Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XXIV: The “First Home” Coast


April 17, 2017, Prescott-   Last, but never least, on my recap of what has mattered most to me, in jaunts around the contiguous United States, are the special places that are on, or within a few hours of, the Atlantic Coast.

I’m a native of Massachusetts, so the places and people of Boston and the North Shore have had the most direct influence on the me that you see.  My special places in Saugus are still the Ironworks (now Saugus Ironworks National Historic Site), Breakheart Reservation, the Marsh (near where my middle brother lives) and anywhere along the old rail path, now a Rails to Trails hiking and biking route.  Kowloon and Prince Spaghetti House are still around; Hilltop Steak House and Augustine’s Italian Restaurant are not.

Lynn and Nahant still mean The Beach, and as a teen, I went to Fireplace 10, as that was where Saugus kids hung together.  The evening before I was to ship out for VietNam, I was with two of my mates at The Beach.  A rent-a-cop wanted to haul me in, for “being bombed”. I had had two sips of a 12-0z. can of Budweiser.  His sergeant heard my story of being about to head for the war zone, and let us go, with the comment, “Next time I see YOU here, is a year from now, right?”  “Yes, sir.”

There are almost as many beaches, along the Coast, as there are rent-a-cops.  Crane’s Beach was the site of one of my part-time jobs, after the Army.  Yep, I was a rent-a-cop.  I tried to arrest an Ipswich Selectman (town councilman) for being drunk and disorderly.  Guess how that worked out.  My favourite beach is still Hampton, NH- it had the biggest waves, when I was a kid.  Salem, Marblehead, Newburyport  and all of Cape Ann (Gloucester area) are my favourite seaport towns.  Gloucester House and Woodman’s (Essex) are fave seafood places, with Kelly’s, in Saugus, good as well, especially for take-out.

The rest of New England certainly has featured prominently, from childhood, on.  The White Mountains and Cape Cod were yearly fixtures of our family summers.  Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island were places where I got my toes wet, in terms of ferry trips and island adventures.  I didn’t get up to Maine much, except to Aunt Marie’s dairy farm, in Eliot, just over the New Hampshire line.  Now, I’ve been all over the Pine Tree State.  Cadillac Mountain, Kingfield, Moosehead Lake and coastal York County are all special areas.

In the Mid-Atlantic region, I used to enjoy Larrison’s Chicken Farm, near Bedminster, NJ, until it closed.  The diners of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, like the Mark Twain, on Hwy 22 (aka the Death Trap-the road, not the dining spot), and Bedford Diner, off the PA Turnpike, remain close to my heart, though my doc would prefer I leave such places in the rear view mirror.  Annapolis and Cumberland are  intensely special places, at either end of little Maryland.

I have fond memories of the great cities- Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington have all been kind, when I have either passed through, or had extended stays.  Boston Public Library is one of a kind as an edifice, and rules, as a grand place of public learning; so, too, does the Library of Congress.  I have had mixed experiences in DC- the security force, in the Bush II Era, gave us, and those near us, an unpleasant time, in July, 2007.  When I next visited the Nation’s Capital, in 2011 and 2014, all was delightful.

The Southeast is not as deeply ingrained in me, as the rest of the Atlantic Coast.  There are some special spots, though-  Martinsburg, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Hilton Head, St. Simons,  Savannah,Okefenokee and St. Augustine are this solo traveler’s  “feels like home”.  The Atlanta and Tampa areas have family, so they are built-in magnets.

Florida, south of The Villages, remains a mystery to me.  At some point, I will solve that puzzle.  Charleston (SC), Baltimore, Delmarva and the Hampton Roads area are, likewise, places that will get special attention, sooner or later.

Well, that’s it, for now.  I’m back to work, tomorrow and will be back in eastern AZ, next weekend.  Have a great post-Easter week, one and all!

Tales from the 2016 Road: Midsouth Meanderings


July 19, 2016, Nashville-  Brother had to shove off pretty early for work, so I headed out, northward, around the same time.  North Georgia passed by fairly quickly.  Since I was headed beyond Atlanta,  the traffic winked at me, going in the other direction.

I stopped briefly, outside Chattanooga (normally a destination worthy of 2-3 days, in its own right), and called an online friend, who lives outside Knoxville.  The message back was that he had time for coffee and catch-up, and would meet me in Lenoir City, east of Knoxville, in mid-afternoon.

I stopped in Ooltewah/ Collegedale, northeast of Chattanooga, and enjoyed a lovely lunch at  4 Corners Cafe, a gem that’s hidden in the Apison Center strip mall at the junction of TN Rtes 317 and 321.  The kids manning the place were in the last days of high school and university breaks, and were still most enthusiastic about 4 Corners’ fare.  They were especially delighted to learn that I was from Arizona, and had chosen their place as a lunch stop.  I’d go back there again.

Further along, on I-75, I took a brief drive through the small city of Cleveland, finding gracious people and a delightful ambiance.  The town would also be worth a day or so, on another journey.  I had to make the effort to get up to Lenoir, and as it happened, there was yet another accident, tying up northbound traffic.    I did make it to the Starbuck’s in Lenoir City, about 3:30.  My friend from Xanga days was there, with a few stories of his own meanderings in the general area of eastern Tennessee, northern Georgia and Alabama, and the beeline to New Orleans.  Some of you may remember that my last visit with him was in Ocean Springs, MS, in February, 2015.


JR and I swapped yarns of the road, for about an hour.  Then, it was time for me to get eastbound, once again, with the goal of avoiding the worst of Nashville’s rush hour. With the aid of my Elantra’s GPS, I got to downtown Nashville, and to a cramped, but adequate parking garage.  I prefer garages, when in a large city, with the chance to walk about in the interesting downtown.  I’m still mastering the smart phone camera, so please excuse the photo quality.


I chose Old Spaghetti Factory, in the Printers’ Alley district, for a satisfying meal of salad, along with spinach & cheese ravioli.  Jeremy was an enthusiastic waiter, and there were a couple of birthdays that night, so the atmosphere was most effervescent.  Nashville is always a fascinating place to stop.  I would like to spend 2-3 days there, sometime.

The schedule calls for me to be in Boulder, at 9 AM, Friday, so I drove on, past Clarksville, TN, the Land Between The Lakes, and Paducah, KY, each a worthy stopping place.  I chose Marion, IL, as my rest stop for the night, with a friendly couple greeting me at Airport Inn, on the road towards the university town of Carbondale.  I made good time today, in spite of the tie-up, and will head across southern Illinois, Missouri and at least part of Kansas, on Wednesday.