’ Church, is nonetheless impressive.

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Prominent, and well-marked, is St. Peter’s Cathedral, with Scranton City Hall in the background.

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This fascinating private home is certainly well-insulated.

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This is the Administration Building of Scranton School District.  There is a history of inventive minds coming out of the Lackawanna Valley.  This district’s mission is that this will long continue.

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Adjacent to the District Office is Lackawanna County Public Library’s Main Branch, and, to the Library’s right, Scranton City Hall.

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Here is a closer view of St. Peter’s Cathedral.  Downtown is bordered, at the east end, by the yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad.  The regional commuter trains’ main terminus is here:

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I hopped the tracks and continued slightly northeast, to the locomotives’ well-deserved resting place.

 

NEXT: Steamtown National Historic Site

 

The 2018 Road, Day 15: Montreal, Light and Dark

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June 9, 2018, Montreal-

The gargoyles came to life, this afternoon.  My Lenovo, my warhorse, which has been with me across the country, five times, to Alaska, Hawai’i, British Columbia, western Europe, now has a new “owner”.  Whilst I was walking to and from the polyglot neighbourhood where Montreal’s Baha’i Centre is located, one or two interlopers broke into my car and rummaged through the backseat, finding the laptop case, underneath two backpacks. Nothing else was taken, but the drivers’ side windows were shattered.

A police officer came, after about 45 minutes, and took down the relevant information, as well as a sample of the shattered glass.  She dusted a bit for prints, and filed a report, giving me the number, by which I can send the laptop’s serial number, from my files, once I get back to Prescott.  This has all been explained earlier, in “Dear Thug”.

Now to the draw of Montreal- its majesty, as a city.  I came here in the first place, because of my memories of the city, when I visited in 1972-73, as part of a college tour group.  I had also told my seat mate, on the way back from Europe, in 2014, that I would visit this year.  She may well have forgotten, and was not even here, this weekend, but I did visit a branch of the restaurant in which she works:  La Panthere Verte.

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I was pleased that it was just a short block from Auberge Bishop.

Also in the vicinity of the hostel are the facilities of  La Musee des Beaux Arts, along Sherbrooke Avenue.  The Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul is in the midst of these properties.

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The church even has a “guardian”!

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Below, is one of the museum’s  main buildings.

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Mount Royal Park’s eastern flank is not far from this complex.

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Walking back towards the hostel, I spotted Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, mounted on a mighty steed.

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Here is the bright side of my ill-fated walk of this afternoon, which took place after I had checked out of the hostel, with every intention of beginning my drive south, to New England, this afternoon.  May I present Mc Gill University, Victoria Hospital and the Montreal Baha’i Centre:

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Victoria Hospital now has a different campus.  This is one of the main buildings on the original campus.

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Montreal Baha’i Centre is a small, but graceful building,  I spent only twenty minutes here, as, ironically, I wanted to still find the Baha’i Shrine,  a house where ‘Abdu’l-Baha stayed, during His 1912 visit to Montreal.  That did not happen, on THIS visit. Here, though, is the modern centre of our Faith’s life in this great city.

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On the way back to my car, I had this view of Montreal’s downtown.  In the foreground is McGill’s soccer field.

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In the end, one gets up, dusts self off and moves forward with gusto. No one knew this better than Montreal’s bard.

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So, in honour of Leonard, I made the most of my unexpected Montreal Sunday, returning to Auberge Bishop and taking in one of the city’s historic districts, in the afternoon.

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 14: All Along ON Route

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June 8, 2018, Montreal- 

Late this evening, I have arrived at Auberge Bishop, arguably one of the most welcoming places I’ve been in quite a while.  The people are relaxed, indoors and out. Even the House Psycho is not going to be much of a problem- I just need to remember that she hates men.

But, let’s get back to the day’s start.  I enjoyed a full breakfast, in Neill-Wycik’s cafeteria, then went up to the penthouse to get a view of downtown, as only the top of  a high rise can offer.

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I got carried away with writing, whilst sitting at a desk, in said penthouse, so I ended up checking out at  11:15.  The uber-officious Day Manager had a field day with this, and $ 25 worth of surcharges later, I left Neill-Wycik, with a promise to myself to not return.  Toronto has smaller hostels, and one of them will be my base camp, on the next visit here.

Downtown I drove, stopping briefly at Toronto’s lovely Baha’i Centre.  I was let inside by a lovely and gracious lady, who had to then leave.  I was allowed, by the office manager, to look about for a few minutes and so I share these scenes.  Anyone in the Toronto area who has a desire to investigate spiritual truth for oneself will certainly do well to attend one of the Centre’s public events.  Toronto’s Baha’i community is certainly a vibrant one:  https://www.bahaitoronto.org/

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Whilst on a trip around North America, in 1912, Abdu’l-Baha briefly visited Toronto, en route from Montreal to Buffalo.

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I was given the address for Canada’s Baha’i National Centre, in Thornhill, north of Toronto, but gauging my arrival time in Montreal, I opted to leave that visit for next time.

Ontario’s segment of Route 401 features several ON Route Service Centres.  These allowed this Yank to get my fill of Tim Horton’s fare, and keep the Elantra happy with gasoline.  There is much to see, off-highway, along this route: It is, after all, the Canadian side of the Thousand Islands sector of the St. Lawrence Valley. Again, stuff for next time.  After leaving sleepy Morrisburg’s ON Route Esso, with its wary station attendant and taciturn cashier, I was soon in Quebec. Montreal, in its majesty, appeared an hour after that.

A ten-minute Blue Tooth-based conversation later, I had deposited Elantra in a parking garage and found my way to Auberge Bishop.  Here, at least, I feel entirely welcome. At Chicha Donburi, a curry house next door, I received an equally robust welcome. The cheerful Japanese-Canadian proprietress, and her chef, never stopped moving, the entire hour I was there.  I love Katsu (Japanese-style cutlet), and this did not disappoint.

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NEXT:  Montreal’s Light and Darkness

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 13: Toronto The Good

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June 8, 2018, Toronto-

Of course, I pulled into Canada’s largest city at rush hour.  Hey, what fun is there in empty streets?  With my phone telling me there is no Internet access in Ontario, I drove to a Starbucks, where there was indeed Internet access and a wonderful pair of baristas, who wrote out the directions to Neill-Wycik Backpackers’ Hotel.  Turned out, the place was in the Garden District, past downtown.  So, I negotiated my way down there, finding the high rise building, then finding its parking garage, in twenty minutes’ time.

Being a large enterprise, in one of North America’s most officious urban centres, Neill-Wycik is chock full of rules and regulations, with a full security staff, uniformed and ready to enforce each and every rule.

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My room was on the ninth floor.  There are 26 floors, in all.

After  settling in and enjoying two huge slices of pizza, prepared by an elderly Chinese “multicultural chef”, I set out for a look at the Garden District.  The first place I spotted was Jarvis Street Baptist Church.

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Allan Gardens is an indoor botanical conservatory, the centerpiece of the District. A spacious outdoor park abuts the facility.  It was being enjoyed by a wide cross-section of Toronto’s society, on  Thursday evening. A few of them were okay with being photographed, from a distance.

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The outdoor gardens are a riot of botanica, leading some of the locals to remark that the place needs work.

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The east end of the conservatory is a Children’s Section.

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I next headed towards the south end of the Garden District, where a number of great churches may be found.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Above is St. Peter’s Catholic Church.  Below, CN Tower is put in perspective, from back at Allan Gardens.

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Here are a few more scenes, from the northeast corner of the park.

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Here is another view of Toronto, old and new.

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Ryerson University, a private institution, is the driving force of the Garden District. It owns Neill-Wycik’s building.

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St. Michael’s Cathedral, now under renovation, is Toronto’s diocesan center.

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Like any vibrant city, Toronto has its share of murals.

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Not far from St. Michael’s, the Anglican Cathedral of St. James holds sway.

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The Metropolitan United Church completes the ecclesiastical triad.

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So, my evening walk around the Garden District came to an end.  The rest of the evening was spent with fellow hostelers, around the lounge television, watching as Ontario’s voters chose a vocal conservative, from a prominent family, as their next Provincial Premier (Canada’s counterpart to an American state governor).  People, regardless of locale, are more alike than different-and people these days are often motivated by fear.

NEXT:  Toronto to Montreal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The 2018 Road, Day 10: Reckoning with Destiny

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June 5, 2018, Elkhart- 

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My morning was spent, very well, at Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum

.  After viewing a film on this unfortunate event, it occurred to me that, had Tecumseh not been taken in by the British, he may have reached some sort of accommodation with at least enough of the west-bound Americans, that Harrison would be remembered as other than as the President who served the shortest term, before dying of the lingering effects of pneumonia. Tecumseh, also, might have lived to promulgate the Federation of Native Americans that he so treasured.  The Prophet might also have figured in the spiritual renaissance of the confederated people.

It was not to be, though, and the Battle of Tippecanoe might easily be regarded as the opening salvo of  the War of 1812.

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This diorama shows a Wea couple, as they may have appeared in their home, at a village similar to Prophetstown.

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Nearby, is a more heartening place.  The Wabash Hertiage Trail stretches from this engaging Nature Center

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This surreal scene was taken from behind  a one-way mirror.  The birds and rodents could not see me, but I think a  red-billed woodpecker saw its reflection in the window and rammed the glass with its bill.

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After a few minutes of watching the action, I took a 3-mile round trip hike, along the Wabash Heritage Trail, going as far as Barnett Street Bridge.  The full trail goes to Fort Ouiatenon, a ruined fort, 13 miles to the south.

Here are some scenes of this northern segment of the trail.  It follows Tippecanoe Creek.

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Black lace wings kept me company, at various points along the trail.

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The creek had to be forded, at one or two points along the trail, but it was more muck than running water, at those points.

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Finally, I turned around at Barnett Street.

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As it was 87 degrees outside, this was enough.  My reward, about three hours later, was a home-cooked meal, courtesy of an old friend-and a new one, who was grill–master for the evening. Then, I found my way to a true Budget Inn, here in Elkhart.

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 8: A Day of Being Blocked

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June 3, 2018, Lowell, IN-

I set out, in earnest, for the Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette at 9 a.m., fully intending to meet a mentor- friend who lives north of there, in a timely manner.  The problem was, I left at 9 a.m. from Carthage, on the west side of Illinois.  I stayed within the good graces of the law, clear to a point about 20 miles south of Rockford, getting there about 1 p.m.

Inching eastward, using a variety of state highways, I got to Wilmette way too late to visit with said mentor-friend.   So, takeaway # 1:  Never stay more than 2 hours from Chicagoland, if the goal is to meet someone in Chicagoland, the next day-even from Saturday to Sunday.  In fairness, the same holds true for New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and even Philadelphia, where I will stay in the center of the city, in two weeks’ time.

Other things got done, spiritually. It is my eleventh visit here, and this is the first-and last-time that I have tried to make a same day visit to the Temple, from outside the 50-mile radius.  I also had a lovely full meal at Ridgeview Grill, a wonderful place on the west side of Wilmette, served by engaging and attentive Lisa D.  I think that will be my dining place of choice, in future visits to the House of Worship.

Needless to say, there are no photos from this Day of Being Blocked. I made it to a campsite here, in Lowell, IN, around 9 p.m.  Amen!

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.